The Match Tiebreaker

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I know many of us in leagues and tournaments have played a Match tiebreaker (first to 10 points) in lieu of a 3rd set. Certainly helps keep matches at a reasonable duration.
There is some talk about bringing that in for singles competition at the pro level (it's already there for doubles).

Pros: Matches are shorter and more consistent length. Tiebreakers are exciting to watch from a fan's perspective.
Cons: Less points to work with to make that amazing comeback. Oh and tradition (if that means something in the modern world).

I'd be definitely in favor of making this a standard change to the rules of tennis at all levels. I think you keep the slams at best of 5 but the 5th set becomes a match tiebreaker.

I think both golf and tennis really need to work at shortening the time commitment for both fans and players. Match tiebreakers and changing golf courses to 12 holes would be great starts without fooling around with the nature of the game.
 

eelhc

Hall of Fame
It's amazing to be that people can routinely binge watch a Netflix series at 6-12Hrs a shot but can't hold their attention span for live sports events.

Also, as a golfer, I see nothing wrong with keeping play at 9 and 18 holes. The trouble is that most golfers can't get around 9 holes in ~2Hrs (used to be routine even on public courses). I'm for strict speed of play enforcements vs shortening the game. Scotland style.

Sent from my LM-G710 using Tapatalk
 

R1FF

Professional
I disagree OP.

2 sets plus a tiebreaker is a SPRINT by good athletics standards.

And the 5 set should stay as is imo.

We’re now talking about changing the game of tennis to something it isnt.

Tennis viewership isnt a duration problem. It’s a marketing & personality problem. The “big 3” all have the charisma of an old boot. Nadal is flamboyant, but when speaking, he’s far from “must listen”.
 
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JW10S

Hall of Fame
I disagree as well. I do like when there are special events and different scoring is used now and then to mix things up but for most tournaments, both professional and amateur, I prefer the regular best of 3 or 5 sets. And often the length of a match isn't determined by the scoring but by how closely the players are matched. I've played 2 set matches that have ranged from 30 mins to well over 2 hours.

And as R1FF said, it's not the scoring that determines viewership. Heck, people gladly will sit and watch NASCAR races go for hours where the cars go around in circles for 400 or 500 miles. You can't even see the drivers. At least in tennis you see the players, see their emotion, their personality, etc.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I disagree OP.

2 sets plus a tiebreaker is a SPRINT by athletics standards.

And the 5 set should stay as is imo.

Tennis viewership isnt a duration problem. It’s a marketing & petsonality problem. The “big 3” all have the charisma of an old boot. Nadal is flamboyant, but when speaking, he’s far from “must listen”.

Most sets I play in tennis last 20-40 minutes. Two sets and a Tiebreaker finishes most matches in 60-90 minutes. Other racquet sports like squash, badminton, pickleball finish matches faster than that. Soccer matches last 60-90 minutes depending on age groups. Hockey games are 60 minutes. So I'm not sure where the SPRINT comment comes from.

Even when i watched in the 80's with Johnny Mac and Connors showing flair and personality, watching through an entire 5 set match for anything other than semis and quarters was a challenge.

I routinely show up to watch slam finals after the first 2 sets are done because that first 90 minutes usually has no bearing on who wins. I play at a club with lots of tennis fans and they too rarely watch an entire live match. Some watch the last set. Some watch the highlights. Some PVR it and FF through most of it. Certainly duration has something to do with it. It certainly makes broadcasters annoyed since having a match last 90 minutes or 300 minutes is a pain for scheduling.

While I can appreciate the marathon aspect to some tennis matches I'm not convinced its major appeal is to be a grueling test of endurance. There wouldn't be so many people flocking to pickleball if the populace was into that kind of thing. The fastest growing sports aren't those that are long endurance sports. Nobody has the time.

