Am I aiming too high?
No matter how hard you try, the morons will come on. But I'm willing to try here.
Why has serve and volley play all but disappeared from mens tennis as an artform? What's led to this?
Racquet technology - as soon as the power came in, serve and volley went out. Obviously, we're still going to see some serve and volley used to add variety to a player's game. But unless racquet technology changes again, we won't see it as The Strategy as in the past. I'm mixed on whether I'm sad about this change. I enjoy seeing some serve and volley. I love the touch players in the past had - the feel for the racquet. Also the strategy that went into serve and volley. But I enjoy today's game. I like the power, I like the player's going deep and painting the back line, I enjoy the topspin and the ability to go for the big winner. I think the only time I didn't enjoy tennis was when players with just big serves dominated (no names mentioned). That was boring. Ace, ace, ace. It was like watching a no hitter in baseball every game....you want some offense too.
Could a truly talented serve and volley player be successful in today's mens game of power and topspin?
Maybe on grass - but not on other surfaces.
Sampras and other old players talk about how players like Fed have it easy since there's no variety in the game these days. Could a player like Sampras or Edberg play their game today as they did at their peak? Why or why not?
No variety? I think there's variety - but its different than in the past. Serves are more important - you can't always power it in, you have to be able to go down the T, but also go wide...and know when to use which - kind of reminds me of a pitcher knowing which pitch to throw - and his opponent trying to figure out where he's going to place it. You have to be able to hit cross court winner as well as down the line, move the opponent around, etc. etc. Be able to hit that drop shot on clay. Not that guys couldn't do that in the past - but you have the added power dimension now.
I don't believe Pete would be as successful today as he was in the 90s. The guys know how to return the big serve now. My humble opinion - I think the return of serve is the most important aspect of a guy's game today.