it's my article from the magazine... i translated it today and i'm sorry for my poor english and spelling mistakes but i am just EXHAUSTED, anyway - enjoy
“What's with this double-game?”
Tournaments' organizators lament over the doubles gathering less and less fans on court. ATP tries to rescue what is possible to save as much as they can, but the next ideas don't find the approval. Players sulk, fans get angry, circle closes.
Doubles games are usually played by emptish stands. Of course on the back courts, where come only people who can't afford a ticket to the central court. Even at the Sopot tournament is evident, that matches with the participation of Roland Garros champions don't thrill too much emotion, and after the singles final (if in the doubles do't play again the immortal Fyrstenberg and Matkowski) – the huge amount of tennis supporters go to the beach and to have a fried fish. It's not only Polish direction. The tournaments' organizators insist on ATP to do something with it. What? Because there is a general feeling that doubles are played only by frustrats who are hopeless in singles and there are very few of people remembering names of Grand Slam doubles winners, ATP wants to promote doubles not by promoting the specialists, but by encouraging the singles stars to compete. It would be ideal if the top ranked guys, with Roger Federer ahead, devoted themselves to doubles as much as they do to singles. But here starts the divergence of opinion (read: problem). According to the players, it's impossible to play even more due to body's disharmony which can cause another injuries. They also admit, the ATP calendar is filled enough to add more spice to it. Even though Rafael Nadal admitted making the game time shorter would make him play more eagerly, but it sounds like diplomatics. However, the ATP changes turn this way. Few projects were tested at the end of 2005.
The overall goal of the changes, which were being talked over form a longer time by the way, was making the match time shorter, an hour would be the best. Even though Players' Council didn't accept this idea (all players in the council!), the opinion was completely ignored and starting from the half of September, the ATP decided to put it straight like they wanted. In the tournaments in Bejing, Bucharest, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok and Palermo they resigned of “deuce – advantage” game (replaced by a “championship point” - receiving pair was to choose the server), and tie-break was about to begin at 5-5. If this variant had brought the expected effect (end of match after maximum 80 minutes), there would have been no further attempts. But still – in Tokyo, Metz, Vienna, Moscow and Stockholm tie-break was already played at the state of 4-4, with keeping the rule of the “sudden death”. During October's challengers in Barcelona, Quito, Southampton and Seoul, ATP afforded another extroversion, which means cancelling the third set and adding the “match tie-break” played to 10 won points (2 points of difference required) instead. Two first sets of the match were about to play with the old score rule, but with a “championship point”. Even though none of the ideas could make the matches as interesting as the one that after 80 minutes balls should be wept in petrol and fired, all excited controversions. How was it possible? One ball was about to set the score? Is it still tennis?
Another change which was to come true starting from 2008 and upset players, was an experimental project of quallifying men to the doubles draw on the basement of... their singles ranking! This way the people, ho chose doubles career and worked hard to improve this kind of special abilities, felt treated instrumentally. They should compete successfully in singles too. With today's tennis specialization – it's a nonsense. Remember that in doubles is to win the fourth part of the prize money, and still to divide into two. Where the money count, there's no place for sympathy. The best proof for this is German Karsten Braatsch, who was denied by 20 players to start with him in Wimbledon. It was the main reason of his decision of ending the career.
The best doubles players felt terrified. On 1st September 2005 the best 45 signed under the letter against the changes, and that's how the action “Save Doubles” started. Players started to collect money for lawsuit against the mother organization, for example by selling gadgets (like a silicone bracelet in the colour of hope), available on the official website www.savedoubles.com
. It isn't difficult to notice that the main heroes of the action are ones of the top doubles players Mike and Bob Bryan, and the coordinator is... their father.
Realizing the upcoming troubles, ATP decided to find the agreement at the conference in Shanghai. Accepted ideas were announced as ultimate. (At least – as for now.) So, the third set will be replaced by the tie-break and there will also be a “championship point”, and as about getting to the draw – the player decides if he wants his singles or doubles ranking to be considered. It seems alright, because this way of quallification was already practised at the Grand Slams and challengers. Apart from that, there was created Doubles Promotion Foundation (as spiteful say: “Bryan Bros Promotion Foundation”) and the sum of 500.000$ was given for that. It's ridiculous. It's the level of prize of Sopot tournament. Next money should be collected during exhibition matches with participation of the best doubles specialists. There was also announced the enlarging of number of matches on the showcourts. Words, words, words...
Time for action, action, action. Will these changes encourage people to watch doubles, and players to access to the game? As for now, we know the answer from the last ones. They didn't react. The best players who tempted to try theirselves in new formula were David Nalbandian and Gaston Gaudio. The Argentines lost in Vienna's 1st round to doubles specialists from Israel – Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich. The score was 2-5, 3-5.
Nathaliia M. (Wrocław, December 2005)