6 Things I Think I Thought During The US Open: GOAT Nadal, Sublime Serena, The End Of 5-Sets?
by Sean Randall | September 11th, 2013, 6:20 pm

Wrapping up the US Open, here are some thoughts I think I had while watching all that terrific tennis the last few weeks. Let’s get to it.

1) Rafael Nadal The King Of Hardcourts?
In one of the great returns to any sport, much less tennis, a once left-for-dead Rafael Nadal is now on top of the tennis world. At the start of the year many of us wondered not if he would ever win hardcourt titles again, but even if he would play on his least favorite surface! Now eight months later Nadal is undefeated on the hardstuff with a head-shaking 22-0 mark including titles at Indian Wells, Canada, Cincinnati and the US Open!

Absolutely no one saw that coming, and if they claim they did they are 100% lying.

Maybe the seven months of rehab/time off helped recharge Nadal’s knees and rev-up his desire. Maybe he’s winning so much because his main competition continues to flounder – Roger Federer isn’t what he once was, Novak Djokovic is dealing with confidence issues, and he hasn’t played Andy Murray yet on hardcourts because the Scot can’t win enough matches to play Rafa.

For all the talk of him being a clay court specialist, Nadal now has five Grand Slam titles off of the red dirt. FIVE! That’s one less than studs like Djokovic, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg have overall. And his 13 Slams is one shy of Sampras and four from Mr. Federer which at the rate he’s going he’ll reach in 20 months.

So for now, it’s Rafa’s time. But the winds will change again. That’s for certain.

2) We’ll never see Novak Djokovic’s 2011 level again
Probably not. Djokovic was at another stratosphere in 2011 when he went on that torrid streak to start the year, then he hung on to win his only US Open title. It’s tough to sustain, but now a few years older he’s struggling to win titles – just one from April.

Sure, he can go toe-to-toe with anybody on the planet, even Nadal, but during the key moments Monday night he once again fell apart mentally, just as he’s been doing much of the year.

Novak was up a break in the third and in position to take the match. Credit to Nadal for fighting, but where was Novak’s fury? Why the collapse?

There are good patches and then there are bad patches. But against the top players – Novak’s now lost to his big two rivals in the last two major finals – he just can’t seem to finish the job. And that’s between the ears.

Maybe Djokovic gets it back – often it can be just take one or two wins to turn the tide – or maybe not. But right now Nadal is now firmly in his head.

3) The end of Roger Federer
Big racquet, small racquet, I don’t see Roger ever returning to No. 1 and now he might never get back to a Slam final. That Tommy Robredo loss almost felt like a funeral in a way.

There’s little pop on the shots. The footwork isn’t there and nor was the timing. Robredo said he really didn’t do anything new except let Roger self destruct and that’s exactly what happened and has been happening.

That said, Roger could still get a good draw here and there and make a run, but as I’ve said before Federer’s game is based not on power – like a Sampras serve or Agassi groundstrokes – but on remarkable timing and precision. And like a finely-tuned sports car once there are calibration issues, performance quickly crumbles.

Federer’s now ranked No. 6 this week and looking ahead there’s a very real chance he won’t be in the Top 10 a year from, maybe not even in the Top 20.

But more often than not, when we write him off he roars back. And his best time of the year is ahead: the indoors. Let’s see.

4) Serena still strong
Like two ships passing in the night, Roger Federer and Serena Williams are both heading opposite directions as they turn 32. While Federer fights to stay relevant at majors, Serena’s winning them and winning them with greater frequency.

The US Open title was Serena’s fourth in the last six Slams and with Maria Sharapova harboring a serious shoulder injury, Petra Kvitova a mental mess, Li Na likely past her past her prime, it just leaves Victoria Azarenka and maybe Sloane Stephens are worthy foes.

Sunday night after a brief choke in the second Serena returned to hammering Azarenka in the third for an emphatic 6-1 finish.

Victoria’s played her tough but the Belrussian has never beaten Serena in a Slam. And for the foreseeable future that’s probably how it’s going to be.

As for Sloane, she’s got a lot of game and weaponry, just not the maturity, at least not yet.

What’s remarkable is that a few weeks from turning 32 Serena is still able to muster some of her best tennis. And she’s been through her share of injuries and even a life threatening embolism.

With 17 Slams she’s already tied Roger and soon she’ll pass the Swiss and eventually move ahead of 18s Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. If she stays healthy – her only real opponent these days – she’ll have a shot at Graf’s 22 and maybe Court’s 24.

5) Where’s the variety?
One disconcerting thing I found while devouring all that tennis was the lack of variety in what I was watching. Everyone was just hammering away from the baseline, asking “Who’s got the bigger forehand”? I just got tedious after a while.

Wawrinka, Djokovic, Nadal, Ferrer, Robredo, Berdych, Raonic, Isner, Istomin, Granollers, Gasquet, etc, are all sort of the same in a way. Maybe it was because guys like Murray, Federer, Tomic, Monfils, Haas, Dolgopolov, Dimitrov and Janowicz didn’t make much noise that many matches appeared the same.

6) The end of 5-set matches is nigh
I’ll save it for a broader post, but after watching Del Potro-Hewitt, Wawrinka-Djokovic and even the 4-set Monday night final, it’s clear to me the best-of-5 format in Grand Slam play is on the endangered list. Because of scheduling and TV considerations, I expect all men’s matches at Grand Slams to go best-of-3 by the end of the decade, maybe within four years. That’s right, you heard it here first. At least in the U.S., casual tennis fans – like my friends and family – just don’t have the patience to sit through four to five hour matches.

So those are a few closing notes after a few weeks of tennis. Now four months until the Australian Open? Can we speed that up?

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157 Comments for 6 Things I Think I Thought During The US Open: GOAT Nadal, Sublime Serena, The End Of 5-Sets?

green900 Says:

NOOOO! How can you have grand slam without best of five sets! Then grand slams will just be the same as master series and other less important tournaments. Five Sets brings a whole new set of epicness and flavour to matches.

Rsutherland Says:

While awaiting the official FUNK/TRUNK posting


1) HINDUISM, JAINISM AND SIKHISM – Nadal’s Knees = irrifutable proof of reincarnation

2) SERENA WILLIAMS – Speaking of body parts, her’s continue to defy the findings of the great Sir Isaac Newton.

3) VICTORIA AZARENKA – Has a budding career as a coloratura soprano. Where as the abrasive shrieks of High-Fructose-Corn-Syrupova and Venus Williams must be damaging to the vocal chords, Azarenka manages a remarkable coordination between diaphragmatic support and head resonance.

4) MADMAX – seems to have transitioned over the years from a disturbing level of anger to acceptance. Ben Pronin should be having that post-final discussion with MM.

5) THE 1 AND 7 KEYS ON SKEEZER’S KEYPAD – There is light at the end of the tunnel after the carnage they have endured.


5) SERVE TO WIN – Must take a back seat to Chichita & company although bananas are indeed gluten-free.

4) DIJANA AND SRDAN – TV cameras should have panned to Daddy’s face when Nadal put his head on Djokovic’s shoulder after the win. Oh, yeah; it was a Nadal win. So Daddy, could remind us who is jealous of whom?

3) THE 3, 0 AND 2 KEYS ON SKEEZER’S KEYPAD – Those little guys must be trembling due to the impending onslaught.

2) EVERY RAFA DETRACTOR ON TENNIS-X THAT WHINES ABOUT AWFUL NADAL FANS. – I mean really??? This, in light of the pass you guys give to the SOAT (snarliest of all time).