Bottom line, I'd like to know that when i head to do an activity it's likely to be over in 90 minutes so I can plan my life. The Tiebreaker adds some degree of certainty to the max length of a match. Same with spectating.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
And as R1FF said, it's not the scoring that determines viewership. Heck, people gladly will sit and watch NASCAR races go for hours where the cars go around in circles for 400 or 500 miles. You can't even see the drivers. At least in tennis you see the players, see their emotion, their personality, etc.
NASCAR is a very different fan base than the tennis fan base. NASCAR is essentially a chance to spend an afternoon with the buddies drinking beer. If they weren't watching NASCAR they'd be out fishing with their buddies drinking beer.

Not sure the netflix binge watching group and NASCAR fandom are great comparisons to the average tennis fan.
 

tomato123

Professional
I cut the cord several years ago so the only tennis I get to watch is youtube highlights. With the amount of content out on the internet now, I would say I have watched more hours of tennis in the last 2 years than I have my younger years combined where I would only tune in during grand slam weekends and watch the full matches from beginning to end, and that was only if a player I liked was playing. I enjoyed watching the full games back then, and I also enjoy my fill of highlights of current and past games by my favorite players. However, I'm not sure I would bring out the old analog antenna to watch live matches even if they changed the format. This is just based on my personal preferences for my time and media consumption. And I'm the guy who used to love watching low scoring pitchers duel baseball games that went to extra innings back in the day, but I just don't have that desire anymore to witness these moments as they happen, so I'm content to get the recap and highlights on the next day. However!!! If I paid good money to watch my favorite tennis player in person I would 100% want it to go full 5 sets, lol.
 

R1FF

Professional
Most sets I play in tennis last 20-40 minutes. Two sets and a Tiebreaker finishes most matches in 60-90 minutes. Other racquet sports like squash, badminton, pickleball finish matches faster than that. Soccer matches last 60-90 minutes depending on age groups. Hockey games are 60 minutes. So I'm not sure where the SPRINT comment comes from.
Because while a NBA basketball game is “only” 48 minutes long of regulation time, it’s actually a 2.5 hour long grind.

And come playoffs (equivalence of a major) they are 7 game series to determine who is best by way of attrition.

Even when i watched in the 80's with Johnny Mac and Connors showing flair and personality, watching through an entire 5 set match for anything other than semis and quarters was a challenge.
But you watched none the less.

Granted, much less TV options back then.

Lots to compete with now, including shorter attebtion spans. That said, for live viewers, Im sure they love the marathon. Getting their $ worth for those seats.

I routinely show up to watch slam finals after the first 2 sets are done because that first 90 minutes usually has no bearing on who wins. I play at a club with lots of tennis fans and they too rarely watch an entire live match. Some watch the last set. Some watch the highlights. Some PVR it and FF through most of it. Certainly duration has something to do with it. It certainly makes broadcasters annoyed since having a match last 90 minutes or 300 minutes is a pain for scheduling.
Yet live spectators dont show up 1/2 way thru the match.



While I can appreciate the marathon aspect to some tennis matches I'm not convinced its major appeal is to be a grueling test of endurance.
Thus why many avoid singles.

Doesnt mean we should change the sport at the pro level to accomodate the athletic deficiencies of the rec player.

There wouldn't be so many people flocking to pickleball if the populace was into that kind of thing.
People flock to pickleball because it’s the convenient blend of requiring less skill than ping pong and less athleticism than real tennis.



The fastest growing sports aren't those that are long endurance sports. Nobody has the time.
They have time for Netflix.

They have time to watch 3 hrs of UFC coverage. NFL plus endless pregame shows. 10 hours of Joe exotic.

People watch what is interesting. Tennis players are not interesting personalities. None of the top men are in any way polarizing. That’s tough to sell.

Bottom line, I'd like to know that when i head to do an activity it's likely to be over in 90 minutes so I can plan my life. The Tiebreaker adds some degree of certainty to the max length of a match. Same with spectating.
Im of the opposite LOL.

I wish there were tournaments that offered amateurs 5 set duels LOL.

I genuinely love sport. Especially playing it. I’ll be leaving the courts after a 4 hour session and halfway home Im wishing I was back at the courts. Especially now that my daughter comes almost every time with me.

