It’s hard to imagine that the same Wimbledon courts that were played on from 1989-1999 play as slow today as the players claim they do. The courts I played on at that time were low bouncing and slick, the easiest courts to hit winners on tour all year long. I heard yesterday that some players are finding it more difficult to put the ball away at Wimbledon than they did at Roland Garros a few weeks ago. While I do believe the players (hard to argue against them since they’re on the court!), I have to wonder what it may have been like to transplant the current surface and balls in use at Wimbledon back to the era that I played in.
I was at a Wimbledon event in midtown Manhattan on Monday with Monica Seles, where we hit tennis balls on a temporary grass court at Rockefeller Center that HSBC Bank installed for people to hit on all week long, to get a mini-Wimbledon experience in NYC. Monica and I hit with adults and children for a few hours and all of us struggled with the low and unevenly bouncing court. Granted, it is a temporary court, not the wonderful courts of the All England Club, but it took me back to a time (not too long ago) when all male players, myself included, felt like we had to serve and volley to be successful on the grass, not only on first serves but also on second serves. Because the balls skidded so much on the slippery grass, we all felt our chances were better off by taking the ball in the air, as opposed to letting it bounce and trying to hit groundstrokes off of our shoestrings. The one year I played great at Wimbledon, the court played very much like a hard court by the second week because it didn’t rain at all during the fortnight. The surface dried and hardened, which allowed me to stay back and have some success hitting groundstrokes before Pete Sampras took me out in the final in four sets. That was a rare year indeed.
For the rest of Jim Courier's thoughts of Djokovic's walkover win, go to www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.