Enough cannot be said of the format for Mens Doubles on the ATP Tour, it is nothing short of brilliant in my opinion as it leaves all matches open to imagination and daring play.
Nothing is a certainty and no teams are safe despite a high ranking or a reputation that once made a difference.
The current Ageon tournament in London just proved that Mens Doubles is in fact a chook raffle of sorts as any team can win against anyone and the scores reflect just that fact.
The following scores are from the Quarter Final stage where just one seeded team now remains in the hunt for the title;
Bopanna/ Dodig def Kontinen/ Peers 7-6, 4-6, 10-2
Murray/ Soares def Harrison/ Venus 7-6, 4-6, 10-6
Benneteau/ Roger-Vasselin def Bryan/ Bryan 7-6, 4-6, 10-6
Cilic/ Matkowski def Daniel/ Demoliner 7-6, 1-6, 10-8
When was the last time Marin Cilic troubled the score board in Mens Doubles ?
There is no doubt about it, Mens Doubles is now nothing short of fascinating because of the fact that it is never a foregone conclusion as to who will win a match or a title. Will it ever happen in singles ? Well apparently the answer is no if you listen to the 'traditionalists' as they are adamant that singles is a no go zone as far as tinkering with the rules is concerned.
What I do not understand is this, tennis is not owned by anyone in particular yet the rules have been tinkered with now for many years as best of five sets in singles have been replaced by best of three in all Masters 1000 Series events. Back in the day all of the huge events such as Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Miami, etc were all best of five sets, now they are three set matches.
As far as Grand Slam events are concerned Wimbledon is now the only Slam to still play best of 5 sets in Mens Doubles, all others play best of three. The surface at the All England Club allows for a longer format no risk at all and the players, particularly the guys who rely on doubles for a living would relish the opportunity to play the longer version of the game.
So how do the two formats compare or should I say THREE formats ?
A guy like Marin Cilic can partner anyone and be successful in the cut throat type of current format that sees a third set super tie breaker decide the match plus short deuces because there is a certain amount of bravado involved in the new system plus a lot of luck. There is not one team that can dominate a chook raffle.
So who stipulates that doubles is to be changed though singles is not ? The two on two format is more like a curtain raiser to singles now days and singles players play it for a bit of fun, a bit of fitness and a bit of extra prize money but it does this, it takes the piss.
Why ? Because singles players have no right to win consistently at doubles.
Can you imagine if the rules were tinkered with and a guy like Leander Paes or Nenad Zimonjic started to win singles events ? What if the Bryan brothers started to claim singles titles ?
There would be an outcry of epic proportions as the traditionalists would arc up and cry foul, 'Who is messing with our sport ' ??
Yet it is accepted with doubles.
If a player can win at doubles then he should be able to win at singles but now the two formats do not permit that. John McEnroe, as brilliant as he was would not dominate in today's doubles format and he won over 70 doubles events as well as over 70 singles titles.
So I ask you this, is the future of tennis in the lap of the Gods so to speak ? Is tennis history tainted in a way as formats are no longer the same as they once were ?
If tennis formats continue to change then how can you compare todays players to yesterdays ?
The ATP is happy to turn Mens Doubles into somewhat of a Circus as far as the rules are concerned yet are not prepared to do anything to singles except prolong the careers of players by changing from best of 5 to best of 3, apart from Grand Slams.
That is as far as they will go. They are more interested in the history of singles than the future of doubles which will continue to dish up new champions as often as the Big 4 will win at singles.
The ATP is under obligation to be fair to both formats, singles and doubles, yet it looks after one and wants the other to finish as quickly as it can as it seems to get in the way of the 'Main Event'.
One is a grind, the other is a chook raffle, it lacks consistency........