TENNIS

Nadal says proposed new format “will change Tennis’ values”

Rafa Nadal argued that changes being proposed to shorten matches and make them more TV-friendly will go against the sport's “values”.

Nadal says proposed new format “will change Tennis’ values”
Lintao Zhang Getty Images

Format change won't improve the sport, says Nadal

Rafa Nadal has argued that changes being proposed to shorten matches and make them more TV-friendly will "go against the sport's values”.

“The kind of matches that stay on in the memory and on the history of our sport are the longer matches; those dramatic matches are emotional to watch”, Nadal told reporters in Beijing today.

Nadal’s thoughts come on the back of comments made by Women's Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon, who told AFP last week that the WTA is considering introducing super tie-breakers and no-ad scoring for singles matches. The potential changes mirror the still-controversial rule shift made to non-Grand Slam doubles, on the men's and women's circuits, a decade ago. The new format would create shorter matches that are more predictable in length, making them easier for broadcasters to accommodate.

Values at risk

“If you want to change the values of the sport, maybe yes”, Nadal added. “Tennis has values that we need to follow, in my opinion”.

Simon said the shift was necessary to accommodate the shortening attention span of audiences - another point the former world number one took umbrage with. “All sports need to improve and adapt to the new things. But I am not sure if making matches quicker is the right the way. You need to put everything together to create a great show so that the people emotionally feel involved in the match.'

Nadal and John McEnroe in Manacor, Mallorca last week.

The Spaniard has been part of some of tennis's most emotionally charged matches in recent history. His famous rivalry with Roger Federer played out in a nearly five-hour championship match at Wimbledon in 2008, which finally saw Nadal win his first crown at the All England Club. Novak Djokovic fell to Nadal at the US Open final in 2013 in a four-set epic often billed as a tennis masterclass.

This week's China Open could be the stage for a repeat of the five-set thriller between Nadal and Lucas Pouille, currently ranked at 16, at Flushing Meadows last month. The pair are on course to meet in the quarter finals, potentially allowing Nadal to exact revenge over the Frenchman, who won the deciding tie-break, ousting the two-time US Open champion in the round of 16.

Nadal meets 35th-ranked Italian Paolo Lorenzi in the first round, while Pouille faces Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun.