NEW YORK – After blowing a two-set lead and losing to Mardy Fish in five at the U.S. Open on Thursday, Nikolay Davydenko offered a solution for avoiding that in the future: Men should play best-of-three-set matches at Grand Slam tournaments and in Davis Cup.
Davydenko, a 31-year-old Russian, revived a familiar debate, too, by asking during a postmatch interview with The Associated Press, "Why (do) girls play best of three sets, and we should play best of five sets, and have the same prize money?"
"Why are we playing five-set matches? We need to play best of three in Grand Slams. Everybody will support (that idea, even Roger) Federer. For Federer, it's easy to win in one hour, two sets. No need to run (for) a third set," Davydenko said.
Against the 23rd-seeded Fish, Davydenko faded over the last three sets and lost their second-round match 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
It was the tournament-record 10th time this year at Flushing Meadows that a man dropped the first two sets before coming back for a victory. And it's only Day 4.
"For sure, you need to be strong physically for long matches," Davydenko said.
He suggested that all men's events, including Davis Cup, should be limited to three-set matches, the way most of the week-in, week-out ATP tournaments are.
"In Davis Cup, there are matches Friday, Saturday, Sunday — every day, five-set matches. Me? I am too tired for this," Davydenko said. "Easier to be best of three every tournament."
Once ranked as high as No. 3 and a four-time Grand Slam semifinalist, including at the U.S. Open in 2006 and 2007, Davydenko is now 47th. He probably is best known for being the subject of a yearlong investigation by the ATP into suspicious betting patterns on a match he lost to a low-ranked opponent in 2007; Davydenko was cleared by the tour.
For Fish, it was only the second time in his career that he came all the way back to win after dropping the first two sets of a match. The other was against Victor Hanescu in the first round of the 2011 Australian Open.
Asked why he thinks there have been so many of those comebacks during the U.S. Open, Fish replied: "No idea. It's just an anomaly. ... It's only the first day of the second round, too."
Despite the way things worked out for him Thursday, Fish disagreed with Davydenko's thought about making matches shorter at major tournaments.
"No, I don't think they should do that. There needs to be something that's separate from the regular events," Fish said. "And that's why the Grand Slams are so great."
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