Conchita Martinez and Marc Lopez speak on potential ATP rule changes

by: Matt Cronin | November 10, 2017

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Both Martinez and Lopez said they liked allowing some type of coaching on court, another rule change being used at Milan. (AP)

Former Grand Slam champion Conchita Martinez and doubles player Marc Lopez say that the ATP is introducing some big changes at the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan this week. 

The under-21 event, which does not carry ranking points, has several rule changes including sets to four games instead of six, and no-ad scoring.

Martinez says some things can be changed, but not radically.

“In this sense, I am very traditional. I hope they do not change the essence in tennis, that could be very strange,” she told El Pais. “Things have changed all the time—before we played with white balls, for example, now there are colors everywhere on court.

"The most important thing is that the fundamental identity is respected."

According to Martinez, a lot of the changes are driven by television.

"There's a lot of thinking about TV, because finally, who pays for it? Where does the money from ads and sponsorships come in?  This is something that has been talked about for a long time. It's all a bit around TV," she said. "I would keep the six games [in a set], but I would play three sets instead of five. There are matches that are epic, and special, but there are others that are not good and are too long."

Lopez agreed that changes should be balanced. "Tennis, like all sports, has to advance," said Lopez. "But some of the things proposed don’t make much sense. It seems that they want more speed. There are things I would never change, like the sets are six games with the advantages [at deuce].

"Every time more importance is given to speed. For TV it can be handy, but what about those who pay a ticket to go to a tournament and want to watch long matches? Don't go crazy."

Both Martinez and Lopez said they liked allowing some type of coaching on court, another rule change being used at Milan. The tournament also has a shot clock, and electronic linecalling with no linespeople on court.

The ATP has said it is experimenting with rules changes at the event to get public reaction, but has not decided whether any will be used on the regular tour.

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