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Discussion Starter #1
I've never posted before, but something has been bugging me lately.

There is no doubt that recent years have been a great ‘era’ for tennis, if it’s actually possible to define an era. But I think the future of the game is on pretty shaky ground.

It’s quite obvious to me that the court conditions have become too uniform between the different surfaces, and there is almost no effort required to adapt your game. You have to move a little differently, but otherwise people play the same game on clay, hard, grass, indoors, under the roof, whatever the conditions are.

It’s no coincidence that Djokovic, Nadal and Murray have all been at the top of the game playing essentially defensive, metronomic tennis. It’s because that is the best way to play now. If you went back to the 90s, where there was a massive difference between grass and clay, someone like Berdych would have been a real challenger at the US Open and Wimbledon. He’s got no chance now because the top players in the game can wear him down over several hours.

It used to be that a completely different raft of players would challenge at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Kuerten, Ferrero, Muster, Chang, Kafelnikov, Moya, Corretja, etc, would put their racquets away once the grass season started, and Sampras, Ivanisevic, Kraijcek, et al had no chance at Roland Garros. Even Agassi only made one French Open final, in 1999, when he had a stellar year.

It also used to be the case that making the French Open and Wimbledon finals in the same year was a mammoth achievement. For a very long time, the only person to win both in the same year in the Open ear was Borg, playing completely from the back of the court at the French and serve-volleying every point at Wimbledon. Now it nearly happens every year! It makes me laugh when you hear players claiming they need an extra week to prepare for Wimbledon; the guy who just won the last two Wimbledon titles made the French Open finals both years and doesn’t even play a warm-up tournament!

This situation is fine now while there are three truly great players at the top of the game, but in a few years time it is not going to be so appealing. It is quite clear that there are no outstanding players in the next generation, aged around 22-26, who you would expect to be coming through and challenging the top players by now.

Djokovic is miles out on top at the moment, Federer is still clearly the second best player despite being in decline and possibly not having the game and physicality to win another GS. But yet he's clearly better than Murray and has won their last four matches. Nadal looks to be in a terminal decline, but he's still the fourth favourite for the US Open, and apart from Wawrinka you can't really see anyone else challenging, even though Cilic won it last year. A 34 year-old Federer still seems comfortably better than Raonic, Nishikori and Dimitrov, none of whom are that young any more, and the rest of the field is nowhere.

I think the rest of this decade will see some forgettable, repetitive tennis, and the game had better hope that there are some outstanding teenagers out there, otherwise the game will become pretty boring. Everyone will play from the back of the court, serve-volleying will be virtually non-existent, everyone will have a two-handed backhand in the Bolletieri-mould (Dimitrov is the exception to this rule, but it’s looking highly unlikely that he can compete at the very highest level).

You could even suggest that the current top players are not actually that great, they have just been around at a time when their games are suited to the prevailing conditions and where there is such a small difference between playing on the surfaces due to conditions and racquet technology. I wouldn't agree with that personally, I think it is a long time before you will see someone else that can has the all-court game of Federer (beating Nadal on clay and winning the French Open almost entirely from the back of the court, and beating Sampras on centre court at Wimbledon serve-volleying every point), or the sheer will to win and brilliance on clay of Nadal. Djokovic is also a supremely consistent ball striker and outstanding athlete. But I can easily see a lesser player coming along in the future and dominating, as once you've developed an effective game in the contemporary environment, you can play it on all surfaces, in all conditions, and have pretty much an equal chance of success.

The authorities need to seriously consider having at least one GS that is fast just to help retain some form of interest. The game is already in decline now, with Nadal on his last legs and Federer past his best, but once they’re gone there is going to be a serious chasm. And five hours of interminable baseline rallies between players that are moderate compared to those at the top of the game in this generation is not going to be a very appealing prospect.
 

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I think it's less about court homogenization and more about racquet and string technology. Also when you compare athletes across generations everybody has become more athletic these days. Better, harder training, better nutrition, flexibility, doctors etc. djokovic/nadal/Murray would have done well on any surface.

This topic has been discussed a lot but welcome to the forum.
 

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this has been said a million times

search "court homogenization", "slow grass", "slow hard", "high bounce", "disappearance of serve and volley", etc

while Federer clearly has the most variety in his game, and would probably benefit from more historic, varied surfaces, still, his slam run started as the courts were changing, so you could either say 1. he adapted and played a more defensive style because he had to due to the courts, or 2. he benefitted from the slowing down of all surfaces earlier in his career by having the best movement, and now he doesn't have that anymore due to age
 

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Too bad that ATP management doesn't agree with you. They changed tennis to their likings and they're not gonna change it back. Take it or leave it. :shrug:
 

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I do like a fast court and so does my favourite player. But it's come to a point where even indoors tournaments becoming slower than ever (Paris, WTF London). So enjoy what's left of actual fast hard court tournaments and slick grass courts.
 

