Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Long Ball
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Long Ball 06/24/2010 - 4:01 PM

Ji As a kid, I would hit against a wall in a nearby park and pretend that I was on Centre Court. It was always the fifth set of the Wimbledon final, and while I don’t remember who I was playing, I do remember that the score was remarkably similar every time. Usually it was 9-7 in the fifth; something about those numbers had just the right ring of history and exhaustion. If I was in a more imaginative mood, and not as tired, I might string my poor doomed opponent all the way to 11-all before taking the last two games and accepting a standing ovation from the crowd. There are plenty of arguments for fifth-set tiebreakers, but one thing they don’t do is speak to a kid’s imagination in quite the same way as a set that's played all the way out. It wouldn’t be nearly as fun to spend two hours hitting against a wall if the final score in your head always had to be 7-6.

But there are limits to the imagination, even for a daydreaming 12-year-old. Mine never got anywhere near 70-68; that would have been a joke, a science-fiction number, a college basketball score. But while there was something surreal about the way John Isner and Nicolas Mahut reached that number over the last two days—after a certain point, every time the chair umpire called the score, a laugh of disbelief went up from the stands—it wasn’t a complete surprise. At 6-all, seeing how easily each guy was holding, I began to wonder if the match would ever end. Seriously. I couldn’t see either of them finding a way to break. Their serves were too good, and their return games—Mahut with his one-handed backhand, Isner with his restricted side-to-side movement—were too mediocre.

Both of those things stayed true for 138 games. Isner-Mahut was an epic, a jaw-dropper, a match that will be spread across multiple pages in the record books for years. Most of all it was a testament to the will of these two particular players. Was it enjoyable to watch? Well, yes and no. Point by point there wasn’t a whole lot there most of the time, unless you’re an ace fanatic. But game by game you couldn’t really turn away. It was a high wire act, in which neither guy seemed in any danger of falling off—that may not make for spine-tingling entertainment, but in a way that made the feat even more impressive. The spectacle wasn’t in the points themselves, but in the ability of both players to avoid the slightest letdown for eight hours. Even Roger Federer said he was speechless when he shook Isner’s hand afterward.

Did this match represent or crystallize any kind of trends in tennis? To me, it was the product of a few long-running developments. Height, for one, and the evolution of the tall player into more than just a serve. Isner, as you know, is 6-foot-9, but did you realize that Mahut, who looked tiny next to his opponent, is 6-foot-3? Yes, Isner hit 112 aces—I thought Ivo Karlovic’s record 78 from last year might stand forever—but at crucial moments, just when he seemed ready to keel over, he could also step around and belt a perfectly placed inside-out forehand from one corner to the other. And after all those aces, Isner finally won it with two pinpoint passing shots, the first of which he short-hopped off the baseline. 

The other, more general trend that Isner-Mahut exemplified was the quality of play you can see from the second-tier of men's tennis now. The sport has evolved to a point where a first-round match between two guys well outside the Top 10 dwarfs the level of shot-making that we saw in the most dramatic finals of 30 years ago. Racquet technology, fitness training, stroke evolution, worldwide competition: After three decades, they’ve produced an individual like Roger Federer at the top end, and over the last three days they gave us a match where two players were good enough, when they took the ball to serve, to be unbeatable for a period of 11 hours. This was a match where the loser could hit 103 aces and, after 100 games, still have the energy to dive across the grass. This was a match where the winner could stagger around in a daze for four hours, whiff on several balls, and still have the stroke-making proficiency to go for dozens of games without facing a single break point. This was the modern game, with all of its power and skill, going up against itself. The shots that were once the province of the best—the forehand winner from behind the baseline, the ripped one-handed backhand down the line—are now routine, and can be repeated for hours.

