I'm in the middle of writing an exhausting essay on friggin' ACL injuries and it's driving me nuts, so I'll weigh in (after a long long time) here in depth on what I think about the surface wars, as a "break".
For me, the bottom line right now is this: yes, now everything "major" is slow. But to be honest, now is not 2007 or even 2008. And in 2007, in spite of the grass being slower, Roger should never have gone five sets with Nadal at Wimbledon, and had no business losing to him in 2008 either. It was the result of a steady progression of passive play in his game, and an increasing unwillingness to put the ball exactly where he wanted to put it in a transition sense that led to those losses, and all of this happened when he let go of Roche. He is only again playing "his" brand of tennis now, with Annacone around, in the last couple of years, and there's a sense of "too little too late" that has come with it since the real "death" in speed at majors occurred sometime in 2009/10/11. Or at least, it was that drop in speed that actually affected him to the extent it has now. The AO has been progressively slower since 2008 once Plexicushion Prestige was laid down. Each year I see it either taking more spin or causing higher bounce, this year it was more speed than bounce, but it clearly affected Roger's penetration.
我認為現在重點是：沒錯，大滿貫場地現在都比較慢了，但說實在的現在也不是2007或2008，2007年就算草地變比較慢，Roger 也沒必要跟Nadal打到五盤，2008年那場更不應該輸他。這是他打法越來越被動、還有不願把球打到他想要運用的位置才導致輸球，而這些都是在Roche離開後發生。前幾年請Annacone後他才又開始自己的網球，但這一切不免讓人有“於事無補”的感覺，因為大滿貫場地變慢是發生在09、10、11年的某時，或至少是場地速度下降也多少影響到他。澳網場地從08年改換Plexicushion Prestige後速度就越變越慢，每年我看澳網不是球上旋越來越多就是彈跳越來越高，今年是速度比較快彈跳比較低，但這也影響 Roger的致勝球。
I urge you guys to watch the 2007 and 2008 USO matches. The courts were still quick and slick. Murray was clueless, and Djokovic thrived in 2007 in NYC because he played a far more attacking and exciting brand of tennis then. From 2009, however, the speed has just DIED there. I'm not sure if they changed the Decoturf that year in some way, but there was a change.
As far as Wimbledon goes, I'm sorry: there is no excuse for losing to Nadal on that surface, whatever Nadal's new tactics involved. There is a reason he steamrolled everyone even in 2007 and 2008 on that surface other than Nadal, in 2008 not even dropping a set until the final, and winning in 2009. Even now, as bouncy and slow as it may seem, it is grass, and a final at SW19 still looks considerably faster than any other major final. It is for this reason that Roger's loss to Tsonga confounded me last year, since I believed he was past that passive play with Annacone in tow. I still hold that he was injured in that tournament, and think his best shot is still either there or at RG.
Right now, indeed, things are ridiculous. And ironically, Roger's new game (and it's not the game he played from mid 2007 to mid 2010) does not hold up well against the top 4 anywhere other than at RG and Wimbledon because of the quicker balls. And even there, he needs to avoid Rafa due to the mental match-up. The furrow in his brow is amply evident when he sees Rafa across the net, compared to other players who beat him more often recently such as Tsonga, Novak and Del Potro. He figures them out, uses his amazing defense on the slower courts to find position again, but against Rafa, the match-up puts him all at sea. He really does need a draw to open up for him at this stage, much like it did at the AO 2010, though he did play sublime baseline tennis in that tournament, and fully deserved the win whatever his opposition was. Unfortunately, the draw is unlikely to open up at all barring injury to the "other 3", and I mean an actual injury, not the sitting-down-in-a-chair brand. Until then, no big hitter will hit them off court since there is no place for those sorts of contenders in modern major tennis. That Roger would be able to beat them on a decently fast court was amply evident at the WTF last year, but at a major, Roger will continue to struggle against Rafa and Novak.
現在情況確實是很荒繆沒錯，諷刺的是Roger的新打法（不是他07年到10年中的打法）除了在法網跟溫網外，對top 4球員並沒有啥威脅，因為法溫網用比較快的球。就算在那裡，因為心魔他也必須避開Nadal—他看Nadal在網子對面時的眉頭深鎖就是最有力的証明，但對其他近來打敗他更多次的其他球員如Tsonga、Del Potro、Novak他卻不會這樣。他摸清他們的底，在慢速場地用絕佳的底線防守來讓自己腳步到位；但對Nadal，這相剋的對戰組合讓他無所適從。他這年紀真的需要好籤來奪冠，就像2010年澳網一樣；雖然那年他底線功力一流，誰當對手他都值得奪冠。不幸的是除了top 3受傷外，Roger籤運很難再好了，而且我指的是真正的受傷，不是那種“坐到爛椅子”的那種傷。在那之前沒有攻擊型球員會打敗他們，因為現代網球沒有他們的位置。Roger還是能在夠快的場地打敗他們，去年年終賽就是鐵証；但在大滿貫賽，Roger還是會對Nadal跟Djo打得掙扎。
To draw a parallel in a sport I play more seriously now, squash; in the mid 90s, it was quite simply impossible to watch a professional squash match. Rallies lasted FIVE MINUTES in some cases. At some point in the early 2000s, officials and fans had had enough. Drastic changes came into play that immediately favoured attacking players. Scores were changed to allow fewer ups and downs in momentum. The balls changed things completely. Courts were made more and more "dead" to make sure winners stayed winners. And out of the blue, more and more attacking players emerged from nations with a penchant for flair such as France and Egypt, and they now frequently occupy the top 5 spots.
Understandably, because of its far smaller stature, these kinds of changes were easy in squash. It still is "about the sport", so to speak. Prize money is laughable, and in the words of one great number one, "You have to be an idiot to play this sport for money." It truly is enjoying a golden age, and I believe it shares remarkable similarities with tennis' real golden age in the 60s and 70s, when a sense of actual camaraderie was prevalent, when players had a beer after a match in a major, when they would drive from one tournament to the next. Tennis was played for pure joy. Of course, with the way tennis has grown now, the money that has come into it is no doubt a wonderful thing, but I do wonder what its done for the kid that likes to serve big, hit big, and hell, once in a while, hopp. I like to be optimistic in spite of all this, and believe that this monotony HAS to change. The players are there: DP, Dolgopolov, Roger, Berankis, Dimitrov. I just wonder if they'll ever have that chance, that opportunity to have their Federer-beats-Sampras moment in a world where the odds are stacked against them.
Come on ITF, give us a squash rennaissance.