Discussion in 'Pros' Racquets and Gear' started by cabernetjunkie, Sep 4, 2006.
What are your thoughts?
It would be interesting to see what would happen if the ATP listened to her. I think the game would be more interesting to watch if you play it, but not to the average person because they wouldn't be able to understand the tactics involved. But this will never happen, the top players will protest it because the rankings will change totally (goodbye Rafa), and a lot of players would lose a lot of money. Not to mention that the ATP is gutless.
Good article, thanks for posting it. I couldn't agree with her more.
I think the players started to go Babolat once the good polys started to appear. I think all they'd need to do is to ban polys and the Babolats would die(on tour).
BTW: Is that true what Martina said about the golf clubs? Seems like she was exaggerating.
I agree, the equipment has changed the way the game is played. Serve and volley people rarely exist. Actually, I love being at the net.
their would be no TW if they regulated racquets.
Martina is just old fashioned and needs to adapt to the new style.
While some dismiss Navratilova's comments as sour grapes, since she's over the hill anyway, people who really love tennis, all of tennis, will agree with her though it may not all be because of racquet size and construction. When you cause the serve and volleyers to go the way of the dinosaurs you are killing a good portion of tennis style and history. I love Edberg, Rafter, McEnroe, Mandlikova, etc. What makes tennis really interesting is, like boxing, the clashes of style. If the powers that be really want to there are many ways to speed up the game to make it faster and better for the s&v types.It really is depressing thought when even the geezers at Wimbledon(for God's sake) decided to slow things down and make the net rushers obsolete.
What we have now are a bunch of indentical, baseline hugging zombies who wouldn't know how to get to the net if they had a guide dog( the women's side in particular).The net rushers are a lost generation.
Why would there be no TW? If racquets are regulated in size, length, or whatever other criteria they wish to impose, it doenst mean that many manufacturers cant compete to make the best possible frame. Tw would still have just as many brands, but instead of the superoverize frames, we'd see some more mids.
I agree with her totally. It's easy to dismiss her and say that modern tennis is exactly the way it should be, but let's face it, tennis is not as popular as it used to be. That's really the bottom line. Maybe it's the personalities, but I think the quality of the game has diminished.
There should be regulations on racquet and string materials, as well has head sizes. No racquet heads larger than 95 inches, maybe 90.
First of all, who proclaimed her as the best volleyer ever? surely she doesnt mean including the atp tour? i will give her the best volleyer ever amongst the wta'ers but nowhere close amongst the men...that's her being delusional..we all know Andy Roddick is the best volleyer ;O
Also, she is wrong about golf doing a great job to controlling the gear. It's hard to hit the new jumbo size drivers crooked especially if you are an advanced player..how often to you see guys hitting OB off the tee these days? Also, to compensate for the ease of hitting it long and straight, many of the shorter courses are obsolete, new ones are being stretched out to 7500 yards and they have had to narrow fairways so guys often cant even hit driver off the tee.
Also, the cat is way out of the bag and it is too late to change the headsize in tennis, and if they did, i think they should only change it for the pros only. it would obsolete far too many careers and would require technique adjustments and there is no way that would work. I believe from the beginning, or at least after the wood era that a racquets length + width should not exceed 36" and could be made of any material..that would change the strings around a bit too and you would see more gut and less poly. aint gonna happen...should have been just like baseball....almost anything goes until you get to the bigs, and then you have bat restrictions..serve/volley and all court play would return i think.
Tennis should have followed baseball's example by keeping the sport pure and using only wood racquets. They should also have kept the majors on natural surfaces like clay and grass. Oh well, it's too late.
I totally agree with Martina. Some of these racquets and strings have gotten way out of hand. When you have a guy who's only 5' 10" hitting 142mph serves like Ben Becker did yesterday against Agassi, something is definitely rotten in the State of Denmark.
I'd say 90 sq. in. should be the maximum head size and let's get rid of the poly strings. But even better would be going back to wood racquets!
Nobadmojo, i disagree with one point you made, i think its good that there is less gut being used, and more poly. If the demand among pros for natural gut goes down, maybe people will take a hint, and switch over to synthetic strings, as the trends have already shown. In the interest of the cows, a move away from gut is a good thing.
I can see wanting to go back to wood. I can see wanting to stay with graphite. But why would you care about what the strings are made of if you use a graphite racquet to begin with?
my thoughts--she's biased. she is a serve and volleyer, so of course she doesn't like the way the game is now. if the game was still the same, then she could still be winning titles, that's what I think her real beef with racquet technology is.
although, I might be biased too, since I didn't grow up in the serve & volley age.
