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3rd Set Match Decider – Use a Match Tie-Break (10 points) or a Thirty30 set?

Updated: Nov 26, 2019



The ITF’s 2017 Rules of Tennis, Appendix V lists the ‘Match Tie-Break (10 points)’ as an ‘Alternative Scoring Method’ and is an option used to shorten best of 3 sets matches.

This method, sometimes referred to as a 'Super Tie-Break', has been widely used as a doubles '3rd set match decider' by both the ATP and WTA since 2006 and also at 3 of the Grand Slam Mixed doubles events.

Wheelchair Singles and Doubles events are also using this method.

More frequently, we are seeing match results recorded as: 6-2, 3-6, 10-5 for example.

After sharing the first 2 sets for example in say around 2 hours, it is very unsatisfactory to then decide a match using what is basically a 10-minute tie-break ‘shoot-out’.

The tie-break to 10 points is over very quickly and does not always decide the match fairly.

Tie-breaks can be very unpredictable with a good bit of luck involved and not always the best player(s) win - get off to a bad start and the match is gone.

To quote an article from www.tennis.com (January 2017) ‘Top doubles players want ATP to change scoring for their matches’:

Top men's doubles players have said they would prefer to use normal scoring for ATP doubles matches, rather than the no-ad scoring and match tiebreaks currently used on tour.

The changes were designed to reduce the length of matches and have more doubles scheduled on show courts.

"It's nonsense, I think," Jamie Murray told Reuters. "They're not putting matches on center court or on TV, so just put us on the outside courts and let us play normal scoring."

The more extended scoring used in singles matches makes for more proper competition, according to players.

"When we come to Grand Slams, we always feel like the best team wins," said the No. 4-ranked doubles player.

"The difficulty is that the match can be decided on 10 good minutes from your opponent," added Raven Klaasen.

Bruno Soares and Nenad Zimonjic also agree that the scoring should be changed back. But Murray, who is on the ATP Player Council, said the tour is not likely to do it.

Thirty30 Comment

A Thirty30 ‘set’ provides a much more satisfactory '3rd set match decider' rather than playing a tie-break to 10 points.

A Thirty30 'set' is generally won by the best player(s) over the 'set'.

A Thirty30 deciding 'set' still shortens a match, taking in general no longer than 20 minutes to complete, but also maintains the traditions of the game (i.e. service games won/lost, deuce games, ad points, break points, winning by 2 clear games) and provides a fairer way to decide the outcome of a match.

Match results are recorded as: 6-2, 3-6, 6-4(T30) for example, i.e. more 'normal'.

Note: '(T30)' indicates that the set utilised the Thirty30 format.

Players and spectators alike will prefer to use the Thirty30 scoring method for deciding a match.

A best of 5 sets "Thirty30" match (incidently that also retains the "Ad points"), completed in no more than 90 minutes, could provide an even better solution!

(Note that the ATP/WTA doubles matches currently use the "No Ad" scoring - i.e. whoever wins the first point played following deuce, wins the game).



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