A funny thing happened during the French Open last weekend. It was awesome. The men’s final (and the related and ongoing rivalry) between Roger Federer and the clay marvel Rafa Nadal was excellent.
Let’s put it this way. The French did the wave.
Why is tennis dying in terms of viewer interest while other sports like golf are succeeding?
There are a few reasons. One of them is the equipment.
As golf equipment gets better, the sport becomes more interesting (at least it doesn’t get less so). But the improved equipment in tennis has gradually taken the thrill out of the game.
Watch Wimbledon lately? Probably not. But if you had, you’d likely have noticed that a rally that goes beyond two power shots is relatively rare.
The one place where the equipment has not ruined the men’s game is on the delightfully slow, red clay courts. The clay of the courts at places like French Open brings rallys and in turn, personality and drama back into the game.
We can rest assured that the tennis equipment will only get better. And that means that the big money game will only get worse.
What if all the majors were held on clay? It would never happen, but I bet tennis would be the better for it.