How Tennis Has Changed Over the Years

If you are wondering how tennis has evolved the years, the most straightforward idea is: with wide variations in tennis, no one player is dominating the sport.

Sure, tennis fans indulge in the prowess and experts of the super trio, namely Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. However, this is how concentrated the sport is. On the one hand, we got the three, and on the other hand, we got Serena Williams (as if saying women’s tennis is a pretty diffused territory.

How tennis has changed 

A lot of things have happened since tennis became a pro sport in 1968.

If there’s one word to describe modern tennis, that would be power. 

For one, tennis players are using racquets made from graphite composites and carbon fibres. The racquets are lighter but equally durable like wooden racquets. 

The strings, whether they are synthetic or power strings, tend to be looser and generating more spin. As such, a tennis player can hit the ball harder to make it land deep into the court. 

Forehands were Eastern grip before compared to their Western grip counterpart that is mostly used today. Even tennis schools are teaching open-stance forehands. Safe slice serves were also inexistent today than the pre-Open era. 

Tennis courts are totally different today as well. Plays are faster, reinforcing the need for speed. One has to be professional about training, for example, since consistency is also crucial in dominating the charts and records.

The style of play has also changed. It was no longer the serve-and-volley type of game that we saw before. Instead, tennis has become a baseline power game. Tennis has become a more physical sport that tests endurance and agility on the court, among others.

Tennis scoring is also radically different nowadays. A tie-breaker was introduced to quicken the pacing of the match. The players are also entitled to challenge specific calls like those in the lines. A hawkeye instant replay can be used to back either the decision or the call. 

When not playing tennis, the activities are still about the sport though. This is particularly true for diet and fitness regime. It takes a village now to tend to the needs of a tennis player. And that includes a nutritionist or dietician and trainer – both physical and mental, in addition to the actual coach. 

The last one was made possible by this change: prize money. And we are talking about huge prize winnings—hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is expected considering that the first US Open gave away $100,000 in winnings. By 2019, it was $57.2 million.

Athlete endorsements have been an additional source of income too. Federer and Djokovic once earned $25 million each in sponsorship deals in just one year.

Prizes and endorsement earnings also changed the attitude of tennis players for the best, but some for the worst. Knowing, compassionate players launched their own foundations and poured over their earnings to various causes. 

Tennis players are competitive today, nevertheless, because of both financial and non-financial rewards of playing tennis.

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How tennis has changed over the years? Can you name other changes not mentioned in the article?

tennis players to retire in 2020 carla suarez navarro

3 Tennis Players to Retire in 2020

Is Roger Federer planning to retire from playing tennis in 2020?

The answer is indefinite. There are no reports or claims on whether Federer will retire in 2020. 

In lieu of that, tennis fans should be asking who will retire in 2020.

Here are the prominent names.

1) Carla Suarez Navarro

Navarro announced on December 3, 2019 that she will be retiring in 2020 after playing a full season. She shared the news during a press conference at the Barcino Tennis Club.

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis player ranked career-high No. 6 in February 2016. Navarro played at the quarterfinals of the Australian thrice and French, and the US Opens twice.

Navarro said, “The sport has been a fundamental part of my life—it has given me immense joy and I cannot be more grateful for all the experiences that it has allowed me to live. … Tennis will always be in me.”

She has already won $11.58 million in career prize money.

2) Bryan brothers

The phenomenal doubles players are set to retire in 2020 as well. Bob and Mike announced their retirement last November following their US Open bid.

Dubbed as the most successful doubles partnership in the history of Open era, the Bryan brothers have a total of 118 trophies they won over 25 seasons of playing tennis. They have four Grand Slam titles and one Olympic gold medal.

From 2005 to 2017, the Bryan brothers were also awarded the fans’ Favourite Team at the ATP Tour. 

The twins turned 41 years old this year. They had a 1,102-358 record.

Moving forward

Federer faced serious challenges this 2019, two of which are Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic reclaimed the No. 1 spot and Nadal is closely trailing behind him.