SG1 Says:

Having seen a lot of the USO, I admit that I was a little tennis-ed out at the end of it. This being said, I agree with green-9000. Making majors 2 out of 3 sets devalues their importance. The USTA has usually been the first to go out on a limb and make changes. Some of them have been really good. There may be a bit of a compromise. How about 2 out of 3 sets but you have to reach 7 games to win a set rather than 6? The tie break happens at 7 all instead of 6 all. it adds some more games and puts some of the endurance factor back into the game which I think is an important part of winning a major.

Brando Says:

Excellent write up Sean.

Completely agree on points 1-4, sort of on point 5 but no way on point 6.

-‘just don’t have the patience to sit through four to five hour matches.’:

On a general basis- I agree with such a view. In this fast paced modern life where we really have little me time due to various different things going on in that crazy thing of ours named life, some folks just will not have the patience to enjoy the game.

More than ever: people want things here, now and instantly. Done ASAP.

So for a fair few: 3 to 4 hours of essentially players hitting a ball back and forth will be a huge… no thanks.

But that’s their loss. For a great majority this is a amazing era, with the matches at the top proving to be instant classics.

The 5 set format will never leave since then essentially: what’s the difference between that and a MS?

Not much if you ask me! So no way will the 5 set format go- and certainly not that soon!

Final point:

– ‘Now four months until the Australian Open? Can we speed that up?’:

LOL- a shared sentiment for many immediately post the USO, which raises a ironic point: what does that say about the appeal, importance of WTF?

IMHO: clearly it’s an event that does not matter that much!

SG1 Says:

I do think that Novak will bounce back. I remember Edberg going through a year similar to the one Novak just had. He bounced back the following year and won both the USO and Wimbledon. Novak is a ridiculously talented player. I think he put some added pressure on himself to win for his first coach who passed away earlier in the year. He’ll clear his head and come back strong. He has a chance to lead Serbia to the Davis Cup which is the spark that ignited his 2011 run. There aren’t any real young up and comers ready to win majors right now. Novak will get his share going forward.

Thangs Says:

Only player having two clean sweeps on two different surfaces. Clay Sweep in 2010 and Summer Sweep in 2013. It may sound like a stupid record to mention. But, in reality, is this ever possible to do on two different grounds??

skeezer Says:


Spot on with 5 & 6, couldn’t agree more!

Teeg Says:

I agree to a certain extent on the best of 3 format for men’s grand slam matches. Here’s why. Today, both men and women get paid equally at the Grand Slams, and while I am all for it, it does leave room for scrutiny. Essentially, the women get paid the same for doing less – best of 3, compared to best of 5. Imagine the women’s champion getting $3.6 million for winning 6-2, 6-0 in 55 mins., while the men’s champion get the same, while winning 7-6 in the fifth after 5 hours of play. Is that really fair?

So, to compromise, I say, why not make the rounds leading up to the final best of 3, and keep the final best of 5. Essentially, just how it is in the Olympics.

Krishna Says:

I agree with Sean in that these best of 5 matches need to go away, and there is no variety at all. These 5-6 hour “classics” between Djokovic-Nadal are not classics at all. The courts have been slowed down, technology has been ramped up , so drones can just bang away from the baseline. The time wasting between points by these players adds to the total time played as well. It is boring after a few hours. Cutting it to best of 3 will solve the issue.

Brando Says:

‘These 5-6 hour “classics” between Djokovic-Nadal are not classics at all.’:


So what are the so called classics then?

Rafa thumping Federer….. again. Sorry but i’ll pass on that.

Just like virtually the majority of tennis fans and commentators today: sign me in for a Rafole anytime!

Brando Says:


Rafole only played one 5 hour plus match. So if people want to gripe about the length then at least do so with some facts not gross exaggerations!

And beyond that they only have 3 matches at 4hr plus:

1. 5 sets at RG this year clocking 4 hour 37 minutes. A widely held quality affair.

2. 4 sets at USO in 2011 clocking 4 hour 10 minutes. A widely held high quality match.

3. And a 4 hour 3 minute match …..in a best of 3 sets on clay- Madrid. LOL: so much for 3 sets doing the trick right? Shall we make it best of 2 now?


So ONLY 4 matches out of 37 that a 4 hour plus and one of them is a best of 3 sets and suddenly we need to reduce best of 5 sets to 3 since a small minority dislike Rafole matches whilst the majority want more of it?

Ok……I can see the sense in that.

Kimberly Says:

Nice read Sean. I hope we don’t go to best of three for slams. That’s what makes slams special. But note, no injury retirement issues of Wimbledon and this is later in the season.

Maybe the long brutal points on clay more and quick transition to grass more likely to cause injury.

We are now officially entering my least favorite part of the season. The casual fans will stop watching until Australia. At least the NFL and NCAA football back. I have season tix to the dolphins!

Kimberly Says:

I agree with Brando, at this point a Rafole is probably the most sought after match for spectators and fans. Even the players want to see. But I still love fedals too

Hamza Says:

If it was Federer winning, all the folks would be lambasting the very idea of 3 sets but because it’s Nadal, you have this hypocritical response.

You know what, if people are bored of 5 sets, tennis would be better off moving a couple of slams in to South America and/or the middle east or Asia for that matter. Players would keep getting tons of money and people over there would LOVE to be the custodians of the best-of-five tennis.

For those who find today’s five setters boring, speak for yourself. I’m sure you’re in a minority. Worried about TV viewership ? Give up your right to hold a major and let some other country take the onus. Tennis doesn’t need viewers like you.

Ben Pronin Says:

“If it was Federer winning, all the folks would be lambasting the very idea of 3 sets but because it’s Nadal, you have this hypocritical response.”

This really needs to stop. Just because someone is against something doesn’t mean they’re a Federer fan or Nadal fan or what have you. Seriously, get a grip.

I could not disagree with Sean more about this best of 5 vs best of 3 thing. I cannot even believe this is a discussion. What we should be discussing is the women switching over to best of 5, not the men switching down. Does anyone else find it ironic that the slams are actually the easiest tournaments on tour for the women?

And seriously. I’m no Nadal fan but he has given us some absolute classics throughout his career whether it was against Federer or Djokovic or Rosol or Verdasco or whoever. As a spectator, I absolutely love it. Just like I love Djokovic’s recent knack for getting into a 5 set epic in every slam.

Del Potro vs Hewitt is why you think they should switch? Why? So that Del Potro could have won that match and retired in the next round or something?

If they switch, they should absolutely get rid of the day in between.

All the other points I agree with. Although we can all agree that Nadal was never seriously injured.

Humble Rafa Says:

I want to thank myself and my Humble Nation for behaving so wonderfully during such a busy week.

All of you amigos make the Humble Nation proud.

Humble Nation – where all wishes come true.

moam Says:

Rafa Nadal is the KING OF IT ALL!! What more superlatives can be said about this great champion, maybe the greatest champion, that haven’t already been said. Hopefully my tribute adds some measure of my admiration for his accomplishments.

Hamza Says:

@Ben Pronin:

Point well taken.

roy Says:



these matches have lack of variety?
these guys play all the shots, quite often in the same rally.
it’s time people stopped watching ‘highlights’ from the ‘variety’ chip-charge era of tennis and actually watch the matches again. because there was less variety back then. it’s more predictable and more monotonous.
less contrast in power, less contrast in spin/drive, less angles, less contrast in defense/counterattack, more matches dominated by serve etc.

you want to call the wta monotonous, fine. but don’t lump the men’s game in with that.

jamie Says:

Best-of-5 format is what makes ATP so awesome.

Skeezer Says:

Oh roy. Your rafa hidden love is always easily exposed.
Rafa is in the category of variety? Please, don’t dis honor the Bull meister of such pity play. His game is dictated by obe ans one shot only, his mighyt forehand.

