Lawn tennis was originally played on grass courts, but most major events are now played on courts of hard, composite materials; exceptions include Wimbledon, played on grass, and the French Open, played on clay. In singles play the court measures 78 ft by 27 ft (23.8 m by 8.2 m). The court is divided in half by a net 3 ft (91 cm) high in the middle and 3.5 ft (1.1 m) high at the end posts. On either side of the net lie the forecourts, each of which contains two adjacent service courts measuring 21 ft by 13.5 ft (6.4 m by 4.1 m) each. A backcourt 18 ft (5.5 m) long adjoins each forecourt. A base line that runs parallel to the net terminates the playing court. In doubles play, 41/2-foot-wide (1.4-m) alleys flanking either side of the court perpendicular to the net are also in play.
Play is directed toward hitting the inflated rubber, felt-covered, unstitched ball (slightly smaller than a baseball) with a racket—oval headed, originally 27 in. (68.58 cm) long but now usually longer, the hitting surface strung with resilient fiber—into the opponent's court so that it may not be returned. One player serves an entire game and is given two service tries each time the ball is put in play. The ball is served diagonally from behind the base line so that it bounces beyond the net, in the opposite service court. A let ball (one that caroms off the top of the net into the proper service court) does not count as a fault (bad serve). Service alternates after points, between the right- and left-hand courts. After the first game and all odd-numbered games, the players change ends of the court.
Once the serve puts the ball in play, players may hit it into any part of the opponent's court until a point is scored. Rallies won by either player score points. Scoring progresses from love (zero) to 15 (first point), to 30, then 40. The point scored after 40 wins the game, but when the game goes to deuce (tied at 40-40) a player must go two points ahead to win it. The first player to win six games takes the set, provided the opposing player has won no more than four games. Traditionally, after the players were tied at five games all, the first to go two games ahead won the set. In 1970, however, the United States Lawn Tennis Association (founded 1881 and now simply the United States Tennis Association), the sport's national governing body, initiated an abbreviated method, called the tie-breaker, for deciding deadlocked sets. In a tie-breaker, the first player to win seven points wins the set, provided the opponent trails by at least two points. Only in the deciding set of major championship matches outside the United States is the original two-game margin of victory retained. The best two out of three sets wins most professional matches; the best three out of five sets wins a late-round match in men's play in major championships. An umpire calls play, and in important matches a net judge, foot-fault judges, and linesmen often assist.
Unlike most other sports, lawn tennis has precise origins. An Englishman, Major Walter C. Wingfield, invented lawn tennis (1873) and first played it at a garden party in Wales. Called "Sphairistiké" [Gr.,=ball playing] by its inventor, the early game was played on an hourglass-shaped court, widest at the baselines and narrowest at the net. In creating the new sport, Wingfield borrowed heavily from the older games of court tennis and squash racquets and probably even from the Indian game of badminton.
Court tennis is also known as royal tennis. It originated in France during the Middle Ages and became a favorite of British royalty, including Henry VIII. The progression from court tennis, which used an unresilient sheepskin ball filled with sawdust, sand, or wool, to lawn tennis depended upon invention of a ball that would bounce.
Lawn tennis caught on quickly in Great Britain, and soon the All England Croquet Club at Wimbledon held the first world tennis championship (1877). Restricted to male players, that event became the famous Wimbledon Tournament for the British National Championship, still the most prestigious event in tennis. In 1884 Wimbledon inaugurated a women's championship. Soon the game became popular in many parts of the British Empire, especially in Australia.
Tennis spread to the United States by way of Bermuda. While vacationing there, Mary Ewing Outerbridge of New York was introduced (1874) to the game by a friend of Wingfield. She returned to the United States with a net, balls, and rackets, and with the help of her brother, set up a tennis court in Staten Island, N.Y. The first National Championship, for men only, was held (1881) at Newport, R.I. A women's championship was begun six years later, and in 1915 the National Championship moved to Forest Hills, N.Y. Since 1978 what is now the United States Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., has hosted the event (known as the U.S. Open). The Tennis Hall of Fame is in Newport, R.I.The Professionalization of Tournament Tennis
In 1900 the international team competition known as the Davis Cup tournament began. Along with the Wightman Cup (begun 1923), an annual tournament between British and American women's teams, the Davis Cup helped to focus international attention on tennis. In 1963, a women's Davis Cup equivalent, the Federation Cup, usurped the prestige of the Wightman Cup. In the first decades of the 1900s tennis was primarily a sport of the country club set. The widespread construction of courts on school and community playgrounds in the 1930s (many built by the federal government's New Deal agencies) helped to make tennis more accessible to the public.
