WTA boss mulling radical format shake-up

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Women’s tennis boss Steve Simon said he’s considering introducing super tie-breakers and no-ad scoring for singles matches in a radical move to shorten them and make them more TV-friendly.

The much-criticised season schedule is also in the crosshairs with plans to split the calendar into “premium” events and “pathway” tournaments and reduce the load on players, Simon told AFP.

“To think that we don’t need to adjust our format so we can play matches that are 60 to 90 minutes in length as opposed to three hours, I think is very short-sighted,” he said in an interview at the Wuhan Open in China.

The WTA chief executive said he was mulling replacing third sets with super tie-breakers, already used in non-Grand Slam doubles, when matches are locked at one set each.

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Doubles matches on the WTA and the men’s ATP circuit also use no-ad scoring, which means when a game is at 40-40 it is decided by the next point rather than playing ‘deuce’ and ‘advantage’.

Simon acknowledged that a shake-up in the scoring system is likely to ruffle feathers in a sport where traditions and origins are often held dear.

They would also make contests like Petra Kvitova’s gripping three-and-a- half-hour win over world number one Angelique Kerber in Wuhan a thing of the past.

“These are the things (scoring systems) we have to evaluate. And that’s where the traditionalists will go back, they will say ‘Look at this epic match’,” he said.

The scoring changes took a long time to be accepted in doubles and still remain unpopular amongst some players who have to switch to the old format at Grand Slams.

But the new rules also create shorter matches that are more predictable in length, making them easier for broadcasters and TV audiences.

“Our future audience, they’re not looking to watch three hours of anything,” said Simon, adding that he was committed to “fundamental change”.

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