Tennis

‘No more specialists on each surface'

Emilio Sanchez. Photo: V. Ganesan

Emilio Sanchez. Photo: V. Ganesan   | Photo Credit: V_Ganesan

Not too long ago, one of the charms of international tennis was the distinctive styles that players employed to succeed on different surfaces. Though the calendar is still delineated into well-circumscribed portions of hard, grass and clay, the game appears to be progressing towards an encompassing homogenisation.

“They play the same tennis everywhere. No more specialists on each surface,” said Spaniard Emilio Sanchez, former World No. 7 and now a consultant with the Brazilian team.

A former World No. 1 in doubles, Sanchez enumerated his top three doubles pairs, a list in which Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were conspicuous by their absence. “John McEnroe and Peter Fleming, the Woodies and the Bryans,” he said.

The game has moved on, from the times that he was a multiple Slam winning doubles player himself, he said.

“The doubles game has slowed down a lot, which is both a good and a bad thing, but it takes away the magic.

Physically demanding

“Physically it has become more demanding. The tournaments are scheduled with singles during the day and doubles later that evening. Recovery is becoming increasingly difficult.”

This is a factor which has caused top players to shun doubles, choosing instead to focus exclusively on singles. Sanchez, however, holds it imperative that singles players team up once in a while.

“I have always maintained that playing doubles helps you develop positional awareness and work intensely on smaller areas of the court. (Rafael) Nadal is a player looking to improve his serve and volleying, and he has been playing doubles for some time. With (Novak) Djokovic now, but earlier as well.”

As talk moved on to the youngest holder of the career Grand Slam and his chances at overhauling Roger Federer's tally of 16 Majors, Sanchez said “Nadal has raised his game remarkably this year. A lot will depend on his will to compete, and his fitness. He is still young, only 24.”

“Whatever he has done, he did it against the best player of the era. That counts for a lot too” he said.

Sanchez also said it was highly unlikely that Nadal would ration his participation in an effort to win more Slams.

“He is a player who needs rhythm, so he needs to participate in a lot of tournaments,” he said.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 9:35:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/lsquoNo-more-specialists-on-each-surface/article15949236.ece

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