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What's the best Slam format for the future provided that it will change?

  • Bo3 sets except for the semifinals and final.

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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The current Grand Slam format for men’s singles—best-of-five sets—is too long and should be changed. There, I said it.

Please, compose yourself. I know this is quite upsetting to some of you. I promise I’m not looking to dismantle the rich heritage of this storied sport. Quite the contrary. I love watching tennis. Lots of it. But over the years of doing so, I’ve come to the conclusion that best-of-five is not best-for-tennis. I believe the rule of quality over quantity applies here. So, I beseech thee: Do me the favor of considering this sacrilegious tennis heresy.

The average Major League Baseball game lasts about three hours. NFL clashes also clock in at just under three hours. And the average NBA affair is approximately two hours and 15 minutes—which just happens to be the average best-of-three ATP match time. Remember this tidbit. We’ll come back to it momentarily.

I’d risk looking quite foolish if I didn’t at least feign a somewhat two-sided approach toward this debate. So, what’s the upside of five sets? For starters, it’s dramatic. Like two gladiators going mano-a-mano to the death, we get fluorescent Nike-wearing Hercules and Achilles sparring for a spot in the history books. The carnage of one intrepid warrior beating down another ‘til the decisive swing of the sword sends a seemingly invincible superhuman to his gutting demise. Too much? Okay. But there’s simply no denying the deep-rooted drama of a five-setter. The plot twists and narrative zig-zags; the ups and downs; the close calls; the comebacks; the individual trials and tribulations all laid bare on a 27-foot-wide battlefield. Like any great story, it takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

And how about the sheer physicality of a five-hour duel? Come on. Like a 15-round heavyweight bout, we witness two men pushing themselves further than the ordinary civilian can imagine. Prizefighters propped against the ropes, swinging away, point after grueling point, scramble after lung-stinging scramble. Repeated laser-like focus and lightning bolt reactions for over 300 frantic exchanges. It’s incredible, really, to see two athletes compete at such a high level in such a technical and strategic sport long after—hours after*—mere mortals would expire.

WIMBLEDON ANNOUNCES INTRODUCTION OF FINAL-SET TIEBREAKER BEGINNING IN 2019

So, five sets don’t sound so too bad, eh? Alright then, why don’t we take this formula for athletic pageantry and extrapolate it to other sports? Anyone for six quarters of NBA basketball? How about 15 innings of baseball? Let’s bump it up to 26 holes of golf, shall we? No, wait—better yet, why don’t we just extend the Grand Slams to best-of-seven? That’d mean even more drama and more physicality. Right? Any takers? I’ll go out on a limb: beyond a diminishing viewership, the quality of performance would also see a dip.

Even the king of five-setters thinks five sets is too much. Novak Djokovic. The master of going the distance. Winner of 14 grand slam championships, he recently stated publicly that keeping the grand slams to best-of-three sets would lead to more fans and better tennis.

This debate has even transcended the sports world into pop-culture, with the 2015 HBO-produced satire 7 Days in Hell poking fun at ridiculously long Wimbledon matches.

And what about the ladies? Why don’t they play best-of-five? Women’s marathons are the same distance as men’s. Most Olympic events are the same length. In fact, nearly every single sport on earth is the same length for both genders. Except tennis. What gives? One theory is that there isn’t a demand for it. Another theory whispered behind closed doors in dimly lit rooms is that there isn’t a demand for it in the men’s game, either. We love the sport, but do we love it so much that we can’t bear to tell it the truth?

Tennis, unlike most professional sports, abides by a year-round calendar that kicks off in the beginning of January and lasts until November. Players navigate a schedule lasting 11 unforgiving months across six continents. And when the year’s four biggest tournaments are best-of-five sets, it’s no surprise that today’s top players are constantly injured. Can you imagine the top five players in any other professional sport all injured and out of the game during a one-year time period? No. Because it’s virtually unheard of.

Not only have we seen more major injuries, but we’re also seeing far more players retire mid-match at majors. Picture scoring pricey tix to the U.S. Open semifinals, only to witness a single set of tennis. It's kind of like sitting courtside for the NBA Finals and having it cut short after one quarter of basketball. It’s not fair to the fans.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN TO INTRODUCE FINAL-SET TIEBREAKER AT 6-6 AS EARLY AS 2019

The players are saying it, the fans are feeling it, pop-culture is mocking it, even the rule makers can’t deny it. Just this season, they’ve applied scotch-tape remedies to protect the glory of five sets. Look at the U.S. Open—they announced the serve clock, basically telling players “hurry up, we’re getting bored.”

Tennis has gone through many renovations over the past 50 years. From wood rackets to metal to the current-day NASA-grade carbon fiber. Over the past decade, added power in rackets has led tournament officials to make balls less bouncy and courts more gripping—all to offset the heightened speed for longer, more entertaining rallies. Or in other words, to produce a higher quality viewing experience.

Ah yes, quality. That thing that separates the top players in the world from the ones down at the local club. It’s why we watch. To see someone do something we can’t. To marvel as they wave their wand and walk on water. To lean in, eyes wide, and smile in astonishment. Though from my vantage point, it’s not about seeing our heroes haggard, but rather, to see their absolute best. I don’t care who the fittest tennis player alive is. I want to see the verve and panache of a genius.

