The decision by the organisers of the Australian Open to introduce a 10-point super tie-break rule in the final set to decide men and women’s matches has divided opinion, with many tennis fans greeting the news negatively on social media.
Organisers of the tournament claim that, following extensive consultation, they have followed the example of the US Open and Wimbledon, and introduced a final set tie-break which will come into force when the score is six-all in the final set.
The move is intended to shorten matches, and help with scheduling, especially with the extended night sessions in Melbourne which can see matches not even start until close to midnight.
The change will see an end to marathon contests such as the 2017 clash between Ivo Karlovic and Horacio Zeballos which saw the Croat triumph 22 – 20 in the final set, or the 2018 women’s semi-final between Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber, which the Romanian and World Number One won 9–7 in the third.
However, many tennis fans have greeted the news with extreme negativity, complaining that the move is all about money and the demands of television, and does not take into account the interests of the players or the supporters.
They have argued that the rule change robs the Grand Slam Event of one of its biggest sources of drama, and one that makes it stand out from a run of mill tournament, epic battles between two players which tests both their physical and mental strength to the utmost.
They have also pointed out the inconsistency between tie-breaks played to 7 points in all the other sets, but 10 points being needed in the decider.
The biggest criticism though is that one or two moments of luck in a tie-break can be the deciding factor in a close match, rather than skill and character, and this point seems extremely valid.
If the organisers of the tournament did carry out the consultation exercise that they claim, it seems one group they failed to discuss the matter with at all were the fans, the people, after all, they need to make the Australian Open a success.