Korolev Now Advances over Blake in Latest ATP Ruling

Posted on March 2, 2007

March 2, 2007


An incorrect variation of ATP rules resulted in the erroneous passage of James Blake into the quarterfinals of the Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas, and according to the rules Evgeny Korolev will advance instead of Blake, the ATP announced today.

Blake had advanced after ATP Chairman and President Etienne de Villiers had been called in to discuss a controversial end to the Blake/Korolev/Juan Martin del Potro group. Blake needed to complete his match, beat del Potro in straight sets and concede five games or less. Blake was leading 6-1, 3-1 when del Potro retired from the match with breathing problems.

The relevant rule states that an incomplete match shall not count as a match played for the retiring player. This eliminated del Potro based on the tiebreak procedure for greatest number of completed matches and left only Blake and Korolev tied with 1-1 records. Therefore, under ATP rules Korolev should have advanced having beaten Blake in their round robin encounter.

The same ATP Rulebook prevents the ATP Chairman and President or any ATP staff member from making a judgment call on the rules, as no variation can be implemented without ATP Board approval. The rules state that the final decision at a tournament rests solely with the ATP Supervisor.

“I was contacted late at night my time and did not fully understand the issues being discussed and I made a judgment call on what seemed fair. However I understand that judgment calls are not part of the rule book and I must abide by the rules, as must everybody else in the circumstance,” de Villiers said.

‘This is of course an unpleasant situation for all involved, but we must abide strictly by the rules. I apologize to James for giving false hope and to Evgeny for the confusion. I said we would be prepared to make mistakes but that we would reverse them if necessary and learn from them.”

“I hope that it is recognized that I acted in good faith and my intentions were to do the right thing and see fairness prevail. Clearly, I was wrong to intervene. I have always maintained that we should experiment with new and different ideas and it was with this in mind that I made what I thought was a fair call.”

“I regret that I got involved, that I overruled a Supervisor and I regret this storm in a teacup,” said de Villiers.

“What this situation and a somewhat similar confusing end to a group result in Buenos Aires have shown is that the experiment has brought a sharp focus onto specific flaws involved with round robin competition and the review of the format and the decision as to whether to continue at all, will now be brought forward.”

The experiment with round robin play, inspired and supported by research that showed strong support for the format by fans, was to have involved 12 – 13 tournaments over the entire 2007 ATP season.

“Discussions with ATP Board members and other parties have already started and the future of round robin play has now been put on the agenda for the ATP Board meeting, starting in Miami on March 22,” de Villiers said. (ATP Press Release)