Opinion

Reasons Why Grand Slams In Tennis Do Not Generate The Interest That It Once Did

Picture : Twitter/ Wimbledon

From the early 80’s and and the late 90 if one was avid tennis fan of both men’s and women’s tour then tennis tour and the Grand slams were a must watch for all ardent fans .  Whether the time changed with venues like the Australian  Open ( Melbourne), Roland Garros ( Paris)  Wimbledon ( London) and New York ( US Open)  it really did not matter. There was excitement all – around.

And the reason was simple there was depth on both the men’s and women’s draws and characters who with their sheer personality and aura made  fans eager to come and watch them at play .  Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl. And then fast forward to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier,  Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Thomas Muster, Michael Chang, Goran Ivanisevic , Pat Rafter to name a few .

While the women’s draw had names like Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, who dominated for long before The peerless German Steffi Graf arrived on the scene and with her famed devastating forehand powered her to become queen and winning 22 Grand slam singles titles. There were others too, Spaniards Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez , Jana Novotna, French woman Mary Pierce . There was glamour and oomph with Latin sensuality by Argentine stunner Gabriela Sabatini .

And then moving on in the following year’s  came the formidable Williams sisters – Venus( 7 Grand Slams Singles )  and Serena ( 23 Singles Grand Slams)  and glamour was provided by the leggy Russian superstar Maria Sharapova ( 5 Grand Slam Singles Titles, Winning all the big four In her career, French Open Twice). Tennis  was at it’s best. Big names, big characters . The thrill was there to see.

But Post 2000, with big names off the radar. The men’s tour has literally become a three way race. If Roger Federer does not win, Rafael Nadal will and if he does not then , Novak Djokovic will surely win it . This has been the norm off- late for couple of years now.   The Grand Slam record’s of  Roger Federer ( 20 Grand Slams) , Novak Djokovic ( 21 Grand Slams ) and Rafael Nadal ( 22 Grand Slams) tell how the trio have dominated the men’s tour.

Other aspiring stars  – Nicholas Hilmy Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Grigor Dimitrov, Daniil Medvedev  are it seems waiting for the big three to leave and then win. The consistency and aura about them is missing. It is making the men’s game dull. This missing attribute does not in any way take away the sheer brilliance of the magnificent trio of – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic .

Much like the men’s the women’s draw at Wimbledon 2022  virtually went unnoticed. Nobody knew who Elena Rybakina was as she won the women’s title at Wimbledon by beating Ons Jabeur another unknown face from Tunisia  3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Rybakina became the  first player representing Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam singles title. She was born in Russia but switched nationalities in 2018. The 17th-seeded Rybakina dropped only two sets in her seven victories at the All England Club. Rybakina, who turned 23 last month, is the youngest woman to win the Wimbledon title since a 21-year-old Petra Kvitova in 2011.

Earlier in the year, Aussie, Ashleigh Barty defeated Danielle Collins 6–3, 7–6 to win the women’s singles tennis title at the 2022 Australian Open. She became the first home player to win an Australian Open singles title since Chris O’Neil in 1978. So triumph of unknown faces was there from the start. Iga Świątek from Poland took it forward with her win at Roland Garros 2022.

With unknown names making an impact in both men’s and women’s draws Grand Slams comes and goes in a flash. As the last Grand Slam the US Open 2022 Looms, tennis fans would be scrolling down the dictionaries to find out which player has come from where and how do they spell their names after all spelling Stefanos Tsitsipas is no easy and pronunciation is bit tricky. Welcome to the new tennis world order.

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