Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ? - MensTennisForums.com
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

I disagree with the author of this article when he says that it is the overloaded schedule that wears the players out. In fact, players play fewer matches today on average than they did 20 or 30 years ago. The best of five sets matches have also disappeared from the calendar except in the Slams. And Federer has been showing throughout his career that you can last by being selective and smart in your scheduling.

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(...) Nishikori played 79 matches last season, Djokovic 74, Wawrinka 64, and all have now fallen by the wayside.

Murray managed a staggering 87, borne largely of his surge to the No 1 spot by winning 25 times in five weeks, but now even his mother Judy acknowledges that he is paying the price.

"The last two years have taken a lot out of Andy," she said. "The tennis calendar is relentless. It's 11 months a year, there are hardly any gaps to have a rest, and I feel it has all caught up with him."

The alleged 'off-season' in tennis is a misnomer. From the World Tour Finals to the lucrative Gulf state exhibitions that herald the start of a new year, the period in which players should be convalescing lasts just six weeks. Even in that narrow window, Murray is usually to be found flogging himself at his Miami boot camp with the latest gyrotonic pulley exercises, all complemented by a careful diet of banana smoothies and cantaloup melons. His is a regime that combines the fitness ethic of a trainee marine with the self-denying food fads usually prescribed by a Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook.(...)
On the other hand, I agree wholeheartedly with the author on the grueling nature of modern tennis.


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(...) Tennis has long been a sprawling grind of a tour, but it is only in the last five years that authorities have compiled a comprehensive database of the types and numbers of injuries among players. One clear trend, according to Todd Ellenbecker, the ATP Tour's vice-president of medical services, is an upsurge in hip damage to right-handers, who strain from side to side in endless exchanges of groundstrokes. Murray and Kyrgios, each right-handed, have both fallen foul of this occupational hazard.

The attenuation of Kyrgios' powers is perhaps the more surprising, given his notorious mid-match impatience and his penchant for bailing out of a rally with an absurd trick shot.

Murray, however, is the classic case of an athlete worn down by repetitive strain. His is a game based on running, scampering and contriving the most improbable retrievals. Plus, he is wedded to the art of trying to outwit his opponents from yards behind the baseline. Where Federer has saved on effort with his 'SABR' ('Sneak Attack by Roger') technique, taking advantage of a distracted server to move halfway up the court and dictate play, Murray still insists on going for the sucker-punch from 100 feet.

It is not a physically sustainable approach. Nor, come to that, is that of Djokovic, who has all the suppleness to bend his body like one of Yuri Geller's spoons and all the scientific savoir faire to recover between marathon matches in hyperbaric oxygen chambers, but who has ultimately been laid low by a condition as prosaic as tennis elbow. (...)


Relentless tennis schedule is creating the walking wounded
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 04:34 AM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

modern tennis is grueling because the players are insanely athletic and everything is played on hardcourt. Even on quicker surfaces you'll see guys play long rallies at times because people are getting to so many balls. But yeahhh, after watching a ton of guys trying to slide on hardcourt it's not hard to see how they may break down

that said obviously statistically that doesn't really seem to be the case, the notion that middle speed courts are killing players physically. Not only are the top guys currently (despite recent injuries) all like 30+ years old, but they also all happen to be pretty defensive (outside of Federer).

If Djok/Murray/Nadal could defend until they were 30 successfully then it certainly doesn't suggest that the modern game is killing players, because if anyone was going to be damaged by the trend- it'd be them. They play more than anyone else


and at any rate, like the OP mentions- tennis players are actually probably playing far less now than they were in, say, the 70s or 80s. Those guys used to play an insane amount, and there's a reason Connor and Mac both have like 100 titles (Mac like double that if you add doubles)


If this thread was made a while ago, or this notion I should say, I would probably think it might end up being accurate. but the results say otherwise. Guys who have been defending on the tour for over a decade are still generally healthy enough to be on top. Just because we had the coincidence of Murr/Djok both having issues at the same time gives the false credence that it's because of some new change. Things are the same as they were in 2010 as far as the tour is concerned

hell, some surfaces looked faster than I recall (Australia, Apucalupo (?), etc)

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 04:58 AM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

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Originally Posted by Bob Ibrahim View Post
I disagree with the author of this article when he says that it is the overloaded schedule that wears the players out. In fact, players play fewer matches today on average than they did 20 or 30 years ago. The best of five sets matches have also disappeared from the calendar except in the Slams. And Federer has been showing throughout his career that you can last by being select and smart in your scheduling.

On the other hand, I agree wholeheartedly with the author on the grueling nature of modern tennis.
The surfaces slowed down long before Novak started on tour. The grass at Wimbledon changed, fast indoor carpet disappeared from the ATP tour, and fast hard courts like Dubai became a rarity. If any player's health should have been hurt by the slowing down of the surfaces, it should have been Novak. He doesn't win by blasting serves or clocking forehands but by getting the ball back and grinding down his opponent. He plays far longer rallies than the likes of Federer, Isner, or (pre-wrist injuries) Del Potro. Yet Novak has been relatively injury-free during his career. His only two extended absences have been the back injury in fall of 2011 and this current bone bruise. True, you could argue that Novak is super-dedicated to fitness, which helps to prevent a lot of injuries. But if surface slow-down were indeed killing players, Novak would have been out for longer stretches than Rafa.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 08:50 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

In any case, Murray is sidelined and we still don't know when or in what condition he will return. While Djokovic says he's been injured for 1 year and a half, and no one can say for sure which Nole will show up in 2018. It could be that they'll never come back to their best level when they just turned 30.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 09:01 AM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

The slowing of the courts, the playing style (no more S&V) and the racquet technology are all big factors. The slower the courts, the longer and more gruelling points/matches are, the baseline only play means the points can go on forever and the modern racquets mean that if you can get to a ball even in the most defensive position, you can return it with enough spin/power to keep the opponent at the baseline.

