Great changes ahead! Like in many other sports, also in tennis there always have been two philosophies: the conservative and the innovative one. The innovators are now taking the lead.
SOMETHING ABOUT TENNIS INNOVATIONS
Talking about rules, we have been through many innovations. The most notable (and impacting) ones have been the introduction of the tie-break and the hawk-eye system. The tie break was invented by James Van Alen in 1965 and introduced in Wimbledon in 1971 (at that time it was used when the score was 8-8). The hawk-eye was tested and introduced in 2005 to delight of everybody (if introduced in the 80s we would have missed McEnroe's famous tantrums..."you cannot be serious!!!").
There are always talks about innovations in materials, courts (remember the blue clay controversy?) scoring systems (the "no-ads" or sudden death is the worst of the worst) and sometimes actions follow ideas. Let's see what we have now.
It's about relaxing the rule to make it more enforceable. After almost a decade of short pickings (Rafa), endless ball bouncings (Nole) and "smart use" of towels (everybody else) it was time to do something. The umpires were clearly unable to enforce the 25-second rule because it was too tough, so the ATP had to intervene.
The actual rule
The actual rule is that in the case of time violation, the server and the receiver lose a point after a warning. This makes it difficult for the umpires to call a time violation especially in the decisive sets (recently the chair umpire issued a warning to Djokovic during the US Open final, and the Serbia camp went on fire)
The new rule will be introduced in 2013 and makes a distinction between the server and receiver.
If the server goes over the 25 seconds mark, first he receives a warning, then for the second and subsequent violations he receives a fault.
If the receiver commits a time violation, then first there is a warning and for all the successive violations he will lose the point.
This rule will be enforced in both the ATP World Tour and the ATP Challenger Tour.
Bye bye to let service. Basically, there will not be a repetition of the point in case of let services, but the point just goes on. This adds more unpredictability to the game. The rule will be introduced at the ATP Challenger level.
"Although this change will not materially reduce the length of a match, we believe it should have a positive impact on the flow of the match," said Drewett (the ATP executive chairman).
"We're certainly not ready yet to eliminate the service let, but believe a trial at the ATP Challenger level will be a good way to test this initiative in a competitive environment and get feedback from players and the public before deciding if it could be adapted more broadly."
Well... the time violation is a huge blow to some players (notably Rafa) and it will spark much more controversy in enforcing it. Maybe they need to raise the 25-second mark during the 5th set of a slam to make it more enforceable (30 seconds?).
Regarding ruling out the let service this will not make a big difference as that is not a big part of the game. Defininately it will not improve the flow of the match. Some people say that some players could intentionally try to hit the let to have a point... well that would be very skillful and... suicidal...
What do you think about the rule?