Wimbledon 2007 QandA
by Richard Vach | June 19th, 2007
  • 22 Comments

(Editor’s note: the following is from an interview of Richard Vach for the Stiles Points website regarding the upcoming Wimbledon event.)

Q: Now that the clay court season is over, Rafael Nadal has to play the next two majors on surfaces (grass & hard court) that favor Roger Federer.  What has Nadal done over the last year to improve his game on grass?

RV: The better question is, what has Wimbledon and the ATP done to improve Nadal’s game on grass and hardcourt? A lot. The grass is so slow nowadays in Wimbledon’s effort to product more rallies, it plays like a hardcourt. Some of the hardcourt events are so slow, they play like a fast claycourt. Nadal is right at home in the new “Let’s-slow-everything-down” scheme of things.

Pete Sampras would have a problem if he were playing Wimbledon these days — he’d see a lot more passing shots go by. That’s why Roger Federer plies much of his trade at Wimbledon from the backcourt, which is ruining the grasscourt game. I long for the days when Goran Ivanisevic and Mark Philippoussis served people off the court. Those were two guys with mediocre volleys who still came in all the time because when the lawns were slick, even crappy volleys worked wonders (see: Bjorn Borg). Players were encouraged to volley. Now the baseline is the only area on the grasscourt that gets worn, and the women’s game may as well be played on a claycourt. Now even Tim Henman says he can’t serve and volley at Wimbledon. Grasscourt play has been sanitized to the point where Tim Freaking Henman, the guy event organizers have wanted to see win all these years, says All England Club officials have screwed up the lawns and changed grasscourt tennis.

Nadal has lightning-quick hands and feet and a champion’s mentality, and that’s all he needs to beat Federer on grass or hardcourts. With today’s surface changes he can get away with a less-than-outstanding serve, and scamper around the baseline to win on the clay-like, high-bouncing slow lawns.

Q: After that embarrassing performance by the American at Roland Garros, what do you expect from the top United States men, Roddick, Blake, and Fish, at Wimbledon?

There is no reason why Roddick and crew won’t go deep at Wimbledon. As Roddick showed by his fourth Queen’s Club title in a row last week, his confidence is always high on the grass and he’s a pretty good bet to square off against Roger Federer in the final or semis. Blake is not great on grass but could go deep, same with Ginepri. Fish has no excuse not to go deep with his serve-and-volley skills. Grass is the surface for the wham-bam American-type game. On the women’s side, no reason not to put Venus and Serena Williams among the title favorites, but the U.S. women’s threat stops there.

Q: The Williams sisters seem to thrive on grass and Sharapova already has a Wimbledon title under her belt.  However, on the ladies side, is this tournament Justine Henin’s to lose being that she never won at Wimbledon?

The world No. 1 Henin is not the favorite some think she is, though she is coming off a runner-up effort last year to Amelie Mauresmo. Depending whether the conditions are wet (as they have been in the run-up to Wimbledon) or dry this year, Henin will have a shot, but will have to deal with a lot of firepower to reach another final. So many of the top women just bang the ball off the forehand and backhand sides with little want for slice or volleying or dropshots or touch (Mauresmo was a refreshing departure last year), and that makes it a craps shoot on grass — hard to call. Were she to win Wimbledon this year after clinching her third straight Roland Garros title, she would enter the best-ever conversation since she still has a number of years ahead of her.
 
Q: On the gentleman’s side, can anything stop Federer at Wimbledon?

Injury maybe? Bronchitis? Mirka dumping him for Rafa? Two weeks of rain?

Federer lost a couple claycourt matches to low-ranked players during the beginning of the claycourt season as he was trying to mentally come to terms with breaking up with coach Tony Roche. Some outside influence or injury or bad clams or too-tight Nike underwear would have to come into play for Federer to exit Wimbledon without a title.

Q: I have read there will be no roof at Wimbledon this year as they continued to refurbish the holy ground of tennis.  What is your opinion about refurbishing Wimbledon?  How do you feel about the traditions, such as players wearing white?

When is that roof due, 2009? When did they start construction, 1984? No hurry All England Club Committee, try and finish it before you guys finish your term, or pass on. No, they do things slowly at Wimbledon, that’s part of the scene and tradition — there doesn’t seem to be many traditions that hold up today in tennis, besides fans getting violently drunk during US Open night matches, so thumbs up to Wimbledon tradition. Seeing players in white is a nice break from a lot of that ugly-ass Euro-wear (see: Tommy Robredo, who many times looks like he wears just whatever is clean) you see during the claycourt season. Note to European players: orange and black and blue and purple are colors, but aren’t necessarily meant to be worn together.

Yes, Wimbledon traditions such as all-white are wonderful I expect to most fans and players — except for Frenchman Gael “Force” Monfils, who for two weeks has to refrain from dressing like a red and black Air Jordan shoe. And if Roger walks out on court in another crazy-ass suit coat and tennis shorts at Wimbledon, more power to that — except maybe this year he should wear black socks with his tennis shoes to complete the today-I-forgot-to-wear-pants look.


