Milan Review: A Look Back At The Innovations And Rule Changes
As soon as 2019, tennis fans could see some of the innovations that were the hallmark of the Next Gen ATP Finals on the regular ATP World Tour, says Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman and President.
The 25-second shot clock, reduced warm up and one medical time out have been earmarked as possible changes for as soon as 2019.
“Those three things, I think we could do for 2019. I really, really do,” Kermode said in an interview.
He was discussing the new rules as the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, an idea 20 months in the making, came to a close in Milan. South Korea's Hyeon Chung beat Andrey Rublev of Russia on Saturday night for the inaugural title.
The tournament welcomed eight of the world's best 21-and-under players to Italy, and, for the first time, tested a plethora of new rules and innovations that have been talked about for decades but never trialled.
“The whole thing has been quite a journey,” Kermode said.
The innovations featured changes that diehard traditionalists might question, including a shorter format – best of five set matches, first to four games sets and no-ad scoring – along with in-match coaching.
But Kermode reassured all fans, from the traditionalists to the new-age crowd who would like to see no second serves, to stay calm amidst the talk of change.
“Don't panic. We're not rushing into doing mad stuff but what I do want to do is to test things that maybe five, 10 years down the line can be used, and we'll see whether they work,” he said.
Any changes to regular ATP World Tour play would have to go through an extensive review process and ultimately be approved by the ATP Board of Directors. Kermode and others also want to continue studying many of the ideas, including the shorter format, before even thinking about implementing them on the ATP World Tour.
“This is obviously going to be the most dramatic one because you could argue that it fundamentally changes who wins the game,” Kermode said of the format change.
“Say if you trialled this for a year at a certain level, you may find that actually it's only the big hitters who win, or the guys with big serves or the guys who are coming to net. I think you'd have to analyse that. So that's why there's no way this format will happen quickly.”
Kermode was, however, surprised by just how intense the shorter matches were in Milan. Players commented throughout the week on the how the shorter format felt more taxing than the regular best of three set matches, six games sets.
“It's at full volume,” Kermode said.
“Hawk-Eye Live”, the electronic line calling system, was used instead of line judges during the Next Gen ATP Finals. Only the chair umpire, ball kids and the players were on the court.
The system could be used in the future throughout the tour, but, for now, it, like a lot of the ideas that were tested in Milan, will need to be further studied.
“I'm fairly mixed opinion on it. I love the clean, visual, modern look of it,” said Kermode, referring to no lines judges on the court. “But does it lose some of the human interest? Possibly. But we'll see.”