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Is Tennis Too One Dimensional?

Hey guys, I'm back after a brief hiatus after Roger's loss at the US Open to Robredo. I didn't really watch much after his defeat mainly due to the time difference but also because I just lost interest as the outcome of the tournament was a foregone conclusion.

The final as we all know was won by Nadal in 4 sets, I only saw the highlights but I did read quite a lot of tweets and reports the following day, Djokovic could have had the match wrapped up in the third set, but he just couldn't end points when he needed to by coming in and putting away simple volleys.

He sat back and let Nadal back in, this nearly cost him in 2011 but he just had that bit extra then. However since then he has let his game stagnate and allowed Nadal to catch back up to him, he's a fool to rest on his laurels and it's cost him some more slam wins this year.

The final as a whole summed up the modern game right now and it's quite a sad state of affairs. Sadly it's just not that entertaining anymore, it's predictable, matches play out to scripts and there's no real wow moments. Of course media outlets have to hype it up and call it tennis from another planet, suggesting the game is better than ever but don't be fooled by the majority of journalists and pundits they're all on the payroll one way or another and have many ties with the ATP and ITF.

My biggest hangup is that tennis now has a number 1 with an incomplete game – he can't volley or hit overheads, and the guy fast on his heels is moonballing his way to hard court slams. This is something that wouldn't have happened 20 years ago and it raises the question – is mens tennis too one dimensional? The answer is yes.

All we see now are extensive baseline rallies that drag players from one side of the court to the other, there is no mix up. Every player is similar and of course because the game is so phyiscal no younger guys can break through to make any sort of difference. It's almost like to stand a chance, they have to become a baseline slugger themselves.

Need an example? Watch the video below of the 54 stroke rally in the USO final, BBC Sport were going crazy about that the next day, so obviously I fired up YouTube to see this stunning point, I of course clicked close on the browser tab once it had finished feeling disappointed.

Yes this was a long rally, you needed endurance and consistency, but at no point did real skill or court craft come into play – it was just a boring baseline rally with neither guy trying to do anything differently. They just slugged it out, no changeup, no real attempt to hit a winner. Dull moonballed and Novak tried to hit into Nadal's backhand. Predictable and boring.

I don't wan't to just look at specific points in isolation either, if we look at the bigger picture then it's the same across the board at all 4 slams. You don't have to do anything differently to win on any type of surface. All 4 slams finals this year have just been grinders outlasting their opponent which has made it a boring year.

Both Nadal and Djokovic have gone straight onto clay for the Davis Cup with zero transition this week, because it plays hardly any differently. Should that really be allowed to happen? A week after playing a hard court slam you're back playing on clay the exact same way without needing any sort of adaptability.

Clearly the ITF and ATP are wanting to market they game in this way – slow the courts and ensure baseline slugfests ensue. It means more TV broadcasting time and the fans are in the stadium for longer which equates to more revenues but it could cost them in the long run.

People will start to think to themselves, is tennis fun anymore? I am already losing interest and the whole doping thing doesn't help either. In fact the only reason I watch is for Federer, he's the only one who really plays differently and can showcase unparalleled levels of skill.

I get annoyed when commentators, journalists and fans just seem to forget skills exist and that Nadal and Djokovic are the greatest. They have very short memories and just seem to assume that the modern generation are much better than the past. They almost write off the likes of Sampras, Edberg, Borg, Becker & co as being any good or anywhere near as athletic as the new generation. But I disagree, if anything they are more athletic because they had to do more with less technology.

I first watched tennis in the mid 90's and players then appeared to have much more skill on the court than they do now. One of the first Wimbledon's I ever watched fully was 1996 when Kraijeck one it, he was a blend of power and skill, yes he served huge but he came in, mixed it up and played with variety. That's unheard of now.

Welcome to Wimbledon
Welcome to Wimbledon 2014

The ITF and ATP will no doubt argue that the game is healthier than ever and more and more people are pouring into venues to watch, but I don't think it can last forever. Soon enough people are going to get bored due to lack of variety and just switch off. It's happened in other sports like cricket and eventually interest will wane. Maybe then we'll see the introduction of some variety.

I'll leave you with an example of an old school type point, the crowd says it all:

Next stop Shanghai!

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer - I'll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

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87 thoughts on “Is Tennis Too One Dimensional?”

