ATP Masters 1000 new format is breaking the world of tennis

The new formats of the 1000, over two weeks, have divided the opinion of fans and insiders. Let's analyze the pros and cons

by Lorenzo Ciotti
ATP Masters 1000 new format is breaking the world of tennis
© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport

If until a few years ago only the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and the Miami Open (formerly Key Biscayne - ed.) had the 96-player format with a bye for the 32 seeds in the first round and an ATP Masters 1000 tournament spread over two weeks, now this has also spread to the Mutua Madrid Open and the Internazionali BNL d'Italian in Rome.

ATP is also thinking of applying this extension of time and draw spread over two weeks also for the Canadian Open in Montreal and Toronto and for the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. And it should be considered that now the Shanghai Rolex Masters also has this format.

However, the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments with the two-week format are dividing fans, insiders and media. There are those who like these long and new formats and there is, in the same way, a part of fans who are not at all enthusiastic about this format and preferred when most of the tournaments in this category were played over a week with a smaller field of player participation.

ATP has already shown that it intends to build a calendar based on major events: the strengthening of the ATP Masters 1000 over almost two weeks goes in this direction. Fewer but high level ATP events.

Manolo Santana Court© Jasper Juinen / Staff Getty Images Sport

Who is against this format

Those who are against see the tournament as too long and, above all, the system of byes in the first round effectively deprives the first week of high-level matches until Friday/Saturday.

Compelling challenges can be seen right from the first round, for example at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters tournament, which maintained the one-week format. Instead, a start on Monday or Tuesday with the big names starting play on Friday often leads to playing schedules that have little appeal in the first week.

And matches actually played in front of almost empty stands. The rest days between two games are not really rest days but simply recovery days. The series of prolonged injuries of many big players, the withdrawals and the choice of others to preserve themselves gives life to the opposites of this formula: it is necessary to make the big players play less with smaller draws because in this way they have less chance of getting injured and it is known how much the presence of top players impact for a tournament.

Italian Open© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport

The option of a rest day between one match and another effectively keeps the players who finish everywhere busy for 4 weeks in a row between Madrid and Roma while in the one-week format you could have a player on the pitch every day in that week but there could then be space for weeks without tournaments to recover and do another type of work.

It is certainly also a much more difficult format to manage from a television point of view. There is no absolute truth and no better formula than another. It must be said that, given the many withdrawals and defections, the absolute priority for most players is to get to the top in the Grand Slam tournaments.

And right now at the Roland Garros. Many think that three ATP Masters 1000 on clay on the eve of the Roland Garros are too many.

Miami Open© Mark Brown / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Who is in favor of this new format

One reason in favor of this formula is that players tend to have, except in cases of persistent rain, a day of rest between matches and more recovery time.

Furthermore, it was also designed to allow 96 players to access these tournaments. There are also greater chances for players outside the ATP Top-60 to be able to re-enter the draw. In this way, the aforementioned players, entering these draws, will participate in significantly higher prize money than they would get by playing smaller category tournaments.

Because in fact this two-week schedule is causing several ATP 250 tournaments to jump from the schedule. It must also be said that for the crowds present in the courts, playing an ATP Masters 1000 spread over two weeks could give the opportunity to find more tickets to participate in such events.

Sometimes it happens, such as in Indian Wells or Rome, that tickets sell out well in advance, and we are also talking about simple grounds tickets. By spreading the tournament over a longer period of time, fans will be given greater chances of being able to purchase tickets (perhaps even at more popular prices?).

Furthermore. The higher revenues would guarantee the tournaments in question to be able to invest in their infrastructures and their clubs, allowing continuous improvements for both tennis players, the media and the fans.