Roger Federer Wants More 5-Set Matches On The ATP World Tour
by Tom Gainey | March 18th, 2014, 9:56 am

Few players admittedly want to play longer matches, Roger Federer happens to be one them. After a tough loss to Novak Djokovic Sunday in the Indian Wells final, Federer who twice won the title back when in was a 5-set final (2005, 2006), longs for the days when the ATP had best-of-five set matches.

“I just think we need to get some maybe more best‑of‑five‑set matches back into the ATP events,” Federer said. “Definitely think we should have it at the World Tour Finals. Maybe at the Masters 1000. I don’t know if 500 or 250s can have it again.

“I played best of five sometimes at 250s and 500s, and some matches I guess are more memorable. I understand we went the other way, so more players can play more tournaments and more fans can see those best players because a five‑setter clearly at the wrong time can either injure you or make you extremely tired or just you run the risk of being burnt out.

“So that’s why you have to do it at the right times and be fair which tournament gets it and which one doesn’t. So maybe that’s going to be a negotiation, a debate. I don’t know what it’s going to be. So I think it will be nice to have a few more best‑of‑five‑set matches on the tour.”

Currently, outside of the Grand Slams, Olympics and Davis Cup, there are no 5-set matches on the ATP circuit. The World Tour Finals, Federer spoke of, was predominantly a 5-set final until 2008.

Federer has a career 22-17 record in 5-set matches.

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43 Comments for Roger Federer Wants More 5-Set Matches On The ATP World Tour

Hippy Chic Says:

Roger wants more 5 setters and Maria wants mens tennis to be best of 3 sets even in GS,a battle of the sexes.

Alexandra Says:

I don’t agree with him. It’s good the way it is. And by the way, in a best of 5 match the favourites are even more favoured. There might be more surprises in best-of-3 matches. It might be a good idea for the WTF in the final but that’s about it. Most tournaments are only a week long (thank god). The tournaments who lose the top players because they played a long match in the tournament before will surely not agree either. That’s why they changed it.
Playing best-of-three in a slam is a joke though. The women come up with that idea because don’t want to be criticized for getting the same money as the men. Which they shouldn’t. I rather would like the women play 5 sets maybe from the quarters or semifinal on.

Hippy Chic Says:

Alexandra completely agree,IMO theres no need to change the format on the mens tour,the GS 5 setters are what seperates them from the other tournis,to change that would be spoiling the prestige of the GS,id be all for change on the womens tour as the GS aint no different to any other tournies,make them best of 5 sets even if its only in GS semis and finals at least that would be a start,then you would sort out the best from the rest.

Giles Says:

I can’t believe he is suggesting 5 set matches outside the Grand Slams. The man has never won back to back 5 set matches in his career so this from him sounds ludicrous. Wasn’t he tiring in the third set at IW final last Sunday? It’s all bravado trying to convince the world he is fit as a fiddle!

queen Says:

The old man is asking for the heart attack. Lol Now when he is almost done…stupid

Giles Says:

queen. You are too funny. Keep it up! Lol

SG1 Says:

Definitely not on the 5 set bandwagon. I would make one concession to the idea. If the final of Masters 1000 (and only the final) was 3 out of 5 sets, perhaps it’s something to consider. To be perfectly honest, I think making more tournaments 3 out of 5 sets will just increase the number of tanked matches, it will cause an increase in injuries and it will cause a lot more “mysterious” pre-tournament withdrawals. Seems like the tennis season is already too damned long.

Leaving the slams as 3 of 5 seems more than good enough. I was thinking that the first couple of rounds of majors should be 2 out of 3.

Translated Age Says:

That’s why they eventually dumped the best of five finals at the 1000 level. Also not TV format friendly.

Not gonna happen. I don’t see many advocates for it.

I just hope they continue to keep majors best of five.

Giles Says:

I think they should have a best of 5 format at the finals of the WTF. There are 1500 ranking pts to be won so that perhaps would make more sense.