  1. Hi Jonathan, thanks, good article,I reckon. Agreed that tennis is too one-dimensional, commentators seem to believe stamina and power is the definition of athleticism. Suppleness and reaction time should hold equal weight, and I have every bit of confidence that the old guard had as much or more of that, considering the amount of volleying they have had to do.

    However, I think you’re being a bit harsh to discount Gasquet, Tsonga, Dimitrov, and several others as the people who rely more on their skill.

    1. Yes but Gasquet, Dimitrov, Tsonga etc aren’t making the latter stages of slams. So clearly the top 4 are protected to just grind it out. If you are a grinder you will be successful.

      1. I somewhat get your point, although Gasquet got to the latter stages of the US, DelPo of Wimby and Tsonga of FO. Perhaps they should be doing so more often, and the illustration lies in the manner of Tsonga’s defeat to Ferrer, the talentless grinder. However, if we examine DelPo-Djoko at Wimby, I would say Djokovic went out of his way and game style to play a lot of forward tennis in that match. He posted very good net points figures, and Delpo was more the one who stayed back, albeit aggressively. I also think that applied all tourney from Djoker. I am not a fan of his, as you know, but I really think he only sits back on slow courts and against players like Nadal and Murray, who possess too much defensive attributes. I believe the non-grinders are still punching holes into the top 4, which until only recently contained Fed, a complete non-grinder.

        You got Wawrinka doing the job against Murray, or Berdych (arguably just a power player) beating Fed last year. I’m not saying tennis isn’t one-dimensional, it clearly is, and too much so, but I think there ARE players out there who are only a few steps away, EVEN in this slow era. The real issue here is the physical nature of the game, but I would argue technology has done as much to ensure that as the actual court speeds. And don’t forget, it’s grinders like Nadal/Mur/Djo who’ve set the standard of one-dimensionalism, not people who merely exploited it.

  2. I agree with you 100% and so does Pat Cash (mostly a nice read):

    http://worldsport.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/11/are-rafael-nadal-and-novak-djokovic-boring/

    Surfaces slowing down is something Stakhovsky spoke about recently:

    http://www.letsecondserve.com/2013/08/sergiy-stakhovsky-after-wimbledon-they.html

    Q – You’re a prominent opponent of the widespread slowdown of the courts. Who supports you in this matter?

    A – Well, it’s not that I’m looking for support. It’s just that everyone has a view of their own on this issue. I think Federer is also not really happy about the courts slowing down. That is my position, but I did not collect signatures, although I’m sure I would’ve found support from a couple of dozen people for sure. At the time, it was made clear to us that the choice of surface is the prerogative of the tournament organizers. Tennis players can bang their heads against the wall, but it won’t help. They will choose the court surface for their tournament, even more precisely, in most cases for the player that they’re buying for their tournament. For example, if they buy Nadal – you can expect the surface to be very slow. And so on.

    Q- You want to say that the ATP has nothing to do with it?

    A – No, it’s all from the organizers. They wanted more spectacular tennis with long rallies – that’s what happened.
    —–

    Politics and Greed. But we already knew that.

    1. Stakhovsky is pretty down to earth in his interviews, so you can pretty much guarantee what he is saying has some truths in it.

      Also, surprisingly Serena said the same thing, the USO is far slower now than when she first started. It’s like clay.

  3. So if Federer had won the US Open this year I assume this wouldn’t have been written? Better believe most of the people who claim tennis is one dimensional are uber Federer fans. I don’t want to completely dismiss the complaints. But look beyond Nadal and Novak and there’s still plenty of variety. Those two players are just dominating right now.

    The problem isn’t the courts or those two players. It’s that no one has come along that can execute “skill based” tennis wonderfully since Federer. Gasquet and Dimitrov are flashy players, but they’re just not consistent. When someone comes along with a substantial and consistent shot making game they’ll succeed. But in today’s tennis with the slower courts, the racquets and the amazing athletes you simply need to be good a defense and be able to play long rallies. I don’t see that changing even if they speed up some courts. Montreal is probably the fastest hard court in North America and Nadal still mopped the competition.

    You can’t really please anyone. People were complaining in the 90’s that tennis was too fast. You do have some good points. I would like there to be a few more faster courts on tour. And I would like for the AD point to be done with to shorten matches. But this article just comes off like a mourning of Federer’s career and resentment towards Nadal and Novak to be taken seriously

    1. The period of tennis when Roger was winning, 2004-2008, supported all court play. You could play from the baseline, you could serve and volley, you could display aggressive transition to the front court. In short, that stretch of four years rewarded all court players.