Skeezer Says:

“His game is dictated by one shot only, his mighty forehand.”

Skeezer Says:


Do you really think the overall sports fan, and TV media rights, are going to keep an qualified paying interest in 5-6 hour 5 set tennis matches? Tell me how. And while your at it, tell me how your going to convince sponsors and commercial ads to pay as such. No way dude.
3 set formats are coming, and are the future.

holdserve Says:

Highly unlikely that the slams will move to best of 3 sets.
But if they do, there is no guarantee that the matches would be shorter.
Right now players conserve their energy for 5 sets. If it is best of 3, longer rallies would be the norm.
I am sure those who understand tennis appreciate the genius on display in the Rafole matches.
Those who describe Rafa and Nole as drones have absolutely no understanding of the game.

metan Says:


one mighty fearhand,just enough to make Roger trembling , no. ☺
I am so envy with Roger skills.. if I have those weapons, I must have been rule this world!!!!

SW Says:

I think it’s great that the story of the day or the year is a reinsurgent Nadal. This is coming from a Big Nadal fan.

I just don’t see the point in speculating that Nadal can attain such heights (17+ slams) given the ups and downs of tennis. Keep the faith alive but really?

skeezer Says:

I mean, c’mon,whatsports fan here has 5-6 hours to want to watch ANY sports event? Talk about coach potato…..

@metan, respectfully, I have never mentioned about a Rafa vs Fed thing in this discussion, but Rafa fans have and quite frequently. Why? Same ole jealousy of have and have nots. Maybe one day he’ll get 17.

Rafa’s FH has the dominating effect on ALL players, not just Fed. Nole handles it probably the best, but when Rafa’s FH and movement are rockin, it is a monumental task to overcome.

Steve 27 Says:

Federer wants a best of 1

Steve 27 Says:

Federer wants a best of 1

Margot Says:

Really interesting write up Sean. Would be very sad if slams went to 3 sets. It’s what makes them exciting and different. Can’t believe REAL tennis fans are yawning and reaching for the remote after
Agree too women should be playing 5 in slams. Of course they won’t because of scheduling.
Lol Steve 27.

Okiegal Says:

No, Ben, we don’t all agree that Rafa was never injured. You will half heartedly give Rafa a compliment..but right before you finish you always bring up his non injured knees and doping. As for as the 5 set slam issue…..the 5 set format separates the men from the boys.

Rafa is back with a vengeance!!


Sirius Says:

“IMHO: clearly it’s an event that does not matter that much!”

don’t worry, mate. I do pray that rafa wins the WTF this year and I’m certain it’ll start to matter very much. Cause, Raf’s gonna have it! Yay!

Lenny Says:

If the 5-day cricket match isn’t dead yet, I see no reason why the 5-set tennis match should be. And if that disastrous decision were ever to be made, the MS tournaments would by default become more prestigious than the GS ones by dint of the format. A more elite player field. Although, maybe they’d have to get rid of the byes for the top players in the 1st round, to emphatically take over from the GSes. A more realistic situation would be to do a version of what the MSes did a while ago – make the earlier rounds 3 sets, and switch back to 5 from the QFs onwards. [MSes did it for the finals, only, but the GSes should do it earlier]

Steve 27 Says:

At least in the U.S., casual tennis fans – like my friends and family – just don’t have the patience to sit through four to five hour matches.

So? My family and friends, neither. What is the point?
4 Gs are only 8 weeks in the entire year. If we remove the davis cup (another history) of the equation, there are the only tournaments of the tour, the most important without a doubt. I agree that we live in the 21 century and our capacity of attention has deteriorated for various reasons and circumstances.
If you really want to reduce the time of the matches and do as volleyball, eliminates the stupid second service. If failed, shame, point to your opponent. If you break a racket, game lost. If you insult the referee, Set to your opponent. And so you eliminate the Safín, Mc Enroes of the future. one thing is to have personality, another is acting like a jerk on the court. As I said earlier, once removed from the second service to expedite the match, do not know how things will give more dynamic. If you want to further cut things, do what the U.S. Open for the past few years; Tie break in the fifth set.
  But remove the 5 sets in the men’s circuit majors is like removing ketchup noodles. Take away what is really important. I do not know what the future held and what the TV networks, sponsors and the public outside the court want, the only thing I’m sure is a grand slam best to be best of 5 sets is the best tennis for a real lovers of this sport so physical, artistic and mental.

metan Says:

5 sets is the best GS format.

Giles Says:

I think we all know why skeezer the geezer wants the 5 setters to be removed. His man has never prevailed playing back to back 5 setters! That is the true, no?

Margot Says:

^ Agree eliminate second serve and also “let.” OMG that’s such a time waster. If the ball lands in the box, play on for goodness sake.

Sirius Says:

^eliminate the 2nd serve, really?? Aces will become a rarity!

What’s happened to this site! Everyone’s asking for a change in the game! Isn’t it best the way it is?

Steve 27 Says:

All or nothing, Sirius.
If you put the ball in, good, if not, point to your rival.

Steve 27 Says:

Dear Maestro, It has been many days since I see your face, no? You lose, and I am very, very sad. This is the reason why I send you a canasta of many gifts. At the time this arrives to you, I will be preparing myself to make Nole very, very sad with spins that cannot be understood by mortal persons, yes? Enjoy the things I send, my friend. Also, remember that there is no Rafa without RF. Love, The King of Clay and also of the Hard Courts

malher Says:

he he – i recorded the us final – then watched it the next day on fast forward – much easier

malher Says:

keep the 5 set grand slam – just change the courts back to its normal speed

malher Says:

why is it that nadal fans hate federer so much

Michael Says:

We cannot write off Novak. I am sure he would bounce back in style. It is only a matter of time. Afterall, even this year his performance at majors is remarkable. What he lacks today is just a little bit of confidence. Once he gains that, his fire brand Tennis will return once again to haunt his competitors. He is the only player today who can wear out Nadal on all the courts including Clay. He just takes him to the limits when he plays him.

Sirius Says:

Steve 27,

it won’t be all or nothing. Players won’t just give away their service point. They’ll get defensive, play safe. For that, the serve speed will be decreased and you’ll see men serving like the wta players of now. And the wta players might consider serving the underhand serve! Anyway, if that happens in men’s tennis by any chance in my lifetime, i’ll quit watching tennis

Steve 27 Says:

The best % win, Sirius,.
See tennis players serving with less than 60 % in his first services is pathethic.
For example, Andy has a fantastic first serve but his percenteage of first services is usually low so his rivals can murder his second service.
I dont know you but for me double falts for a tennis player is like a journalist with a bad orthography.

Daniel Says:

Agree wih Sirius, if you remove second serve is not tennis anymore.

Sorry Steve 27 but have you ever played?! Yu will just kill a shot. No more aces, everybody will serve basically the same, no body will go for e lines and with the way they are retunrning already the returners would just stay inside the court as Murray do (which to me he goes too much inside e court sometimes and does nothing attacking second serve, just makes the ball return fast back to the court). Returners will just know where the ball will come. Everybody would retunr Nadal waiting in the BH, just move 1 step. If he chages to the forehand do a split with a big step and get it back. Jesus, I am laughing just imagine playing like this. I think I will try this with one of my play partners just to seenhow it goes and let you guys know later. Bizarre idea!!

Jason Says:


Polo Says:

Skeezer Says: “His game is dictated by one shot only, his mighty forehand.”

That shot is good enough to demolish the competition. Why use another?

James Says:

subo, keep fighting the good fight! Nadal and Federer are so juiced they flunked a drug test at Wimbledon. Federer had to escape another test at Flushing. Nadal was clean this time perhaps. We need voices like yours to keep the world turning.

Ben Pronin Says:

What the hell does Federer have to do with changing the format to best of 3? I’m pretty sure Federer would be the last player to promote this change.

Skeezer, I don’t care who has the patience or who doesn’t. If you don’t want to watch the fourth and fifth set, then don’t. Screw the TV scheduling. They’ve been doing this for 40 years, why is it suddenly a problem? ESPN has nothing better to show anyway. Neither does CBS. What is the problem?

If anything, they should switch it to how it used to be, first 3 rounds are best of 3, then 4th round onward is best of 5. That I’m ok with. It would actually probably make things a lot more interesting, could result in more upsets. But to do away with best of 5 all together completely undermines the game.

You guys know that they play lets in college tennis, right?

Polo Says:

5 sets shortened to 3 sets will change the tournament from a major to a minor event.

James Says:

Agree with Ben, Federer would be the last to want a best of 3 format for Slam. He earned his 17 slams the hard way. Why would he want some new guys to win a slam the easy way? You don’t want a Nadal to win 26 Slams, no?

FYI, the Nadal-Djokovic final pulled in the highest TV viewership for a Monday final. If you don’t have the time or interest to watch a best of 5 match, then don’t. Most tennis fans love it, and that’s what really matters.

Ben Pronin Says:

I think part of the reason the final did well ratings wise is because people actually knew about it ahead of time. It wasn’t a last minute push back so people knew exactly when to tune in.

Michael Says:

Regarding pruning down the number of sets to three at Majors instead of five, I do not think it is a welcome idea and it will be quite unfair to the past winners who had to toil all the way to win in five. Now suddenly pruning down to three will even make more toughter to compare their performance on a relative scale and the GOAT argument can only turn even more murkier than it is now.

Paradox Says:

What a pathetic idea to change grand slams to 3 setters.Then it should be called a minor event only.All sheen of a grand slam will be long gone.Better to follow Ping pong or badminton as these games are even shorter.

Paradox Says:

It is well known that TV mugals are trying their best to influence tennis officials and writers to fullfil their vested interest. And they are pumping money for this purpose.A major should have uniqueness and history which elevates it above other tournaments.Why manipulate 5 setters to satisfy the whims of Tv honchos.Where will be the belief defying and incredible matches for fans to cherish in future?.What will happen in future-will womens slam becme a one setter?.If it happens, then tennis will loose a lot of fans.

Brando Says:

@Polo and Paradox: awesome posts! Keep speaking the truth!:-)

skeezer Says:

Long rallies like the 54 shot rallyin this day and age will become more and more prevelant. Matches will get longer and longer. Good luck with that.

Paradox Says:

One important thing is noticeable in that all of the writers who put forward the idea of changing the format are from USA where TV honchos are known to manipulate the sports events.It is the US open that they aim,but they cannot change its format alone avoiding other 3 slams.If the US open needs a format change,let them do it, but then it should be downgraded to a masters and a new grand slam should be allowed to come up in South america, europe or Asia in place of US open.

Ben Pronin Says:

That 54 shot rally was incredible. And will never become the norm. No one is as consistent as Djokovic and Nadal. You think Wawrinka or Gasquet can partake in a 54 shot rally during a match?

Who originated this cockamamie idea?

zola Says:

Sean, nice writing.
I hope the slams keep the best of five. The internet generation doesn’t have patience for anything more than 5 seconds! Slams cannot be tuned around them.

In general the Grand slams are the hardest trophies to win, because of the draw size and the best of 5 format. Imagine a best of three grand slam with one day rest between the matches! Vacation time!

skeezer Says:

I am not interested in watching anything past 3 hours. In America, the average sport usually doesn’t last past that.
The last few Slams have been DVR ed. on my set.
I realize there are those here that will sit all day in front of a TV or Computer and watch sports. But the reality is your average sports fan doesn’t have the time nor resources to do so. I am not so much against the 5 set format as the time it takes to complete it. Thankfully, its only the Slams and DC (5 seta) some have mentioned.

And for the usual num nuts who think an my opinion is based on Fedfan propoganda think again, Fed won ALL his 17 all time Slams in the 5 set format.

Polo Says:

“Who originated this cockamamie idea?”

Do you think Djokovic and Nadal planned to hit those many shots? Long rallies are a function of how well the opposing players strike the ball, how fast they move, how good they are in covering the court, how consistent and error free the shots are. Nadal and Djokovic happen to have all those qualities and are very well matched in their abilities, hence the long rallies. Murray can be in that group also. Isner, Raonic, etc, etc don’t have long rallies and you know why. Do you enjoy those short plays by those big guys?

Brando Says:

@Ben and Polo: brilliant posts!

Brando Says:

Re 54 shot rallies being the norm: LOL, let’s get real! What is the future of tennis? No one can truly say but when one looks at the profile of players coming through being generally 6’3 plus, more giants than ever I think we can all say 54 shot rallies are not going to be the norm! Tennis- like life- has it’s change, and right now we seem to be in a truly phenomenal era were being technically awesome is not good enough. You also have to be a physical specimen of great ability. Fed started it and now Rafa, Novak and Andy have taken it to another level. It’s just phenomenal and gobsmacking to see what these guys can do. More than likely when tennis will become a giantfest you will not see such a thing so here’s a tip: enjoy it whilst it lasts since you likely won’t see such a thing again!

skeezer Says:

“I think part of the reason the final did well ratings wise is because people actually knew about it ahead of time. It wasn’t a last minute push back so people knew exactly when to tune in.”

Didn’t watch the Mens…watched the Womens though….apparently so did most;

4.9 vs 2.8


Of course Fed holds the highest rating ever at 5.1 ;)

Brando Says:

PS: Did a near 16,000 crowd all stand up and applaud Rafa and Nole in sheer awe for that 54 shot rally? Hasn’t it got close to a million views on you tube in 3 mere days? Correct me if I’m wrong but I think that’s a good enough sign to suggest that some people out there love to see such spectacular rallies marked with insane shots and sheer athleticism as to griping about it and saying ‘but it took 2 mins’. LOL: appreciate it don’t whine about it as it’s a silly complaint!

Polo Says:

Brando, I almost passed out for holding my breath while that 54 shot rally was going on. I did not want to miss a single shot. Put one of the giant guys across the net and it would have been over in 3 shots (maybe even less). Where’s the excitement in that?

James Says:

Fed vs Novak in 2007 holds the highest rating for a US Open final because it was played on a SUNDAY!

Paradox Says:

Ha ha, this skeezer looks reaaly at sea. He is not able to distinguish sunday from monday. Naturally the viewership on sunday will be definitely more than a match held on monday because of the obvious reasons(what can be the reason be that Skeezer does not get simple facts?). Inspite of that, this year’s US open men’s final got best ratings among the finals held on Monday. Federer’s match which Skeezer describes was held on Sunday. People anticipate Nadal Djokovic match as a superb thriller which may take you to enjoy the limits of human spirit, talent and superb endurance. Millions of people around the world get entertained to the maximum. In almost every other article about the finals discribe about that 54 shot rally as something truly exceptional and an happening so rare that it has to be savoured. Nadal, Djokovic,Federer and Murray makes present day tennis exceptionally exceptional and unparalleled.We need 5 setters to truly enjoy these marvels.

skeezer Says:

Par a ducks,

Never said it was Sun or Mon, just what the finals were. quit makin sh!t up. Regardless, it’s a dagger to see the womens final get way more TV ratings than a mens final , regardless of what day it is on.

5-6 hour matches ( wether its 4 or 5 sets ) in the future will be the most DVR’d sport watched ever. And the ratings will prove it. Mark it.