Im a boring dude LOL. I got my family, work, studying, and my athletic hobbies. That’s it. No real social obligations. No alcohol.
 
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R1FF

Professional
Considering you have YouTube for highlights & DVR you can fast forward thru, why should the sport’s rules be adjusted?
 

Steady Eddy

Legend
Most sets I play in tennis last 20-40 minutes. Two sets and a Tiebreaker finishes most matches in 60-90 minutes. Other racquet sports like squash, badminton, pickleball finish matches faster than that. Soccer matches last 60-90 minutes depending on age groups. Hockey games are 60 minutes. So I'm not sure where the SPRINT comment comes from.

Even when i watched in the 80's with Johnny Mac and Connors showing flair and personality, watching through an entire 5 set match for anything other than semis and quarters was a challenge.

I routinely show up to watch slam finals after the first 2 sets are done because that first 90 minutes usually has no bearing on who wins. I play at a club with lots of tennis fans and they too rarely watch an entire live match. Some watch the last set. Some watch the highlights. Some PVR it and FF through most of it. Certainly duration has something to do with it. It certainly makes broadcasters annoyed since having a match last 90 minutes or 300 minutes is a pain for scheduling.

While I can appreciate the marathon aspect to some tennis matches I'm not convinced its major appeal is to be a grueling test of endurance. There wouldn't be so many people flocking to pickleball if the populace was into that kind of thing. The fastest growing sports aren't those that are long endurance sports. Nobody has the time.

Bottom line, I'd like to know that when i head to do an activity it's likely to be over in 90 minutes so I can plan my life. The Tiebreaker adds some degree of certainty to the max length of a match. Same with spectating.
Usually one reserves court in 90 minute blocks. An hour just seems too short. So this would mean that with using a tie-breaker for the 3rd set, most matches could be completed in 90 minutes.

Especially if one refrains from those interminable warm-ups. 20 minutes of warming up is too long. Get on with it!
 

JW10S

Hall of Fame
NASCAR is a very different fan base than the tennis fan base. NASCAR is essentially a chance to spend an afternoon with the buddies drinking beer. If they weren't watching NASCAR they'd be out fishing with their buddies drinking beer.
You paint with way too broad a brush.

I get it, you have a short attention span--it doesn't mean others do as well.
 

tomato123

Professional
What I did appreciate about long tennis broadcasts was that it meant I got to actually watch a lot of tennis, unlike (American) football.


An updated version of this story that compares football to other sports - https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-much-football-is-even-in-a-football-broadcast/

I think, at least in America, football won the jackpot as the sport/excuse for people to get together to enjoy watching a few seconds of violence followed by 10 minutes of nothing for 3 hours so you can enjoy socializing with your friends.

Edit: now that I think about it, though, I wonder how much "tennis" goes into a 3 hour broadcast given that statistically, long rallies are the exception not the norm (hence, highlight videos), and there's actually a good amount of "non action" time between points as well. But at least the commercials won't come in until the change of ends!
 
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Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Usually one reserves court in 90 minute blocks. An hour just seems too short. So this would mean that with using a tie-breaker for the 3rd set, most matches could be completed in 90 minutes.

Especially if one refrains from those interminable warm-ups. 20 minutes of warming up is too long. Get on with it!
I'd prefer to have some longer warm up in lieu of 3rd sets personally.
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
I know many of us in leagues and tournaments have played a Match tiebreaker (first to 10 points) in lieu of a 3rd set. Certainly helps keep matches at a reasonable duration.
There is some talk about bringing that in for singles competition at the pro level (it's already there for doubles).

Pros: Matches are shorter and more consistent length. Tiebreakers are exciting to watch from a fan's perspective.
Cons: Less points to work with to make that amazing comeback. Oh and tradition (if that means something in the modern world).

I'd be definitely in favor of making this a standard change to the rules of tennis at all levels. I think you keep the slams at best of 5 but the 5th set becomes a match tiebreaker.

