Reading the Readers: Madder, Badder Edition
It’s time to peek, with trepidation, into the comments again. If there was any doubt as to whether Novak Djokovic would inspire fan passion to rival that of Roger Federer's or Rafael Nadal's, it has been put to rest on this website. A reminder: Wherever your loyalty may lie, whether you've decided to spend your time reminding me of my incorrect predictions, or accusing me of writing while American, try to say something constructive or interesting or funny. Insults, etc., will be deleted. And it will make this column much better in the future.
In agreement up to a point [with my article about today’s male players being gentlemanly on court]. But both Nadal and Djokovic do a lot of chest-thumping and fist-pumping, which I find to be less than sporting—trudat
Yes, fist-pumping and chest-thumping and screaming in celebration were not part of the old Aussie rules, the ones that are still the standard in most people’s minds for tennis behavior. But the sport does evolve, and I’ve come to like this new aspect of it. While they may annoy their opponents, and while repeated exhortations by my own opponents would almost certainly annoy me, I don’t believe Nadal’s leg kicks or Djokovic’s chest thumps are done with vicious intent. They’re meant to fire themselves up and bring their desire to the surface, which I don’t see as unsporting. I can understand why fans who believe that Roy Emerson and Co. were the be-all and end-all of tennis decorum would be appalled, but to me the show of positive energy and emotion is added entertainment.
But maybe I'm the wrong guy to ask: I was also a fan of Lleyton Hewitt's lawnmower multi-punch routine and "Vicht!" fingers-to-the-forehead sign. I guess you pick your Aussie style.
Everyone was a little madder and badder in the late 70s, early 80s. But then again, if you lost your s&%t on court it didn't get broadcast over the Internet a million times. You have no choice but to be more respectful on court today. Look what happened when Ferrer hit a ball in the stands in the general direction of a crying baby. And then there's Serena but I don't want to start a riot on this thread so I'll stop there.—Michele
The Internet of the Johnny Mac era were the new “shotgun” microphones that started to appear courtside in 1980 and especially ’81. McEnroe and Gerulaitis complained that they made it sound as if the players were louder and more aggressive than they really were. McEnroe, typically I guess, thought they had been invented mainly to capture what he was saying. Gerulaitis compared the situation to baseball, where players weren't followed around by microphones. “What do you think Reggie Jackson says when he runs into the wall in right field?" Vitas asked. "'Ooh, I hurt my heady-poo?'"
But it’s true, anything you do now is instantly available everywhere forever and ever. And there was more of a sense of rebellion in general in those days. The 60s got to tennis a decade late.
An alternate hypotheisis. I agree that evolution is going on here but I suspect it is not the players evolving but the game. Perhaps it is something about how power is generated with the new racket technology - start out slow and smoothly harness power from the legs with loose body dynamics for maximum racket head speed. I find when I am aggressive, I snatch at the ball, which either flies towards the fence or meekly crosses the net. Perhaps it is today's tennis audience unwillingness to tolerate even the slightest bad behavior - witness the boo's Djokovic gets when he begins even the slightest complaint. Either way, both are apsects of today's game that weeds out the hotheads from the top echelon of the game.—5.0 wannabe
I’m not sure about your power argument, but one evolutionary element I left out of my post on today’s sporting men is the effect of Hawk-Eye. It lowers the temperature all around. And, as you said, it may make tennis audiences less tolerant of negative acting-out, because it happens so much less often now.
During my junior year in high school, in Rhode Island, we used two elements of the VASSS scoring system -- the no-ad game scoring and the 9-point tiebreak. And I loved it. Each game could be decided in a sudden death point, once the score reached 3-3 (like 40-40, or deuce). The receiver, naturally having the disadvantage (in those days, anyway), had the option of which service box to take the serve, thereby mitigating the server's advantage somewhat. It made for all kinds of interesting tactical decisions, because if I was receiving at 3-3, and my opponent had double-faulted in the ad court at 2-1 or 3-2 to bring it to sudden death, I might just make him serve into the ad court again, begging him to try NOT to think about his previous double-fault. Or, if my opponent was a lefty with a wicked slice serve that tailed away from my one-handed backhand, I might choose to receive the 3-3 point in the deuce court, taking away his most prominent advantage.—Slice-n-Dice
Now that I think about it, I played No-Ad all through high school and college. I don’t know if it was better or worse than deuce games—you got used to it, and there was an added sense that the mentally stronger and calmer player, the one who could handle those 3-all points, was going to prevail. But I did think it could skew a match too far toward those sudden-death points. I can remember winning and losing matches by extremely misleading scores. The tiebreaker, yes, that was essential, if only for TV viewing, but tennis is already weighted toward the “big points” enough as it is to go with No-Ad.
It's quite weird, but through tennis I got to I utterly love the windows of anti-normality; ok, it's nice to watch Wimbledon or RG semis and final matches after lunch, but there's something unreal and infinitely exciting and thrilling about huddling on a chair in front of the computer in January, thick woolen socks on, radiators blasting at full capacity, in the middle of the night, everything deadly silent, I feel like I'm stealing life transfixed by the luminent blue courts, blinding sunshine and sweating, lobster-red crowds trying to watch the match. So I do look foward to the American summer, esp USO and my trips to the fridge where cold grapes have now become my traditional "strawberries and cream" of the last slam.—noleisthebest
It’s true, watching at oddball hours makes you feel like a true fan and maybe appreciate what you’re seeing more. One of my favorite tennis memories is staying up until something like 3:00 A.M. to see Younes El-Aynaoui beat Lleyton Hewitt at the Australian Open in 2003 (it was the match before the epic with Roddick). It wouldn't have been the same if I'd taped it and watched it at my leisure the next morning. As great as it was to go to the Australian Open this year, I missed the wee-hour viewing from the other side of the planet
yes, we are not gracious winners- we are gloating!! you are right, nole is much more gracious than some of his fans. that's why we like him.—parker
This, at least, is funny.
I really like the title of this "rally": The New Landscape. I'm really enjoying The New Landscape in both the men's & women's tours. As a Rafa fan, it has been hard to see him beaten so regularly by Nole. But, he's been beaten soundly each time, and as a tennis lover i enjoy watching anyone playing "in the zone" as Novak is doing. It's been a real delight to watch him play, and i'm plenty up for "more of the same". Of course, i am hoping that Rafa finds a way to turn the situation around and return to winning against him instead of losing (Haha I'm still hoping the same for Rog against Rafa)- but i'm also really digging the "challenge" that Novak's offered the other top guys. Can anyone meet it? Not yet. But i hope they can.—jodiecate
Thanks for your sanity and overall positivity about the sport as it stands right now
Fernando says much too much analysis—Fernando
Tignor respects Fernando, but disagrees.