Are Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic boring?
Rafael Nadal won his second U.S. Open title on Monday, but is his style of play boring?
September 11th, 2013
03:51 PM ET

Are Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic boring?

There’s an argument that this generation of men's tennis is boring and I think it’s a valid one.

It’s not boring to see two great players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic compete in a final.

What is getting mundane is watching the same tactic in every single match of every single grand slam for the last five or six years.

Nowadays they all settle down and say "OK, this is going to be two hours of baseline rallies." The guy who outlasts the other one wins. It’s taken a lot of the skill out of tennis.

Read: Nadal reveals injury fears

They are not better all-round players than the likes of Boris Becker or Pete Sampras. Boris and Pete were baseline players, they were attacking players and they could do it against baseliners like Mats Wilander or Andre Agassi.

Now that was entertainment. You never knew which way it was going to go.

Nadal and Djokovic are exceptional athletes, there’s no doubt about it, but to say they are better athletes than past greats like Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg is just nonsense.

This is some crap drummed up by somebody and I think it’s an insult to past players. Modern players don’t dive around the net, they don’t deliver backhand smashes, they don’t have to twist and turn like past generations.

Could modern players do that? We don’t know. What we do know is that they are incredibly good at retrieving shots from the back of the court.

Are they better, quicker, more agile around the net? The answer to that would be no.

What today’s players do around the baseline is undeniably phenomenal. They have become specialists in that, but to say they are better athletes is disrespectful. I don’t buy it at all, not for one second.

The ITF and the ATP are doing a great job of marketing the game, but they need to look at what is actually happening on the court.

Is this entertainment? Is this good enough?

What is beyond question is that Nadal is the top man in tennis right now.

The new U.S. Open champion’s run of 22 straight hard-court victories will surely see him become the world No. 1 by the end of the year. It’s been an impressive comeback from a serious knee injury.

Nadal could even go on to eclipse Roger Federer’s record total of 17 grand slams – Rafa currently has 13 – but I think a lot of emphasis is put on records.

Players don’t go on court thinking of breaking somebodies record, the record books don’t tell the whole story.

History will show that Nadal won two grand slams in 2013. It won’t show that he was out for seven months before that, which really puts his achievement into perspective.

I’m not a huge reader of the stats, I never have been. But the Spaniard has won the Olympic title, he’s won the Davis Cup and he’s won all of the grand slams. That’s a pretty solid argument to say he is a better player than Federer.

He must be a better player than Federer, he keeps beating him all of the time. He’s got a huge winning record over Roger, winning 21 of their 31 matches. Looking at the head-to-head, Rafa is the better player.

But who is the better player to watch? Who is the better all-round player? You can argue that until the cows come home.

Federer is my favorite player to watch, but there is no denying the battles between Rafa and Novak Djokovic have been incredible. This is a rivalry that could run and run.

The problem is they both have very similar styles of play, the two of them play almost identical tennis.

In terms of pure baseline quality it’s hard to better these guys, but I like to see a contrast.

Human beings love variety. We don’t want to watch the same style of play, we don’t want to watch the same shots all of the time. Players have got to mix it up.

Almost every modern player has the same tactics, which some use better than others. We rightly celebrate these great matches between Nadal and Djokovic, but we need to look at the bigger picture.

For more from CNN Open Court's Pat Cash, visit his official website.

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Filed under:  Tennis
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Hank

    I agree. There is no variety in today's game. "Power" tennis is like watching a boxing match. The matches are dragged out beyond endurance with basseline rallies and 10-15 ball bounces before every serve.

    September 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Reply
    • Jake

      Now that's entertainment. A third-rate tennis player moaning that tennis today isn't exciting enough for him. Cash would have lasted ten minutes against either Nadal or Djokovich. Give us a break, Pat.

      September 13, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Reply
      • Tester

        3rd rate ? He won wimbledon and single handedly won the davis cup. also was probably the best volleyer of all time. If that is 3rd rate you have v high standards

        September 17, 2013 at 6:31 am |
      • Mary Robinson

        Well put, Jake! And it seems to me that Pat is just a little jealous here. And he is going so far as to say that Rafa and Nole have an identical style of playing??? What is he on.... or who has he been watching??? Very amusing though!

        September 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • creativeelementsdesign

      First off, If Pat Cash is upset at the overall lack of variety in the game he can complain to the racquet manufacturer's. 10-12 years ago it was more difficult, though still possible to employ a fly-to-the-net style, but these it's so much harder and risky. Players crush balls and hit passing shots that are nearly impossible to get to.

      But if were talking about Nadal and Djokovic at the U.S. Open, I feel like they are adding more variety all of the time to their games. Their core baseline style of play will always remain at the core, but going into the final Djokovic had come to net 180+ times while Nadal had come to the net 100+ times. No these numbers probably fail to equal more than 2-3 matches in Cash's prime as player, but those net approaches combined with wicked slices and drop shots showcase two athletes who are trying to do more than rush the ball.

      And let's face it. These two players are using whatever strategy gets them the win. In the end, holding that grand slam trophy is what matters most.

      September 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Reply
      • Mary Robinson

        Two Thumbs up for your comment!!!

        September 19, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
      • Vivien

        Djoko went 36 times at the net and Nadal 23. Just look at the stats.

        September 20, 2013 at 1:41 am |
  2. fernando

    How says nadal is better athlete than borg, etc? i don't see that debate around. A better player than Federer? Nadal himself and any tennis pro say these comparasions are nonsense... I am not bored by the turn tennis matches have taken, I see passion on the court and that keeps my attention.

    September 11, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Reply
    • fernando

      Who*

      September 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Reply
    • nik007

      no one evr moaned wen Michael chang n Agassi were slogging it out on the baseline to name 2 as for nadal being better than Federer no doubt u look at his 17 slams n who he won them against Roddick phillapouses Hewitt not top class n compare them to who nadal has beaten for his 13 djockovic Federer berdych ferrer .
      its harder to pass theses guys as there such great defenders when mcenroe n becker say these guys r doin stuff on a tennis court that u never thought possible n takin it to a whole new level.
      pat worry about aussie tennis and the ashes the games changed n if u don't change u get left behind

      September 14, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Reply
      • Vivien

        No competition for Roger and you talk about Phillipoussis, and then for Nadal you talk about Federer/Djoko? Roger beat Nadal twice in a finale, Djokovic once, murray a couple of times, Ferrer but not in final because he was winning before, Berdych the same, or we could say Soderling as well ;) Roger won his first title in 2003 and Nadal in 2005, which means Roger won 13 titles once Nadal was at his best, which means he won as many as Nadal during the same period (even more since he didn't win any in 18 months!)