I think both golf and tennis really need to work at shortening the time commitment for both fans and players. Match tiebreakers and changing golf courses to 12 holes would be great starts without fooling around with the nature of the game.
Couldn't disagree more. Why the push to make everything faster, shorter, quicker? Seems like the whole word has no appreciation for things that take time. Take a minute, smell the roses ...
 

JW10S

Hall of Fame
Couldn't disagree more. Why the push to make everything faster, shorter, quicker? Seems like the whole word has no appreciation for things that take time. Take a minute, smell the roses ...
Agreed. Today I took a bike ride along the beach. When I was leaving someone asked me 'how long will you be?' I answered 'I don't know, however long I feel. I'll see what happens'. I like the little mysteries of life. I like going into a tennis match, whether I am playing or watching, not knowing the outcome or how long it will take. I would hate to live a life that is so regimented that I need to know how long absolutely everything will take.

The reason doubles went to a shorted format had nothing to do with matches taking too long. But for me as a player and a fan 2 sets and TB is too short. But like I said in my first post I do like changes now and then. I played a Fast 4 format tournament early in the year and had a blast. I've also enjoyed watching some of the Fast 4 pro exhibitions for a change--seeing how the pros dealt with the change was interesting. I just wouldn't want to play or watch them all the time--and certainly not for major championships. Nor 2 sets and TB. If tennis takes too long for you watch drag racing--a race takes mere seconds.
 
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OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Note my signature line. I may be biased.

When it comes to my own personal playing I would much rather play a full 3rd set in singles or doubles at any time temps are below 100F.

I am fine with set tie-breakers at 6-all both in watching pro matches as well as in personal play.

For pro matches ... here are my thoughts.
10-point breaker in lieu of third .... fine for early rounds, or qualifying rounds. Lessens likelihood of injuries or having an advancing player who played a 3, 4 or 5 setter at night coming back and having a day match against someone who had only played a 2 or 3 setter.
For Quarters, Semis and Finals ... I want the full set(s)
Why?
10 point breakers can be too much lucky .. a freak shot or two, a questionable ruling
Too short to be a true test

In terms of time
Well, for my personal play, it is all outdoors and we don't know what a timed match is.
Had a singles match a few weeks ago, won 7-6; 7-6 and it took 2 hours and 22 minutes. (opponent took a little long between points and games than I like but it was 108 on the court ... really pretty brutal) I have crossed 3 hours on a few occasions
I am just fine with this ... I assume if I have a match I am allotting at least 2 hours

for watching pro matches .... an epic 5 setter is just fine with me ... enjoy the entire process and may get a load of laundry or two washed and folded in the meantime.

I do like the changes that AO and Wimbledon have made in the past few years to eliminate a 5th set that goes on for an eternity. Other than that, I am all good.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
Match tiebreakers suck, they’re one of the many things that have ruined doubles on the pro tour.

I have no issue with playing three full sets recreationally. Two hours is a very reasonable time commitment for recreational sport, particularly one which is only a moderate physical workout.

Golf is likewise. I don’t play many rounds of 18 these days, but nine holes is a brisk walk that can be done easily after work in summer.

Sailing on the other hand is a huge commitment, racing usually takes up 5-6 hours of my Saturday. If I ever have kids, it will probably be the first thing to go.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
For pro matches ... here are my thoughts.
10-point breaker in lieu of third .... fine for early rounds, or qualifying rounds. Lessens likelihood of injuries or having an advancing player who played a 3, 4 or 5 setter at night coming back and having a day match against someone who had only played a 2 or 3 setter.
For Quarters, Semis and Finals ... I want the full set(s)
Why?
10 point breakers can be too much lucky .. a freak shot or two, a questionable ruling
Too short to be a true test
I'd be comfortable with this too. However there is plenty of evidence that match tiebreakers do not aid the weaker player in achieving upsets. So it's probably a fair test.


