Tennis

Tennis would benefit from FA Cup-style fifth Grand Slam

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Some may call this a golden age for tennis, with fitness levels and the speed of play being unlike anything that has been seen in previous generations.

British fans have finally seen a Grand Slam winner in Andy Murray, the record for the number of Grand Slam wins has been broken by Roger Federer and the “King of Clay” in Rafael Nadal has dominated one surface unlike any other player.

The elite have been in place for some time now, and there are few ideas to shake things up and knock them from their perch.

One thing that could be added to the mix is a fifth Grand Slam, but what could they do to make this particular test of a player’s ability to win best of five set matches different from the others?

Make the draw completely random.

It is a simple idea, but could prove to be extremely effective. The other four Grand Slams can be decided by the 32 seedings, which ensures that the top players will avoid each other until the latter stages, but imagine if tournament organisers could sell a first round match between the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the opening day of the tournament? They would have no time to play in first second gear, and no matches just to get into the swing of things.

Shocks may be more commonplace in the women’s game, and this would provide more opportunity for giant-killings and a chance for a new name on the WTA tour to come to the fore.

This is what would make it stand out from the other four majors. It means that a player from the lower echelons of tennis who could never dream of winning a Grand Slam could be given a favourable draw that carries him to the final, as can happen in the FA Cup in football.

All 128 players could be represented by a ball in a bag, and this process could be repeated for every round of the tournament. Just to build excitement through watching an unpredictable live draw would be a new spectacle that tennis could offer.

Unpredictable

The fact that 37 of the last 39 men’s singles Grand Slams have been won by one of the so called “big four” of Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray shows that the door is almost locked to another player breaking the mould.

It could be the break that talented nearly-men like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or David Ferrer have been looking for, particularly if their rivals could knock each other out in the earlier rounds.

There is a chance that the world’s top eight avoid each other and all make the quarter-finals anyway, but even so, you wouldn’t complain about getting another chance to watch global stars go up against each other in a Grand Slam.

When could it be played?

It would be difficult to place it in the summer, as players deserve a rest after the French Open and Wimbledon before the second hard court season begins, and even after the US Open finishes in September, players are not physically at their sharpest.

There is a four month gap between the end of the Australian Open in January and the start of the French Open in May, and there could be a vacancy in between the two Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Miami in March and the start of the clay-court season in April, or perhaps a Masters Series could be sacrificed.

Where could it take place?

The greatest tennis competitions have built an identity by being played at locations that don’t change much in appearance, as has been the case at Wimbledon and the Us Open, but this would be the ATP and WTA’s chance to promote the game.

The inaugural International Premier Tennis League, which takes place in India in November, is a sign that the tennis authorities want growth to take place in Asia, and holding a tournament of the highest importance in that region would surely do the game more good than harm.

In looking at football’s highly branded competitions, such as the World Cup and the European Championships, giving the tournament to a different host nation each time would encourage a variety of countries to get involved and would promote the event worldwide.

Supporters could relish the year where the tournament comes to their country, and it breaks away from the same four countries being allowed to reap the benefits of a tour calendar that is not open to change.

The surface that the tournament is played on could also vary year after year, just to fit in with the element of unpredictability, and they could even test out how an indoor Grand Slam could appeal to the public.

If it fails to take off, then so be it. Tennis has been a sleeping giant in relation to other sports its’ popularity around the world for too long. But who knows, a little bit of luck or magic of the cup wouldn’t go amiss in arguably the greatest ever era for tennis.

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Topics:
Andy Murray
Tennis
Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer

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