Eternal tennis dispute. Should women also play in three sets? They already tried it, the quarrels continue

The fifth player in the world immediately added that another possible solution is to shorten the men’s matches at the grand slams. “Then there would be a much greater variability of winners if only two winning sets were played,” he mused, thinking bitterly of his title match last year at Roland Garros, when he led 2-0 in sets against Novak Djokovic and still lost. .

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Tsitsipas’s words were not understood by tennis players. Karolína Plíšková laughed at the Greek idea on social media, and Naomi Osaka shook her head. “It’s really funny,” she said of Tsitsipas, suggesting with a smile that the men could play nine hundred duels. “If he tries to extend my matches, I will extend his.”

But why don’t women actually play three-set winners? Let’s look at the rich history of tennis, which has already offered several experiences in this direction.

Hat ladies could work

You may be surprised that tennis players completed all five hundred swords at the end of the 19th century. More specifically, these were the last matches of the American Championship, the predecessors of today’s US Open. The three winning sets were first played in 1891, when Mabel Cahill won the title (beating 6:4, 6:1, 4:6 and 6:3 Ellen Roosevelt, cousin of future US President Franklin D. Roosevelt ).

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“The match offered an excellent fight from start to finish, with each blow rewarded generously with applause,” The New York Times said of a not-so-comfortable Victorian-dressed women’s run. A year later, the reporter was even more excited when Cahill beat sixteen-year-old Elisabeth Moore for the first time in five hundred years. “The two ladies showed composure and dexterity, the exchanges often lasted a very long time”, writes the press.

However, the gentlemen in charge of the tennis association finally came to the conclusion in 1901 that such long matches were too big a bite for frail women. The tennis players, led by Moore, who was already a double champion at the time, protested vehemently, but their opinion was ignored.

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“Tennis is also about endurance. “I don’t understand why such a drastic change is being made just to suit a few players who don’t have the time or inclination to get in shape,” he said. Moore complained.

Not easy to fight on equal terms

Another famous match for five winning sets with the participation of women took place only in 1973. Yes, it is a “battle of the sexes” in which Billie Jean King beat the provocateur Bobby Riggs 6: 4, 6 :3 and 6:3. King, the founder of the WTA, was an ardent warrior for equal pay for men and women.

Players even voted in 1976 to play five sets to not hear “wanting more money for less work”. But the organizers of the Grand Slam have still not wanted to change anything.

The WTA therefore did things differently and in the 1980s introduced five-set winning duels at least in the finals of the annual championships. “It gives us more space to show our abilities,” praised Martina Navratilova. When the new format premiered in 1984, she smoothly beat Chris Evert 6:3, 7:5 and 6:1.

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She went on to describe that worse than the physical demands is the need to get used to a different match strategy. “Mentally, I’m so used to playing two winning sets that when I narrowly lost the first two sets, I totally blew up in the third,” Evert said.

By the way: Navrátilová played seven matches in the Tournament final between 1984 and 1992 (four of them winners) under the innovated rules, but she never completed a five-set “full fire”.

Fear of a boring show and a busy schedule

Over the next few years, the best tennis players repeatedly proved that they were also perfectly capable of withstanding five sets at the highest pace. The jaw-dropping duel required a nearly four-hour final in 1990 between 16-year-old Monika Selešová and 20-year-old Gabriela Sabatini. “It was hard work, but I enjoyed every minute,” smiled the winner Selesova. She said she was more hungry than tired because she hadn’t had lunch that day.

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However, there have been growing complaints that five-set matches are an unnecessary luxury, especially at the end of a grueling season. In 1999, the WTA returned to the traditional format. Since then, discussions of five hundred female cats in Grand Slam tournaments come up from time to time – without result.

Some famous tennis players, led by Steffi Graf, were against the novelties, after all, it was Grafová who repeatedly clarified that the effort to match men in terms of winnings and match duration only excited him. not a lot. She preferred to focus on her own game and her collection of titles. On the contrary, sisters Venus and Serena Williams have militantly declared in the past that they will only host five hundred marathons. “Women are strong, ready, eager to change. But Grand Slams don’t care,” Serena said in 2014.

There are more problems. Some experts speak of a higher risk of injury for the busiest players. For a change, the television companies fear that in such a case, an already extremely trampled program will become even more complicated. Many people also don’t know if matches over five winning sets would always have a high sporting level (especially in the early rounds).

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This also applies to men’s tennis. Of course, when Djokovic and Nadal collide, for example, fans could watch their jaw-dropping tennis skills for half a day. But the endless duels of less stellar players are often short and boring. Younger audiences, in particular, demand quick action and constant change.

Who knows, then, that the second part of Tsitsipas’ prophecy will not take place in the future and that the struggles of men will not be reduced to the “feminine” level. Some proposals in this direction have already appeared…

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