This is the toughest era, but we need different speed courts: Tim Henman

Henman, who retired in 2007, said it is a great challenge for players to come on net these days when the most of the game is restricted to powerful strokes from the baseline.

Updated: January 09, 2014 18:23 IST
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New Delhi: Tim Henman, one of the most successful players of England, says the present era is toughest in tennis but rued lack of courts that encourage serve and volley game, of which he was a great exponent.

Henman, who retired in 2007, said it is a great challenge for players to come on net these days when the most of the game is restricted to powerful strokes from the baseline.

"Game has changed so much. I stopped in 2007, now the surfaces are slower, the balls are heavier, so it is harder for players to come on net. The players are so athletic, they hit the ball hard, they return well that makes it even hard to come on net. It is such a challenge, game is fast but it's still good to watch," Henman told PTI in an interview.

Henman is in the capital to hold tennis clinics with the kids, a part of a project called Road to Wimbledon, through which two boys and two girls will get to play in UK National tennis championship in August this year.

Henman said there was a lot similarities in the tennis surfaces world over, hinting that it was a hindrance in development of players, who could play different styles.

"I am a serve and volleyer at heart, I would love to see someone coming to the net more often, so difficult to do. Also the young players are not learning the art of volleying.

"The Wimbledon used to be the fastest Grand Slam, now it is US Open. When you look at the tournaments in Miami, the Australian Open, Cincinnati, the indoor tournaments, they are all the similar. Only slightly different, just different colour. I think we should have bigger range of courts, then you give players chance to come on net," said Henman, who won a total of 11 ATP singles and four doubles titles but could never win a Grand Slam.

"For me, if I have to make a couple of changes in the game I would make the surfaces more different, it's similar these days. There are slow-hard courts, where the ball bounces high, you make clay courts very slow, you make the hard courts, sort of medium pace, and you have faster courts, indoors, grass courts and then you will get the opportunity of watching different style," he added.

Talking about the tremendous competition among Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and other top-10 players, Henman said: "When you look at it this era, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have 36 Grand Slams among them. It's the toughest era in tennis."

Asked how he would have fared in this era, Henman said," I don't think, I would not win much."

Asked to pick one player who is best, the Briton said: "It is difficult to compare but for me Federer has 17 (titles) and he is best."

Henman, who reached six Grand Slam semifinals in his career with four of those at Wimbledon, was modest and humble as he said the players to whom he lost were better than him. Twice he lost to American great Pete Sampras and one time against Australian Lleyton Hewitt.

"I think Sampras was better. He was a better player than me. When I reflect, I was good enough to win grand slam but they were still better players than me."

Recently Indian legend Leander Paes had said that more than the facilities, it is the way you train which matters more. Henman endorsed that view.

"The way you train is definitely more important. Countries like Serbia, Russia, they don't have fantastic facilities but the players have the hunger. That's definitely is the attitude you need, most important."

Talking about Indian players, Henman said, "They (kids he watched in the morning) need to be strong physically and concentrate more. I have played against Leander and Mahesh, always followed them, there's a passion for doubles but I would like to see a top class singles player from India coming up."

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