She's an old lady now. She would not still be winning titles, at least not in singles. I think she just wants more variety in the game, like there used to be.
oh, no doubt she wouldn't be winning in singles, I meant in doubles--that she'd have more of a chance.
who does navratilova think she is? first she proclaims that she is the greatest volleyer now she is complaining about the racquets and strings.
in my opinion the game has evolved to a power based game. i think evolution of the sport is great; i mean in the next 20 years who knows the style could be completely different again [maybe serving and volleying would be popular again; who knows] but i think that evolution and evolving is a way for tennis to survive. think about it this way if animals and humans dont evolve over time they would die because they cant adapt. well that is my take on it [please dont bash me:neutral: ]
Martina also won many grand slam tournaments using those rackets with a larger head size and better technology. Apparently, those rackets didn't bother her then like they do now.
I played with a wooden racquet for the first time a month ago and developed new respect for those who played with woodies. Miss the sweetspot and you feel the pain. It requires great control and precision to play with a woodie. Most of the topspin game you see today will be gone with wood. No swinging wildly and still catching the ball on the strings. I understood how different tennis is today with the modern racquets. It is not just the frame and the strings - the grip cushioning is way more comfortable compared to a layer of leather wrapped around the wood.
Just because something changes does not mean it is evolving. Evolution implies growth or development, but if I'm not mistaken tennis is LESS popular than it was in the days of Connors and McEnroe. This is not evolution, but it is change.
What's so great about a power based game? There is a trend toward more powerful technology so serve and volleying will not return if this trend continues. A way for tennis to survive? If anything, tennis is dying because of these changes. What exactly does tennis have to adapt to besides the technology? The will of the people? Remember, tennis' glory days are behind us, far behind us. What has happened is that corporate competition in the field of racquet technology has changed a game in a way that did not occur naturally.
The bottom line is that tennis is less popular than it was. The game emphasizes creative point construction less and power more. Power over strategy? How can anyone say this is good for tennis?
Actually I thnk tennis is less popular <in the States> because we have turned into a nation of fat asses. When they invent some sort of waist clip that will hold your bag of Doritos so you can munch between points, maybe things like that will help. ;O. Obesity in the US is a HUGE <pun intended> problem, and I heard that life expectency here in the States for the first time is less rather than more amongst the latest crop.
Seems like this would make sports less popular across the board though right? Or are you saying that tennis is different in that when people stop playing, people stop watching? As opposed to football where few people actually play football, but everyone watches.
Because it's the poly strings that allow the current pros to use uber powerful racquets like the Pure Drive and still hit the ball in. Like someone else mentioned earlier in this thread, without the poly strings, many pros would give up on their Babolats and the like and move back to smaller headed, less powerful racquets. Even Martina mentioned the new strings in her interview.
In response to Navratilova's racquet regulation
Yes, it's amusing because she's had over twenty years to complain about oversized (Prince Original Graphite 110) and overpowered (Wilson Pro Staff Graphite Kevlar & Wilson Profile) racquets. We had a guy named Sampras popping 120-130 mph serves fifteen years ago. We also had a hard-hitter from both sides in a lady named Seles. Could it be possible that today's athletes are stronger and smarter than yesterday's athletes? Employing both brawn and improved technique has also had an effect on today's tennis. Could it be possible that Lendl's 'power game' also drew criticisms because of his stiff Adidas racquet?
Sure the game is different, but I feel that it is more entertaining. I appreciated Seles and Serena slugging it out on the baseline. I appreciated Sampras slugging a 132 mph serve down the middle past Agassi's oversized, yellow and blue Donnay.
The serve and volley game wasn't a popular junior tennis style in the 90's, even with Sampras' popularity. Sure, it's a classic playing style but so is Connors', Wilander's, and Lendl's. In order for S&V player to truly survive, a player will have to conjure up a style and athleticism up against the bar that Federer and Nadal have set.
You can get the same effect by stringing gut tightly. Outlawing polys is not going to bring less powerful racquets to the game.
I think either we go with wood, or we go with whatever you want to play with. To say that graphite is acceptable, but only without poly strings, seems rather contrived.
Smart than yesterday's athletes? I don't think so. The lack of power forced players to think of placement. Placement is a thinking man's game.
I have a collection of wood and graphite racquets and I enjoy playing with both. It's good to train with wood too because when you go back to graphite it's like playing with a child's toy. Wood racquets certainly look cooler in my opinion, with new racquets trying to look all space-age even though many top pros just paint on the space crap over their older frames. A lot of new racquets just look cheap to me.