      Guess who dominated tennis during 2004-2007? The player most adapted with his beautiful and nearly perfect all court style of play 🙂

      1. Yeah, the article and comments just come off as bitter post-Fed diatribe. And I just now realized this is a Federer focused site. I’m so dumb. I like Federer but hardly want to be surrounded by people damning the modern game, dismissing players’ talents and mourning Fed’s peak. So, moving on now.

    2. Uber fed fans?…
      Surfaces are slow. Period. Which helps Nadal, Murray and Djoker. And don’t forget Ferrer…. Guy has 0 skill, but still in top 4. What we are asking for is variety. S&V at wimby, grinding rallies on clay, and somewhere between the two at uso and aussie.
      And during that 54 shot rally, I was on the edge of my seat just in shear anticipation on who would make the error first on such an important point. It DIDN’T make me jump out of my seat and yell “how the f*ck did he do that??!” and make me look like an idiot in front of all my friends.
      So I don’t mind long rallies, but we need a bit of everything. which there clearly isn’t.

    3. The courts are too slow, it’s obvious. It’s to protect the cash cows like Dull and Djoker so they make the later rounds.

      You say “no one has come along that can execute “skill based” tennis” ask yourself why that would be?

      Has to be to do with them unable to break through due to the game being too physical.

    4. Oh…I think I missed the part where you said that the AD point should be done with. That’s the most ridiculous suggestions I’ve ever come across. It shows your absolute lack of understanding of the game. You want to decide a tough game, where each player has won three points each, by a single point?

  4. Hey Jonathan,

    Nice article. And like you, I-too-am back from an hiatus of commenting. I am not superstitious, but i feel like Roger will lose if i comment during a tournament, so i go on hiatuses when a tournament is going on 😉 any explanation?

    There is nothing to disagree with this post, Iron-hard truth this. And the commentators sound like they are trying to sell action figures to kids, “Oh my god, might just be the greatest gun fight (54 shot rally) between g. i. djoke and sir dopes-a-lot!” 71 shot rally between monfils and simon in AO was way better than this and got ignored (just sayin’). Courts getting slower and Aurther Ashe would become Rod Laver in no time, Roger himself said Armstrong was faster (one of the reasons Roger didn’t wanna play Nadal after realizing this maybe, apart from Dull getting in his head?).

    About the courts, even the relatively fast ones are going slow. What more to say, ATP is a business and slower courts are more profitable now. Makes me sick! So does McEnroe and Wilander, what a joke in the face of tennis.

    I just wanna see Roger play again. Hope he stays healthy and all federer-y. Allez!

    1. Cheers Alvi.

      Haha nice analogy, action figures is very apt.

      ClownEnroe is a joke, just bandwagoners those guys.

      I’m hoping for a decent indoor season. See what happens.

      Jonathan

  5. With these long drawn out matches, I wonder if commentators will start using PED’s soon. It could happen 🙂 Imagine Pat McEnroe saying, “Brad Gilbert is too tired after the five hour marathon last Friday and will be unable to talk today”.

    Some idiot yelled after that 54 shot rally, “Greatest break point ever!” or something like that. Really? A 54 shot rally with nobody anywhere near the service line? And just one attempt to open up the court? The third shot of the match sums up how horrible tennis has become. Djokovic returns, and Nadal gets to the next ball exactly halfway between the service box and baseline, and right next to the tram lines.

    What’s the right play?

    In modern tennis that the likes of Nadal and Djokovic are a proponent of, you simply slice it back in the middle of the court, then retreat posthaste to your own baseline. The rally was dead right about there and the only reason that kept the audience excited were the man grunts. How titillating!

    It’s amazing, and I agree with Jonathan, that these two guys are the No. 1 and No.2 players in the world with such terrible lack of skills.

    1. I wouldn’t go to say terrible lack of skill. Nadal can hit those passing shots and Djoker has a decent touch at the net and that shots where he slides on hard courts is pretty nice. Granted, Nowhere NEAR Rog, gasquet, tsonga, or stan.
      But I totally agree with the FACT (some people still like to deny it…) that courts are getting too damned slow.

