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An oral history of the new Babolat tennis balls at the French Open

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The French Open is using a Babolat tennis ball at this year's tournament instead of the Dunlop ball that was used last year and is in play at all other clay court tournaments.

Roger Federer: "I'm hearing a lot of conversations about the balls. It's just that they're not the same from what we've just played with for the last month. And that for us is the most frustrating part, that the tournaments all changed to the Roland Garros ball after last year, [but] Roland Garros has changed their balls again. Now we're stuck with a different deal for all the different ATP Tour events. That is the frustrating part that we need to adjust before the French."

Christophe Hayaux du Tilly, French Open sponsorship manager: "The laboratory tests prove that these balls have the exact same specifications as last year. The same speed, the same rebound, the same size, all the same."

Stanislas Wawrinka: "The balls are pretty strange. Obviously I do notice a big difference from last year."

Robin Soderling: "It's definitely different from what we used to play with in the previous years. It's pretty fast, pretty light. It took me a couple days before I got used to it but now I'm feeling good with the ball."

Bethanie Mattek-Sands: "In the locker room, a lot of the girls … [are] coming in with a lot of shoulder issues. They say the balls are pretty hard. I think it kind of translates to they're going fast through the air. I don't mind that. I actually like it if it's fast-paced."

Caroline Wozniacki: "I think they're good. I think they're a little heavy. But in the beginning they fly when they're new but then they get heavy once you play with them a little bit."

Novak Djokovic: "The balls are very, very fast, so it's really difficult to control. Maybe it's going to favor the servers and the big hitters. But you never know. I mean, it still is clay."

Christophe Proust, French Tennis Federation spokesman: "It hasn't been raining for two months now. The playing conditions are much more faster than last year. The players don't remember that last year, when they arrived in Paris, the weather was very damp. The balls were waterlogged; they didn't bounce back at the same height."

David Ferrer: "It's faster than the Dunlop, but I have no problem."

Francesca Schiavone: "They've very similar — or maybe the same. The weather makes a big difference with the balls and how big they get. I think they're the same as last year, with a different logo."

Sources: Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Sydney Morning Herald

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