Golf is likewise. I don’t play many rounds of 18 these days, but nine holes is a brisk walk that can be done easily after work in summer.
This is why I like the concept of 12 hole courses. That's a 3 hr round even done at a slow pace. 2 and a half hours at a brisk pace. Plenty of time to bike ride and smell roses after. Even easier to play 6 holes after work and dinner before it gets dark. That's 90 minutes which is really where I think the sweet spot for sports games is in my mind. Much easier to fit in after work. Leaves plenty of time for chores on the weekends.

Couldn't disagree more. Why the push to make everything faster, shorter, quicker? Seems like the whole word has no appreciation for things that take time. Take a minute, smell the roses ...
Because there are so many roses in this world and I only have one nose. Only way to smell them all is to take less time on each one.
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
I'd be comfortable with this too. However there is plenty of evidence that match tiebreakers do not aid the weaker player in achieving upsets. So it's probably a fair test.




This is why I like the concept of 12 hole courses. That's a 3 hr round even done at a slow pace. 2 and a half hours at a brisk pace. Plenty of time to bike ride and smell roses after. Even easier to play 6 holes after work and dinner before it gets dark. That's 90 minutes which is really where I think the sweet spot for sports games is in my mind. Much easier to fit in after work. Leaves plenty of time for chores on the weekends.



Because there are so many roses in this world and I only have one nose. Only way to smell them all is to take less time on each one.
Commitment issues. A true TTW citizen :)
 

Chalkdust

Rookie
Pro tennis and rec tennis are two different things.

For pro tennis, you have to do whatever is going to help most with viewership. If that means making matches shorter with a more predictable match time, so be it. Would not be my preference, but ultimately I'd be ok with whatever is best to keep the sport healthy.

For rec tennis, there is no one size fits all answer. So why not leave it up to the players?
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Commitment issues. A true TTW citizen :)
The kickback against Match Teibreakers on this forum is what I find more true of TTW citizens.

Here are the scoring rules of the various men's events I play in:
1) Club men's in-house league: Singles set to 6, doubles set to 6, no-ad, tiebreak at 5-5. Most games won determines winner.
2) Men's social doubles night: Fast 5 sets with first to 2 points tiebreak at 4-4. No ad.
3) Club championship: Traditional 6 game sets. Full ad. Match tiebreak in lieu of 3rd set.
4) Men's calcutta: 8 games against each team in your box, most games won determines who moves on. Single ad before sudden death point. Quarters, Semis and Finals are all a pro set.

In actually no situation do any of these organized events use a traditional 3 full set scoring system. Why? Time. Always trying to keep things to 90 min or less to stay within court booking slots or for a tourney to move efficiently.

So i may be swimming upstream against the TTW sentiment, but these types of time-efficient scoring systems are all in common use outside of USTA and pro singles.
 

AlexSV

Rookie
This is why I like the concept of 12 hole courses. That's a 3 hr round even done at a slow pace. 2 and a half hours at a brisk pace. Plenty of time to bike ride and smell roses after. Even easier to play 6 holes after work and dinner before it gets dark. That's 90 minutes which is really where I think the sweet spot for sports games is in my mind. Much easier to fit in after work. Leaves plenty of time for chores on the weekends.
You lose one of the major challenges, having enough mental and physical energy to close out the round. A lot of games break down over those last few holes due to fatigue. How you hold up over the final stretch is a real testament to your game.
 

AlexSV

Rookie
2) Men's social doubles night: Fast 5 sets with first to 2 points tiebreak at 4-4. No ad.
I started playing fast sets with one playing partner. Less time for a comeback and you really can't afford to lose serve. A bad set is also over quicker and you can move on to the next one sooner which is nice for practice.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
You lose one of the major challenges, having enough mental and physical energy to close out the round. A lot of games break down over those last few holes due to fatigue. How you hold up over the final stretch is a real testament to your game.
Then why allow golf carts?

I agree that fatigue is a factor in the last holes of golf just as it is in the 3rd set of tennis. But I'm not much of the golf and tennis public are into that kind of grind as measured by the frequent use of shorter formats in tennis and golf carts in golf. Most people want a test of skill not a test of mental will. That's what marathons and triathlons are for. Why not accept what the majority are telling us by their choices and adjust the rules accordingly?

