The ongoing debate about the double standards within professional tennis has reared its head again, sparking dialogue on why women are only required to play the best of three sets while their male counterparts must play to the best of five. Ladies number five Maria Sharapova has fanned the smouldering flame with her recent comments, with peripheral commentary on the matter steering away from the age-old sexist-slanted angle that the initial debate originated from.
The mumblings of equality and so on were, while predictable, somewhat justified, we can easily look at other codes which show no acknowledgement of sexes when forming competition rules, women and men play mirrored rules in rugby, football and hockey, to name a few.
However, the argument has evolved somewhat. Commentary on the matter is now radiating toward the idea of longevity, noting the limited recovery times offered to male players within the gruelling calendar, something which would certainly be deterred by reducing play to three sets for men.
…“toughest test of a player mentally and physically”…
Defending Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is quick to defend the five set regulation in the Grand Slams, insisting that as the biggest events they should be the “toughest test of a player mentally and physically”.
However, spectator consideration may play a part in future decisions on the matter with many echoing Sharapova’s comments around keeping the excitement in the game if it were reduced to three sets saying “It would be more exciting from the beginning of the match because you know that first set is extremely important”, with fellow player Victoria Azarenka suggesting the three set format would make matches “more interesting”.
…This will increase recovery time…
Simply, reduce the game to three sets across the board. This will increase recovery time, reduce injury and up the intensity of the game. To me it just seems a matter of not if, but when, the change will be made.