      1. Dull has probably the best passing shot up the line ever. Makes it all the time.

        Djoker has zero touch though, worst volleyer ever to get to #1 in the world.

      2. Oh come on. His backhand drop is world class, his drop volleys are pretty damned good. Not Rog style, but getting close.

      3. Disagree, the guy can’t hit overheads or make simple volleys. Anyone can make a few drop shots once in a while. His net game is poor and it cost him matches. Has to work on it for sure, then he is complete.

      1. Yup, many slices. It’s the same thing I have to deal with when playing the countless horrible pushers/slicers here 🙂

    2. Great point! I actually watch the point without the sound, wondering what intensity feeling would be left without the grunting… Nothing! It’s sad…
      I have a lot of respect for Nadal, I just feel that his achievement is, sadly for the game, too much relying on things external to tennis senso stricto. And more even sadly his public appreciation also relies too much on the intensity of his “gladiator” like character than tennis skills and technic. Imagine if Nadal was quite like Roger on the court… What would be left of the show?

  6. There are times where both of these guys play some amazing angles from the baseline – and that can create some excitement. But over all I think Jonathan’s point is spot on. The juxtaposition of the USO rally with he Fed Lopez point is perfect. I remember hearing about the 54 point rally and when I went to view it – it was just…ok. It just does not compare that to the unbelievable drama and fun of Fed and Lopez.

    Del Potro and Nole’s wimby match had some great moments, but overall I agree, tennis is less exciting with Nadal and Nole at the top. Sad to say, without Fed at full strength there doesn’t seem to be anyone around to stop it either.

    1. Cheers Alb.

      I guess tennis is a bit like boxing, often about the matchup.

      But we are getting players who are carbon copies of each other and it’s taking any sort of matchup away. Just two sluggers going for it.

      Jonathan

    1. They have played 2,597,469 shots each and the point hasn’t ended yet. Even the ball boys are bored and ogling at pretty girls in the stadium. And who can blame them! 🙂

  7. I just wanted to say, I love your blog and couldn’t agree with you more. The way I see it is that 15-20 slams will be the norm at the end of dominating players careers, since it will be they same 2-3 players in the final every time. A bit like badminton, where Lin Dan of China has 5 World Championship (played every other year) and 2 Olympic Golds. If badminton had Grand Slams he would have 30 or so!

    Anyway, great blog. I enjoy it a lot!

  8. Everytime we see a serve-an’vollyer on display the commentators always get so excited and quietly mourne the ‘old fashioned’ game. That’s why Federer’s so loved, he plays baseline, serve-an’volley, god mode…in one word, everything. That’s exciting. Nadal and Djokovic are brilliant because of their ground strokes, not because of their variety.
    So for now they’re is no doubt people love big baseline matches with 54 shot rallies, but will it last? Only time will really tell. Just thank God we still have Federer.

  9. Agree on djo vs nadal is a boring rivalry compare Fedal’s one. But USO 13 final is a lot better than the so-called epic marathon AUS 12 final, when comparing to WIM 08, it’s matter of quantity vs quality. Speaking of boredom, sorry to brit folks, djo vs murray is the worst . Both playing a safe tennis by keep punching deep and wait for the opposite makling an UE. In USO 13, can’t deny nadal made huge effort in terms of tactics, also observed his forehand is as lethal as Fed’s one in his 04-08 days.

    the other part of slowing court speed, not sure anyone pay close attn to those big server these days, ie John Isner, in his Cinncy final, these type of all or nothing 1-2 punch is damn boring, and reminds of those 90’s boring wimbledon, with the cast of Ivanisevic, sampras. From a TV spectator’s view, it’s just like a serve practicing, each size launch the cannon ball , 3 aces and 2 double faults, 40-30 , and the receiver even didnt touch the ball yet, anyone want these thing to be back??

    Now the trend of those 6 ft 6 big guys are coming back, like Isner, Raonic, Berdych, Del Porto, if these gonna be the big 4 of next gen , i’ll quit watching tennis. I’d rather watching rallies from Ferrer, Wawrinka.

    1. Recently I agree with your assessment of murray vs djoker. But, if you watch the 2012 aussi semis, I thought that they where pretty damn aggressive. like 200% better than the final…

      1. Thanks. Will add it to my LOVEFILM list. But generally I totally agree about Djok/Murray. Had to sit through them for 3 sets at WTF last year, and it was not fun. I think Murray has a much broader potential variety of shot, it just seems that he forgets for much of the time.