When the professional game showed itself to be profitable in the late 1920s, a number of amateur players joined the tour. One of the first to do so was William Tilden, perhaps the greatest player in the history of tennis. Before Tilden turned pro (1931), he won a total of seven United States singles championships and three Wimbledon championships.
The continued defection of amateur players into the professional ranks was one of the factors that led amateur tennis's world governing body, the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF, founded 1913), to open its tournaments to both professionals and amateurs in 1968. For many years the major ILTF-sponsored tournaments, including Wimbledon and the U.S. National Championship, had been restricted to amateurs. With the advent of open tennis, however, the great professionals were allowed to compete for the major titles. Eventually, the Davis Cup also allowed professionals.
The four major annual tournaments in international tennis are Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the French Open, and the U.S. Open. Winning all four in the same year is called a grand slam. Only Don Budge (1938), Rod Laver (1962, 1969), Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970), and Steffi Graf (1988) have won grand slams. In 1971, the establishment of a women-only professional tour gave female pros financial parity with their male counterparts. In the same year Billie Jean King became the first woman athlete in any sport to earn more than $100,000 in one year. In the 1970s a team league, World Team Tennis, operated for several years, but was unsuccessful. The professional tour remains the most visible focus for the sport, its major tournaments surpassing in prestige even competition in the Olympics, which added tennis in 1988.
See W. T. Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis (1974); R. Schikel, The World of Tennis (1975); V. Braden and B. Bruns, Vic Braden's Tennis for the Future (1977).
A professional tennis court. The person serving stands behind the baseline, alternately to the elipsis
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Game similar to lawn tennis that is played on a tabletop with wooden paddles and a small, hollow, plastic ball. The object is to hit the ball so that it goes over the net and bounces on the opponent's half of the table in such a way as to defeat the opponent's attempt to reach and return it. Both singles and doubles games are played. A match consists of the best of any odd number of games, each game being won by the player or team who first reaches 11 points or who, after 10 points each, gains a two-point lead. Invented in England in the early 20th century, it soon spread throughout the world. Since the mid-1950s, East Asian countries have dominated the sport. It has been an Olympic sport for both men and women since 1988.
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Singles racket game resembling squash rackets, played with an inflated ball the size of a tennis ball. Played in virtually the same court as squash rackets, squash tennis makes fewer demands on the legs in pursuing the ball but puts a greater premium on agility and quickness of foot and reflexes in turning and spinning.
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Variation of paddle tennis, played on a platform enclosed by a wire fence. It was devised in 1928 in Scarsdale, N.Y., U.S. The short-handled oval paddles are made of perforated plywood; the balls are made of sponge rubber. The rules are the same as for tennis, except that balls may be played off back or side walls after first striking inside the court.
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Game like tennis that is played with a rectangular paddle and a slow-bouncing rubber ball on a small court. Frank P. Beal introduced it on New York playgrounds in the early 1920s. National championship tournaments are still held in the U.S. Seealso platform tennis.
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The modern game of tennis originated in the United Kingdom in the late 19th century as "lawn tennis" and had heavy connections to the ancient game of real tennis. After its creation, tennis spread throughout the upper-class English-speaking population before spreading around the world. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all ages. The sport can be played by anyone who can hold a racket, including people in wheelchairs. In the United States, there is a collegiate circuit organized by the National Collegiate Athletics Association.
Except for the adoption of the tiebreaker in the 1970s, the rules of tennis have changed very little since the 1890s. A recent addition to professional tennis has been the adoption of "instant replay" technology coupled with a point challenge system, which allows a player to challenge the official call of a point.
Along with its millions of players, millions of people worldwide follow tennis as a spectator sport, especially the four Grand Slam tournaments (sometimes referred to as the "majors"): the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.
In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield designed a similar game — which he called sphairistike (σφάίρίστική, meaning "skill at playing at ball"), and was soon known simply as "sticky" — for the amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate of Nantclwyd, in Llanelidan, Wales. He based the game on the newer sport of outdoor tennis or real tennis. According to most tennis historians, modern tennis terminology also derives from this period, as Wingfield borrowed both the name and much of the French vocabulary of real tennis and applied them to his new game.
The first championships at Wimbledon in London were played in 1877. On 21 May 1881, the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (now the United States Tennis Association) was formed to standardize the rules and organize competitions. The U.S. National Men's Singles Championship, now the US Open, was first held in 1881 at Newport, Rhode Island. The U.S. National Women's Singles Championships were first held in 1887. Tennis was also popular in France, where the French Open dates to 1891. Thus, Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open (dating to 1905) became and have remained the most prestigious events in tennis. Together these four events are called the Grand Slam (a term borrowed from bridge).
