The Australian Open begins next week. The event is one of four Grand Slam, or “major,” tennis tournaments (the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are the other three).
The majors are special because all the best players, such as Roger Federer and Serena Williams, compete. Also, the men play best-of-five-set matches instead of the best-of-three-set matches that they play at most other tournaments and as the women play even at the majors.
Recently, some tennis officials have suggested the men play three-set matches at the majors. They say the shorter matches may be better for the fans and the players.
After all, some five-set matches are really long. In the 2012 Australian Open, Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in a final five-set match that took 5 hours and 53 minutes.
In 2010, John Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut in an early round match at Wimbledon that took 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days. Last year, Isner lost a semifinal match at Wimbledon that took nearly seven hours.
That is a long time for even the most devoted tennis fan to watch a match in the stands or on television. Long matches are really hard on the players. Remember that they are the ones running on the court for all that time.
Some fans, however, want to keep the five-set matches. They say it should be hard to win a major tournament, and the long matches can be very exciting. In addition, they say the men’s five-set matches are a tradition that shouldn’t be changed.
But lots of sports change their rules to make the games more fun and exciting.
For example, in the early days of basketball, there would be a center jump after each time a team scored a basket!
For the first 12 years of the National Football League, if a player went out of bounds, the next play would start at the sideline and not near the middle of the field as it does now.
And in the early days of professional baseball, the pitcher pitched from 50 feet instead of 60 feet and 6 inches. That’s almost Little League distance.
I think they should change the rules in the tennis majors and have the men play three-set matches in the first five (of seven) rounds of the tournament. The final and semifinal matches can stay five sets.
The shorter, quicker matches should be more exciting for the fans. After all, the women play three-set matches, and they have plenty of exciting matches.
And sometimes change can be good for a sport.