Is Fast Four the future of MxD ?

#1
Watching the Hopman Cup lead me to think about the format.
Tie Break at 3 all, what do you think the chances are USTA pushes this on League tennis.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
#2
The USTA already uses it for NTRP Nationals, and I think it is a valid/approved format for League matches, it is left up to sections/districts to choose whether to use it or not.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
#6
Not gonna participate in Fast Four leagues. If I'm gonna sign up, pay, and travel to a league match, I want at least 60-90 minutes of tennis for my effort.

Now, in a weekend tournament format where one will probably play 3-4 matches over a day or two, I might do it. My son has done a number of one day round robin tournaments with Fast Four matches, and it can be a satisfying experience.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
#7
Not gonna participate in Fast Four leagues. If I'm gonna sign up, pay, and travel to a league match, I want at least 60-90 minutes of tennis for my effort.
I agree, but then again, I'd rather play full 3rd sets than play a match tie-break.

I assume a Fast Four format would not use a match tie-break, so the question is how those two formats compare.

Clearly, a straight-set win is going to be shorter with Fast Four. One break per set which would be 6-4,6-4 would now be 4-2,4-2, 20 games vs 12 games, and yes that would be pretty unfulfilling if a league match was that short (or shorter). You could make the argument that a late break in the 6-4 sets would mean the Fast Four would actually be at 3-3 and go to a tie-break and that makes it a bit closer, 20 vs 14.

Now, if the first two sets are split, the "normal" format might be 6-4,4-6,1-0, the match tie-break being 15-18 points or we'll say the equivalent of 4 games, so 24 games total. Fast Four might be 4-2,2-4,4-3 which gets it to 19 which is still shorter than the straight sets normal match.

So yeah, not a fan of Fast Four for regular league play.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
#9
I find that doing practice matches as fast 4 is good for me as I am fighting being a slow starter .... but have no interest in having that as a league format. I too would prefer full 3rd sets rather than a 10 point breaker.
 
#10
I played one of these fast four tournaments and enjoyed it. the format was more like a league state tournament where you have a group and play everyone in the group and then the group winners play a standard tourney format. I loved it. I played 5 singles matches and 4 doubles matches in a weekend and felt pretty good at the end.
 
#11
I played one of these fast four tournaments and enjoyed it. the format was more like a league state tournament where you have a group and play everyone in the group and then the group winners play a standard tourney format. I loved it. I played 5 singles matches and 4 doubles matches in a weekend and felt pretty good at the end.
Lies. LIES. All da mn lies.
 

BGod

Hall of Fame
#14
Most leagues here use super tiebreak to decide 3rd sets and I have problems with that. Fast 4 is an abomination.
 
#15
There's hardly any Mixed tournaments as it is. The Fast Four is an improvement if the alternative is nothing; the speed of it allows more mixed to be played.

Luckily for the forces of change, the USTA doesn't read this board.
 
#16
Played in a tournament this weekend and was waiting near the scorer's table to get called for the next open court. My opponents (we all knew each other) and my partner were at the club, but they were not standing where I was.

So the tournament director calls the next group (we were scheduled to go on after them). It was a singles match, and they, like us, had lost the first round and were now starting in the losers bracket (otherwise know as the consolation bracket).

The director hands them the balls, tells them which court, then says something like this (and I am openly standing right there 2 feet away watching the interchange):

"Ok, here's the balls, court 1. 5 minute warmup. Oh, and I'm sorry but "No Ad" scoring for the consolation brackets... if we don't, we are going to fall way behind today."

Now I hear this, and think- WTF. That sucks. 2 minutes later another court opens up, he calls our teams, tells me which court and hands me new balls. He knew I had overheard the other conversation, and did not repeat it to me about No Ad.

The opponents saw I had the balls and I signaled the court number to them, they nodded and headed to that court. I went over, got my partner who was talking to someone, told him "We're up. Court 6." and I headed to the court.

Call me a bad person, rude, inconsiderate, whatever. I chose not to inform the opponents or my partner of the conversation I heard that consolation matches were to be No Ad. I hate these abominations of tennis scoring. I told no one and did not fret about doing so in the least.

In fact, if we all would've been told that directly, I guarantee I would've been the first one to suggest that we play out the match regular scoring.

