30 August 2006

More Changes Coming to Tennis in 2007

One of the best changes in tennis this year is the use of instant replay. It's about time, frankly. It's been used in a few tournaments this year, and now it's getting its "big time" inauguration at the U.S. Open. So far it's working great.

The ATP has decided on more changes for 2007, and I'm keen to see how they turn out:

One change is to reduce the number of best-of-5-set finals. This will reduce the number of players getting worn out and pulling out of subsequent tournaments. Makes sense:

As an example of what can result, de Villiers pointed to the Rome and Hamburg clay-court tournaments this spring; Federer and Nadal played a five-hour, five-set final in Rome, then both pulled out of the Hamburg event.

Another change is that tournaments will start on Sunday instead of Monday. That makes sense, too.

But the most intruiging change is using the round-robin format instead of a straight-up draw. This is the one I'm most excited about.

If it catches on, there may be a change in the ranking methodology as well. Players are currently ranked only on the basis of tournament wins, with bonus points for beating higher ranked players. But it is possible to add another element into the rankings, and that is to incorporate players' records against other players.

To illustrate with the most obvious example, consider Federer and Nadal. Federer has won more tournaments and has more points. Therefore he is No.1. But Nadal has beaten Federer 5 out of 7 times. Should a player really be No.2 if he can beat No.1 70% of the time? That question would be addressed by a modified ranking methodology.

Another example is the Chang-Sampras rivalry of the early 90s. Chang beat Sampras much more than Sampras beat Chang. If this was factored into their rankings, it might have helped Chang move up a spot or two in the rankings.

So I'm excited about 2007. But this is 2006, and that means bye-bye Andre Agassi. And sadly, I think that bye-bye might come in the 2nd round when he faces popular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis. It could be a great match, perhaps on the level of last year's Agassi-Blake thriller. but whether Agassi will come out on top, I'm not so sure.

I have a link to a nice Agassi retrospective site, but it's at home so I'll update with the link later.

UPDATE: ATPtennis.com pays tribute to the remarkable career of Andre Agassi.


K. said...

love those old agassi shots...great site.

i give him one or two more victories this week. that's maybe just wishful thinking...but i think he'll beat baghdatis.

WestEnder said...

Bad news: his back is acting up again. He had to have a coritsone shot yesterday. Not a good sign. If he beats Baghdatis, he'll have to do it in 3 quick sets.

I think he'll play very aggressively, putting huge pressure on every return and going to the net a lot.

K. said...

unreal. probably the best sporting event of my life. i could see andre dogging it at the end of the 3rd set. but then he came out so alive in the 4th, 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, then, 4-0....it was over. right?

nope. no way.

by the way, my new favorite player is marcos baghdatis. class act. that fifth set.....oh. my. god.

the stadium goes from screaming loud crazy to pure silence while they're hitting. it was awesome.

if you've never been to the Open, in 2007, you MUST attend. its amazing.