Why all the sudden is poly bad? Its not more powerful. Its less powerful than gut(what she uses) and therefore, you just have to be stronger. I think the ATP is doing their best to regulate doping, and that's what is changing the game. And BTW, what top ATP player uses a powerful racquet anyway(besides Roddick?) FEDERER IS UNBEATABLE AND PLAYS WITH A BOARD.
I'll have to say that there is more parity in athleticism of the top-50 players now compared to the athleticism in the 1990's. How would P.Haarhuis, D. Rostagno, A.Krickstein have fared against the likes of today's N.Mahut, F.Lopez, or P.Srichaphan (all outside top-50). I'm sure most players in the pro ranks are competent placement hitters. It's the power AND placement that separates today's players from yesterday. And yes, todays players are smarter because they are more knowledgeable about diet, excercise, and self-preservation -- that is why racquet and string technology isn't an issue to me because everybody is allowed to use it. But it's still the best athletes that are at the top of tennis.
I agree with her in some respects, i would like to see more variety in the game. I think making a maximum regulated head size would be the best step. I also think a maximum flex rating limit should be part of the regulations. Say, 65 flex maximum. That way people would have to use more of their skill rather than sheer racquet stiffness to get the ball away. Poly strings are only for very good players as they have no power, so i cant' see that as an advantage.
"I'm the greatest volleyer that's ever played, and I would have a hard time serve-volleying in today's game, so something is wrong."
Sad to see Martina say that- if she's the greatest volleyer ever..why does she feel the need to remind people of that?
I do have something to say in response to this. First off, if you saw Federer on the street would you ever think he was the greatest athlete in any sport? Federer doesn't look any bigger than Borg did, yet Federer is the best in the world.
Secondly, does advancement in exercise mean someone is smarter? That's like saying a retarded guy with a plasma TV is smarter than Einstein. Einstein didn't have access to a plasma TV so he must be dumber. Your argument makes no sense. Also, self preservation? Seems like injuries are WAY more common in the modern game. Ever played with wood? I have and can tell you that tennis elbow is virtually nullified with wood racquets. Injuries are rampant on both sides of the tennis tour.
"Racquet technology isn't an issue to me because everyone is allowed to use it."
You're missing the point here. The issue is how it affects the game, not how it gives unfair advantages to certain players. Serve and volleying is gone. Cat and mouse tennis is gone. It's about bashing the ball now. You can try and argue that this style is entertaining, but you completely miss the point when you say that it's okay cause everyone can use it. If everyone used jet packs on court would this be okay?
"But it's still the best athletes that are at the top of tennis."
This makes little sense too. Tennis players are athletes. It's like saying the best tennis players are at the top of tennis. If you're saying that the most fit players are the best, then you're probably flat wrong. Federer is not the fastest or the strongest yet he's the best. Technique does not require fitness. Fat golfers prove this. Fitness is a component of the game, but I'm sure there's some guy that runs the 40 yard dash faster than anyone and you've never heard of him.
I hate to tell this to Martina, but being the best volleyer in the history of the game doesn't mean everything. I think Pete was the greatest server, yet now he would be mediocre. Someone else from earlier times may have the best forehand or backhand, it doesn't mean they would be winning now. It means that for their prime, they had the best something. There is more to tennis than volleying Martina, and other players are capitalizing on that. Martina sounds a little bitter, maybe because she thinks she should still be winning singles matches, maybe it has something to do with AGE.
I really have to agree with her. It hasn't hurt baseball to stick with all wood bats, even though everyone else uses alumnium. Golf clubs have been restricted, it's not the mfg's that dictate the rules. I'm not suggesting using wooden racquets, but perhaps banning poly strings and/or limiting head sizes to 90 inches on the pro tour wouldn't be a bad idea. I'm not even 30 so I'm not an old fuddy duddy, in fact I learned during the Agassi-bashing and widebody craze. But even for me, it seems like the majority of players are playing the same monotonous bash-n-dash type game. It really is boring to watch and is probably costing the sport some fans. The casual fans I watch with like to see the creative points (ooooh! ahhh!) instead of the bashfest.
I wonder if she would have said the same thing if she was a baseliner??
Banning polyester is only going to make the game more powerful.
Poly is counter-intuitive. Poly is used b/c the racquets with gut are too powerful, so they use the poly to tame them down. If there is no poly, they can't tame modern racquets' power, thus they'll have to use lower-powered frames. The banger philosophy and poly goes hand-in-hand.
