Is it possible that longer rallies could shorten a player's career?

Some players feel their best strategy on winning over an audience or a point is the rally. It might really be the player's worst choice of performance

by GALE MOORMAN
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Is it possible that longer rallies could shorten a player's career?
© Daniil Medvedev

Coco Gauff eventually came up the winner against Karolina Muchova in the U.S. Open semifinal with a 40-stroke rally. It was epic and worth it as Gauff proved to be the winner of the one point, but some have other ideas. Many fans I've heard say, the longer the rally, the more boring; others say 'why would you ever need 40 shots to win one point?' That is bad math.

Yet some say it builds in the crescendo of earning the point and keeps things suspenseful. Rallying has it's advantages but time isn't one of them. If a vote was taken, how many players would want to be on the court longer than 2 or 3 hours of any given match.

If an opponent comes out the winner of the slugfest and is scheduled to play the next day, they could be not only mentally but physically wasted. It would be good for the winner but if the next day is the championship round, all energies are heavily compromised.

The crowd will suffer from restlessness and at first break to get refreshments and food. Matches will be long and the day will be longer. Who's to say if all the matches would be played that day. Long rallies and time restraints are of the essence.

In relation to the player's health, long rallying matches could possibly be the cause of more injuries on the competitive court. The knees, back, definitely the wrist and feet will be affected. The entire body is under scrutiny on putting in a lot of hours on court in one match.

Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Carlos Alcaraz and the list goes on and on for long matches. The Brit had one a couple of years ago, a 3-setter against Frances Tiafoe at the European Open in 2021. It was a 3 hour, 45-minute slugfest.

"I think it's the longest three-set match I've played by quite a distance. I'm tired right now, obviously it was an unbelievable battle," Murray had said. As for the women, they are in the running of long rallies too as a few years ago Aryna Sabalenka, now the no.

1 WTA player in the world talked simply about long and short rallies. "I just need to adjust for the long rallies, because on the hard court you can finish the point with two or three balls and on the clay court it's like twice or three times longer." This philosphy seems to explain why our 'King of Clay', Rafael Nadal has ranked up more court time for a match.

Daniil Medvedev had some regrets upon losing to Novak Djokovic at the U.S. Open final but admitted "Oh, regrets, for sure. Should have won it. Should have won it, but sometimes tennis not that easy," The second set between him and Djokovic lasted over an hour and a half, when normally shorter rallies might have gave Medvedev more energy with better results.

Madison Keys did well in the round of 16 of the 2023 U.S. Open, defeating Jessica Pegula. She had professed her secret admitting that "I was just really focused on trying to keep rallies short, just because Jess is so good.

The longer the rally gets, the better Jess seems to get." Keys had gone on the defeat Marketa Vondrousova in the quarterfinals but couldn't handle the power and strategies of Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinal. It often depends on the player's strategies and strengths as to how much endurance an opponent has in maintaining and winning long rallies.

Previous matches Novak Djokovic was clearly seen trying to catch his breath before going on to the next point. At times he'd won the point and other times he'd lost. Some would rather put the ball away in a few rallies whereas others have more patience and prefer to keep rallies going as long as they or their opponent are exhausted.

Hopefully them being the winner of just the one point. The condition of the players and what player has the specialty of long rallies is what really matters. Many opponents are entering tournaments and matches not in the best physical shape and prefer to come on court, put in short rallies and plenty of volleys to end the point as soon as possible whether they win or lose the point.

The short and long of it is that rallying is part of the game that has so many twist, turns and tactics that for the fans and players it all is just pure entertainment on any level.

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