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2017 Laver Cup - Analysis of the Match Tie-Breaks

Updated: Nov 26, 2019



The inaugural Laver Cup, competed for between Team Europe and Team World, held in Milan, from 22-24 September 2017, became the first major event to use a Match Tie-Break (10 points) to decide singles matches.

Bjorn Borg captained Team Europe and John McEnroe captained Team World.

Team Europe were eventual winners after the 12 best-of-3 sets matches were completed.

The Laver Cup utilised the format, that if a match was tied at 1 set all, a Match-Tie-Break (10 points) was used as a ‘3rd set match decider’ to shorten the matches.

Below is an extract from the No Challenges Remaining (NCR) Podcast ‘Episode 199 - Laver Cup’. NCR host Ben Rothenberg in discussion with Reem Abulleil, NCR’s Middle East correspondent:

The (use of) the Match Tie-Break (10 points) means that the matches aren’t going on for ever.

I understand the Match Tie-Break is not everybody’s cup of tea, I get that.

I think it’s actually the first time ever that it has been implemented (for singles), so, it’s great, I have to say, I mean I thought it, somehow when you see it in doubles you feel that it makes the match a toss-up in a way and I don’t know why I never really liked it and then with singles it’s great. It’s just like a long tie-break and it’s fine and we saw it multiple times over the weekend and I thought it was great to be honest. That was key, to make sure that matches are not going on and on for ever.

Tony Godsick (Roger Federer’s agent and manager), he is the guy behind the Laver Cup as well, said one of the key things that they wanted to make sure was that the matches were not too long so they had the Match Tie-Break.

It is now being widely recognised that as tennis continues to evolve, matches cannot go on and on for ever and methods for shortening matches have to be utilised.

Analysis of the 2017 Laver Cup Match Tie-Breaks 6 matches (4 singles and 2 doubles) out of the 12 matches played reached 1 set all and a 3rd set MTB was utilised.

On average, 1 hour 40 minutes (156 points) was taken to complete a 3-set match, including 12 minutes (17.5 points) taken to complete the MTB.

Graphs illustrating this are shown below.



Thirty30 Comment The Match Tie-Break (10 points) without question brings a 3 set match to a quicker finish as intended.

However, the 12 minutes (17.5 points) duration of the MTB (‘shoot-out’) taken to decide the match, is a very small percentage (12%) of the total 1 hour 40 minutes (156 points) match time, and could be improved on.

Thirty30 may provide a more satisfactory alternative to the 3rd set match decider Match Tie-Break (10 points).

Thirty30 shortens tennis matches.

Coming soon in Thirty30 News: ‘Use Thirty30 as a 3rd set match decider?’.



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