One of the toughest games which is physically and mentally draining for players is tennis. The players toil very hard to attain victories which are never easy to come by. The game requires players to run from one corner of the baseline to the other, and in addition have to have the skill to hit shots with as much precision as possible. They also have to put in extra effort in order to force the pace of their shots. While doing this, they end up doing some things which stall the spirit and beauty of the game. The primary motive of this article is to point out such acts which are not in the best interests of the game.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played a six hour final earlier this year to complete a five-set final. Yesterday at the Rome Masters, they took a couple of hours to complete a two setter. This is nowadays becoming almost regular for them. The duration of the matches played between them has always been on the higher side. One of the reasons for longer matches such as these, are because neither is prepared to come to the net for finishing a point. Both of them overwork themselves from the baseline to complete a point. In fact, they do not allow winners to be hit against their names by their opponents so easily. Thus, the number of shots per rally increase and is the reason behind the longevity of their matches.
But then again, though this reason seems quite reasonable, given their style of play, there is one more obvious reason which cannot be overlooked at all. That reason is the “lack of discipline” of these two players. By discipline, I mean the way they waste their time on petty things. As far as Nadal goes, it starts from the word go. When the coin is due to be spun at the beginning of the match, he keeps his opposition player waiting along with the referee and takes his own time to be there calling for the toss. Though this delay does not fall under the match timings, nonetheless, discipline-wise this cannot be considered good in any sense.
Nadal is also to be blamed for the time that he consumes in between points when he is on serve normally. On an average, it was reported that he was taking around 27 secs between points during the final of the Australian Open earlier this year. Now if this was not enough, even between his two serves of the same point, he spends a considerable amount of time; it could be his way to gather extra energy and strength to serve well once his first service was called fault. But for whatever reason the delay was made, it is not correct to keep your opponent waiting. Irrespective of opponents’ rankings, though Nadal and Nole are ranked higher, it is important for them to show respect to their fellow players.
Now coming to the current World No.1 Novak Djokovic, he in no way is better than Rafa as far as stretching match time is concerned. If Nadal wasted 27 secs on an average during the final of the Australian Open earlier this year, Djokovic wasted almost the same amount of time between points. In fact, he does it regularly in every match he plays. When he gets ready for serving, his opponent who plays against him should have ultimate patience to receive the ball. This is because Djokovic bounces the balls to the ground at least 10 to 15 times before hitting a serve. No one in the world of tennis bounces the balls so many times. But he does it not only between two points, but does it quite frequently between two of his serves of the same point too. Thus Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been culprits as far as delays are concerned.
The next thing which can be a hindrance in watching a game is grunting as we see among the present day tennis players. This especially is found among women players. Not that the men don’t, but the decibel levels of the women are out of ordinary. If some of the players have to be handpicked for popularizing such vociferous grunting, then the first one who comes to one’s mind is the Russian beauty, Maria Sharapova with Williams sisters to follow.
Between every shot hit, these players grunt so noisily that it deteriorates the beauty of watching the game. The referees ask the spectators to stay quiet in between points, but ironically when the players themselves are so noisy it really spoils the experience of watching the game. In fact, the height of their decibels is so high that it can even disturb players playing in the other courts. Grunting should be avoided to maintain the discipline of the game. This is not prevalent in the modern game alone; when Monica Seles used to grunt in her time, she was criticized by many too.
The game of tennis is a a very elegant game and has always been played in the highest spirit by players. We rarely see verbal duels or any attempts of manhandling between them. This spirit would be further sanctified if certain things such as unreasonable delays and the excessive grunting are put to rest. These things cannot be totally avoided but could be reduced to a reasonable extent so that the game becomes more enjoyable.