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ATP To Test Rule Changes in Milan

IMG_1652Interesting changes coming to the ATP Tour. Take a look…

The ATP has announced a series of rule changes and innovations set to be tested at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan this November. The season-ending tournament will see the world’s top 21-and-Under players of the season competing for total prize money of US$ 1.275 million from 7-11 November.
The rule changes, aimed at creating a high-tempo, cutting-edge, and TV-friendly product, are geared towards attracting new and younger fans into the sport, while at the same time retaining the sport’s traditional fan-base. The following rule changes will be applied in Milan:

– Shorter Format: First to Four games sets (Tie-Break at 3-All), Best-of-Five sets, with No-Ad scoring

• Shorter set format designed to increase number of pivotal moments in a match, while the best-of-five set format does not alter the number of games required to win a match (12) from the traditional scoring format. No-Ad scoring will be played (receiver’s choice).

– Shorter Warm-Up

• Matches will begin precisely 5 minutes from the second player walk-on, leading to a reduction in down time before the beginning of matches.

– Shot Clock

• A shot clock will be used in between points to ensure strict regulation of the 25-second rule, as well as during set breaks, Medical Time-Outs, and the five-minute countdown from the player walk-on to the first point of the match.

– No-Let Rule

• The No-Let rule will apply to serves, bringing in an additional element of unpredictability at the start of points.

• This rule will also remove any ambiguity over let calling from umpires, ensuring the rule is consistent with normal ‘let’ occurrences during regular point exchanges.

– Medical Time-Outs

• A limit of 1 medical time out per player per match.

– Player Coaching

• Players and coaches will be able to communicate at certain points in the match (to be determined), providing additional content and entertainment value for broadcast. Coaches will not be allowed on-court.

In addition, a ‘free movement’ policy will be applied to the crowd (except behind the baselines) throughout the tournament. The policy will enable fans to move freely in and out of the stadium during matches, providing a relaxed fan-friendly atmosphere and ensuring fans are not restricted entry into the stadium at any time.

The ATP carried out extensive market research and fan surveys across more than 13 different markets through SMG Insight, covering off traditional and emerging tennis markets, as well as light and heavy tennis consumers, prior to determining which rule changes to trial at the inaugural tournament, which will take place at Fiera Milano in partnership with the Italian Tennis Federation and the Italian National Olympic Committee.

Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman & President, said: “We’re excited to be bringing something new to the table with this event. The sports & entertainment landscape is changing rapidly, as are the ways in which fans are consuming our sport. This event is not only about the next generation of players, but also about the next generation of fans. We’ve created this new tournament precisely to allow us to look at some potential new elements, in a high-profile environment. We remain acutely aware of the traditions in our sport, and we will be sure to safeguard the integrity of our product when assessing if any changes should eventually be carried forward onto regular ATP World Tour events in the future.”

Angelo Binaghi, President of the Italian Tennis Federation, said: “We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation and change in tennis through this unique event, with the future stars of the sport that will be making headlines on the biggest stages over the next years. This tournament is all about looking to the future, and we would like to thank the ATP for having the vision and willingness to bring innovation into our sport. We look forward to a successful and exciting first edition of the event in November.”

Away from the court, fans and media attending the tournament will enjoy a fully immersive on-site experience, with a strong emphasis placed on unparalleled fan engagement through digital media, combined with unique player access across the tournament.

The tournament will take place on a singles-only court, featuring the best seven qualified 21-and-Under players of the season, plus one wild card. Taking place over five days, the event starts off with two round robin groups, followed by the semi-finals and final. A third place play-off will also be played by the two losing semi-finalists prior to the final on the last day. The tournament does not offer Emirates ATP Rankings points.

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17 comments

  • Chazz · May 19, 2017 at 9:57 am

    It will be fun to see a lot of those things in that tournament but I hope most of them don’t become rules on the ATP tour. The no-let rule could be horrible with how big serves are these days and how far back players have to stand to return them.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 19, 2017 at 10:00 am

    But let’s see how it plays out with the no let rule. It will be fun to see how the players react to it. Again this is just a test run like the round robin format about eight years ago which was only tested in small events and no harm was done.

  • catherine bell · May 19, 2017 at 10:06 am

    The day these rule changes apply to Grand Slam tournaments will be the day I stop following tennis.

    The language these people use is enough.
    ‘fully immersive on-site experience’ …..please.

    The fans can move in and out of the stadium at any time, producing complete chaos, but what about the atmosphere for the players ?
    The best tennis is theatre – imagine if an audience can just get up and walk around during a performance.

    You couldn’t do that in several stadiums for safety reasons anyway.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 19, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Catherine; I like tennis the way it is but these tiny little alterations could be interesting to see how they impact the sport whether it’s favorably or unfavorably. The RR format was quickly determined to be a bust and I think the same conclusion will happen again this time. But to attempt to try and test changes and innovations is a good thing.