Orkneyfudge Says:


LOL! That’s because he’s never had to play back to back 5 set matches until last year’s Aussie Open, which is quite amazing when you think of how many matches he’s played (and won) in his long career! In his prime, it was very hard to push him to 5 sets; he usually won in 3, or 4 max.

As we don’t know the exact question he was asked or the full context of his answer, perhaps a little less scorn would be good?

Orkneyfudge Says:

^^ Sorry, that was in reply to Giles @ 11:54

“The man has never won back to back 5 set matches in his career so this from him sounds ludicrous”

Okiegal Says:

Don’t think that’s a good idea…..they would all be on crutches for sure! imo……

amadeus Says:

no, no, more drama.

kjb Says:

I think he is talking about making the finals of Master series 5 sets again(which it always was up to a few years ago) I would agree with him. But I doubt it will happen though, I think its more for TV Networks not wanting to air something that could potentially be 1.5 hours to 5 hours long. 3 sets with tiebreak is less risky for them in managing their programming.

Okiegal Says:

I do agree the Master’s series should be 5 sets…..
and on clay…….tee hee!! I don’t have to tell you who my fav is!!

Okiegal….over and out…..cause I’m fixing to hear about this! LOL

Beautiful day in Oklahoma!!

Daniel Says:

Master 1000 should all have best of 5 finals, so is WTF.
That way, winning IW/Miami would be that much harder and specially clay masters back to back and Canada/Cincy. Even with some top players falling shortly after (but only the 2 who played the final would have that benefit), that would be the beauty of it, because this way it would be that much harder winning consecutive masters (specially if after a grueling five setter). It would automatically diminish your chance in the next tourney and making it for more variety, because we wouldn’t expect player to win back to back master very often. If a player indeed was able to do so, only merit to them as Fed did in 2005 and 2006. It would be a feat very hard to do and not almost common as we saw this days.
That would just benefit the fittest player and increase variety in Masters winners, with the sole bad side, possibility of increase in injury if a specific player wins too much and contest all finals. TV viewing wise it wnot make this big of a difference because some finals were finished below 1 and half our. We are not going to have those crazy long matches as in Slams because in early rounds everybody is more leveled, usually in finals one playes stands alone. Is rare to have a contest as we had with Fed and Djoko.

This makes for a interesting study. Ever since they shift to best of 3 after 2006, how many finals went the distance and how many were washouts?
This would make it easier to evaluate but you can count in one hand how many ended in a tiebreak third set. From memory I can recall: Montreal 2007 (Djoko beat Fed), Miami 2011 (Djoko beat Nadal) and IW 2014 (Djoko beat Fed). oddly, Djoko was the winner in all 3 of them:-)

Daniel Says:

Back them when the master on clay were best of 5, Nadal was not able to win back to back neither in 2005 nor 2006. He skipped Hamburg if I am not mistaken.

Translated Age Says:

Rafa won Monte Carlo and Barcelona in 2005 and 2006 back-to-back weeks when both were still best of five. Runner ups were Coria and Ferrero in 2005 and Federer/Robredo in 2006.

This was even trickier than IW/Miami because Monte Carlo and Barcelona were played over a two week period whereas IW/Miami actually span almost four weeks.

He did this when he was just 18-19 years old.

Vamos Champ!

pigoonse Says:

Very interesting Daniel. I think about similar reasons you mention for bringing back a 5 masters 1000 and WTF, too.

And what effect, changing to 5 sets in Masters, do you think it could have on the younger players? It is raising the bar on them. Would you guess that some would develop the endurance and learn to manage their fitness/diet/injuries sooner? Might we again see some young players mature earlier have the development to get be GS title winners again? Maybe with less of the top ten being able to dominate the Masters 1000’s, the young talent can have more success? Changing the match format back to 5 set masters brings up fascinating questions for comparison between different eras in tennis, as well.

Okiegal Says:


Oh, I know, I was trying to be funny……but even my “fav” says it is impossible to win every match…..and it is! I realize he has complaints regarding injuries, but the way he plays, its no wonder. All the tennis world has made comments that with his style of play he won’t last long. Now that he has badgered his body with his style of play, they now all say he plays the injury card……Well, duh?? Do you get my point?

