Federer 'okay' with new rules at Australian Open

Switzerland's Roger Federer and mixed doubles partner Belinda Bencic after winning the Hopman Cup in Perth on Saturday. With tie-break rules in place, marathon final sets will be missed, says Federer.
Switzerland's Roger Federer and mixed doubles partner Belinda Bencic after winning the Hopman Cup in Perth on Saturday. With tie-break rules in place, marathon final sets will be missed, says Federer.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PERTH • Roger Federer and Angelique Kerber have cautiously welcomed new tie-break rules for the deciding set at the Australian Open.

The year's opening Grand Slam, starting on Jan 14, will for the first time feature an extended tie-break in the final set when the score reaches 6-6, rather than a traditional full set.

To win the decisive tie-break, a player will need to be the first to 10 with an advantage of at least two points.

The move means all four Grand Slams now use different rules, with only the French Open holding off from introducing a tie-break in the decider.

Speaking after he won a record third Hopman Cup in Perth on Saturday, Federer admitted marathon final sets would be missed by some.

"We will miss the 70-68 in the fifth, so that's a pity," he said, referring to the famous final-set marathon between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010.

But the Swiss, who is now aiming for his third successive Australian Open title and seventh overall, said he was personally "a bit torn" between the options.

"I am okay with any format really," he said. "Thing is, when it goes to six-all in the fifth, you've had plenty of chances to win it, or lose it, so from that standpoint how it ends is secondary in my opinion."

Kerber suggested her advantage could be diluted by shortened deciders in Melbourne, where she won her first Slam in 2016.

"I like physical matches and, if you come here to Australia, you have to be really fit," she said.

"With the weather, the conditions, it's really hot and humid and you have to be ready for that.

"I have no idea if I like (the new rule) or not. It might be easier because you can save energy, on the other side it is a tradition to play the advantage set. Let's see how it works this year."

Among the other Slams, Wimbledon will use final-set tie-breaks at 12-12 starting this year, the US Open plays a traditional tie-break at 6-6 and the French Open does not use a final-set tie-break.

"The funny thing is we have four different formats in four Slams, so it is important to remind yourself what's going on and which one it is," added Federer.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova won her second Brisbane International crown yesterday after beating Lesia Tsurenko 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

In the men's final, Japan's Kei Nishikori claimed his first title since 2016 when he downed Russia's Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2019, with the headline 'Federer 'okay' with new rules at Australian Open'. Print Edition | Subscribe