Ring in the new

IN the first week of 2006, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) implemented the new doubles rule in its tournaments across the world including Chennai, Doha and Adelaide. The new rules apply only to ATP and ATP Challenger events and not to Grand Slams.

As part of the new rules, the decisive third set is replaced by a tie-break of 1 to 10 points with the difference of two points deciding the winner. The advantage rule on deuce games is also scrapped as part of the new rules. During deuce games, the team that receives serve chooses the player who returns serve. Entries in doubles competitions, according to the new rules, will be based on a player's best ATP ranking, either in singles or doubles. This is similar to the system followed in the Grand Slams and the ATP Challengers, and it gives both singles and doubles players a fair chance to enter the doubles draw.

According to the ATP, the changes were made with a view to helping tournament officials and TV broadcasters with their scheduling — the duration of matches will now be easier to predict. In a statement, the ATP said, "The Board strongly believes that doubles should be celebrated as an integral aspect of the sport, and feels the changes will provide an opportunity for it to be seen and enjoyed more by a broader range of tennis fans."

The WTA has not changed its rules.