I spent a couple of days at Wimbledon during the first week wandering around the outside courts trying to get a feel for what's going on in the game. As much as I love tennis overall, I do have some concerns for the game as a spectator sport in general. There are a few issues which, if resolved could make it all the more interesting in my view.
Not in any particular order here goes:
1. Stop allowing players to towel down in between points. Squash players seem to manage in much hotter and sweatier conditions for long periods. Not only the use of towels I object to but the manner in which the majority of players get their slaves (ball kids )to get them by pointing and then throwing them backwards without even a glance or thank you!
Greg Rusedski started this craze and all these sheep (tennis players) have followed him. Use of towel at changeovers only and if hands too sweaty, wear a hand towel in your shorts like John Lloyd used to do!
2. Toilet breaks - are they kidding?! I have never had the need to go to the toilet even during several hours of play. Go before the match and stop pretending you need to go when all you're doing is attempting to change momentum in a match when losing - very boring!
3. Taking 3 / 4 balls and then rejecting 1/2 of them to your little "slaves" .More sheep like action here I think, started by Peter Sampras so everyone thought in order to serve like Pete they needed to choose faster balls! It's even more hilarious (sad) when the balls are brand new and they are still analysing which one is less fluffy after no points played. So......take the first balls given to you and get on with it!
I'm really getting warmed up now!
4. Grunting, shrieking, sighing etc which admittedly isn't a problem with every player, but the ones who do this and get louder when the point is more important (yes Maria even when you play a drop shot) really does my head in! This could be sorted if only the players would complain as Navratilova once did against Seles, complaining that her judgement of the ball was impaired due to not being able to hear it being hit! The umpire told Seles to stop which she did immediately. the odd grunt of effort on a difficult ball is fine, but with many players it's just gone too far and once again very boring to listen to - SO STOP IT!
5. The time taken between points has been a topic of conversation for quite a while. Umpires have been attempting to enforce the rules, but with little consistency. We need good umpires with common sense. A player - let's call him Rafa - goes over the limit and the umpire quietly let's him know at change of ends if he does it again there will be penalties. And if this player goes over the time limit the rules are enforced - simple ! However, if after a very long rally a player takes a bit longer, then a smart umpire would let this go. Good refereeing is applying most of the rules with common sense.
Now, if a player was to bite another player then that is fairly straight forward unless he is Uruguayan which can happen - yes 3 times it's happened!
6. Apparently there no time limit between 1st and 2nd serves which came to light ( for me )during this years women's final in the French Open when Maria nearly put us all to sleep with the time she was taking for just about everything including an 8 minute toilet break and a crazy amount of time between 1st and 2nd serves. There has to be a time limit and more common sense umpiring could enforce it.
7. Injuries! The abuse of the injury time out is rife in that I am convinced players is it once again to change momentum. A very tricky one, and I would still allow a quick diagnosis, but no treatment. If it's at all serious they should stop and if they decide to carry on if near match point, then it's their choice, but let's not hold up the game once again! Most injuries are caused by a lack of conditioning so players should address that first!
I actually do love tennis, but I would love it even more if these issues were addressed in a common sense manner. Tennis is obviously a stop/start game, but let's keep the flow going as much as possible or I'll need to continue recording every match and fast forwarding through the towel drying / ball picking / ball bouncing / toilet break bits.