Shorten men's matches, says former Player Council head

Mon Sep 5, 2016 4:13pm EDT
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By Simon Cambers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tennis must consider shortening matches in a bid to engage with a younger fanbase and avoid losing television viewers, according to former ATP Player Council president and doubles specialist Eric Butorac.

The 35-year-old American, who was succeeded by world number one Novak Djokovic as president, said speed of play is high on the agenda for the new board, which also includes two-time reigning Olympic champion Andy Murray of Britain.

"It's too slow," Butorac, who finished his two-year term as president last month, told Reuters at the U.S. Open. "I said to Andy, I would rather you and Novak play for two hours rather than four.

"I’m too busy. I’ve got two kids, I’ve got stuff to do. I love watching you guys play but I don’t need four hours of it."

According to Butorac, who served on the Council for eight years, Murray is not averse to change.

"We need to do some serious research," he said. "We need to look at: what does our fan base want? What does our younger fan base want? Is it too long?

"I said to Andy, I think we could play two out of three sets here (instead of best of five, as played at the four grand slams).

"And Andy said: 'well, is it better to play two out of three or to play fewer games in a set?' That's not a terrible idea."   Continued...

Sep 5, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland serves to Ilya Marchenko of Ukraine on day eight of the 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports