Australian doubles legend Todd Woodbridge has said he is “heartbroken” by the All England Club’s decision to cut men’s doubles matches at Wimbledon from five sets to three.
The decision, which the club announced this week, aligns Wimbledon with the other three Grand Slam tournaments.
Woodbridge, who won nine Wimbledon crowns – six with longtime doubles partner Mark Woodforde and then three more with Sweden’s Jonas Björkman – said he wouldn’t have as many championships as if they only played three sets.
“For me, it’s kind of heartbreaking because I’m a real traditionalist,” he said during Nine’s coverage of the Australian Open.
“I really believe that of all the titles the Woodies won and I won with Jonas Bjorkman, I probably wouldn’t have won that many if it was in three sets.
“Five sets usually allow the better team to win in this situation.”
The Bryan Brothers Mike and Bob were also part of the panel. Mike said he believed the grass should stay at five sets.
The Bryan Brothers – who have won three Wimbledon titles themselves – were knocked out of the 2004 Wimbledon event in the third round when weather forced the tournament to be reduced to three sets until the semi-finals.
“We like a longer sample size, especially on grass, it’s hard to break serve on a smooth surface,” he said.
“I think for big doubles teams you just want longer – a three out of five format.”
The All England Club said the reduction could attract more players to compete in the doubles competition at Wimbledon.
It also provides the referee’s office with “greater certainty when scheduling matches during the event,” the club said in a statement.
Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell won the men’s doubles title at Wimbledon last July, beating Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 7-6( 10-2).