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Federer Not Thrilled With Evolution Of Modern Tennis

A 20-time Grand Slam champion is not overly thrilled by the direction the modern game of professional tennis is evolving towards.

Roger Federer told Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine that today’s game is starting to lack variety and his goal when he was on the ATP World Tour from 1998-2022 was to mix things up: “What we get more and more nowadays is that I wish that sometimes we had a little bit more variety, and also back and forth coming to the net a little bit more, not just side to side. We’ll see where the game will go. But obviously the problem is when you have a lot of similar players playing against each other, a lot of the points end up being played in a similar fashion. And my goal on the tour was always—playing every point in a similar way against my opponent is what he wants. What he doesn’t want is if I mix it up and have variety. So for me, seeing two guys play against each other and have 20 same points back to back to back, come on. It can be very interesting. It’s like an arm wrestle. But I like to say, ‘Let’s not enter the arm wrestle. Let’s enter another game.’”

One veteran mainstream tennis media journalist, who wished to remain anonymous, disagreed with Federer’s surprisingly negative view: “I respectfully disagree with Rogie. Tommy Paul has come to the net more than a dozen times every match in Indian Wells, he’s in the semis. Big Ben Shelton, sponsored by Rogie’s brand On, comes to net a lot. Carlitos still serve-and-volleys at times, sometimes more than RF did in his later years, and Carlitos uses the front court a lot. Sinner came to net like fifteen times yesterday vs. Lehecka. Sinner hired Roger’s ex-coach Darren “Killer” Cahill with that in mind: improve the serve and improve the volley. “Killer” Cahill was a serve and volleyer, both first and second serves. Heck, Tommy Paul told Prakash Amritraj last night that “Tiger” Tim Henman is his all time favorite player – Roger’s ex-doubles partner. Furthermore Paul said he saw “Tiger” Tim Henman in Indian Wells and told him to his face he was his favorite. So I disagree with Roger. You have to take into account the surface of Indian Wells – the players say Indian Wells is slowest hard court of any Masters so how are you gonna serve and volley on a slow gritty sandpaper court? Yet some of them still are doing exactly that.”

So who does Federer blame for this disappointing evolution of the sport? Is he taking a veiled shot at Novak Djokovic again, for his mis-perceived, one-dimensional baseline supremacy? Though Djokovic was sensationally productive and effective in the Cincy Open final last summer vs Carlos Alcaraz with nearly two dozen volley winners in the three set triumph.

Also, is Federer saying that his Laver Cup is selling a disappointing, one-dimensional display of monotonous tennis lacking artistry and aesthetic form?

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  • Douglas Day · March 15, 2024 at 6:18 pm

    Get on IBM Watson Insights and track the incedence of extended baseline rallys for ATP over last decade or so.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2024 at 8:25 pm

    The ATP made the courts slower Doug, maybe Federer needs to blame the ATP. Or just be positive and accept the way tennis has evolved.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2024 at 8:27 pm

    It could be interpreted by some that Federer is taking another cheap shot at Djokovic who is seen as the ultimate baseline player, who used his superhuman consistency and defense systems to topple Rafa and Roger and everyone else. Djokovic is the king of baseline supremacy. It would suggest Fed is still bitter to Djokovic.

  • Matt Segel · March 16, 2024 at 8:26 am

    It is weird to take shots at the current players like that. It’s even worse to portray himself as the one guy who tried to make the game more interesting!

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 16, 2024 at 8:47 am

    Matt, I agree. His insecurity is showing. He’s basically saying Laver Cup is rubbish baseline monotony. Santoro, Lopez, Stepanek, Struff, Cressy, Ivo, Isner, Monfils, all deserve some respect for how they played. This agenda by Federer is probably a symptom of still feeling bitter and ill about Djokovic erasing him from the throne.

  • catherine · March 16, 2024 at 3:23 pm

    Ex-players who once dominated are always saying things like this.

    Not worth discussing IMO.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 16, 2024 at 6:29 pm

    Disagree Catherine, COurier just said today he is really jacked up to see Sinner vs Carlos. I don’t remember Agassi or Sampras every complaining about how tennis evolved after them, they seem more in awe and respectful for how great these guys are today. McEnroe and Borg and Connors same thing, they all love how the game has evolved. Federer is the only one I can think of, maybe a few other sour graper smalltimers but I can’t remember them now. The sport is in good hands. My belief is Djokovic’s example of historic greatness is inspiring an incredible new golden era. Sure the game is somewhat monotonous and lacks authentic personalities but that can change in a heartbeat. If they allow players and encourage players to be more animated and emotional without fear of fines and suspension.

  • catherine · March 17, 2024 at 7:59 am

    Yes I agree up to a point but some past great players voice opinions in public which they don’t always hold in private.
    And I do remember BJK moaning about how all the girls after her were carbon copies of Chris Evert.

    I think she forgot about Martina.



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