MANILA - Ana Ivanovic demolished Daniela Hantuchova in a dominating International Premier Tennis League debut on Friday, but said it was "hard to imagine" the game evolving to adopt the much faster format.
The Serbian world number five routinely broke her fellow baseliner Hantuchova's serve in a 6-0 match that was over in a whirlwind 15 minutes, as the tournament got underway in Manila. "I think it will be hard to imagine" the fast-paced, television-friendly IPTL format replacing tennis as it is played in the men's and women's tours now, Ivanovic told a news conference later.
"As for rules it's very hard because we've been playing by certain rules for a long long time."
The IPTL, which will also have stops in Singapore, New Delhi and Dubai next month, has a team format with ties consisting of five one-set matches, with no advantages. The first to six games wins.
A 20-second shot-clock between points guarantees quick play, and at 5-5, players go into a timed shoot-out in which they must accumulate the most points before time is up. Players receiving a serve can also call a "happiness power point" once per set, meaning the next point will count double.
IPTL officials have touted the format, which has attracted many top players on the men's and women circuits, as the "future" of the sport.
But Ivanovic, whose women's singles effort helped her Indian Aces team beat Hantuchova's Singapore Slammers 4-1, said its speed "changes the dynamic of the game a lot". "I need some more time and breaks in between," Ivanovic said, especially with "balls sometimes not being in place".
Most of the other players were also bemused by the shot clock on Friday. Ivanovic's teammate Gael Monfils, who eventually won against Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, was penalised and went behind 0-15 in the fifth game of the singles match because he could not serve fast enough.
Ivanovic pointedly described the IPTL tournament, which comes after the end of the 2014 tour, as "an exhibition" but conceded it was "actually an interesting concept".
"Tonight was (my) first match for a long time and (was) without match practice," she said. "I really enjoyed it and was really happy to win that first game and I kind of settled in and played well after that." However, with Ivanovic scheduled to play at all four stops of the IPTL tour this year, she said it was likely to affect her preparations for the 2015 regular season.
"Definitely. It's a long two weeks and I'm still going to do my own training on the side while still playing and competing, so we'll see." Ivanovic plays world number two Maria Sharapova of the Manila Mavericks team on Saturday.
"It's going to be interesting to play her in this format and let's see how it works out," she added.