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Beyond the Baseline

Victoria Azarenka thinks men should play best-of-three in Grand Slams

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Victoria Azarenka nearly needed three sets to defeat Sara Errani in the first round of the WTA Championships. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL -- Forget all this talk of women playing matches that are best-of-five sets at the Grand Slams. Victoria Azarenka thinks the men should play best- of-three.

"I think there has been a lot of talk about [women playing best-of-five]," Azarenka said after defeating Sara Errani 7-6 (4), 6-2 in her first match at the WTA Championships. "I think we can stand by one opinion that all the women have: We're ready to play whatever it is. ... I just think that playing five sets can be very challenging for the scheduling. I actually think men should play three sets. It would be more interesting."

The idea of men playing best-of-three at the Slams isn't entirely far-fetched. Roger Federer was asked about the prospect after the 2012 Olympics, which follow a best-of-three format until the best-of-five final. He had no problem with the suggestion apart from the need to reschedule the length of the Slams.

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"We shouldn't make it a two‑week event then, I don't think, because then it's like a holiday," Federer said during the 2012 Western and Southern Open.

Andy Roddick didn't blanch at the idea either.

"I wouldn't be against it," Roddick said in 2012. "I could easily argue both ways. From a fan perspective and a TV perspective, it would probably be easier to put together a product for TV when you know the time slots a little bit more. Sometimes at Slams you get a match that's great, but it kind of makes it tricky as far as TV.  That's kind of the livelihood of healthy sport in general is TV viewership.

"Ultimately, it comes back down to what the fans want to see. I think our opinion on that sometimes is secondary to what they can sell and what they can package."

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