The 3-4, 4-3, 4-2, 4-2 scoreline with which Hyeon Chung won the inaugural Next Gen Finals will take some getting used to. However, if the powers that be are to be believed, the four-game sets along with other changes, could become the norm down the line. Here’s how the tennis world received the experimental rules.
Apart from the fact that the scoring looks weird, five four-game sets (with a tie-break at 3-3) aren’t astoundingly faster than three six-game sets. While there are concerns that the midway point of a long set can be a “dead” period for viewers, Roger Federer believes it is where players try things out. “The longer sets allow you to stretch a lead, it’s more comfortable at times,” Federer said. “You can try different things, you can work on stuff, whereas if every point counts so much that you really just – there’s no room for anything anymore.” Marin Cilic added that shorter set means “if a guy loses serves, it’s tough to come back.”
Again, to shorten the matches and speed up the game, the player who won the point at 40-40 took the game. However, Andrey Rublev argued that the scoring changes generally introduce too much of an element of luck.
According to this rule, the players carry on if the net is struck and the ball bounces into the service box. Cilic brushed off this confusingly useless rule change by saying, “I am not a fan.”
Clamoured for by many (not Rafa Nadal) for a long time, the 25-second shot clock was a hit in Milan. It eliminated the umpires’ subjectivity and actually kept track of how long players were taking during points. Dominic Thiem said “I like it so everyone knows when a player needs to be ready again,” while Marin Cilic added “it can be introduced straight away in tennis”.
The line umpires were replaced by the camera-based system that instantly detected whether a ball was in or out, ruling out any challenges and any disagreements between players and umpires.
Players talking with their coaches via headset during breaks added a fresh dimension. They could also view data about the match on tablets, though the discussion had to be in English for the benefit of the audience. Players thought the breaks were interesting, and Denis Shapovalov used it to tell his coach about a cafe near his hotel. “Dude, I’m telling you! Best coffee I’ve ever had in my life.”
There was no need to wait for the change of ends as fans could come as they pleased. While it would be blasphemous at the All England Club, the movement in the stands didn’t seem to faze the players.