      1. Jon, agree on Delpo is the best of the POWER big4, indeed if there’s a term called big5 , he deserves the 5th spot.

      2. I’ve started to like DelPo since the Olympic SF last year. Never really warmed to him before that. And the Wimby SF this year was good, too: just a shame if he left Djok. too drained to put up a good fight in the final.

    2. I just want to comment on “his forehand is as lethal as Fed’s” i couldn’t disagree more, his forehand is effective not lethal, and there’s a huge difference between those two forehands: Huge amount of topspin and risk and going to the lines in every shot is incomparable if you ask me.

      1. understood your point Youssef, what i tried to state was, both of their forehand are so capable to push to the limit, a clean and clear cutting throat act. Of coz the rev of spinning is diff, but i would’t say its all due the racket, but instead of their forehead gripping style.

    3. Couldn’t agree with you more Eric, especially on the Serve & Volley part. I rather have another grinder than watching huge servers putting ACEs and DF and the receiver didn’t even touch the ball and the game is over

      1. I quitted tennis from 97 – 03 , until the surge of Fed. Thanks to those “power” legends, ATP made the change for today, of coz, now becomes the other way around.

        Btw, those old day, when i watched wim 90’s , you know what i watched most in my memories ?? rolex commerical, coz it’s takes 2 to 3 mins for a game, watching it is as pain as watch the last 3 minutes of 4th qtr in NBA playoff.

  10. Olá, Jon.

    I fully agree with your post and I confess that my interest in tennis has fallen dramatically this year…
    My historywith this sport started when I was only 5 years and used to admire guys like Sampras, Edberg and especially Lendll, but when Federer appeared with his art my love and interest for tennis has become something gigantic.

    Only Rogi can save us

  11. Compare the Djokovic Nadal US Open final 05 points with the Federer v Hewitt or Agassi final in 04 and 05. The 04 and 05 final were much more interesting, no boring long rallies with moonballing and waiting for the opponent to make errors, just pure shotmaking and aggression to hit winners. Tennis is now being plagued with grinding and moonballing with the likes of Nadal, Djokovic, Ferrer and Murray etc.

  12. I agree with you John except I think that Djokovic is different depending on who he plays. If you didn’t see the Tour Finals final last year between Djokovic and Federer then find a video. It was fast, furious and full of shot-making. I feel though, that when Djokovic gets playing with the likes of Murray and Nadal that he reverts back to a grind-out mentality. I watched some of the US Open final but was bored. It was back and forth and all Nadal had to do was wait for Djokovic to make an error. Federer started coming to the net more a few years ago and has imposed that on the other person’s game. I don’t have much time for pundits and commentators. Their neck must get whiplash from changing their opinions of who is the best based on which way the wind is blowing. J McEnroe has gone from the Nadal is the Goat, to Federer is the Goat to Nadal is the Goat in just a few months. Everyone just wants to be identified with a winner. And now that is Nadal. Murray was a god when he won the Olympics, USO and Wimbledon. They got all excited over the 6 hour AO between Nadal and Djokovic when it could have been much less than that if they didn’t dribble the ball so much before their serve. Yes they have stamina, yes they are fit but is that all there is about tennis? Shot-making that is what I like. Surprise by a player. Intelligent point construction. I am glad to say that I got involved with Federer before he became no 1 etc. When I saw him beat Sampras in 2001, I was impressed with his play and jumped on his train then.

    1. “Shot-making that is what I like. Surprise by a player. Intelligent point construction.”

      Me too. And I think you’re right about the WTF last year, too. Either that, or it’s just more fun watching Fed/Djok matches. *Really* sorry the Beeb missed out on the Fed/Murray SF, though – sounded like a really good one. I had to sit and listen to it on Radio 5 Live.

  13. Hi Jonathan just a couple of quick questions:

    1. Does youtube slow down the speed of tennis because of lag?

    2. Do you think Grigor Dimitrov’s game is similar to Roger’s?

    1. I’m not Jonathan, but I think I can answer question 1.

      No, the speed of tennis footage/points are usually down to the TV broadcaster, or video editing software from people who upload Youtube videos. Lag is not really any problem, most footage is in such good quality (HD) these days, that lag is very unusual. I make Youtube videos myself and I can tell that all the video speeds and peformances are dictated from the original video or editing software 🙂
      On TV, it does look like some TV Channels slow down points (somehow). The points on ESPN always look slower than on Eurosport or Sky Sports for some reason.

