Jamie Murray Bruno Soares - Where to stand in doubles

New Madrid Open doubles format is ‘awful’, claims former world No.2

The new ATP doubles format that is being tested at the Madrid Open this week has sparked controversy among the tennis world. 

The ATP Tour recently announced the introduction of certain tweaks to the doubles tour, all in a bid to ‘enhance the product for fans, players and tournaments’.

One of the primary changes that has caused an uproar is the concept of more singles vs. doubles action, allowing players to enter the doubles draw via their singles rankings.

“It will be a bit more lively, nicer to watch, and more entertaining,” Wesley Koolhof, ATP Player Council member and 2023 Wimbledon champion, said in a statement.

“That’s what we’re trying to produce, to entertain the crowd a bit more and to attract the crowd.”

Though the reception from the doubles players has not been solely positive.

Former world No.2 Bruno Soares claimed that the new format is ‘awful’ upon release of the doubles draw on Sunday evening.

“Awful to say the least,” the Brazilian said on X, formerly Twitter. “Having a combine team 441 [ranking] playing there it’s terrible for the sport. Good try, terrible outcome. Mistakes happen for us to learn from them. Let’s get back.”

What are the other changes being tested at the Madrid Open?

The Madrid Masters will play host to a number of changes this week in an attempt to speed up the play of doubles and brand it as a more ‘exciting’ format of tennis.

Reduced shot clock

  • Players will now have 15 seconds to prepare for their next point after rallies of up to three shots, and 25 seconds for rallies of four shots or more.
  • This adjustment aims to increase the pace of the game.

Quicker changeovers

  • No drink or sit-down break at the first changeover of each set.
  • Changeover time during sets will be 60 seconds from the end of the game and 90 seconds between sets.

Free fan movement

  • Fans will have the freedom to move as they please, except for behind the baseline.
  • Intended to improve on-site experience, ensuring fans don’t miss the action.

You can read more about the changes outlined by the ATP here.

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Jerome Coombe, Tennishead Writer, discovered his love for tennis journalism whilst studying languages and playing competitive tennis. He has a vast knowledge of tennis and strives to shed a light on all corners of the sport.