PARIS — Less than half a gram, or half the weight of a dollar bill.
That, according to their manufacturer, is the almost infinitesimal weight difference between the old French Open ball that Rafael Nadal happily bashed in winning his 12th title last year and the new one riling him in his chase for No. 13 at Roland Garros.
In cool, damp autumnal Paris, weather alien to the native of a sun-kissed Mediterranean isle, the balls play “like a stone,” Nadal grumbled even before he had hit his first one in anger on the clay courts, aiming to tie Roger Federer’s record for men of 20 Grand Slam titles overall.
But the ball manufacturer who oversaw their development and testing is so convinced that Nadal is