BEIJING: Rafael Nadal slammed changes being mulled by tennis governing bodies to shorten matches and make them more TV-friendly, saying Sunday that the move goes against the sport’s “values”.
“The kind of matches that stay on (in) the memory and on the history of our sport are a little bit long matches and dramatic matches that become emotional,” Nadal told reporters in Beijing.
Women’s tennis boss Steve Simon said last week the WTA was 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.
“If you want to change the values of the sport, maybe yes,” the 30-year-old Spaniard said. “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 the sports needs to improve and adapt to the new things. But I am not sure if that’s the way — to make the matches quicker,” Nadal said.
“You need to put everything together to create a great show, to create a show (so) that the people emotionally feel involved in the match.”
“But I am just a player,” added the 14-time Grand Slam champion.
The Spaniard has been part of some of tennis’s most emotionally charged matches in recent history.
His storied 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 wildcard Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan.