John Isner is an American professional tennis player. In 2010, he played in (and won) the longest tennis match ever. The final score: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.
That is not a misprint. The final set, which at Wimbledon (and other tournaments) doesn't go to a tie breaker and must be won by 2 games, went 138 games.
The match lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes. The only thing I've ever done for 11 hours and 5 minutes is sleep. I'm not sure who sat in the stands and watched the whole thing, but I'm sure whoever did is an asshole.
Today, at the French Open, John Isner just played another marathon match. He lost 7-6, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 16-18.
It is not a coincidence that Isner played in both of these matches. He is 6'9" tall, and has an unstoppable serve. He has little else.
So Isner wins his service game just about every time, and loses when his opponent serves. A perfect recipe for a never ending match, and John Isner plays in an incredible amount of never ending matches.
My question is: why should a great serve have this much of an effect on the game? Serving is just one aspect of tennis, and doesn't really tell you that much about someone's overall skill. You take a big oaf (see Isner, John), teach him how to swing overhand, and you're gonna have a tough time returning that serve.
If Isner was any good at the rest of the game, he'd be able to break his opponent's serve and not have so many long matches.
I don't think this is what the inventor of tennis, Howard E. Tennis, had in mind. He probably never even met anyone over 5'5". And the people who were over that height died at the age of 19, because things were tough in olden times.
This style of play is destroying the game. It's boring. It makes rallies rare. It lasts too long. And it's not indicative of how good a tennis player someone is.
So here's my proposal:
Overhanded serves should be outlawed.
That's right, from now on, only underhanded serves.
I firmly believe that this would save the game of men's tennis. It would induce exciting long rallies, get rid of serving contests, promote more strategery, craftier shot making, and expel from the sport people with one dimensional games like John Isner.
Congratulations, you're a 6'9" white guy, now go play basketball at BYU and then disappear forever like God intended.
I don't understand how this wouldn't be contemplated. Oh wait, I know why - it makes too much damn sense!
This isn't like taking away dunking, or something cool that we all like. Serves aren't fun to watch. Nobody gets excited about a second serve with some spin on it. It's not all that important to our enjoyment level. There's no pro-serve lobby! Get rid of it.
As part of this proposal, all matches would be reduced to the best 2 out of 3. I wish I was better at statistics, if I was, I'd be able to offer you proof that the longer it takes for people to play a sport, the less people are inclined to watch it.
There's probably some graph where more and more people like to watch a sport up until about the 2 and a half hour mark, and from there, viewership drops off precipitously.
But I'm not that smart, so you'll just have to take my word for it, or go try and sit through a Yankees/Red Sox baseball game.
There you go, underhanded serves. That's the answer. I've done it again.