Fast4 tiebreak, what´s going on?

Switzerland won the Hopman Cup for the second year running. An expected result, bearing in mind that Roger Federer was once again in the team. Although Germany had a strong team in singles, Zverev and Kerber are not great doubles players. Actually, they surprised me in mixed doubles. In the first set they were down and out, but came back strong in the second set. Breaking Federer twice is not an easy feat, but that´s what they did. But in the deciding tiebreak I could not help but shout “OMG, this is so unfair! How is this possible?”
Alexander Zverev had just hit an incredible return winner and Germany had a slight upper hand. But then it was Federer´s turn to serve. And serve he did, THREE times in a row! Why? I´m astonished nobody paid any attention to this. The headlines were all about Switzerland´s close victory but nothing about how it happened.
The Hopman Cup used an Australian-born new scoring system called Fast4 already last year. That was the case also this year. Last year there was more attention on the no-let rule, because some players, including Federer didn´t remember it at all. They lost points because of it.
Fast4 means the sets are played to 4 games only instead of the usual 6. At 3-all, there is a shorter tiebreak, winner needs just five points and no need to have a two-point difference. So at 4-all in a tiebreak there is a match point for both, just as there is a game point for both at 40-all in ordinary games because of the no-ad rule.
I tried to find all the information on Fast4, but I was still not convinced of the reason why Federer could serve three times in a row in the final tiebreak. On the Wikipedia article there stands that if it comes to the 4-all in the tiebreak, a coin toss by an umpire decides who serves next. However, I think the next point started so quickly and there wasn´t any sign that there was an intervention by an umpire. In an earlier match, although I don´t remember which match it was, exactly the same thing happened.
During the earlier matches in the Hopman Cup I noticed that the tiebreak had another major difference: whoever starts it, serves twice right away! In a normal tiebreak, the starter serves just once, of course. What is the meaning of this rule? It also gives an unfair advantage to the team which serves first especially if the server is a man.
Am I the only one who didn´t comprehend this all? The commentator I listened to didn´t wonder anything at all. Maybe because Federer won once again, everyone is happy and content as always…

The photo is not from the Hopman cup but from the Australian Open 2014, one of the very few times Federer has ever played outside Rod Laver Arena.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: