Original article posted at Ubitennis.com but full text is below:
Statoil Masters Tennis staple John McEnroe generated a bit of buzz when he sat down with the British press at the start of the tournament. Suggesting that doubles players were “the slow guys who were not quick enough to play singles,” McEnroe punted the notion that doubles should be eliminated from majors and their monies used to support singles players who may leave the game for lack of resources and failure to move up the ranks. Whether we should assume that his stance is a result of deep reflection born from his disappointment that the Bryans could not capture their career Grand Slam at the US Open this year or a real epiphany remains unclear. His sentiments do suggest that he too is looking for ways to shake up the men’s singles game and open the doors for new names to emerge from the shadows of the top 100.
Yesterday, Mats Wilander sat down for a quick chat when his match versus Jeremy Bates was suspended at 5-3 in the first set after Bates sustained a calf injury. Even though Rafa Nadal ended the year as ATP World 1, Wilander has “a hard time not seeing Novak Djokovic as world number one” in 2014. He believes Djokovic “is the more natural, consistent week in, week out” player with “a basic and effective game on all surfaces.”
In terms of whether we can see different playing styles thrive on tour, Wilander differs from Patrick Rafter in believing that serve and volley tennis can experience a resurgence on the tour regardless of the surfaces. Wilander believes that Rafter might have been too modest in saying his style could not work in the current men’s game. He thinks an Edberg and Rafter could thrive on the tour with their serve and volley game but they would be at the mercy of how well the other guys were returning. Yet, they were always at the mercy of good returners such as Courier and Agassi in their time. He thinks much continues to be possible and that players need to find the right “racquets, strings, and tension” to consistently play effective serve and volley tennis. For him, it’s a matter of better coaching and an emphasis on learning how to volley from players when they are younger that has made this style less possible.
Nonetheless, Wilander does not see a major change on the horizon “until Murray, Rafa, and Novak go out”. Maybe then according to him, [Juan Martin] Del Potro can emerge, even though he is of comparable age. For him, Del Potro “is the definite next grand slam winner if it doesn’t come from the top three, counting Murray or even Federer.” It’s just very difficult to beat these three guys in a row but he believes he’s nearly there. While Wilander doesn’t advocate eliminating doubles as a way to encourage some movement in the ranks for talented players on the periphery, he does believe that a natural shift will come and there is still room for a variety of styles to thrive, if people are willing to experiment. For him someone like Roger Federer can still remain competitive if he explores not a new coach but “changing racquets; it is the most logical change for his game”
Next up for Wilander is a doubles match on Saturday afternoon: Mansour Bahrami/John McEnroe vs. Peter McNamara/Mats Wilander .