Evolving sports to appeal to new generations of fans usually involves adapting to shorter attention spans, and that is something that can cause plenty of debate amongst the more traditional sport lovers. I’m in favour of making sport approachable wherever possible, but there’s likely room for all formats – long and short alike. Tennis is taking this approach, it seems, and I recently learnt about a new format.
I’ve talked before about whether tennis needs to think about making all matches just three sets long but perhaps there’s another way. I’ve heard of Tie Break Tens, which is an end of season celebratory tie break tournament but today I learnt about the Fast4 format for the first time. It’s been the format for the Hopman Cup, where mixed double teams represent their country. In 2017, it was won by Team France but for me, the format was the most interesting thing about the tournament.
As the LTA say: “FAST4 Tennis provides a simple, exciting way of speeding up a conventional tennis match. The fundamentals of tennis remain the same, but there are four rules that ensure matches are fast, competitive, exciting and can be completed in a reasonable period of time.”
I imagine long-time conventional tennis fans are shaking their head at the very concept, but what’s great about it is that if you don’t like it, you can watch the Davis Cup or something similar. You can enjoy Wimbledon’s incredible but lengthy five set finals, or you can indulge in first to four play instead.
Or, even better, watch it all and enjoy the variety!