Australian great on Novak Djokovic’s proposal to scrap five-set matches: ‘You’re making it groundhog day’

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic talks to press

Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge has dismissed Novak Djokovic’s call for tennis to scrap best-of-five sets at Grand Slams in favour of best-of-three, saying “we need the majors to stand out”.

Not for the first time, Djokovic has suggested that the sport switches to best-of-three sets at the four majors in an attempt to attract a younger audience.

“I am more of a proponent of two out of three sets everywhere,” he said.

The world No 1 added: “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.”

A day earlier 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal insisted that he still favours best-of-five-sets at majors.

And Australian doubles great Woodbridge agrees with Nadal.

“Absolutely no way. I would hate to see tennis go that way. The best part of tennis is the uniqueness of the major tournaments,” he told Wide World of Sports.

“To become a major champion you need varying qualities, you need the skills, you need to be tactically astute, and the physical ability. All of those abilities bring the champion to the fore.”

Woodbridge, who won 22 Grand Slam doubles titles, believes best-of-five is what makes the Grand Slams different and says he is “a little surprised by Novak’s comments”.

“If we were to make Grand Slams best-of-three, you’re making it groundhog day. Every tournament would look the same, and we shouldn’t have that,” he explained.

“We need the majors to stand out, and best-of-five gives that point of difference.

“I’m a little surprised by Novak’s comments. He is one of those players that utilises the best-of-five format as well as anyone. He has great fitness, he bounces back well from tough matches, and it’s allowed him to win matches he would perhaps not have won if they were shorter.”

Woodbridge also explained that best-of-five matches is a “real art” when it comes managing the “rhythm and momentum” of a match while in three-setters it is often over before you blink.

“If you go best-of three, you allow a lesser player to potentially get through, and that’s not what it should be,” he said.

“Over a best-of-five, you have to understand the rhythm of the match, and you cannot play at your highest intensity for extended periods of time. You have to know how to read the match to know when to really ramp up a moment within a match, and then know when to sit back and wait.

“It’s a real art to understanding the rhythm and momentum of a match. A best-of-three match can be gone before you know it, especially if you’re playing a big server, there’s sometimes no chance to work your way into the match if their serve is on.”

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