A group of leading men's doubles players sued the ATP Tour on Thursday, in a bid to prevent the professional circuit from changing scoring rules and the qualifying methods for doubles competitions at tour events.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, seeks an injunction to stop the ATP from implementing the changes and charges the organisation and its directors with antitrust violations and breaches of fiduciary duties, according to a news release distributed at the U.S. Open.
The changes, including a streamlining of scoring in doubles intended to shorten the matches, are scheduled to be phased in later this season.
Players taking part in the suit include American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, who were ranked number one in 2003 and for most of 2005, Bahamian Mark Knowles and Canadian Daniel Nestor, the top-ranked team in 2002 and 2004, and Mahesh Bhupathi of India, another former doubles number one.
The players, who plan to hold a news conference at the U.S. Open on Friday, say the ATP scheme announced two months ago aimed at phasing out doubles specialists, requiring them to qualify for the singles tournament to be eligible to compete in doubles events.
They say the Players' Council voted 8-0 against the reform but that tournament directors pushed through the changes that would hold down costs by having fewer players overall in the tournaments since they would be playing both single and doubles.
"They are monkeying with the integrity of the game," Mike Bryan said.
"People are going to lose a lot of respect for doubles. The players voted against it and the tournaments passed it anyway, so it's a pretty corrupt system."
The rules changes would not affect the best-of-five sets played in doubles at the Davis Cup, according to an ITF spokesman at the U.S. Open.
Although rule changes would not necessarily be adopted by grand slam tournaments, players argue that doubles specialists could have difficulty earning points to qualify for the Grand Slam events.