        September 20, 2013 at 1:46 am |
  3. moedingo

    ...did you not watch the final a few days ago? whoever thinks that was boring does not know the sport of tennis...

    September 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • Lepanto

      So agree with you. Calling the final between Novak and Nadal boring is bewildering.

      September 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Reply
    • Alida Villar

      Totally agree with you. Whoever think this, it is because knows nothing about tenis.

      September 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Reply
      • nik007

        some of the defending n turning attack into defense and vice versa is amazing,the 54shot rally that had ever1 on there feet ye its boring( NOT) some guys just want to be relevant again by making stupid comments.
        I wonder if he'd a watch it if there was a aussie init me think so

        September 14, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
      • Tester

        He didnt say the final was boring. His point was that bc all the matches by all the players are played in that style it is less interesting overall than before. Everyone will watch the semis and the final bc they are great players but watching everyone else play the same style at a lower level of capability in the earlier rounds wcould be seen as dull by some

        September 17, 2013 at 6:38 am |
    • Sandy

      absolutely agree with your comment...

      September 11, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Reply
    • celia

      I fully agree! Pat Cash is entitled to his own opinion but why did he bothered to watch the match is beyond me! He is the boring one, can't even remember how many times he had played and was only famous for winning Wimby once and nothing else. Pat Rafter is better and nicer, good looking too!!!
      Mind you, he might be short of a bob or two and remembered him chasing Rusedski for some money for coaching him so what happen to Rusedski under his guidance. So keep quiet Cash, and enjoy these two great players.
      Not because they're not throwing themselves to the ground doesn't justified them to be boring!

      September 12, 2013 at 11:30 am | Reply
      • ADAMA

        Thank U Celia and others who rightly appreciate the incredible effort and talents that Rafa, Federer, Djokovic & all other Tennis player displays.

        True champions appreciate others contributions no matter how little. Rather than comparing, We should be celebrating these guys.

        September 13, 2013 at 1:29 am |
      • nocrosscourt

        I agree with Pat Cash, modern tennis is boring, all power no skill, no variation and same shots every time...boring, boring

        September 13, 2013 at 3:58 am |
  4. rox

    OK ..TELL FEDERER TO PIN TO THE NET.AND MAYBE HE WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO DEFEAT NOLE AND RAFA.NOW A DAYS,YOU CANNOT STAND IN THE NET MY GOSH.REMEMBER NADAL SHOT NOLE IN THE FACE IN ONE EVENT BEFORE THE US OPEN?ITS DIFFERENT NOW..THE SHOT NOW HAS MORE SPEED,MORE RPMs.you think of that.

    September 11, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • Richierich2

      It was during d Montreal Masters #SF where Nole was hit w a ball by Rafa

      September 12, 2013 at 3:23 am | Reply
      • celia

        But with no malicious intent though!! just the toss of the ball was higher and Nole went forward to hit it but missed!! is that correct?

        September 12, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  5. Don B

    Obviously you don't play tennis. With today's equipment even I at 68 can play serve and volley and play a decent net game. What I can't do and neither can you is take the current high tech equipment and perform at the super level of today's top pros. It is a different game for sure but to judge what is fun to watch means you don't understand that it is about winning. If they paid for the old style of tennis a bunch of losers could make a good living.

    September 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • rox

      i play tennis too..but its diffrent.you play tennis probably because its only your hobby.but pro athletes are pro.they have coahes,tacticians,advisers,dieticians and they know whats the advantage or not for their players.

      September 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Reply
      • Jun Ferraren

        Old and insignificant people make comments like this...ha ha..you took the bait people...Pat for pathetic...embrace the current way to win matches...if you're bored...then sorry...we are enjoying the game

        September 14, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • prestige classic 600

      Was the "obviously you don't play tennis" comment directed at Pat Cash?

      September 11, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Reply
    • Sandy

      I applaud you Don B...I could not have said it better myself......Thank you.

      September 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  6. Lepanto

    This article contradicts itself.

    "Could modern players do that? We don’t know. What we do know is that they are incredibly good at retrieving shots from the back of the court.

    Are they better, quicker, more agile around the net? The answer to that would be no."

    So 1st we don't know then we can be sure they are not.

    September 11, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  7. rox

    for the viewers it would be great.but for the players they will not win

    September 11, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  8. Lisa

    This "article" is ridiculous. Novak and Rafael have completely different styles of playing tennis. Both have great defense, yes. However, Novak playing attacking tennis, while Rafael likes to be methodical and grind until his opponents loose will and tire. He has learned to adjust and attack on the hard courts. The '13 US Open final showed various shots and tactics from both men. Its hilarious to read the opinions of Federer fans since he plays from the baseline as well, he has never been a serve and volley player. Not even sure what the point of this article is.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Reply
    • Janell

      First of Lisa, Roger was an out and out serve and volley player in his younger days on both first and second serves, even up to his 20's. But over the years every court surface has been slowed down so much that there is no point in coming into the net because u get passed. These courts are tailor made for the likes of RN and Novak because they don't need to change up their games in any tournament, they should thank the ATP/ITF for that.

      September 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Reply
    • seth

      I agree with you up to a point. Djokovic has a well rounded game, much more strategic, while Nadal is mainly defensive, hitting most balls not near the lines with lots of topspin, very conservative. Federer originated as a serve and volley player, but the courts and balls in some venues including the us open have intentionally slowed the game down, so he had to evolve his game to be more of a baseliner. Do we really need endless rallies? This slowing down favors defenders like Nadal and Murray and penalizes more exciting players like Djokovic and Federer, so I think it has been to the overall detriment of the sport.

      September 12, 2013 at 2:46 am | Reply
    • Josh

      I would also like to add there are several blog posts about Federer's teinns as well.Interestingly enough, the one that included the most praise for how Federer has been able to accomplish what he has been able to accomplish got exactly one comment as of this writing. Another brilliant post from MMT got exactly 11.It seems, then, that people want to discuss his clothes and his personality far more than they want to discuss his teinns.You can't blame me for that.

      May 6, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  9. Marcos N

    You know what was boring? Watching Pete Sampras serve and volley EVERY, SINGLE point against smaller, weaker opponents like Michael Chang. This article is so ironic to me, because I remember watching Pete Sampras and being impressed by nothing but how BORING he was... ACE, ACE, ACE.... The top players of today's game have WAY more variety than Pete and Boris ever had (which is why neither of those two could ever adjust to the red clay). This piece is so concerned with "respecting" earlier generations of tennis greats. But honestly, it's quite disrespectful of the current generation of greats that we're privileged to witness in action today! And just for the record – Roger Federer is a baseliner too, so distinguishing him from Nadal doesn't serve your article well.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Reply
    • myowntennis

      Very good point and defence. You are right on with your argument and I totally agree with you.

