Is It Me Getting Old Or Was It Really Much More Exciting At Wimbledon 35 Years Ago?!

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by JAY1, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    As good as it is with Federer, Nadal & Djokovic wasn't it much more interesting and exciting back at Wimbledon 30/40 years ago 1974 to 1984 ?
    Borg, Connors & Mcenroe and the supporting cast of Ashe, Nastase, Tanner, Gerulaitis, Lewis, Mayer bros, Amrtraji, Rosewall, Vilas, Pannata etc etc.
    They all seemed like Top Trump heroes with their distinctive personality's, game's, style's, attire, hairstyles, racquets and fans.
    Was it that much better back in the day or is it just a 44 year old man looking back on fond times?
    Your perspective's will be read with interest........
     
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  2. Clintspin

    Clintspin Professional

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    I have to agree. I really can't watch much of men's or women's tennis anymore. It's just too boring without different styles of play and even the lack of strategy. Now it's just a lot of athleticism and heavy hitting until somebody misses probably due to exhaustion.
     
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  3. Swissv2

    Swissv2 Hall of Fame

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    You cannot be serious!

    How many more videos of passing shots do we see nowadays when players come to the net? How many ridiculous shots have commentators been absolutely flabbergasted saying "that's not possible!".

    For my experience, I have seen hundreds, if not thousands of videos of past and present games. The game has evolved, yes. People even called the "Sampras" era boring, due to the massive amount of serve+volley that got the point done quickly. With the introduction of new string technology that imparts more spin on the ball, serve+volley has become a rarity, as those individuals get passed easier. If you played the games side by side (actually get the videos and play them side-by-side instead of reminiscing about past games), then you will see a HUGE difference between yesteryear's games and today.

    Older individuals tend to talk about the "good old days" and complain about the modern age. I can understand that reasoning, as the "good old days" contained longer rallies and invokes a sense of nostalgia.

    Gone are the days when you see the back-forth-back-forth-back-forth of hits that didn't really have the "impossible shot" factor that you get nearly on a daily basis. Maybe, the old tennis made the game more...human...if you will, then modern tennis; a reachable platform that mere mortals believe they can attain or at least understand how a player could pull off such a shot. Now it seems like a lot of the older generation says "I don't get how they can possibly do that shot, so I have lost all interest in watching the game".
     
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  4. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I guess it's just the person's perspective. Wimbledon in 1977 did have a ton of dynamic players (imo) with unique styles of play. Even McEnroe played his first Wimbledon that year and reached the semifinals. I like different styles of play and all of this to me is a plus. However a few negatives are the really fast grass with some bad bounces which often did not allow for the best rallies. Also because the equipment wasn't as great as it is today it's harder to hit the incredible angles that they can do today unless you're Borg or a play near that level. One of the greatest Wimbledon matches I have ever seen was played in the semi that year and that was the great Borg-Gerulaitis five setter.

    But the problem with the old fast grass is that it can be considered dull to watch serve and volley with short rallies. From that perspective it may be preferable to many the grass of today that allow greater groundstroking.

    I guess the ideal for me is to have players with variety of styles with today's grass. I still think greats like Sampras can still easily serve and volley today.

    We all tend to look back and think a past era may be more interesting but was it really? I actually do think that era was fascinating, with diverse styles, interesting personalities (to say the least) with McEnroe, Connors, Borg, Gerulaitis, Nastase, Ashe, Vijay, Tanner etc.
     
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  5. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    Very interesting points.
    But I can't help feeling if Borg, Connors & Mcenroe were in their prime's now they would be sharing Slam's with Federer, Nadal & Djokovic as long as they had access to today's technology including pressurised tennis balls not like Slazenger non-pressurised one's that would come in boxes.
     