Again, call me rude or inconsiderate... the first round was all regular scoring and there was no mention that No Ad scoring will be employed in the consolation rounds in the tournament description or the sign-up.

And btw the match was over in about 1 hour and 10 minutes 4-6 4-6.
I get it that there are some lob fest matches that take 1 hour + for the first set, but when they start doing fast four and No Ad is when I just chose not to participate. We had some fun points with deuce, ad out, deuce, ad out, deuce, ad in, deuce, ad out, game, etc. That is part of the appeal to me, the struggle to win a tough game, to hold serve with numerous break points or to break serve after the opponents 12 minute service game.

Don't sully the sport just to speed things up for your convenience. Maybe major league baseball should only have 2 strikes and 3 balls... or turn the NFL into 3 downs not 4.

Signed,
Rebel loser
"You can break my serve, but you can't break my spirit!"
 
#17
If the USTA can make money or raise fees somehow...…… then YES you'll see more of it in the leagues.... GUARANTEED!!!

And as an added bonus, if USTA can find a way to increase the numbers of internationals into the USA to move out USA players.... so much the better.
 
#18
Ah but the NFL is a timed sport, so the number of downs lowered would probably slow the game down.

As far as baseball, games have gotten longer and they are trying to shorten them again.
 
#19
Played in a tournament this weekend and was waiting near the scorer's table to get called for the next open court. My opponents (we all knew each other) and my partner were at the club, but they were not standing where I was.

So the tournament director calls the next group (we were scheduled to go on after them). It was a singles match, and they, like us, had lost the first round and were now starting in the losers bracket (otherwise know as the consolation bracket).

The director hands them the balls, tells them which court, then says something like this (and I am openly standing right there 2 feet away watching the interchange):

"Ok, here's the balls, court 1. 5 minute warmup. Oh, and I'm sorry but "No Ad" scoring for the consolation brackets... if we don't, we are going to fall way behind today."

Now I hear this, and think- WTF. That sucks. 2 minutes later another court opens up, he calls our teams, tells me which court and hands me new balls. He knew I had overheard the other conversation, and did not repeat it to me about No Ad.

The opponents saw I had the balls and I signaled the court number to them, they nodded and headed to that court. I went over, got my partner who was talking to someone, told him "We're up. Court 6." and I headed to the court.

Call me a bad person, rude, inconsiderate, whatever. I chose not to inform the opponents or my partner of the conversation I heard that consolation matches were to be No Ad. I hate these abominations of tennis scoring. I told no one and did not fret about doing so in the least.

In fact, if we all would've been told that directly, I guarantee I would've been the first one to suggest that we play out the match regular scoring.

Again, call me rude or inconsiderate... the first round was all regular scoring and there was no mention that No Ad scoring will be employed in the consolation rounds in the tournament description or the sign-up.

And btw the match was over in about 1 hour and 10 minutes 4-6 4-6.
I get it that there are some lob fest matches that take 1 hour + for the first set, but when they start doing fast four and No Ad is when I just chose not to participate. We had some fun points with deuce, ad out, deuce, ad out, deuce, ad in, deuce, ad out, game, etc. That is part of the appeal to me, the struggle to win a tough game, to hold serve with numerous break points or to break serve after the opponents 12 minute service game.

Don't sully the sport just to speed things up for your convenience. Maybe major league baseball should only have 2 strikes and 3 balls... or turn the NFL into 3 downs not 4.

Signed,
Rebel loser
"You can break my serve, but you can't break my spirit!"
I played in a mixed tournament and we were the first consolation match on the Sunday morning. We lost 7-6 (11-9) and 7-6 (14-12). Took us 2 hours. After that they made all consolation matches "no ad" because our match screwed the timing up so badly.

Have some consideration for the tournament organizers and other participants. If they say no ad for the consolations, play no ad. 15 minute service games can really screw up a tight tournament schedule. Last thing a tournament needs is walkover finals because people didn't plan on the tournament going over time and had other engagements.
 
#20
I played in a mixed tournament and we were the first consolation match on the Sunday morning. We lost 7-6 (11-9) and 7-6 (14-12). Took us 2 hours. After that they made all consolation matches "no ad" because our match screwed the timing up so badly.

