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Players Get Up To Speed On New Rules, Innovations In Jeddah

Dominic Stricker, Alex Michelsen and Abdullah Shelbayh were among the world’s leading 21-and-under players getting a different view of the press conference room at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM Sunday. Instead of sitting behind the microphone answering questions, players perched in media seats while taking a briefing on the signature rules and innovations in play at the tournament, which will run 28 November-2 December at Jeddah's King Abdullah Sports City.

Stricker is the only member of the field who has played the event before, but even he will need to adapt to new conditions as the evolving event continues to serve as a testing ground for rule changes and innovation.

"No warm up will be interesting. Usually you have a few minutes to find your game, so this will be something different,” Stricker said.

"I like the new time rules with eight seconds between first and second serves and also 15 seconds between points when rallies are short. That's a good one because you can save a lot of time after those short points. Some players may think they need more time, but I feel it's a really good idea."

Player briefing

World No. 94 Alex Michelsen, who this time last year was around 600 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and celebrating Thanksgiving in California, said that he also was comfortable with the abbreviated time between first and second serves.

“I just have three bounces, so eight seconds between first and second serves shouldn’t be an issue for me,” he said.

Jordanian Abdullah Shelbayh, who received a wild card into the tournament, said he was looking forward to playing under a different set of rules.

"I think it's going to be more exciting and more challenging as everyone gets used to the quicker speed of play," Shelbayh said. "And with the short sets to four games, matches can be decided by just a few points, so I think that will being out the best in us.

"The rule I may find challenging is the free fan movement, because I've not had that before. We're used to people walking around the court at practice, but to do it in a match will be a new experience."

Arthur Fils

Changes for 2023 are set to accelerate the event’s fast-paced format, enhance the fan experience, and enrich data and analytics for players, coaches and fans:

No on-court warm-up: Matches will start immediately after the coin toss, with a separate practice court available for warm-ups. Shot-Clock Reductions: A new maximum of eight seconds will be introduced between first and second serves. This also applies after a let on first or second serve. As in previous editions, time between points will be reduced from 25 to 15 seconds if the previous point includes fewer than three shots. Wearables: Players will be able to track and visualise biometric data during matches via wearable devices – providing a comprehensive overview of their physical performance and stress responses. Insights: A new Physicality Index, developed by Tennis Data Innovations and Kinexon, will capture physical exertion through player and ball-tracking technology. Existing TDI insights such as Shot Quality will be leveraged in stadium for the first time. In-match analytics: The newly launched Tennis IQ platform will be available to coaches sitting courtside along with data-tagged video footage, with match data updated in real time and visualised in stadium. Basecamp: A new pre-event, off-court competition, Basecamp, will measure the skills and physicality of players through a series of tests, creating new ways for fans to analyse the game's rising stars. Lower umpire chair to reduce the visual obstruction for fans in the arena. Live Electronic Line Calling remains in place on all line calls. Simplified scoreboard for improved fan engagement and understanding.

Continued from previous editions:

Scoring format will be best of five tie-break sets. Each set will be first to four games with a tie-break played at 3-3. Games will be played using the No-Ad scoring format with the server choosing the service box. Free fan movement allowed in stadium, except behind the baselines. Reduced changeovers: No change of ends after the first game of a set. At the end of the set, players will sit down for 90 seconds (down from 120 seconds).

The 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM will take place at the King Abdullah Sports City from 28 November-2 December 2023, with a record US $2 million prize money on offer.

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