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  6. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    Perhaps you don't know that as long ago as the mid-60's, the game was considered relatively boring with the dominance of S&V, short points and little drama. The fans, and the powers that be, had a longing for the days and of the long baseline rallies of the 20's, 30's and 40's. Jimmy Van Allen, inventor of the tie breaker and the 21 point set (among other things), came up with an idea to neutralize the big serve with a separate serving line about 3 feet behind the baseline to prevent serves from being so dominant. There were also some pro events in which only one serve was allowed when Pancho was so completely dominating the pro tour. Problem was that his serve was still so much better that everyone else's, he dominated even more.

    All this to say that modern racquets and slower courts have accomplished what Van Allen couldn't. Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far (as it has in politics, but, I digress). IMO, the remedy is more strict limitations on racquet size and design and string material.
     
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  7. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    That makes a lot of sense to me.
    So how can the tennis world make those bits of fine tuning that the game needs?
     
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  8. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

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    I wouldn't hold my breath. Modern racquets aren't just easier for pros to tear the cover off the ball with, they're easier for amateurs to play with, too. Consumers want easier, and they want what their idols are playing with. The bell has been rung. The cat is out of the bag. You can't un-ring the bell or put the cat back in the bag.
     
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  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Man, I couldn´t agree more.35 yrs ago, the CENTENNIAL WIMBLEDON displayed some of the best ever tennis seen.Borg vs Gerulaitis was a big match, that was rated for a long time as the best ever.Mac, as much unknown as he was, propelled himsmelf as a semifinalist and the next big thing.Connors almost overcomes Borg and wins the title in one of the most exciting W finals one can recall.and Ginny Wade won the last big title for England...and still waiting.

    1977 Wimbledon was also the last time Rod Laver, the arguably best ever player, entered a major event.He gave top tenner Dick Stockton all he could, which is a hard 5 setter that Stockton won at the end.Tanner,Vilas,Orantes,Panatta,Nastase,Smith,Kodes,Okker...Rosewall had also played his last circuit series at the very prestigious WCT circuit.

    We also had second fiddel greats like all time classic Tony Roche,Fibak,Drysdale,Edmondson,Barazutti,Higueras,Amritraj,Solomon,Dibbs,Ramirez,Gottfried.

    We also heard about a young teen called Tracy Austin.Evert,King,Cawley and Wade played some of their best ever tennis...and Martina was just on the edge of becoming the world´s premiere woman.

    Oh¡¡¡ great doubles too.Newc and Roche for their last playing days,Hewitt-mc Millan,Gottfried-Ramirez,Alexander-Dent,Lutz-Smith,Riessen-Stewart,Fibak-Okker and Eddo-Marks...
     
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  10. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    watched a lot of matches from back then. they were entertaining. but today is all about the survival of the fittest. which has produced the best and most exciting tennis to date
     
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  11. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Yes, 1974 to 84 was much more interesting than right now. However, there were a lot of years between 1984 and now that were not nearly as interesting as the present. Some time periods are more interesting than others because of styles, personalities, etc. It isn't necessarily about the skill level of the athletes. Remember, the 70's were the tennis boom and it was big with the general populace. The buzz was not just in the small tennis community, but all around.
     
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  12. 14OuncesStrung

    14OuncesStrung Semi-Pro

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    I can't watch tennis from the 80s or even the early 90s...
    So slow compared to today.
     
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  13. TomT

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    The late 60's is when I first became a tennis fan. So, I share your nostalgic recollection of that era. But I find the current group of, say, top 100 players just as diverse and interesting as that era. Tennis has changed, I think, but there's still a diversity of player personalities and playing styles. Though you might be right that it was more marked during the 60's and 70's.

    Anyway, I'm just amazed by the modern level of play. The power, that is. It's not just a matter of racket and string technology. Players are, I think, on average, bigger, stronger, more athletic, and more professional. Hence, bottom line, better.

