Gone are the days!

Back in 1994, the French Open finals between Sergi Bruguera and Jim Courier, I remember frantically trying to tune into Doordarshan Metro, to watch the finals. With the TV Antenna refusing to budge any further, the reception was rather poor. But we still crowded around the television set watching a “grain-filled” match. I remember the days when my father and I used to bet on every single finals – men’s and women’s, on who would win! He always won the men’s singles (thanks to my hatred towards Pete Sampras) and I always won the women’s singles (Steffi Graf being one of my favorites). As I sat down to watch the match between Safin and Djokovic in the second round of Wimbledon today, I realized that this enthusiasm has being dying down over the past few years!

I would blame it completely on the power play mode that a vast majority of the upcoming players have decided to adopt. The tradition was started by the Williams sisters and is being carried forth by players like Nadal, Sharapova, Roddick and Djokovic. Their only aim in life seems to be to “rattle the net” through the movement of air above it, as the ball whistles past it. And the modern day tennis has lost its finesse and charm, with the only saving graces being the players like Federer, Hewitt and Justin Henin (who comfortably decided to retire when she was at her peak!). Gone are the days when the serve and volley of Sampras, the forehand down-the-line shots of Agassi, that curled its way back into the court and the breathtaking lobs of Patrick Rafter could win matches. Although Federer with his unusually wonderful flick of wrists, that baffle the opponents, does provide some tennis, worth watching, what can he do one his own when the drop shots, the backhand slices and the volleys have completely disappeared from the tennis courts! But his amazing run over the past few years have proved that it is still graceful tennis that finally pays off. That leaves some hope for the future and has kept me following the results, rather than shutting myself off completely.

Having said that, I do not want to leave an impression that power play is possibly the worst thing that can happen to tennis. The point is, people who resort to such a style of play don’t seem to last long and that has been proven by the Williams sisters themselves, who dominated the women’s tennis a few years back. It is highly unlikely that a player can retain the same power in his shots beyond a few years. The more that happens, the more you see early retirements, as early as late 20s. Noone would last as long as 30-35 and still play at their peak, like Agassi and Sampras or Steffi Graf and Navaratilova did.

For now, with the hope for a better and more graceful future for tennis, a game that I absolutely love watching and playing, let me go back to following the Wimbledon. Im betting on Roger Federer and Ana Ivanovic!


~ by Niranjan Nandakumar on June 25, 2008.

9 Responses to “Gone are the days!”

  1. Dude..Djokovic’s is not entirely a power game ..he has some real gud shots to go with it… Nadal yes .. was more like a baseline hitter ..but he’s changing his game as well..

  2. You are very much wrong in your assessment. The Williams Sisters both volley and use angles, especially at Wimbledon. I would recommend all of their matchs at the Championships. If you are looking for variety, see Federer and a young lady named Anna Chakvadaze (a thinker, with a style like Hingis). Don’t forget that Venus is the reigning Champion. Otherwise, a provacative post. Thanks

  3. @Jaris … Well, I wouldn’t agree on Djokovic as yet. From the way he played yesterday he almost seemed like firing balls out of a shot gun. 🙂 I guess a change is necessary to outplay Federer

    @Martymar … Thanks for the comments. If you go back to my post, what I said was the Williams sisters *started* the tradition. The times of their dominance was filled with power 🙂 Both then went down with a string of injuries. But you are right, Venus has come a long way. Was watching her match today.

  4. I disagree.djokovic beat federer in d australian as well. N hey if u said gone r d days then u shud have watched tipsvaric(hope i got tht rite) vs roddick. Sublime game by tipsvaric.

  5. Well Power play does win you matches. I didn’t deny that! 😀 I did watch the Roddick-Tipsaveric match. He was very impressive!

  6. Ah ! Wimbledon is in the air 😀 I agree that everybody on the court seems to be baseliners ! If you examine why,there was a time people complained that they were bored of Serve n Volley and now everybody wants it back.Tipsarevic played some really good shots,down the line winners especially the ones in that last tie break won him the match.If you want to see good one handed backhands which Fed himself recommends watch Gasquet,but yeah he exhibits patches of brilliance,chap seems to be stuck in junior tennis *sigh* As for Djokovic,he resorts to Mind games,nobody else seems to use the media to get into players minds like he does!

  7. 🙂 Well true there! I used to hate Sampras for his serve and volley. But now I realise that he was way better skilled than the hard hitting men and women of today! Tipsarevic was impressive. I just hope he maintains his rhythm. And well Djokovic should perhaps have been in Australian cricket team or maybe in one of the EPL clubs 😀

  8. Well,for once we bet on the same player,although I hate to watch the record of Borg being broken.I wonder how Rod Laver would have fared now.

  9. And for once we both would not want to bet on the ladies singles. Rod Laver would have still taken the grand slams in my view.

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