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New Rules to End Never-Ending Tennis Match
American Andy Roddick knows something about playing in tennis matches that seem to never end.
In 2003, Roddick won an Australian Open quarterfinal that ended with a score of 21-19 in the fifth set. He also lost the 2009 Wimbledon Championship final against Roger Federer 14-16 in the fifth set.
Now those two tennis championships are finally putting a stop to extremely long matches.
The Australian Open begins Monday in Melbourne. The competition now uses a first-to-10, win by two points tiebreaker, if both players have won six games in the last set of the match. In these competitions, men play up to five sets and women play as many as three.
At Wimbledon later this summer, the players may have to play a little longer. The new rules call for a first-to-seven, win by two points tiebreaker, if players are tied at 12 games in the last set.
Many players support the new rules.
Roddick said, “…I’ll miss the long matches, but I think it’s a positive change.” The 2003 United States Open champion added that he thought fans would like to see a result from the match after a few hours.
For American John Isner, that would be a welcome change too. In 2010, Isner beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set at Wimbledon. The set itself lasted more than eight hours. It was the longest tennis match in history: 11 hours and five minutes.
Isner said this about the rule change at Wimbledon: “If they could name it, they probably would name it after me.”
The U.S. Open was the first of the four Grand Slam championships to end long matches. In the 1970s, the U.S. Open started the first-to-seven, win-by-two tiebreaker to end a 6-6 tie in the final set.
The French Open, however, will continue to have players compete until someone wins by two games. That means all four championships now use different rules to end a match.
Chris Kermode is head of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He said, “Ultimately, it’s a balancing act between elevating the uniqueness of each event, versus compromising on the uniformity of rules and potential clarity for fans.”
Women’s Tennis Association chief Steve Simon would like to have the same rules across all the major championships. But he added, “I don’t think that matches that go extraordinarily long are healthy for the sport.”
Denis Shapovalov is competing in this year’s Australian Open. He said, “For the fans, they’ve already watched five hours of tennis, so they don’t want to sit through another, potentially, hour or two hours. They want to see an ending. And they want it to be exciting.”
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
Words in This Story
match –n. a contest between two or more players or teams
score –n. the number of points, goals, runs that each player or team has in a contest
tiebreaker –n. something that decides the winner of a game
positive –adj. good, useful
uniqueness –n. the quality of being special, unusual or one-of-a-kind
versus –prep. Used to indicate two different things that are being compared or that are competing against each other
uniformity –n. the quality or state of being the same
potentially –adv. having the possibility of become real