Players welcome new format for men's tour

Tennis players can be resistant to change. The introduction earlier this year of video replay technology to rule on line calls was initially greeted with scepticism by some, while the French Open's Sunday start was far from popular.

However, players here at the US Open have generally welcomed a raft of changes to the men's tour from next year. The Association of Tennis Professionals will adopt a round-robin format for an increasing number of its tournaments, cut the number of events with five-set finals and introduce more Sunday starts. Prize-money will also be increased and more will be spent on marketing the game.

The changes have been made after consultation with leading players. In particular, Etienne de Villiers, the president of the ATP, has discussed the plans at length with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi and Marat Safin.

"I have said at our meetings with Etienne that I think this is a great idea," Nadal said. "Finally we really move forward and we do something really good for our sport. This will be good for our tournaments, for us the players and especially for fans and television since they will be able to have and see their favourite players more than once."

The introduction of a round-robin format for the early stages of tournaments - the structure will be optional in 2007 but will be used increasingly in subsequent years - will be the most noticeable change. The system is already used at the season-ending Masters Cup and will be popular with television executives and box offices as it guarantees that the big-name players cannot be knocked out early in the week.

The phasing out of five-set finals - the long-term aim is for five-set matches to be played only at Grand Slam tournaments and the Davis Cup - comes in response to concerns from players at the physical demands made of them. For example, most believe it is all but impossible to perform to the best of their ability in Masters series tournaments, which are the most important after the Grand Slam events, when they are played back-to-back with five-set finals.

"The players strongly support the move away from best-of-five-set finals," said James Blake, the world No 7. "This is one step towards ensuring that the last two players standing at any given tournament aren't sidelined the next week or even longer."

Thirteen events this year feature five-set finals and the format has produced some memorable matches. In May, for example, Nadal and Federer slugged out a five-hour contest in Rome before the Spaniard emerged victorious after five gripping sets.

De Villiers said: "We have all enjoyed watching ATP tournaments that have featured some fabulous five-set matches, but at what cost? Subsequent tournaments suffer due to late withdrawals of marquee players, and players need time to recover."

Sunday starts, featuring pro-am and charity events, will be introduced at some tournaments next year and will be mandatory by 2009. "You don't open a movie on a Monday morning and we shouldn't start our tournaments then either," said Phil Anderton, the ATP's chief marketing officer.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there