Jonas...doubles changes - from the china daily.
Men's doubles world top-ranked player Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden lashed out against the ATP's testing new doubles format at the China Open yesterday.
"ATP is going to kill doubles games," said the Swede at a news conference. "This is the most ridiculous change I have ever seen throughout my career."
China Open is the first tournament adopting the new format, and the changes will be further tested at another five events in Bucharest, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Palermo and Metz before the officials make the final decision at the year-ending Master Series in November in Shanghai.
According to ATP, the new format was announced after a poll of fans and media, but it refused to release details.
"They (The ATP) went in and said 'We're going to change the rules of tennis'," Bjorkman said. "They haven't even consulted our players before they made up their decisions I am open to any change but it must based on the smart and complete research."
Under the new scoring format, tiebreak will be played at 5-5 in a set instead of the original 6-all, and teams are expected to play a "sudden death" point at deuce to end a game with the receiving team choosing which one takes the return.
Adding to the new scoring format, ATP then announced that players will enter the doubles draws based on both their singles or doubles rankings, rather than only using doubles.
But the Swedish icon, who won the US Open doubles title with Max Mirnyi
(!?)of Belarus, said the scoring changes destroy the integrity of the game and will lead to further problems on the court.
"I would not feel I deserved it if I win a match under the new system," said the Swede. "It is turning tennis into more of a game of chance than a sport of skill or endurance. Tiebreakers are like a coin flip, and you shouldn't depend on it too much."
The ATP, meanwhile, insists that the new format will make the doubles games more exciting and attract more fans into the game.
"In this way, the game will be shorter and become more intense," said Iggy Jovanovic, a senior ATP official at China Open. "I believe fans and TV stations will like it."
Despite the ATP's good intentions, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which runs the Grand Slams, refused to adopt the changes at the Grand Slam events in 2006 while the WTA, the governing body of women's tennis, also has no intention to use the new format.
"It cannot be more stupid to play two different systems at the tour and Grand Slams," said Bjorkman. "Nobody around me approved the experiment."
Compatriot Thomas Johansson shared his ideas, saying the changes are no more than poison to the games.
"Of course I hate it," said Johansson in an interview at China Open yesterday. "The changes are likely to ruin the game. They've made a scoring system that doesn't exist."
When fans were surveyed at the centre court yesterday, eight out of ten said the new format is not preferable.
"It's crazy," said Yan Jing, a middle school teacher in Beijing. "How can you end a match with a score of 6-4, 6-5? That's ugly."
As players and fans are expressing their anger, Chen Shu, China's leading referee, remained neutral in the debate.
"You cannot judge a rule as good or bad when it is tested for only several matches," he said. "Every step on the changing of rules would face a lot of disagreements, so we'd better wait and see after all the six testing events."
The players' harsh reaction yesterday is not the first time such objections have come up. A group of leading men's doubles players, including Bjorkman, American Mike and Bob Bryan and doubles legend Australian Todd Woodbridge, sued the ATP Tour during the US Open last month, in a bid to prevent the professional circuit from changing scoring rules and the qualifying methods for doubles competitions at tour events.
The complaint, which was filed in US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, seeks an injunction to stop the ATP from implementing the changes and charges the organization with anti-trust violations and breaches of fiduciary duties.