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The End of Doubles?

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After the U.S. Open, the ATP Tour will introduce a new men’s-doubles format intended to create shorter matches, encourage singles players to participate, and stimulate television coverage: First to win four points wins each game, with no advantage points; Þrst to five games wins each set (rather than six); and a tiebreaker is played at 4-4. Twins Bob and Mike Bryan, the amped-up, chest-bumping American duo ranked No. 1 in the world, react to the changes.

How do you feel about the new rules?
We’re pretty upset. These rules will hurt the quality of doubles by bringing a lot of luck into the game. Having singles players in the draw is going to create more defaults, more pullouts, and more tanked matches. Andy Roddick or Roger Federer is not going to play more doubles because of these rules.

Why is this happening?
Tournament directors are trying to cut costs and save money on hotel rooms and free tickets. They don’t feel like doubles players are adding to the value of their tournament, and they don’t want anyone who only plays doubles.

What could have been done instead?
We need to have our names on the backs of our shirts. Fans don’t even know who we are. Tournament directors need to profile the top doubles teams along with the top singles players in the tournament books, and maybe put the doubles match on center court more. Obviously, you want to watch someone you know about.

What’s going to be lost if these changes take place?
Because of the extra element of luck, you won’t see a doubles team that can dominate like a singles player can. And doubles players’ hearts are in each match. If you watch singles players play doubles, sometimes their heads are not in it.


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