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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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.

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin