‘We need to focus on singles to put India back on the tennis map’
How has grass-court tennis evolved?
The grass itself is not like what I played on in the 1970s. It’s of a completely different texture and much slower. The game as a result is being played completely from the baseline. But with the racquets getting more and more powerful, the balls and the courts were slowed down worldwide. It has made a big difference to the style of play.
What then is the future of serve-and-volley tennis?
Serve-and-volley tennis that we know is history. It doesn’t have an immediate future. Even if you get a guy to play it today, say Milos Raonic who is probably the closest that we can get with his huge serve, it still comes down to whether he can do the same on his second serve, which is tough.
Is the 2013 edition the most interesting in recent years – with Nadal’s spectacular comeback, Djokovic still the number one, Murray having a good tune-up and Federer always in with a chance?
Absolutely. Strangely enough, when Federer was dominating Wimbledon, we always felt ‘let’s see who is going to be playing for second place?’ But now that’s the way we feel about Serena. It’s like watching Nadal on clay — it’s very hard to bet against Serena at Wimbledon. But in the men’s draw, barring any unforeseen blip in the form during the fortnight, these four should be there towards the end of the second week. The draw is going to be interesting especially if Nadal is seeded fifth he could run into any of the other three in the quarterfinals.
Bjorn Borg won French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back thrice. Is it easier now with the courts homogenising?
To me, Borg’s achievement will always be unique. He won on slow clay and came to Wimbledon without playing any grass court tournament. He won on fast grass not just against (John) McEnroe and (Jimmy) Connors, but against many others like Mark Edmondson, Ilie Nastase, Raul Ramirez who could serve and volley really well and push him to the limit.
Now with the courts being much slower and the ball not dying fast, it gives an opportunity for someone like Nadal to hit groundstrokes from eight feet behind the baseline.
With Devvarman out of the qualifying, there will be no Indian in singles. Your views.
It’s disappointing. We can continue to have representation in doubles, which is great for us to keep our name up there. But at the end of the day singles is where we need focus to put India back on the tennis map.
Vijay Amritraj will be at Wimbledon with the ESPN-Star broadcast team.