one handed tennis, anyone?
So maybe I am a dinosaur who can't seem to get the sentimental favorites out of my head. But I grew up with McEnroe, Edberg, Becker and Cash, and moved on to Rafter and Sampras. I love beautiful tennis, I love risk takers, guys who come to net and force their opponent to come up with the goods, or who could unload on a one handed backhand and hit a dime in the distance.
Many would argue and that's fine, but I think that the object of tennis is to do more than get the ball back over the net. The only 'slap' hitter I have ever truly respected was Mats Wilander, because Mats consistently beat better players than himself with no real arsenal to speak of. And I wouldn't give him too much credit if he had only done so on clay, but beating Lendl in a USO final was proof enough. Still, a guy more aggressive than Ivan would have won that title from Wilander, because usually ultra aggressive guys handled him.
The object of the game is to win. Those players who aggressively sought victory with masterful artistry under pressure are the ones who truly have my respect. Agassi? You can keep him. He played in Sampras' era and he watched as Sampras dominated, sometimes even offering himself up for the slaughter. Sure, Andre hung around to defeat the Rainer Scheuttler's and Andrei Medvedev's of the world in Slam Finals, and sure, he has his career slam, but when he lies down to sleep, it's next to a greater slam champ than he ever was, where he dreams about never beating Pete in the big spot.
With every passing day, more one handers go and more two handers make the scene. You know what? It's depressing. From what I saw of Rome last week, I perhaps caught about 20 true serve and volley points, and I was lucky to see that many.
Is there hope at all for a fan like me in today's game? Well, Roger usually keeps me from the ledge, this year not withstanding. But in this space, I hope to talk about all subjects one handed, from why the game has gone 2 handed, to what players remain on the landscape that would give a one handed fan some hope. I will talk about the disappointments, the surprises, the new guys on the radar, and any good one handers leaving the scene.
A few one handers have caught my eye of late, and at the very least, give me some longshot rooting interests. Obviously Wawrinka is a keeper. Roger's occassional hitting partner is a gritty one hander with a nice repertoire, and he has had some good success of late--a good USO, some wins over Nalbandian, a few finals appearances, etc.
A guy like me has to love Philip Kohlschreiber. His epic win over Roddick at the AO was very impressive, and his backhand is one of the more under rated shots in the game. Ranked in the mid 20's, he has a shot to make some noise in Grand Slam tennis. On a side note, Germany seems to be the only country that gives us a lot of one handers--from Becker and Stich to Kohly and Haas, and even a journeyman like Berrer, who one has to appreciate for his willingness to play aggressively.
Karlovic, the one handed giant and only man besides Roger, I believe, to take a tourny on grass, clay, and hards last year.
And of course, my Frenchman and his titles: Michael Llodra. Always a great doubles player, now having a breakthrough season on the singles tour as well, playing aggressively and as always, coming to net.
On this topic, I have a lot to talk to about, so it may be best to stop here for now before I wear you guys out. In the coming weeks, I hope to talk about the disappointments in one handed tennis--Blake, Gasquet, Gonzo, and Robredo, to name a few. I'd also like to discuss why there are so many 2 handers as I have some theories about that, and what could be done to change the trend. Just about anything going on with one handers will be my purview, including the occasional trip down memory lane as well.
Thanks for this unique opportunity to talk one handed tennis. Real tennis.
Last edited by crackbillionair; 05-13-2008 at 01:11 AM.