Was 06 not 07.

hawkeye Says:

In the inimitable words of Jerzy-J, “How many times!!!”

Fact is 5+ hour best of five matches are by far the exception (not the norm). The average match time in last year’s USO was 2 hrs. 44 minutes.

This is less than the average NFL football game and the average MLB baseball game.

But, please dear skeez, as always, don’t let facts get in the way of a bad story.(skeezer, the king of anecdotal evidence and revisionism.)

That said, even if you wanted to reduce best of fives, there are many other options of going to best of three:
– no ad tennis
– 5th set tie-break
– enforce the serve time rule (like ATP)
– a 2 set skunk rule (match ends if player goes up 2-0)

I don’t like the last option (or any of them for that matter) but certainly better than best of three which would make majors no different than ATP events.

That said, again, average tennis matches best of five are already faster than football or baseball games.

(Oh, and sorry Sean Randall, this is NOT where I’ve heard of majors going to best of 3 for the first time.)


Ben Pronin Says:

Hawkeye, I don’t know about MLB but NFL games are not longer than 2 hours and 44 minutes. Considering the game itself can’t be longer than an hour, the commercials make it run about 2 hours. Unless we go into OT, which is genearlly rare.

“certainly better than best of three which would make majors no different than ATP events.”
False, it would make them easier.

– no ad tennis: MAYBE do it in regular events, never in the slams.
– 5th set tie-break: already have it at the US Open where most of these complaints are apparently coming from. Not a huge fan of this at the other events but I’m not wholly against it. Maybe let players go to 10-10 before the TB?
– enforce the serve time rule (like ATP): why WASN’T this being enforced?
– a 2 set skunk rule (match ends if player goes up 2-0): I’m ok with this for the first 3 rounds, just like I’m ok with best of 3 in the first 3 rounds. But under no circumstance does this format belong in the second week of a slam.

hawkeye Says:

The length of the USO final this year was 3 hrs. 20 minutes, less than 10 minutes longer than the average NFL football game.


Polo Says:

What are the greatest men’s tennis matches of all time?

I just googled that. They were all 5-set matches. Not one 3-set match was included. No 3 set match can ever equal the spectacle of a 5-set match.

Slice Tennis Says:

Rafael Nadal Says:

“My backhand has completely changed from what it was two years ago, no? I now transfer weight onto my right leg to protect my left knee.”


Vamos Rafa…Thats the way to do it. Changing the technique after 10 yrs on the tour !!

If the man with the lady backhand had tried to improve his BH like Rafa, he would have won a couple more matches against Rafa.

hawkeye Says:

Going to best of three would dramatically reduce the chance of a single player winning 13, 14, 15 or more majors as the chances of an upset along the way would significantly rise.

That’s what makes majors more significant and historically meaningful.

What about golf? That’s on for 4-5 hours. Let’s go to 9-hole par 27 for all golf majors.

What a freakin’ joke.


Giles Says:

Great write-up on Rafa.

Paradox Says:

Again this Skeezer is making a self goal in saying that womans final which was held on sunday in US open which involved the iconic American player Serena Williams got more ratings than mens final which was held on monday. Again,there is nothing unnatural in it.Well, this Skeezer is again finding simple and obvious facts too difficult to understand.If we take the international ratings,it may be the opposite which is true. What a Skeezer this is?.

SG1 Says:

Interesting discussion regarding match length, Back in the 90’s there was a bunch of complaining about the tennis being boring. The points were too short. Now, the points and the matches have become too long. I think all of this points two conclusions:

1) In general, the grass always appears greener on the other side.
2) Our society has become impatient. Technology has conditioned us to expect things to happen much more.

Tennis is what it is. A 5 set war can be very entertaining and enjoyable when two great players tie one on. I suspect that there are folks in tennis circles worried that watching tennis will be like watching golf (a long, drawn out affair that takes hours to get through). This may drive young people away from the sport.

As for me, I have no complaints with 5 set matches (though I wish they were played at 3PM on Sunday).

SG1 Says:

“Technology has conditioned us to expect things to happen much more quickly.”


hawkeye Says:

Davis Cup ‏@DavisCup 31s
Do you agree? We certainly do! RT @russellcfuller: Andy Murray says he thinks the Davis Cup should become a ‘mandatory event.’

Arash Madani ‏@ArashMadani 4h
BREAKING: Novak Djokovic just told me he has informed Serbia Tennis that he’ll play Friday. Debate is over. “My country needs me,” he said.

Rafa Nadal ‏@RafaelNadal 1h
Preparado para la Davis ;) Entrad aquí http://bit.ly/17np6fx descubrid cómo podéis ayudar a mi fundación @frnadal pic.twitter.com/8vF9dUdNG1


hawkeye Says:

SG1, well go play with your iPhone then, no?

But not for NFL football, baseball or golf so…


James Says:

skeezer, Novak-Roger USO final was in 2007 on a Sunday, not in 2006!

When Federer played Delpo in 2009 final it didn’t pulled in as many viewers as Nadal vs Djokovic final this year did.


Alex Says:

“If the man with the lady backhand had tried to improve his BH like Rafa,”

Shows what you know about tennis!

Lady backhand?

You do know Fed uses 1 hand not 2?

Whats more lady-like, opening something with one hand or having to do it with 2 like a girl?

These days people seem fine with the two-handed backhand, I still think its girly and looks ridiculous.

Seems like lots of people are liking the slow courts and girly backhands that are taking over.

“Think about it, before Connors and then Borg, and then came Harold Solomon, and suddenly the gates opened up and tennis has become so much the worse for this one stroke devolution. It has essentially allowed a player to sit on the baseline and fend off aggressive play. And now the exception has become the norm.”

Whats lady is using 2 hands for a shot that only needs 1.

Banish The Two-Handed Backhand!

Kimberly Says:

Wimbledon 2008—-one of the most dramatic events ever. Best match in History. Best of 3. My guy would have had a routine win in 2. But Federer came back, won two sets in a row, and went to 9-7 in the gloaming. History. A match to be remembered forever. Even a fifth set breaker is not acceptable IMO.

All of the great matches of recent—Federer Djokovic USO 2010 and 2011, Nadal Djokovic AO 2012 and RG 2013, Agassi Blake USO 2005, Nadal Federer AO 2009 and even the small matches in early rounds of the tourneys like Gasquet Raonic, Hewitt Delpo, to me these are the jewels of the tournament. If the major networks don’t want it give it to the tennis channel.

I agree perhaps the casual fan doesn’t want five hours. But the tennis community all over the world wants these matches and we will be worse without them!

hawkeye Says:

Ben Pronin, wrong.

“Average game length has bounced up and down through the decades. According to Elias, it was a ponderous 3:10 in 2002, and a brisk 2:59 in 1992.”


Ben, it would just be plain dumb to go to best of three especially when it’s all rhetoric.

And I already agree that these ideas are bad but they would certainly be better than best of three especially given that it’s based on poor attention span and false information to begin with.

hawkeye Says:

Yes, alex, and while we’re at it let’s bring back the sweater vest, oh wait…

Let’s bring back the wooden racquet and leeches and horse and buggy, lol.


Ben Pronin Says:

Alex, don’t respond to Slice Tennis’ nonsense.

Hawkeye, I’m pretty surprised. But I don’t think NFL and tennis can be compared. For one, there are breaks between quarters and halves. In tennis, the longest break we have is, what, 3 minutes between sets? And I hate commercials during a tennis match, too. But in football they work. You can also flip the channel between CBS and FOX which tennis really doesn’t afford (remember how incredible the coverage of Olympic tennis was last year?). And nowadays we have ESPN3 so, at least if you have a computer and good internet connection, you can switch between matches at will.