Tennis analysts say that he would announce his retirement while or after playing at Roland Garros. Federer has been deliberately skipping the French Open despite being stronger at clay courts. 

His last match in Roland Garros was in 2015, against his perennial partner, Stan Wawrinka. This year, he sparked an interest in appearing in the clay courts once more.

Unfortunately, Federer was already feeling it as evident by big upsets on the initial rounds in the latter parts of 2019. He was finding difficulties maintaining the expected level of intensity from these rounds to the finals.

Unless he would win Grand Slam titles this year, the assumptions that 2020 is Federer’s last year of playing tennis won’t subside.

What about Serena Williams?

Or it should be Venus? She hasn’t won a Grand Slam, but she managed to win three matches on a major tournament. She lost four matches, though. She hasn’t appeared in the 50 since 2013.

Serena is, of course, a different story. In September, Serena claimed that she would retire from tennis in 20 years. 

Serena was having a hard time going back on track since she gave birth. But still, she has no plans of putting down her tennis racket—at least not anytime soon.

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We need your best guess. When do you think Roger Federer will retire from playing tennis? Let us know.

jo tsonga tennis player doing a backhand

Tennis Smash: 10 Tennis Players With the Best Overhead Play

Asking a specific question, including who has the best tennis smash is an issue of deep contemplation. A smash should be easy to evaluate compared with other tennis strokers—only it isn’t.

If you visit various tennis forums with fans answering the question, you will only have the same names. These are Roger ~ freaking awesome ~ Federer, Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi, Pat Rafter, and Ken Rosewall, among others.

In a Match Charting Project that analysed more than 3,500 tennis matches, it came up with a list of the best smashes in tennis. The Project measures it by winner/win per smash (W/SM) ratio.

These are the tennis players with the best W/SM ratio as measured against the points won per smash or (PTS/SM).

1) Jo Tsonga | 78% W/SM | 90% PTS/SM

The best smasher in men’s tennis is Tsonga, winning a point 90% of the time he hit a smash. It was all about the quality of his overhead shots that won him an extra point every 600 points compared with other ATP players.

2) Tomas Berdych | 76% W/SM | 88% PTS/SM

Berdych’s best tennis plays involved a forehand smash. His smashes connect 76%of the time, earning him 88% points won for every smash.

3) Pete Sampras | 75% W/SM | 86% PTS/SM

Sampras hits 84% of the smash opportunities with 75% WSM. These hits convert to points 86% of the time. Other than Agassi, Sampras is the only tennis player to have consistent match rates. 

4) Roger Federer | 73% W/SM | 86% PTS/SM

Federer also hits 84% of the smash opportunities afforded to him, and he hits about 50% per smash opportunity. This could mean that the Fed’s smashes are more difficult than other players.

5) Jelena Jankovic | 73% W/SM | 83% PTS/SM

Jankovic is the leading women’s tennis players with the highest percentage of W/SM at 73%. A high percentage of her wins was because of a smash. She even used her famous forehand smash against Williams.

6) Serena Williams | 72% W/SM | 81% PTS/SM

Williams creates 72% wins for every smash she had, converting to 81% of points. 

7) Rafael Nadal | 69% W/SM | 84% PTS/SM

Nadal is the fifth men’s tennis player who creates 69% W/SM. His smashes convert to 84% of points. Again, it is also about the quality of his smashes that are able to generate more points for him.

8) Stefi Graf | 61% W/SM | 81% PTS/SM

When it comes to the quality of smashes, however, Graf holds dominance. She creates 61% W/SM that gives her 81% more points per smash. Her smashes are few, but they almost always convert to points.

9) Svetlana Kuznetsova | 70% W/SM | 79% PTS/SM

Kuznetsova wins tennis matches because of her 70% W/SM record. This converts to 79% points per smash.

10) Simona Halep | 66% W/SM | 76% PTS/SM

Halep’s known for her quick thinking and quicker responses on the court, giving her 66% wins per smash. About 76% of these converts to points.

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If you are to choose, who is the best tennis smasher of all time?