Novak Djokovic Disagrees with Roger Federer, Advocates for 3-Set Matches

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2018

MASON, OH - AUGUST 15: Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot against Adrian Mannarino of France during Day 5 of the Western and Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 15, 2018 in Mason, Ohio. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic revealed Thursday he would be in favour of three-set matches throughout the tennis season.

"I would have even Grand Slams best of three, to be honest," Djokovic said on the Tennis Channel (via ESPN.com). "This new generation of tennis fans and millenials, they don't have the great attention span. They want things to happen very quickly. So for the players as well and to attract more people, more viewers of a younger audience, I think we have to keep tennis matches dynamic, shorter and no shot clock."

Djokovic, 31, pointed to the need to attract younger fans with quicker matches and more at stake with each point, but on Wednesday, 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer advocated for more five-set matches.

"On the ATP Tour, we actually don't have any best-of-five-set matches. They're all at the Slams, Davis Cup and at the Olympics finals," the 37-year-old told the Tennis Channel. "I feel like that's a bit of an opportunity wasted. I know it's also for player protection, for injuries. ... I think that's a bit of a pity, but I understand the reasons."

These comments come after former world No. 1 Andy Murray discussed the topic following his experience as a commentator for the BBC during Wimbledon.

Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times noted Murray pulled out of the Grand Slam because he was concerned the longer matches would hurt his recovery process. He called a five-set marathon between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro and said: "It was interesting watching it from a different perspective, and I picked things up. Like, 'Oh my God, this match is incredibly long.'"

Murray also went on to say he didn't think five-set matches were "good for tennis," even while granting he has enjoyed and benefited from them as a player.

The "Big Four" of the men's tennis world—Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murrayare reaching a stage of their careers where their primes will be in the rearview mirror. Murray is 31 years old and Nadal is 32, and there have been notable absences at recent tournaments.

Federer pulled out of the Rogers Cup as part of his efforts to preserve himself for Grand Slams, while Nadal withdrew from the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati to rest after winning the Rogers Cup.

Federer may prefer five-set matches throughout the season, but playing shorter contests could prolong the careers of the biggest stars and make the game more accessible for casual viewers.