Come back at me everybody……I’m ready!! Nothing can ruffle my feathers when I’m listening to
Elvis!!! Lol

pigoonse Says:

^ meant to say top 4 not top 10 – really we have seen the domination of masters titles by top 1,2,3,4 and how many others can break through? Brining back 5 set format would see more new winners, I suspect. Which in turn would be huge motivation for players coming up the ranks, not to mention the impact busting up the current monopoly at the top would have on the ATP.

skeezer Says:

post @ 3:27. What does that have to do Feds statement?

Daniel Says:

Translated Age,

But Barcelona has no Master Status, one thing is beating one top 10 in a final, the other thing is having to face top ten since Quarter final and still be able to win five set final. Of course, not assuming that draws always guarantee that you will play 3 top 10 in a row (Quarter, semis and final), but the possibility exists. and the depth in much higher in Master than Barcelona was back then.


I think it will help the younger players, they would be more battle tested because they will have to play best of five every month (if they reach final). Nadal was the last prodigy of the remaining best of five finals and he id just fine, having to play long matches from an early age (anyone remember DC match against Roddick, epic). But he is one of the curve.

My point is that at least if a young gun eventually achieve final status, they will have to be ready.

I just think it will have more oscillation.
Nadal were only able to do the clay sweep in 2010, and I think he only won back to back masters 1 time on clay, 2013. correct me if I am wrong but in 2010 they all have a week in between.

Okiegel, I got your point:)
But they all should use the injury card less. In the old days it was very rare for a player to admit injury, nowadays (sorry, but after Nadal “popularized” the pre injury excuse, they all do it, some more than others).
Maybe is just that we live in an era with instant news so everything is dissected instantly.

Sean Randall Says:

Will never happen unless they start eliminating events and making the remaining ones longer.

Shorter, made-for-TV matches = better for business. It’s the future.

BTW, for those of you wishing to talk Federer-Nadal (you know who you are), go here:

courbon Says:

@ Sean Randall: I just realised that you dedicated separate treads for Fedal Wars! Brilliant idea, I can not thank you enough.

@ Michael: Nice analysis but I don’t see it happening as Sean pointed out in last post ( short matches=TV friendly )

MMT Says:

Historically speaking, most tournament finals in men’s tennis were best of five set matches, while it is only Davis Cup and the majors that were best of five sets for all matches.

By the way, I don’t think he wanted entire tournaments to be played best of 5 sets, I think he was just referring to finals. And I agree with him, it is anti-climactic for such an elaborate tournament to end in an hour, and I think it would be better if all the Masters 1000 final were best of 5.

Aside from the scheduling reasons that they don’t want to change, there’s one more reason why they won’t go to best of 5 final formats – increasingly Masters 1000s are joint events with whatever the equivalent is on the WTA, and to give people their money’s worth, they are moving to men’s and women’s finals on the same day.

Rafa better than roger Says:

As usual puffing himself up after a heartbreaking loss.

Like roger at his age will ladt 5 sets!!! As it is he is being wiped off in straight essy sets by Nadal,

What a comedian, this riger! Who was he beating in 03-05-06? What an obvious puffing up but a lousy attpt to be relevant!!

So much levity for tiday!!

The reason it was shortened to 3 is ti give Roger an advantage when he hit 30!!

5 sets for Roger when he cannot even last the 3!!

Rafa better than roger Says:

Roger has so much media posse that he is sounding desperste by the minute.

Like an old washed up former movie star!