The comprehensive International Lawn Tennis Federation, now known as the International Tennis Federation, rules promulgated in 1924 have remained remarkably stable in the ensuing eighty years, the one major change being the addition of the tiebreaker system designed by James Van Alen.
The Davis Cup, an annual competition between national teams, dates to 1900.
In 1926, promoter C.C. Pyle established the first professional tennis tour with a group of American and French tennis players playing exhibition matches to paying audiences. The most notable of these early professionals were the American Vinnie Richards and the Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen. Once a player turned pro he or she could not compete in the major (amateur) tournaments.
In 1968, commercial pressures and rumors of some amateurs taking money under the table led to the abandonment of this distinction, inaugurating the open era, in which all players could compete in all tournaments, and top players were able to make their living from tennis. With the beginning of the open era, the establishment of an international professional tennis circuit, and revenues from the sale of television rights, tennis's popularity has spread worldwide, and the sport has shed its upper/middle-class English-speaking image (although it is acknowledged that this stereotype still exists).
In 1954, Van Alen founded the International Tennis Hall of Fame, a non-profit museum in Newport, Rhode Island. The building contains a large collection of tennis memorabilia as well as a hall of fame honoring prominent members and tennis players from all over the world. Each year, a grass-court tournament and an induction ceremony honoring new Hall of Fame members are hosted on its grounds.
Tennis is played on a rectangular, flat surface, usually grass, clay, or a hardcourt of concrete and/or asphalt. The court is 78 feet (23.77 m) long, and its width is 27 feet (8.23 m) for singles matches and 36 ft (10.97 m) for doubles matches. Additional clear space around the court is required in order for players to reach overrun balls. A net is stretched across the full width of the court, parallel with the baselines, dividing it into two equal ends. The net is 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) high at the posts and 3 feet (91.4 cm) high in the center.
The design of the lawn tennis court has undergone much development. It was Major Walter Clopton Wingfield who, in 1873, designed a court approximate to the current one for his stické tennis (sphairistike). This template was modified in 1875 to the court shape that exists today; the markings homogeneous with Wingfield's design, with the hourglass shape of his court changed to a more linear framework.
The players (or teams) start on opposite sides of the net. One player is designated the server, and the opposing player, or in doubles one of the opposing players, is the receiver. Service alternates between the two halves of the court. For each point, the server starts behind his baseline, between the center mark and the sideline. The receiver may start anywhere on their side of the net. When the receiver is ready, the server will serve, although the receiver must play to the pace of the server.
In a legal service, the ball travels over the net (without touching it) and into the diagonally opposite service box. If the ball hits the net but lands in the service box, this is a let or net service, which is void, and the server gets to retake that serve. The player can serve any number of let services in a point and they are always treated as voids and not as faults. A fault is a serve that is long, wide, or not over the net. There is also a "foot fault", which occurs when a player's foot touches the baseline or an extension of the center mark before the ball is hit. If the second service is also faulty, this is a double fault, and the receiver wins the point. However, if the serve is in, it is considered a legal service.
A legal service starts a rally, in which the players alternate hitting the ball across the net. A legal return consists of the player or team hitting the ball exactly once before it has bounced twice or hit any fixtures except the net, provided that it still falls in the server's court. The ball then travels back over the net and bounces in the court on the opposite side. The first player or team to fail to make a legal return loses the point.
A game consists of a sequence of points played with the same player serving. A game is won by the first player to have won at least four points in total and at least two points more than the opponent. The running score of each game is described in a manner particular to tennis: scores of zero to three points are described as "love" (or zero), "fifteen," "thirty," and "forty" respectively. (See the main article Tennis score for the origin of these words as used in tennis.) If at least three points have been scored by each player, and the scores are equal, the score is "deuce". If at least three points have been scored by each side and a player has one more point than his opponent, the score of the game is "advantage" for the player in the lead. During informal games, "advantage" can also be called "ad in" or "ad out", depending on whether the serving player or receiving player is ahead, respectively.
In tournament play, the chair umpire calls the point count (e.g., "fifteen-love") after each point. The score of a tennis match during play is always read with the serving player's score first. After a match, the score is always read with the winning player's score first. At the end of a game, the chair umpire also announces the winner of the game and the overall score.
A game point occurs in tennis whenever the player who is in the lead in the game needs only one more point to win the game. The terminology is extended to sets (set point), matches (match point), and even championships (championship point). For example, if the player who is serving has a score of 40-love, the player has a triple game point (triple set point, etc.) as the player has three consecutive chances to win the game. Game points, set points, and match points are not part of official scoring and are not announced by the chair umpire in tournament play.
A break point occurs if the receiver, not the server, has a game point. Break points are of particular importance in men's professional tennis because serving is generally advantageous. The advantage to the server is much less in the women's game. A receiver who has two (score of 15-40) or three (score of love-40) consecutive chances to win the game has double break point or triple break point, respectively. As with game, set, and match points, break points are not announced.
