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Wearable tech to debut at Next Gen ATP Finals

Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way to victory over Alex de Minaur in the final of the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals (by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The Association of Tennis Professionals has furthered the positioning of its Next Gen Finals as a test bed for innovation, by announcing that players at this year’s tournament will be able to use wearable technology in competition.

The announcement marks a first for the men’s ATP Tour, with this year’s Finals to be held from November 5-9 at the Allianz Cloud in Milan, Italy. The ATP said the data collected will allow players and coaches at the 21-and-under event to quantify the demands of the competition, better understand athlete loading and make key performance decisions that are supported with objective data.

The GPS receiver and inertial sensors in the device will measure velocity and direction, acceleration and force, rotation, body orientation, and will quantify internal load through heart rate. The data from the wearable device, which will only be accessible by each player and those that the player gives access to, will provide accurate maps of movements and actions.

Players and coaches will be provided with post-match and post-practice reports, and they will also have the opportunity to synchronise the data with match footage to add additional context. One-on-one support from the vendor, which has not been named, will be provided on-site throughout the week.

Chris Kermode, ATP executive chairman and president, said: “From the outset, the Next Gen ATP Finals have been at the cutting edge of innovation in our sport, and the use of wearable technology this year during matches will provide some invaluable insights to players, coaches and ATP medical services. This is a unique tournament that has always embraced new technologies, and this is the latest step as the event continues to pioneer innovation in the game.”

Last year’s Next Gen Finals in Milan was the first tennis tournament to utilise a full video review system, expanding the ATP’s collaboration with HawkEye. The third edition of the Finals will also see the continuation of a number of innovations, including a best-of-five set format, shorter sets to four with a tie-break at three-all and No-Ad scoring.

Other innovations include Electronic Line Calling through Hawk-Eye Live, a 25-second Shot Clock and in-match player coaching via head-sets. This year’s tournament will also see the return of the traditional ‘let’ rule, following the decision to bring to a close the ‘no let’ trial that was in place across the first two editions of the event.

ATP Media, the ATP Tour’s international media rights sales and broadcast production arm, has also been in the final stages of negotiation over a 10-year, $1bn betting streaming and data rights deal with IMG Arena.