Ji-nm There was only one winner, but you had to be equally impressed with both players. Isner has said that playing college tennis, where the pressure of having to come through for the team is always there, has made him a good tight-situation player. In D.C. a few years ago, he won five consecutive matches in third-set tiebreakers. But this was something different. This was truly mind over matter; Isner won despite his body. As for Mahut, I’ve always liked his old school, linear, forward-moving game, and I liked the way he never flagged, physically or mentally. He went about his business without any change for all 138 games. And afterward, I liked his graciousness, and his willingness to acknowledge that Isner had done something special in surviving. In the past, judging only by his vicious hair and prickly way of dealing with ball kids, I’d always assumed that Mahut was kind of a jerk. Not so, apparently—his dignity in defeat may be what I remember longest from this longest match.

My favorite moment, though, came not from either player, but from Jimmy Connors, who was announcing for Tennis Channel. When Isner reached double match point at 33-32, Connors rightly advised him to go for broke on the first one. Isner popped his return back to the service line, and then, for the first time in many games, hit a safe and tentative slice backhand. As soon as Jimmy saw him open up the racquet for a slice, he said, with real anxiety, “Oh no.” He was right, of course. The ball landed short, Mahut took it up the line, and a few minutes later he had held serve. It would be 73 games before Isner would have another serious shot at winning. Jimmy must have known what was coming when he said “Oh no.” 

After watching ace after ace for hours yesterday, I went out and played a little myself—one hour, not 11. Is it a surprise that I had the best serving day I’ve had in years? I must have hit a dozen aces; when I threw the ball up, I felt like I couldn’t miss if I tried. I wasn’t pretending I was at Wimbledon this time—I’ll settle for a club championship in my daydreams these days—but Isner-Mahut and 70-68 was still powerful enough to speak to my tennis imagination.

***

Quiz answers: 1) D; 2) C; 3) B (in 1970); 4) D; 5) B; 6) D; 7) D; 8) B; 9) B; 10) A


 
50
Comments
 

Posted by Master Ace 06/24/2010 at 04:19 PM

First! We will never see this type of match ever in our lifetime.

Posted by NA 06/24/2010 at 04:19 PM

first

Posted by DavidC 06/24/2010 at 04:20 PM

I think that it is wonderful that this happened with two players that will never be upper-echelon. But after today they will always remain - immortal !!!

Posted by kunal 06/24/2010 at 04:21 PM

first

Posted by bozley 06/24/2010 at 04:29 PM

It was outstanding for both players. Why would anyone judge that they might never be upper echelon? Isner is a very young player who is improving all the time. I don't know much about Mahut, but he definitely proved his worth in this match.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/24/2010 at 04:32 PM

Amazing that Isner was the one who remained standing last. Remarkable for the 6-9 server.

Posted by pschwarztennis 06/24/2010 at 04:33 PM

It was a beautiful thing, indeed. I hope Big John comes to New Haven this year so I can shake his hand.

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 06/24/2010 at 04:55 PM

Awestruck by these two young gentlemen.
Happy that the match is over.
Sorry there had to be a loser.
Both a great asset to the game.

P.S. Major props to Mohamed the Umpire.

Posted by fuzzy balls 06/24/2010 at 05:04 PM

ha ha! i went out and played last night too... fired off more aces than i can remember. something must have been engrained in my head watching that match for so long.

Posted by Ethan 06/24/2010 at 05:08 PM

Absolutely colossal - when both players and the umpire and given awards for a first round match, you know you've seen something historical.

Now I can't wait to see Soderling have his head squashed the next round when he will be viciously whipped all the way from the lockeroom and back but not before the crowd boo him for taking too long to get the mud and grass particles off his ROXETTE FACE!

Posted by FDR 06/24/2010 at 05:20 PM

DavidC, please get out of Agassi's drug stash. If you really think Mahut and Isner are not upper echelon, I don't know what the hell you were watching for the last 11 hours. Maybe you were watching paint dry.

Posted by Daniela 06/24/2010 at 05:23 PM

WOW AMAZING!!!!

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/24/2010 at 05:37 PM

"We will never see this type of match ever in our lifetime."

