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Victoria Azarenka thinks men should play best-of-three in Grand Slams

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(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Victoria Azarenka nearly needed three sets to defeat Sara Errani in the first round of the WTA Championships. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — Forget all this talk of women playing matches that are best-of-five sets at the Grand Slams. Victoria Azarenka thinks the men should play best- of-three.

“I think there has been a lot of talk about [women playing best-of-five],” Azarenka said after defeating Sara Errani 7-6 (4), 6-2 in her first match at the WTA Championships. “I think we can stand by one opinion that all the women have: We’re ready to play whatever it is. … I just think that playing five sets can be very challenging for the scheduling. I actually think men should play three sets. It would be more interesting.”

The idea of men playing best-of-three at the Slams isn’t entirely far-fetched. Roger Federer was asked about the prospect after the 2012 Olympics, which follow a best-of-three format until the best-of-five final. He had no problem with the suggestion apart from the need to reschedule the length of the Slams.

“We shouldn’t make it a two‑week event then, I don’t think, because then it’s like a holiday,” Federer said during the 2012 Western and Southern Open.

Andy Roddick didn’t blanch at the idea either.

“I wouldn’t be against it,” Roddick said in 2012. “I could easily argue both ways. From a fan perspective and a TV perspective, it would probably be easier to put together a product for TV when you know the time slots a little bit more. Sometimes at Slams you get a match that’s great, but it kind of makes it tricky as far as TV.  That’s kind of the livelihood of healthy sport in general is TV viewership.

“Ultimately, it comes back down to what the fans want to see. I think our opinion on that sometimes is secondary to what they can sell and what they can package.”

  • Published On Oct 22, 2013
  • 14 comments
    Steve Nash
    Steve Nash

    3 sets. Better for tv. Less wear mind tear on players. We would see more matches on tv. The sport would grow in popularity. 4-5 hr matches are just too long as much as I like the occasional epic battle.

    Then I would add a round robin semi-final. The top 2 advance to the finals. This would give is more matches between top players. It would be cool to see this happen in at least one grand slam.

    PatrickS77
    PatrickS77

    Grand Slams are special. Best of 5 matches are special and can produce epic battles. So, Ms. Azarenka is way off the mark. Best of 5 matches should remain. Of course, I wouldn't be against the idea of having best of 3 matches in the first week or first 2 or 3 rounds.

    arunachalam017
    arunachalam017

    When equality is the order of day with prize money at par with men, why not women tennis players  be prepared to play best of 5 sets at grand slams? this is injustice to men players who at times played upto 6 hours like in Australian open2012 between Nadal & Djokovic only to get prize money at par with women players who remained few hours for max 3 sets. The argument of Azarenka for max. of 3 sets for men too at GS ll only kill the tennis & its popularity. Rather, Women players can ask for lesser money at Gs with max 3 sets. Time has come to see the Equality renders justice to men players whose play commands more spectators & the women games of late, very boring, mostly one sided ones.

    Tom14
    Tom14

    The first major that would try to go to a 3 set format would be the US Open, The USTA would love this after all there pushing the juniors and NCAA's into super tie breaks let serves, anything to end it quickly. How is the US going to compete when they don't have the stamina to play then more than an hour. ESPN would love this format  so the evening match ups would end so they could have more chatting than actual play.

    robpogi
    robpogi

    Whenever faced with a too less-too much situation, moderation is usually the best way to go.  So I suggest best of 5-set matches, WITH EACH SET GOING UP TO 4 ONLY.  So imagine a  player losing badly, like 4-0, 4-0, 4-0, that would be the same number of games as in 6-0, 6-0 in best of 3 long sets.  In this way, a player can still make a comeback, and for tight matches it won't be 5 hours.  This will work for men and women's tennis.  Problem solved.  

    NinaCanet
    NinaCanet

    I think most fans will chose the best of 5 option, for me it's a no brainer. The quality, drama and importance of a best of 5 slam match is unparallel. It also benefits the most experienced and skille dplayed, ie. the top guys, because if they have a bad day or a slow start or their opponent has a hot streak, they have time to get back into the match and win it in 5 sets. It shows off their better skills and preparation, plus a best of 3 match is usually over before you expect it. It also separates the slams from the masters and normal matches, giving them that extra that makes them so trascendental and historic.

    DebraTysall
    DebraTysall

    Best of 5 is so exciting, it separates the men from the boys, and makes for very intense viewing. Nothing beats someone clawing their way back from 2 sets down. Some players are slow starters, and I think the Slams give them more of an opportunity to show what they are made of. I hope it never changes. And would a tennis fan really say they can't sit through a long match???? The battle is what it's all about. 

    Tom14
    Tom14

    The best of 5 separates the slams from the rest of the tour events. Fifteen years ago pundits like John McEnroe that tennis needed to go back to wood rackets because Wimbledon had become shooting gallery, serve-ace-walk to service area. Well today serve and volley has gone the way of the white cotton shirt. So now we have the modern version of Solomon vs DIbbs, I'd watch a serve and volleyer vs a base liner. Would they have more names in the winners circle? Slightly Monfiels and Gasquet would still be head cases, the top four would change they mind sets in early rounds and end up in the finals. Or you might end up like the WTA where we would have a surprise slam winner followed by years of low results.

    pyro21
    pyro21

    I wish there were no more best of 5 matches. I love watching tennis, but it's hard to sit through 4 or more hours of any one thing. 

    PurityPrydain
    PurityPrydain

    If men played best of three, you'd see a lot more upsets and not the 4+ hour monstrosities.  Who can really sit through a match that long other than ultra hardcore fans?  I gave up (passed out) after 3 hours of the Nadal/Djokovich absurdity in Australia.

    DickAdams
    DickAdams

    @arunachalam017  Equality cuts both ways...then Men main argument is they do more work and get paid the same as the women...Well here is a answer...play best of 3 up until the Semi's...BAM. Less work same pay is a raise. I like seeing a good 5 set match for time to time...but when the number 30 and 32 ranked players are on court for 5-7 hours and you are waiting to see Nadal or Fed on TV...it is a bore....Also health wise then men would save their bodies...

    NinaCanet
    NinaCanet

    @PurityPrydain That's probably because you're not a real fan of tennis and just a casual viewer. I can assure you most tennis fans love these kind of battles.

    DickAdams
    DickAdams

    @NinaCanet @PurityPrydain  Most people in the world are only causual fans of Tennis...at this point it is about TV viewership-- I said best of 3 up until the Semi's. 

    ashok.korwar
    ashok.korwar

    @NinaCanet @PurityPrydain such comments are totally uncalled for. Who is any of us to say who is a real tennis fan or not? some courtesy would be nice to have.