Posted: Friday September 2, 2005 1:22PM; Updated: Friday September 2, 2005 4:05PM
While the Bryans offer an entertaining presence, the lack of sizzle from others has the ATP tweaking the doubles format.
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Outspoken tennis pro Justin Gimelstob will write every few days from the U.S. Open, where he's partnering with Meghann Shaughnessy in mixed doubles on Friday. Click here to read all of Justin's entries.
That's kind of puzzling when you consider that the ATP is a joint partnership between the players and all of the tournaments that make up the ATP calendar (except the Grand Slams, which are operated by the ITF). Essentially, the players are filing a lawsuit against themselves.
This should give you a good idea of the level of desperation doubles players find themselves in. Over the past decade, doubles has been a hot topic amongst players, ATP officials and tournament directors. The tourney heads believe doubles doesn't sell tickets and is a drain on their bottom line. They theorize one of the solutions is to get more singles players in doubles draws, and in order for that to happen, they correctly believe they need to provide incentives for singles players. That's one reason why the ATP is experimenting with shorter doubles matches at the U.S. Open, as well as upcoming fall tournaments.
But this isn't the major issue. Doubles players want their game to prosper, and they're willing to accept new initiatives that would make doubles a more attractive product. The main problem, after Wimbledon, is that new proposals were passed that essentially downsized doubles to a few top teams and increased the ratio of singles players in the doubles draw from about 50 percent to around 95 percent by 2008. Because of these changes, doubles specialists are going to get squeezed out of the game.
I feel like I have a unique perspective on this issue because, while I consider myself a singles player first and foremost, I do make a reasonable percentage of my income from doubles and have had relatively more success in doubles during my career.