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.
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!