After an ‘unprecedented’ amount of rain fell over the first two days of Wimbledon 2016, the official in charge of the tennis championships has confirmed that the remainder of men’s and ladies’ singles matches in the tournament will be played over a single set to avoid congestion in the later stages – it is hoped that they will be able to revert to the original format for the final in both competitions. According to Tournament Director Sir Henry Happo, this change has been in the pipeline for a number of years, with world tennis chiefs looking to emulate the success of the 20:20 format in Cricket.
Sir Henry said: ‘We have been considering reducing all Wimbledon matches to a single set for a while now, and it has now got to the stage where the amount of rain has effectively forced our hand on this issue. Single-set tennis showdowns have the potential to revolutionise tennis as a spectator sport in the same way that 20:20 cricket has made full one-day internationals almost irrelevant, and reducing schedule congestion will avoid the need to run those terribly inconvenient ‘People’s Sundays’ where we can’t charge spectators to get in. If a men’s match goes to five sets, it can last for up to four or five hours and our research has shown us that people simply cannot keep their concentration for that long.’
He added: ‘Having matches over a single set is a great idea in terms of spectator churn as well as it will allow more and more people to get in and see a game. At the moment, a huge number of people queue in the pouring rain so that they can sit on a hill and watch a huge TV in the pouring rain, and this exciting new format will mean that they have a better chance of getting into a court than ever before. We did also consider building a giant canvas roof that covers the whole complex, but our surveyor confirmed that the resulting drainage run-off could destroy large areas of Merton.’