“I don’t know what to say,” said John Isner. “I’m serving fantastic, he’s serving fantastic; that’s really all there is to it.” Which sums up the problem with men’s grass court tennis, really.
The ten-hour marathon that was Isner’s second round Wimbledon match against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut was ended by bad light with the match tied at two sets all and 59-59 in the fifth and, while it was a unique historical feat, actually having to watch it was right up there with weeding the garden.
The main problem with men’s grass-court tennis is that it is so fast the rallies are quicker than a Boris Becker bunk-up. Serve and volley isn’t quite as prevalent as it used to be but if you can serve and you’ve got a half-decent return then you’ve got a great chance of going deep in the tournament – which is why Tim Richards’ tip Andy Roddick does well here. A-Rod may be good at pounding down ace after ace but that doesn’t make him good to watch – unless Brooklyn Decker’s in the crowd.
It’s especially tiresome when you’ve got players that are useless returners – and that was the main problem yesterday. Both Isner and Mahut served very well but their returning was non-existent. The American managed just three match points in seven hours and 118 games of that final set. Even the scoreboard got bored and went on strike. Surely it’s time for a tie-break decider in the fifth set, which the bookies are already pricing up for next year.
The women’s game doesn’t have this problem, basically because the Williams sisters are so much better than everyone else that they just blow them all off the court in half an hour (and that’s just in the locker room before matches). In fact, women’s tennis matches don’t last nearly long enough, which is a travesty as they are paid exactly the same as the men but give the discerning viewer very poor value for
underwear perving time money. No wonder the grass-court season is so short.
So clearly Wimbledon is in need of improvement on both the men’s and women’s side. Here are one or two suggestions:
1. Introduce a final set tie-break decider
2. Ban second serves
3. Force players to hit an underarm serve the point after hitting an ace
4. Make Brooklyn Decker attend all Andy Roddick matches
5. Have a sprinkling of Miss World Finalists at all men’s matches
1. Lengthen women’s matches to best of five-setters (they have equal pay, don’t they?)
2. Give them three serves instead of two (unless their surname is Williams)
3. Replace the tie-break with who scored louder on the gruntometer
4. Get Venus to choose all the women players’ outfits
5. Require players’ to change outfits on court (again, purely in the name of equality)