The men's ASB Classic format could be radically reshaped — if tournament director Karl Budge has his way.

It could include sets being reduced to first to four games, instead of the traditional six, or a no advantage rule being introduced into singles, as is used in doubles.

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Budge wants to reduce the amount of time players have to spend on court, because of the focus on workload a week out from the Australian Open, with its prestige, rankings importance and huge prizemoney.

Most players want to compete the week before a Grand Slam, to tune up and prepare, but conversely don't want to compromise their ability to be 100 per cent for Melbourne.


That can be an issue for players who reach the last four in Auckland in particular, and historically players who come through a tough Saturday final here struggle to reset for gruelling best-of-five-set marathons that start on Monday or Tuesday in Melbourne.

"I want to have a format that encourages the best players to play," said Budge. "If you look at [2020 finalists] Benoit [Paire] and [Ugo] Humbert. Especially Paire, he has played three-set matches all the way through this week. Even the best athlete in the world is going to be pretty fatigued going into next week."

"It's something that we need to consider.

''How do we make sure we are putting on a really compelling, competitive product, that justifies the [ATP ranking] points allocation we get, but is also catering for the needs of the ever-changing world of professional sport?"

One idea that Budge has is to replicate the format of the ATP Next Gen finals, where sets are first to four games, with a tiebreak at 3-3.

It might upset traditionalists, but he argues that as well as lessening the players' load, it won't affect the quality, instead increasing the number of pivotal moments in a match.

"I'd like to see shorter matches, so they are not playing so much tennis," said Budge.

"My ideal scenario is that there is an hour-and-a-half of tennis on court. That's enough and it becomes more competitive because you are not allowed to drift in sets in that scenario [first to four]."


"Every point is more important. At the moment, if you are 5-2 down, a lot of the players are focusing on the next set. With a reduced format, the data and the feedback coming out of Next Gen in Milan was that because they were best of four, they were always on. So every point really matters, which is great for fans, great for TV, and delivers a more entertaining product."

Tennis reporters Matt Brown and Michael Burgess reflect on the men's ASB Classic final, and look back on a fortnight of tennis in Auckland.

But any changes have to be sanctioned by the Tour and won't be easy, given the implications for ranking points and prizemoney and the precedent it might set.

"I need to rely on the Tour," said Budge. "They are far better positioned than I am to come up with those concepts.

''My desire is to not overload players the week before a Grand Slam, so any way we can achieve that, I will be very supportive of.

"Everyone recognises that it is a challenging week before Grand Slams and we need a solution that works for everyone."

Budge will also be pushing for other changes, like more down time between the ATP Cup finishing and the beginning of the men's ASB Classic.

Overall he is thrilled with the fortnight, with 17 of the 20 sessions sold out and worldwide coverage of Serena Williams' triumph.