Longer Masters Events Got You Down? Sorry, It’s Here To Stay

by Sean Randall | May 22nd, 2023, 3:52 pm
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I saw a lot of negative comments across the web about the two “expanded” Masters events that were just held back-to-back in Madrid and Rome.

This was the first year of the new plan to have some Masters tournaments expand to two weeks similar to Indian Wells and Miami. Of course these were the first to be played on clay, but that’s neither here nor there.

Much of the consternation was over the long days, longer events mostly due to the rain in Rome. But, they are the exact same format as Indian Wells and Miami, only the weather isn’t nearly as nice and it has some breathing space.

The sunshine double comes at a good time a full month, 45 days from Australia and at a close to the hard court first quarter. Madrid/Rome comes a few weeks after Monte Carlo and a week before the French. It’s quite claustrophobic. It can be tennis overload.

And with the Rome rain, the schedule was a mess and matches ran late and long — matches in general seem to be running longer than let’s say 10 years ago, but that’s another story. In the cold and rain and with no roof, it’s just not much fun for anyone even the viewers at home.

But like I said, Madrid and Rome were same schedule as Indian Wells and Miami and I don’t recall anyone complaining back in March. So get used to it. This is fortunately or unfortunately going to be the new normal.

Longer events equals more TV days which equals more money. More money for the tournaments, for the tours and for the players.

Here in the U.S., the NFL, the most violent sport played in the country, has been criticized over and over about making its players play too much, putting them in greater risk for serious long-term injury. And what did they do? They expanded last year and added another game, and with the thirst for the NFL the league will likely add one more in the coming years. They are also adding days during the season — they will play a first “Black Friday” game in 2023 and someday will just be on every night! Why? TV money. Yes, there are a few bucks in ticket sales but the real payday is TV.

So if NFL can do it, you know other sports are thinking the same thing: expansion.

I think eventually all Masters will be two weeks and then the Grand Slams might decide that in order to separate themselves again, they might go beyond two weeks.

The French is already 15 days. Wimbledon just got rid of middle Sunday so they can squeeze a few more pounds. Years ago the US Open was looking at going 16 days.

The trend is bigger but does that mean better?

I think for Slams two weeks is a good spot, and I hope it stays that way — it won’t, even when best-of-5 goes away in the next 5-10 years. But I think most fans would be happy with and probably prefer a flat seven day, 64-draw Masters events – yes, reducing Indian Wells and Miami!

But with TV money, streaming, etc., higher ticket prices, that’s never going to happen. Let’s just hope the weather is good.

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