MA, then what have we been doing the last three days? ; )

Posted by SimonSays 06/24/2010 at 05:39 PM

excellent post once again

Posted by Larry 06/24/2010 at 05:42 PM

I saw not a minute of the match;
the match was not mine to catch.
Busy with matters of life, some involving bits of strife
I still glanced in on an unfolding epic;
it was an endless tome, War and Peace and the Book of Kings,
and when Izzie and Mahut made their swings, hours fell like minutes -
days like hours, and the sparkling grasses of an Empire's city
went dark. And then light again, for the dawn came,
the day rose, and Big John Isner made history froze.

Or should that be 'freeze'? Lord only knows.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/24/2010 at 05:48 PM

2. After winning Wimbledon in 1993, Pete Sampras was informed that Princess Diana had been “clapping like crazy” for him in the Royal Box. What was Sampras’ reply?

c) “Maybe she’s got a crush on me.”

No way! LOL!

Posted by Geemom 06/24/2010 at 05:54 PM

This was just wonderful. I loved both players, their mental strength, their sportsmanship, their regard for each other. Can't believe that after the wonderful French Womems final with two likable players with positive games that we could have another great thing happen again so soon. I am proud of both these young men. It makes me so so happy. I have been in the market for some new players to support. I think I have just found them.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 06/24/2010 at 05:59 PM

Larry, thanks for the nice poem.

Matt Harvey, the official Wimbledon poet, posted this yesterday:

It seems appropriate to celebrate the longest match in tennis history with the shortest poem form - so I spent my train trip into Wimbledon this morning writing haikus, and here's my favourite of those I came up with.
high performance play

all day yet still no climax

it's tantric tennis

Hmmm, not bad, but I imagine there are many out there who could do better and different. And while I maintain the haiku is the correct response, an occasion of this magnitude requires a collective effort - a cluster of haikus!

As Roger Federer said, unsure whether to cry or laugh, this will not happen again. He's right. Not in this aeon.

So please send lines in about this epic match to my Twitter account @wimbledonpoet. Send haiku, one-liners, flowery couplets, anything that'll fit into 140 characters. I'll put them up on this blog tomorrow. Or soon. I promise.

http://tinyurl.com/2b4zsrq

Posted by rainey 06/24/2010 at 06:15 PM

with regards to your astute comments on the evolution of the game towards tall players with big serves - is this a *good* thing? for me - absolutely NO - I tuned in sporadacally to this marathon and it was like Groundhog day - it would get to love 30 or 30 all and then some more aces - back on serve, the only thing remotely interesting was the number of games - it was to tennis what a 'danceathon' is to dancing -endurance only!
For me -there is no rhythm, no joy to watching the game played like this. Another example of the proliferation of big servers was the Rafa/Hasse match - Hasse - another tall guy with a big serve - the BBC commies appeared to love this -all excited because a game was over in 4 serves - 41 seconds -*yawn* - thankfully Rafa's superb *non-serve* based game rescued the event and demonstrated the skills needed to play sublimely watchable tennis.
I say -*Ban the second serve rule*- this would be better than tiebreakers - which favour the big server- and save tennis from infinite service holds and 3 day first round yawn fests -you want to do endurance - go on a hike through the desert - keep you hand on a car for 10 days - this just isn't tennis!

Posted by Rockin'Robin 06/24/2010 at 06:48 PM

you've gotta feel for Mahut here. Lets start a campaign for Mahut as a wimbledon wildcard for 2011(Roddick's idea, not mine).

By the way, I will be utterly SHOCKED if Isner is able to even muster a serious fight against the solid De Bakker in the second round. Anyone think Isner has a chance in round 2?

Posted by Rockin'Robin 06/24/2010 at 07:11 PM

by the way, did anyone see the Kuznetsova match? Kuz refused to shake Anastasia Rodionova's hand after the match, and it appeared, for no reason at all!!!

