Are setting racquet limits the best way to bring back variety in tennis?

Winners or Errors

Hall of Fame
I think groundstroke technique has definitely changed, and this is independent of strings. You mention children being taught to swing out. Look at some 90s matches on youtube. The one-hand-backhand players don't follow all the way through like we do now. They have this abbreviated follow-through that stops early and looks a bit awkward, a bit like an amateur player. I wonder if this is partly due to pre-2000s players still using such heavy racquets. I wouldn't be able to follow all the way through on backhand with my arm turning over at the end if my racquet weighed 400g.
Yeah, definitely looks like an amateur. ;) Just no way those 80s or 90s guys could fully swing on a backhand. I mean, just watch this link: Edberg hitting backhands...
 

cortado

Professional
Yeah, definitely looks like an amateur. ;) Just no way those 80s or 90s guys could fully swing on a backhand. I mean, just watch this link: Edberg hitting backhands...
Youtube won't let me view your link. But look at this one. There's a clear difference between today's one-hander and Edberg's. There's less take-back, and less follow-through. And the movement is slower. It does look more like an amateur trying to imitate today's technique but not getting it right.
 

Winners or Errors

Hall of Fame
Youtube won't let me view your link. But look at this one. There's a clear difference between today's one-hander and Edberg's. There's less take-back, and less follow-through. And the movement is slower. It does look more like an amateur trying to imitate today's technique but not getting it right.
Not seeing it. To which one handed backhand are you comparing it? Saying "today's" isn't enough. Wawrinka? Thiem? Federer? Gasquet?
 
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Deleted member 777746

Guest
Youtube won't let me view your link. But look at this one. There's a clear difference between today's one-hander and Edberg's. There's less take-back, and less follow-through. And the movement is slower. It does look more like an amateur trying to imitate today's technique but not getting it right.
The reason Edberg's stroke is shorter is because the grass was...fast and he was playing a serve and volleyer. His backhand is easily one of the best in history. He kickstarted the process of Fed's backhand becoming what it is today.
 

tonylg

Legend
Not seeing it. To which one handed backhand are you comparing it? Saying "today's" isn't enough. Wawrinka? Thiem? Federer? Gasquet?
Could you imagine Thiem or Wawrinka attacking the Becker first serve on fast grass from on or inside the baseline?

These guys have all the time in the world due to slow courts and massive beds of poly that allows them to rely on spin to drop everything in .. and they still can't do what Stefan did with 85 square inches of gut.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Is there anyone under the age of forty who is complaining that there is a lack of variety in tennis?
I'm not one of them, but I know for a fact that there are people under 30 who would like more variety. So it's not just "old farts". ;)

It's not an all or nothing thing. Certainly there has been tremendous excitement at times, and the athletic ability is very impressive. I don't see it is as a black/white issue.

However, tennis was never just a sport for die-hard players. There was a lot of interest by people who barely played the game. There is a problem with the speed of the game. If you have a server who takes up to 25 seconds for the first serve, then there is unlimited delays for the 2nd, it's not too hard to lose several minutes waiting for the serve, so if you actually calculate how much time goes by in each point, I think conservatively you lose around 45 seconds per point waiting. The shortest game is 4 points, so a lot of time goes by. I absolutely think that is a factor for the average viewer.

Long points because of a ton of shots has never been a problem because that actually does not happen that often, and it can be very exciting. But I think the average viewer reacts differently to a mostly groundstroke exchange than to something more varied. I don't think servebot tennis is popular either. Probably something more in the middle.

Most of all I think people like drama and suspense, so if the top guys are winning 90% of service games or higher, doesn't that remove some suspense? If you are watching someone like Rafa and know that on clay there is a 50/50 chance that in any game he might break, you are going to pay more attention. So if you speed up tennis today with low bounce and slick surfaces, it leads to the top guys winning more than 90% of their games serving, but then you sort of know you have to watch 10 service games to finally see a break. It was most severe with Karlovic and Isner. I don't think their tennis was popular.

The problem is that the moment you increase the bounce and grit, balls sit up so much higher and stay in the air so much longer that modern players hit the ball so hard, with so much spin, that someone coming to the net on anything but a sitter is almost committing suicide. When you make the game so fast that way, it does take something away when a guy can't come in a volley much, and that is truly leading to lost SnV skills. If there is one thing I miss, it's that greater variety.
I don’t see higher ratings for doubles where there is more S/V tennis and I don’t see fans clamoring to see players like Feli Lopez and Mischa Zverev live at tournaments - everyone wants to see the top players who are all power baseliners.
The only time fans are going to love doubles is when top singles players pair up. It would be fun to watch all the top players play doubles, but I just don't give a damn about the Bryan brothers. I don't care about two players who are great in doubles only because they specialize in doubles when they don't even play singles. Imagine Fed and Nadal pairing up to try to win a doubles final at a slam. You can't tell me that wouldn't generate a huge amount of interest. But it can't happen now. Slams now take up so much energy that top singles players no longer play doubles at all. I think that has hurt the game.
 
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Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Raise the average court speed & see what happens.
Venues resurface regularly so that is not a barrier.
Then maybe we can get a little more attacking tennis.
We already know what happens. Serve stats go through the roof and return stats drop lower than ever before. That's just a fact. If you like tennis where most breaks don't happen until mini-breaks in TBs, that's what you will get.
 

