Adelaide may trial round-robin format
October 3, 2006
AdvertisementAUSTRALIA wants to host the ATP's first dalliance with its new round-robin format at the season-opening tournament in Adelaide in January.
The hardcourt event's co-directors, Peter Johnston and Mark Woodforde, support the introduction of the system, which guarantees players multiple matches and next year will replace the traditional knockout format at selected men's tournaments worldwide. It is currently only used by the ATP at the eight-man Masters Cup, held next month in Shanghai, and the World Team Cup in Dusseldorf each May.
The change is part of a men's tour overhaul that includes Sunday rather than Monday tournament starts, a minimum 10 per cent prizemoney increase and the phasing-out of best-of-five set matches outside the grand slams and Davis Cup, which are run by the International Tennis Federation.
"At certain weeks, (the round-robin format) works better than others because you probably need the extra day to play it, and it's right for Adelaide because it's the first week of the year and players are looking for matches," said Johnston, whose event competes for players with rival ATP tournaments in India and Qatar. "It just helps Australian Open preparation. Hopman Cup's round-robin, Kooyong's round-robin. There's certain weeks that it will suit and Adelaide is one of them."
Johnston said he hoped for ATP approval this month, ahead of the tour's original November timetable. The historic Memorial Drive tournament has been condemned to a merger with the Gold Coast women's event and relocation to a new complex in Brisbane from 2009, but is scheduled for January 1-8 — with Lleyton Hewitt the probable headline act — in its penultimate year.
"There's a few logistical things to be decided, like what format would it actually be?" Johnston said. "How many groups of how many, for example, which is one of those ones that obviously affects what the (entry) cut-off will be. You might do eight groups of three, and have two matches in your group and then you're into the quarters, and so everyone's guaranteed of two matches. Or you might do a 32-draw.
"The ATP wants to get it 100 per cent right — working out the right points structure, working out what to do in certain circumstances, that's still going to still take a little while. That's what they're working on right now."
Advantages of the round-robin format include avoiding the scenario where a drawcard — usually on a hefty appearance fee — lasts only one round, as well as scheduling certainty for organisers and broadcasters. Less positive is the prospect of dead matches between players with no chance of advancing to the knockout stage.
"The main reason why the ATP are doing it is to get the guarantee of the marquee players playing more," Johnston said.