      September 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Reply
    • myowntennis

      You are absolutely right. I totally agree with your argument and I think you got it right on. I loved Pete Sampras. He is what made me LOVE tennis but comparing his style of play to Nadal's I could only imagine how much Rafa suffers and fights for every point because he never wins free points with serving aces. Plus the long rallies between Rafa and Novak are what make this sport a beautiful one nowadays. Thanks again.

      September 11, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Reply
    • TennisFan

      Marcos N, how about when Sampras played Agassi, were their matches boring to you? Was Sampras able to just ace, ace and ace Agassi on every single point? More powerful players in today's baseline game can also easily beat up smaller, weaker player. Serena Williams just beat up a Spanish player 6-0, 6-0 on her way to win this year's US Open. Pat Cash is just basically saying that in a way today's game is kind of boring in terms of style of play because everyone now plays the baseline game. By the way, Sampras and Becker were all court player with variety of shots.

      September 11, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • SpyCam66

      No kidding. Talk about a biased article. Hey, my generation of players was better than today – wow. I have loved tennis for 30 years (at least) and for me nothing will compare to the oldies like Connors, Lendl, McEnroe, Borg, and even as far back as Nastase. Those are the players I watched as a kid when I had no other worries in life and I could focus on the game. After that, I found the Sampras, Agassi, Becker, Chang years a bit dry to be truthful. Great players for sure, but the rivalries just didn't feel the same as the "old days" partly because Sampras was so lacking in emotion he made Borg seem like a madman on the court. All that being said, I doubt that yesterday's players could keep up with today's players using today's equipment. That's why a guy like McEnroe (who was no slouch if you recall) has no problem saying Federer is the best ever but Nadal could become the best ever. None of this, "back in my day" stuff from him, and back in his day he was a heck of a lot better player than Pat Cash every was.

      September 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Reply
    • zhou

      Basicly I agree with you,tennis has made great progress comparing with the times of Pete.
      and I have a suggestion, ATP should change the rule to make the match shorter,or tennis will be a phyiscal labour.

      September 12, 2013 at 3:37 am | Reply
    • Joe

      Bingo! Dead on

      September 18, 2013 at 12:32 am | Reply
  10. André

    I think you are jealous because there is no American in the top 3 players. Just it. Serena wins just because of her strength and you say that only men tennis is boring. Think about it.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Reply
    • Tam

      Pat Cash is Australian. He could care less about Americans in the Top 3.

      September 12, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Reply
  11. rangerc79

    To answer the author of this article....are you out of your mind saying they are not better than pete sampras and boris becker? Pete Sampras has never won french open where nadal has so many i can't count. Sampras using serve and volley because he is a big and tall, were today serve and volley is useless against nadal, djovich, federer and even the great agassi. To see men today can win all -around tennis major is def NOT BORING.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Reply
    • James

      You can't seriously be arguing that Nadal is a better player than Sampras because Sampras wasn't able to win the French..... I think Sampras would rather have his 7 Wimbledons than Nadal's 8 Frenchs. A decent serve volleyer like Sampras, Becker or Edberg today would be very succesful against the current crop of baseliners, in the same way that Rafter had great success against Agassi and other top aggresive baseliners. Regardless, all Pat is saying is that a contrast in styles is more entertaining than watching players of similar styles – as good as they may be.

      September 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  12. Mark Anderson

    I remember when I stopped watching tennis. Sampras and Courier played a final and the ball went over then net maybe three times at the most on a point. Talk about boring, boring, boring. I didn't start again until that went away.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  13. Karlos

    Did you even watch the match? Novak came to net 36 times, Rafa 23. It wasn't even close to being a baseline match. What a shame CNN dumped a legitimate sports operation like SI for this.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  14. Annie

    Bye for those wondering who wrote this piece and whether they no anything about tennis it was written by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  15. MIFTAHUL HUDA

    Reblogged this on miftahulhuda234.

    September 11, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  16. John

    Flop article.

    September 11, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  17. Julia

    We watch tennis because of great sportsmanship and passion, and NOT to get entertained. The sportsmen on the court are there to play SPORT, and not for your entertainment. Such a disrespectful article towards the great sportsmen and great sport...really

    September 11, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  18. kumlachew

    I completely agree with the article. That exactly is what i have been thinking about for some years now. Federer, Tsonga and Montif are the only players I know to play the game in an entertaining way. I think Federer and Tsonga could be good examples to demonstrate that one can win games in a non-boring way. Other players, including Nadal and Novak, have a boring playing style. Perhaps the media and the great rivalry between them is what keeps us interested to watch them playing. Do not get me wrong! They are great champions but not as athletic and interesting as such players as Tsonga, Montif and Federer.

    September 11, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  19. richard

    i used to enjoy watching men's tennis but these days with their power-play it really is getting boring – it was different when Roger Federer was playing at least he was an inspiration with his classic shots – irrespective of his opponents style – incidentally it looks as though woman's tennis is going the same way

    September 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  20. Sudip

    Agreed full heartedly, Love to watch Federer or Becker or Sampras any time over this monotony of base line rally-uffff and this double handed backhand -when we get to see another player with classic like pete or roger

    September 11, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Reply
  21. messi200

    Reblogged this on sportcity150.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  22. John

    Tennis today is so fast that players coming to the net are just too slow to get there in time. So they don't bother and concentrate of baseline shots. Which was not the case in good old days. So comparing that era with this one does not make any sense. Becker of today would choose baseline as well.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  23. Alida Villar

    Whoever thinks that actual tenis is boring, for sure, it is because is totally IGNORANT about it! Actual players do amazing plays!

