The approach shot was used much more in the past than it is in todays game.
The ‘Old’ Days
In the ‘old’ days of tennis (i.e. wood tennis rackets, more difference in surfaces,less power, etc.) the approach shot was a viable alternative in most match situations. The player would wait for a short ball, hit it deep (usually down the line with slice) and follow it in to the net. This would set them up for a volley. Of course this would depend on the style of their opponent. Some players liked the player to come in. They enjoyed the opportunity of hitting a passing shot. Other players didn’t like it when a player came in and challenged them to hit it past them. Players like Pat Rafter, Stephan Edberg and Martina Navratilova all loved coming to net, putting pressure on their opponent, and trying to end the point with a volley.
The “new” Era
Starting in the 90’s the racket technology began to change with the rackets getting stiffer and the stringing technology improving. This caused the game to change in ways that stifled the approach shot as it was known prior to the 90’s. Now a player coming to net had to contend with increased power and spin coming back at him at the net.It changed from the net rushing player having the advantage to the ground stroker at the baseline having the advantage due to the increased speed of the ball coming off the racket and the increased spin on the ball which opened more court to hit the passing shot into. This in turn changed the fundamentals of the ‘old’ approach. Now the attacking player, if he chose to come to net had to be aggressive with his approach, hitting with ferocious power and topspin as opposed to the slower slice.
The game has changed. I liked the old style of setting up your points and anticipating a player attacking a short ball and the foray into the net to see if he could outduel his opponent. Nowadays, there is so much power in the game, fitness enters into the mix and so do injuries. The game is played at such a high velocity now the players tend to stay back and rally back and forth until one makes a mistake. The spectators thrill of seeing which player is going to slice and dice and attack the net is mostly gone with advent of the power and technology in the game today. It is power, power, power.
What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy the power in the game today versus the old strategies that used to be employed?