Ivanovic says ’hard to imag­ine’ faster fu­ture for game

The Financial Daily - - SPORTS & CONTINUATIONS -

MANILA: Ivanovic de­mol­ished Daniela Han­tu­chova in a dom­i­nat­ing In­ter­na­tional Premier Ten­nis League de­but on Fri­day, but said it was "hard to imag­ine" the game evolv­ing to adopt the much faster for­mat.

The Ser­bian world num­ber five rou­tinely broke her fel­low base­liner Han­tu­chova's serve in a 6-0 match that was over in a whirl­wind 15 min­utes, as the tour­na­ment got un­der­way in Manila.

"I think it will be hard to imag­ine" the fast-paced, tele­vi­sion-friendly IPTL for­mat re­plac­ing ten­nis as it is played in the men's and women's tours now, Ivanovic told a news con­fer­ence later.

"As for rules it's very hard be­cause we've been play­ing by cer­tain rules for a long long time."

The IPTL, which will also have stops in Sin­ga­pore, New Delhi and Dubai next month, has a team for­mat with ties con­sist­ing of five one-set matches, with no ad­van­tages. The first to six games wins.

A 20-sec­ond be­tween points Ana shot-clock guar­an­tees quick play, and at 5-5, play­ers go into a timed shoot-out in which they must ac­cu­mu­late the most points be­fore time is up.

Play­ers re­ceiv­ing a serve can also call a "hap­pi­ness power point" once per set, mean­ing the next point will count dou­ble.

IPTL of­fi­cials have touted the for­mat, which has at­tracted many top play­ers on the men's and women cir­cuits, as the "fu­ture" of the sport.

But Ivanovic, whose women's sin­gles ef­fort helped her In­dian Aces team beat Han­tu­chova's Sin­ga­pore Slam­mers 4-1, said its speed "changes the dy­namic of the game a lot".

"I need some more time and breaks in be­tween," Ivanovic said, es­pe­cially with "balls some­times not be­ing in place".

Most of the other play­ers were also be­mused by the shot clock on Fri­day.

Ivanovic's team­mate Gael Mon­fils, who even­tu­ally won against Lley­ton He­witt 6-1, was pe­nalised and went be­hind 0-15 in the fifth game of the sin­gles match be­cause he could not serve fast enough.

Ivanovic point­edly de­scribed the IPTL tour­na­ment, which comes af­ter the end of the 2014 tour, as "an ex­hi­bi­tion" but con­ceded it was "ac­tu­ally an in­ter­est­ing con­cept".

"Tonight was (my) first match for a long time and (was) with­out match prac­tice," she said.

"I re­ally en­joyed it and was re­ally happy to win that first game and I kind of set­tled in and played well af­ter that."

How­ever, with Ivanovic sched­uled to play at all four stops of the IPTL tour this year, she said it was likely to af­fect her prepa­ra­tions for the 2015 reg­u­lar sea­son.

"Def­i­nitely. It's a long two weeks and I'm still go­ing to do my own train­ing on the side while still play­ing and com­pet­ing, so we'll see."

Ivanovic plays world num­ber two Maria Shara­pova of the Manila Mav­er­icks team on Satur­day.

"It's go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing to play her in this for­mat and let's see how it works out," she added.

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