    2. Hey Jono,

      Conal can answer YouTube better than me, he’s our in house video expert 😛

      As for Dimitrov – hmm similar in a way yes, both got attractive game styles but they seem to be worlds apart in terms of their commitment and focus. Dimitrov seems more concerned with life off the court.

  14. Hi Jonathan,
    Great post as usual, and somehow, I knew you would write something about it ;). It’s already heating up and tennis fan start murmuring loudly about it. So it’s kind of expected somehow 🙂
    I, myself, blame ITF and ATP; all about money. Anyhow, I would just response to your article, with two simple questions.
    1. Is tennis made for those who have skills and talent such as Roger, Samaras, Edberg, Borg, Becker & co? What about those who work hardly and they don’t have that kind of skills and talent to shine or at least to survive?
    2. Don’t you think technology has bigger part on making grinders succeeded?
    What do you think they should do? Apart from doping of course 😉
    By the way, I used to be a big fan of Richard krajicek, Tim Henman and then Safin before I join the Nadal Fan force 😉

    1. I think there should be room both for grinders and skilled players. having clay for the grinders, grass for the skilled/ tall players (and a longer grass courts season FFS!!) have a fast hard court season for the skilled aggressive players, and a slower hard court to help more the grinders. What we need is variety. Not one dimensional style. I would also get bored by just seeing serve and volley. but now, the game is juste hitting the game back, waiting for an easy shot, then slamming it as hard as possible (bar rog, stan, delpo, tsonga, gasquet, and a couple other)

      1. “I would also get bored by just seeing serve and volley” Exactly Simon 😉
        So that’s why there is clay, grass and hard courts. However, with today’s physical game and slowing hard and grass courts, all become same! So talented players are LOST here! (ohh god, just remembered this special quote, see you in another life brother!! 😉
        So I guess those talented player are trying to find their way and the island keep them 😉 if you know what I mean

        Anyhow, so, if ATP and ITF does not do anything about it, the future of tennis would be more of what we see as of today

      2. Shamtoot, you raise an interesting point. What about those who do not have enough talent and can rely solely on their physicality and endurance? The argument really isn’t to make all courts fast, but as most have replied, bring variety.

        AO went from Rebound Ace (fast) to Plexicushion (slow) starting 2008 for example. That same year, Roger crashed out of the semifinal in that event. Was the surface changed to raise a legitimate threat to Roger considering Novak lost a tough USO 2007? Ever wonder? The surface at Wimbledon has been modified to make is harder so that the grass lasts longer. The type of grass has been changed too. We can clearly see that Wimbly has lost the “skid” factor. The US Open courts are being laid out later in the year and are barely being played on some seasons. The result is a reasonably grainy surface which is nowhere near to the speeds when Roger was winning.

        Yes, share the wealth, but if you have two slow slams, why not make Wimbledon and US Open faster? Why are there no grass Masters 1000’s? Why are faster surfaces made only for ATP250 or 500 events?

        I’m of the opinion that clay should be considered irrelevant because the only skill it rewards is endurance. And I agree with you that slower surfaces compared to powerful equipment has taken the skills element out of tennis.

      3. Some Nadal fan will come up with an irrational argument that, “Well, you want faster surfaces so that Roger can win more”. No! A faster surface actually works against Roger these days. Look at his Dubai, Rotterdam, Wimbledon, and US Open (on the faster Armstront court). Why is Roger such a supported of fast courts then? Because he believes it evens out the competition and gives lower ranked players a legitimate shot at the big guns. Now that’s something the money making muckamucks just wouldn’t enjoy, would they? 🙂

        When you think Wimbledon, you think serve and volley, right? In the 2011 Wimbledon final, Novak Djokovic served and volleyed just once. At deuce if I remember correctly in the last game of the match. Can you believe that? Winning a Wimbledon final with just one S&V attempt?