I thought it was VERY rude and classless behavior by Kuznetsova. I watched the entire match and Anastasia did not even do anything obnoxious or rude so that was quite uncalled for. Does anyone have any idea why kuznetsova would do something so rude? If so please fill me in(i'm asking a lot of questions today haha)

Posted by Mel 06/24/2010 at 08:15 PM

Rockin Robin,
Maybe Kuz didn't shake her hand because of some weird national pride thing - because Rodionova is not playing for Russia anymore. She got Australian citizen ship in December and now plays for Oz. Or perhaps they have had some disagreement in the past. Either way Kuz is likely to get a fine.

Posted by Clay 06/24/2010 at 09:06 PM

I do feel sorry for Mahut! He was packed up and off the court within seconds, then they dragged him back out for the ceremony and the photos - you can taste the discontent in those shots, they're so bad its humorous. And then he has to spend yet another day on the same court? At that point they might as well put a dunce cap and a leash on him and parade him throughout the grounds, the poor guy.

That said, I'm glad Isner made it happen. Dude looked like a zombie out there, no idea how he kept it together. This will obviously be huge for his career - he's been due for a breakthrough as a premier player and this might be it.

Personally I love the guy, but I don't think he has a chance against De Bakker.

Posted by Neveah 06/24/2010 at 09:13 PM

Sweet Piece Steve!:)

Both Izzy and Mahut are winners in my eyes,and Izzy will win his next match.;)

Go Izzy!!! :)))

Posted by claudio 06/24/2010 at 09:40 PM

Lots of records being broken. Speaking of serve records did anybody notice that Nadia Petrova hit a 144 MPH serve in her first round match? Taylor Dent's 148 MPH serve pales in comparison...

Posted by Oscar Meyer-Wiener 06/24/2010 at 09:48 PM

THESE GUYS ARE WORSE THAN SCHENG SCHALKEN.

Posted by Christopher 06/24/2010 at 09:56 PM

rainey-- But don't you think this match is very much out of the norm, and not just because of the score?

Wimbledon is certainly not a server's paradise any more, nor is any other part of the tour. Your complaint is a valid one for the mid and late 90's, but to say that tennis needs to do something NOW to de-emphasize the serve just doesn't jibe with the reality of the game at present. Yes, there are some taller players out there, but nobody is winning slams primarily on the the strength of a huge serve that cannot be broken (unless that is how one views Federer which would seem a bit odd). Isner has never gone deep in a slam and neither has Karlovic. JMDP is certainly tall, but he won the USO with his ground strokes, not his serve. Even in the case of Roddick, his good results as of late are because of improvements in aspects of his game other than his serve. Changing the rules to allow only one serve would be absurd. We might as well start the points with ground strokes.

Posted by Geellis 06/24/2010 at 09:59 PM

Notwithstanding all the hype about this match, I have been and remain a staunch proponent of the 5th set tie-break and I believe this match highlights all the reasons pro and con. On the con side is history, legends, etc. On the con side is, to a certain extent, the quality of play and, certainly, the future rounds for the poor players who have to endure these long matches. While it's clear that a match such as Isner/Mahut doesn't happen ever day or even every lifetime, we've seen plenty of 9-7s or 17-15 (ok not plenty of these) over time. Ultimately, this tennis fan prefers the winner to actually have a chance in the next round and it will be really surprising if Isner does (but here's to crossing one's fingers).

As for error of big man tennis, I still think the jury is way out on this one. There have been really tall guys for the better part of 20 years at or around the top of the game. Here I'm thinking of Krajicek, Ivanisevic, Philopousis, Martin, Ljubi, Safin etc. None of these guys turned into (or are likely to turn into) legends of the game. I don't think DelPo or Soderling is likely to be any different. They will get some wins, but I'm just not convinced that men this tall ultimately have the mobility required to be superlative tennis players. Furthermore, the strength advantage they have over the likes of Rafa, Fed, Sampras, Agassi etc. is insufficient to make up for the myriad of other advantages those players have over their giant competitors (quickness, mobility). And I see no reason, notwithstanding the hype, to believe that is changing anytime soon.

Posted by Stewart 06/24/2010 at 10:05 PM

I did think that was pretty harsh for them to stick Mahut right back on Court 18 for his doubles match...that started at 7:30 and had to be postponed. Yikes.

