I've been marvelling about the tremendous
upswing in tennis popularity. Years ago,
it was nothing like this. A few hundred
people might watch a significant match,
in a smaller city or town - like the Northern
Now ten thousand people and more watch in each of many impressive stadiums throughout the world,
and millions more watch on T.V. The change
is nothing short of astounding.
Why is this?
I've come to the conclusion that it's because tennis has many of the same characteristics as boxing. Tennis is a one
on one struggle staged in a court that is
just large enough to test contestants'
endurance to the extreme.
One person fights like mad to control breathing so as to maintain co-ordination against another
person, and fires off shots into the opponent's
court, making him/her run as far and as fast as he is able. Blows are exchanged with the
placement of shots through the intermediary of the ball.
Another similarity exists. If you
want to win at boxing, the common wisdom is that you have to wear your opponent down with body blows early in the fight. The body
blows will cause exhaustion in the other guy,
and this exhaustion will show up in the later
The same principle exists in tennis,
and it is too often forgotten by even championship contestants. Make your
opponent run - even if you lose the point,
be sure to make your opponent run from one
end of the court to the other. Up and down, back and forth. Keep doing it,
especially if your opponent's conditioning
is in question.
Andy Murray could have beaten
Djokovic, if he'd moved him around more in the heat in Paris. It was 91F degrees on the
court yesterday. It was obvious that Djokovic
was breathing hard. And he has well known
problems breathing in the heat.
The tendency is to hit right back to the person across the net from you. This tendency has to be overcome. If you can make your opponent run constantly, especially in conditions such as the red clay in Paris,
you have a better chance of winning the match.
This is stating the obvious, I know.
But all too often we don't see the obvious.
Making your opponent run in tennis
equates to body blows in boxing. Both tactics
create exhaustion in the person you are trying
The one on one aspect of each sport, and the fact that desperate struggle is involved in both cases - these
are what makes the two sports similar.
This, including the natural elegance of the game, might explain the fantastic
popularity of tennis in recent years.
(C)2015 by W.G. Milne
and John Rock Corporation