    September 11, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  24. Janell

    I agree with Pat, today's tennis is getting rather mundane and has been for a few years now. Yeah I am a federer fan and always will be I enjoy variety but even some of his tennis matches have become same only because the court surfaces have been slowed so much that all we get now is baseline matches which are boring, the ATP have become obsessed with taking away the big servers and to a point I'm thankful for that as just watching serves fly past isn't great to watch but what I don't understand is why change every court to the same speed? Now days clay is faster then grass which is saying something. When Roger was up and coming he had to get used to different court speeds which is why he is the best in using different tactics because his learned how too, today's players don't have to change things up at all just stay back and wait till the opponent gets tired or makes errors. That brand so tennis doesn't make me enjoy it a all...I say bring back variety or tennis will die out.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  25. gooeymac

    Boring is Isner and Karlovic driving of ace stats, while we pray for the commercial breaks, and for their opponent's service games. Boring is knowing the top 4 players will be in the semifinals of every tournament. We have some of that in today's game, for sure, but we also have quite a few new players and players that do have varierty in their game which I do enjoy watching the middle section of tournaments that do make for interesting tennis. Unfortunately, the end of tournaments are what are stressed in the television schedules.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  26. Mohamed

    I have been watching tennis since the 70s with Borg, Mac, Boris, Pete, Andre, and now what I call the awesome 4 (Andy, Roger, rafa, and Nole) and I can tell you for sure that we are witnessing some of the best tennis in history: how could you call the US open final "boring"??! That was one of the best finals I have watched in my life!

    September 11, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  27. Henk

    There is nothing boring about male tennis. The problem is the US is no longer leading so many in the US media and many US citizens are bored. Many can`t watch men's tennis if they can`t support an American trying to win it.

    This has always been true for any sport the US is not good at. Including soccer.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  28. Henk

    This is all about the US not being the leader in male tennis. Many Americans find it boring if an American is not involved or doing well. Just like most Americans claiming that soccer is boring. Until they win more international matches.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Reply
    • RK

      pat cash is australian actually. he is american.

      September 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  29. Aldwin M

    Nope not boring at all...

    September 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  30. Ron

    Ok, Mr Cash you are entitled to your own opinions but do not try to force your own perception of what is entertaining to others. I found the match to be very entertaining, exciting and full of suspense. And I am sure many did, too. Their matches are never predictable, results could go either on every ball hit. These players are not just base line players. These are athletes gifted with all round skills to cover every corner of the court. Rod Laver, said men tennis is in good shape and I am more inclined to agree with his assessment as he has won so many slams and is still considered as one of the greatest players of all time. If you had only a tiny fraction of their base line skills you probably would not end up as a one slam wonder. That was just my own humble opinion on your tennis career, a career that has never been brought up for discussion and never will. But theirs will be talked about for many generations to come.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  31. Olim

    It's boring because they're not Americans? I can understand that there are no real good American player playing male's Tennis. But to say it's boring is too much!!

    September 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  32. Alan C

    First of all, the should play tennis and know how hard is to make a good serve, or how difficult is to return a serve that has a velocity of 160 km/hr. Also the difficult to play against a left handed Nadal. Or to play against Djokovic that seems a pit bull that never give up, even when he is losing a game. I belive the commenter has to play tennis to comment about tennis.

    September 11, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Reply
    • Nachiket

      Pat Cash is former Wimbledon winner, just to let you know.
      People regard him as one of the best serve-volley players.

      January 1, 2014 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  33. David M

    You can measure the number of slams won, and the number of slams has remained the same. With that as a measure, today's players as measured by results. The top 3 are Federer, Sampras, and Nadal. Grass is better and gives balls better bounces now. It makes grass tennis a lot more interesting. Sorry Pat, but we have to go with what can be defended by data. Nadal may be better than Federer today, but Federer is better over time due to more slam wins. You could make an argument to count the Olympics as equivalent to a slam, but your argument doesn't hold. Look at stats, because this is the only way arguments like this can get solved. We keep gaining knowledge and developing new ways to get better. Those that get the most wins are the ones that are the best athletes by the only thing we have to measure success. Today's tennis is awesome, but please don't think that we don't cherish the memories and excitement of you, McEnroe, Borg, Becker, Edberg, and many other fine players. Tennis was awesome then, awesome now, and will be awesome in the future.

    September 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  34. Zahndr

    Maybe it is not boring? I don't know. I played a lot of competitive tennis and I prefer to watch a "serve and go to net" game.
    It uses more variety and finesse and you don't have to stress your body to the last inch and be hurt as much. I do not like what has happen to tennis today. Have you ever watched a Stan Smith, Neucomb, or Rosewal match? It used to be elegant.

    September 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  35. Sandy

    I don't understand why we have to compare to point of diminishing the accomplishments of the current players. It would be pretty boring to me if I was watching Rafa and Djokovic and thought they were Sampras or Becker. Why can't we just let people be who they are... I for one watch tennis because I like it, not because I am comparing this player to that player...PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT AND WILL ALWAYS BE DIFFERENT. GET OVER IT ALREADY...SAMPRAS AND BECKER ARE RETIRED.......

    September 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Reply
    • Tester

      But thats the point, players aren't as different as they used to be so while played at an incredible level of skill and physicality it is not as varied.

      September 17, 2013 at 7:05 am | Reply
  36. kcrally

    Yannick Noah, was a great Tennis player, because he smoked dope. Federer at his peak was still better than Nadal. Skill is always an overiding factor. How about some Badminton.

    September 11, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  37. Robin Donald deVallon

    Every comment has it´s merrits... I´m glad I read you all.... Me ?? I´ve never been "good" at the sport altho I am an enthousiastic fan as I am of all motorcycle sports... the way MotoGP is these days is a world away from the 50s... the way high jumps are performed now is again a world away from how we jumped in the 30s... I never went for "team sports" or Formula One... but ralleys have my attention... that again is real personal talent... Donah..//

    September 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  38. Forkous

    The sport has changed, not necessarily for the better or wrose. It's technology that changed it. There is no doubt in my mind, that the evolution from wooden rackets to carbon fiber increased the speed of the strokes and overall rythm of play. It's simply more difficult to succeed at the net like McEnroe, Becker and Edberg used to do. The overall velocity of the ball doesn't give you time to reach the net in time to get in position. The serve and volley player simply gets passed more often than before. If this style of play were efective, then more players would use it to win. No disrespect to a great like Pat Cash, but todays professional athlete is simply better prepared. It has nothing to do with talent. Borg was a fantastic athlete and talent, and if he would have stayed in the game, he probably would have won more. But he was an exception. The amount of tournaments today are outnumber those of the 80's and 90's. I don't know of the past greats or ATP tour members could have held up to the wear and tear of the current tour schedule. Sampras, Borg, McEnroe, Vilas, Conners, and the list goes on... were awesome to watch and with very different syles. But I don't know if their styles would all be as successful today. Monday´s US Open final was incredible to watch and tennis is stronger and more popular than ever... so, FedEx, Nole, Andy and rafa... keep it coming!

