Joining the First Serve Podcast on Sunday, ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode said 2018 could mark one of the most exciting years of all time in men’s tennis.
Despite a lull in 2017, where two men — Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — dominated the year’s biggest tournaments, Kermode said he expects the tour to be fascinating because there are so many question marks and storylines.
“I think, actually, that next year’s tour will be one of the best ever. How long can [Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka] keep going? When will the new guys break through?” Kermode told host Brett Phillips.
“This happens in every sport. You’ve got these huge, global icons of the game that are peaking at this age, and now you’ve got this convergence of the next generation coming.”
Kermode also said that three of the innovations used in last week’s Next Gen Finals could be implemented year-round in 2019.
“The medical timeouts for sure; I think the shorter warm-ups, I think they can be even shorter than we’ve done [in Milan]. And the shot clocks. Those things I think we can do for 2019 — I really, really do,” Kermode said.
Throughout the tournament in Milan, players were limited to one medical timeout per match, there were shorter warm-ups with matches beginning five minutes after the second player walked on, and there was a 25-second shot clock in between points.
Other rule changes that were met with criticism included the no-let rule, televised player-coaching and a shorter, first to four games format. But Kermode said, after speaking with the games elite, it’s important that the governing body of men’s tennis is ‘trying things’.
“I spoke to Rafa, Roger, Grigor and Jack Sock, and the strong message from these guys is that, despite not liking some things or being reserved about changing rules that they have played with for a long time, the level of support that we’re actually trying stuff [is appreciated]. That’s the thing that’s been so inspiring.”
Kermode also previewed the ATP Finals in London, which started today.
“It’s the Superbowl of tennis. They’ve all played such an intense season and to them [the finals] is a big, big deal.”
Other guests on the show included Next Gen champion Hyeon Chung, Roger Rasheed and Director of Tennis at Hawk Eye Innovations Sam Green.
Listen to the full podcast here:
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