top of page

EXTENDED 1000 EVENTS AREN'T GOOD FOR THE SPORT



In 2024, five of the nine 1000 tournaments on the mens side stretch over 12 days– Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome, and Shanghai.


Indian Wells and Miami have been the leading 1000 events for along time now as 12 days events, it was in 2023 that Madrid, Rome and Shanghai also became 12 day events and in 2025, Cincinatti and Canada will be added to that list, meaning the only two 1000 events remaining in the one week format for the men, will be Monte Carlo, and Paris.


This recent trend of extending 1000 events to span over two weeks, has raised pertinent questions about the impact on the sport's essence, player well-being, and spectator engagement.


Traditionally 1000 events were a highlight, and were really looked forward to, condensing the best of men's (and women’s with the combined 1000's) tennis into a week of top-level competition.


More often than not, it was a fan’s nightmare, trying to decide which court to spend your time watching on a given day. However, the shift towards the majority of 12-day elongated tournaments has sparked concerns among enthusiasts and players alike, with detractors pointing out several glaring drawbacks.


One of the most prominent criticisms lies in the perceived ‘dullness’ during the initial week of 1000 events. In their one-week format, these tournaments kick off with a bang, immediately pitting the best of the best against each other.


But now, with the extension of all bar two of the tournaments to 12 days, and a 96 draw instead of 64, the first few days often feel lackluster, resembling more of a qualifying event than a showcase of top-tier tennis. The absence of marquee matchups and star players in the early stages dampens the excitement, leaving fans waiting days for clashes that typically characterize the entire week of a 7-day event.


With the top-ranked players generally starting their campaigns on day three or four (which is usually the weekend), an entire week in the calendar passes, which does feel like somewhat of a waste.


If for instance, a 250 event was held in that week, you would get a similar calibre field to the opening days of the 1000's anyway, plus you’d also get a handful of top players playing, and the matches would be far more interesting with a title on the line.


This delay not only tests the patience of fans but also undermines the tournament's prestige, as the absence of top seeds early dilutes the product that should set these events apart.


Furthermore, the extended duration of 1000 tournaments has a profound impact on the overall narrative and momentum of the event. As the tournament progresses, the early excitement and anticipation gradually gives way to a sense of fatigue and staleness.


By the time the tournament reaches its climax, the enthusiasm that once existed, has waned, replaced somewhat, by a sense of exhaustion. This protracted duration tends to detract from the overall spectacle, leaving fans longing for the more rapid fire schedules that characterizes the shorter-format tournaments.


Additionally, the proliferation of extended 1000 events risks diluting the uniqueness and prestige traditionally associated with Grand Slam tournaments.


For as long as the sport has been around, Grand Slams have stood as the pinnacle, set apart by their 128 player draws, and two-week duration. But now we have two-week 1000 events, which threatens to erode the distinctiveness of Grand Slam tournaments, blurring the lines between the two formats.


This homogenization not only undermines the status of Grand Slam events but risks alienating fans, as the weeks tend to blend into each other. It also means players may need to spend more time on the road than ever, as Andy Murray spoke about last year.


This is especially true when the calendar has back-to-back 1000 events, as is the case with Indian Wells/Miami, and currently the Madrid/Rome double, with Canada/Cincinatti to follow suit next year.


“If I think back to before when I did really well in these tournaments, for the top players you’d be arriving on like the Thursday, Friday before the event, and it was two-and-a-half weeks from when you might arrive here (in Madrid) till the final in Rome.’ Murray said.“Now that is four weeks. Quite a long and big change for players. In terms of like time to switch off and everything, I think it just reduces that a little bit.”

Even this year, the players are feeling the same thing. Following his quarter-final win this week over Carlos Alcaraz, Russia’s Andrey Rublev was quite open in his thoughts on the longer format:


“It's true that some tournaments look like they are longer and we have more days to rest, but then you end up, let's say maybe before we had Madrid and Rome, and in two weeks we were playing these two tournaments, and then you had two weeks more at home.”


“Now looks like we are having more rest between matches but it take us four weeks. And of course mentally it's a bit tougher, and then you don't spend that much time home because you spend less time and you have less time to recover.”


He went on to suggest that most of these decisions are being made without any input from the players.


“I mean, I guess it's more should be how all the players are thinking, the average of the players, and then also what are better for spectators. Then, depending on most of the players' opinion and depending on how it goes with the spectators, then to do those decisions, because sometimes they're taking decisions without asking anyone. Then some players like it, some players don't like it.”


But it wasn’t just the men who have spoken out. Kazakhstan’s, Elena Rybakina appeared to be singing from the same hymn book, “I think these tournaments which became so long, it's not very helpful, I would say.”


“Because if you're fit, you're fit, you're going to play every day and the tournament finishes. But to stay in one place for almost two weeks, and it's not like here you finish and you go rest. You go and you play another mandatory one. That's definitely not making it easy.”


In a broader context, the trend towards elongated tournaments runs counter to the prevailing attitude in sports entertainment, where brevity and intensity are increasingly valued. Across various sports, there has been a concerted effort to streamline and condense the products, maximizing excitement and engagement for spectators.


One example of this here in Australia is the Big Bash 20/20 cricket tournament. A couple of years ago, on the back of huge crowds and big television ratings, it was decided more matches would be better. It turned out, more matches meant less importance in each match, and the season stretched out to an extent where public interest waned significantly. Sanity prevailed, and the season length is back to where it started.


In contrast, the decision to extend 1000 events appears out of step with this trend, opting for an extended format that risks testing the patience of even the most ardent tennis aficionados.


Ultimately, this is about money. More matches, more sessions, means more tickets sold, and more advertising space on tv. That may be true for individual events in the short term, but at what risk to the long-term survival of the sport?


While there is merit in exploring new formats and approaches to tournament organization, it is imperative to safeguard the core essence of the sport and preserve the elements that make it truly special. Currently, Monte Carlo feels like the most exciting event we’ve had on the calendar since Melbourne.


Why? Best of the best playing each other every day for a week. To win the tournament, a player has to win 6 matches in 7 days (5 in 7 for the top 8 seeds). Now, the top 32 seeds get the bye in round 1, meaning they need to win 6 matches in 12 days. It’s too long.


Tennis is looking at ways to shorten it’s matches by mere minutes, such as getting rid of lets, match tie-breaks in the 5th set of majors, no sitting down during the first set of doubles matches, shot clocks, etc. Yet at the same time, the sport is extending events by 5 whole days. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Get back to 7 day 1000's, and shorten the season.

Commenti


bottom of page