Wimbledon 2014 comes to a close and we look back on the lessons or non-headline, subtle whispers to come out of the Championships.
As in the past, the birthplace of tournament tennis delivers the unexpected, the depth of talent in our game and the style/direction of the tennis played to be successful in this professional arena.
One of the statistics to come out this year was that up to the quarter finals over 100 tie-breaks had been played – more than in any other year since its inception in 1971 (introduced at 8-8 altered to 6-6 in 1979) …. what does that indicate ?
A few scenarios exist in this explanation … Serving is more powerful and easier to hold, compared to the era of Lendl, Sampras, Becker, Edberg, Ivanisevic, Rafter, Roddick – not likely… Return of serve is weaker, compared to Connors, Kriek, Wilander, Agassi, Hewitt – improved movement/footwork, also suggests not likely … so what, in the modern game is different that reduces the likelihood of a break of serve and a set finishing at 6 rather than 7 !
Is it that the modern competitor is so mentally tough that each player finds a way to compete with each other until a point score, sudden death game is the decider … possibly, or that serving points are so well constructed that breaking it is very difficult … strong truth to this, compared to the skill set of the past … again unlikely.
Today’s players stand further back from the baseline to return these days and the thinking of having more time to swing and power the ball creates a falsehood of pressuring there opponent where in fact it gives the server more angle and the time to recover.
Looking at the best of receivers in the modern game and those giving themselves the best opportunity to create break points, look no further than the 2014 Championship Finalists! Court position, on or near the baseline … compact back swing to catch and direct … bouncing and moving side steps/jumps … this is more likely !
The US Open and it’s fast hard courts is the next major, the whispers that will be heard will have Vintage Tennis listening and learning.