In an age when conversations consist of 280 words, actual face-to-face conversations are becoming rare, short format versions of centuries old sports and a fast-food meal that takes more than two minutes from time of order to first bite is considered glacial food, there is a big change afoot.
No, the Melbourne Cup is not being chopped from 3200 to 1600 metres to lure Winx.
No, T20 cricket is not being abbreviated to T10.
Rugby Sevens will not be shortened to one-on-one contests.
It is the Australian Open; the biggest tennis tournament held down under, that is seeking to reduce the length of matches by introducing something called a “super tie-break.”
It might be in place for the 2019 Australian Open, depending upon the result of a survey of the players. It might be trialled in the qualifying and the junior matches.
The new format would come into play if the final set of a match got to six all. The super part means that players would have to win 10 points and be ahead by a margin of two, so some elements of traditional tennis would remain intact, that the necessity of winning by two points, unlike other tiebreakers of the non-supper variety where first to seven is the winner.
Our observation of tennis fans as spectators has led us to conclude that they will often switch allegiance over the course of the match to see more tennis played, particularly if it where Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer slugging it out for the men or The Williams sisters staging a sibling rivalry contest on centre stage at Rod Laver Arena.
It is not all that common for tennis matches to reach the stage where a final-set tiebreaker is needed. In the 2018 Australian Open, 12 matches needed longer to complete.
The problem tennis presents is that it is not a timed sport. Matches can go on indefinitely. Even a straight, three-set win on the men’s side can drag on with extended rallies and frequent games going to deuce and ad.
As might be expected, the Australian Open and Wimbledon are the last bastions of tradition, other than the French Open, where the mention of initiating a tiebreak procedure draws shocked looks and vehement expressions of “Sacre Bleu.”