Have some consideration for the tournament organizers and other participants. If they say no ad for the consolations, play no ad. 15 minute service games can really screw up a tight tournament schedule. Last thing a tournament needs is walkover finals because people didn't plan on the tournament going over time and had other engagements.
Or, the tournament could announce that No Ad could be a potentiability on the sign-up page, or they could start the tournament earlier in the day to accommodate the agreed upon scoring system, OR they can have ALL the courts play No Ad - since everyone paid the same entrance fee.
 
#22
Or, the tournament could announce that No Ad could be a potentiability on the sign-up page, or they could start the tournament earlier in the day to accommodate the agreed upon scoring system, OR they can have ALL the courts play No Ad - since everyone paid the same entrance fee.
They could but everyone knows consolations are just for fun so people can get a second match of tennis. Last I checked the money you pay for tournaments largely goes to the tournament banquet and much of the running of the tourney is volunteers. I also think that no ad consolations if time is of the essence are pretty common knowledge so maybe people don't think they need to announce it. Kind of like 3rd set super tiebreakers.

There's lots of things they could do, but playing no ad consolations is a pretty simple fix in times of need.
 
#23
Nope, don't agree. When I showed up at 10:30 for the 11am Sunday morning first matches of the day I ran into two friends who are members at that club. I had not seen their names in the tournament, and asked when they are playing? They weren't. They had just finished their Sunday "permanent court time" play. Likely that other courts had also been in use by club members pre 11am.

Fast forward 10 minutes and then I hear the tournament director say there is No Ad scoring for consolation when the club is still doing their regularily scheduled programing... nah. Not a fan. Block off the weekend for a tournament (about 150 players), start at 8am on Sat and Sun. and get things rolling.

It's ok. I like tournaments, but they won't miss me if I don't play. I'm ok with not liking or supporting Fast Four or No Ad play. It works for others, just not for me.
 
#24
Played in a tournament this weekend and was waiting near the scorer's table to get called for the next open court. My opponents (we all knew each other) and my partner were at the club, but they were not standing where I was.

So the tournament director calls the next group (we were scheduled to go on after them). It was a singles match, and they, like us, had lost the first round and were now starting in the losers bracket (otherwise know as the consolation bracket).

The director hands them the balls, tells them which court, then says something like this (and I am openly standing right there 2 feet away watching the interchange):

"Ok, here's the balls, court 1. 5 minute warmup. Oh, and I'm sorry but "No Ad" scoring for the consolation brackets... if we don't, we are going to fall way behind today."

Now I hear this, and think- WTF. That sucks. 2 minutes later another court opens up, he calls our teams, tells me which court and hands me new balls. He knew I had overheard the other conversation, and did not repeat it to me about No Ad.

The opponents saw I had the balls and I signaled the court number to them, they nodded and headed to that court. I went over, got my partner who was talking to someone, told him "We're up. Court 6." and I headed to the court.

Call me a bad person, rude, inconsiderate, whatever. I chose not to inform the opponents or my partner of the conversation I heard that consolation matches were to be No Ad. I hate these abominations of tennis scoring. I told no one and did not fret about doing so in the least.

In fact, if we all would've been told that directly, I guarantee I would've been the first one to suggest that we play out the match regular scoring.

Again, call me rude or inconsiderate... the first round was all regular scoring and there was no mention that No Ad scoring will be employed in the consolation rounds in the tournament description or the sign-up.

And btw the match was over in about 1 hour and 10 minutes 4-6 4-6.
I get it that there are some lob fest matches that take 1 hour + for the first set, but when they start doing fast four and No Ad is when I just chose not to participate. We had some fun points with deuce, ad out, deuce, ad out, deuce, ad in, deuce, ad out, game, etc. That is part of the appeal to me, the struggle to win a tough game, to hold serve with numerous break points or to break serve after the opponents 12 minute service game.

Don't sully the sport just to speed things up for your convenience. Maybe major league baseball should only have 2 strikes and 3 balls... or turn the NFL into 3 downs not 4.

Signed,
Rebel loser
"You can break my serve, but you can't break my spirit!"
Putting myself in the TD's shoes, I can see the motivation: multiple matches go longer than expected and the TD ends up having to stay longer. Players don't see that because they've long since departed.

Baseball should just be one pitch.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
#25
Or, the tournament could announce that No Ad could be a potentiability on the sign-up page, or they could start the tournament earlier in the day to accommodate the agreed upon scoring system, OR they can have ALL the courts play No Ad - since everyone paid the same entrance fee.
I always just figured the fine print included language giving the TD discretion to switch to No Ad if weather or other circumstance created a time squeeze making it harder to complete all the matches in a reasonable time. It used to bother me, also, since I felt I wasn't getting my money's worth. But after a rainy year in the SE where lots of matches were delayed and cancelled, I mind it less. But with some experience one can recognize some directors are quicker to switch to No Ad than others, and also some situations are more likely to get switched if there are weather delays. Here's what I've seen:

1. Some directors will switch to No Ad early at any excuse. A 2 hour delay on Sat AM even though weather is fine the rest of Sat and all day Sun, and there aren't even that many people in the tournament relative to the court space. I've learned to avoid these guys, especially if their venues are further away.
2. Draws with four rounds (> 8 and <=16) are more likely to get switched than draws with 3 rounds.
3. If draw sizes are small and director sees he can finish a 2 day tournament in 1 day, a switch is likely.
4. USTA events are more likely to get switched to No Ad than UTR. One factor here may be that it is easier in UTR to keep draw sizes <=8, so no brackets have 4 rounds.
5. The more courts available relative to the number of entrants, the less switching to No Ad is needed.
6. Events with singles and doubles are more likely to switch to No Ad than singles only (or doubles only) events, because scheduling is much harder once their are delays.

But once the rain starts, I'd rather have matches shortened than miss them entirely, and complete cancellation of the consolation bracket(s) is a real thing that I prefer to avoid. TDs work pretty hard for small profit margins. I like to cut them some slack here. (From what I can tell, UTR TDs have bigger profit margins, but they also provide better service and more matches through compass draws and round robins trying to get everyone 3 matches.)
 
#26
Maybe I'm really out of touch, but I can see this attitude of "we'll keep the hard cores and gain new ones!!!!" being a dangerous on to take. What happens when you lose the hardcores? Because that is a serious risk. And if people come new because it's a flavor of the month, what happens when they find a new flavor of the month?

I can see Fast4 being the bullet that puts the soldier out of his misery just as easily as it is the future. But who cares when you got 5 more people this year? So what if 30 of the regulars go out the door next year. You got 5 more this year!!
 
#27
Get off my lawn sentiment won't work here...Tennis is to long. Just like baseball etc. Something needs to be done to improve viewership, get more players playing etc.

Sports that require hours upon hours upon hours upon hours of private instruction aren't going to survive. Guess what kids are playing in middle school? Pickle Ball. Why? Because you don't need swing technique on forehands, and proper server technique etc.

It won't be tomorrow it all changes but I would love to see mixed seasons moved to this. Maybe 18+ move to this format? WTT is great fun with shortened games and matches. Would enjoy different formats elsewhere in USTA.

Just some thoughts.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
#28
Get off my lawn sentiment won't work here...Tennis is to long. Just like baseball etc. Something needs to be done to improve viewership, get more players playing etc.

Sports that require hours upon hours upon hours upon hours of private instruction aren't going to survive. Guess what kids are playing in middle school? Pickle Ball. Why? Because you don't need swing technique on forehands, and proper server technique etc.

It won't be tomorrow it all changes but I would love to see mixed seasons moved to this. Maybe 18+ move to this format? WTT is great fun with shortened games and matches. Would enjoy different formats elsewhere in USTA.

Just some thoughts.
Yea but you play singles, doubles, and mixed in WTT.

Most USTA matches are over in 1.5 hours, especially mixed.

You really want to drive to a match and play for 45 minutes?

J
 
#29
Get off my lawn sentiment won't work here...Tennis is to long. Just like baseball etc. Something needs to be done to improve viewership, get more players playing etc.

Sports that require hours upon hours upon hours upon hours of private instruction aren't going to survive. Guess what kids are playing in middle school? Pickle Ball. Why? Because you don't need swing technique on forehands, and proper server technique etc.

It won't be tomorrow it all changes but I would love to see mixed seasons moved to this. Maybe 18+ move to this format? WTT is great fun with shortened games and matches. Would enjoy different formats elsewhere in USTA.

