By Colm Boohig.
Tennis is having a new year’s makeover by attempting its own version of Twenty20 cricket, and two of the biggest stars in the men’s game will test it out.
In the build-up to The Australian Open – the first grand slam of the year – Roger Federer and Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt will have a battle with a twist on January 12th in Sydney.
This particular match will be a best-of-five sets affair, but will actually be shorter and faster than the usual format. Unlike your traditional contest, there will be no advantage scoring, no service lets, tie-breaks will occur at three games all and the first to four games wins.
It is an experiment proposed by Tennis Australia and is actually targeting the amateur game. Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley explains;
“The new format is a game changer and is set to revolutionise the game of tennis, particularly at club and social levels.
“Time today is precious and this new fast format is perfect for any player who wants to fit their tennis matches into a busy lifestyle.
“To have Roger and Lleyton, our own great Australian champion, showcase the format for the first time is not only special for Sydney and Australia, but for the sport around the world.”
No doubt, it is a bold move and only time will tell if the idea will be a success. Certainly, it has all the makings of a winner on paper. The popularity of the sport in Australia as a leisure activity is well documented and this new format could make all the difference to busy professionals who love to have a knock around.
All eyes will be on long-term rivals and good friends Federer and Hewitt come January 12th in Sydney and those in attendance may be treated to some unprecedented on-court entertainment.