Sunday, 28 September 2014


I often thought that the Americans had it right as far as the fifth set of a Men's Singles match was concerned, they played a tiebreaker. What this did was rather obvious, it gave players a chance to conserve their energy for another match even if it did go the distance.
June 22-24 2010 at Wimbledon gave an argument that the tiebreak system was in fact a good idea as American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut played possibly the most ridiculous match of all time. This match was no classic, it was one that simply dragged on, it actually dragged on over 3 days with the final set lasting over 8 hours, the match just over 11 hours. Tough to schedule matches when this happens.
The match between these two was intriguing but not one that will go down as a shot maker's dream, it was simply a match that gave an argument to a rather old saying in tennis " It has to end sometime ".
The US Open can schedule matches far better than any other Grand Slam Tournament as the tiebreaker in the deciding set will end a match possibly up to an hour or even longer than an advantage set will. Surely this is enough to sway the other big 3 to change their rules, doesn't seem to be the case though.
Let's look at it another way, what does a match like the above mentioned do to players ? Easy to answer. Isner got belted in his next match 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 by Thiemmo de Bakker of The Netherlands, a player ranked 30 places behind him. So is it fair on players to make them play this long ? Well in a match such as this one it is an extraordinarily long match and one that totally put the scheduling behind and one that defied logic. Glad it happened though personally, it got people talking as to whether the rules needed to change.
I think 5 sets of tennis can be a little 'ho hum' at times especially with big servers, not much gets sent to the highlight package man and as far as a spectator friendly match is concerned it lacks entertainment value. Mac and Borg, well now that was entertainment, Rafa and Roger, brilliant, some matches just can't go long enough and the highlight reel is never ending.
Isner didn't play again after his second round loss at Wimbledon until the 19th of the following month, you do the sums on why. Was he a little body and mind weary ? I do believe that even the great John McEnroe stated something along the lines of "A match like this could take months off a player's game ". Mac would know. As far as doubles were concerned, more fire to the tie break argument.
Isner was seeded 12 with partner Sam Querrey, two huge servers, tough to return against on grass, they were a big chance. This pairing didn't even get on court, Isner withdrew due to fatigue. That's tough on a guy like Querrey who relies on doubles to bump up his earnings as he struggles to go deep in tournaments in singles.
Personally I believe the Americans have it right, the tie breaker in the fifth is a fantastic way to finish a match, it's cut throat yet it's exciting, every point counts. One day I would love to see a tournament played like the one I designed myself locally where every point you won went towards your score for the day. It was something different, well received, I think 250 points won the day, good fun.
I am a big fan of the US Open , I remember the match between Connors and Krickstein in '91, absolute classic , not just the match either but the way it unfolded in the end, theater at it's best. Agassi and Blake played another classic in the Quarter Finals of the 2005 US Open, Andre eventually won the breaker 8-6 in the fifth. That's an exciting way to finish a tennis match, not one that drags on.
Keep the game fresh, 5 sets with a breaker to finish is still a lot of tennis either for live viewers or a television audience and most importantly the players may just have enough energy left to perform in the next round.
Tennis doesn't need to be over cooked, well done both sides served with something light is plenty, sorry Mr Isner........

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