    September 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  39. Elgyn Son

    This article is OFFENSIVE! a big insult and disrespectl to today's tennis, players and fans alike. Just because you have a personal preference to your old school of tennis and one particular player and got stuck to it , (plus no americans making it to the finals) – you seem to be prejudiced and you herald it on headlines to the whole world that NADAL'S & DJOCOVIC'S tennis – the top two elite men's players is boring? US OPEN is an elite grand slam tennis event – one of the ultimate tournaments every player works the hardest to win – and the tennis world has a high regard for it. This article is a big joke – a big insult to the tennis world. To think that you are a tennis veteran – your article is not doing good to tennis.

    September 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  40. loa1

    Rafa, nole are way better athletically meaning fitness wise – they are the best ever.
    While skill level its hard to say they are better than older generation since technology changed so it helps them in serving or hit from baseline to keep ball in etc... rackets are bigger and different material.
    So skill point of view its hard for me to say one is better.
    But fitness they is no comparison... the way they can retrieve balls and how much they run the old generation cannot match.
    You watch old games and it seems like they are playing in slow motion ... the running is not there at all .
    Who you find interesting is personal opinion... i did not like watching sampras... because all he had was that big serve. Yea he had other parts of game but if you take his serve out there is no way he would have won all that. He would be mediocre and Boris Becker would have schooled him umpteen times.

    Fed no doubt is all grace and great to watch. BUt when he had no competition at all in the bveginning that got a little routine.. so yea anything that goes on same way can get monotoous.
    ANd now Rafa Djoker and murray while those rallies are really great it can get similar.
    The problem is other players who are diff are not standing any chance against their game.

    September 12, 2013 at 12:21 am | Reply
  41. Bipin

    PAT CASH, I think you got it all wrong!

    There is a basic principle: you cannot compare generations against each other. Every generation has its trends, limitations, styles that we can only admire and respect but cannot necessarily compare against.

    I like to watch Federer too! But everybody cannot be blessed with such a natural gift. You have to work it out within your own limitations. And I see that Federer with such a greatest natural gift could not even once break the Nadal's FRENCH CODE.

    Again, the level of mens' tennis at this moment is just fantastic and I really appreciate the grit of top seeded players!

    September 12, 2013 at 12:34 am | Reply
  42. Ian Rivlin

    Apparently, Borg could run 100 meters in world class time. Even today, there's probably no player who would come close. Bill Tilden (1924 champion) probably could beat any modern player around the net. Who comes even close to McEnroe's serve and volley? Lew Hoad's all round capabilities were sensational. I suspect the players of old would beat the modern players, simply by using angles, slowing the ball down (and therefore dictating play) and careful use of lobs and drop shots. Is modern play boring. Oh gosh yes. Bang, bang, bang, bang from the baseline. It's dreary beyond belief. Give it twenty or thirty years more and the players will start using tactics, athleticism and cunning, rather than just repetitive clubbing it away at the baseline. Read Tilden's "Match play and the spin of the ball", then you'll understand what I mean.

    September 12, 2013 at 12:51 am | Reply
  43. Yadhunath

    I don't agree. Some of today's players are exceptionally fit and athletic, Boris and Pete were hardly of that fitness. Spanish people are made differently and there was possibly no such Spanish competitor that Pete and Boris had to face. Federer's achievements are outstanding because he earned his slams through the period across these opponents. At least three of his US Open titles, two Australian Opens and three Wimbledons involved beating one or more of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. I am happy to forget statistics too, but it would be foolish to ignore facts. Don't forget that Federer made it to six finals on grand slams of each surface. How can you not give it to him?

    September 12, 2013 at 1:01 am | Reply
  44. JasonLmda

    "Don B: Obviously you don't play tennis."

    Do you know who the writer is?

    September 12, 2013 at 1:59 am | Reply
  45. Factsseeker

    Perhaps a more relevant question is whether women's tennis is boring especially now that they are payed equal money for spending less than half the time on the court on average and with half the intensity and passion. Most tennis followers know that men really put in much more effort for the same money, but that it is not manly to question the disparity. Maybe there needs to be a serious debate about true equal pay for equal effort.

    September 12, 2013 at 2:19 am | Reply
  46. Eric

    They are better athletes today, not even close. This dude must have been a six pack in when he wrote this article. Unfortunately we'll never be able to settle this dispute cause we can't pair yesteryear champs with those of the present. I'm still taking Rafa in his prime versus (insert anyone) in their prime.

    September 12, 2013 at 3:17 am | Reply
  47. Petty Cash

    Obviously, the author is out of touch or desperate for attention. Nevertheless, I can respect opinions of others. In fact I pity for Mr Cash that he can't seem to get excited with today's game. Such a sad being. I wish for Mr Cash to be enlightened so he can start feeling the joy of watching today's top players. Good luck to you Mr Cash.

    September 12, 2013 at 4:01 am | Reply
  48. Jeremy

    I see these guys dive...twist and turn...and deliver "smashes" quite often. What tennis are you watching? Also, Nadal has a reputation for being a "power" player. He really is not. He is very athletic and strong yes, but he beats opponents not with powerful serves or tremendous forehands, but rather with speed, vision, creativity, crazy spin, and relentlessness. Novak is a typical power player, yes. He doesn't attack the net too much because he is so precise with his base line rallies, so he chooses to sit back more. Therefore to say Nadal and Djokovic have similar styles is not really true. One is power and precision...the other speed, creativity, and precision....both are relentless with their games, and extremely entertaining to watch.

    September 12, 2013 at 4:03 am | Reply
  49. JarJar

    A few points:
    1. Boris Becker and Pete Sampras are considered more as serve and volley than baseline players.
    2. Serve and volley players are a dying breed due the evolving play of tennis nowadays–more athletic players, slower
    bounce, faster spins.
    3. Players need to adapt, conditions are now more suited for baseline rallies. If they wan't to charge the net most the
    time, they end up losing the point most of the time.

    September 12, 2013 at 4:03 am | Reply
  50. Pete

    Hey Pat, don't agree that the Nadal:Federer record of 21:31 implies much, you'd really need to correct for the offset in their age dude. Fed was was ATP #1 for about a year before they even met, and now at 32 yrs/28yrs aprox for Fed/Raf the record is going to get worse unless Fed retires. I think the question of greatness is better answered by

    1. Days at No.1
    2. Titles Won
    3. Depth of field during items 1 and 2 above.

    Under these criteria, and giving Nadal his Davis Cup credit, I'd call it a draw for the time being, if not marginally favoring Federer, given the margen of error of such a subjective question.

