Nestor not happy with new rules

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

Daniel Nestor feels put upon.

No one is listening to him.

He is unappreciated.

He is on his honeymoon.

Nestor was tapping out an e-mail from a Four Seasons in Hawaii when the phone rang.

He and his new wife Nathasha met three years ago at a Serbian Christmas party in Toronto. They married this July and can now finally get away.

"We didn't have the chance for a honeymoon until now because I was just coming off wrist surgery," Nestor said.

"Am I interrupting anything?" I asked in a worldly tone. "Nope," he said, twice as cool. "It's raining outside."

And maybe a little inside too. Nestor is in the unique position of suing the organization he is playing for, the Association of Tournament Professionals or the ATP.

The tour is moving to make doubles more fan friendly by radically shortening the length of games. But the rule changes are so dramatic, they will create a divide in the game's history like the one between baseball's dead ball and the current era.

"It's pretty tough to swallow," he said. "Doubles has been made the scapegoat for everything that's wrong with the sport."

The plans, accepted by the ATP at a meeting in Shanghai last weekend, would usher in the era of the no-advantage. At deuce, the returning team picks a court to receive the service. Next point wins.

As well, the third set would be eliminated in favour of a tiebreaker in which the first team to get 10 points with a two-point advantage would win.

Nestor thinks the changes will most benefit a team with big servers who need only one rifle-shot to end a match at deuce and can roll up easy points in the tiebreaker. He fits that category, but the idea still rankles.

"The ATP basically says that it'll make things more exciting, and they've got a point," Nestor said. "Sure things will be more exciting. Play just a quarter of the Super Bowl or one period of the Stanley Cup final. It'll be more exciting. But what about the integrity of the sport?"

No mention of these changes, of course, for singles players.

"We feel that doubles has been viewed as a sideshow," Nestor said. "It's been beaten down so long, no one really knows our game."

Tired of the ATP's treatment of doubles, Nestor and his partner Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, headlined a lawsuit filed in a Houston court that challenged the tour's ability to overhaul the doubles game.

The tour initially wanted to restrict doubles play to singles players who wanted to cross over.

That would have wiped out many of the top teams. Nestor and Knowles are undistinguished singles players. In doubles, they are fourth in the world.

The ATP changed its mind and pulled the measures off the table but the latest round of sweeping changes, due to start in 2006, may well spur more litigation. They would not apply to Davis Cup or Grand Slam play.

"Right now, I'm not sure whether we'll pursue the lawsuit over the scoring system," Nestor said.

"The ATP is supposed to be the buffer between the player and the tournament director," he said. "It just seems like the tournament directors are calling all the shots.


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