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?Change in grass hurting volley skills?

Leander Paes has been a regular at Wimbledon for more than a decade now and says that the change in grass has made it very difficult for the serve-and volley players to flourish at the Championships.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2003 03:15 IST
S. Kannan

India's no.1 player Leander Paes has been a regular at Wimbledon for more than a decade now and says that the change in grass has made it very difficult for the serve-and volley players to flourish at the Championships.

Excerpts from an interview:

There has been a lot of debate on whether there has been a change in the grass at Wimbedon. What do you think?

There is no doubt that there has been a change in the grass at The Championships. I first played here in 1989 and then won junior Wimbledon in 1990. Those days the grass was different. It was very quick and the bounce not so high as we get to see it today.

Is it good for the game that such changes are being made?

My personal opinion is there is no need really for such changes. I have loved to serve and volley irrespective of the nature of the court. I think the longer blades of grass negate volleying skills. It is no longer the right thing for a player to think he can win points with a first volley alone. Maybe, the idea is to have more shots being traded for one point, but why do it.

Don't you think it is killing the thrills of grass court tennis as we have seen over the years?

There is no doubt I got a lot of thrill watching the previous generation of players who served and volleyed. I have admired Pete Sampras for his achievements and I doubt whether we will have anyone like him ever to dominate The Championships.

Is there anything more being down to slow down the game?

Apart from the grass blades being longer, the undersurface is not soft any more. That means we have a higher bounce than before.

Do the results at Wimbledon surprise you?

For sure, last year it was a big surprise for me to see someone like David Nalbandian compete in the final. Hewitt too, plays from the back court, so maybe we will get to see more of this type of tennis. Even some of the women who used to attack the net now prefer to stay back.

What about the type of balls in use?

The pressure of the balls has been increased and that means one has to hit it harder. It does suit someone like Andy Roddick but is not good for many others as it can lead to a sore shoulder and more injuries. Even in doubles, which is what I compete in nowadays, we do feel the effects of the new ball and change in surface.

Do you see this trend as dangerous?

Artistry is almost extinct --- be it the men or the women, everyone is trying to hit the ball harder and harder. If it is clay, then the pure baseliners go on and on with almost 20 shots exchanged for one point. The women are also doing it and that's perhaps why we don't have someone like Martina Hingis around any more.

What would you want to do if you were to rediscover your singles in the new scenario?

I would still play the serve and volley and hope to beat my opponent.

First Published: Jun 29, 2003 03:15 IST