With even Rafael Nadal calling for changes, we’ve put our thinking cap on to save the sport.
Tennis is broken, if you listen to some of the biggest names in the game.
Rafael Nadal’s public fears for the future of his sport caused a stir across the tour.
On Tuesday, Nick Kyrgios labelled the game “ruined”.
But are things really that bad?
Tweaks and changes to the rules have often been mooted, but rarely implemented.
Nadal, a 14-time grand slam winner, is worried that soon tennis will be dominated by booming serves and strength – and not strategy and skill.
“The players today are taller than before. The racquets hit the ball harder than before…nothing (has) changed in our sport in terms of rules,” he said.
“The sport is healthy. But it’s obvious at the same time we need to move, to predict the future.”
We agree with Rafa on both counts. Tennis is still very popular – but tweaks are needed.
With society so time-poor in these modern times, tennis needs to be faster. And while it’s moved with the times on technology, it lags in several other areas.
So, with that in mind, here are The New Daily’s seven suggestions to fix tennis:
1) Scrap lets on serve
Surely the easiest rule to amend. Lets – which occur when a serve hits the net but still goes over – add nothing but slow the game down. Why should a serve that reaches its intended target, albeit via a deflection, not count? It’s like cricket calling back a four because a fieldsman touched it, or a referee cancelling a soccer goal due to a touch from a defender.
John McEnroe was calling for the end of lets in 1994 and yet they still remain. They don’t exist in ‘FAST4 Tennis’ and while that format is largely a gimmick, it does work there.
2) Abolish the second serve
By increasing the margin for error, those serving won’t be able to smash 220km/h balls and just hope they land in.
It’ll put more pressure on the server to get their first attempt in, because if they don’t, they’ll lose the point. It will probably lead to more breaks, and keep fans guessing. More unpredictability can only be a good thing in tennis.
3) Get rid of deuces
Is there anything worse than the words ‘Deuce 10’? When players get to 40-40 in a game, known as Deuce, they need to win two points in a row to claim the game. But it should simply be next point wins.
It’d not only speed things up, but offer an exciting moment that tennis doesn’t currently offer – the simultaneous game point.
4) Five sets in grand slam finals only
Sure, five-setters can be classics – but they can also just extend the dullness, particularly if it’s a match between two big-servers.
Keep the fans on edge with a three-set clash and save the extended matches for the truly grand occasions.
5) Scrap the warm-up
One of the biggest wastes of time in tennis – and there are many – is the warm-up. Players spend the lead-up to their match ‘hitting up’ on the outside courts and warming up in the locker room.
There’s simply no need for another 5-10 minutes to be wasted as they hit aimless lobs and half-hearted serves.
6) Get coaches on court
It adds plenty to the drama at the Davis Cup – so why wouldn’t tennis look at getting mentors courtside in men’s tennis? They do allow it – at one changeover a set and between them – in women’s tennis.
There’s almost no sport that doesn’t allow on-court coaching and, as long as it didn’t add extra time to matches, it seems like a natural fit. Would be great for broadcasters and fans if we could listen in, too.
7) No towels for players during games
Player A serves an ace, 15-0. She gets a towel from a ballkid and wipes her face. Six seconds later, she serves another ace. And gets the towel again. And repeat. These farcical scenes are on display way too often.
It’s not only completely unnecessary, but also a time-wasting tactic. Tennis must get strict on this. Use your towel as much as you like – but only at a change of ends.