I have seen a number of columns pop up discussing the possibility of switching Grand Slam play to 2 out of 3 sets for men. Here are two of them:
First, I Disagree
Having tournament of 2 out of 3 sets matches with a day off between matches would make Grand Slams easier than regular tour events in terms of physical conditioning. That alone is counter-intuitive. Beyond that how many classic 5 set matches would be lost in this trade-off? Wimbledon 2008 would have been a routine 6-4, 6-4 win for Rafael Nadal rather than perhaps being the greatest match ever. Federer would have beaten Roddick 5-7, 7-6, 7-6 in 2009. Jimmy Connors would have meekly bowed out of the 1991 US Open rather than ignite the tournament. Agassi would have been beaten soundly by Medvedev at the 1999 French Open. Goran Ivanisevic and Patrick Rafter’s 2001 classic would have never happened either.
2 out of 3 sets worked at the Olympics last year. It works at the Masters 1000 events. I think the slams have to be different. The 2012 Australian Open final was to my mind the most brutal and greatest match that I have ever seen. I’d hate to lose the ultimate test as a trade-off for television scheduling concerns.
If It Has to Happen
I do not see this happening anytime soon if ever. However, if it does have to happen, why not give seeded players an advantage. If two unseeded players play before the round of 16 or quarterfinal round, it could be a 2 out of 3 set match. If a seeded player wins 2 of the first 3 sets versus an unseeded player prior to the round of 16 or quarterfinal round, the match ends. However, the unseeded player has to win 3 out of 5 sets to upset a seeded player regardless of round. The kicker is that the number of seeded players could be cut back to 16 or even 8. This would make the race for ranking points outside of the slams more important as well.
Anyway, I don’t think it should happen. I don’t see it happening. However, if something is to be done, moves must be taken to protect the 5 set classics that have helped tennis enjoy a lot of popularity over the past 5-10 years. If such moves simultaneously made the race for ranking points more important, so much the better.