John McEnroe is ready for a shakeup in tennis, with the former great calling for tweaks to the classic best-of-five-set format at the Grand Slams.
The ESPN commentator said the overwhelming variety of choice for views in the streaming age means that more fast-paced entertainment is just a mouse click away in many cases.
He would prefer a tiebreaker in the fifth set at the majors, the only remaining venues in tennis where the long format still reigns.
“I was always looking for that solution in the middle, which is best-of-five, but say a 10-point tiebreaker at the end of the fourth set,” the seven-time Grand Slam winner said in a pre-Australian Open conference call.
“That would be my compromise. I wouldn’t make it two-out-of-three now at the majors. I would still have it different.
“But we want this sport to grow, for God’s sake. We shoot ourselves in the foot all the time.
“I don’t understand it. We have this incredible sport, so we should try to make it as accessible, so that they want to tune in. That would be a no-brainer personally. I mean, I’ve been saying that for 30 years.”
The four majors have made attempts in recent seasons to make sure that a repeat of the 2011 contest featuring a 70-68 fifth set – a three-day battle – between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon can never happen again.
The grass was also the setting for a 2018 semi-final win by Kevin Anderson over Isner 26-24 in the fifth which stretched for more than six and a half hours.
The All England Club has now put into place a reduced format for the deciding set while the US Open has used the tiebreaker in the fifth for half a century.
Wimbledon until recently had a play-it-out policy for all deciding sets in men’s and women’s competition.
Mac believes five-hour marathons just can’t cut it with short modern attention spans; he wants to fall back on the match tiebreak final set, with the first player to 10 points by a margin of two winning.