The purposes of Next Gen event

Since a few months ago, when ATP announced the strange new rules for the Next Gen tournament, I realized that project has bigger goals than helping the youngsters.

First to 4 games to win a set, with a normal tie-break if both players win 3 games. They explained this as being a help for the players’ fatigue. I would’ve understood if they had to win 2 sets to claim the match. But no, they had to grab 3. So it’s not helping their fitness.

No let rule, so amateurish. How can you play like that? So if the player who serves is lucky to touch the net and the ball to fall somewhere close to it, the opponent stands no chance.

To have a live hawk-eye for all the lines. Just the chair umpire to be on the court. As good as it sounds, as it would take a lot of human mistakes, it will also take from the human touch of the sport. Tennis is a phenomenon, not just a sport, and the ball kids and line judges are part of its atmosphere. Simply eliminating them wouldn’t be beneficial.

And we arrive to the first rule from Next Gen event which will be applied on the ATP tour in 2018: the shot-clock rule. Players are entitled to only 25 seconds in between points.

Roger Federer thinks this rule is stressful and was the reason why the youngsters cramped so much during the Milan event.

But who could be a bigger contestant than World number 1, Rafa Nadal. Known for his ritual before each point, this will serve as a big challenge. Novak Djokovic is also known for bouncing the ball many times before serving.

The King of clay said:

I believe it is not something that is good for the future of the Tour.

For me personally, I am not worried at all. I don’t want to play for 10 more years. I can adapt easily to that.

But in my opinion, it’s not the same playing at 15 degrees [Celsius] or 18 degrees than playing at 35 degrees and that’s why we have umpires, as they have to evaluate all the conditions to create the best show possible for the fans.

In my opinion, having a clock with 25 seconds playing in some extreme conditions you cannot have the best show possible.

As small it may sound, I believe this rule will be a leveler, as many players were regrouping by making the pause in between points longer. So now the players which can react fast to stressful situations will be rewarded.

Other rules implemented include:

  • Players need to start their warm-up after 1 minute from their arrival on the court and not to last more than 5 minutes. The fine could reach up to $20.000 (£15.000);
  • Any player from the main draw who is unfit to compete or is not performing at a professional level (like Kyrgios or Tomic did when they said they were bored) and retires before Thursday at 12:00 PM (before the main draw starts) will now receive only 50% of the prize money. The other 50% will be received by the lucky loser who will take his spot.

And these rules are just the beginning of big changes implemented by ATP. In 2019 they plan to cut the 32 seeds from Grand Slams to 16. That will result to the fact that the first favorites shall meet redoubtable top 20 players since their first round.

It looks like ATP tries to reinvent the wheel, not thinking too much about tradition, a very important aspect in this sport. As maybe some rules are beneficial, like the shot-clock and giving fines to the unprofessional players, most of them seem strange.

I just hope ATP won’t implement other rules from the Next Gen event, like no-let rule, no advantage rule and short sets. The live hawk-eye is odd as well. All these changes would be a bummer.

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