Originally Posted by ollinger
Peple want it both ways: they claim the game is more physical now so it's harder to win more titles, but at the same time say that nutrition and training are so much more advanced than they were decades ago. Which is it? The players of the 1960s were poorly conditioned, trained on beer, but were able to play enough to win 200 titles????
Thing is that it's tough in any era. Laver used to play every day when he was in the pros. They played in horrible conditions and horrible places. It only started getting much better in 1968 when the Open Era started. No there were not ballet stars dancing around. Incidentally aside from singles most of them played doubles. Less effort than singles of course but still some extra work.
Here's Laver when he was 36 against Connors in 1975. Do they look like they're just dancing? Like I wrote earlier, I understand Connors collapsed of cramps after the match and Laver walked around easily saying he could have played ten sets.
A few points here, it's not easy swinging a heavier wooden racquet for thousands of swings over the years. The vibrations also hurt your arm. The equipment like the tennis shoes were not nearly as great as what we have now. When I used to play when I was younger I used to get blisters all the time on my feet. I never get them now due to the better shoes.
Guys like Vines and Budge could barely walk after a few matches on their tours due to the horrible bloody blisters on their feet. I don't think they got that from dancing around. A few quotes from Budge's excellent book "Don Budge, a Tennis Memoir"--When we could, then, we would leave right after a match and drive as far as possible that night, stopping only when we were all just too tired to continue. Often we would pull in at random into some tourist cabins or a small-town hotel. More than once we startled some wizened old room clerk, who would be slumped down, half asleep, when we would barge in at two or three in the morning.
Another quote--"I pulled off my shoes as gingerly as I could. The bottoms of my feet were covered with blood that was gushing from several big broken blisters. "Ellie," I said, "how in the world am I going to keep playing this tour?" We've hardly started and look at my feet already."
Ellie only chuckled, "Well kid," he said, "take a look at these." He carefully pulled off a shoe and the sock off one of his feet, and , if possible, the sight reveal was even uglier and bloodier than the one my feet had prevented.
It's all subject to debate whether it was tougher in the past or now but no doubt we do have better health care on the court now. Medical people are there to take care of the pros. Clothing is better so the sweat evaporates quickly now. Player have teams of trainers and professional caring for them.
I would say Tennis at the Top Levels has always been brutal.
Ask Jimmy Connors if every match he played wasn't a battle.