    September 12, 2013 at 4:10 am | Reply
  51. Jeremy

    Also when Nadal plays Novak he knows he has to be patient due to Novak's ability to control the rallies. Therefore, Nadal will also tend to sit back some against Novak because he knows how precise and powerful the shots are coming back at him. Nadal essentially adapts his game very well depending on who he's against. This isn't boring–this is strategy. Watch Nadal in the first few rounds of a tourney and you see the difference. Federer plays the same way. First few rounds he attacks the net more. One because he can against weaker opponents, and also to help him get more comfortable and confident for the later rounds. However, if you see Federer in a semi final how often does he attack the net. All the greats in tennis have always approached grand slams like this. It's a war not a single battle that must be won to win a grand slam. Judging how a player plays in the final is not a true testiment to their style or ability. If they got to the final then they have all of the skills the writter seems to think these guys lack.

    September 12, 2013 at 4:11 am | Reply
  52. Rohit

    Rafa is adorable, so down to earth and grounded, passionate and above all a true Fighter. At a time when world tennis was dominated by Fed he came as a ray of hope and he still shines. As for who is better its an endless debate

    September 12, 2013 at 4:24 am | Reply
  53. Craig

    I don't think it's boring, but I do think tennis is in danger of becoming boring if it swings further down the baseline boxing match. The best viewing tennis is when we see a bit of everything.

    September 12, 2013 at 4:45 am | Reply
  54. Carl

    Pat,

    Nadal or Djokovic would beat you, Sampras, Borg, Agassi, and Laver with a single arm!

    Your article reveals pure envy!

    Nadal has transformed the game so much, that nowadays coaches are no longer teaching single-handed back hands to kids.
    Nadal's helicopter forehand has never been replicated! He brought a new movement and stroke to the game!

    Did Federer do that? Nope. He excelled on strokes that had already been around.

    Pat, you must accept with resignation that these guys are playing a new game, a fast and furious type of tennis, which you do not know how to play. And neither does Sampras, Agassi and players from preceding generations do.

    And by the way, this new game of tennis is awesome to watch!

    September 12, 2013 at 5:09 am | Reply
    • rosh

      Actually Nadal, Djokovic would not be able to walk on court with a "single arm" cos' they need both on the backhand. Now on the other hand Sampras,Laver,Cash and co, can play with a "single arm". No Carl, while your raising the flag on behalf of the current crop is good do not ever try to compare. Had Sampras and co been playing today with todays racquets they would have been better, Incidently Borg had a vicious heavy top spin forehand even with the log like wooden racquet he used. Had he been playing today he would have been a handful.

      September 12, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  55. jdoe

    Racket technology has changed things so much that tennis is now mostly a service game. There are few long volleys anymore. They should do something to make the game fun to watch again. Maybe raise the net height a little. Or even bring back the wooden racket. As it is, it's no longer interesting to watch.

    September 12, 2013 at 5:29 am | Reply
  56. RK

    Pat,
    Contrast is good between players, but It is the quality that matters. Take sampras – ivanesivic for that matter,( they are available in youtube) there was no contrast there and it was tough to watch that beyond a certain point. Sampras – Agassi was watchable because quality was good and the contrast was there and more importantly , you felt even if sampras was the favourite, agassi left a lingering feeling, that it could go his way which made it exciting for the viewers. Federer Nadal is exciting for the same reason, levels are more or less same, quality was high it could go either way.

    So as long quality of match is high, and level of players are close, making it possible for the match to go either way, style of play does not matter.

    September 12, 2013 at 5:30 am | Reply
  57. rosh

    No Cash doesnt say Nadal vs Djokovic is boring. What he says boring are the repetition of the same tactics. And I agree with him that Nadal or any player today is not a single breath more fitter than Borg or Connors or Edberg. And todays players certainly have marvellous racquets that afford them to hit shots from ridiculous looking positions. Even weekend club players can do occasional magic with their wands like racquets. What has got away from the game is quality net play. For sure a Nadal or Djokovic or Murray can angle the ball at the net and then wait for the weak return to have it put away. But nobody can punch volleys away a la Sampras, Edberg or Becker which is suprising considering the stunning racquets that are around.
    But what I disagree with is his opinion that Nadal is better than Federer overall cos' his head to head record is very much in his favour. It reminds of the Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman triad of the 70s when heavyweight boxing was at its very best. Foreman was way too good for Frazier but Ali was better than Foreman. BUT Ali can never say he was better than Frazier because knew how to put Ali in trouble although their Ali eventually triumphed 2 – 1. Sometimes even the very greatest has a nemesis who ends up best. Mind you Nadal is a great player and trumps Federer in head to head count but he is not greater than Federer AT LEAST not yet. Let him win 18 – 20 titles and then have the debate.

    September 12, 2013 at 6:47 am | Reply
  58. Raghu

    Can't agree more with Pat as far as watching the same baseline play day-in and day-out from the likes of Nadal and Djokovic... Much more delight watching Roger....

    September 12, 2013 at 7:06 am | Reply
  59. Lakki

    Omg!!! Jealousy all the way in this article!! Tennis matches have become more and more interesting now a days. Federer probably has the most important role in making tennis interesting, Rafa and Nole are keeping it up...
    Sampras is a very boring player.. Serves.. either ace or comes to net.. A big article for so much variety.. laughable really.. I dont understand why such articles are written.. May be some players of older generation are not able to digest the fact that today's players are much more fit, very good returners of the serve, great at passing shots, enduring and can play for 5 hrs to win a match.. Matches now a days are much more competitive than ever before..Useless article to say the best...

    September 12, 2013 at 7:07 am | Reply
  60. noveltj

    I can't believe this article was written by Pat Cash. To say the least, it is irrelevant. Before, there was Federer and Nadal who always drew and are still drawing millions of spectators to watch their magic duels. Now Nadal and Djokovic are on the centre of the attention, simply because of their brilliance and superb strategies they always demonstrate in order to outplay each other. Their endurance, strengths and consistencies throughout the matches are what made them top players. Baseliners are not less interesting to watch than the service-volley players. Remember, the 1994 men's final at Wimbledon between Sampras and Ivanisevic? As much as I like both, I was yawning the all match. Is that what you call an interesting match?

    September 12, 2013 at 8:46 am | Reply
  61. Riiriid

    Unbelievably biased article. You would be hard pressed to find another player more passionate on the court than Rafa. And Nole always gives him a run for his money. How on earth is that boring??