    That said, I love watching videos of Rosewall-Laver, Rosewall-Newcombe, Rosewall-Roche. Ok, I like Rosewall. It's just amazing to me that the guy was able to handle the best players in the world for as long as he did. A true testament to the value of accurate stroking. As Gonzalez said, Rosewall just played tennis like it was taught. Classic strokes, amazing footspeed and court sense -- not a bad combination.
     
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  14. War Safin!

    War Safin! Professional

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    Agreed.
    Furthermore...what happened to all the Robinson's Barley-water and Coke Cola dispenser they had at the back of the umpire's chair???

    Seriously though, every generation has it favorites - I have to admit, Wimbledon in the 1970s and 1980s was probably looked on as a 'Golden Era' because of the names that dominated tennis back then.
    However, I've become so used to seeing graphite-racquet-based-power-tennis since the 1990s that whenever I now watch a match from 1976 or 1980, I think 'How quaint!
     
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  15. Clintspin

    Clintspin Professional

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    Swissv2, I have to respectfully disagree. The clip below is very interesting tennis to me. It's only one of many great matches from the era.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDFd4q3CycU

    Is the one below good? In a way but to me not as interesting as the one above. I can barely stand to watch Nadal's forehand. The points are either too long or too short. Very little variety and of course almost no net play.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3Dv3RxlT3c
     
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  16. Clintspin

    Clintspin Professional

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    I would also ask, who wants to watch a 6 hour match? That's like a whole work day. I am not going to sit on my butt and watch any match for that long. I would rather be on the court playing.
     
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  17. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I was at the first match and I would agree that match was exciting. The atmosphere was electric with two of the most talented young players in the game playing in the second round. Yet at the same time that type of match is a rarity. Is it a superior match to the Djokovic-Nadal 2012 Australian Open match? The first one had a greater variety of shotmaking I believe. The second one had longer rallies and excellent rallies at that. You couldn't have long rallies at the US Open in Forest Hills in those days. The grass was so bad and the bounces, if you had any were terrible.

    Incidentally what the highlights don't show, if memory serves was how Vijay was in the zone in the first set, hitting a lot of winners that raised chalk dust. Amritraj was gifted and able to hit streaks in which he was almost unstoppable. Borg raised the level of his game and tied the match. Even at such a young age Borg had the reputation for clutch play. The last set that Vijay won at 6-2 was actually closely contested. At 4-2 for Vijay, Borg had a number of break points that Vijay saved. It was a wonderful match. Amritraj eventually lost in the tournament to the old man Ken Rosewall in four sets. In retrospect I wish Borg won because it would have been great to see a young Borg play Rosewall at the US Open on the awful grass.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
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  18. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    I was born in the early 80s, but didn't start watching / playing tennis until late Sampras / Agassi, then Hewitt / Safin / Federer. As I learned more about the game, I sought out the old matches (youtube makes this a lot easier). If I compare the 6 hour grunt fests of today with the classic all-court play of the past, it isn't even a choice. I'll watch a Borg match over a Nadal match any day, Jimmy Connors was Nole before Nole was Nole, all court / s & v is far more interesting that the grunt-grinding we have today, and having different surfaces is fascinating. Nothing compares to the late 70s / early 80s for tennis, except maybe a good Fed match.
     
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  19. helloworld

    helloworld Hall of Fame

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    Yep. Nadal VS Djokovic Australian Open 2012 was the worst thing that ever happened to Tennis...
     
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  20. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    I still love watching reruns of the old WO singles and doubles matches of the 70's and 80's including Womens.
     
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  21. Dreamcastin

    Dreamcastin Rookie

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    I like it all, I feel they could bring some more life back to the sport if we had a greater variety of court speeds. I would really love to see some more grass court tournaments. Seems to me like adding some good grass tournaments and pushing back wimbledon would be awesome.
     
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  22. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    Hi there,
    I've heard many people mention the tennis boom or the golden era, when actually was it and what was it like?
    Was it really prominent in the day to day life of just the average person?
    I was 7 back in 1976 so I can't really remember what it was like?
     