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22 Comments for Wimbledon 2007 QandA

beerme Says:

hyuk yuk. i love that rog suitcoat with the shorts-so euro hipster metrosexual. rog is the bomb, rafa should try to throw him off by coming out in a jean jacket or something at Wimbledn. nike cant make cool stuff just for rog and not rafa.


carnap Says:

What Rafa needs are some undies. Please, God (or someone), make him STOP pulling his toreador pants out of rump. It’s a major annoyance to watch him do that along with all his other OCD shenanigans. Place the bottle just so, touch the shoes just so, pull on the socks just so. ARRRRGGGHHHHHHHHHH


joseph o brien Says:

The stuff about the tennis clothes the players wear is a bit over the top. The articles on this site are getting worse by the week. Where do you even hire your writers? They should learn how to form a solid arguemnt in their articles instead of just bitching about what clashes with what.


rofl Says:

Agreed carnap! ^^ lol His mum needs to get him some cumfy undies soon. But maybe he’s just wasting time, he’s known for that. Joseph o brien… maybe you should find some where else to read your morbid tennis articles if you don’t like it here. =P *peace*…..


joanne Says:

Brilliant, on Roger’s”today I forgot to wear pants look.”
I agree the sky will have to fall before Roger looses Wimbledon.Also yes,very sad about how the grass court changes have changed the game.No more matches like the fantastic one between Sampras and Federer.Just boring baseline games of attrition.


Swame Says:

The sky is falling.

Think Rog will wear his coat this year?


nevermind Says:

What does clothing have to do with good tennis ?
Well Rafa can pick his pants as much as he wants from me
as long as hre wins :-)


HJL Says:

“I long for the days when Goran Ivanisevic and Mark Philippoussis served people off the court.”

Nooooooooo….

Well, I guess you can’t argue about taste and preferences of course but I’m over the moon that those days are over. I actually stopped watching tennis for a while in those days.

Ivanisevic and Philippoussis would blast people off the court. I’ve never understood the attraction of it; watch those two and others like them blast their way through their serve games and have to witness that the opponent can do nothing else watch the balls fly. Forget S&V. They were lucky if they could even touch the ball, let alone make a beautiful shot in return.

I hate power tennis and I welcome the recent evolution of players being forced to actually construct a point instead of blasting your opponent off court. Some people love that sort of tennis (fair enough), but for me, I love it when tennis becomes like a chess game on a bigger scale.

Ivanisevic was boring to watch to me and his quirky personality could not make up for it. Patrick Rafter was one of the most enjoyable men to watch in that power era because he could S&V properly. Their Wimbledon final was heartbreaking for me to watch. Everybody cheered for Goran because he’s so daft and so crazy but the man with the beautiful tennis game came in second. Which is fair enough because that’s the way things go but that’s been one of the most disappointing results in Wimbledon for me personally.

The only way an Ivanisevic match was entertaining for me was when his serve wasn’t that effective and he was forced to actually think his way through a match. That was when it became interesting. Can he think his way through a match when he can’t blast them off court?

For me, tennis as a power game has no attraction. I love to see people construct a point (yup, from the baseline).

Hooray for slowing down the game.


HJL Says:

Just one other thing:
“Q: Now that the clay court season is over, Rafael Nadal has to play the next two majors on surfaces (grass & hard court) that favor Roger Federer. What has Nadal done over the last year to improve his game on grass?

RV: The better question is, what has Wimbledon and the ATP done to improve Nadal’s game on grass and hardcourt?”

—> Oh yes, let’s not give Nadal any credit for working on his game. Let’s moan about surfaces instead.


RAJ FROM INDIA Says:

I THINK THAT THE AUTHER(VACH) IS A LITTLE PARANOID PERSON,NOT TO GIVE CREDIT TO A REALLY GOOD PLAYER LIKE NADAL.TENNIS MUST BE GREATFUL THAT PEOPLE HAS STARTED TO SEE TENNIS AGAIN AFTER ABSTAINING FROM IT DURING PHILLIPOSIS AND IVANOVIC BORING ERA.I DONT UNDRESTAND WHAT JOY YOU CAN GET BY WATCHING ACE AFTER ACE.TENNIS HAD BECOME A TALL MANS GAME.I THINK THAT IT IS ALLROUND SKILLS THAT MAKE TENNIS GREAT AND ATTRACTIVE RATHER THAN SERVING UGLY ACES AT 150 MPH.


pot of gold Says:

hjl – i am so with you on the rafter / ivanisevic final and the semi was even more heartbreaking when goran beat tim(speaking as a brit) but tim played the far superior and more entertaining match those 2 days and the rotten english rain cost my man the match.
However i would love to see more serve and volley but speeding up the grass is the worst possible solution I dread the days when players like goran ivanisevic and mark philippoussis serving people off the court ever returning,thats not S&V thats S&Zzzz

anyway goodluck to roger and justine i would be a happy man to see them both holding the 2007 wimbledon titles


Matt Says:

In your first answer you state that Nadal can ‘scamper around the baseline to win on the clay-like, high-bouncing slow lawns’ of Wimbledon, and in the second you say that ‘Fish has no excuse not to go deep [at Wimbledon] with his serve and volley skills’…

Make your mind up! Try engaging your brain before you come out with such rubbish.


