‘Heartbreaking’, Woodbridge bemoans Wimbledon doubles decision

MELBOURNE, Jan 26 — Nine-times Wimbledon men’s doubles champion Todd Woodbridge said on Thursday it was “heartbreaking” to hear the All England Club had made the decision to cut the event to best-of-three sets rather than five from this year.

Wimbledon organisers announced the decision on Wednesday, dispensing with 138 years of tradition to bring the tournament into line with the other three Grand Slams as well as ATP Tour events.

“For me, it is a little heartbreaking because I am a real traditionalist,” the Australian told Channel Nine during coverage of the Australian Open.

“I truly believe of all the titles the Woodies won and I went on to win with Jonas Bjorkman, I probably wouldn’t have won as many if it was over three sets.

“Five sets lets the best team win generally in that situation.”

Woodbridge won six Wimbledon men’s doubles titles with compatriot Mark Woodforde in the duo known as the “Woodies” before teaming up with Swede Bjorkman for another three.

American Mike Bryan, who with sibling Bob formed the most successful professional doubles team of all time, also bemoaned the decision.

“We like a longer sample size, especially on grass, it’s tough to break serve on a slick surface,” said Bryan, who won 16 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles with his brother, including three at Wimbledon.

“I think for the great doubles teams, you just want longer – a three out of five format.”

The All England Club said the decision was made following a wide-ranging consultation.

“This update will provide the referee’s office with greater certainty when scheduling matches during the event and we hope it will encourage even more players to enter doubles at Wimbledon as a result,” it said in a statement.

The 2022 Wimbledon men’s doubles final took more than four hours to complete with Australian duo Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell beating Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic over five sets. — Reuters