Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In defense of variety

I just happened to catch the Agz Radwanda/Caroline Wozniacki match in Tokyo last week and for some reason, I had a delayed reaction to something I've known for a while. It's the lack of variety in the pro tennis game.  It's hard to play the way Radwanska does, which is probably why you don't see too much variety in the game right now. It's especially hard on the body -- every time I see Radwanska play, she's got tape somewhere else on her body. (Once again, this

doesn't really help.)
This isn't rocket science, but it is kind of sad. Think about the young guns, both men and women, who can legitimately say they rely on more than power. Coming up empty, aren't you?
But, for one shining moment, there was Justine Henin. She could match Serena Williams in power, and was a great shotmaker and point plotter. She also didn't last long. There was (is) Martina Hingis, whose guile was enough to drive her opponents crazy -- until they figured out all they had to do was hit through it.
I'm not minimizing their success -- but the actual reign of that success, and the career longevity -- is certainly shorter than power players. It could be that Radwanska is now finding that as well. Even though she was able to win the first set against Wozniacki, she started getting pushed around by Woz, who is something of a tactician on the court as well, but can also flatten out her strokes and seems to be working on her serve.
Seeing the lack of variety is a bad thing for tennis, for the record. It's not because I don't like watching power players, because, like, who doesn't? But it sure does make for boring tennis, watching players do the same thing against each other over and over again.
At least there is still a small place for variety in tennis -- doubles, where Hingis continues to dominate.

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