Tennis great Billie Jean King has proposed that men should also play best-of-three-set matches at Grand Slams, a move that would bring their matches in line with women.
King, the 74-year-old former world No 1, said that the best-of-five current format for men at Grand Slams and Davis Cup is too taxing and is possibly the reason behind the unprecedented injury count on the men’s tour right now.
“Personally, I don’t want the men playing five sets anymore. I think it takes too much out of them,” she said at a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) finals event in Singapore.
“Like one time the players played in the Australian Open final. It took six hours. They could hardly walk off the court. I guarantee you that it took a year off their careers,” said King, talking the epic 2012 clash between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic went on to win that but both players needed chairs at the post match ceremony.
Both Nadal and Djokovic have been plagued with injuries for the last couple of years and have struggled on the tour even at the start of this season. The Spaniard is out of the current Sunshine Tour with hip injury that forced him to pull out in the final set at the Australian open while Djokovic’s long-time elbow injury has forced him to rework his serve and miss a chunk of the season already.
The 74-year-old also said that women were willing to play five sets too but it was a question of “quality over quantity”.
“You do not get paid in the entertainment business by how long you play for,” King was quoted as saying by BBC.
Much of the debate over equal prize money for men and women has centred on whether female players provide as much entertainment, given their matches are shorter. But King’s suggestion would seek to end that question, bringing both men and women matches to the same length.