Originally Posted by TMF
Your homogeneous theory is a flaw because Borg was consistently winning RG and Wimbledon back-to-back. You can argue homgeneous sufaces is even tougher to win because the entire field can compete at high level, unlike specialists where there's a few players that are contestant to win on certain surfaces(lol). All rounds are tough today because they are great baseliners on all surfaces. I suppose you believe it would be better for Sampras had every surfaces played like Plexi(
). And even specialists in the 90s weren't always making the final(eg Courier who isn't a grass specialist yet made the 1993 Wimbledon final). That's proved there's holes in the 90s where the window of oppotunities for non-great players can win a slam. Unlike today, all surfaces are heavily guarded. There's no weak players sneaking in to grab the slam.
Don't forget even though the surfaces are more homogeneous today, the players still have their best and worst surfaces. For Nadal is clay and hc, Roddick is hc and clay, Roger is grass and clay, etc....
a variety of surfaces meant you had proportionally less players specializing in the metronomic low-error baseline game we see today. that, coupled with the fact that the surfaces were generally faster across the board meant upsets were more likely—a guy could get hot and ride it to victory. these days even a 'zoning' player is forced to contend with slower courts, generally, and statistically speaking, the competition on the other side of the net is likely to be more consistent off the ground than in years past.
while it's true some of the top players have their preferred surfaces, the fact is that playing style has indeed become more homogenized. it's a more grueling style of play, no question, but it takes some variables off the table as well, and at the end of the day, the guys who are incrementally better at that style enjoy a year-round advantage over the field, whereas in the past the advantage would shift more markedly from season to season, surface to surface. today's grass is slower, and it's still quite different from HC—the problem is, though, the guys approach both with roughly the same game plan, and that is the leveling influence.