All Grand Slams to use 10-point tiebreaker in final set
LONDON (AP) — All four Grand Slam tennis tournaments will now use a 10-point tiebreaker when matches reach 6-6 in the final set.
The Grand Slam Board announced the trial move, taking effect immediately, on behalf of the Australian, French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon on Wednesday.
“The Grand Slam Board’s decision is based on a strong desire to create greater consistency in the rules of the game at the Grand Slams, and thus enhance the experience for the players and fans alike,” it said.
The Australian Open already uses the 10-point tiebreaker. The French Open, which begins May 22, was the only major to not use a deciding tiebreaker. Wimbledon had employed a seven-point tiebreaker from 12-12, and the U.S. Open used a seven-point tiebreaker from 6-6.
Rafael Nadal, a 21-time Grand Slam champion, said he doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other about the change.
“My opinion the biggest impact going to be in Wimbledon. Sometimes it’s so difficult to break, so the matches become very long,” Nadal said Wednesday from California. “But I don’t feel that for Roland Garros change a lot. OK, yes, can be a few more games, but I don’t feel in Roland Garros you going to go normally 22-20. In Wimbledon that can happen.”
The Grand Slam Board said if the score is 6-all in the final set, the winner will be the first player to reach 10 points with an advantage of two or more points.
Amelie Mauresmo, a two-time Grand Slam champion who is now tournament director of the French Open, said the goal was consistency.
“That was really the priority,” she said. “For the sake of consistency, for the understanding of the fans, the players, the media.”
Mauresmo added that the move will help preserve “players, the interest of the spectators and TV viewers. We could no longer afford to operate differently.”
The plan has been approved by the Rules of Tennis Committee governed by the International Tennis Federation and applies to all Grand Slams across qualifying, men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles, wheelchair and junior events in singles.
“The Grand Slam Board plans to review the trial during the course of a full Grand Slam year, in consultation with the WTA, ATP and ITF, before applying for any permanent rule change,” it added.
Rule changes were sought after John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set of their first round match at Wimbledon in 2010. The match lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes and stretched over three days.
“It’s tradition and I will miss seeing those crazy battles,” American Taylor Fritz said from California. “But it’s probably good for fans and good for the players if they want to move forward in the tournament. If I find myself in one of those in the future I’ll be pretty happy that they have that rule now.”
AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Indian Wells, California, contributed to this report.
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