This week I became aware of the Tennis Australia invention “Fast 4 Tennis”, which is described as the tennis equivalent of Twenty20 cricket, in that it’s not a real match, and is played much more quickly than a traditional five set, no tie-breaker in the last set match in a Grand Slam. Where cricket already had a limited overs format in One Day matches, this is a new invention for tennis, and it’s clear from the two matches that were held in Australia this week that even the players are still getting used to the rules. The two matches that were on this week were Lleyton Hewitt vs. Roger Federer (I saw the highlights package – Federer won), and Rafael Nadal doing a strange round robin thing against 17-year-old Australian Omar Jasika, old Australian great Mark Philippoussis and fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
I’m not a big fan of sports, but January is when the tennis is on in Australia and I love it. My particular favourite is the Hopman Cup, an invitational tournament held in Perth, where eight countries compete in a round-robin tournament before reaching the finals. There are both mens’ and womens’ singles and a mixed doubles match in each round. Until this year (or possibly last year, I was overseas for most of January), the Hopman Cup has been broadcast by the ABC, Australia’s public broadcaster. This year, however, the rights to the Hopman Cup have gone to the Seven network, which also has the rights to every other tennis tournament in Australia, including the Australian Open.