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Davenport cautious about ATP's new round-robin format

Written by: Staff
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BALI, Indonesia, Sep 11 (Reuters) Plans for a round-robin format in some men's tennis events could have unforeseen consequences, women's former world number one Lindsay Davenport says.

The ATP, as part of sweeping changes aimed at making tournaments more attractive to fans, television, players and tournament directors, plans to play early rounds of tour events as round-robins to ensure that marquee players remain throughout the week.

Davenport said the idea, due to start next year, could lead to tactical play.

''There's (the potential for) a lot of fixing if your friend needs you to win or lose or whatever. A lot of things could happen.

There are some kinks to be worked out for sure,'' the American said today.

Players might also not compete so strongly if they knew they would not be eliminated with one defeat, Davenport said.

''That could happen, although in women's tennis I don't see it happening because everyone's so neurotic about always winning.'' The ATP announced the change last month and said it would also abolish best-of-five-set matches at tour events next year and phase in plans for eight-day events, beginning on a Sunday instead of a Monday.

Davenport, who is in Bali to begin the defence of her title tomorrow against Russian Galina Voskoboeva, has attracted speculation that she might soon retire by committing herself to play only one more tournament, next week's event in Beijing.

The 30-year-old Davenport, who reaced the quarter-finals of last month's US Open, said she had made no decision about the future.

''I don't know how it works,'' she said. ''Every player I've talked to, it's been a different way to quit, how they've figured out that they don't want to do this any more. So I'm constantly looking at signs, and it hasn't happened yet. I always come back and I don't know what it will take.

''If I allow myself to think it's the last time somewhere it would be way too emotional for me. Like at last year's US Open it most likely could have been my last one, but if I had thought about that while playing I would have been crying and a wreck.

So I just try to focus on the tournament because I don't know what will happen in six months or a year.

''I've always envisioned that I would be playing a match and be like, 'I'm not having fun', and fly home and just feel like this is not going to happen any more.

''Now I'm excited about Beijing because I've never been to China but after that I don't know. I would like to play Zurich if I'm feeling good, but we'll see. I don't even think it matters if I finish in the United States. I don't have visions of where it's going to be.'' Davenport is seeded third at an event that has lost US Open semi-finalist Jelena Jankovic to injury but still includes five of the top 20. Twice former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is undefeated in Bali, is the top seed, with Switzerland's Patty Schnyder seeded two. Recent Montreal champion Ana Ivanovic is seeded fourth.

REUTERS AY RAI2001

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