Look at Karlovic, playing at such an old age without injury because his matches require little physical strength, while guys like Nishikori are injured often due to their longer points/matches.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 09:01 AM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

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Originally Posted by Mountaindewslave View Post
and at any rate, like the OP mentions- tennis players are actually probably playing far less now than they were in, say, the 70s or 80s. Those guys used to play an insane amount, and there's a reason Connor and Mac both have like 100 titles (Mac like double that if you add doubles)
Iirc Mac was burned out when he was 26 or thereabouts, he's not really a good example, quite the opposite

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 09:06 AM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

No, what's killing players are anti-inflammatories which allow players to play somewhat injured without pain.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 09:22 AM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

The surfaces have been slowing down since 2002, not 2017.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 09:34 AM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

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Iirc Mac was burned out when he was 26 or thereabouts, he's not really a good example, quite the opposite
I'd argue that McEnroe's workout regimen, or rather complete lack of one, caused the relatively early decline of his career. Unlike today's players, Mac didn't work out much, if at all. He played doubles so much because he didn't like to practice. Contrast that to today's top players, who not only have full-time trainers who push them through killer workouts, but also physios and nutritionists.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 09:39 AM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

I think the recent burst of injuries has more to do with the age of the top players increasing, the average age of top 30 is about 4 years older than that of 2008. The fact that modern technology prolongs careers is certainly true, but the fact that an older body is more prone to injuries stands as well.

IMO these injuries come as a price of seeing great players play well for a longer time span, as we saw in 2016 Nadal/Federer, they play too many matches at 30+ of age and then have to regroup and come back, this could well be a common phenomenon in the next few years.

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 10:26 AM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

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Originally Posted by FatchMixer View Post
The slowing of the courts, the playing style (no more S&V) and the racquet technology are all big factors. The slower the courts, the longer and more gruelling points/matches are, the baseline only play means the points can go on forever and the modern racquets mean that if you can get to a ball even in the most defensive position, you can return it with enough spin/power to keep the opponent at the baseline.

Look at Karlovic, playing at such an old age without injury because his matches require little physical strength, while guys like Nishikori are injured often due to their longer points/matches.
Racket technology has not improved in 20 years. Why do people consistently post this drivel? Are people just assuming that as the years go by, racket technology improves? Stringers and fans who have got hold of players rackets and gutted them have time and time again demonstrated that top players are either using old frames under paintjobs or moulds based on classic frames. Look at the PC600 and PS for example. It's exactly the same with strings. Players are still using big banger and gut.

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 01:22 PM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

Originally Posted by Bob Ibrahim

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I disagree with the author of this article when he says that it is the overloaded schedule that wears the players out. In fact, players play fewer matches today on average than they did 20 or 30 years ago. The best of five sets matches have also disappeared from the calendar except in the Slams. And Federer has been showing throughout his career that you can last by being selective and smart in your scheduling.
I agreee, that the overloaded schedule wears player out. I agree, that slowing down the courts can do the same. But I disagree with his (the author of this article) and your kind of argumantation. You can't compare the present situation with that one in the past. Tennis has become more athletic and exhausting.

In the first place you have to consider, that tennis is overaged. 46% of all Top 50 players are 30+! And this is the group, which dominates the Masters and Slams. If they get not enough time for regeneration and exercising BETWEEN important tournaments, the players will become exhausted and injury-prone. We will get many retirements, injuries and strange results (like now at Cincinnati). Even young Zverev lost his first match after winning a Master (lost at FO and Cincinnati Masters).

Secondly the number of played matches is irrelevant. Because of many reasons: Important are match durations and playimg style (For instance Cilic needs for a Slam match about 70 minutes, while players like Murray and Nishikori are playing often much more than 2 hours), court surface (clay court ist more exhausting due to long rallies, grass court is less exhausting) and you have to consider physical condition and genetic differences between the players.

Even Federer'scheduling is not so smart. It seems, that he needs about 2 or 3 months pause betweeen grouped tournaments. He tried to play Montreal, Cincinnati and the USO in a row after Wimbledon and got problems with a back injury even in his first Final (Montreal).

With the most other posters I agree.

Originally Posted by FatchMixer

Quote:
Look at Karlovic, playing at such an old age without injury because his matches require little physical strength, while guys like Nishikori are injured often due to their longer points/matches.
Karloviv is the oldest player in the Top 200, but his best ranking was only #14.
Maybe his playing style is not sufficient to become a Top Star (Top 4, Top 1).

Last edited by KnowingNothing; 08-18-2017 at 01:24 PM. Reason: mistyping / correction
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 02:22 PM
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Re: Is the slowing down of the game killing tennis players ?

above the 60% of atp schedule is played on hardcourts. we need more har-tru and blue clay for diversity (?
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 02:49 PM
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Defensive baseline play which has become extremely popular because of Nadals success is a major reason of increased injuries.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by svedberg View Post
The surfaces have been slowing down since 2002, not 2017.
Started in Wimbledon 2002, but the slowing down did not stop there.

It's the court, the racquet technology that produce more and more power, and heavier balls.

And yeah, true. Many if not most top new balls players were already injured often in mid 00s. Hewitt with his grinding style was the biggest casualty.

In a way, it was a blessing in disguise that Federer was a late bloomer compared to Hewitt, Safin, Ferrero, Roddick.
His effortless and efficient game play the biggest factors in ensuring he stayed mostly injury free (until the 2013, although there were illnesses and niggles here and there). I wished he'd taken time out from RG, Wimby and even USO, to properly heal his back injury. He could have played 2014 so much better.

Last edited by atennisfan; 08-18-2017 at 06:05 PM.
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