Definitely a guaranteed wild card next year would be a great way to honour Mahut. Roddick really had a couple nice touches on this match, including bringing Isner dinner the previous night.

Claudio, I'm not sure where you got that Petrova hit a 144 MPH serve, but it hasn't been mentioned in any of the broadcasts or on this site, so I'm dubious. That would be 16 MPH faster than the fastest serve on record (25 KPH faster = 230 KPH, which is Robin Soderling territory). Right now the fastest women's serve is either 209 or 210 KPH. Seems unlikely, though Nadia does have probably the 3rd or 4th best serve in women's tennis after Serena and Stosur.

Didn't see that Kuznetsova refused to shake hands, that's kind of startling - I've always thought of her as a classy player, especially after her tact in winning the FO last year during Safina's collapse.

Posted by Rachel 06/24/2010 at 10:19 PM

I feel like when I watch a zillion hours of tennis I get better at it. By osmosis maybe?

Posted by Kombo 06/24/2010 at 10:39 PM

Aaaah, Steve couldn't resist the urge to glean general trends from anomalous events. There there. Crazy match, hard to watch at times, but I'm glad I saw the final point live. The post match ____ show was comical too.

Posted by Kombo 06/24/2010 at 10:53 PM

The powers that be have already done enough to slow the game game down and disadvantage players with good serves to the benefit of good movers and baseliners. Add to this the new hyper topspin strings that are now the rage. To do more would be a travesty imho. This is grass forchrissakes.

Posted by Ryota 06/24/2010 at 11:30 PM

Watched the last couple of games of this match. Bad luck for Mahut. He was fresher than Isner but he couldn't just break through.

Posted by JohnC 06/24/2010 at 11:38 PM

Yes, the great players have become taller as the modern era has developed. Borg, Laver, Connors, Rosewall were all under 6'. The true greats of the past 20 years -- Federer, Nadal, Sampras -- are all 6'1". There is clearly a factor of diminishing returns that comes with height, and that is no surprise. The key to hitting well and consistently is being able to get to the ball -- mobility, footwork, positioning. Sure, the really tall guys can be damn dangerous, but that won't give them multiple slam wins. The best tallest player of recent times is DelPo, but that huge wingspan is now subject to a career-threatening injury.

Posted by angela 06/24/2010 at 11:40 PM

It is tall and serve that seems to send the ticket to the edge of our day
yet we are left with a sense of triumph that physical capacity can sustain cameras beyond awarded time drafted for ads,
what an amazing display of fortitude and candid stubborn faith. I turned away and cooked two meals for my children (reluctantly) in between games 30 and 50. I went and played doubles with my 50ish friends during games 50 to 70 -- all morning while you battled it out, again...we spat our weak doubles in your awe. Tenistas in Argentina -- to the heart. Mothers of tennis kids. And all we could talk about was how proud we were of such youth certainty and belief in yourselves. Both of you. Mothers - out there all morning chatting about you as if you were our own - you two amazing children. You will never truly know what you have done to the word of tennis of the mothers...so proud of you both we are!

Posted by vv_varaiya 06/24/2010 at 11:43 PM

A few comments about the match:

--Isner played several games with his pocket turned out. Could have easily gotten his hand/racquet accidentally caught up in it.

--On the final match point, Mahut hesitated on the half-volley because he thought his serve was out. It caused him to hit a weaker shot.

--Why do Pam Schriver, Mary Jo, Patrick McEnroe, Mary Carrilo and Brad Gilbert engage in the annoying habit of using a diminutive name when making a snarky comment. Mary Carillo, Pam Schriver, Pat McEnroe and Mary Jo constantly call Cliff Drysdale -- Cliffy to be sarcastic.

--Brad Gilbert makes the most insightful comments of the group.

--Patrick McEnroe is trying very hard to be a "Serious Man" by constantly scowling.

