How Do You Solve a Problem As a Closed Set?

Nick Kyrgios knew he could be the best tennis player when he won his first major draw at the French Open in 2013.

“It was memorable because I beat Radek Stepanek in three break matches,” said Kyrgios, who has twice reached the quarter-finals and ranked 13th in the world. “For all of them to go my way, that’s when I liked the tie-breakers. I think they are very unique.”

When the French Open kicks off on Sunday, the competition will include another new shortcut rules that, for the first time, will see four major championships – Wimbledon, and France, the United States and the Australian Opens – use the same policy-breaking policies.

When the match reaches 6-6 in the final set, which is the fifth set for men’s singles and the third set for women’s singles, players will compete against the main breaker. The first player to win 10 points for a 2-point difference will win sets and matches. Law change is being used as a test in three major competitions this year and at the Australian Open next year.

“Our challenge is to protect the spirit of [the French Open ] as we enter a new era, ”said Amélie Mauresmo, new race director and former world No. 1 athlete.

Competitions, or closing breaks, as they have been renamed by many people in the sport indiscriminately, were introduced in the 1970 US Open as a way to shorten matches and hold the attention of spectators and television viewers, as well as to maintain health and well-being. of players.

In the past, breakers – the first version of the “sudden death” of 9 points that ended when a player won 5 points, which was later changed to a “permanent death” that required a player to win 7 points by 2 points – were. was played for all sets except the last one. The final sets required the game to continue until one won by a two-game difference.

The four races that make up the Grand Slam could never agree on the structure of a set of decisions, so each event formed its own rules. Starting in 2016, the Australian Open introduced a 6-6 break-up game, while Wimbledon started playing a traditional match at 12-12 in 2019. The rule was tested once that year when Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer 7-6. (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 13-12 (7-3) for men’s rank.

Wimbledon were under pressure to make changes after two crucial matches. The first match of the 2010 first round between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut which lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes for three days, was finally concluded when Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set. Then, in 2018, Isner and Kevin Anderson played in the semi-finals, a 36-minute win over Anderson, but that left him so exhausted that he lost the final to a direct set for Djokovic.

The US Open has been vying for a 12-point lead (first to 7 points) in all sets since 1975. At the time, only one men’s final featured the best scorer in the final set: In 2020, Dominic Thiem returned from. two sets of beating Alexander Zverev 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) in a television match in which fans were not allowed to enter because of the coronavirus epidemic.

The two women’s finals have gone a long way. Tracy Austin defeated Martina Navratilova 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-1) in 1981 and Hana Mandlikova upset Navratilova 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 7-6 (7-2) in 1985.

“I like goalkeepers,” said Mandlikova, 60, who vividly remembered every step of the final qualifier against Navratilova, including a dive volleyball in the match.

“People who play dangerous tennis instead of sitting on the base line have a better percentage of winning the break-in game,” he continued. “You must be dangerous, and you must be a little lucky.”

Kyrgios, who defeated Stepanek 7-6, (7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (13-11) in the first round of the French Open 2013, said the best scorer did not rely on skill. “Obviously it prefers great service sometimes, but it can go either way,” he said. “That’s the beauty of scoring in tennis. Every point is important. ”

Until this year, the French Open had secured the top scorer of the final set. Since the tournament began in 1891, it has featured the last few extended sets, though the slow red clay and endless rallies have provided many five-hour matches. It is only twice in the men’s draw that the final has gone far: the 1927 match that won René Lacoste against Bill Tilden 11-9 in the fifth set and the 2004 final between Gastón Gaudio and Guillermo Coria, which Gaudio won 8-6 in the final. five.

The women, on the other hand, have produced impressive sets of finals at the French Open, including Steffi Graf’s 8-6 set victory over Navratilova in 1987, Monica Seles’ 10-8 set victory over Graf in 1987. 1992, Graf’s 10-8 set victory against Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in 1996 and one of the all-time attractions of the tournament, wins 1-6, 6-4, 12-10 by Jennifer Capriati against Kim Clijsters in 2001. end.

Danielle Collins, one of the top American champions, remembers how she improved her goal-scoring skills as she competed in youth matches.

“If you split the set, you played a 10-point takeaway for the third set,” Collins said. “I would fall down all the time. At one point I was down 9-1 and came back to win. Those 10-point barriers could be very exciting.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas loves the idea of ​​endless matches but understands the need for goal scorers in today’s increasingly physical matches.

“As a kid I loved watching these five best matches out of 18-16,” he said. “It was fun to watch and see who would break first. On the other hand, you can’t let players play until 6 in the morning with that format. It can be very tiring.”

Stan Wawrinka, who won the French Open in 2015, would prefer the seniors to stop playing with their goal-breaking formulas.

“What I liked earlier was that they all had different ends,” said Wawrinka, who specializes in knee surgery. “I enjoyed that. But it is impossible to find one thing that everyone will love. Being right now is not something I like the most, but it is and we have no choice. “

Djokovic is proud that he and Federer got to play their first championship match in Wimbledon history to highlight the team scoring goals. He knows it was also a direct match now where Wimbledon will also play final stage matches for 6-6 instead of 12-12.

“There is a history in playing for a long time in many Slams,” Djokovic said. “That Isner-Mahut, the longest match ever, is written in gold letters in the history of tennis. Many people remember the match, and it has brought a lot of attention to our game from many spectators.

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