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New rules at the Next Gen Finals

by Jonas Eriksson

There will be new rules at the Next Gen Finals taking place between the 9-13 November in Milan. What do we think about them?

The ATP and the FIT (Italian Tennis Federation) has announced new rules at Next Gen Finals in Milan. The idea of the tournament is to highlights the most exciting talents at age 21 and under. Like during every other year this event has been staged, the rules are different to experiment with ways to speed up the game.

You can read more about the event on the official website. This is what I wrote about the 2019 edition.

Players this year will be: Alcaraz, Korda, Musetti, Nakashima, Cerundolo, Baez, Rune and Gaston. Quite a field!

Most things are not new, such as:

  • First-to-4, Best-of-5 Set Matches
  • No-Ad Scoring
  • Free Fan Movement
  • Live Electronic Line Calling
  • Shot Clock
  • Video Review
  • Towel Racks

What’s new?

Shorter Warmups: Down from 4 minutes to 1.
Courtside Coaching: Coaching opened up from the side-lines. No more headsets.
Net Cams: Your front-row seat, right at the heart of the action.
Limited Medical Time-Outs: One per player per match.
Timed Bathroom Breaks: Max 3 minutes (+ up to 2 for change of attire).

Ross Hutchins, Tournament Director says: “This event has always been about pushing the boundaries and trialling new ideas. Ultimately, we want to continue improving the experience for our fans. It has become an incredible platform to spotlight the next generation of superstars coming up in the game, with several of the concepts we’ve tested going on to be adopted on the Tour. We’re thrilled to continue that journey of innovation in Milan.”

What do we think about these changes?

I think the what we’ve seen adopted to the tour is no-ad scoring in doubles (but that was there before, right?), electronic line calling, shot clock and towel racks. I’m personally not a huge fan of changing the brilliant scoring format of tennis, but I do like the on-court coaching that will give us insight into how players think.

The no-ad scoring is not ideal to me either, because I don’t think everything in life needs to be boiled down to a shorter format. The tennis scoring system is one of the beauties of the sport and we rarely suffer from matches being too long. It’s rather the opposite: longer matches build drama and gets the audience invested.

Why do we watch 3-hour podcasts and 7-season Netflix series instead of movies? Not everything needs to be a TikTok, if you know what I mean.

Okay, maybe I’m a salty middle-aged guy. Let me know what you think about these format changes.

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Leonardo MacKnight November 8, 2021 - 01:22

What I think about the new rules?

People trying to change what has been working well…

David November 8, 2021 - 04:42

A boring match is always too long, a great match you usually want more. Nothing to do with the scoring system, so leave it alone. Is it just a way to make duration more predictable for TV?

caleb November 8, 2021 - 13:52

What David said is likely the root cause.
Pressure from TV to fit in a perfect timeslot or tournament directors to make sure they get the requisite number of matches played.
In the US that is what they’re trying to do with baseball, make the length shorter and more predictable
Changes that no one asks for are always tied to sponsor money.

Alec Wasa November 9, 2021 - 20:41

One also needs to think about the problem tennis has with regards to the future. The average age of tennis fans is quite high and the fact is that the younger generation has shorter attention spans. Therefore, I can understand that many tennis games in Grand Slams are too long for all but tennis players. Even normal ATP matches can last 3 hour, and fewer and fewer younger fans want to watch one match for that long. Personally I love best of 5 sets but perhaps the question is: what will happen to the future of tennis if the sport does not succeed in captivating the interest of the younger generation ? Surely, once interest declines, so will all things tennis decline …..

Good that the Next Gen tournament experiments with ways to shorten games. Perhaps some work while other won’t work.

Tomas Gustafsson November 10, 2021 - 22:45

Idag spelar inte Musetti med Head Boom PRO mot Gaston. Vad tror du, kommer byte ske under träningsperioden eller går han tillbaks till Extreme?

TN November 11, 2021 - 08:30

Tror nog han går tillbaka till slut. Brukar sluta så!


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