  • Chazz · May 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Make them use wooden racquets. Now that would be entertaining.

  • catherine bell · May 19, 2017 at 10:43 am

    And what about unpressurised tennis balls ? They were used at the Italian Open in olden times.

  • Thomas Tung · May 19, 2017 at 11:00 am

    I am with Catherine here — one of the great things about tennis is that its current scoring system has the right blend of skill/drama/tension/consistency/willpower, as given by all the great matches I’ve been able to see over the years (both live and on TV/internet). These silly things are much more worthy of “fringe acts” like World Team Tennis.

    The deuce point in tennis is one of the greatest things about it in creating drama and excitement — to get rid of it favors only one “interest group”: TV channels, who I (cynically) suspect, would love to make tennis into 15-30 minute bits like basketball and football (and TV, I have to say, is on the decline due to the Internet). No thrilling 4-hour matches, etc., because the networks want “tennis” to end precisely at 1:53:04, with plenty of time for ridiculous commercial “ad plugs” from the announcers. Stupid (and you can quote me on that).

    As for no-let? That’s like a high school/juniors/American college tennis thing, right? Another useless so-called “innovation”.

    Is the ATP taking pages from the WTA’s marketing playbook? They would be much better served by continuing to increase the winnings of the lower-ranked players, and spending more time promoting/marketing Challengers and Futures …

    NextGen finals? What a joke. The ATP is dreading the financial loss of the (inevitable) retirement of the Big 4/5 players, but what they fail to appreciate is that it, literally, is possibly one of the top 3 finest eras of tennis ever (from Tilden to Gonzalez/Laver to McEnroe/Borg/Connors/Lendl). You are never going to reproduce that with gimmicks, and the record books will be skewered. It’s gonna be very hard to convince me that winning, say, a Grand Slam in 1st to 4, best of 5, no ad, no let serves is as physically demanding as the current setup, as it heavily favors having only a quick service game in ways old slicky grass Wimbledon can only dream of.

    I could go on and on, but, suffice it to say that this is all a clown/circus act, to paraphrase a certain R.Federer.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 19, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Whoa. Thomas has unleashed a fury on this possible breakaway from tradition. I dont think no ad scoring or sets to four will happen any time soon in majors. At least lets hope. But if a giant network tv contracts demands such changes one never knows.

  • Doogie · May 19, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I am definitely for the 25 seconds shot clock!!

    Will shorten matches and it is just same for both players!

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 19, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    How about they test a nine second shot clock? And violators gate a taze gun jolt from the chair ump :) That would sell a few more tickets :)

  • Bryan · May 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    I like most of these rule changes for their novelty factor and as a way of speeding up the match, especially the 25 second rule.

    Coaching players and the ‘Free movement’ policy are both terrible though. Only the rudest and most ignorant fans try to move around during games. Nobody should ever encourage that.

    While we’re speaking of rule changes, WTA and ATP should forbid babies in any stadium. Every year some rude parent brings a screaming infant to Stanford which disturbs players and fans alike. Get a baby sitter or GTFO.

  • Bryan · May 21, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    “And what about unpressurised tennis balls ? They were used at the Italian Open in olden times.”

    LOL really? Am I correct this was only on dry days, to make the ball bounce less so it’s like rainy days if that favors a particular player?

  • catherine bell · May 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I’m not sure. Up to at least the 70s Tretorn balls were used in Rome and they were pressureless and termed ‘very heavy’.
    Never went there so don’t know any more about it – when they changed etc.

  • Andrew Miller · May 21, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    No thanks to changes! Yuck!!! Audiences are dumb. Wimbledon stuck to tradition and will be the most important to fans and players, and it’s because they did nothing! They elevated the game.
    Gosh this is awful. I hope zero people watch to stick it to people who love money more than the sport.

  • Andrew Miller · May 21, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Scoop if networks demand changes the slams should contract with Netflix and give the networks the rhymes with word begins with a b and is the same thing as three fingers from the right or left if anyone’s hand.

    This is a colossal joke. I hope Zverev and Fritz and Tiafoe boycott. So dumb. They didn’t train their whole lives for best to five. Making them play twenty one set tiebreaks would be preferable as at least it’s recognizable.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 21, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    “Get a baby sitter or GTFO” lol :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Andrew; Let the ATP install some of these rule changes to a couple of smaller 250 events and let’s give it a test run and see how it goes. Can’t be afraid to test changes and innovations. I do feel at times the sets to six are long and when it’s 3-3 -r 4-3 and you know it’s going to a tiebreaker I can see how a segment of fans lose interest or change the channel. But it’s a very controversial change to make. I favor keeping it the way it is. TV is important but so are over a century old traditions.

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