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 Rising Stars 2019: Watch Out for These 10 Names

Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Williams.

Such names are the Hall of Famers—legendary. They dominate the tennis world ‘til today. But they would eventually fade from prominence. Boris Becker even called out the young tennis players to rise up.

Assuming the mantle may not be easy but these tennis players have all the rights to be the next big stars. 

These names can make the spectators rave with excitement. And they have already started carving out their names on clay, grass, and hard surfaces.

The tennis rising stars of 2019

1) Alexander Zverev

Also called Sascha, the 21-year-old German has already defeated not just Djokovic, but also Federer. He won the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) World Tour Finals in London. He reached Grand Slam quarterfinals once as well.

2) Aryna Sabalenka

The 20-year-old Belarusian started at No. 73 and ended the year at No. 13. The match of the US Open 2018 was given to her, winning against Naomi Osaka in just three sets. She had also won the Wuhan title, weeks after playing at the Open.

3) Amanda Anisimova

Anisimova was already included in the Top 100 even before she hits her 18th birthday this August. The American player had already won the French Open (juniors division) and Orange Bowl titles in 2018.

4) Stefanos Tsitsipas

The Greek player is the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals men’s singles champion. He had already reached three ATP singles finals only to be defeated by Nadal in two of these. He was one of the strongest contenders of 2019 ATP World Tour.

5) Dominic Thiem

Thiem is one of the prominent names in the ATP World Tour. He reached the French Open final against Rafael Nadal. He has also reached the ATP Finals in London for three straight years.

6) Denis Shapovalov

Shapovalov is a Canadian tennis player who had already hit records in 2018. The 2018 ATP World Tour ranked him at 23. He won the junior grand slam title at the 2016 Wimbledon and the junior doubles title at the 2017 US Open. 

7) Alex de Minaur

De Minaur reached the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals, leading him to be ranked at No. 31. He had already appeared in the third round of the grand slam singles events. 

8) Nick Kyrgios 

Kyrgios is another Australian on the list, aside from de Minaur. He had already won four ATP singles titles, three of which were from 2016. Krygios had reached the quarterfinals in two grand slam singles events. One of these grand slams was the 2015 Australian Open. 

9) Maria Sakkari

Sakkari was ranked at No. 29 by the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). In 2018, she reached the semi-finals in Istanbul. But in 2019, Sakkari won the Morrocan Open against Johanna Konta. She had also defeated the top players, Kiki Bertens and Petra Kvitova, in 2019.

10) Bianca Andreescu

Andreescu, who is also a Canadian, is currently ranked 22 by the WTA. Andreescu has already defeated Venus Williams. She also won the 2019 Indian Wells Masters. Martina Navratilova believes she has the potential towards becoming the next tennis superstar.

 

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Player Feature: Novak Djokovic

Full Name: Novak Djokovic 

Birthdate: May 22, 1987

Birthplace: Belgrade, SR Serbia 

Years active: 2003 – present

ATP Rank: #1

Key facts and statistics

  • One of the Big Four of men’s tennis
  • Had the highest Elo rating
  • 16 Grand Slam titles
  • Held the 4 major titles at once
  • 5x ATP #1 tennis player in men’s singles
  • Has 75 singles titles

Novak Djokovic is dubbed as one of the best male tennis players of the Open era and of all-time. He ranks among the rosters of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras, and Bjorn Borg.

An aggressive baseline player, there is something unique about Djokovic’s all-court (albeit modern) playing style. He is known for his deep and penetrating groundstrokes. But his backhand underspin is legendary with its consistent pace and precision – even considered as the best in this era. 

Djokovic is both a defensive and offensive player. He can easily convert positions on seemingly defensive positions. 

He turns to his serves as a weapon to win free points. The same goes with his return of serves; John McEnroe even said that Djokovic is the most outstanding returner in tennis history.

Together with Federer, Nadal, and Andy Murray, they formed the Big Four. The players dominate men’s tennis division in terms of ranking and victories. Djokovic has the highest Elo rating of the four, though, because of his records in winning against quality opponents. He was the only player to defeat the top three tennis players within one season.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) currently rank him as the #1 player in men’s singles. He was a five-time #1 player, grabbing the position in a total of 250 weeks. He was the only Serbian to achieve the ranking as well as win a Grand Slam singles title.

Djokovic has numerous titles under his belt; 75 titles. He has a total of 16 Grand Slam titles, reaching the Career Grand Slam title after winning the 2016 French Open. He was the eighth player to do so.

He was also the third tennis player who holds four major titles at once, on different surfaces. His major titles include seven Australian Opens, five Wimbledons, three US Opens, and one French Open.

He was consistently on tours since he started playing professionally as well. Djokovic has won 33 ATP Tour Masters, 12 ATP Tour 500s and five ATP Finals. He holds the record for being the only male player to win tournaments under Masters 1000.

With all these, he was always the consistent half on the best rivalries on the court. Not just against his Big Four contemporaries, but also Stan Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, and Juan Martin del Potro. In all their meetings, Djokovic prevailed.

One of the cited reasons for his court endurance and agility is his vegan diet. In 2010, his coaching team, which included Igor Četojević, a nutritionist, discovered that he has a gluten intolerance. Gluten was removed from his diet. He became stronger and quicker after the change.

Aside from playing tennis, he also devotes his time to his vegan restaurant in Monte Carlo that he opened in 2016.

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