I don’t know why it’s been bothering me so much but the inequity in the three sets vs five sets of the women’s and men’s tennis of the majors just annoys me and on multiple levels.
I get that there should be equal pay and that’s not primary issue. But it should be equal pay for equal play. There are aspects I don’t know what the consequences are. The men have to play at least three sets. The women two sets. That’s a plus and minus. There are times, albeit rare, that a man can be down two sets and come back to win the next three. Women don’t get that chance to make a comeback. Or the flip side would be that if you can win in two, why keep playing more? You’ve dominated the short game. Or maybe that the longer game shows more fitness and commitment? Lots of variables and inconsistent between the two genders.
I would like to see someone run the statistics to know how many men’s matches would have gone differently if there were only two sets. We can run anything on the women’s since if you’re down two sets, you’re out.
Other issues and concerns I have are that women at most have to play three and men five sets. What are the average time differences in three vs five sets? As well, do men have more long term body damage than women? Any correlation of that to playing five sets vs three sets? What about career length? Are there differences between the genders and any correlation to injury which might have a correlation to set play length? The men aren’t being paid extra to compensate for the extra potential damage to their bodies from longer play and possible shorter careers. And it is longer regardless since they always have to go at least 3 sets.
There are women’s matches where I’ve watched the losing playing start to come back in the second set but it’s too late at that point. If they had the same chance as a man, maybe they could have rallied and made a comeback.
I advocate each year for equality now that there is equal pay. My personal view on a fix that will benefit the players new and older as well as the audience, is to have faster play and as well as the tournament to give more buffer to weather issues or other delays. There should be best of three sets until the quarters. Then starting the quarters they go best of five. And that’s for both genders. The field is much narrowed at the quarters and good matches want to be seen. The audience also wants their money’s worth for the extra cost of those later matches. A very fast two set women’s match is not worth the same as a long three set men’s match and I see that more often than a fast three set men’s match.
So instead of men having to slog through long five sets after five sets from the very beginning, they can conserve a little until the quarters. And now women would have figure out a longer game. The fitness and conditioning might need to change for them to better prepare for longer durations of managing a four or five set stretch. The consequence of dropping a set means you’re at minimum four now. But the consequence of dropping a set means now you’ve also got another chance to at a comeback set.
One day I can hope someone at a major chooses to step up against tradition and make things more equal. The idea of tradition can’t be used since the choice was made to equal the pay and that was a break from tradition. If there are good reasons, I’d like to read them.
The men could make a stand if they truly wanted to. They could play just like the women. If a man wins two sets, the other player just withdraws. The same if it goes three sets. The loser withdraws. Yes it would cause controversy but is there anything in the rules against it? Not that I am aware of.
There would be a resetting of stats for the new new era. Maybe if someone beats federer’s records but that’s not really a good reason to wait.