I guess Vilas is off the hook. Now it's Martina's turn.
Athleticism doesn't necessarily equate to strength or body size. Look at Federer, look at Tiger Woods, they are not the most imposing athletes but their athleticism have led them to the top of their professions. In general, however, athletes today are bigger and fitter than the athletes of yesteryear. Compare the size and general fitness of athletes from the 1970's in football, basketball, tennis, and golf with the athletes of today. Its the evolution of athletes that has made the playing field smaller.
Advanced knowledge in fitness and excercise do enhance performance. I believe that more tennis players today are physically and psychologically prepared to handle hard-hitting 30-shot rallies than ever before. There is no doubt that improved athleticism in tennis has raised the level of play in tennis.
A better analogy (rather than the retarded guy and his plasma vs. Einstein) would be an engineer having the the teachings of Einstein, Maxwell, and Feynman, to create a more accurate simulation than Einstein and his meager resources.
As for racquet and string technology, the power is generated by the tennis players themselves rather than the racquet. When racquets and strings start assisting the players in an unnatural way (like a hollow aluminum bat to hit the ball farther or thinner clubface of a golf driver creating a 'trampoline ' effect on the drive) then the tennis ruling board should start talking. But if the ball is moving faster just because the athlete can move the racquet at a higher velocity, then Martina shouldn't complain.
The raised level of athleticism has changed the game of tennis more than any racquet or string.
I have seen several good volleyers on the mens draw. Moodie was doing well off and on giving Nadal some trouble by rushing him with the serve and volley. He just wasn't consistent enough with it to win. The problem is that the serve and volley style is more difficult to learn and practice. It's a much tougher thing to do. Maybe if everyone hit the ball at 50-60 mph with no spin it would be easy, but would anyone really want to go back to that. With kids starting younger and learning to play baseline tennis, there would have to be some kind of conscious decision to change to a serve and volley style. I just don't think that is going to happen too often.
Maybe they will make the balls heavier or something and slow things back down, but the way the crowds cheer when people hit a serve at 140mph, I don't think it's likely.
Davenport, Henin Hardenne, The Williams sisters, Mauresmo, Clijsters, and a few ATP players, including our new friend Bennie Becker, use all-gut string jobs in their powerful racquets. I don't tink they would care one way or another whether poly was banned or not.
Golf regulates the distance golf balls can fly, dimples, etc. The limit the size and shape of the grooves on irons...They are attempting to keep the standards of the game. What if professional baseball went with metal bats?
All she is saying it the USTA needs to step up and limit the improvements in technology. If the next 10 years a new material/strings are developed - the reduce the skill of the players. The banned the spaghetti string job, they need to put limits on length, weight, size, head size, string techonology...
Have you read this article about Roman Prokes, the stringer of the stars?
Especially this quote:
"[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]A key component to the job is understanding the subtlety of string and how different strings respond to different frames. Prokes says the Luxilon string, a string used by Agassi as well as other top players, has revolutionized the game.
[/FONT][/FONT] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]"Babolat got incredibly lucky because it coincided with Luxilon strings," Prokes says. "You probably wouldn’t see Babolat racquets anywhere (on the pro tour) if it weren’t for Luxilon. The Babolat racquet is a wide-body racquet with a lot of power, which most people on the professional tour can’t handle because the ball will sail without the Luxilon string. Luxilon string enables you to have control with the racquet. You have to have a long swing and you have to be able to come over the ball. It’s not for people who come to the net, it’s not for serve-and-volleyers, it’s not for people with short swings because if you miss with Luxilon — let’s say you hit too deep — your natural reaction is ‘Oops, I over-hit it I’m gonna hit less.’ With Luxilon, it’s the opposite because you’re going to hit more because once you start holding back or hitting flat it flies. It grips the ball and gives you incredibly bite on the ball.
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]"[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]A lot of people who used to use Luxilon string exclusively have switched to half and half — Federer does that — people start Luxilon with the mains and natural gut in the crosses, that’s great, but it still plays 75 percent Luxilon and 25 percent gut. Federer, for example, switched it because he’s coming off playing with natural gut so he wants the racquet to play more like natural gut, but he needs more control. So he uses natural gut in in the mains and Luxilon in the crosses. I think it’s the best thing to happen to tennis in 10, 15 years for everybody. I do it for the pros and for retail. The strings don’t move, the strings don’t break and its phenomenal for a lot of people."[/FONT][/FONT]
Well the racquets definitely assist them. Saying it's unnatural is a matter of opinion. The same arm will never hit a ball faster with a graphite racquet it will with wood, therefore the racquets are responsible for an increase in speed. As for strength, I don't think anyone has had a bigger forearm than Rod Laver. McEnroe will attest to his. Laver could hit winners from anywhere with wood. Overall, I agree that players are fitter. New ways of training have evolved along with supplements and science. But you said that players are smarter because of this and that's just silly. Fitter does not mean smarter.