I just don’t understand why this is a debate. SG1 makes a great point. In the 90s things were too fast now they’re too slow. Maybe speed up the courts first before changing the format?

Does anyone disagree that, on the women’s side, slams are easier than regular events? I always found it ironic when Serena made fun of Safina for winning 2 Tier 1 events compared to 2 slams for Serena. One event is best of 3 played against the highest ranked players on tour, 5 matches in 5 days. The other event is best of 3 played against, basically, anyone on your, 7 mathces in 14 days. We know what history cares about more but which one is really more impressive?

Nadal already says that winning a Masters event is harder than winning a slam. I strongly disagree, and I don’t think he agrees with it, either. Maybe in some ways it’s tougher due to the quality of opponents but over the long haul slams are harder. How much easier would they be if they switched to best of 3?

Ben Pronin Says:

“I agree perhaps the casual fan doesn’t want five hours.”

Can we establish a general definition for the “casual fan”? Are we talking about Americans who spend 10+ hours on Sunday watching football? Or European fans who spend 1.5+ hours on a single game of soccer where the final scores tend to be 1-0? When did tennis become the sport that is too long to watch?

Steve 27 Says:

I wonder how many millions are involved to the journalist of the US lobbyng to reduce the best of 5 sets for a best of 3 sets. Without a doubt, big bucks are buying the conscience of these men

hawkeye Says:

I think Rafa believes it. He’s won 36% of the majors he has entered and 34% of the Masters 1000.


Margot Says:

Test match cricket last 5 days. Can’t watch a 5 hour tennis match???
You’re all pussies…;)

James Says:

If they ever reduce it to best of 3 for US Open, it should be downgraded to a Masters 1000 and their Slam status should go to Asia. The Chinese would be happy to pay tons of money to have a tennis Slam in their country.

James Says:

LOL @Margot, do folks in UK still love the 5 day test matches? Heard England won the Ashes. Congrats! ;)

Polo Says:

Three set matches with a day of rest in between sound like a joke. The ball boys might as well carry umbrellas to shade the players from the sun while they play.

skeezer Says:

lol! ;)

hawkeye Says:

James, China might pay for the majors, but nobody would go.


An NFL football match is just over three hours on average but most football fans in the US start watching the pre-game shows on ESPN starting at noon followed by two games back to back followed by a 90 minute post game show, a 30 minute pre-game show and an evening game which adds up to about 12-hours of football.


Paradox Says:

Just because TV Honchos of USA wants to make US open a 3 setter,why should the other slams oblige.They may sometimes succeed because they are pumping millions of dollars to influence tennis officials and tennis writers.In that case, if it happens, US open should cease to be a grand slam and its place should be given for some other tennis loving country.There are millions of viewers around the world who would like to see thrilling 5 setters without worrying about TV honchos in USA.

skeezer Says:

was referring to this;
“The 4.9 rating was also the highest for any U.S. Open final since Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick in 2006 (5.1).”

skeezer Says:

^strangely, Rafole was no where to be seen.

hawkeye Says:

^Yes, hence the weak era.


skeezer Says:

^The MNF TV rating ( Rafole Finals day ) had a 10.1 rating. pffft.

hawkeye Says:

^Yeah, I’m sure that the reason for that was the best of five format.


skeezer Says:

“^Yes, hence the weak era.”
Errr…sorry hawkeye, but Rafa and Nole were playing then. w
Where were they?

hawkeye Says:

They were teenagers lol back when Fed had a chance. I believe he also took their candy, lol!!!


skeezer Says:

were they professional tennis players playing for prize money or not?


Ben Pronin Says:

Skeezer and Hawkeye, if you act any more childish, you’re going to have to stand in separate corners.

Skeeze, simply put I don’t agree with the switch at all. If a 54 shot rally is long for you, there’s always Isner who can’t maintain a 4 shot rally. Don’t you remember the Federer-Hewitt rally from Indian Wells back in 05? That thing was like 30+ or 40+ shots. Incredible stuff.

So I’ll ask again, who is the “casual fan” that can’t sit through a 4 hour tennis match? If it’s the guys who are watching 12 hours of football then I’m sure they don’t wanna sit through a 5 minute tennis match, either.

skeezer Says:

Boris Becker won a Slam as a teenager. Michael Chang @17

hawkeye Says:

Exactly, Ben (grow up skeezer), best of five obviously not the problem.

Nobody complained when Americans ruled the game.


hawkeye Says:

skeezer Says:
Boris Becker won a Slam as a teenager. Michael Chang @17

So did most greats.

Polo Says:

Bjorn Borg won his first major (French) at age 18.

ananthd Says:

Skeezer, you seem to be conveniently overlooking the fact that 2007 was the last time we had a men’s final on a Sunday.

I mean how can we compare a Sunday primetime rating versus Monday 5 ET(non primetime) match?

As for the length of time, I completely disagree that slams should be 5 sets, the 10-10 final set with a super tiebreak to close it, seems to be a good idea.

As for long events: Americans watch Golf(!) majors sacrificing entire weekend days during the 4 majors.

Cricket(the second most popular sport in the world), has 3 different formats, with the shortest taking about 3.5 hours and the longest 5 days.

A good 5 setter, is a bit like a good MLB game. You are not obligated to watch the whole match. There will be ebbs & flows and that’s what makes it compelling.

The USO just needs better scheduling that’s all(maybe start on the first Sunday), but please finish on a Sunday!

James Says:

skeezer and hawkeye, you two should play an imaginary tennis match. The winner gets to call their idol the GOAT atop Burj Khalifa.

skeezer, ok so the 2006 final holds the record for a Sunday final, more than this year’s between Serena and Vika? When they move the final back to Sunday, I’m sure your Nadal and Djokovic will break that 2006 record.

Hawkeye, I’m sure people value Slams more than Masters 1000s. If not China, there’s Japan, South Korea. I know it would be a big hit in Europe but they aleady got 2 of the 4 slams. Or well move the Slam from America to Canada! Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, one of those cities would be good. :)

skeezer Says:


I am not against a 54 shot rally. I even stated it was awesome. I am also not against 5 set matches. Reality is, athletes are in better shape, have better racquets, and better training techniques. Being that the courts have slowed down, this has all equated potentially into imho some future very long matches. To me it looks like its going that way. So the question remains, will even the Tennis sports fan be happy to sit through these potential 5-6 hour matches? How about the fans in the Stadium? Did anyone watch the entire Isner/Mahut match at Wimby? Some of the ideas u and hawkeye tossed around are interesting ideas, and the 5th set TB is a must on all Slams.

Ben Pronin Says:

I don’t think referencing the ratings of a single match helps either side of this debate. Maybe we should figure out how many people turned off the match after the third set.

“Nobody complained when Americans ruled the game.”

People complained Sampras was boring, but yeah I’ll agree with this. I don’t remember anyone worrying about the Australian Open, French Open, or Wimbledon being best of 5. All of the sudden we’re in New York and matches are too long.

Ben Pronin Says:

I watched Isner-Mahut when it was 20someting-20something. And I watched every single game from that point on. It was a once in a lifetime event. It certainly wasn’t about the quality.

I am always happy to sit through a 5-6 hour match. I really don’t get what your point is. Is your cap 3 hours? Do you watch one match a day and that’s it? I’ll sit through as many 5 hour matches as ESPN or whoever will show me. Every day. All day. And there were no 5 hour matches at this US Open. I believe there were 5 4+ hour matches in the entire event. That’s such a small number it’s almost sad.

