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Discussion Starter #1
That's tennis. It's not so much about talent now. It's about random injuries. Talent is buried, periodically, for every player. Long breaks from injuries and poor-quality play because of injury are both standard now.

And, even when people are playing they're popping NSAIDs "like candy" according to multiple players.

These are the things that need to change:


1) Hard courts need to be gotten rid of for ATP-level tournaments, replaced with much softer surfaces like grass, clay, basalt, carpet, and possibly even synthetic grass.

2) Poly string needs to be banned. Nothing stiffer than Zyex and polyolefin should be permitted. Fine filament nylon multis, Zyex, polyolefin, and natural gut should be the only permitted string types.

3) Racquet stiffness should be capped at around 45 RA.


Instead of doing these things, though, people will suggest that the solution to the degradation of tennis from injury is for less tennis to be played, hope players will continue to sacrifice their health with painkiller abuse, blame players for overtraining, etc.

The sport has not shown much interest in the welfare of players and not only has the balance of the sport been radically reduced, causing the loss of serve-volley as a general playing style (a 25-33% loss of playing style), Țiriac actually said the goal was to homogenize the sport around medium-pace hard courts. The actual literal goal was to take away variety.

If I were to have a billion dollars I'd start my own sport to fix the problems with tennis. Since I'll never have that kind of money all I can do is remind people that tennis experts like Rod Laver, Martina Navratilova, and John McEnroe said, even back in 1980, that the big racquets should be banned because they degrade the sport. Well, we've come to the point where banning big racquets isn't so practical. Generations of players have learned the sport with Nadal-style grips and strokes, technique based around big light racquets. The best compromise is therefore my list of changes. Take the stiffness out of racquets, strings, and courts and that will go a very long way toward reducing the injury rate. The injury rate, even more than the loss of stylistic variety, is the biggest problem with tennis today.

Eventually, though, a phased head size reduction to around 80 square inches would be the way I'd like to see things move toward. Something bigger than the wood standard and smaller than the PS 85 should do a good job of balancing the serve with groundstrokes and enabling all three playing styles to once again be relatively balanced against each other. Taking the stiffness of such racquets down will make the serve less dominant (a big complaint about the late 80s and the early-mid 90s) but reducing head size will make topspin from the baseline less dominant. Borg was able to produce plenty of topspin with a standard wood so a stiffer-than-wood 80 square inch graphite will be enough to produce strong topspin without topspin being overly dominant as it is today. A phased head size reduction over a period of a decade will make it easier for players to adapt. Slowing the ball and reducing groundstroke RPMs will help serve-volley players get to net.

Anyway, none of my suggestions will ever happen. The best fixes for big problems won't be instituted when short-term profits are blinding the people in charge.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
superstition said:
Țiriac actually said the goal was to homogenize the sport around medium-pace hard courts.
More specifically, the goal was not only to homogenize around mid-paced hardcourts. It was to do so for the purpose of having many long rallies. The argument made was that that's what fans want to see (rather than variety).

Well, long rallies can be found by having more clay courts and less powerful more control-oriented racquets. Standard wood racquets, for instance, typically had dense string patterns and dissipated a lot of energy rather than reflecting it. Their very small heads increased precision but only when stroke speed was decreased (to avoid shanks).

Another thing I think needs to change is that men's tournaments should never have best-of-five below the semifinal match level. Best-of-three is enough from the first round through the quarters. It's absurd to ask qualifiers in particular to play so many sets to win a major. It increases the injury rate, the burnout rate, and the chance of match quality going down as the tournament progresses due to unlucky and lucky draws. I have seen players become exhausted because of an unlucky draw and then have to face much fresher opponents in later rounds because their opponents got lucky.

If best-of-five is going to be so commonplace, in terms of how many rounds it can be found in at majors, then the sets themselves need to be shortened.
 

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Everything that you propose is 100% wrong.

Long rallies are more grueling and especially bad for injury prone players like Nadal.Nadal never misses RG but at the end of the clay court season he often misses Wimby due to injury. Clay courts feel soft and comfortable but clay specialists have the shortest careers.

Grass has its own injury problems caused by dangerous slips when the grass is green.

Hard court players like Connors and Agassi are able to compete well into their thirties.

Faster courts and light and lively balls will reduce injurys by shortening points and shortening matches.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Everything that you propose is 100% wrong.

