ATP must do more to promote doubles, says Roy Emerson

Australian tennis legend Roy Emerson wants to see the top players playing doubles at Grand Slam events

jurgen melzer
Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner won the men's doubles title at the US Open Mirsasha, via Flickr

jurgen melzer

Tennis legend Roy Emerson has called on tennis’s governing bodies to encourage more players to participate in doubles tournaments.

Emerson, who won 16 Grand Slam doubles titles, believes some of the top-ranked singles players would benefit from taking part in the other form of the game.

And the 74-year-old wants to see it become compulsory for the big names to play in both singles and doubles tournaments at the four Grand Slams.

“I think it’s a real shame that the top players don’t play doubles as well,” said Emerson. “I would like the ATP and the Grand Slam Tournaments in particular to make it mandatory for the players to play both singles and doubles.

“In my day the top players competed in both but [Bjorn] Borg decided not to play doubles, others followed and then the kids who idolised Borg chose not to play doubles because he didn’t.

“Also, most players now stay at the baseline and there is very little movement to the net. There was more touch and finesse about the game when more players played the doubles whereas now it’s about power and not as attractive.”

World No26 Jurgen Melzer won the US Open men’s doubles title with Philipp Petzschner in September, adding to their success at Wimbledon in 2010, while Roger Federer won gold for Switzerland with Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2008 Olympics.

And Emerson, a 12-time singles major winner, believes that the ATP could prompt more of the top players to play doubles by increasing the prize money available at the end of the season.

“Money speaks, and if the prize money was upped with a season-ending prize of $1m for the player with the highest combined singles and doubles ranking I reckon you would see more of the top players competing in doubles.

“The ATP needs to make an effort to get the doubles game back, to educate people as to how good it is.”

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