Maybe if they made the seats in the stadium more comfortable it wouldn’t be a problem.

skeezer Says:

Glad u have the time to do so, and i thats what you want to do, good for you. Thats a lot of time watching something, i would rather be doing something, mostly.
Sorry, for me I have other things I want to do. Love sports, especially Football,Baseball and Tennis. Time limit? No, then we all start arguing time limits. Just not havin them last 1/2 day is a good start. I do not have the answers but not going to waste alot of my time watching TV or the Computer. There is more to life than this, just my imo.

Giles Says:

skeezer the geezer is a very busy individual. Let’s all rally for best of three matches throughout the calendar year!

Paradox Says:

This Skeezer as we know is not a very staunch tennis lover as we have suspected for long.Now he himself is openly proclaiming it.But i wonder how come he is always commenting for hours on this site almost every day for years even though he is claiming that sports does not excite him much.He is a confirmed doublespeaker as we have suspected for long.

madmax Says:

Skeezer, I think you will appreciate this. Let the likes of Giles get their chops around this and hopefully they won’t choke on what they read.

Fantastic article and for once, a proper analysis of why Federer is the GOAT. Read the full article here:


Federer has staked a strong claim to GOAT status. But he has a losing record against Nadal, and a lopsided one at that. The two have played 31 times since 2004, and Nadal has won 21 of those matches. Federer’s record against Nadal is a large blot on an otherwise remarkable résumé. How can you be considered the greatest player ever if you were arguably not even the best player of your own era? When I spoke with Federer at Wimbledon, he didn’t object when I noted that some feel that Nadal ought to be regarded as the finest male player of all time. “I believe we’ll never quite know,” Federer told me.

For the moment, I’m not so equivocal: I think Federer has earned the GOAT label. Yes, he has a lousy record against Nadal. However, none of the other players who figure prominently in the GOAT discussion — Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Don Budge — had to contend with a foe like Nadal, who is now third behind Federer and Sampras among men’s all-time grand-slam winners. Fifteen of Nadal’s 31 matches against Federer were on clay, Nadal’s best surface, and the Nadal won 13 of those. The usual tactic, at this point in any GOAT discussion, is to take clay out of the equation. But let’s not. Let’s instead acknowledge Nadal for the clay-court colossus that he is. Let’s also acknowledge what Federer has achieved on clay, even though it is his weakest surface. He has reached the final of the French Open five times, winning it once, has won 10 clay-court tournaments in total, has lost to Nadal in the finals of 11 others (including four times at the French) and has established himself as not only the second-best clay-court player of his generation but as one of the best of the modern era. If Nadal didn’t exist, it is possible we would be talking about Federer as the greatest clay courter of all time.

madmax Says:

3) The end of Roger Federer
Big racquet, small racquet, I don’t see Roger ever returning to No. 1 and now he might never get back to a Slam final. That Tommy Robredo loss almost felt like a funeral in a way.

There’s little pop on the shots. The footwork isn’t there and nor was the timing. Robredo said he really didn’t do anything new except let Roger self destruct and that’s exactly what happened and has been happening.

That said, Roger could still get a good draw here and there and make a run, but as I’ve said before Federer’s game is based not on power – like a Sampras serve or Agassi groundstrokes – but on remarkable timing and precision. And like a finely-tuned sports car once there are calibration issues, performance quickly crumbles.

Federer’s now ranked No. 6 this week and looking ahead there’s a very real chance he won’t be in the Top 10 a year from, maybe not even in the Top 20.

But more often than not, when we write him off he roars back. And his best time of the year is ahead: the indoors. Let’s see.

feel you have been pretty harsh on Federer Sean. It’s a shame in my view that you can write about him and change direction when he is going through a slump. That’s not what true fans of Roger would do, or reporters for that matter.

madmax Says:

4) MADMAX – seems to have transitioned over the years from a disturbing level of anger to acceptance. Ben Pronin should be having that post-final discussion with MM.

5) THE 1 AND 7 KEYS ON SKEEZER’S KEYPAD – There is light at the end of the tunnel after the carnage they have endured.


your point?

madmax Says:

It’s such nonsense when rafa fans bring up this weak era rubbish. Seriously. Wish they would change the record.


Anna Says:

Nfl games may only run 2 hours on average, but every American man I know is hoping to get in at least 2 if not 3 games every Sunday. That’s 4-6 hours of football. In order to make this happen they make sure all chores and shopping is done on Saturday so as not to disturb their football viewing on Sunday. This is the norm folks for football fans. Skeezer knows this but conveniently chooses to NOT recognize anything that might disprove his theory of the American male attention span being a minimum of two hours. Lol.

skeezer Says:


Wow, you think you have the average american male figured out on Sundays. ;)

Most of my male friends are athletes. Watch a little, play a lot.
My Female friend, well, we watch certain sports ;). mmmmmm….

John Dixon Says:

We may not see Djokovic’s 2011 again, but I wouldn’t write him off either. Nadal has beaten him lately, but not the way Federer used to beat Andy Roddick or even the way Sampras used to beat Agassi. The rivalry is a lot closer than that. Every match hinges on a few points and usually factors like weather and surface or who had a tougher draw play a role. So to me, it is one of the best rivalries ever. I’d just be curious to see if Murray is up there and can give Nadal a match the way Djokovic does. Then surely this is one of the most exciting eras ever in men’s tennis.

Kimberly Says:

I am female and I schedule a 9am tennis game on fall Sundays so I make sure I am ready to go to the dolphins game (season tix) at least an hour early to toss the football aroun in the parking lot of the stadium with my sons (I don’t drink beer or eat meat so that is the only part of the tailgate I participate in) the dolphins games r almost always one pm. Then I watch the Sunday night game and the thurs night (jets pays tonight!) and MNF of course. And will watch at least one college game in Saturdays.

Kimberly Says:

And basketball usually watch the east coast game and part of the west coast game at night, so why not a five hour match. It’s not the norm. Most five hour matches are 3.5 to four hours if we r so lucky to see a five hour oneaybe it is really special?

Kimberly Says:

Sorry meant to say most five setters

Why We’ll No Longer See Best-Of-5 Set Men’s Matches At Grand Slams Says:

[…] touched on this yesterday, now I’ll expand. For the record I love the best-of-5 Grand Slam format. In fact, I’d […]

Steve 27 Says:

If Nadal didn’t exist, it is possible we would be talking about Federer as the greatest clay courter of all time.

Hhahaha, madmax, give me a break. Stop posting nonsense and write why is Federer is losing against a one surface wonder since 2004. A teen against a peak Federer

madmax Says:

Steve 27 Says:
If Nadal didn’t exist, it is possible we would be talking about Federer as the greatest clay courter of all time.

Hhahaha, madmax, give me a break. Stop posting nonsense and write why is Federer is losing against a one surface wonder since 2004. A teen against a peak Federer

September 12th, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Seriously Steve27, stop posting nonsense your self. If you can’t be bothered to read a proper write up for once rather than believing your own hype, then there is no hope for you.

madmax Says:

You will always come up with some half baked excuse, like you have in the best, and show your unwilingness to consider another argument.

It is you who is not being objective here.

Steve 27 Says:

madmax, dude, your obvious love to the swiss clouds you what you lack reasoning.
without answering the question and giving me these answers. You can insult all you want and write nonsense all the time, but the reality is that Rafa overcame Federer in Wimbledon, something that may not ever say Federer at Roland Garros.
Come on!

WTF Says:

“6) The end of 5-set matches is nigh”

I don’t think this will happen. Wimbledon is very traditionist. It refuses to change. Tradition is what it prides itself on the most. They will be the last of the four to switch if it happens.

The thing is, networks hate 5 setters, but the fans who make the event possible love it. There will be backlash and these guys might go away and not watch it anymore out of protest, and then they will be forced to return it when their ratings and ticket sales drop.

