All court tennis conditions and the Rafter


I was watching an old clip of the 2002 Montreal final between Patrick Rafter and Andrei Pavel and found myself completely entertained, more than I expected to be. This kind of tennis is absent from the modern day. It is neither a serving competition nor a "see who can hit the most topspin" war of attrition. It is a game of shotmaking, precision and even touch. Taking risks and moving forward behind good shots is a winning strategy, but not required.

My question for discussion is.. what kind of conditions allow this type of play to happen and why is it gone? I'm going to guess low bouncing courts but not necessarily super fast... medium speed? Lighter tennis balls? Is it impossible to make this game style work with modern technology?
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Surfaces slowed and became bouncier in early 2000s (although it started late 90s).
Mostly grass courts at Wimbledon and hard courts at US open. Australian open was already slow and bouncy and did not change until 2009afaik.

Heavier balls with with much densely packed outer layer.

And polyester strings. You can hit hard shots with spins and angles formerly impossible.

I speculate everything thing was well coordinated with protective ranking and seeding system.

It created immensely dominating and thus popular a few players such as Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. It's a smashing success for tennis tour IMHO.


lower bouncing and quicker courts (mainly the bounce). Net play gets a lot easier when every ball doesn't sit up for two hours.