‘We have to change’ – Novak Djokovic supports end of five-set matches as he urges tennis to embrace a new era

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic in conversation

World No 1 Novak Djokovic has urged tennis authorities to consider radical changes to the game, as he proposed the end of best-of-five-set matches in the Grand Slam events.

In comments that are certain to start a debate about the future of the game, the Serbian opened up on his belief that tennis needs to embrace a new era in a bid to embrace a younger audience.

“We had a stat that was a big shocking that said the average age of a tennis fan worldwide is 61, so I think we have to change something, in my opinion,” stated Djokovic, after his win against Diego Schwartzman at the ATP Finals in London.

“I am more of a proponent of two out of three sets everywhere. Slams have always been best of five, so it has historically been that way so I don’t know if there is a chance to chance.

“I just feel like we have enough tournament, enough matches. Tennis has the longest season of any sport from January 1st to the end of November. Nearly every week, we have a tournament somewhere.

“I don’t see the reason why we play best of five, even if there is an historical reason. I just feel like the attention span of the fans, especially the younger generation, is shorter. 

“So to improve the product of tennis, commercially and marketing wise, I feel we have to adapt to that younger generation.

“We are one of the sports that have stuck with traditional and I respect that, but at the same time we haven’t been exploring changes. Scoring, a different calendar, different points system… every time we mention that, I don’t feel there is a willingness to address that.”

Djokovic went on to suggest his experience of playing at an empty 02 Arena gave him a very different sensation, as he admitted the absence of fans from tennis is affecting the mood around matches.

“It was very strange, it felt like a practice session in a way,” he added.

“I miss the crowd, it is one of the most important aspects of tennis. Hopefully this is only temporary.

“The crowd at the 02 Arena were always very loud and it is sad that the final year of this event here is without a crowd. The atmosphere was always electric here. They were always into the matches and I really miss the crowd. 

“This is not easy for any one. We have big problems in so many aspects of our lives and we have to find a way to get through this.”

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