Just some thoughts.
Whenever I play tennis I'm bummed if it ends quickly. If it winds up being 6-0, 6-1 in my favor I think "Gee I should've tanked a few, I want to play more". I never go "Gosh that was fast, I'm so happy that I was done in under an hour". My most favorite match I ever played was probably 5 hours, 5 sets of grueling tennis. We were evenly matched (singles) and each rally was about 10 shots. Up 40-15? Deuce. Up a break, now even. I think we had one set where there were 11 straight breaks. It was just hard for either of us to get an advantage. I can't even remember who won, but that doesn't even matter. It was awesome and I won't forget that feeling.

Any decent sport requires a good amount of practice. I played pickleball and badminton, in PE in school. Was fun for the time, but I never considered those other than something to do in PE. I was good at it too. Dove all over the gym getting to stuff. Got lots of floor burns, great sweat. I watch pickleball on the tennis courts and it's painful. Dink. Dink. Dink. Oh it's a foot out of your reach, but if you moved you could get there? Nah, just say nice shot. Drives me crazy. Heck the lines on the courts are horrible, really mess things up if you're forced to play on those tennis courts with the horrible pickleball lines.

Maybe, maybe for those leagues that use timed matches and where people take well timed 'bathroom breaks' to ensure that they'll win the Fast4 could be useful, but that wouldn't help once you get to playoffs and you're not conditioned to play real actual matches.

I don't play league/tournaments anymore. I just find a good group of people to hit with. We typically play best 2/3, usually a full 3rd set, unless one of us is pressed for time, then it's a tiebreak. If we have lots of free time (Kids are doing something else at a friends house and wife is out doing something else) then we might go a 4th or 5th set even if someone already won the first 3. Because playing tennis is a lot better than not playing tennis.
 
#31
Fast4 and other abbreviated Formats are excellent for round robin type events where you want to get in a lot of different matches with different people in a couple hours. There is a place for these type of things.

We routinely play no-ad in our men's league with tiebreaker at 5-5 and some times it is a struggle to complete a couple sets in the allotted 90 minutes.

I think trying to get matches finished in no less than 60 minutes and no more than 90 minutes should be the goal for most league play. Whatever format suits that best should be what's used. Fast 4 might be too fast but maybe Fast 5 allowing lets would be just right. The standard best of 3 6 game set is definitely too long for a lot of middle age league'rs.
 
#32
Couple of thoughts not trying to target any one poster(s):

-those that are ok with No Ad or Fast Four are never going to convince those of us who like standard scoring that shortening the game is a good idea

-some people are including tv viewership in the conversation, and I don't think that was the intent of this thread since it IS titled "..future of MxD", which we know is rarely aired.

-IF the conversation was to include the tv viewership aspect, that would mean the pros would be playing it. Within the next 10-15 years, do you REALLY think any major tournament is going to switch to No Ad or Fast Four? How many pros are going to agree to that? And like the No Ad for consolation rounds I just experienced.... there are no consolation rounds in the pros, but maybe they will make the unseeded players play No Ad, because well, because? Insert my eye roll.

-finally, why change a good thing? Maybe the people who want to play No Ad/Fast Four should drop out of the regular leagues and tourneys. Start something different which suits your time frame, and leave the rest of us to play the standard way. Why you gotta mess with what has been, and ruin what we like? Start your own variation, or switch to pickleball. That can be done in a very timely manner and is easy to learn.
 
#33
-IF the conversation was to include the tv viewership aspect, that would mean the pros would be playing it. Within the next 10-15 years, do you REALLY think any major tournament is going to switch to No Ad or Fast Four? How many pros are going to agree to that? And like the No Ad for consolation rounds I just experienced.... there are no consolation rounds in the pros, but maybe they will make the unseeded players play No Ad, because well, because? Insert my eye roll.
Guess you missed the Hopman Cup. A lot of pro mixed matches are exactly this format.
 
#34
Guess you missed the Hopman Cup. A lot of pro mixed matches are exactly this format.
But the Hopman Cup is an exo. No ranking points from what I recall. Just a now defunct warmup before the Aussie Open. No pressure, no GOAT status on the line, team event basically. So Fast4 there, sure whatever, but in tournaments where rankings are on the line, titles and legacy I wouldn't want Fast4.
 
