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By Erik Gudris

ATP World Tour Logo (January 1, 2013) -- Several new ATP Tour rules went into effect today that have already generated several complaints from the players themselves.

In an effort to help speed up the game, the ATP modified its existing time violation rule for servers who take too long between points. Under the old rule, players who spent longer than 25 seconds were first given a warning and then, if they did it again, assessed a point penalty. The new rule for 2013 allows umpires to give the warning first and then take away a player's first serve (a fault) on the second and ensuing infractions.

Returners who take too long between points will still be issued a warning first and then a point penalty on the next offense.

The rule change on time violations is designed to help chair umpires be more assertive in enforcing the 25 second limit between points while taking into account playing conditions and other factors that might occur during a match. Though the new rule was approved by the ATP back in September, its enforcement today appeared to catch several players off guard especially those competing at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open event in Doha.

Feliciano Lopez, who was cited for a time violation in his straight sets loss to Lukasz Kubot, complained to the umpire during his match. David Ferrer and Pablo Andujar, also competing in Doha, took to their Twitter accounts to sound off about the new rule as well.

The ITF is expected to enforce a similar 20-second rule for players competing at the Grand Slams. 

Speeding up the game will also be the plan as part of the new three month experiment on the ATP Challenger Circuit regarding let serves. Players competing in challenger events must now play a let serve instead of the usual rule that gives a player who hits a let the chance to serve the ball again. After March, the ATP will review how the change impacted the circuit.

Ferrer himself was also the most visible representative of another new rule on the men's tour with regards to the number and size of sponsor logos that the players can wear on their shirts.

Players are now allowed to have one commercial logo patch on both sleeve along with one on the front of the shirt. An additional patch can be worn on the back of the shirt or near the collar, but only if that company is part of the ATP Premier/Platinum sponsor patch program. Once a player competes in their first match of the season while wearing a new logo, they are not allowed to change sponsors during the calendar year, unless approved by the ATP.

(Photo Credit: ATP Tour)


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