      4. Couldn’t agree with you more Sid, you spot it – we have so much mutual agreements these days ;).
        The issue is, I can’t see tennis going back to that era! There are so much money at stake and those muckamuckers wouldn’t allow it, would they?!
        So, relatively, I have little hope that something would happen for the next 5 years.
        And yeah, about the Wimbledon 2011 final, that was a clay court final 😉
        The best Wimbledon match I have ever seen was Krajicek Vs Ivanisevic (1/2 Final) Krajicek was my dude those days 😉 but he lost it, should he won it, who would crush Sampras in the final

  15. I’m just wondering what Nadal and Djokovic, who are obviously tennis fans and logically “connoisseurs”, think about it?

    But it’s all about winning right?…. Unfortunately! For the viewers!!!

      1. Yeah, Djoker the best counter puncher out there. I think hard court is best for him cause it’s faster than clay, so he’s able to use opponent’s speed to put him under pressure.

        As for Dull, the slowest it is the better for him. he can run down pretty much every ball…

      2. Sorry, I meant what do they think when they watch their matches (and 54 for shots point) compared to a Gasquet Wawrinka match in Roland Garros 4th round for example! As tennis fans themselves, what do they like better to watch…
        Surely irrelevant because they only care about winning, all of them!

        You are so right about this one dimension tennis style issue! The sad thing is that only those guys are on top of the pile and we get to see only them reach the final stages of all the tournaments…

  16. 2011 is the best example of how boring tennis has become, 6 finals (on clay (2x), grass and hard (3x)) and only one winner and you know what, by the end of the year everybody had no doubt it will be Djokovic dominating Nadal each time.
    This is bad for the sport and for Nadal and Djokovic, YES for Nadal and Djokovic, because one day a better grinder will dominate them both.

  17. Think I have to agree with a lot of this, even going lower down you see fewer genuine serve-volleyers like Lukasz Kubot and Ivan Navarro.

    In the long run tennis suffers (for me) if it’s a game of fitness rather than artistry and aesthetics.

    1. For me too. I can’t bear to watch people just slugging back and forth between baselines. (Oh, is that was the Pong reference was about? Just realised)

  18. at the end of day, the reason causing this boredom to some of us, too long season of Clay and too short of grass and indoor, i wonder why not adding a grass ATP 1000, by add more indoor carpet and grass on the schedule , we will see who’s truly deserve to be No.1. my suggest is since Monte Carlo and Rome are too rich in history, madrid should be the one to be killed.

  19. Hey Guys good points all round and wonderful article Jonathan.
    Pretty much nothing to add from my side but I think what people want is variety and adaptability.
    Those traits were on display aplenty during even till end of last decade.But now,almost all courts are playing the same and its like we are being treated to watch matches which plays out like an auto rewind of the previous point because every point is identical and that’s a pretty good troll you have made about wimby’14.
    If the courts were proper according to their original characteristics like clay-slow,grass-fast,HC-bit of both, then we would be having great matches and would know the one’s who are really able to adapt themselves.But now,just as you said,the transition from a HC to a clay is not at all necessary.
    Its like there is only one court being used in the entire tour with different colours.
    Ideally we should have a tour which is mixed with fast and slow courts so that we won’t get bored with only one type of play style and only the players who can play both types can excel.
    Ideally,they should restore the courts speeds to their natural one’s and probably take out madrid and bring in halle or queens as a masters 1000 and have an extended grass court season.That way,it would mean that the first half of the season gives the grinders the advantage while the latter part of the season gives more opportunities to the agressive and more skilled players.

  20. 100% agreed with this post! The future of tennis looks bleak 🙁 That 54-shot rally was only tense because of the grunting, it was just ping-pong (lol at the pic btw). I admire the incredible lengths to which Nadal and Djok push their bodies, but it doesn’t exactly make for riveting viewing.
    Watched some highlights of Fed in his prime on YouTube recently and the difference in court speed is mind-blowing! Points were so ‘punchy’, for lack of a better word – really makes for truly exciting tennis.
    The courts should reward versatility, not talentless grinders like Ferrer et al.
    On a separate note, I agree with someone that stated Djok plays differently against Fed than he does against Murray/Nadal. Controlled aggression vs Fed, then a weird mix of passivity and slight aggression vs Nadal and Murray. I must admit though that despite the slowing down of courts, I love the Fed/Djok rivalry. Both play ultra aggresively, and Djok brings out all of Fed’s arsenal more so than any of the other Top 4 guys.