So, I humbly toss this out into the tennis-sphere—less is more. By going from best-of-five to best-of-three in the Grand Slams, we’ll get to see our favorites play better tennis, more often, over longer careers. Advantage, everyone.

The ball’s in your court, tennis.
https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/12/14/tennis-majors-grand-slams-best-five-sets
Things will change sooner or later. At this point, it seems it's only a matter of time before we see some big changes in Slams format. We've already seen USO, Wimbledon and AO do some changes. USO with the shot clocks, Wimbledon and AO with the tiebreaks in the fifth set.

I guess for now Bo5 is safe thanks to the Big 3 presence but when they retire and tennis loses their fans, people in power will find themselves forced to adapt to the new reality and do something to attract new fans because Bo5 is going to be a major issue.

In the last decade


  • Masters Bo3 final instead of Bo5.

  • WTF Bo3 final instead of Bo5.

  • Shot clocks for serves.

  • Tiebreak in the deciding set of Davis Cup matches.

  • Tiebreak in the deciding set of Grand Slams.

  • Bo3 Davis Cup matches instead of Bo5.

  • Fast4 Tennis (trials).

  • Media is still pushing for shorter matches.

  • Players are pushing for shorter season/matches.
 

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While we're at it we should just downgrade it to 1500 points and have a bye in the first round. I mean, why not?
 

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Disgusting ?
In a just world, or the modern United Kingdom, the article author would be imprisoned for thought crimes against humanity. Lucky for him he lives in America.

The USA sports media's arrogant attempts to tear up tennis tradition for the sake of viewership and profits need to be drowned out by passionate tennis fans.
 

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I like the best of 3 first four rounds, then best of 5 the rest as a way of comprise.

I prefer best of 3 generally but can recognise the 'tradition' of best of 5 and would be ok for it to be still in the later rounds of grand slams.
 

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Yes, it's only a matter of time the scoring system will change. Sets ending at 4 games, breaker at 3-3 or 4-4. The let serve will be eliminated and deuce deciding point will be introduced. Men and women will play the same format at slams, presumably best of 7 or 9 sets.

My opinion? Hate it. Perhaps I can go on board with sets ending at 4 games (I play a competition with this format, you get used to it) provided that players have to win more sets otherwise players like Isner and Karlovic are actually going to win slams. No let, DDP and the final set tiebreaks are awful, because their only goal is to shorten matches which should not be forced by the organisations. Especially when current players are at a high level of physical fitness.

Tennis should be a sport for the people who love the game the way it is now. It's a very popular sport that doesn't need generation Z as new spectators, because after four games they will go and play fortnite instead.
 

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Bo3 format only for the first two rounds (quicker matches, better chances for the lower ranked players), 3R-SF bo5 format with tb in every set, Finals bo5 without tb in the fifth or with tb at 12:12.

e.g. AO'69-'73 was just five rounds for the top 16 players and AO'74 was bo3 for the first round with six matches for the top players and then six rounds '75-81 and then again 82-87 bo3 first round + six matches for top 16 seeds.

USO'75-'78 was bo3 in the first three rounds, the first four rounds in '77.
 

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I cannot think a single person (other than Sverev) that would want that. I smell a feminist agenda behind that article and I do not like it. Playing a tie break at some point in the 5th at Wimbledon is a topic for conversation, making the slams BO3 is simply retarded.
 

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Stopped reading after "Less is More" in the title.

This is one of the stupidest lines of logic ever. Of course less is not more. The quality of tennis as a fan is and will always be more, at every match you see countless supporters constantly wanting matches to last seemingly forever. And it is logical, these people pay good money to attend tennis matches and see the best possible for their money. Now, some of these higher ups fooled by the notion that some players may not last Bo5 are trying to cheat people out of their money, giving the rationale that, if matches last less, they are more spectacular? A big haha to you all.
 

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I like the Fast4 format, adds some spice with no lets, and calling for the power play etc.
This is wrong on so many levels. Tennis is still a sport, not a reality show. Drama is a byproduct of close physical and mental competition, but never the goal.
 

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I cannot think a single person (other than Sverev) that would want that. I smell a feminist agenda behind that article and I do not like it. Playing a tie break at some point in the 5th at Wimbledon is a topic for conversation, making the slams BO3 is simply retarded.
LOL feminist agenda!!!
Really it's aliens living underground at Roswell
get a life
 

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Are you joking me? Any sport fan was gripping their seat during Austalian 2012 or Australian Open 2017.

Many other examples, but this would be the death of tennis.
 

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When this happens I stop watching tennis. Imagine a dude in the future thinking he’s the goat because he’s won 30 slams in BO3. This doesn’t make sense to me at all, sports all around the world have “long” formats and those are generally considered the most important I.e a 5 day test match in cricket vs a one day match. Even American sports like baseball can end up going ages if the scores are tied at the end of the match if I’m correct? To get rid of BO5 you’re changing what makes a Grand Slam Grand. They stand above for a reason.
 
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