Cincinnati 1997

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by mattennis, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

    Jul 26, 2011
    I've been watching my old videos from this tournament (QF, SF and Final) and now it looks a bit strange.

    At least this year of 1997 the court doesn't look that fast at all. Almost all the matches I have re-watched (the four QF, the two SF and the final) are baseline battles, lot of top-spin indeed.

    Cincinnati usually is one of the fastest outdoor hardcourts, but that year the quarterfinalist were Albert Costa (already using Luxilon strings back then), Sergi Bruguera, Michael Chang, Gustavo Kuerten (already using Luxilon strings back then too), Thomas Muster, Jan Siemerink, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Pete Sampras.

    Seriously, not that different from what you see today. Baseline battles, heavy top-spin shots,...Only Sampras (and sometimes Siemerink) did serve and volley and only on first serves (they both played baseline points on second serve, and obviously when returning).

    The Australian Open of that year was extremely slow as well with slow balls (quarterfinalist were Marcelo Rios, Michael Chang, Felix Mantilla, Carlos Moya, Thomas Muster, Goran Ivanisevic, Albert Costa and Pete Sampras; six of them heavy baseline players, most of them claycourters).

    I think that the slowness of courts and balls of today is not the only reason why today 99% of players play a heavy top-spin baseline game.

    Strings and stroke-technique had their role too, because 15 years ago you could see baseline players (heavy top-spin players too) doing quite well on hardcourts, even on one of the apparently fastest outdoor hardcourts like Cincinnati.

    In fact in those years (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000...) only Sampras and Rafter won big tournaments on outdoor hardcourts playing a "not-100%-baseline-game" (along with Krajicek Miami'99 and Philippoussis Indian Wells'99 ).

    Some people seem to think that in the 90s all the tennis was ace, ace, and sometimes serve and first volley winner everywhere, and that is far from the truth.

    On clay and ourdoor hardcourts the 80-90% of players in the later rounds were baseliners. Only on grass and some indoor carpets you could say that many big servers (Stich, Ivanisevic, Krajicek, Becker, Sampras, Rosset, Philippoussis...) usually reached the SF and Finals, producing matches with very few strokes per point.

    The only way I see to promote an all-court game, some net-game too (including some serve and volley players too) is to use worse racquets and worse strings :) (and some faster courts and balls), but I know it won't happen.
  2. nethawkwenatchee

    nethawkwenatchee Professional

    Apr 28, 2009
    Wenatchee, WA
    I think there were several top players in those days who were effective at coming to the net with a high probability for success. There is a good reason why Samprass won so many Wimbledon titles in those days: the speed of the court and the effectiveness of his pressure game out gunned the baseline game (why wasn't he able to do it on clay?)

    One might argue that Federer has been equally as effective and it's true but the difference is that Federer was forced to use more of an all court mentality. If Samprass tried coming in (as much as he did in those days) against todays players he would likely be less successful. Guys are just able to pass with more ease... court speed, racquet technology, strings, ETC. A baseline "mentality" however makes guys these days very confident at keeping offensive balls in play, which makes it more difficult to find a ball to (successfully) come in on. You still see points ending at the net today, you just don't see relentless serve and vollying like you did. IMO
  3. jaggy

    jaggy Talk Tennis Guru

    Jun 8, 2006
    Chapel Hill, NC
    What a great slam this is
  4. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Nov 12, 2009
    Cwmbran, Wales
    People like to exaggerate how much faster the surfaces were in the 1990s compared to today. The real big change is in the racquet and string technology. Today, a player can hit the ball to any part of the court from their own baseline with power and authority, in a way they never could in the past. This is the biggest reason for serve and volley coming close to extinction.

    Let me use an example. If you watch Rod Laver at Wimbledon in 1969, with the wooden racquets and pure gut strings in those days, you had no chance of dictating from the baseline with power and authority in comparison to today's tennis. Back then, you would seldom get it over the net with too much power. Because of this lack of absolute power compared to today's game, a lot of the matches took place around the net area rather than around the baseline, so serve and volleying was a much more important part of tennis. Back then, players daren't stay back due to the ball staying around the net area, whereas today's players daren't come in to the net due to the power and depth in the game and the risk of being passed.

    Now, by 1997, there was a hell of a lot more power in tennis compared to 1969, but the same point I was making above stands. In 1997, the players couldn't dictate rallies with the same kind of power and authority from their own baseline as they can today.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2012
  5. MichaelNadal

    MichaelNadal Bionic Poster

    Jul 6, 2007
    Epiclando FLâ„¢
    Spot on. Careful though, you might make too much sense to people lol.
  6. tusharlovesrafa

    tusharlovesrafa Hall of Fame

    May 21, 2011
    Good Analysis!It's just the natural progression that is at work.This could be applicable to any game played with balls.

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