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  23. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    I'm not quite old enough to remember the 70's, but even during the 80's and 90's there were a lot more people playing on public courts then there are now. Tennis in the US has lost a ton of popularity over the last 15 years or so. It good in one way because you don't really ever have to wait for courts, but it's bad for the game here. Also, a lot of places that used to have tennis courts have let them become overgrown and taken the nets down and such. Kinda sad. The courts I started playing on were in an apartment complex near my house growing up. We'd hop the fence with one dead ball and a couple of wooden racquets from Caldor and play until the super came and kicked us out.

    The apartment complex is still there 30 years later, but the courts are gone.

    I think the country club aspect of tennis has been hurt by the big serves of the 90's and now the baseline bashers. Golf looks much more leisurely to the bourgeois Jimmy Buffet yuppie than this sweaty tennis nonsense. :)
     
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  24. Clintspin

    Clintspin Professional

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    dman is correct. I caught the tail end of the boom. People used to get into verbal fights over the courts because they were so busy. I sat on tennis benches for over an hour many times waiting to get on and play doubles. Now you have no trouble getting a public court but numerous public courts have been removed on let go to pot. The courts at middle and elementary schools have totally disappeared. Many of the park courts are in bad shape or gone. We just lost our last indoor tennis club. The club just could not stay profitable. It's strange because overall tennis lost it's boom but USTA League tennis is big. I do not live in a poor county.
     
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  25. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    I think the women's game is more interesting now. Watching videos of 70s and 80s era women playing, the ball never seemed to go any faster than 40 mph.
     
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  26. Alchemy-Z

    Alchemy-Z Hall of Fame

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    It's just like F1

    when Senna was racing it was raw ability and lots of personality and heated rivalries (especially with Prost)

    then you have schumacher generation...(who like fed Dominated and holds a lot of the records) but Safety was increased/technology has taken some of the work out of the drivers hands and track conditions are way better....how long they race in they rain etc...


    I think technology in a way is killing sport. if you didn't have hawk eye to end the debate of a in out shot I am sure we would see more emotion on the court. The perfection of the surfaces....wimbledon use to have a very un predictable surface to play.


    This is why boxing is still home of the highest paid athletes because its still man to man in a canvas ring and technology added has been to help the viewer see more action...but not change the sport.
     
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  27. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    I want to hear what it was like in the tennis boom/golden era?!
    Were players like Connors and Borg household names in the US & the UK.
    Was tennis always on everyone's lips, was there lots of drama/activity/interest.
    Was there a buzz everywhere about tennis?
     
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  28. Tshooter

    Tshooter Hall of Fame

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    "Even McEnroe played his first Wimbledon that year and reached the semifinals."

    The QF match against Dent remains a classic. Of on court ******baggery by a professional tennis player. (Though I think he may not have technically gone pro at the time).
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
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  29. Tshooter

    Tshooter Hall of Fame

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    Fixed above (re Jmac not being pro)
     
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  30. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    All the celbrities played tennis. On the TV shows of the time there were scenes of people playing tennis to show that they were "cool." Everyone knew of Connors, Borg, and McEnroe.
     
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  31. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    Wow that sounds incredible! And the three of them were such massive personalities. Larger than life. How incredible, it put's today's tennis and players in the shade.
     
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  32. usta2050

    usta2050 Rookie

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    I think it's because they didn't grow up in the western europe or america. LOL.

    also, tennis is no longer a major sport. the marketing, broadcasters, promotions, and other things that makes events specials have moved on to football (us and uk).
     
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  33. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    This is very true. Back in the 70s I would occasionally watch tennis with my mother; she was a big fan. She hated men's tennis back then because it was too often serve, return, volley, point over, serve, return, volley, point over, serve, return, volley, point over, serve, return, volley, point over. Game.

    She really liked to watch Evert play because of the longer rallies.

