Next Gen ATP Finals top seed Andrey Rublev believes some of the new rules being tested out at the 21-and-under tournament in Milan are making the game “unfair”, the Russian said on Thursday after booking himself a spot in the semi-finals.
The inaugural event in Milan is experimenting with some changes this week, where the sets end at four games, not six, with no ad-scoring, no lets on serve, best-of-five format, a shot clock on the court to countdown 25 seconds between points, on-court coaching via headsets, stats available to the players via tablets between sets, Hawk-Eye Live replacing all line judges, and free movement for fans on the sidelines during play.
Rublev, who beat Canadian Denis Shapovalov 4-1, 3-4(8), 4-3(2), 0-4, 4-3(3) in a two-hour battle on Thursday, has his reservations regarding some of the new rules.
“When they put some rules that doesn’t change game of tennis, it’s okay. But I don’t like when they try to change the game, because with these rules still four games, with no ad-scoring, they changing the game,” said the 20-year-old Rublev, who is currently ranked No.37 in the world.
“With these rules, everyone can beat everyone, and in my opinion is a little bit not fair, because in my opinion the winner have to be the guy who is working harder than everybody.
“Suddenly with these rules, the guy who is not doing right things, maybe he is not professional and he have easy chances to win, to compete with all the players and to win the tournaments, and I think this is not fair.”
Asked to elaborate on which rules in particular he deems unfair, he said: “The game rule, the sets, still four games, all that inside the game. You understand what I mean? Outside this, I don’t know, net — I mean, this Hawk-Eye system or clock time doesn’t changing the game.
“But all the rest with the rules exactly for the games, points, this is what is changing the game.”
Not all players share Rublev’s views. American Jared Donaldson says the determining factor for making any permanent rules changes to the game should be the tennis fans who are consuming the product.
“I don’t really think it matters my opinion. I think it depends what the fans want,” said Donaldson, who lost all three of his group matches to exit the tournament.
“So if the fans want to see tennis played with these rules, then I think that tennis should be played under these rules, if they don’t, then I don’t think they should change the rules.
“I think every rule has a purpose, and depending on what that’s trying to accomplish is either a good thing, is a good thing; if there’s a problem in the sport then there’s got to be a rule that could fix it.
“If there’s any problems that the ATP thinks arises or the fans think they need to be addresses I think there are rules that will fix that.”
In the semi-finals, Rublev will face Croatian Borna Coric, who is undefeated so far this week, while Chung Hyeon – who is also unbeaten – squares off against Russian Daniil Medvedev.
While no ranking points are up for grabs at this event, a large sum of money is on offer with the champion potentially walking away with $390,000.
“I think of course for the players it’s also important, because here is the big money, especially for our age and of course everybody is motivated, because not many players could win this money just in one event,” admits Rublev.
“And of course everybody is also fighting for this, and it’s normal.”
Chung has been on a roll in Milan having taken down Rublev, Shapovalov and Italian wildcard Gianluigi Quinzi, who had defeated the South Korean in the Wimbledon junior final in 2013.
“I don’t know why I’m playing good in here. Just I’m trying to enjoy on the court and trying to play my 100 per cent all the time,” said Chung. “I think I’m just playing better and better every day.”
Of all the rules, the bespectacled Chung singles out the shot clock as one he’d like to see on tour, and he has a specific reason for that.
“I like shot clock, because sometimes I got warning because I have to clean my glasses, so I got the warning all the time in long match. So I like the shot clock.”
The world No.54, whose English has improved dramatically over the past two years, allowing him to confidently communicate with his peers and the press, says he’s got plenty to be proud of this season.
“I have a really good many thing in this year so far. I have first reach in third round in Grand Slam. I play Kei (Nishikori) in the Grand Slam (lost in five in Roland Garros third round). And first semis in ATP Tour 250 (in Munich) and I got the new highest ranking in here. I have good memories on this year,” said the 21-year-old.