A Higher Net? Rafael Nadal Hints Tennis Might Need To Make Changes In The Future
by Tom Gainey | March 13th, 2017, 4:42 pm

With players getting taller and stronger, Rafael Nadal suggested that in the future tennis might need to make some changes to combat faster serving.

Specifically, Nadal think the net needs to be higher to account for players just being taller.

“Is true that looking forward, you know, looking five, ten years in front, you see every time the people is taller,” Nadal said Sunday after beating Guido Pella at Indian Wells. “Every time people have the chance to serve faster, and if we want to maintain, I think, good points, if we want to maintain a good show for the people, it’s something we need to do, no?

“We need to start from the younger generations. So you need to put at that line and say in seven years that’s gonna change. We cannot change things like this.

“So let’s work on this, if it’s possible, but I am not — I am no one to say which change gonna be good. Just looking a little bit around, you see that tennis will need changes, you know. The net is still at the same altitude. People are not the same. People are much more taller now than 50 years ago. So it’s obvious that we’re gonna need some changes in not a very long period of time.”

But Rafa is not saying doing away with aces, he just wants them tougher to hit.

It’s obvious that every time people are taller, every time people have more power, serve is going faster, points are shorter, I’m not sure if that’s the way that we need to move our sport.

“So we need to find a way to manage, keep having a good show and keep having emotions,” Nadal added. ‘And people gets emotional when the matches are becoming more dramatic, and people don’t remember a lot of matches just with serves and aces. People remember matches with long points, rallies.

“And for sure you can have aces, and that’s part of the sport and it’s nice, the ace and the good serves, too, no? But cannot be that easy.”

Nadal won’t have to worry much about height and aces tomorrow when he takes on countryman Fernando Verdasco in the third round.

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12 Comments for A Higher Net? Rafael Nadal Hints Tennis Might Need To Make Changes In The Future

jalep Says:

This is what I’ve been saying for years and years….🤣👍

Thanks Rafa! lol..

RZ Says:

This change would benefit those who hit with more topspin (which kinda seems self-serving, even if that wasn’t his intention). And while there are more taller players on average now, there are still the Nishikoris and Cibulkovas of the tours.

BBB Says:

RZ, I agree. Bad for shorter players.

jalep Says:

Well the part that has been my vision of the future when the giants around seven feet tall start filling the draws, then there would be 2 or 3 height categories for the ATP and probably 2 for WTA. And not only the net raised for the very tall (that should really be playing basketball) but a bigger court as well. As it is tennis appears too disproportional watching the Nishioka types struggle against the Karlovic’s. Hitting an ace is too simple for someone 7 feet tall. Tennis wasn’t designed for athletes that tall. The net height is absurdly easy for them. Sometime in the future all this probably needs to be taken seriously.

Rafa doesn’t mention what I see is the problem completely but at least he’s saying raise the net (I’ve been saying raise the net and change court dimensions for the group of Opelka’s, Isner’s, ect have their own extra tall league.

skeezer Says:

Dr Ivo cracked 75 aces in the AO. Did he win the tournament? Just sayin…..

DC Says:

How does that help.
The taller players will still have an advantage and the shorter players will serve weak.

Danica Says:

There was talk of this some 17 years ago. The options were higher net and/or smaller serving field. Nothing new.

Margot Says:

I was watching Andy play Little John a few years ago and, at times, the bounce from the serve ball was way above Andy’s head. bizarre.
It’s not helped either, if there’s not enough room at the back of the court to get into a decent position to have any kind of chance of returning such a serve.
Rafa’s right about serving yawn fests too.

Kriyuk Says:

Or go get Federer teach you how to read serves

Miles Says:

If this starts to become a serious impediment to entertainment (and it hasn’t to date), then I think it would make more sense to perhaps limit second serves in some way, for example, 2 serves allowed for the first 3 service points, then just 1 serve permitted thereafter.

Making the net higher would disadvantage shorter players more than the taller ones, no?

the_mind_reels Says:

I don’t have the time to compile this kind of data, but someone should look at the average height of the top 5 players in the world over the last 25 or 30 years. Just to cherrypick a few who were ranked #1:

2017: Murray (6’3)
2007: Federer (6’1)
1997: Sampras (6’1)
1987: Ivan Lendl (6’2)
1977: Borg (5’11) / Connors (5’10)
1973: Nastase (6’0)

I guess “they” are getting taller at the top of the game, but only marginally so. I’m with Skeezer that I don’t see super-tall players (for example, over 6’6) doing a tremendous amount of damage late in tournaments or racking up big titles.

Janowicz, Isner, and Karlovic are the three tallest guys on tour (I think), and none has a big title to his name. 6’6 is the reported height of guys who *have* had major success (Cilic, del Potro, etc.), so if anything, that seems to be something of a glass ceiling beyond which the balance of height and movement tip too far in the wrong direction.

It makes for interesting debate/discussion, but I’d be surprised if anyone took this up with any seriousness to change the game.

MMT Says:

Who says it’s more entertaining to have long drawn out points, every other point, of 30+ shots? Long rallies are only impressive if they’re rare. And it is self-serving, just like Federer pining for faster courts.

Skeezer makes an excellent point – the players get taller, but the ones who actually win important titles are all within 2-3 inches of the 6’0. Somehow that hasn’t changed in the history of tennis. This may be much ado about nothing.

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