    I guess too much of any one, single style can be "too much of a good thing"--and thus somewhat monotonous and boring.
     
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  34. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

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    Womens tennis back in the tennis boom looks like slow motion. Today, most of them would just be scrubs trying to get into the round of 16. Christ Evert would have been blown off the court as would Billie Jean,even Navrotolova. Just watch a rerun and I don't think it's even the wood rackets, the players were just not as fast and athletic.

    The male players from the 70s would not have been anything close to the legends they became. The French Open were long grueling 50 stroke matches on one single point. The players nowadays just smack the ball and boom it's over. I prefer watching todays matches over the 70s. Someone asked McEnroe to draw a comparison, I don't have the exact quote but he put it this way, "I'm thankful I played tennis when I did" Even Johnny Mac admits it.

    The Australian Open 2012 final between Djokovik and Nadal was far more xciting than any final I saw back in the tennis boom.

    On the upside, recreational tennis was far more xciting. It was so much easier to pick up a match at a local park, their were many recreational players at the courts. City tournaments had plenty of spectators, it was xciting to be a part of it and it seemed so much more straightforward to find practice partners
     
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  35. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I'm 65 and have fond memories of watching the players (and others) that you mentioned. I have a big collection of YouTube and other videos from that era that I watch pretty regularly.

    Today's game is faster, and the players are, in general I think, more professional. I did really enjoy watching the Wimbledon men's quarters today. Great matchups of styles, technique and personalities. Almost as exciting as my memories of the olden days. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
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  36. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I would guess that the increase in the popularity of tennis in the US (at least the area where I was, which is all I can speak about) between, say, 1970 and 1980 was a byproduct of, mainly, the opening of the traditionally amateur grand slams to the pros (ie., the best players in the world), more TV coverage, and the US having a few of the very best players in the world who received a good amount of media coverage. Then there was Borg, Vilas, the great Aussies at the ends of their careers, etc. The development of racket technology was accelerated a bit. And any factors that I didn't mention. :)

    As others have mentioned, the attendance at public courts seemed to be significantly greater in the 70's than it is now. At least that's my experience.
     
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  37. mctennis

    mctennis Hall of Fame

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    I liked the older tennis better than the baseline bashers and grunters/squealers we have now. More variations in different players and styles of play. Today they just hang out on the baseline- pretty boring. Look at the grass courts now towards the end of the tournament compared to the court wear pattern 35 years ago. BIG difference. Not a better game now- just different and very boring to watch match after match of baseline bashers. just my 2 cents worth.
     
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  38. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

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    Back in 70s to early 80s, selecting a tennis racquet was fairly simple. In most cases u bought an inexpensive wood racquet if you were a beginner. After a year or two you bought most likely a wood Jack Kramer Pro Staff put some gut string in it and that was it.

    Some rec players played the Connors T2000 wilson aluminum racquet and Arthur Ashe Comp, the first composite racquet-fiber glass-aluminum-great power. Metal or composite raquets back then werre very stiff. I played with the wood Jack Kramer until about the mid 1980s.
     
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  39. BeGreat

    BeGreat Rookie

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    I'm 30. I love serve and volley or sv against baseliners. However, it's impossible not to like what Federer/Nadal/Djokovic can do with the ball.

    It's a different story with the rest of the men's tennis--all clones. Very boring.
     
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  40. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    They'd have to reduce drastically the size and power of racquets and not just quicken courts or have more grass tournaments to get more variety of style and player in the game.
     
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  41. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    Halfway through reading Inside Tennis (A season on the pro tour)
    by Peter Bodo. It's incredible!
    He spent 1978 with the pros on the tour.
    It sounds such an exciting time. Magical even. Reading & hearing about today's tour is not anywhere near as exciting.
    This reflect's the players from both time's I think.
    Has anyone else read this, what views do you have?
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
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  42. droliver

    droliver Professional

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    I loved early 1980's tennis. The first match I really remember as a child is the 18-16 tiebreak at Wimbledon. Tennis was pretty rare on TV (this is pre cable) and really all you got to see was Wimbledon and the US Open on the weekends. It was a BIG deal when USA, HBO, and ESPN started showing matches during the week about a decade later.