WTF Says:

Best match ever played in my opinion was the Wimbledon 2008 final.

If you take away the 4th and 5th sets where all of the drama happened, it would not have been the same quality match. We would have been robbed of a classic.

4th set showed how Nadal choked, despite being the mentally toughest player in the world, he too was mortal in a way we’ve never seen.

The 5th set he started to unravel but showed his nerve by saving break points early. He then righted the ship unlike in the 4th when he had championship points but choked, this time despite another gallant fightback from Federer, he righted his wrongs and prevailed.

That match I saw as his coming of age.

You’ll find that in most 5 set classics, most of the drama comes in the 5th set.

It won’t be the same any more if it goes to 3 sets. People who buy tickets won’t get as much value for money and will be less likely to go. The tournament loses revenue. Fans watching at home that are opposed to the changes will tune out and the network loses ratings.

I can’t see it happening.

Wimbledon still refuses to play on the middle Sunday even when they’re behind in schedule due to rain. They told Federer he can’t have orange soles on his shoes. They were the last to hold out on equal pay. They are obsessed with preserving tradition. Do you really think they will succumb to this new 3 set movement?

holdserve Says:

We don’t have to worry about the slams being reduced to 3 sets by the end of this decade (which is 2020).
Sean probably made the provocative statement to provide some debating interest.
It is not going to happen.

5 sets is not even an issue. Only the slams have them. The ATP has events throughout the year which are all 3 sets . Only 8 weeks in a year, we have 5 sets.
If 5 sets were such a pain, the slams wouldn’t be attracting the most viewers on a consistent basis.
The Masters are made mandatory so the top players are forced to play or give excuses. Some of the Masters have also had problems of attracting viewership.
Clearly the problem of viewership is not with 5 sets but with how many people want to watch tennis in preference to other sports going on at the same time.
By reducing it to 3 sets, viewership won’t go up but TV channels would be able to manage their schedules better.
Fans don’t have a problem with 5 sets. No one who is bored by a match for whatever reason is forced to watch it.
Only TV channels have problems.
They may try to force these changes but the slams know that giving in to fundamental changes could kill tennis. And I expect them to stand steadfast.

hawkeye Says:

Maybe Sean is a CBS network executive in his spare time.


holdserve Says:

Sean is at least playing the role of spokesperson for TV channels!
The Masters reduced their finals to 3 sets not because fans clamored for shorter matches but because top players did not want to jeopardize their chances of winning slams by killing themselves at Masters.
Fed and Rafa skipped Hamburg Masters after an exhausting Rome 5 setter in 2006. That was the final nail in the coffin for Masters 5 setters finals.
While slams will give in to court and time scheduling to demands by TV channels, they are not likely to jeopardize their position or importance in tennis hierarchy by making fundamental changes.

In cricket, most of the time the players are playing shorter versions of the game. Same with tennis.
Test cricket hasn’t gone away. Why should slams?

skeezer Says:

“I don’t think this will happen. Wimbledon is very traditionist. It refuses to change. Tradition is what it prides itself on the most. They will be the last of the four to switch if it happens.”

hold on there. Wimby changed the balls(and there tradtional white color), the surface and put up the controversial roof.

Rainbowsnflowers Says:

Oh I think both Rafa and roger are Goats
And sheep too!
Sheep are cuddly and so are kittens
Fedal are so fluffy I wish everyone was a..kitten!
Everything’s nice on tennis-z
We wouldn’t want anything untoward now would we?
Fluffy and nice

Rainbowsnflowers Says:

Oh and I so love Rafa’s performances this year
They were;
Perfectly Executed Demonstrations!
Nice and wonderful!

Steve 27 Says:

What rafa needs to shorten the gap with fed is to do things nobody else has achieved, such as winning double career slam (he just need an extra ao), be the first player on history to win at least 3 slams on 3 different surfaces (he needs only an extra wimbledon for that), win yec, win coming paris and miami (become the first person to complete m1000 career titles.

I mean Imagine if he achieve all those stuff, he would be really a goat contender, and not mention he would add minimum 2 slams more (by ao and wimby) having a total of 15 slams by then, double career slam, golden slam, m1000 career titles, having won yec, be the only man on history to win 3 different slams on 3 different surfaces.. so if he handles to be the first one to have at least 3 slams won in different surfaces meanwhile there is nobody else that would have done that even twice.. it would give him a huge gap on goat discussion.

We arent even mentioning that he will probably add one YE#1 extra this year. so having a good year next coming one would grant him a 4th one, and now the edge of fed in that matters would be not much a issue 4 YE#1 vs 5 YE#1 , and having won a yec rafa would fill a hole he have been criticized for. So all fed could take would be on N1 weeks, but Rafa is also likely to add some this coming time…

4 YE#1 is very realistic for rafa in the short term… because he doesnt defend points at AO, and at wimbledon almost not (fell in R1 this year)

Rafa doesnt need to win 100 titles to rise UP on goat discusion, just the right titles

Such as AO, Wimby,WTF,Paris, Miami. Imagine he wins this year paris and wtf, next year he wins AO,Wimby and miami. He add 2 extra YE#1 (the one of late this year, almost sure, and the next year one) . Winning this year paris would also grant him to be the only man to ever win 6 masters on a seasson.

Skeezer Says:

^wow such bold predictions from fans and Rafa who said that with his knee problems he should not play on HC anymore and just play on mud/dirt. Now that he has miraculously “cured” his “supposed chronic” knee problems he can win anything and everything forever and ever. How did that happen? Anyone?


Giles Says:

As soon as someone mentions Rafa and Goat in the same sentence skeezer the geezer becomes delirious!! Hahaha!

Slice Tennis Says:

Skeezer Says:

“^wow such bold predictions from fans and Rafa who said that with his knee problems he should not play on HC anymore and just play on mud/dirt. Now that he has miraculously “cured” his “supposed chronic” knee problems he can win anything and everything forever and ever. How did that happen? Anyone?”

Its quite simple. He changed his game.


“My backhand has completely changed from what it was two years ago, no? I now transfer weight onto my right leg to protect my left knee.”

Very dissapointed with Rafa’s come back and dominance on hard stuff ?
This is just the beginning, lot more in store for next year.

Get well soon and get used to it.

metan Says:

Slice tennis,,,
thanks for the link..Great Story, A+ and I ♥ it.

Any one knows Rafa will come to China?????

Giles Says:

@metan. Next up for Rafa is Beijing and Shanghai

James Says:

Yes @metan, Rafa’s next tourney is China Open. I’ll be in China for a couple of weeks. May attend China Open or Shanghai to catch Rafa in action.


Brando Says:

I hope Rafa skips China Open. Rest for a week more and then play Shanghai.

Steve 27 Says:

Exactly, only Shanghai matters.

metan Says:

Thanks @ Giles and James. I will cheer him up there .
Brando opinion is wise enough. Hope Rafa will have enough rest before joining any tour.

hawkeye Says:

skeezer is mad

Thought Rafa was finished

Poor skeezer

Don’t be too mad on him


Juanflorida Says:

Apt summary. Poor joker is not finishing on top, but unlike the author, I don’t think he’s on the downslide. Rafa? His wins really are a thing of beauty. Rafa, with all his “tics” will crack next season. The stars are aligned for him now, rejoice in his time in the light, I certainly am. It’s tennis, we rejoice in those moments of physical perfection, when the mind and the body come together in symphonic perfection. Nadal has had nearly such a year, and Djokovic has not. Andy Murray won Wimbledon, which truly is divine justice…. Roger Federer, has had his time of perfection, when body and mind have met symphonically, and he will continue to perform in workmanlike fashion, and will have moments of brilliance. All-in-all, it has been a beautiful year of tennis.

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