    Also, I cannot believe that it took me this long to realise just how POOR Djok’s net-game is. Omg. Like it’s actually embarrassing… Hoping Fed rediscovers his form in the indoor season, otherwise my season is done…

    1. Totally agree!!! The Fed and Djoko rivalry brings great tennis. Their last meeting in the US Open was great despite Roger’s loss! It is said to be one of the best match at US Open in the last decade. Not to mention the Masters Final last year or Roland Garros 2011…

  21. Great post, Jonathan. A sad state of affairs for sure. Is the tennis fan changing? Do more and more fans like this baseline bs?
    A note on Davis Cup. I know you guys don’t like Davis Cup. Being Candadian, I’m very proud of the team for getting to the semis. Pospisil plays with such heart. He and Nestor played a great doubles match. If you want to see someone with talent, watch Daniel Nestor. He has great touch at the net even today….and he’s over 40 years old.

  22. I conclude that the Djokovic-Nadal rivarly is not the greatest of this era because, it’s lop sided, and a vast majority of them were on clay and, it involves a lot of grunting. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

    Of their first 18 duels, 9 were on clay and Nadal won all of them (yes, all of them!) for a 14-4 record. So, the 22-15 lead that Nadal holds over Djokovic was built very early by clay wins. And, I’ve mentioned this earlier, after their 2012 AO final, Nadal played Djokovic only on clay for about 18 months to build a 4-1 lead for a whopping 13-2 clay record. What that means is, on other surfaces, a majority of them being neutral hard courts, Djokovic holds a…get ready for this…13-9 record.

    Since Djokovic’s coming of age in 2011, they have played 14 times with Djokovic ahead 8-6. Again, 5 of those Nadal wins have come on clay.

    Finally, there was a phase during 2009-11 when these two met 7 times in a row on hard courts. Don’t forget that in 2010 Nadal was in superb hard court form. No wonder he tried to play his opponent more on that surface. Guess what, Djokovic dominated Nadal 5-2 during that phase.

    The point I’m trying to make is, Nadal carefully plans his H2H in phases. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s his strategy. But what that tells us is that the H2H is skewed.

    Yet, the likes of McEnroe will always point out what a great H2H Nadal has against Djokovic (22-15) with utter disregard to the fact that most of it was planned on clay, a surface that doesn’t reward skilled players.

    For me, the Roger-Djokovic rivalry is the best of this era because the games are entertaining, the H2H is close, and just 3 of those games were played on Clay. I say this despite the fact that Djokovic is ahead in the recent H2H.

    1. Correction: Since Djokovic’s coming of age in 2011, they have played 14 times with Djokovic ahead 8-6. Again, 4 (not 5) of those Nadal wins have come on clay.

  23. Agree with you Sid in regards to H2H, but disagree with you Djoko is a skilled player, assuming this is what you meant when you said “Yet, the likes of McEnroe will always point out what a great H2H Nadal has against Djokovic (22-15) with utter disregard to the fact that most of it was planned on clay, a surface that doesn’t reward skilled players.”
    Djoko is another counter puncher player, he lacks volley and net game, not to mention overhead
    And recently, I see that he plays Nadal on clay closer match than HC.

    1. Because, he has taken Nadal’s bait and in focusing on spending his energy on clay. Nadal is building a great H2H against him on clay and taking that mental edge to other surfaces. Then again, Djokovic believes he needs a clay slam for greatness. The result: He is getting the worst of both worlds.

      Djokovic may not be as skilled as Roger but his hard court H2H vs Nadal is good. And, hard courts are considered neutral surfaces, compared to clay and grass which are at the extremes.

  24. And why Djoko vs Fed is more interesting! Because Djoko tend to play the opponent to his strength to prove something that he can beat them that way, that’s why and not because his game style. 😉

    1. Sure. But all of their matches except three have been played on hard courts, which is their favorite surface. Well, technically Roger prefers grass. But playing on hard courts evens up the match up a lot more compared to either of them facing Nadal on clay. For example, even the straight sets Roger-Djoker AO semi in 2011 was a dog fight considering how many breaks Roger gave back.

      1. To some extent, yeah I tend to agree with you that their matches is more exciting and it’s much of shot making especially from roger side because he is able to play his game and stay in is comfort zone unlike when he play Nadal. So yeah 😉

        By the way, how come you are up now 😉
        Isn’t your time zone is +10GMT

      2. GMT + 10? Hold on, let me see where you’ve put me on the map……………………………No mate, I’m not in Australia 🙂 I’m GMT – 5.

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