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I agree with your post to a certain extent, I don't like how slow and similar all the courts play. However it has created consistent rivalries which although somewhat manufactured has been good for the game. Winning a French and Wimbledon in the same year was so rare and now it wouldn't be a big deal.

I would love for Wimbledon to speed the courts up, and the Australian Open to return to the old classic surface it once hand (Although i prefer the new color). I have seen the Australian Open live in 2006, 2012, 2014 and I much preferred the way it played in 2006. Wimbledon is a real shame, I don't want it speed up too much but make it allow variety like it did in the past.

Kafelnikov would put their racquets away once the grass season started Even Agassi only made one French Open final, in 1999, when he had a stellar year.
Kafelnikov was crap on grass, but he did win Halle 3 or 4 times if I remember.

Agassi made 3 finals at the French Open, 1 win 2 losses. Should have won all 3 IMO.
 

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I think it's less about court homogenization and more about racquet and string technology. Also when you compare athletes across generations everybody has become more athletic these days. Better, harder training, better nutrition, flexibility, doctors etc. djokovic/nadal/Murray would have done well on any surface.

This topic has been discussed a lot but welcome to the forum.
Racket technology hasn't made strides in 20+ years. String technology hasn't made any leaps since the late 90's.

But nobody on this forum wants to actually do some decent reading.
 

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I highly doubt anyone with an appreciation for the sport actually thinks surface homogenisation would be good for tennis.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
while Federer clearly has the most variety in his game, and would probably benefit from more historic, varied surfaces, still, his slam run started as the courts were changing, so you could either say 1. he adapted and played a more defensive style because he had to due to the courts, or 2. he benefitted from the slowing down of all surfaces earlier in his career by having the best movement, and now he doesn't have that anymore due to age
Federer probably wouldn't, I would say almost certainly wouldn't, have won seven Wimbledon titles in the 90s.

It's just become an accepted opinion that Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are incredible players, and even Murray's achievements are phenomenal. It's not that surprising to me that they're consistent because they never have to do anything to change their game.

This is fine at the moment when we have these great rivalries, and three players at the top of the game (although Nadal looks to be finished now) who almost certainly do deserve to be described as great. It's not going to be great when they're gone.

I was thinking about some of the matches that Murray and Djokovic have played, particularly in Australia, where it was endless, interminable backhand-to-backhand rallies. That is tolerable when it's two players who are genuinely considered to be great, but it's going to be pretty boring when it's two lesser players that few people care about or identify with.

And this is another consequence of having a few players at the top of the game dominating on all surfaces, when they're not there few people care about the other players because we expect to see Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and to a lesser extent Wawrinka (although the bookmakers still don't rank him in the top four for slams apart from the FO, which shows how relatively little people identify with him) in the final stages of tournaments.

Let's say the final of the French Open was Nishikori against David Ferrer, and the Wimbledon final was Berdych versus Raonic; would anyone really care apart from hardcore tennis fans? This is the consequence of having relatively uniform conditions whatever has been done to cause them. Something has to be done now to address this, otherwise the game will experience a massive decline in the next 5-10 years, unless there are some incredible teenagers out there. Which there don't seem to be. I don't see any teenager ready to beat Djokovic or Federer at Wimbledon as Federer did with Sampras, or win the French Open as Nadal did, or make the US Open final at 20 as Djokovic did. Even Murray had made the US Open final by the age of 21, I don't see anyone coming along like that. Murray is genuinely unlucky that he's not 21 now because if he was he could probably have racked up double figures in GS titles, maybe even challenge 17.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Agassi made 3 finals at the French Open, 1 win 2 losses. Should have won all 3 IMO.
Sorry, I don't know why I typed that, you're quite right.

The main thing is that the game is just the same at every GS now. There is no variety. And yet we're constantly told that we've never had it so good, and it's an ultra-exciting and incredible era. Which is true to a certain extent, but there are going to be big problems for tennis when the names that have dominated the sport in the last 10-15 years quit because you will be left with uniform court conditions and styles of play and no competitors that people identify with. I'm sure Wimbledon will still sell out because people love going as a social event, but the sport will not be held in the high regard it is now.
 

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Well, this is a matter of opinion. I do not think you can possibly claim that he is an aggressive player. And he wouldn't have got anywhere at Wimbledon playing that style in the 90s, rest assured.
No it is not a matter of opinion. It is the fact. And yes Djokovic is an offensive aggressive baseline player. Even Federer agrees with this.

The 90s is not the rule, it was an anomaly when boring servebots ruled Wimbledon, that is why rightfully the grass was changes in 2002. But even then someone like Agassi won Wimbledon.

