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At CTL launch, legends make a case for speeding up the game

BRING BACK THE 90S! Thomas Johansson, Rainier Schuttler, Richard Krajicek, Greg Rusedski, Alex Corretja and Thomas Muster, the nominal 'legends' on the League teams, with CTL chairman Vijay Amritraj at the launch of the second season.—PHOTO: PRASHANT NAKWE

BRING BACK THE 90S! Thomas Johansson, Rainier Schuttler, Richard Krajicek, Greg Rusedski, Alex Corretja and Thomas Muster, the nominal 'legends' on the League teams, with CTL chairman Vijay Amritraj at the launch of the second season.—PHOTO: PRASHANT NAKWE  

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When it comes to margins, tennis offers you nothing. It’s a sport in which millimetres matter. Although court dimensions have stayed the same, a variety of surfaces ranging from acrylic to asphalt, carpet to clay and concrete to grass has made the game forever challenging.

But, over the last few years, there have been whispers — as well as howls — about how similarly the surfaces play. Interestingly, this topic dominated proceedings at the launch of the second edition of the Champions Tennis League at a suburban hotel here on Sunday afternoon.

With a catchy motto — ‘Bigger, Better and Stronger!’ — to boot, the league kicks off at the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Academy Stadium here on Monday evening, with Mumbai Tennis Masters taking on the Punjab Marshalls.

On Tuesday, the host will be up against Raipur Rangers.

The bandwagon will then move to Chennai, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Raipur and Nagpur. The final will be played in Hyderabad on December 6.

Muster, a claycourt master in his time, was the first yesteryear great to point out the perils of uniformity in a dynamic sport like tennis.

“Things have slowed down,” said the 48-year-old who won Roland Garros in 1995.

“Today, when they volley, the opponent manages to get to the ball. Yes, the guys are much fitter and all that, but the balls they use are softer and fluffier. This gives everybody the chance to retrieve more often. I think we should bring back the balls used in the 1990s.”

“The power you put on the ball is evaporating. And matches have become lengthier. I like faster courts and balls,” said Muster, who once ran up a whopping 40-match win streak on his favourite surface.

“Who wants to see the same players play for five hours? There should be more variety.”

Rusedski, who rocket-served his way into the final of the 1997 US Open, also weighed in on the issue.

“They changed the courts from medium to slow. Similarly, they changed the nature of the balls from slow to slower. Why, even the grass laid out at Wimbledon is thicker and at least a millimetre longer. Where is the balance? Where are the Dimitrovs and the Raonics and the Kyrgioses? What happens to tennis after the golden generation is done?”

“Back in my time, we knew 10 guys were capable of winning a Grand Slam. Now, it comes down to just two or three people. Where is the distinction?” he said.

Now that’s some food for thought for those who call the shots in tennis!

The teams: Mumbai Tennis Masters: Richard Krajicek (legend), Santiago Giraldo (ATP player), Flavia Pennetta (WTA player), Sriram Balaji (Indian player) vs Punjab Marshalls: Greg Rusedski (legend), Marcos Baghdatis (ATP player), Elina Svitolina (WTA player), Saketh Myneni (Indian player).

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 9:19:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/at-ctl-launch-legends-make-a-case-for-speeding-up-the-game/article7905922.ece

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