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Baseline players have an even chance

I am sure most of the readers would be interested in knowing who am I going to pick as champions.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2003 01:16 IST

It is a very special feeling to be back at The Championships in Wimbledon. I am sure most of the readers would be interested in knowing who am I going to pick as champions. All I can say at this point of time is to better wait, since hazarding a guess could be dangerous!

In the past, there has always been a lot of talk on how at Wimbledon, the serve and volley specialists have a huge advantage.

After years of experience I can say that there are very few who have a pure grass-court game and now the baseline players also have an even chance.

Having seen Lleyton Hewitt triumph last year at The Championships, I am convinced that this time he will have to work even harder if he is to retain the title.

There will be huge pressure on him as the defending champion as there are quite a few players who can cause the damage.

I am sure all of you would remember Wimbledon 2002, where one of my favourite players, Pete Sampras lost in the early stages.

There was also an exodus of the seeds with an almost unknown Argentinean, David Nalbandian, making it to the final.

There is so much of tennis being played on the circuit nowadays that even before we are midway through the season a number of players are pulling out.

There have been a lot of late withdrawals at this year's Wimbledon as well and I think a lot of this has to do with change in conditions.

I have been on the road for 14 years and believe me it is not easy to compete day in and day out. The people running the sport, who have made these changes, need to analyse for themselves whether it has served the purpose.

Increasing the ball compression may have worked in slowing down the game and making it better to watch, but the beating, which the players take, is no joke.

Heavier balls with more fluff means one has to hit even harder. In the process, the damage it causes to the players should also be considered.

I honestly feel that it is because of the change in ball and the attempt to slow down the game, that last year three of the four men's singles semi-finalists at Wimbledon were baseliners.

The trend among the women is no different, and all I can say is it does make it even more difficult for those at the receiving end while competing against the Williams sisters.

Both Serena and Venus have such a strong game that even with the heavier balls being used, they are at an advantage because of their physique.

Serena has done very well especially in the last one year and she must be even hungrier when she steps out on court.

Having lost to Justin Henin in the semis and then being booed off the court at Roland Garros, Serena will be striving to show she is ready for the challenges ahead.

As far as my own campaign in doubles and mixed doubles goes, I shall keep you all posted.


First Published: Jun 24, 2003 00:54 IST