NextGen is no Child’s Play

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Any new change in every field is always frowned upon. The organisers of the ATP NextGen Finals did have that in mind when it was announced that the competition would include new rules.

The whole idea of such an event has raised questions in the minds of experts, coaches, spectators and fans alike ever since its inception. The reason for including such a tournament is far from unfounded, if one attempts to look closely.

The ATP Tour is dominated by a group of five guys who have won all but one Grand Slam since 2009. And all of these guys are now above thirty. Their dominance is so devastating that the generation born after them have had to come up with empty buckets throughout their career.

So promoting a new bunch of young players was necessary to ensure that the upcoming generation does not fall short of encouragement.

However, with the introduction of these new changes, the whole campaign falls short of explanation under the solitary garb of promotion or encouragement. The change seems more in lieu with increasing TV viewership and runs a big risk of changing the whole essence of tennis.

So let’s have a look at how the new changes in the game have panned out.

  • Medical Timeout per match: When we see how players have used the medical time-out as more of a strategy in the matches, this comes off as a fresh new change.
  • Shot Clock: The Shot Clock too is a bright new change which seems to be having the potential for permanently bringing an end to the nature of some of the players of going overboard with the time between the points.
  • No Line Judges: This is probably the best of the lot. Calling the points is one of the major factors of the game which requires high level of skill and is performed by people who are not participating. Eliminating those judges and letting the machines do their job will increase the efficiency and this seems one of the things which will catch on in the future.
  • No Lets on Serve: This rule makes little sense since the serve is the only shot which is not supposed to be interrupted by external factors.
  • Short Deuce: This means that no game will go beyond 7 points. One of the best things during the tennis matches are those few games which go well beyond 10 minutes and sometimes turn out to be the the decisive factor of the whole match. With the new rules, those match changing games will be a matter of history.
  • 5 set matches but shorter sets: A player has to win just 4 games with a break to win a set. And if the set goes to 3-3, it’s tiebreak time. The essence of a set is that a player has to go through multiple momentum swings and to win over them to take the set. Here, the person who draws first blood has a massive advantage as he only has to win 4 games. The 5 set matches may be a positive and more competitive affair but since none of the matches have even gone beyond 2 and half hours, it has hardly made a difference.

Overall, some changes have gone down well with the experts and other professional tennis players. But when we view the whole affair, the negatives clearly seem to outweigh the positives. Some people, like Marcelo Melo, have also said that the changes were merely brought in to make this game more eye-catching and hence increase the viewership ratings. Commerce is a very important part of the sport, but it should never be allowed to have such a big influence as to change the game altogether.

When both Borna Coric and Denis Shapovalov pulled out of the third place match, leading to a cancellation, it makes many people wonder how seriously even the players involved are taking it. Promoting and encouraging young prodigies is very much beneficial to the sport, but one has to make sure that it should not turn out to be a child’s play.


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