Posted by rainey 06/25/2010 at 05:28 AM

Christopher and Geellis - points taken - this match was not the norm -and yes - big guys (and girls) have been in the game for a long time without outstanding sucess.
My main concern is that, in the light of the relative sucess of this style of play - it can take you into the top 10 -50, there may be a growing trend towards training up big kids to serve big as way of gaining sucess in the field. Several countries are facing shortages of good youngsters coming through-such as USA and GB, and this is a lazy short term solution to good tennis programmes. Yes - they might get far, get sponsors, make money etc. but ultimately it is *switch off* tennis, which is bad for the sport.
I agree that something has to be done about the duration of games - again it is not healthy for players - who are already enduring overscheduling and also for viewers -who do have other things to do but want to see the match concluded. I am going to stick with first serve only over tie breaks - to have 2 serves does not properly account for the risk involved - it allows you to take too much risk with the first as you have a back up - try playing that rule for a while - it speeds up the game.

Posted by espnalanaldo 06/25/2010 at 06:02 AM

Yeah, it sucks that one has to lose.

Could Wimbledon have given the loser a pass to replace whoever retired in the second round? That would have been nice.

Great job by Isner but just so so sorry for Nic.

Posted by sharon 06/25/2010 at 06:46 AM

What sucks is that neither player had a competent ROS so that one or the other could have put some pressure on the other's game. Sheesh, any half competent tennis player could have rifled a few hot DTL or CC shots and gotten a point or two but instead you have a couple of one-talent wonders who managed to expose each other's liabilities for an interminably long period of time. Heaven help us if big servers with only middling abilities to hit other tennis shots take over this game.

Posted by netprophet 06/25/2010 at 07:06 AM

While we all may be awestruck by these two talented players, the tie-breaker was instituted years ago avoid this and should be instituted in the fifth set at least by the time it gets to 12 all. Now Isner faces signficantly increased odds of not progressing in the tournament because it took the equivalent of 4 matches to declare him the winner. The magntiude of the fifth set makes the other 4 sets seem inconsequentlial by comparison, and yet in the final talley they all weigh equally. While this match was an interesting novelty it does not a tournament make. Those (sharon) making the disparagaing comments about neither player having a competent return game have evidently not assessed the inability of the game's best returners (Nadal or Fed) when pitted agsint a big server like Isner or Karlovic.

Posted by Tennisloverloves 06/25/2010 at 08:00 AM

@rainey - You are exactly right. Boring boring boring. This would never have happened to A list players, and It is more a commentary on the sad state of men's tennis, with lumbering giants smashing the ball, but not smart enough to think their way around the court. Of course the US media has painted this boring overlong endurance feat as the "greatest match of all time," hoping that it will elevate the pitiful US men's game to a level of spectacular, overlooking the fact that we are truly in for it if Isner (and Queerey, for that matter) represent the future. As a friend of mine pointed out, both players were just too bad to even lose. Isner will, of course, probably be going home in his next match, but, the media will say, it is because he is so worn out from this match.

Posted by Kombo 06/25/2010 at 08:40 AM

Rainey - "I am going to stick with first serve only over tie breaks - to have 2 serves does not properly account for the risk involved - it allows you to take too much risk with the first as you have a back up - try playing that rule for a while - it speeds up the game."

Why don't we just abolish the serve completely? Or handicap good servers two points a game, same difference, you're picking winners and losers. Let's just 'serve' underhanded or 'ping' four shots over before a point counts proper. Ridiculous.

Posted by JohnP 06/25/2010 at 08:46 AM

Never say "never!"

Posted by Kate 06/25/2010 at 08:54 AM

Yes, I watched, and yes, I enjoyed the camraderie of everyone watching together. But I'm with Rainey (and others)--if these guys could play tennis and not just serve, it would have been over and done with.

I call it Windmill Tennis when you get some big, tall server out there, swinging away and draining all the energy out of the court (and the spectators). All those aces, and still look how long it took to win. Aces, pish.