#36
My point is it's already being done at some lesser tournaments. Personally I don't think that it's that much of a stretch that a major tournament may consider it to try and lure some of the better talent to play mixed while also making it more TV friendly by knowing within a very small range how long the match is going to last. ;-)
 
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#38
Those who are "purists", are you aware originally all (most?) matches were best of five and there were no tie tiebreakers? The problem with the purists is their purity is not really so, it's just whatever they grew up with.
 
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#40
Those who are "purists", are you aware originally all (most?) matches were best of five and there were no tie tiebreakers? The problem with the purists is their purity is not really do, it's just whatever they grew up with.
The problem with "forward thinkers" is that they think just ripping on "purists" will discredit them rather than actually making a point for themselves.

See, everyone can play this game.
 
#42
The problem with "forward thinkers" is that they think just ripping on "purists" will discredit them rather than actually making a point for themselves.

See, everyone can play this game.
You didn't play anything but a non sequitur.

If changing the scoring system is bad, are you opposed to best of three sets (as opposed to five) and tie breakers? If not, you are just probably opposing change for your own sake and not to protect the purity of the game.
 
#43
I prefer best of five with no tiebreakers. Given realities, I'm ok with best of 3 and tiebreakers where they are used now. Would prefer that grand slams didn't have 5th set tiebreakers. They are modifications.

Fast4 is a radical departure from anything traditional. No-ad, 3 serve games and you play a tiebreak. It can have a place, and there are purposes for which it is suited. But to become a standard format? It's not the future, it's grease that will accelerate the death spiral IMHO.
 
#44
You didn't play anything but a non sequitur.

If changing the scoring system is bad, are you opposed to best of three sets (as opposed to five) and tie breakers? If not, you are just probably opposing change for your own sake and not to protect the purity of the game.
There is no "purity"; there's only tradition.

For example, when I learned to play, the TB was already established. For me, it was "normal". But for those who learned the non-TB way, it was potentially a lot more upsetting. "How can you destroy the game like that?" might have been their cry.

I suspect changes will keep occurring, especially if participation declines [if it is flat or increases, the motivation to change will disappear].

I, for one, do not like FF.
 
#45
Fast4 is a radical departure from anything traditional. No-ad, 3 serve games and you play a tiebreak. It can have a place, and there are purposes for which it is suited. But to become a standard format? It's not the future, it's grease that will accelerate the death spiral IMHO.
I think it's the death spiral they are trying to counter. Doing nothing will likely lead to continued decline so they are trying changes to reverse it.
 
#48
I play tennis because I want to play tennis. Not to play a couple of games and then go hit the bar. This isn’t a golf club, it’s an athletic club playing an athletic sport. If you want to play a short round, not be physically taxed, not sweat, and not need to stay in shape, and then socialize, play golf.
 
#49
I prefer best of five with no tiebreakers. Given realities, I'm ok with best of 3 and tiebreakers where they are used now. Would prefer that grand slams didn't have 5th set tiebreakers. They are modifications.

Fast4 is a radical departure from anything traditional. No-ad, 3 serve games and you play a tiebreak. It can have a place, and there are purposes for which it is suited. But to become a standard format? It's not the future, it's grease that will accelerate the death spiral IMHO.
Would you prefer to play all your rec matches as best of 5 no TB? That might totally end rec leagues for good.

Sports change all the time as the world changes. Modern sensibilities dictate that most people have 1-2 hours to play a match of tennis. So making sure your scoring format fits that is important or your sport will continue to bleed members to other sports with less time commitment.

Already most people I see on a public court are just hitting and not playing. They don’t have enough time to play a full best of 3 match. You never see that in squash or ping pong. Why? Because games are quicker and you can play best of 3 in under an hour.
 
#50
Fast4 is a radical departure from anything traditional.
So are:
- TBs
- Being allowed to lift the front foot
- Poly strings
- Staying on the BL and grinding
- Shrieking [I blame Seles]

The game isn't static an will keep evolving, much to the dismay of those who learned under a different set of rules.

And for the record, I dislike Fast Four, no Ad, TB in lieu of a full 3rd set, etc. I doubt I could last many best of 5 singles matches, though.
 
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