Grand Slams to trial 10-point tiebreak in deciding set
This semifinal match between Isner and Anderson at the 2018 Wimbledon Championships was likely the turning point in deciding that a final set tiebreak was needed at The Championships (Simon Bruty/Getty Images)

For the next year, all four Grand Slam events will hold the same competitive rule set for the final set for the first time in the Open Era. Starting at the French Open, once the deciding set reaches 6-6, a 10-point match tiebreak will ensue to determine the winner.

The Australian Open first adopted this format for the 2019 edition, following suit of Wimbledon and the US Open who had adopted their own ruleset for the deciding sets. The trial will last for 12 months before each governing body decides if they will move forward with the continuation of the 10-point match tiebreak or move to something different.

Different Rulesets

The US Open made the early jump to the deciding set tiebreak at 6-6 in 1970. From 1970 to 1974, they used the best of nine (first to five points) tiebreak before converting to the ITF's best of twelve point tiebreak which is what is used today.

It was not until 2019 that other Grand Slams made their change to follow the US Open; the three other Grand Slams kept the traditional win by two in the final set rule.

Wimbledon had already become (in)famous for last sets that went past the 6-6 threshold. The most famous of them all was at Wimbledon 2010 which saw John Isner and Nicolas Mahut go a total of 138 games in the final set alone, with the American winning 70-68.

Isner's long five-setters at Wimbledon was likely the cause for change at all the majors. This was his first one, the memorable 70-68 against Mahut in 2010 (Pool/Getty Images)
Isner's long five-setters at Wimbledon was likely the cause for change at all the majors. This was his first one, the memorable 70-68 against Mahut in 2010 (Pool/Getty Images)

The 2018 edition of the Championships saw big-serving Kevin Anderson in two matches with very late finishes. He defeated Roger Federer in five sets, winning 13-11 in the quarterfinals before defeating John Isner in five sets, winning 26-24 in the final set.

The combined 50 games in the final set against Isner, along with the fact he had played 10 grueling sets of tennis beforehand, left Anderson a shell of himself when facing Novak Djokovic (who had gone 10-8 in the final set against Rafael Nadal in the semifinals) in the final as he went down in straight sets.

After this, Wimbledon implemented a tiebreak at 12-12 in the final set of all their matches. John Peers and Henri Kontinen defeated Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram in the first-ever tiebreaker at 12-12. The men's final between Federer and Djokovic also had the final set tiebreak at 12-12.

With three Grand Slams adopting their own ruleset for a final set tiebreak, the French Open continued to stick with tradition and played until someone won by two games in the deciding set.

Now all four Grand Slams have adopted the same ruleset for now, will this help or hinder tennis? How will fans feel about it? We will be spending the next year finding out how it is perceived and if it's the right call to keep with it moving forward.

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