The Next Gen ATP Finals 2023, being held in Saudi Arabia, unveiled a set of rule changes designed to inject fresh dynamics into the tournament. The event, running from November 28 to December 2 at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City, is positioning itself as a testing ground for tennis rule alterations and technological advancements.
Leading players under 21, including Dominic Stricker, Alex Michelsen, and Abdullah Shelbayh, gathered insights into these changes during a pre-tournament briefing. The changes in rules and other new features for this tournament were recently made public and stirred reactions from the tennis community. We bring you a snapshot of the new-look tournament at the Next Gen ATP Finals and how the tennis world reacted.
Noteworthy rule changes from the traditional format
The 2023 edition introduces noteworthy rule modifications to fasten the pace of the game for players and fans alike, making the matches more engrossing for the viewers-
1. No on-court warm-up: Matches now kick off immediately after the coin toss, eliminating on-court warm-ups, a move designed to accelerate the game’s pace.
2. Modification in shot clocks: The rules will implement new shot clocks, with a maximum of 8 seconds between the first and second serves, and 15 seconds, in lieu of 25 seconds in between less than 3 shot points, to enhance the speed of play.
— Next Gen ATP Finals (@nextgenfinals) November 25, 2023
3. Reduced changeovers: Changeovers streamline, with no switch of ends after the first game of a set, and players now take a 90-second break at the end of each set, instead of 120 seconds.
4. Scoring format: The scoring format is best of 5 short sets (4 games to win), a tiebreak at 3-3, and a single-point deuce to fasten the game.
Introduction of new technology and viewers’ interface
There will be a fusion of technology with tennis at the Next Gen ATP Finals 2023 with groundbreaking adoption at the event making the matches even more exciting-
1. Wearables: Players receive wearable devices to track and visualize biometric data during matches, providing comprehensive insights into physical performance and stress responses.
2. In-Match Analytics: Insights and in-match analytics take center stage with the introduction of the Physicality Index, capturing physical exertion through player and ball-tracking technology.
3. Lower umpire chair: A lower umpire chair to reduce visual obstruction for fans, aligning with the current use of the Live Electronic Line Calling system.
— Next Gen ATP Finals (@nextgenfinals) November 26, 2023
4. Simplified scoreboard: The scoreboard undergoes simplification for improved engagement and understanding of the viewers.
5. Free fan movement: The Next Gen ATP Finals welcomes a new era with fans allowed to move freely within the stadium, except behind the baselines.
6. Tennis IQ and Basecamp: The Tennis IQ platform allows real-time match data visualization for coaches. The new off-court competition, Basecamp, measures players’ skills and physicality through various tests, offering fans fresh ways to analyze emerging talents.
Mixed reactions from the tennis world
Fan reactions reflected a diverse range of opinions. One fan expressed concern, foreseeing potential confusion for players with different shot clock timings in various scenarios, stating, “The whole different timers with different situations are definitely going to make things more confusing for players…”
Another fan criticized the rule allowing free fan movement, believing it would distract players’ attention, commenting, “Some of these I like, but some are just stupid like ‘free fan movement.’ At least the people sitting behind the baseline absolutely can’t just move around in points.”
Some fans welcomed specific changes, such as doing away with the on-court warm-up and the reduced shot clock time of 15 seconds in between points, after the quicker less-than-3-shot points. One fan stated, “I like the no on-court warm-up, they’re always already warmed up lol…Reduced time only for aces/df/unreturned is actually really good…”
Another fan supported the introduction of a second-serve shot clock, currently non-existent, asserting, “No 2nd serve shot clock is something that some players are regularly abusing…”
In the Next Gen ATP Finals 2023, players and fans will experience changes in the rules and technological innovations, signaling a new era in modern-day tennis that may follow suit in the future!