ATP Finalizes Changes to Doubles for 2006
Leander Paes and Nenad Zimonjic have their hopes set on a Shanghai berth. The ATP announced today that it would introduce changes to doubles in 2006 designed to make it a more attractive and vital part of the ATP men’s pro tennis circuit. The changes approved by the ATP Board in Shanghai, following support from both the Player and Tournament Councils, include adjustments from the original proposals announced during Wimbledon.
In 2006, ATP and ATP Challenger doubles matches will use a scoring format featuring two sets to 6 (tie-break at 6:6), no-ad games, and a Match Tie-break (first to 10 points, win by two) at one-set all. The new format, with its predictable length and unique scoring features, will provide for better scheduling and more showcasing on feature courts; offer entertaining features that will be emphasized in promotion and marketing; prove to be more appealing to television broadcasters and sponsors; and it is hoped to attract more singles players.
Entries starting next year will be based on a player’s best ATP ranking, either singles or doubles, similar to practices used at the Grand Slams and ATP Challengers, providing both singles and doubles players equal ability to enter doubles draws. Additionally, promotional initiatives will be funded and implemented by the doubles players, ATP and ATP tournaments, and the tournaments now will feature more doubles matches on show courts.
“The Board strongly believes that doubles should be celebrated as an integral aspect of the sport, and feels the changes will provide an opportunity for it to be seen and enjoyed more by a broader range of tennis fans,” the ATP Board said in a statement. “We want to promote and market the differences in the doubles game—its speed, athleticism, touch and teamwork.”
Prior to and at Shanghai, the ATP Player and Tournament Councils met to discuss alterations to the original proposals approved in June. They voted in favor of a new package, which includes removing two of the most controversial aspects of the previously approved changes: shortened sets not using traditional scoring from the Official Rules of Tennis; and an entry ranking to have been introduced in 2008 reserving the overwhelming majority of doubles entries to players in the singles draws.
“The Board recognizes that the scoring format change may not initially be a popular decision with some players, fans, traditionalists and members of the media,” said ATP Chairman Etienne de Villiers. “We recognize that we’re making a bold move with the scoring format, but it is a considered change that we feel will broaden the appeal of doubles. It is a work in progress. We will continue to innovate and make adjustments if necessary.”
The ATP Board is comprised of Chairman de Villiers, Bob Brett, Patrice Dominguez, Jacco Eltingh, Charlie Pasarell, Graham Pearce and Perry Rogers. The Shanghai meeting was de Villiers’ first as Chairman, and Eltingh’s and Rogers’ first as player representatives. Eltingh and Rogers recently were appointed as Board members, representing the European and Americas regions, respectively.