Long rallies are more grueling and especially bad for injury prone players like Nadal.
what superstition actually wrote said:
Țiriac actually said the goal was to homogenize the sport around medium-pace hard courts. More specifically, the goal was not only to homogenize around mid-paced hardcourts. It was to do so for the purpose of having many long rallies. The argument made was that that's what fans want to see (rather than variety).
It helps to read my posts before attempting to say they're incorrect. Disagreeing with Țiriac is not disagreeing with me, necessarily. He is the one who claimed longer rallies are what fans want, something I highlighted precisely because it's a very questionable claim. I contrasted that with variety in my post.
Clay courts feel soft and comfortable but clay specialists have the shortest careers.
I'd like to see objective proof that clay is more dangerous than hard. It defies physics. It defies human biology. If rally length is the problem there are remedies for that.
Grass has its own injury problems caused by dangerous slips when the grass is green.
Players not knowing how to move safely on grass or choosing not to is mostly a modern problem. It comes from players not having enough grass play, players being taught to move recklessly (e.g. sliding and doing the splits on hard courts), and from players having to cope with higher ball speed because of the current equipment. Grass tournaments were hardly an injury bloodbath in the past.
Hard court players like Connors and Agassi are able to compete well into their thirties.
Agassi had injury problems, included being one of the first pros to suffer from the now common left wrist injury from stiff strings and racquets. When Connors was playing there were more soft court tournaments, like carpet, and we played most of his career on a lot more soft courts and with/against slower ball speed and more flexible/heavier racquets.
Faster courts and light and lively balls will reduce injurys by shortening points and shortening matches.
Fast hard courts with power equipment make desperate lunging for the ball on return of serve a bigger injury factor. They can potentially overpower the serve. They make things like sliding on hard courts more important because getting to an even faster ball is more difficult in the allotted time. Etc.

The things that will reduce the injury rate the most are a return to soft/flexible low power equipment and soft/flexible courts — along with, potentially, the shortening of matches. I am in favor, for instance, of only having 5 set matches for finals and for shortening qualifying rounds to one set.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The other problem with your rebuttal attempt, Whiznot, is that you completely ignored the influence of big/light/stiff racquets and stiff poly string. The equipment changes have been a larger influence in terms of the injury rate than the court changes. Players like Agassi said poly has changed the sport dramatically. Focusing solely on the courts and balls hardly addresses the whole picture.

However, I will say that your point about lighter balls may be useful in terms of your concern about clay. Light balls do seem as if they would be helpful to shorten rallies on clay without raising the injury rate. At the very least, a lighter ball reduces impact shock because there's less ball mass.
 

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I greatly prefer the modern men's game. Injury concerns can be addressed and mitigated without going back to the Dark Ages, and to be honest this just seems like a lot of justification for your own aesthetic preferences. I think restricting racquet technology would be more valuable on the women's tour, where power drastically overmatches athleticism and the game is absurdly homogenised as a result, but in the ATP there's a nice balance at present.
 

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Instead of doing these things, though, people will suggest that the solution to the degradation of tennis from injury is for less tennis to be played, hope players will continue to sacrifice their health with painkiller abuse, blame players for overtraining, etc...
Unfortunately for you (and other selfish fans, I guess), the solution is for less tennis to be played. No matter how "soft" you make everything, people need rest. Bodies AND minds need time off... a break... down time. People are not robots. We will remain fucked as a species until we learn to value (not "accept" or tolerate... VALUE) rest and down time like we value work, workaholics, "burning the candle at both ends," etc.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
No matter how "soft" you make everything, people need rest. Bodies AND minds need time off... a break... down time. People are not robots.
Your post would be a red herring if not for the fact that the point you made just supports what I suggested. Because people aren't robots they need body-friendly equipment and courts. Doing that reduces the amount of injury and thus the downtime/rest required.

Certainly there is the possibility of putting forth the argument that the best solution for having people use stiff/light/big/power racquets, stiff strings, and stiff courts is for less tennis to be played. If tennis involved players shooting themselves at the start of the match then less tennis would certainly be played. Is that good for the quality of the sport? Guns aren't appropriate tennis equipment. Not body friendly.

