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ATP Tennis 360


June 17, 2010 4:48 PM

Tiebreak or not tiebreak, this is the question

wimbledon-01-g.jpgIs the epic directly proportional to the number of games played in a match? Probably yes, if we consider some unforgettable Grand Slam match like Camporese-Becker, Santoro-Clement (the longest Roland Garros singles meeting), Roddick-El Aynaoui or the 2009 Wimbledon final between Federer and Roddick.

Should the epic come before the sport priorities when deciding or adjusting the format of a tournament? Probably not. The most recent case gives a new light to the singularities we can see only in the majors, and neither in all the majors. Perplexities returned to rise when the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, a grass-courter, defeated the Briton Alex Bogdanovic (who had "honoured" the wild card guaranteed to him in the last seven years in a row losing everytime at the first round) 24-22 in the third set in the second qualifying round.

46 games are, more or less, four "normal" sets: so Bodganovic and Mahut played somewhat a best-of-seven-sets clash; the more, Mahut passed to the last qualifying round, where the match are three-on-five.

It's just the fifth time in the Open era a player needed more than 20 games to win the last set:
1989: S.Warner def. M.Anger 7-5 1-6 7-6 3-6 28-26
1993: G.Muller def. P.Lundgren 4-6 7-6 20-18
1999: J.Thomas def. S.Prieto 6-4 4-6 23-21
2005: C.Guccione def. O.Patience 4-6 7-6 23-21
2010: N.Mahut def. A.Bogdanovic 3-6 6-3 24-22

The question is? Is it reasonable a tournament establish to play two rounds with best-of-three matches and, from the last qualifying round, changing the rule? Is it reasonable three Slams hasn't the tiebreak in the last set, while the Us Open folded to tv powers?

I don't think. Personally I commended when ATP decided to uniform Masters Series, actual Masters1000 events: it was a complete nonsense that in the same tournament only the title-match was played on the longer distance. Although five-setters like Coria-Nadal in Rome in 2005 are far more remarkable than the 6-1 6-2 succes by Nadal over Murray at the 2009 BNP Paribas Open.

But the rules must be clear. The same tournament should have the same rule from the qualifying rounds to the final. And the same category of events should be uniformed. ITF should decide: allow or not the tiebreak in the last set? In my opinion, yes.

But, more importantly, the difference in the distance between the second and the third qualification match is frankly unacceptable. Also because a match like Mahut-Bogdanovic hinder the result of the survivor in the next round.

It's true that Mahut finally won his last match gaining a berth in the main draw, but he's one of the just two players (the other is Namigata) out of 10 to win their third round match after imposing in a second round clash with more than 10 games won in the last set.

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