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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Tennis organisers test the waters with new rules

A look at how the tennis world received the experimental new rules that were implemented at the Next Gen ATP Finals.

By: Express News Service | Published: November 14, 2017 8:15:29 am
Chung Hyeon won the four-set final of the Next Gen ATP Finals. (Source: AP)

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.

Shorter sets

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.”

No advantage

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.

No let

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.”

nadal, rafael nadal, atp finals, atp next gen, tennis new rules, Rafael Nadal said that, while he doesn’t want the sport to change, if the game “needs something to become more attractive to fans, that’s the way the sport needs to move forward.” (Source: Reuters)

Shot clock

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”.

Instant hawk-eye

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.

Headset coaching

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.”

Fan movement

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.

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