TENNIS

Grand Slam seedings to be cut to 16 from 2019 to make early rounds more interesting

The decision was taken as the Grand Slam Board felt it will open the possibility of higher-ranked players facing off before the last 16.

Tennis chiefs have agreed to reduce the number of seeds in the four Grand Slam tournaments from 32 to 16 as part of a raft of rule changes aimed at widening the sport’s appeal.

From 2019, Wimbledon and the Australian, French and US Opens will have only 16 seeded players in the men’s and women’s draws.

Halving the number of seeds is an attempt to make the early rounds of the majors more interesting as it will open the possibility of higher-ranked players facing off before the last 16.

There were 16 seeds at Grand Slams until after Wimbledon in 2001, when the US Open, motivated by demands from television networks, asked for 32 in the hope that stars would still be in contention in the closing rounds.

Stricter timings

The Grand Slam Board meeting in London also approved the Australian Open’s request to implement a 25-second “serve/shot clock” system in line with the scheme trialled at the 2017 US Open to speed up play.

The timing of the pre-match warm-up will be strictly enforced, with one minute allowed after walk-on to be ready for the pre-match toss, followed by a five minute warm-up, then one minute to be ready to start the match.

Violation of this timing may earn a player a fine of up to $20,000.

The board has also moved to tackle the problem of players withdrawing from or purposefully lacking effort in first-round matches and still getting their full prize money.

Grand Slams will now give the injured who pull out on site before their opening match 50 percent of the first-round prize money, with the other 50 percent going to the “lucky loser” who replaces them.

Players who are unable to finish their first-round match will be scrutinised and potentially fined up to the amount of their first-round prize money if they are not believed to be injured or are seen to have “performed below professional standards”.

A series of rule changes and innovations were tested at this month’s Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, featuring the world’s top 21-and-under singles players including a shorter warm-up, the shot clock and no line judges.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

Play

During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.