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Tennis unlikely to get serve and volley GS champion: Henman

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  12 Feb 2016 12:00 AM GMT

New Delhi, Feb 11: The gradual slowing of playing surfaces, which has prompted players to adopt a pro-backline approach, means tennis is unlikely to get a serve and volley champion any time soon, bemoans former British No.1 Tim Henman.

A serve and volleyer at heart, Henman reached the Wimbledon semi-fils four times and was a good exponent of that particular style of play. It was still prevalent during his playing days in the 1990s and early 2000s, but since his retirement in 2007, a uniform hard-hitting, baseline approach has become a norm of sorts.

It is this one dimensiolity of contemporary tennis that hurts the former World No.4, but he accepts that it is unlikely to change any time soon with budding players inclined to follow suit.

“Yeah, the serve and volley game is dying, you know the surfaces are a lot slower now. The players come to the net less. So they don’t develop those skills at a young age. So on the circuit they serve and volley a lot less,” Henman told IANS in an interview, on the sidelines of the “Road to Wimbledon” programme, a tourment for Under-14 players here.

“Probably not. We won’t get a serve and volley champion. Not any time soon,” he added, when prodded to predict the future of the endangered style.

He is not the only one, however, to voice concerns about the predicament staring at tennis. His one-time adversary, 14-time Major champion Pete Sampras, against whom he lost two successive Wimbledon semi-fils in 1998 and ’99, has also earlier lamented the slow demise of the style among the current crop of players.

Henman feels the homogeneous slow ture of tennis surfaces globally has contributed to it as it affects the overall development of a player, discouraging forward movement, adding they could only benefit from playing in non-identical surfaces.

The 41-year-old is, however, curious to see the extent of domince reigning top ranker Novak Djokovic has on the circuit. It is the Serbian’s “effectiveness” that sets him apart and Henman is curious how many more Grand Slam trophies he can win.

“He has already won 11 Grand Slams. It will be interesting to see how many more he can win in the future,” he says.

He concedes that Djokovic doesn’t have any evident visible weakness in his game. But irrespective of the 28-year-old’s formidability, he is unwilling to dub him the most complete player ever.

“No, he is not the most complete player ever. He might be one of the most effective players. I think his every aspect of his game is so advanced and so athletic. He is very solid from the back of the court, one of the best ever. He makes so few unforced errors,” the six-time Grand Slam semi-filist said.

These attributes have made Djokovic almost “unbeatable” at the moment, and the Serbian star is unlikely to alter his hugely successful style. But Henman would still love to see him come to the net more often, which would test his weaker volleys. IANS

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