Richard Vach Says:

Sorry to bum you out Matt, try thinking out of the box like this: even when the courts were quicker, Borg could scamper around the baseline and win, while McEnroe could employ his serve and volley skills and win. Different skills sets can still succeed in different ways. Outside of your “Make your mind up!” world of extremism there is still more than one way to get it done. A big server like Fish can set up enough easy volley opportunities to succeed, as can Nadal with his incredible baseline tool set. It’s just a tougher for the serve and volleyers than it used to be.


Dr. Death Says:

Everyone sounds a little testy these days. Is this caused by our writers or by the unfortunate subconscious recognition that tennis lacks the spark of the Agassi, Sampras, Connors, Mac days?

Now if you want to pick on the writers, try the London Times. Articles about Tim Henman and his brave first round victory. Andy Murray seeded # 8 at Wimbledon – a brave seeding indeed.

Real tennis is coming gang; hang in there. Wimbledon and the U S Open will give us some excitement.


HJL Says:

“Real” tennis is coming? As opposed to?

Wimbledon has been an utterly one-sided affair so what excitement are you talking about?

By the way, last year in Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal approached the net more often than Roger Federer. Just a fact I’m throwing in the discussion.


johnnhoj Says:

It would be great to see Fed win a fifth consecutive Wimbledon, even a sixth, seventh, or eighth in a row. Why not??? I fully realize how so many here on Tennis-X despise Federer for whatever reason, but it’s great to watch him win these things. To see old records get broken and new ones being established is fun, shouldn’t matter who your favorite player is. Nadal’s successful run at RG (hat trick) is an awesome and inspiring achievement I must say as a fan of Federer’s game. Goes to show that Federer does not have it so easy, and his victories are well-deserved, just like Rafa’s.
I agree with many who say there’s more to tennis than serving and volleying. Seeing how a player constructs a point over a ten or fifteen stroke rally and comes up with a mind-boggling winner is a much more entertaining and impressive display of skill. It’s part of why Federer and Nadal are so much fun to watch.
What’s gonna become of Nicolas Mahut this year at Wimbledon?


Christopher Says:

Richard stated that Federer lost a couple clay court matches to low ranked clay court players this year. Federer lost the Monte Carlo final to Nadal and Federer lost to Vilondri in Rome. Federer won in Hamburg. Federer had two hard court loses to Canas. I would hardly call Nadal a low ranked clay court player. In any event, the statement was inacurate.


Richard Vach Says:

Christopher, you sir are correct. Post your address so that we can not send you a t-shirt.


Christopher Says:

Richard,

With all due respect, Berdych beat Nadal in Canada last year. His big game troubles Nadal. Youzhny made mince meat of Nadal at last years U.S open. Both of these players are on Nadal’s side of the draw. Hewitt also looms as a tremendous threat. With those 3 players still left in the tournament, you could hardly say Nadal had an easier draw than Federer. Federer’s only real threat is Roddick. Federer has proven he can beat Roddick on centre court. I just don’t understand your thinking. I guess everyone has the right to their own opinion. Who knows, maybe in the end, you will have the last laugh! Just a thought.

P.S. (I’m right!)


Richard Vach Says:

Christopher,
You could very well end up being right, especially now that Tommy Haas has pulled out against Federer. We’ll have to see how it plays out…P.S. (I’ll get my last laugh ready).


Christopher Says:

Richard,

Maybe I’m out of the loop. I looked at Wimbledon’s schedule two days ago and noticed that the scheduling people had put the Federer/Haas encounter as the first match on centre court for Monday. I checked this morning and to my suprise it wasn’t there. I thought maybe they had rescheduled it for Tuesday considering Nadal had not played his round of 32 match yet. Well, you just enlightened me. Haas is out. What a huge advantage for Federer. He both gets his second most dangerous opponent out of the way and he gets rest. The only danger of this for Federer is not enough tough match play. If Nadal gets through his side of the draw, he will be MATCH tough and ready. Federer would still have to play Roddick in the semis. It could get dicey for Federer. We will see if he is ready to tie Bjorn’s record at Wimbledon.

By the way. I enjoy you analysis of tennis even if we don’t agree. It’s fun!


Richard Vach Says:

Thanks Christopher, that is a nice change from the usual “I hate you because you’re biased toward Roger Federer and don’t like Rafael Nadal as much as me!” comments, or “I hate you because you’re biased toward Rafael Nadal and obviously hate Roger Federer!”

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