These sports were developed as pastimes for the wealthy elite played in dresses and shirts and ties. A true purist would think that any rules that contributed to sweat was against the basic tenets of the game. But everyone thinks that how a game was played when they were kids is how it should be played until they die. Sports need to evolve with the times or risk fading away.
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
The kickback against Match Teibreakers on this forum is what I find more true of TTW citizens.

Here are the scoring rules of the various men's events I play in:
1) Club men's in-house league: Singles set to 6, doubles set to 6, no-ad, tiebreak at 5-5. Most games won determines winner.
2) Men's social doubles night: Fast 5 sets with first to 2 points tiebreak at 4-4. No ad.
3) Club championship: Traditional 6 game sets. Full ad. Match tiebreak in lieu of 3rd set.
4) Men's calcutta: 8 games against each team in your box, most games won determines who moves on. Single ad before sudden death point. Quarters, Semis and Finals are all a pro set.

In actually no situation do any of these organized events use a traditional 3 full set scoring system. Why? Time. Always trying to keep things to 90 min or less to stay within court booking slots or for a tourney to move efficiently.

So i may be swimming upstream against the TTW sentiment, but these types of time-efficient scoring systems are all in common use outside of USTA and pro singles.
I don't like any of the options you listed. The closest to good is number 3, but the tie-breaker for the 3rd and DECIDING set is where it jumps the shark.
How about Fast 4 formats for those that have a time concern, traditional Bo3 for those that don't?
Oh, I hate No-Ad scoring too!!!
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I don't like any of the options you listed. The closest to good is number 3, but the tie-breaker for the 3rd and DECIDING set is where it jumps the shark.
How about Fast 4 formats for those that have a time concern, traditional Bo3 for those that don't?
Oh, I hate No-Ad scoring too!!!
The thing about No Ad and tiebreakers is that they really force focus and performance under pressure. When the stakes are that high, there is little room for error. I get way more jazzed winning a tiebreaker than winning a set 6-3. Much more adrenalin flowing.

But I can see that as aggravating some if they lose on a fluke. As a golfer, that's the "rub of the grin" to me. I can walk away losing a tight match by a net cord winner much easier than walking away from a match I lost because I sucked.
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
The thing about No Ad and tiebreakers is that they really force focus and performance under pressure. When the stakes are that high, there is little room for error. I get way more jazzed winning a tiebreaker than winning a set 6-3. Much more adrenalin flowing.

But I can see that as aggravating some if they lose on a fluke. As a golfer, that's the "rub of the grin" to me. I can walk away losing a tight match by a net cord winner much easier than walking away from a match I lost because I sucked.
I'm the opposite. I feel like I earned the win by taking the set, may have lucked out by taking the tie-breaker.
I've been on both sides of the third set tie-breaker. It just feels so anti-climatic. To each their own though :)
 

socallefty

Legend
I like the physicality or playing a full 3rd set both at the pro and the recreational level and don’t like match tiebreakers. I agree that the stronger team or player generally wins a match tiebreaker or a 3rd set and it may not affect outcomes much - but I always want to play or watch more tennis and not less. It is an athletic competition and attempts to make them shorter take away from the innate nature of the sport in my opinion - I don’t like no-ad points and fast-4 sets for the same reason. I don’t play USTA NTRP singles tournaments anymore because they are all in these non-traditional formats - luckily I have a network of friends who all like playing tennis regularly with traditional scoring.

Long deuce games are a test of both mental and physical fortitude and the most fun games with the mst drama in a match whether you are playing yourself or watching the pros. I’ve tried to watch WTT tennis, UTS exhibitions etc. on TV in the last few weeks due to the lack of ATP tournaments and the scoring formats and rules really detract from my enjoyment of the tennis being played. Maybe it is a generational thing, but do players in their twenties like these shorter formats? When I play younger players, they usually want to play full third sets because they want to make it a physical battle against an older player like me. It is actually players who are not fit who want to play shorter formats in my experience.
 
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