"The raised level of athleticism has changed the game of tennis more than any racquet or string."
That's just plain wrong. McEnroe hits his serve harder today at 46 than he ever did with a wood racquet. A larger headsize also means players have room for error and can swing away, which they do often. The ball is moving faster because the racquet can be swung more quickly and this is because of racquet technology.
Just look at Connor's run at 39 years old. He proved the old game can match up. If he had played with wood like Borg did in his comeback, he would have been destroyed.
For me the rackets are not the problem nor the strings. What did really changed since 1990? We had polys at this time - even Big Banger - and we had widebodies at this time. So what happened to the game? At first the players are more and more able to handle big serves of 125 mph and more because they are used to it. In the beginning of the 90s every serve over 125 was giving a "wow" to the spectators. Today even small baseliners like Hewitt serve with 125. But what kind of racket is he using? A 10-year-old SRD Tour 90. The best player in the world Roger Federer is using a probably 87 or 88 sq in racket with a 17 mm beam. The hardest hitting guy on tour (if he an his peak) Marat Safin plays with a PC 600. So what does MN wants to regulate? Go back to wooden rackets???
In my eyes the problem is the surface and the balls. The balls are much softer than 10 or 15 years ago. On softer balls you can hit as hard as you want to and it won't go out. The courts are that small (remember Hewitt saying the AO court were slower than clay!) so the baseliners have a lot of time to prepare even for todays fast strokes. So that's what's making them able to fire these hard shots all the time. The polys and the rackets are just a small part of this bis package.
What would Nadal do if polys and racket widths of more than - let's say - 22 mm were banned? He would ask Babolat for a 100 sq in Pure Control with 70 RA and a bit more open string pattern. He'd probably string it with kevlar and there wouldn't be a great difference.
My suggest: Go back to the surfaces and balls of the beginning of the 90s and we will have more serve & volliers again. But also the people who would cry because it's only a service game. Same as we had it 10 years before. Do you all remember the Wimby final Sampras - Ivanisevic?!
Breakpoint, thanks for citing me as the reference on the other page
doesn't look like Becker is using gut in the mains, looks like that blue hurricane stuff
I'll quote myself:
Roddick also used full gut on his powerful Babolat when he was #1. I stand corrected on B Becker. There was a post in another thread which claimed he went back and forth from Pacific to Babolat gut. The rest of my statement stands though.
This thread raises a lot of interesting questions. I agree that s and v is very fun to watch, but some of what you are proposing is ridiculous. I mean s and v without baseliners to play against them would not be very much fun, and 90 square " racquets? Come on that right there would almost completley destroy the most topspin ever produced by a human arm, which is nadal's forehand.
You can't suggest things that would bring back s and v when it would also be destroying baseliners. This would be like making the 3 point line 10 feet closer, which is to say totally take out one style of play(spot shooters).
I would like some changes but not something that would destroy a whole style, just ones that would bring a style back
There were plenty of baseliners in the days of wood racquets, as well as the early days of graphite. The idea is to go back to the days when different players chose different styles based on their individual strengths and talents, rather than have every pro be a baseliner, which is where tennis is heading.
need2paint makes the same point I was about to make. Ever heard of Bjorn Borg? He lived at the baseline, though he did do alright at net at Wimbledon. Smaller racquet heads wouldn't do away with baseliners at all. I happen to love baseliners. Agassi is my favorite player, then Borg, but I just tire of all the mindless bashers you see today.
90" racquets wouldn't do away with baseliners at all. Hell, Federer uses a 90" (or so) racquet and he is pretty much a baseliner these days.
But the racquets and strings ARE assisting the players in unnatural ways. That's the whole point of what Martina is saying. There's no way the pros of today could hit the ball in the exact same way that they do with their Pure Drives and poly strings if they were uisng wood racquets and gut strings.
Have you ever even played with a wood racquet for an extended period of time competitively, like 5 or more years? You need to have used a wood racquet to be able to make a fair comparison to today's racquets and strings.
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