    September 12, 2013 at 8:57 am | Reply
  62. frentemahou

    It is quite surprising to hear that these guys are boring, sounds like this guy has never held a tennis raquet in his life, well he wasn´t much in the sport as we all know.
    Anyway from Spain and not just for the tennis we consider Rafael Nadal one of the most clever and hard worker of us all, please show a little respect.
    Nobody enjoyed Sampras way of playing with 2 or 3 shots the most but anyway he was great, every sport evolves and if Nadal and Djokovic have the reciepe why the other do not follow, perhaps like you never worked as hard.

    Respect.

    September 12, 2013 at 11:11 am | Reply
  63. Ceslord

    Boried? no, definitively not. It´s boried no USA great Master. That´s all.

    September 12, 2013 at 11:17 am | Reply
  64. Donovan

    It is an intersting article because they used to say that about Sampras because he hit so many aces and 1st services that were not returned his style was quick and attacking and led to talk that it was not entertaining. Now since net play has become almost irrelevant we miss the way the game used to be played. It is interesting to see Federer attacking more now to try to minimize Nadal and Djokovic's advantages on the baseline but without any success. This is the problem, we haven't found another up and coming player that can beat the Top 3 with a new style of play, until that happens we are stuck with long grueling matches that come down to a few points or who runs out of gas first.

    September 12, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
  65. Mc4tay

    Cashy can't agree w u more on this one.

    Its far more inspiring to watch a player take risks on the court......Becker Federer Edberg Rios Kuerten.

    The problem is definately a combination of ATP slowing courts down.....thicker balls.....and now these unbelievable new racquet technologies giving double backhands a huge advantage over single handers. How does a single handed backhander defeat Nadals lefty massive RPM balls. And high moonballs are actually bloody hard to time properly.

    The balance is all wrong....reduce racquet head size and set a standard string. Bring back creativity to tennis. The women's game is already lost.

    Tennis without unpredictability is very unappealing and will lose popularity.

    Yes Nadal v Djoker is amazing to see.....but not for hours on end.

    Give me Monfils Gasquet Tomic for entertaining tennis. They clearly enjoy tennis and sacrifice winning at all costs to keep their own interest in the sport.

    September 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  66. kylejohansen

    Do people get that Cash isn't calling Nadal or Djokovic boring, he's only saying that the repetitive tactics being used (the grinding baseline game) can get repetitive? He said that the final on Monday was not boring, but it is true that it was a grinding baseline match with little variety. That is one thing that previous generations had, was variety and contrast. Now, there are few men who don't follow the same formula on tour – Federer, Tsonga, Llodra, Kohlschreiber. Of course racket technology has made the game more about physical ability than natural skill, but it is a shame to see serve-volley dying out, and the lack of any variety on tour these days.

    And Sampras was not boring. He could play from the baseline as well as anyone in his day, but yes, he had a big serve and a great net game and he used it. His matches with Ivanisevic were monotone, but his matches with Agassi were amazing, and they played some of the best tennis we have ever seen.

    September 12, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  67. kylejohansen

    He isn't saying that Nadal and Djokovic are boring, he's saying that the lack of variety in the game today is concerning. It's all about baseline grinding.

    September 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  68. truthbetold1226

    Pat is way wrong on this.. Example, race cars of 20 years ago, can easily be beat by off the show-room floor everyday cars. These guys have exceptional skill, equal or IMO, way better than the players of old.. Why don't Pat train an coach a net player and put them out there. They will be slaughtered. In every sport, the players move to the technique which is most effective.. If somebody comes with a better technique, then it will be the one of choice. They were crying the same crap when Sampra was winning, they said, Serve and Volley, no skill.

    Again, Pat is out to lunch on this, not even close..

    September 12, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  69. Sheila

    I love tennis but I have to agree I enjoyed it more in the days of Sampras, Agassi, and Federer. Standing at baseline hitting power balls at each other gets boring, but that's what people want and sells tickets. The injuries suffered now is price paid to their bodies.

    September 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  70. therapist

    i think what Pat is saying is that there should be some variety of shots... it is like watching an "exciting" toe-to-toe basketball game played entirely on long shots, without the dunks and drives... would you watch a boxing game of two top-notch athletes for 50 rounds? or would you rather watch a hard-hitting match that you expect to end in less than 10 rounds in a KO?... in the end, it's a matter of taste...

    September 13, 2013 at 3:28 am | Reply
  71. Radha Pather

    Borg and Nadal are beautiful to watch just from dexterity , shot making and grace. If you wanted action at the net in addition then Goran Ivanisivec was the most beautiful to watch ie dexterity, 'going' for his shots and grace. They were 'pretty to watch'. I thought Borg was like a machine you could predict his stroke – its was lovely to watch the stroke being executed – back lift, swing, strike and follow through. thanks .

    September 13, 2013 at 4:23 am | Reply
  72. Ray

    Pat,
    What ever works to get the job done. I don't see you coaching someone earning majors.

    September 13, 2013 at 4:38 am | Reply
  73. Todd

    Since I have played and watched tennis for many years, I think what he is trying to say is tennis has become predictable, or there is too much excessive baseline rallies and not much else today. When the best players in the game hook up, there does not seem to be any variation, and people like Rafa use those heavy spins even on hard court with less margin for error. I will admit I enjoyed past players more than today's lineup, McEnroe, Lendl, Becker, Edberg, Lendl, Agassi. Those days ain't coming back. All there is today in tennis is power and baseline. The excitement of watching different styles has left the game for the most part. The people who play are sort of boring as well, have to be honest!

    September 13, 2013 at 7:57 am | Reply
  74. Skeeve

    Articles like this are always amusing. The point they try to make is always the same – it boils down to that "in my days the sun was brighter and the grass was greener and that tennis is only good when I say it is good". Yep, complete waste of 500 words.

    September 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Reply
    • latosccrosbyfamily

      From Skeeve:
      "Articles like this are always amusing. The point they try to make is always the same – it boils down to that "in my days the sun was brighter and the grass was greener and that tennis is only good when I say it is good. Yep, complete waste of 500 words."
      September 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Reply

      Kind of like the waste of time we just spent reading YOUR words?

      September 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Reply
  75. Sitting Duck

    Only CNN could publish an article with such a question and only CNN could attract mindless lapdog responses from their readers. There is power in the game but Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer for example have put more finesse in the game than ever before. It is a legitimate sport where there is no place to hide and no getting around the requirement for skill, stamina and nerves of steel. In football, a player runs for one play and is on the sideline sucking oxygen from a tank. Talk about boring.