Bog and Connors won multiple Wimbledon titles playing similar style as Djokovic in 70s and 80s.

Only S&V players winning Wimbledon in the past is a myth which is not true.

So Djokovic would be a contender and would be winning Wimbledon in any era. Only clueless and haters could deny that.
 

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Federer probably wouldn't, I would say almost certainly wouldn't, have won seven Wimbledon titles in the 90s.

It's just become an accepted opinion that Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are incredible players, and even Murray's achievements are phenomenal. It's not that surprising to me that they're consistent because they never have to do anything to change their game.

This is fine at the moment when we have these great rivalries, and three players at the top of the game (although Nadal looks to be finished now) who almost certainly do deserve to be described as great. It's not going to be great when they're gone.

I was thinking about some of the matches that Murray and Djokovic have played, particularly in Australia, where it was endless, interminable backhand-to-backhand rallies. That is tolerable when it's two players who are genuinely considered to be great, but it's going to be pretty boring when it's two lesser players that few people care about or identify with.

And this is another consequence of having a few players at the top of the game dominating on all surfaces, when they're not there few people care about the other players because we expect to see Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and to a lesser extent Wawrinka (although the bookmakers still don't rank him in the top four for slams apart from the FO, which shows how relatively little people identify with him) in the final stages of tournaments.

Let's say the final of the French Open was Nishikori against David Ferrer, and the Wimbledon final was Berdych versus Raonic; would anyone really care apart from hardcore tennis fans? This is the consequence of having relatively uniform conditions whatever has been done to cause them. Something has to be done now to address this, otherwise the game will experience a massive decline in the next 5-10 years, unless there are some incredible teenagers out there. Which there don't seem to be. I don't see any teenager ready to beat Djokovic or Federer at Wimbledon as Federer did with Sampras, or win the French Open as Nadal did, or make the US Open final at 20 as Djokovic did. Even Murray had made the US Open final by the age of 21, I don't see anyone coming along like that. Murray is genuinely unlucky that he's not 21 now because if he was he could probably have racked up double figures in GS titles, maybe even challenge 17.
Agreed.

I actually preferred the speed and difference of the courts around the late 90s / early 00s, but I guess the ATP didn't like the numbers of different winners and lack of consistent rivalries. I don't think we want courts and surfaces with polar opposites but as you have said we need some appreciable difference to challenge the players to adapt more than just a bit of tweaked movement. Having said that, some slide now on all surfaces - unimaginable in earlier decades.

I think it also downgrades the achievements of Borg and Agassi. Borg essentially played 2 completely different styles of tennis within a month and dominated - that's insane. Agassi won on the super fast grass, against top S&Vs from the back of the court whilst challenging (and eventually winning) the French. Different approach, but equally as fascinating.

Personally, I think Aus open needs speeding up a little (with US kept a bit faster than it), Wimbledon faster and French slower. A season should be:

Aus - medium paced hard, high bounce
French - slow clay, high bounce
Wimbledon - medium grass, low bounce (I count today's surface as slow grass)
US - fast hard, medium bounce
WTF - medium hard, medium bounce
 

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and yet we have the fastest serves, forehands and backhands ever,

but tennis was so fast when Ivanisevic and Sampras had slower serve than Serena today,

only in heads of fedteens :wavey:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Bog and Connors won multiple Wimbledon titles playing similar style as Djokovic in 70s and 80s.
Yeah, Borg had a similar style at Wimbledon to Djokovic. Oh, except that he serve-volleyed on every first serve!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf0yfEfvMHE

All of the players who won Wimbledon in the 80s, except the one year Connors won it, serve-volleyed (Borg in 1980, McEnroe, Becker, Cash and Edberg). Even Lendl tried to do it. There is no way you could win Wimbledon serve-volleying now, you would just get hammered. McEnroe would not be a great player now, he would probably be the equivalent of Radek Stepanek.

But if you want to believe otherwise and deny well-documented history, that's fine. Djokovic is a great player, he will probably win many more GS, no-one will change the court conditions, you don't need to worry.
 

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and yet we have the fastest serves, forehands and backhands ever,

but tennis was so fast when Ivanisevic and Sampras had slower serve than Serena today,

only in heads of fedteens :wavey:
Lol, I would call this quality trolling but you're probably just ignorant/stupid.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I think it also downgrades the achievements of Borg and Agassi. Borg essentially played 2 completely different styles of tennis within a month and dominated - that's insane.
I couldn't agree more with this. I am actually slightly too young to have seen Borg, the first Wimbledon final I can remember was McEnroe vs Connors, but his achievement of winning the French and Wimbledon in the same year numerous times while playing completely different styles is completely underestimated today. He won 11 GS only entering three of them by his mid-twenties, and mastered all court conditions, even though he didn't win the US Open. I would still put him in the top three players of all-time, personally.
 
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