Additional logical changes can also be considered in terms of reducing the "amount" of tennis played, though, like having 5 set matches for semis and finals only (or just for finals) and reducing qualifying rounds to one set per match. The difference here, though, is that, with fewer injuries thanks to my reforms, there will be more tennis played overall. Players, once upon a time, used to play singles, doubles, and mixed at the same tournament — without being frequently injured. On the women's side in particular, that changed dramatically with the rise of the stiff power equipment and stiff courts. But, the amount of tennis men are playing has also dropped and the sport has been about who is injured when far far too much. We can shorten matches more and more, like dropping matches in the main draw to one set until the quarters, but is that the direction people really want the sport to go? Should tennis be a short attention span sport like boxing because, like boxing, the bodies involved are seen as vehicles for unnecessary abuse?

There is also the minor matter of possibly using lighter balls on clay. One other reform I'd like to see is the removal of the bye.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I greatly prefer the modern men's game.
You mean current. It's arbitrary to label one version of tennis "modern". Where do we draw that line? Poly string? Stiffer racquets than a racquet like the Pro Staff 85? The current scoring system?

Using the word modern is an attempt at validation via emotion due to the fallacy that change represents nothing but positive evolution. Evolution can lead to the extinction of a species. Changes always have consequences, positive and negative. Right now, the negative consequences of the excessively stiff equipment and courts are being borne primarily by the players. It is degrading the quality of the sport, though, no matter how many players mask things by damaging their bodies with NSAIDs, cortisone injections, and other medications.
Injury concerns can be addressed and mitigated without going back to the Dark Ages
More emotionalism. "Dark ages". Those were noted for inhumane treatment of people, exactly like saying that the high injury rate in "modern" tennis is more entertaining for me as a spectator so who really cares much about making the sport healthier?
and to be honest this just seems like a lot of justification for your own aesthetic preferences.
It is objective fact that:

A) Țiriac said the changes to the sport were intended to homogenize it. You may find a homogenous sport an improvement but I prefer variety.

B) There is less variety in tennis today.

Of course aesthetic preferences are involved in that particular area. However, aesthetics aren't really central when we're talking about things like NSAID abuse. It does come into play, though, when criticizing a sport that has degraded to the point of talent being sidelined — where the central question isn't who are the best players but who is injured when. Yes, that's an aesthetic issue. And, yes, I have a preference for a sport where talent is what determines outcomes rather than a bunch of meds and injuries.
I think restricting racquet technology would be more valuable on the women's tour, where power drastically overmatches athleticism and the game is absurdly homogenised as a result, but
Men's tennis doesn't have significantly more variety, especially since oddball players like Santoro have retired. Players like Vinci, Schiavone, Stosur, and Niculescu are still on the women's tour but the camp format and the relentless push toward efficient adaption to the current equipment and courts is doing exactly what Țiriac wanted — it's leading to homogenization of tennis.

If anything, giving men low-power racquets for mixed doubles would be the most low-hanging fruit of all to improve the balance of the sport.
in the ATP there's a nice balance at present.
The serve and volley style, one of the three primary styles of play, is dead. If a person is content to jettison an entire mode of play then it's possible to claim that the sport is balanced. However, for those of us who liked having serve/volley in the game as a mode of play (and not just an occasional gimmick), a mode of play that saw top serve/volley players' results be roughly equivalent to top all-court and top baseline players we're very far from a balanced sport.

Topspin is overly dominant. Hard courts are overly common. Injuries are constant. Players have openly spoken of being forced to take harmfully high doses of meds, more often than not, to be competitive.
 

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I agree with making variety and adaptability count more, but some of your proposed changes devalue the sport. You say you want slams to be BO3 with only the final as BO5... That puts them at the same level as the Olympics, an inferior tournament by default due to its dependence on momentum instead of planning. If they ever did it, it goes without saying that fans of the current sport would never rate the winners of these new slams at the same level as the current ones.

Slams have been BO5 for a long time now, and everybody was ok with it even in times when sports science was largely underdeveloped compared to today. If they were to remove BO5 from slams, I'd do it up until the 4R at most. QF onwards are when the most memorable matches happen, and QF and SF deserve to be BO5 as much as the final itself.

I agree there are too many hard courts, but a large part of it is because hard courts are much easier to maintain. Their wear rate is much less and they aren't anywhere near as susceptible to the elements as clay and especially grass. Tournaments played indoors are the exception rather than the norm, especially when it comes to clay. The notion of indoor grass is obviously silly unless speaking of ultra-expensive retractable covers like Wimbledon and Halle have and even then only in the center court.
 

