Pee breaks, stifling intensity, weary public … Do extended matches harm Grand Slam play?

Djokovic returned like a pancake by Zverev in Tokyo, Carlos Alcaraz already ready to overshadow Nadal, the French eliminated in three rounds… Everything is going very quickly in tennis, but not that much at the US Open, where the record for the number of matches in five sets falters: 33 matches have already gone to the end of what they had to offer, against 35 in 1983 (stat from early Tuesday morning at Flushing Meadows, where there were still eleven matches to be played in the men’s table). That is at least as many arguments in favor of extended games, while each Grand Slam now seeks to limit the matches in time, outside of Roland Garros.

Be careful not to overinterpret the figure. Recent history proves that long games don’t necessarily mean quality. Worse, they bring their share of annoying behaviors, such as Stefanos Tsitsipas’ pee breaks when the wind is not blowing in the right direction, which has also earned him to leave New York with the sign of the plague victim and a few taunts from his peers, Zverev the first. What was astonished by the Greek, in his rightfulness by taking a ten minute break between two sets, after his victorious third round against Adrian Mannarino: “I didn’t do anything wrong, so I don’t understand . What is the problem ? This break in the third set allowed me to cool off, as I like to do. It’s good for me to be less sweaty and to feel fresh, to start a new set with a fresh frame of mind, to recalibrate. “

“No more time to breathe or to think”

The problem, Stefanos, is that we twiddle our thumbs while we wait and the player opposite has a great chance of lowering the temperature. A slightly silly way to change the course of history, what? But the finalist of the last Roland-Garros – to whom Djoko had also made the blow of the toilet break with two zero sets, we can speak of trauma – indirectly points to an important detail. Now subject to more chronometric constraints than Jack Bauer in his illustrious time, the tennis player locks himself in the toilet twice to do what he no longer has time to undertake between points, games, or sets: analyze to possibly reverse the trend of a badly embarked match. Which is partly the interest of a reputed psychological game. Statement supported by Gilles Simon, quoted by The team.

“We don’t have time to come to our senses. The players feel oppressed. It’s crazy how stressful you can have over time now. You have the impression that it’s going fast. At one point, what do some players do to calm things down if things go wrong? They take ten minutes, they feel like they are at least cushy for a while. […] At the change of sides, we went to one minute. Even there, you no longer have time to breathe, to think. And it’s one minute when the score is announced, so 40 seconds when you get to the chair. You’re doing an intermittent, actually. It’s too violent. You have to leave 1’30 ” “

Two solutions seem to exist to respond to this new problem. The first, also mentioned by Gillou, would be to introduce two longer breaks, in the second and fourth sets, regardless of who wins or loses. But it seems to go against the wishes of those who, like Novak Djokovic, want to speed up tennis for “Adapt to the new generation”, ideally by switching to a three-set Grand Slam format.

This is the second solution: starting from the postulate that tennis has become too intense to last long, we forget the matches longer than the complete Lord of the Rings. Almost everyone is a winner: the players, who we can imagine that they will have less trouble negotiating break times a little more human on three sets with those who, by ideology or interest (hello broadcasters) want to shorten the game to bring back / stay spectators.

The Andy Murray Paradox

Because for now, and according to a stat out from behind the bundles by Djokovic but also Patrick Mouratoglou, the average age of the yellow ball fan would be 61 years old. Five sets is a long time for young people, who don’t give a damn. They need story format (ok boomer), period (any resemblance to Agnelli’s speech on football is fortuitous). Interesting paradox about this all the same. Player Andy Murray has always been in favor of the five Grand Slam innings, but his opinion changed when he had to comment on a 4:40 long Nadal-Del Potro at Wimbledon.

“It was an incredible game, it was a brilliant game,” the Briton later declared to the NY Times, but it was a really long time to sit there as a spectator. He is not the only one. Patrick Mouratoglou, in an interview with World : “100% of the professional players I spoke to said, ‘I never watch an entire tennis match, it’s too long.’ So imagine the 18 year old guy who is not a pro… ”

Proof that there is a problem somewhere. However, it remains to be determined whether the tennis spectator is intended to remain stuck in front of one and the same match. On the spot or in front of your TV, isn’t it characteristic of the Grand Slam to go from Central to court 1, then to court 14 when the weather gets hot, before finally returning to Central? Because, finally, once we have shortened the matches to three sets, will we not try to snuff out the beginnings of completely useless judge heats in the event of a tie-break outcome? Ultimate hypothesis: we satisfy everyone with five sets which would only be decisive games or great tie-breaks, without breaks, nothing, walou. And there, tennis would go really very quickly.

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