Robert F

Professional
I think bringing back some variety, shorter time between points, full electronic line calling and the toughest somehow making the current generation popular/known will help tennis be more popular with the gen pop. Otherwise when the generation that grew up with tennis in the 70's and 80's dies, tennis will fade in the US.

The big 3 have been great for tennis in many ways. But as they fade, I worry the popularity will too.
 

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
I think somewhat faster courts are the best bet to encourage all-court play. All of the current pros are used to the larger rackets and poly strings. A dramatic equipment change would lead to an UGLY adjustment period. Plus the fallout with rec players-- how many Clash 100s and Pure Drives are out there?
 

Robert F

Professional
Like in baseball, you could still keep poly and bigger frames legal for the hacker crowd.
It would be interesting to see these guys hit without poly with say just 95" racquets. Would be fun if some charity tournament had some type of retro tech to see what happens.

I guess many of you are selling me on changing court speeds over racquet tech. I'd go for a faster US Open, faster Wimby, good old fashioned RG, and then make OZ medium or medium fast. Then have tourneys before them similar.
But if you don't limit poly, will faster courts just favor serve bots and not variety?
 

tonylg

Legend
I think somewhat faster courts are the best bet to encourage all-court play. All of the current pros are used to the larger rackets and poly strings. A dramatic equipment change would lead to an UGLY adjustment period.
So you're saying none of the current pros could play without poly? That's a pretty sad indictment.
 

Robert F

Professional
It would be interesting to see how these guys would stack up with just gut. I'm sure they'd still rip the ball, but would the errors go up? I don't think the power would go down unless they pull back for less errors.
Could a Djoker armed with a gut P85 beat Sampras?
 

FRV4

Semi-Pro
Do this NOW. Wooden Racket RIGHT NOW. Fed would win slams again, or, at least, Djokodal would not. Bring back the wooden rackets.... NOW!
 

DMP

Professional
If variety is going to come from changes in court speed, it won't be enough to just change one or two Slam courts. The vast majority of players are never going to win a slam. Their bread and butter income is going to come from Challenger/250/500/Masters tournaments. They are not going to change their playing style for a one-off tournament they are unlikely to ever win. Also they are competitors, they want to compete. They don't want only one tournament a year where they might be competitive. So to have a situation where there is a always a range of playing styles, you have to have a situation where there is a critical mass of money and points available for each playing style. To me that says something like my original suggestion - 1/3 clay/1/3 medium HC/1/3 fast HC.

Getting to that situation....hmmmm
 

Robert F

Professional
I have no idea how fast or slow the challenger tour is. Do they try to mirror the slam they are closest too? Or is it just happenstance as to what surface the facility that features it has?

I agree 1/3 clay, 1/3 medium HC an d1/3 fast HC would seem to bring a balance to the force.
 

DMP

Professional
Just to complete my thoughts on the topic. I don't want to be negative, but I think if you are kicking round ideas how to get more variety into tennis you have be realistic and clear-eyed about the barriers to change.

One of the biggest, IMO, is that the authorities and sponsors positively want a few players winning everything. Unlike team sports, where players come and go, but the team goes on for ever, in tennis the players are ephemeral. They come, they go. So unlike team sports there is no continuity. For the casual audience the attraction is not therefore some well known team name, it is an individual. The casual tennis spectator comes to see a well-known name. The best way to get this is to have surfaces so similar that the one or three best players can basically win everything. They don't have the risk of being upset by a surface specialist. And that is where we are right now.

So there is no incentive at all to make things more variable, and hence uncertain. The only thing that would drive change IMO is a financial crisis, and I suspect that the response would be to try to make things even more the same, to get the same names appearing all the time.
 

Robert F

Professional
Just to complete my thoughts on the topic. I don't want to be negative, but I think if you are kicking round ideas how to get more variety into tennis you have be realistic and clear-eyed about the barriers to change.

One of the biggest, IMO, is that the authorities and sponsors positively want a few players winning everything. Unlike team sports, where players come and go, but the team goes on for ever, in tennis the players are ephemeral. They come, they go. So unlike team sports there is no continuity. For the casual audience the attraction is not therefore some well known team name, it is an individual. The casual tennis spectator comes to see a well-known name. The best way to get this is to have surfaces so similar that the one or three best players can basically win everything. They don't have the risk of being upset by a surface specialist. And that is where we are right now.

So there is no incentive at all to make things more variable, and hence uncertain. The only thing that would drive change IMO is a financial crisis, and I suspect that the response would be to try to make things even more the same, to get the same names appearing all the time.
Definitely a big barrier. I think this is short term thinking for the powers that be. The Big 3 have definitely kept tennis afloat. But at the same time, tennis seems dependent on them. Fed's practice court is jammed but a battle between #16 and #20 is an empty stadium court. If you keep following the champion model of tennis I think you will limit its long term growth. If you could make the top 20 or top 50 a brand, I think it helps broaden tennis's marketing and growth.

I guess another barrier to face if you made racquet limits would be with the string and racquet manufacutrers. If they had limits on what they could do, their product growth and false technologies no longer have a place in the market.
 
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