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Roddick tells retired players to shut up

Hard-serving Andy Roddick on Thursday told former greats of the game including John McEnroe and Boris Becker to mind their own business.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, London
PUBLISHED ON JUL 03, 2003 11:41 PM IST

Hard-serving Andy Roddick on Thursday told former greats of the game including John McEnroe and Boris Becker to mind their own business after the retired stars petitioned tennis authorities to curb the power of players like the US youngsters.

Roddick, who had just won through to his first ever Wimbledon men's semi-final after pummelling Swedish veteran Jonas Bjorkman 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, was dismissive of a call by McEnroe, Becker and others urging the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to reduce racket sizes.

In a letter also signed by nine-time women's champion Martina Navratilova the former champions argued that modern racket technology allowed big, powerful players to bludgeon more subtle opponents aside, making the modern game "tedious" and "boring".

Reducing racket sizes would place a premium on skill and touch, they said.

Beefy Roddick, who jointly holds the record for service speed at 149 miles per hour (238 kilometres per hour), said any changes should be agreed by his generation.

"I just feel that if a letter's sent it should be sent by current players. I'm not really sure what their concern is," the 20-year-old told reporters after the quarter-final victory.

"I'm not trying to take away someone's speed. I'm not trying to take away someone else's strength. I'm just trying to play the game," he said.

He questioned how much attention the ITF would pay to the letter.

"I don't know if the ITF is going to take it too seriously, you know, a letter full of past players - no disrespect to those guys, they're great champions.

"But I find it kind of surprising that they would go through the full-out effort and make it something to be talked about."

Roddick is favourite to take the Wimbledon title, with his booming serves and ferocious ground strokes being particularly potent on the fast, skidding grass courts.

The letter to the ITF said tennis had become "unbalanced and one-dimensional".

"The reason for this change is clear to see. Over a period of years, modern racket technology has developed powerful, light, wide-bodied rackets that are easier to wield than wooden rackets were and have a much larger effective hitting area, often called the sweet spot," it read.

"From the spectators' point of view the game has become one-dimensional so that even on fast courts 90 percent of the matches are baseline contests," it said, adding that on slow surfaces matches were "tedious and even boring".

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