Q&A with Greg Rusedski
Originally published on: 19/12/13 00:00
You played at the Statoil Masters this month. How often do you play these days?
I’ll play five or six exhibition events a year and then for most of the time I’m hitting with the junior boys at the NTC – that works out around 100 days a year. You can watch these players and get a good idea of how good they are and assess their attitude but if you can’t beat getting out on court with them to really see how they are hitting the ball and their movement around the court.
Have you slowed down since your playing days?
I think everybody slows down on court as they get older. I still feel like I play pretty well but it’s the recovery that takes a little bit longer. Working with the younger boys like Kyle Edmund keeps me on my toes.
Have you had to adapt your game at all?
I’ll mix it up a bit, although that is in part due to slower balls and slower courts – it’s harder to serve and volley these days! To be honest I prefer playing doubles these days for the social aspect!
I really enjoy playing Over 30s at Wimbledon with Fabrice Santoro – we got to the final this year where we lost to Thomas Enqvist and Mark Philippousis. We played in Centre Court under the roof this year which was a great experience.
Do you play tennis with your kids?
My little boy plays a little bit so does my daughter but my son is more into it. We have to watch him because he likes to play in the house so we have to watch he doesn’t break anything!
You’re playing on the ATP Champions Tour. Are the guys still as competitive as they always were?
People still want to do well and win but it is much more relaxed. We’ll eat meals together and do sponsor events so you get to know your opponents better. We all still go out on court wanting to do the best we can out there but it’s not like when you were on tour and everybody had their separate teams – it’s much more social these days.
What do you think has changed the most since you hung up your racket?
I don’t think racket technology has changed massively but strings have changed a lot since my playing days. If you look at players’ rackets they are not a great deal different from five years ago – but the strings are able to grip the ball and create more spin.
If you could change anything about the modern game, what would you do?
Nowadays there are few surprises because the courts all play medium-to-slow and the balls are relatively slow too. If I could change anything about today’s game I would bring back the extreme surfaces. Grass used to be unbelievably fast now it’s one of the slower surfaces, and even the very best players like Pete Sampras could never win the French Open.
The indoor season was about speed and you had to adjust your game accordingly. Nowadays all the courts are a similar sort of speed and there are no question marks and it isn’t as interesting.
The blue clay in Madrid last year really mixed things up and Rafael Nadal lost early and Roger Federer beat Tomas Berdych in the final. Another example is a couple of years ago the courts in Paris were lightning quick and Jerzy Janowicz came out of nowhere and reached the final.
For me tennis is too predictable at the moment. The top four are brilliant players, don’t get me wrong, but we need to have new faces breaking through and new guys winning Grand Slams.
In the short term it’s great for the tournaments to have the big names winning all the time but in the longer term what are we going to do when they aren’t around any more? It will be interesting to see if Chris Kermode makes any changes when he comes in.
Greg Rusedski is an ambassador for UK tennis brand MANTIS and was speaking at the MANTIS Masterclass. For info, go to www.mantis-sport.co.uk