With the new tennis season just a few weeks away, the ATP (no longer World) Tour will have more changes than just the snappy new logo.
Tennis.life has learned that the most notable one is that the 25-second shot clock will now be mandatory at all Masters 1000 level tournaments.
That goes for main draw and qualifying matches, on all match courts.
The shot clock is recommended for the lower-level tournaments as well. But it won’t be mandatory. That will change in 2020, when it will be required equipment at all ATP Tour events.
Doubles changes also instituted
The doubles players have been lobbying for some changes for awhile now. And they’re getting their wish in 2019 as all Masters 1000 tournaments will have 32-team draws.
Until now, only the expanded Indian Wells and Miami Open had full 32-team draws. The remainder of the Masters 1000s had 24-player draws – i.e., the eight seeded teams had first-round byes.
There will be three wild-card teams allowed per tournament, up from two currently, regardless of draw size.
In return, the doubles players will make themselves available for more off-court events to promote the tournaments.
Among those are pro-am and additional sponsor activities. These are things that already happen to some extent, at some tournaments. And it’s definitely not a new idea.
But the main addition – this is an interesting one – a “Doubles Only” court.
The biggest different with this court, if the tournaments choose to implement it, is that the court could be branded differently to make it stand out and attract attention on its own.
And, notably, there will be free crowd movement on that court.
Which you have to think is a test of how that might go in the bigger picture.
US Open Series test passes
The tournaments leading up to this year’s US Open tried out the shot clock this year.
As much talk as there is about it, it’s one of those things that sort of went unnoticed the vast majority of the time.
There’s no mention of the “shortened” warmup – i.e. the frantic race to get to the coin toss as soon as the players get on court, with little opportunity to refrigerate special sports drinks or even put the wristbands on right side up.
So let’s hope that’s for … later.