    September 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  76. KKSV

    Typical American Sports "experts" opinion, thanks a lot CNN

    My opinion is that every sport evolves, and just as that style also evolves.

    If you like classy or a certain style, invent the time machine and roll back in time dear ignorant ones, bye bye. People who like class, can stick to their high chairs or pedestals and enjoy the view or be disgruntled, while the rest enjoy the ground and be at the apex of it and enjoy Tennis evolve and just get better and better.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      Pat Cash is an Aussy, genius.

      September 18, 2013 at 1:02 am | Reply
  77. Jotape

    ¿Boring because there is not a US player in the final?

    September 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  78. daniel

    all the guys from above , who are interested in finesse, go see a ballet. tennis is a sport, in a sport getting the job done with what you have is all that matters .for the record, atp slowed down the courts to make matches more interesting not the other way around .

    September 13, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  79. Jun Ferraren

    Well, everything evolves...technology,marketing, and the gruesome way to top of the rankings..make it wat you see tennis is now.....power, prize money, new strings ,raquet, trainers,physio, diet, and diff surface technology, ...everything ...and perhaps all these new things were not present or very insignificant during the time of this aging allknowing only one grandslam titlist..pat cash...btw...your show about tennis....thats the one trully boring

    September 14, 2013 at 8:34 am | Reply
  80. Márcia Fiani

    Totally agree with you. If ATP, ITF, tournament directors, don't do something, speed the courts, help the variety in tennis, the beautiful sport I am following since 1975 is going slowly, as the courts, to its death. Extremely boring, because we have all seen these same points. And Roger and the likes, Haas, for example, don't have enough power against these super strong baseliners. But their game is so much beautiful and entertaining...

    September 17, 2013 at 12:55 am | Reply
  81. Mister L

    I fully agree with Pat Cash on this matter.

    Mind you, I am saying this as a massive fan of both Nadal and Djokovic. And I used to enjoy and get excited about their matches. But as the rivalry went on, I lost that excitement. Nowadays, I get bored by their matches, including the recent US Open final. I get bored with watching one mechanical 20+ shot baseline rally after another for four to six hours. In a way, these matches are just as one-dimensional as the 1990s serve fests between Sampras and Ivanisevic were. The only difference is, Nadal and Djokovic take three times as long to finish a match...

    In the 1990s, there was considerably more variety in tennis. Different surfaces still played like different surfaces. In addition to the Wimbledon serve fasts on fast grass, you had clay courts that were actually slower than today, and other types of courts in the middle. When you watch a Roland Garros final and a Wimbledon final from the 1990s, it's almost like watching two different sports. Today, clay and grass play very much alike.

    In the 1990s, the significant differences between the surfaces allowed different players with different game styles to succeed. From 1990 to 1999, sixteen different players won grand slam tournaments (Sampras 12, Agassi 5, Courier 4, Edberg 3, Becker, Bruguera, Kafelnikov and Rafter 2 each, Gomez, Korda, Krajicek, Kuerten, Lendl, Moya, Muster and Stich 1 each). By contast, with today's homogenised surfaces and playing styles, a small handful of players can dominate at every tournament. In the last 10 years, only seven different players have won grand slam tournaments (Federer 16, Nadal 13, Djokovic 6, Murray 2, Gaudio, Safin and Del Potro 1 each).

    So yes, I am in full agreement with Pat Cash: the lack of variety in today's tennis, both in terms of play styles and winning players, is boring. Let's bring back some of that variety by making the surface at Wimbledon, the Paris Masters and a couple of other tournaments faster again, and by maybe introducing restrictions to racquet technology.

    As a side note, I am dismayed at the hostility and personal attacks in many of the comments here. "Oh, Pat Cash is just jealous, blah blah blah..." It seems that, instead of engaging what Pat wrote with actual arguments, some people are more comfortable to just attack him personally. Maybe the art of rational, grown-up debate is dying out along with the art of serve and volley...

    September 17, 2013 at 10:57 am | Reply
    • Vivien

      Totally agree with you. But the pb is... money! A game that lasts during 6h, between the #1 and #2, who are super stars, sells much more, has more commercials and more expensive ones!

      September 20, 2013 at 2:09 am | Reply
  82. Vivien

    I don't like the argument saying Nadal won the Olympics and the Davis cup. Davis cup is a team sport, so in this case, Federer won the Olympics as well (with Wawrinka). Winning the Olympics does not matter in what sport anyway, you are just an Olympic champion. And comparing Switzerland and Spain in tennis... It's like saying Tony Parker never won the World cup and compare with an American! Moreover, Federer has been World #1 for over 300 weeks, did more semi-finals in a row at the French Open than Nadal, won 6 times the 5th most important tennis tournament, which Nadal never won, the Masters cup. So in term of palmares, Roger is definitely far in front of Rafa. And in term of game quality as well. Nadal was lucky to have his best shot right into the worst one of Federer, and also that all the surfaces have been slow down.

    September 20, 2013 at 1:39 am | Reply
  83. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Rafa and Novak are hard working guys. They keep winning most of the time. Even winning with religious monotony could become boring for some.

    October 6, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
  84. amor

    Nadal IS better than Federer. You don't have to go farther than the stats to prove it.

    October 9, 2013 at 2:20 am | Reply
  85. Daniel

    Cash is right. Modern tennis is all about speed and power. Bjorn Borg and Federer have more ability in their little finger than Nadal or Serena Williams. It's all about retrieval these says with huge racquets. Borg and Fed would be champions in any era, but Nadal would be utterly doomed with old wooden racquets... they would remove his weapons and expose him for just how limited he actually is.

    October 31, 2013 at 3:00 am | Reply
  86. Austin

    Really?? Have you ever watched their matches? Because there is a significant amount of variety. Check out the highlight reels, they both come to the net, play drop shots and counter drop shots. Against janowicz, rafa hits a backhand smash through jerzy's legs. Your athletic comparisons are strange, because these players have no great weaknesses. You name Agassi, or Borg or McEnroe as being complete players but the way to beat them was to not play their game. They were excellent at one strategy, but the way they be at eachother was by taking advantage of each others weaknesses more than their own flaws were exploited. With nadal, djokovic or murray that's not the case. You can't plow one strategy into the ground and hope to win. Racket technology, fitness levels and court speed have advanced such that McEnroe would be demolished.

    November 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  87. John

    The modern game is tedious in the extreme. the grass courts are much too slow. I don't think of any of the present professionals would have been able to compete in the 60's. They are all pretty much rubbish compared to Laver, rosewall, Newcombe, Roache and Hoad

    June 19, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Reply

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