What is meant here, are not so called Big4, but physically big players. 190+ cm high.
- Where’s the problem?
Tennis in it’s current form, was invented at the end of 19th century, including dimensions of the court and it’s parts, lines, the net. 185 cm of body height at men meant probably being just a big boy then. So we can assume, all court dimensions were designed for about this height. Over years this changed dramatically. We have still smaller players like Diego Schwartzman (170 cm) or David Ferrer (177 cm), but they casus rarus in the higher ranking ranges. More and more players are 190+ and many of them 198+ or even 200+. It’s like you was playing serious volleyball against 10 years old kids hitting over the net adapted for this age. For a 200 cm+ player in tennis we can assume, the net does not exist, which is a huge advantage, coming from the body height (a kind of gift most cannot have). If you are say 180 cm high, try to play (recreation or amateur tennis) with a partner being 190 cm or higher. You will feel the difference in every shot, not only on serve. It’s that simple as basic geometry. Is a kind of handicap needed? Yes, it is. Just like in large number of other sports, like boxing, wrestling, weight lifting. This is solved by categorizing athletes by body weight. It tennis this should be the body height. But this would mean separate tournaments or draws for different categories. Not acceptable from organisational point of view. What to do?
- What’s the solution?
Modern technologies should make it possible, just like Eyehawk in tennis to control linespeople’s verdicts (why not used on regular base, for umpire to be required to control it on his screen at every point?) Like Virtual Goal Line in so conservative sport as football. The logical idea (disregarding available technology) is to have in the same game different net heights for every player, adjusted to their body height over or under the predefined standard (say 185 cm), so Schwartzman sees the net 15 cm lower then currently defined and Isner 26 cm over it. This would be a perfect handicap and a solution with no need of categorization of players.
- How to implement?
This is of course the task for engineers and ruling authorities, but I’m quite sure, current technologies (electric, electronic, optical, mechanical …) would be more than sufficient. We just have since some years rackets with integrated micro- or nanotechnology, allowing to send lots of data about every shot live to the handy of the coach, which can be used as a base of finding improving potential and ways to implement in training. And nobody calls this a crime against the nature of the sport. So why not the Virtual Net?
Have another ideas? Post them here, if you like 🙂
And here an interesting article about tall players.
And caution please – a new giant is coming, the 22 years old Chilean Nicolas Jarry. His 1,98 m is enough to serve big and no obstacle to move well.
While today’s top player with “normal” height of about 185 cm (Federer., Nadal, Djokovic and Murray only a bit more, Thiem) can still defeat giants because of serving good enough to hold own serve all over the match against not exceptionally good returning tall players, he will not be able to, if the giant can move well. Close to 2 m but no more than that seems to be optimal to have huge advantage on serve and not have equally big disadvantage on return.
Well, if this is the future of tennis, I’m happy to probably not be able to watch (because of age), when 2m+ dominate the game and the net is still on the same height and no compensating technology like “Virtual Net” is introduced.
Among the giants there are currently 2 good movers – Kevin Anderson and just the young Chilean. Would you go to watch live a match of 2 of them? 90% of the match 1-strike-rallies. 90% of the time of the match for players to change court side. This is rather the end of tennis, not the future.
Where it is going?
Now we can see at Wimbledon and in the current ATP ranking.
At Wimbledon, we had just 4 (=a half) 198cm+ players in QF, one of them taking Federer away, then 2 of them, playing 6,5 hours match in semis, interesting maybe for their families and making the other pair (Djokovic and Nadal) to play their semi match over 2 days. One “big boy” must have unavoidably (such a draw) reached the final and maybe ousts one of 3 greatest ever in tennis with hammer throwing. I hope this does not happen.
Another thing – in the semifinal families could watch around 50 aces from every part in an equivalent of 8 sets (because of no tie-break in set 5. at Wimbledon). Then we have seen Djokovic (185 cm) hitting around 25 aces in a quite normal 5-setter. And let me think, it’s not comparable – a 2,0 m+ man hitting an ace and a 188 cm tall Novak Djokovic hitting an ace. Taking into account, the first hit his aces against another highscrapper with no skills for ball exchanges longer than 2 strokes and the second against one of best defensive players in the game – Rafael Nadal.
Now the other aspect – in the current ATP ranking we have 5 (five!) 198 cm+ players, which is telling everything about condition of today’s tennis. The recipe is simple – tak a man, who wanted play basketball but was not smart and mobile enough, teach him to hit serves and some hammer throwing from the heaven and you have an ATP top player.
I’m sorry for fans of those players. I like them (almost) all as persons. But what the hell are they doing in tennis, playing over the net with the same height???
I wish ATP to have many 2m-finals at big tournaments with no spectators on the stadium. Then maybe rethink.
Updated 14.07.2018, 19:21
If you by accident play tennis (club tennis or simply recreation) yourself, you understand (or will understand some day) what it’s about, if you are 180 cm high or smaller and you play a partner being 195 cm or more.
You both are playing different sports 🙁
Updated 14.07.2018, 19:24
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