    That being said, I think the tennis now is as exciting as it ever was. While I enjoyed it then, it's hard to watch grass court tennis from the 1980's and 1990's as it's so choppy. Almost no rallies. The Fed-Murray match and last years finals were sepctacular viewing IMO!
     
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  43. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    even had a "celebrity pro" in vince van patten :)

    late 70's early 80's...I'd stretch it and say all the way up to '87, when Boris and Steffi were big time, tennis was just huge. Boris and Steffi brought the tennis boom over to Germany. Towards the end of the 80's I just think it started losing steam and never got it back.

    Connors, Borg, McEnroe...even Wilander, Lendl and Noah, were quasi-celebrities.

    and the women's game was huge w/Chrissie and Martina...with only a few upstarts like Austin and Mandlikova edging their way in.
     
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  44. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    Last year wandering around the outside courts at Wimbledon I spotted Neale Fraser watching an Aussie junior playing a match.
    I did'nt want to disturb him but it's not everyday you get the opportunity to speak to a Wimbledon mens singles champion from over 50 years ago (he beat Rod Laver in the 1960 Wimbledon final in 4 sets). At the beginning he was a bit short with me, but then he warmed up and was charming.
    I asked him about tennis in the 60's, 70's & 80's.
    In a shortened version of what he told me, he said "tennis in the 60's was about playing with your mates all the time and visiting different places around the world while doing something you loved". He then said from about 1973 onwards for aabout a decade. "tennis was something so exciting to be part of, it was THE thing to be doing"! He said his career was winding down but there was an electricity in the game that crossed over into day to day life for a lot of the public.
    I asked him "which players were at the forefront of this"?
    He said "Connors & Borg with Vilas just behind them & Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong & Chris Evert in the women's game".
    I said to him "I wish I was there"?!
    He replied saying the only way it could have been bigger was if Connors had beaten Borg in the 1977 Wimbledon final, it would have kept the two of them on a par with each other as opposed to Borg virtually dominating him for the following 4 years.
    There were so many more things I could have asked him but I felt it was best to leave him to watching this match.
    Wonderful experience though.
     
    #44
  45. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne G.O.A.T.

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    TomT,

    You write that the current players are more athletic than the stars of 40 to 50 years ago. I have a certain reservation to that statement.

    Remember the strong bodies of Emerson, Laver, Borg, Vilas, the playing arm of the Rocket, the first-class condition of all the Aussie players who had learnt at Harry Hopman.

    What I miss today are great volleys, a serve and volley game, extraordinary touch like halfvolleys and lobs.
     
    #45
  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You guys were young then, wide eyed wondered, and everything seemed new, fresh, exciting, and special.
    Just like the view your kids have of today's game.
     
    #46
  47. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Don't forget Gonzalez, Hoad, Nastase and Sedgman. Great athletes with great speed.
     
    #47
  48. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I love today's game. Lots of great athletes and a number of excellent players who I think are poor athletes as in any era.
     
    #48
  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I wonder what constitutes a good athlete?
    Is it pure speed?
    Jumping ability?
    Swimming ability?
    The ability to adapt to and perform well in lots of different sports without years or decades of dedicated practice?
    Or?
    Is MichaelJordan a great athlete? Basketball, yes, golf, maybe not.
    Ever see Olympic swimmers play basketball? You'd vomit.
    I wonder.
     
    #49
  50. Fed Kennedy

    Fed Kennedy Hall of Fame

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    With Roger
    Totally, this is like soooooo boring

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?desktop_uri=/watch?v=MGi02zAh60Q&v=MGi02zAh60Q&gl=US
     
    #50

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