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World number five Stefanos Tsitsipas has reignited the age-old tennis debate of women playing five sets in a Grand Slam - but this time, he's serving it right at the female athletes calling for equal pay.
"I don't want to be controversial or anything," the Greek tennis star said, before indeed saying something controversial.
"There is also the topic of equal pay and everything, women getting equal pay for playing best-of-three, then getting equal pay for playing best-of-five."
Naomi Osaka on being told that Stefanos Tsitsipas would like to see women play best-of-five sets:- Musab (@Musab_Abid) March 28, 2022
"Does he want to play nine sets? If he tries to extend mine, I'm going to extend his (smiling)"
Speaking at the Miami Open, Tsitsipas added that he has been 'told that women have better endurance than men' so 'maybe they can also play best-of-five'.
The world #5 added that he thinks there would be more variety in male winners if all Grand Slams followed the female version of best-of-three.
He pointed out that he and German world number four Alexander Zverev would both be champions if the majors were only three sets for men.
Dominic Thiem would also have defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2020 Australian Open after losing the first set but winning the next two before going down in five.
"I'm pretty sure you can find a lot of cases where the loser of a Grand Slam won the third set or won the first two sets, still somehow found yourself losing at the end," Tsitsipas said.
"It's different psychology. I'm sure it allows the greater players, the ones that have more experience when it comes to winning Grand Slam titles, on fighting back.
"I like the best of five. I think it gets very physical. It makes for a great show, as well."
Tsitsipas' comments have unsurprisingly sparked a wave of anger from within the tennis community.
Former world number one Karolina Pliskova took to social media to share a news clipping with the caption 'big brainer'.
Four-time Grand slam winner Naomi Osaka has also lashed out at Tsitsipas' take.
"Does he want to play nine sets? If he tries to extend mine, I'm going to extend his," the Japanese tennis star said.
"Wait. He was asked that question or he just brought it up?"
When she found out that Tsitsipas was not answering a question but did in fact bring the topic up himself, the gloves were off.
"This guy is so funny, man," Osaka said. "I feel like that would change the structure of tennis.
"Like people will start doing things differently in the gym and stuff like that.
"It will probably also get a very long time to be implemented, but you're also, like, a man is talking about a woman's sport, so I don't think his idea is going to go through."
The idea of women playing five-sets is not unprecedented however.
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) did attempt to trial five-setters for the final of the WTA Finals between 1984 and 1998.
Ultimately, the WTA reverted back to three-set matches.
Featured Image Credit: Aflo Co. Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo. Corleve / Alamy Stock Photo.
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