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Navratilova wants best-of-3 tennis for men
06:32 AEST Tue Jun 25 2013

Former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova has called for men's grand slam matches to be cut to three sets to protect the sport's top stars from burnout.

With Wimbledon getting underway on Monday, Navratilova was keen to draw attention to the increased physical demands on male players in the modern game.

While female players are only asked to play best of three set matches at the four grand slams, their male counterparts have to slug it out in best of five set matches that can sometimes last up to five hours.

As a result, the big-name players the public want to see are spending longer on the sidelines recovering from injuries.

French Open champion Rafael Nadal has been plagued by knee injuries, while US Open champion Andy Murray missed the recent French Open with a back problem.

Navratilova, who won 18 grand slam singles titles including nine at Wimbledon, told Laureus.com: "It's really becoming so taxing that I believe one day we will have two out of three sets in the grand slams, otherwise they're going to be taking people out on stretchers.

"We have always had issues with injuries, but this year it came to light more so when the top guys are hurt.

"Rafael Nadal's had issues, he was out for about eight months. Now Andy Murray has missed the French Open because of a bad back and Novak Djokovic had issues as well with his ankle.

"They put a lot more hours in and everybody hits the ball harder, you have to run harder. Plus the courts are slower so the rallies take longer. This has to take its toll on the body.

"You play a long match and it takes you months to recover, because it's like running a marathon in sprints, but then sometimes you have to go out and play a match the next day or two days later.

"I think a way to curb it would be to play the grand slams for men only two out of three sets."