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Wimbledon Puts Another Nail in the Coffin of Tennis as an Endurance Sport

A few months ago, I was, in a way, praising the Wimbledon tournament for still allowing long matches, especially since it was the only tournament to do so for doubles as well, and renewing my calls to ensure that final set tie-breaks won’t be added to any of the tournaments where they don’t yet exist, and most preferably to have them removed from the US Open and the doubles matches from the other major tournaments as well, plus to have best of five sets for men’s doubles and a proper best of three for mixed doubles at all such tournaments. At the time I thought there were no final set tie-breaks in the Davis Cup either, but that just showed that I hadn’t been watching Davis Cup matches in quite a number of years, since final set tie-breaks had been announced back in 2015.
Unfortunately, what I feared then has now happened, and as of next year Wimbledon will have final set tie-breaks, admittedly only if a match will reach 12-12 in the final set and not 6-6 as it otherwise happens. This will affect a very small number of matches, but every single one of them a great chance for something truly special which will now be impossible to ever happen again. In case of doubles matches, at least as far as I’m aware, this marks the complete elimination of the possibility of extended final sets, while for singles matches it only leaves Australian Open and Roland Garros for those, be they viewers, spectators or even players, who still view tennis as an endurance sport, where in case of very evenly matched opponents it may be a matter of, almost literally, the last one standing, and I fear those may consider such an awful decision as well.
When the whole rest of the season, all other tournaments, are for those who want faster tennis, in recent years some tournaments even starting to use utterly ludicrous rules to make it even faster and even more of a game of chance, Grand Slam tournaments and the Davis Cup must at least remain the refuges for those who want something else, with the possibility of extended final sets, best of five in all men’s matches and best of three for anything else, and no other rule changes designed to make matches or the tournaments themselves shorter. If anything, I renew my proposal, described in that previous post, for a change that’d make it impossible for any match to be won in a tie-break in such a tournament, regardless of the set.

Of course, that seems extremely unlikely to happen, with tennis being just one more thing heading firmly in the wrong direction, which would also explain why, even in spite of Simona Halep‘s performances and the amount of news about her, and to some extent tennis, and especially women’s tennis, in general around here, my overall interest in tennis has dropped steadily over the past decade or so. Then again, I remember that before this started happening, I was saying that there can hardly be any place for tennis played on grass or a similar surface in the present day anymore, and that Wimbledon and the few other such tournaments should change the surface, which is a position that I maintain and which might have prevented this change of the regulations in the first place, because grass is the fastest surface and favors those who serve very well, making it particularly hard to break a serve and potentially leading to long matches that some find boring. If surfaces, all surfaces, would become slower, it would definitely make for more thrilling matches and reduce the risks of series of games won mainly, or even solely, thanks to serving very well. Yet, as another sign of the bad direction the sport is heading in, that’s exactly the opposite of what’s happening, even clay tending to become faster…


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