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You mean current. It's arbitrary to label one version of tennis "modern".
Dude, listen to yourself. This is ridiculous.

More emotionalism. "Dark ages".
More valid but still, get your head out of your ass.

...when criticizing a sport that has degraded to the point of talent being sidelined — where the central question isn't who are the best players but who is injured when.
This has no connection to reality.

If anything, giving men low-power racquets for mixed doubles would be the most low-hanging fruit of all to improve the balance of the sport.
Lol have you tried changing racquets yourself? And what exactly is the point of this? It's the imbalance which differentiates mixed doubles and makes it interesting to watch.

The serve and volley style, one of the three primary styles of play, is dead. If a person is content to jettison an entire mode of play then it's possible to claim that the sport is balanced. However, for those of us who liked having serve/volley in the game as a mode of play (and not just an occasional gimmick), a mode of play that saw top serve/volley players' results be roughly equivalent to top all-court and top baseline players we're very far from a balanced sport.
The fallacy here is that a playstyle is something intrinsic to the game which needs to be preserved. The "balance of playstyles" depends entirely on what players want to play and spectators want to watch, and unfortunately your personal tastes are in a minority here.

Tiriac was, to some degree, correct. Tennis as a spectator sport is booming because people like a significant proportion of long rallies and they like some degree of homogeneity. At the club level and above, players almost universally love the power and spin control afforded by modern racquet technology. This isn't changing any time soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
some of your proposed changes devalue the sport. You say you want slams to be BO3 with only the final as BO5... That puts them at the same level as the Olympics, an inferior tournament by default due to its dependence on momentum instead of planning. If they ever did it, it goes without saying that fans of the current sport would never rate the winners of these new slams at the same level as the current ones.
I said one idea is that and another is having best of 5 for semis and finals. "Dependence on momentum instead of planning"? Since when is momentum a bad thing in tennis instead of the thing people always hope to achieve (being in the zone)? Besides, the notion that a player can just coast to a win without best of 5 strikes me as untrue. There is a remedy for that, too — having more rounds.

What we're looking at here are the following:

A) How much draw luck should determine the outcome of a major. Having so many 5 set matches for people who get unlucky draws means the outcome of the major is more determined by draw than by player ability.

B) How much tennis should be weighted against older players and players who are more injury-prone.

C) How much tennis should incentivize NSAID abuse and other methods of "achieving via meds". So many 5 set matches increases wear and tear. The increased stiffness of equipment and courts coupled with higher ball speed means those long matches are more injurious than they were in the past when there were more body-friendly courts and people used soft high-mass racquets and strings with a lower ball speed and reduced RPMs.

Slams have been BO5 for a long time now, and everybody was ok with it even in times when sports science was largely underdeveloped compared to today.
See point C. These 5 set matches are longer, in terms of the physical toll, than they once were. The injury rate isn't coming out of thin air.
If they were to remove BO5 from slams, I'd do it up until the 4R at most. QF onwards are when the most memorable matches happen, and QF and SF deserve to be BO5 as much as the final itself.
Matches can't be memorable enough without best of 5? Then it sounds like you really should support my reforms because then all ATP tournaments would have best of 5 matches.

By making the equipment and courts much more body-friendly, players would be able to play more tennis.
a large part of it is because hard courts are much easier to maintain.
There is enough money in the sport to have body-friendly surfaces. I'd like to see synthetic grass tested. It should be good enough by now. There is also more money to be made by having popular players injured less often. How do tournaments like it when they lose a lot of coveted players to injury pull-outs? And, frankly, it's simply the right thing to do. Players' health is more important than saving pennies on courts. Was tennis so much wealthier in the past when three of four majors were played on grass? It was an amateurs' sport.
Tournaments played indoors are the exception rather than the norm, especially when it comes to clay. The notion of indoor grass is obviously silly unless speaking of ultra-expensive retractable covers like Wimbledon and Halle have and even then only in the center court.
Indoor carpet was common enough in the past. Indoor clay is possible and frankly better than outdoor clay because of the issue of dust getting into players' eyes. Indoor grass could be synthetic.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Lol have you tried changing racquets yourself?
Yes.
It's the imbalance which differentiates mixed doubles and makes it interesting to watch.
That's your opinion. Having mixed come down to which male player can dominate the female opponent the most, especially with aces, is a questionable basis for match play in my view.
The fallacy here is that a playstyle is something intrinsic to the game which needs to be preserved.
No, you're using a fallacy. Read what I wrote again. I specifically said that it's possible to make the argument that jettisoning one of the main styles of play is fine. I don't agree with that because it drastically reduces variety.
Tennis as a spectator sport is booming because people like a significant proportion of long rallies and they like some degree of homogeneity.
Tennis' popularity has plummeted in America. I don't know about elsewhere. Tennis courts all over are being replaced by things like skate parks. Compare with the 1970s.
At the club level and above, players almost universally love the power and spin control afforded by modern racquet technology.
Club players like to constantly foot fault, too. Good for them. They're not the ones having to abuse NSAIDs "like candy" or constantly have to resort to injections and long layoffs. What club players like is hardly what should dictate the pro tour's policies.

