June 28, 2010

Men's Tennis at Point of No Returns: The record breaking John Isner-Nicolas Mahut first round match and last year's Roger Federer-Andy Roddick Wimbledon final show that advances in racket technology have taken some of the beauty and skill out of men's tennis, argues Leonard Cassuto. "Not only did the two play more than 175 consecutive games without a break of serve, they also played 45 consecutive games without reaching a break point," he writes of Isner and Mahut. "Even when they could barely stand, they proved capable of blasting aces past each other.Such gunslinging servers’ spectacles invoke the former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe’s oft-stated wish for a return to wood rackets."

posted by rcade to tennis at 01:12 PM - 12 comments

There should be at least one tournament a year where players are forced to use wooden rackets and are compelled to play by the Tour. I'm not saying get rid of the technology, but it would be nice to see the difference.

posted by wfrazerjr at 01:53 PM on June 28

Combine today's rackets with strength training. Even with the metal rackets of the 1980's, the play was so much slower, strategic, when compared to post-1990.

For those old enough, remember when Roscoe Tanner had the hottest serve back in the 70's? Many of today's women put him to shame, again because of strength training.

posted by jjzucal at 03:44 PM on June 28

I wonder if wooden rackets could even stand the strain of the power behind the serves of modern players. That said, I agree there are too many aces. Service is supposed to be an advantage, but with some players it is almost a certainty.

posted by graymatters at 06:12 PM on June 28

For those old enough, remember when Roscoe Tanner had the hottest serve back in the 70's? Many of today's women put him to shame, again because of strength training.

He routinely hit it 140 mph. And was clocked at 153 mph. None of today's women are even close. Let alone putting him to shame.

posted by tselson at 08:00 PM on June 28

Way to regulate, tselson. I love this site.

posted by DudeDykstra at 10:06 PM on June 28

Played Roscoe a few times in the 70's Not only did he have a BIG serve he had that "low" toss that gave you less time and he was left handed. Can't imagine what his serve would be like given todays modern equipment. To make todays game less about serving give the men only one serve, they would have to take something off of their serves to make sure it goes in.

posted by otbagain at 02:25 AM on June 29

Played Roscoe a few times in the 70's

I suspect I'm not alone in hoping you'll expand on that (why'd you play him? who else did you play? are you a famous tennis player in disguise?).

posted by JJ at 02:41 AM on June 29

I was playing on the Penn circuit sort of like what triple A baseball is to the major leagues. was "lucky enough" to play the likes of Tanner, Stan Smith, John Newcombe etc. when I would qualify for bigger tournaments. Would get to play one the seeded players in the first round if you were to qualify.

posted by otbagain at 03:35 AM on June 29

Cool! Did you ever beat any of those guys? How far did your tennis career go? What put an end to it? Tell us sotries about getting drunk with others that went on to become household names!

posted by JJ at 06:19 AM on June 29

Assessment of Roscoe Tanner's serve force. I wish I had seen this show as a kid.

posted by werty at 11:30 AM on June 29

And while I'm here, Borg-Tanner at Wimbledon, 1979. Look how gentle the game was! (With metal rackets, too.)

posted by werty at 11:33 AM on June 29

Hey, I just got the pun in the post. Only takes two days, but I catch on real good.

Isn't this really more of a Wimbledon/grass court issue than anywhere else? I seem to remember people writing off men's baseline tennis back in the heyday of Pete Sampras, only to have Andre Agassi prove that there was still room in the game for a great return man/baseline player.

Sure, the lightning fast surface of the all-England club favors the heavy serves, but that's why they play the other grand slam events on different surfaces. And the two pre-eminent players in the men's game today aren't just service machines; both Nadal and Federer play a strong all-around game.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:22 PM on June 29

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