I have given a lot of thought to the issue of so many players today missing 6 months at a time and having to waste additional time "coming back" -- it hurts the player's momentum, it hurts the development of rivalries, it hurts the tournament's ability to draw top players and have them show up, it hurts fans of the sport and takes away from the possibilities of new tennis enthusiasts learning of the game from top rivalries, not to mention seeing all the best play the sport could offer by the best players healthy, all at once. And of course, for all our talk about the top players and rankings in different years; this is becoming irrevelant...no top player ever finishes more than one year without sitting out half the next. (...Except our living miracle, roger federer!)
What we see now in grand slam semis and finals are the quarterfinal bouts of yesterday because half the top seeds are always out.
Imagine the dent in history if mcenroe and borg hadnt been able to compete and create the mythology of their rivalry. Imagine borg NOT winning 4 french and wimbledon titles back-to-back because he had a twisted shoulder, a heel spur, or a stomach tear!
I read or heard that 8 of the top 10 women had been out due to injury for at least 3 months in the last year. This is unparalleled in the history of tennis and it makes tennis seem like an 'extreme' sport instead of an intellectual one, and certainly at the very least 'a sport for a lifetime' as it has always been called.
I'd love some non-general-message-board thinkers
opinions on this as well as some history, for both the men and women, as this issue affects WTA concerns, and may be best illustrated through some ATP examples. Certainly Tracy and Andrea Jaeger had their careers cut short, as did Jimmy Arias, perhaps due to playing too early with not enough knowledge of pacing and muscle development.
But today's players are having injuries from match play, and I can't think of any other factors than the equipment issue, which has been raised to the ITF purely on the grounds of causing the sport to become too one-dimensional, one-style, and in effect, too boring...or as Martina Nav put it, bluntly but fairly, "too easy". But a greater issue, the health of the players bodies, the alleged health of the sport itself, the health of rivalries and full tournament draws, seems to still be overlooked.
I am not sure what year they changed the ball to add speed to the sport, but the racquet size/weight issue "weighs in" on the amount of pounding a body takes with little recovery period WITHIN the course of a POINT...where we used to see enough time to bounce and get into positon, now the strain is felt on a constant basis, and at greater velocity, per stroke per point, cumulatively, per match, per tournament.
Coria lost a beloved french open final because of it. In 1978, he would've won in the demolishing manner that Borg beat Vilas. But imagine Borg getting a leg pull and having Vilas win, not for being the suprior player but by surviving. What is this, ancient rome?
It has been suggested that players ARE developing earlier and earlier, and that this may be causing injuries, but it really seems to me that we are mostly seeing on-court injuries from on-court strain. It has also been suggested to me that all the weight-training is adding to the strain because of constant use of the muscles but I would assume weight training could work toward preventing injuries as much as causing them.
I really feel it imperative that issues be clearly defined and presented to the ITF, as these young players are just accepting the sport that is being handed to them...they don't know what they (and the fans) are missing in terms of quality, and want to keep things as they know them. But they seem oblivous that there has probably been more time-out in the top ten men & women due to injuries in the last 3 or 4 years than in the last 30 combined.
Thoughts, statistics, history, contacts at the ITF??