Tennis was more popular with recreational players prior to the introduction of Prince's granny sticks as well. I have also seen a lot of recreational players develop injuries thanks to stiff strings and racquets. It's also more difficult for young people to learn the game because of the increased ball speed and the danger from stiffness coupled with poor technique.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
paca said:
Tennis as a spectator sport is booming because people like a significant proportion of long rallies and they like some degree of homogeneity.
Long rallies were certainly possible in the wood era. Watch Borg on clay sometime. What Țiriac was talking about, specifically, is the brief time period where graphite racquets became stiff enough for serve/volley players to be fairly dominant (prior to poly and bigger/stiffer/lighter racquets making the return too dominant, along with slow courts), making points on fast surfaces generally very short. There were some complaints about Ivanišević at Wimbledon, with all of his aces. Stich. Sampras. Rafter.

The human brain craves novelty more than sameness. Most of the time, people prefer to see stylistic contrasts, like Borg vs. McEnroe. The result of the attempt to reign in serve/volley without fixing the problem of the power equipment was the change to 100% rye at Wimbledon, along with slower soil. The result of that was seeing two baseliners (Hewitt and Nalbandian) in a sore fest final that was short to boot. Poly string is another attempt to reign in the power, at the cost of player health. It has just made the RPM (topspin) even more of a problem.

If most points are determined by an ace or one shot, for most matches at all tournaments, then Țiriac has a point. Otherwise, what he's saying is that he (or the hard court companies he or others in the tennis leadership may have investments in) likes long rallies. Homogenization doesn't deliver long rallies + variety. It takes variety out, unnecessarily. Surface differences add novelty/contrast to the sport. Trying to turn everything into a medium-pace hard court is a recipe for making the sport less interesting.

Tennis magazine reads like a fancy ad for racquets. Players now smash racquets routinely. The whole sport has become about the racquet too much, although string companies have done their best to try to make strings super-important (along with tennis commentators who talk about them endlessly). The hype about "technology" has left behind more important things.
 

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I started playing and watching tennis in the sixties when wood rackets were used. I don't recall players such as Laver, Nastase, Borg, McEnroe or Conners being out for injuries very much. Does anyone know how injury rates from then compare to now?
 

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Great, then you'll understand why forcing male players to alternate racquets is impossible.

Having mixed come down to which male player can dominate the female opponent the most, especially with aces, is a questionable basis for match play in my view.
How about just watch doubles, instead of imposing crazy arbitrary restrictions to appeal to your own selfish preferences? Every time I've watched mixed doubles, the fun comes from the uneven dynamics (and the crowd reactions invariably agree).

Look, there's more stuff I can disagree with, but it's clearly a waste of time. The idea that a) what the sport-watching public wants to see is irrelevant, and b) the pro tour should be using inferior equipment to club level players (or else that club level players, for whom your injury concerns are irrelevant, should be forced to use inferior equipment against their will) is simply bonkers. Yes, there is an issue at the top level with injury and abuse of various treatments, but this isn't a remotely viable solution.
 

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I started playing and watching tennis in the sixties when wood rackets were used. I don't recall players such as Laver, Nastase, Borg, McEnroe or Conners being out for injuries very much. Does anyone know how injury rates from then compare to now?
And some of the top guys played doubles then also. AND there was no tie-break pre 1970. Just shows how less intense the game was back then.
 
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