Two of the top male stars in tennis are divided on one of the most contentious issues in the game.
Novak Djokovic has responded to controversial comments Roger Federer made earlier this week about the length of the game.
Asked by Tennis Channel to outline the one rule change he would make if he were in charge of the ATP for a day, Federer said he’d like to see all finals played in best-of-five format.
“I would probably add more best-of-five-set matches in finals,” said the world No.2 after his Cincinnati Masters second-round win over Peter Gojowczyk.
“At Masters 1000 (events) I think we have opportunities to have more five-setters in finals – definitely at the World Tour Finals.
“I think it’s quite unfortunate that on the ATP tour we actually don’t have any best-of-five-set matches.
“They’re all at the slams, the Davis Cup and at the Olympic finals so I feel like that’s a bit of an opportunity wasted.”
However Djokovic completely disagrees, saying he would go the other way and reduce grand slam matches to best-of-three as well.
“I would have even grand slams best of three, to be honest,” Djokovic told Tennis Channel.
“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.”
Federer played in 12 best-of-five ATP Masters finals and several more at other tournaments before their disappearance.
The tennis history buff, who today reduces his schedule almost to the bare minimum, would relish a switch back – even if he knows those in charge disagree.
“I know it’s also for player protection and injuries,” he said.
“I started, in the beginning, with many more five-setters in finals and then they completely went away. I think it’s a bit of a pity but I understand the reason.”
ATP Masters finals began to switch from five sets to three in 2007 and all nine tournaments were reduced for the 2008 season.
The year-end ATP Finals tournament also features best-of-three matches, with the longer five-set format in tennis reserved for the four grand slams, Davis Cup and the Olympics final for the gold medal.
Shorter matches are considered necessary to reduce the burden on the best of the best, though a more common complaint among the players is the packed, non-stop schedule and rules surrounding mandatory tournaments.