Lol, indeed.

skeezer Says:

Thats the way I read it also ;)
@Sean, don’t the 9:23 and 9:25 posts belong in Fedal Wars section?

pigoonse Says:


The post at 9:23 is actually comedy gold. Even if Federer himself read this thread, I’d bet he would laugh, so would Nadal.

skeezer Says:


And what so laughable about it? That it was not true? Fed won 2 Slams in 5 sets after the so called date this poster claimed! Does it always only qaulify if its Nadal in the picture? Not! Where was Nadal in 2009 & 2007(oh, sorry, Rafa lost in 5 sets at Wimby).
And Funny?
More like Ignorant. Only thing that post was intended, was to puff up his fav, and deflect / twist the intended statement.

roy Says:

5set final should definitely occur at the WTFs. absurd they took that away.

kriyuk Says:

Maybe if it is 5 sets, the ATP will speed up the court a little bit to compensate the increased duration. It is an interesting proposal against the 3 sets slow court like now, which too much baseline and crazy fitness dominate

Patson Says:

It’s fine the way we have it now. 5 sets for the grand slams … the rest should be best of 3 … even the Davis cup !

We all want to keep slams grand right ? Nothing grander than to keep them to 5 sets, and not others.

Okiegal Says:

So now we are going to blame Rafa for popularizing pre injuries?? In the old days, tennis wasn’t being played like it is the new days. Now, tell me I’m wrong about that. More injuries in these new days….lots more pre tournament withdraws.

Michael Says:

Well the Master Series finals and World Tour finals can revert to the five set encounters of the past which will make it more competitive and test the players endurance, stamina, perseverance, forbearance, grit and determination. When there are clarion calls to transform even the majors as three setters from some of the players, sports analysts etc., this suggestion by Roger will alter the landscape as afterall he is the President of the Players Council and his opinion does carry weight. It would be really unfair to former Champions if the majors too are going to be converted to three setters. I hope Tennis Authorities will listen to the voice of reason and do the best that is possible for the sport. I wholeheartedly agree with this suggestion by Roger as he has made a valid point despite the fact that five setters will work to his disadvantage due to age.

Hippy Chic Says:

IMO Making tennis have more 5 setters isnt feasible,as you would end up with more matches getting interupted because of the weather,its bad enough with the GS getting interupted,you would end up with more and more tournies finishing late,and a week is long for the masters,seriously Roger i know tennis is your job and you probably love it more than life itself ,and have no intention of retiring any time soon blahdy blah,but excuse me some of us have lives to lead,and dont have time to sit and watch it all day everyday,there is already enough quite enough of it on TV.

James Says:

I would like to see best of 5 matches for the World Tour Finals. Not for Master 1000 tournaments.

By the way, why does Federer want/demand best of 5 matches now in the twilight of his career and not during his prime? It sounds to me like he just wants tournaments to be more difficult to win for the Nadals, Djokovics, Murrays,. Why now, Roger? Why not before?

Nat Says:

@ James are you being serious? It WAS 5 sets during his prime/best years 04-06. Maybe he genuinely believes those matches will be better? If you haven’t noticed he is more of a traditionalist so it’s really not surprising if he wants something changed to how it used to be.

And tbh I think Just keep them as 3 setters but get rid of the third set tiebreak and make it advantage set. Tiebreakers should not decide the fate of the match! Don’t know why USO still has final set tiebreakers either

Hippy Chic Says:

James true i have never liked that silly format of the WTF anyway,Rafas never won it and i would really love him to at some point,however the very idea that a player can loose a couple of matches,still get to the final and win the thing is ridiculous,i think that goes for RRs in any sport IMO,i could just imagine the reaction if he did win it,and had lost a couple of matches on the way,the haters would say how he lost the matches,so he wasnt worthy of the trophy,such is the double standards that go on here on this forum.

Hippy Chic Says:

Leave things the way that they are,some of us mere moratals have lives to lead,and dont have all day everyday to sit watching tennis or TV,Rogers a traditionalist good for him,he plays the game,we watch the game,some of us dont have the luxury of always having that time to spare.

Giles Says:

@James. I totally agree with the second paragraph of your post. You may be onto something there.

James Says:

@Nat, iirc, Federer (along with Nadal) was one of the guys responsible for getting the organizers to leave out the Bo5 for Bo3. He and Nadal both refused to enter Hamburg (a Master 1000 then) after their epic 5 set final in Rome (the best Fedal match, at least on clay IMO) which left both players very exhausted.

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