Match Points #35: Sets of first to 4 games – Future of tennis or an insult to the players?

In the latest edition of Match Points, Marion Bartoli, Carole Bouchard, Simon Cambers and our special guest Craig O’Shannessy talked about the Next Gen Finals rules.

December 6, 2021
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With the 2021 season officially coming to an end with the Russian Tennis Federation winning the Davis Cup, there is plenty of time for the tennis world to introspect before the new season kicks off in a few weeks.

One of the bigger talking points in recent times has been the slow pace of the sport to adapt to changes with regards to scoring format and other innovations. While several changes have been introduced at the ATP NextGen Finals, the ATP & WTA tours have been hesitant to adopt most of these changes.

In the latest episode of Match Points, Josh Cohen debates with former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, noted tennis journalists Carole Bouchard and Simon Cambers, and tennis analyst Craig O’Shannessy on whether some of these changes should be introduced at the ATP level.

Carlos Alcaras, Masters NextGen 2021
Carlos Alcaraz – © Panoramic

Key moments

  • 1’21 – Bartoli says she likes the concept of the NextGen Finals, but she is not in favour of the shortened scoring format used (first to four games to win a set with a tiebreak at 3-3) and would like to see it revert to the traditional scoring format
  • 3’07 – Simon believes the event is a good showcase for the fans to get to know the rising players on the tour
  • 3’59 – Simon adds that some of the rules at the NextGen Finals such as not handing towels over to ballboys or limited time for bathroom breaks are good and are being implemented on the main ATP Tour
  • 4’59 – Simon also adds that the shortened scoring format makes more points more relevant in these matches
  • 5’25 – Carole believes the reason why the ATP NextGen Finals was introduced is not relevant any longer
  • 5’58 – Carole adds that the scoring format is too short and that the players themselves do not want it to be implemented on the tour
  • 8’34 – O Shannessey, who is a fan of the shorter scoring format, explains his analysis of total points won by players at the NextGen Finals and ATP Finals
  • 9’20 – O Shannessey also delves into the average length of match at the NextGen Finals and ATP Finals
  • 9’47 – O Shannessey further breaks down the number of break points produced in the shorter NextGen Finals format as compared to the regular-format matches at the ATP Finals
  • 10’28 – O Shannessey believes that the ATP 250 events, which have been struggling financially, should adopt this scoring format
  • 12’18 – Simon reveals that he would be open to an ATP 250 event using this format and seeing the response from players, fans and TV audiences
  • 12’40 – Simon also talks about other ways to innovate such as starting tournaments on Sundays and ending them on Fridays to see the response
  • 13’00 – Carole says she is dead against the idea of using this format in an ATP 250 event
  • 14’18 – Bartoli gives her insights into on why ATP 250 events and similar-tier events on the WTA Tour are struggling
  • 16’20 – Bartoli also adds that the shortened format takes away the physical aspects of matches
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