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.

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.

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?