Best-of-three debate rages on as Medvedev and Zverev weigh in

The young stars give their views – adding to the debate started by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic earlier in the week.

Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 16, 2020 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev reacts during his group stage match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev

The continuing debate over whether men should play best-of-three at Grand Slams rumbled on as Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev both gave their views.

The young stars were asked for their thoughts after their Nitto ATP Finals round-robin clash – and had opposing answers.

“I always say that me personally – not talking about history or something special – if you ask me, I would prefer out of three sets just because I play better in three-setters,” said Medvedev.

“Young generation, I don’t know what’s different, but I feel like we are actually less good than again the Big Three, but they are so good in everything, in these five-setters, but actually to see maybe some Masters finals or ATP Finals, the actual final in five sets is something special also.

“So it’s a tough question. I saw some comments that somebody said, ‘Okay, let’s do five-setters from quarters in majors.’ Of course I think it’s not going to be the case, so again, if you ask me, I would do it three sets, but I know that that’s not so popular opinion.”


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Certainly his German opponent disagreed with him.

“You don’t change tennis history like that,” said the 23-year-old. “You changed tennis history already with the Davis Cup, and that’s working out not very great, is it? That’s part of tennis history. That’s part of the physical game that tennis is. We have a day off between matches at slams.

“This is what we put in the work for. This is what we are going to the gym for. This is what we do. Best-out-of-five sets at slams, it should stay forever.”


Novak Djokovic had already given his thoughts earlier in the day, saying: “I am more a proponent of two-out-of-three everywhere, even though of course slams have always been best of five.

“I don’t know whether there is a chance at all for it to change. I just feel that we have enough tournaments, enough matches during the year. We have the longest season of any sport in the world. Tennis has the longest season from January 1 to end of November.”

But Rafael Nadal had disagreed earlier in the weekend, saying he thought Slams should stay best-of-five.

“I think best-of-five makes a difference on these tournaments, on the slams, and at the same time is part of the history of our sport,” he said. “Winning Grand Slam, playing best-of-three demands to the player something else, no? Stronger mentally, stronger physically, be solid for such a long time and for such a long two weeks. So I really believe that’s the right thing to do.”

The Tennis Majors Match Points show had discussed the issue during Roland-Garros, with player Noah Rubin wondering if a lengthy best-of-five contest in a Slam’s early rounds was offputting to spectactors, and writer Simon Cambers suggesting: “I like the build-up to what happens in the final set. I think the [London 2012] Olympic format, best of three and an unending set with no tie-break, is a good one.”


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