How Many Shots?

When you watch a pro match on TV (or in person), does it matter to you how short or long the rallies are?  For me there is a magic “sweet spot” that makes viewing more enjoyable.

Too Short?

Think of John Isner vs. Ivo Karlovic on a fast court … with their booming serves and weaker returns of service, how many strokes are there in the average point?  Two?  Three?  For me, those matches are no fun to watch – and I usually just fast forward to the ever-present tie breakers and watch them.

Too Long?

Think of some of the matches (both men and women) you watched on the slow clay at Roland Garros’ French Open … it was not unusual to have several rallies in a row that were 20+ strokes.  For me, watching moon balls going back and forth is also not entertaining.

Just Right?

While there will always be some short points and always be some long points, a match where the average rally is 6-8 strokes is just about right for me.  You can see the players setting up the sequence of shots it takes to win a point … and they then go for it.

How about your preferences, what’s your number?

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6 thoughts on “How Many Shots?

  1. 30+ minimum on clay
    15+ on hard
    8+ on grass
    6+ on carpet.
    The longer the better !

    Howard, i didn’t ask how you like to PLAY, but how you like to WATCH! 🙂 george

  2. It’s only a bailout if it misses. 🙂

    Yup, and if they make it, it is a “great shot”! george

  3. For me, the best version of a match is a contrast of styles: the baseliner versus the net rusher. Then, when the point goes long, the excitement builds as you watch to see who adjusts to what. Will the net rusher still get to the net after 10+ rallies? Will the baseliner get the return back and keep the net rusher away? But I probably will have to confess the longer points intrigue me most. ( And yet I make a point of watching serve and volley players because there are so few of them.)

    Tom, yes, when you get two of the same styles, is when it can be less interesting. thanks, george

  4. I agree with you George totally. I’m finding myself really enjoying the Pre Wimbledon matches since they are a nice combination between ground strokes with a good amount of coming in and volleying. But the minute that they start hitting monster serves for aces on a regular basis I lose interest.

    Dave, but then we will go to the hard court season, which i think provides the best proportion of strokes per point. thanks, george

  5. For me, it’s not the number of strokes but the quality of the strategy involved. However, I can confidently say that two and three stroke points on a consistent basis causes most of us to yawn and begin nap time.
    Some years ago in the early years of the composite racquets I was attending the ATP 1000 event in Cincinnati and the primary reaction of the audience was almost always polite applause at aces and winner returns. Previous to that era there would often be roars from a variety of courts and we knew there had been an extended rally finished off with some kind of miraculous shot. It only took about a decade for the pros to master returning the booming serves and for more extended rallies to return to the game — as is the case today.
    Bottom line: 1. Too few strokes will kill the game . 2. Too many is totally subjective and dependent upon the quality of the strokes. Given only the binary choice of too few v. too many shots sans any mention of strategy, defensive v. offensive it then becomes a false choice. But if that is my only choice I’ll take too many over too few. Tension in the spectator builds with each shot when a rally exceeds ten to fifteen shots. There is no tension when the majority of points are decided by aces and/or “one-two punches” in the vernacular of many tennis color commentators. But that’s just me…

    Bernie, i am with you … given the choice, i take the longer points (i can always fast forward thru the early games in a set)! thanks, george

  6. I totally agree with Tom, Dave, and Bernie about the joy of watching contrasting styles, the combination of baseline versus serve and volley, and point development/strategy. What is very frustrating to me (and may explain the shortage of American players at the highest levels) is that the USTA is specifically promoting a style played by a prototypical player. They are choosing to sponsor and train the John Isners and Reilly Opellkas at the expense of the journeymen/grinders. When are they going to wake up to the fact that most of today’s top players grew up on clay, where they learned focus and point development.

    If that is their view of the future of tennis, I plan to spend much more time watching you and all of your contributors who spent years developing skills and strategies to compete under all kinds of conditions and situations.

    Hope your recovery is still going well.

    Jim, the Europeans grow up on slow, red clay and their games reflect that. Thanks. George

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