ATP to test 15-second serve clock for doubles

Tennis

LONDON — The men’s ATP tour will try to shake up doubles tennis by trialing changes including a 15-second serve clock and reserving slots for teams to enter tournaments using their singles rankings.

The ATP announced on Wednesday that the new format will be tested at the Madrid Open later this month and at select events through the season.

Other changes include quicker changeovers, streamlining the schedule to five days during the second week of the tournament, and unrestricted fan movement during play.

The goals are to improve the “exposure and marketing appeal of the doubles game by creating new narratives and storylines for fans, a better on-site experience at tournaments and enhanced product for broadcast,” the ATP said.

The 32-team draw will include up to 16 slots for pairs entering using their singles rankings, which the tour said will create “an unprecedented number of matchups between the world’s top doubles and singles players, and compelling new narratives for fans.”

With the start of the doubles event moved to the second Tuesday in Madrid, it should allow for more singles players to enter.

Time between points will be reduced to 15 seconds after rallies shorter than four shots. Otherwise, it’s 25 seconds, which is the current serve clock in ATP doubles and singles.

“As a tour we believe there’s untapped potential in today’s doubles game,” ATP chief tour officer Ross Hutchins said in a statement. “We know it can add huge entertainment value, but it requires fresh storytelling to connect with fans. The trialing of new formats and rules allows us to stay agile and explore ways to enhance the product.”

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