US Open 2012: Should Men Play Best-of-Three Sets at Grand Slams and Davis Cup?

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US Open 2012: Should Men Play Best-of-Three Sets at Grand Slams and Davis Cup?
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A deflated Nikolay Davydenko stood frustrated and bewildered on the other side of the net as the ball landed out on match point.

The former World No. 3 was the latest victim to blow a two-set lead at the 2012 US Open after bowing out to American Mardy Fish on Thursday by a scoreline of 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.

Following the match, Davydenko had much to say about the current format of Grand Slam and Davis Cup matches.

“Why are we playing five-set matches? We need to play best of three in Grand Slams.  Everybody will support [that idea, even Roger] Federer.  For Federer, it’s easy to win in one hour, two sets.  No need to run [for] a third set,” the 31-year-old Russian said (per ESPN).

Tennis has a long-standing tradition of playing a best-of-five sets format at major tournaments, but recent debate has speculated on whether or not the men’s professional circuit should continue to use the best-of-five sets format at Grand Slam matches and the Davis Cup.

However, World No. 1 Roger Federer has spoken out in the past that he thinks the best-of-five set format is a good thing for the majors because it requires an extra effort that favors the best players to come through.  Federer’s arch-nemesis Rafael Nadal has agreed with Federer on the issue.

Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray has also spoken out that he is also in favor of the best-of-five set format.

“I like the best of five format in the slams,” Murray said (via 10sBalls.com).  “When you play a best of three set match, some of the matches are like 50 minutes, an hour and 10 minutes.  You need to be very quick and agile, but don’t necessarily have to have great endurance.”

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Andy Murray says he prefers the best-of-five sets format

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic has looked at the issue from both ends of the spectrum.

“From one side it would be maybe better for us because then we could get more rest and not get into those long couple of hours’ matches,” said Djokovic.  “On the other hand, it’s been a tradition of this sport for many years, and we all try to respect the tradition.”

Few will argue that the best-of-five sets format hasn't contributed to dominance of the Big Four at Grand Slam events, with Federer, Nadal and Djokovic having combined to win 29 out of the last 30 Grand Slam titles.  As a result, it seems impossible for any teenagers to make a breakthrough at the Grand Slam level.

In addition to the youngsters, players nearing the end of their careers struggle to stay competitive at tournaments when they need to win three sets instead of two.

Does Davydenko have a point in saying the format of Grand Slam and Davis Cup matches should be changed to the best-of-three format?    

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