The Tennis Debate: ATP should be applauded for trialling innovations – the sport needs to evolve –

Agree with the arguments put forward here? Disagree? Have your say in the comments section below.

On Monday, the ATP confirmed that it will trial live electronic line calling at November’s Next Gen Finals in Milan, meaning no line judges and the chair umpire as the sole on-court official. 

The experiment will be just one of a raft of potential reforms – including a shot clock, sudden death deuce points, no service lets and sets of first to four games – that will be tested out at the Next Gen ATP Finals, which brings together the seven best 21 and under players from 2017, plus one wildcard.

For the purists, the innovations are a frightening glimpse of the future, and a sad indictment of the low attention spans of many modern sports fans. For others, these are reforms worth testing in a sport that has too often evolved at a pace that would make a glacier feel a little impatient. 

Personally, I’m in the latter camp. There are some tennis conventions that should not be meddled with – the grand slams must not abandon the best of five set format for instance – but elsewhere the sport needs to think about how it can engage a younger and increasingly inattentive audience. This is especially relevant when other mainstream sports are transforming themselves, with the English Cricket Board launching a new nation-wide Twenty20 tournament (T20 itself is of course a revolutionary format) and golf earlier this year announcing its biggest set of rule changes in a century.


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