My dad used to tell a joke about a gorilla who could line up at the first hole and send the ball 300 yards to the first flag with a perfect landing. And then he'd go up to the ball, two inches from the cup--and send it 300 yards more. When I'm very grumpy at these big servers who can do only the one thing, I grouchily call it Gorilla Tennis.

I was at a local store, and there were two men watching the marathon match, watching the score turn over and over and over. One of them shrugged at the other. "Me," he said. "I play to win."

And they both turned away.

Posted by Kombo 06/25/2010 at 09:07 AM

Paul Henri Mathieu has just had his serve broken 5 consecutive times. Much better! Look, the marathon match wasn't that much fun to watch other than the final game, but those calling for 'new rules' to further disadvantage players who serve well need to take a chill pill and realize it was an anomaly and lot has already been done to favor their preferred baseline style of play.

Posted by fedfan 06/25/2010 at 09:34 AM

Ok. It looks like you are admitting what my own lying eyes have been telling me for some time; the level of play, in men's tennis at least, is higher across the board. When I watch tapes of the pros of yesteryear, it looks as though they are playing in slow motion.

I've also noticed that on the men's side an early round match can be quite riveting competition because there is so much depth on the pro tour. I think this should be factored in when discussing the achievements of players like Federer and Nadal in the never ending G.O.A.T. arguments. However, I don't doubt that many players of the past had the talent and physiques to adapt to present day technology and training and be great players in the modern age as well.

Posted by amanaceo 06/25/2010 at 10:20 AM

my predictions (http://amanaceo.blogspot.com/2010/06/wimbledon-2010-predictions.html) in trouble with Hewitt leading Monfils

Posted by netprophet 06/25/2010 at 11:54 AM

Those of you criticizing the depth of men's tennis dont know what you are talking about. Ken Rosewell was asked at this year's Aussie Open how he compared today's top players with those he competed with in the 60's and 70's and he emphatically, said, "No comparison - none of the players in my era could touch today's talent". Training, strategy, equipment are all superior today.

The consequences of the Isner-Mahut match were made manifest today as Isner could only muster a meager 5 games in the next round. The rules need to be changed to never allow what happened to occur again.

Posted by Tennisloverloves 06/25/2010 at 08:04 PM

@fedfan - What? Riveting to bemoan how awful the fodder players are. If the talent is so deep, then why does it not stick around for the second week to play with the big boys? It almost looks canned to see some of the top tier players barely squeak by (a la Federer on Monday). As for the GOAT argument, I would will always caveat it with an asterisk, but both Nadal and Federer would get my vote for the most consistent players in an inconsistent field . Why does only one name dominate the winners' columns of the slams (with the exception of the French) since 2003? GIve me a break.

@ netprophet - Do you mean Rosewall? That was awfully kind of him, because I am sure he was chuckling to himself about the inability the current tour has to think through the game. Maybe it was because film from 1953 plays differently today. Maybe it is because money, science, and steroid-fed beef make bigger players. Or maybe players did not need to slam the ball around like retarded gladiators because they played with finesse. The closest living relic is Federer. When he goes, tennis elegance goes, and therefore, the last vestiges of traditional tennis. Unless the thinking players like Soderling, Nadal, Tsonga, occasionally Jokovic and (usually clueless) Roddick, and the Spanish Armada during clay season can step up to the plate, we will then only have trees (as the normally clueless Roddick calls them) standing at the back of the court slamming balls at one another, playing 70-game final sets.

Posted by Tennisloverloves 06/25/2010 at 08:09 PM

I KNEW the US media would lament poor Isner's fatigue as the reason for him losing his match against de Bakker, as if it would not have happened anyway.

AP said:- "One day after winning the longest tennis match in history, John Isner lost the shortest men's match at Wimbledon so far this year...

said Isner - ""I've never been this exhausted before," Isner said. "Mentally and physically, I was obviously a bit drained. I just didn't have much in the way of my legs. I was just low on fuel out there. Didn't really have a chance."

As if he ever had much in the way of legs.


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Hard Landing
Part of the Action
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