A set consists of a sequence of games played with service alternating between games, ending when the count of games won meets certain criteria. Typically, a player wins a set by winning at least six games and at least two games more than the opponent. If one player has won six games and the opponent five, an additional game is played. If the leading player wins that game, the player wins the set 7–5. If the trailing player wins the game, a tiebreaker is played. A tiebreaker, played under a separate set of rules, allows one player to win one more game and thus the set, to give a final set score of 7–6. Only in the final sets of matches at the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, the Olympic Games, Davis Cup, and Fed Cup are tiebreakers not played. In these cases, sets are played indefinitely until one player has a two game lead. A "love" set means that the loser of the set won zero games. In tournament play, the chair umpire announces the winner of the set and the overall score.
In tournament play, the chair umpire announces the end of the match with the well-known phrase "Game, set, match" followed by the winning person's or team's name.
|No-ad||The first player or doubles team to win four points wins the game, regardless of whether the player or team is ahead by two points. When the game score reaches three points each, the receiver chooses which side of the court (advantage court or deuce court) the service is to be delivered on the seventh and game-deciding point.|
|Pro set||Instead of playing multiple sets, players may play one "pro set". A pro set is first to 8 (or 10) games by a margin of two games, instead of first to 6 games. A 12-point tiebreaker is usually played when the score is 8-8 (or 10-10). These are often played with no-ad scoring.|
|Match tiebreak||This is sometimes played instead of a third set. This is played like a regular tiebreak, but the winner must win ten points instead of seven. Match tiebreaks are used on the ATP and WTA tours for doubles and as a player's choice in USTA league play.|
Another, however informal, tennis format is called "Kiwi doubles", "Canadian doubles" or "cut-throat" This involves three players, with one person playing a doubles team. The single player gets to utilize the alleys normally reserved only for a doubles team. Conversely, the doubles team does not use the alleys when executing a shot. The scoring is the same as a regular game. This format is not sanctioned by any official body.
"Australian doubles," another informal and unsanctioned form of tennis, is played with similar rules to the "Kiwi" style, only in this version, players rotate court position after each game. As such, each player plays doubles and singles over the course of a match, with the singles player always serving. Scoring styles vary, but one popular method is to assign a value of 2 points to each game, with the server taking both points if he or she holds serve and the doubles team each taking one if they break serve.
Wheelchair tennis can be played by able-bodied players as well as people who require a wheelchair for mobility. An extra bounce is permitted. This rule makes it possible to have mixed wheelchair and able-bodied matches. It is possible for a doubles team to consist of a wheelchair player and an able-bodied player (referred to as "one-up, one-down"), or for a wheelchair player to play against an able-bodied player. In such cases, the extra bounce is permitted for the wheelchair users only.
There are three main types of court surfaces, with one less common surface. Depending on the materials used, each surface provides a difference in the speed and bounce of the ball, which in turn can affect the level of play of individual players. The three most common surfaces are:
|Clay||red clay (used at the French Open and many other tournaments, especially in Europe and Latin America), green clay (an example of which is Har-Tru and used mainly in the U.S.)|
|Hard||examples are acrylic (Plexicushion used at the Australian Open, DecoTurf used at the US Open), asphalt, and concrete. Hardcourts have a typically faster play in comparison to other surfaces.|
|Grass||used at Wimbledon. Grass courts when compared with hardcourts have characteristically a slower paced ball, when in play.|
In most professional play and some amateur competition, there is an officiating head judge or chair umpire (usually referred to as the umpire), who sits in a raised chair to one side of the court. The umpire has absolute authority to make factual determinations. The umpire may be assisted by line judges, who determine whether the ball has landed within the required part of the court and who also call foot faults. There also may be a net judge who determines whether the ball has touched the net during service. In some tournaments, certain line judges, usually those who would be calling the serve, are replaced by electronic sensors that beep when an out call would have been made. In some open-tournament matches, players are allowed to challenge a limited number of close calls by means of instant replay. The US Open, the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, the US Open Series, and World Team Tennis started using a "challenge" system in 2006 and the Australian Open and Wimbledon introduced the system in 2007. This used the Hawk-Eye system and the rules were similar to those used in the NFL, where a player gets a limited number of instant-replay challenges per match/set. In clay-court matches, such as at the French Open, a call may be questioned by reference to the mark left by the ball's impact on the court surface.
The referee, who is usually located off the court, is the final authority about tennis rules. When called to the court by a player or team captain, the referee may overrule the umpire's decision if the tennis rules were violated (question of law) but may not change the umpire's decision on a question of fact. If, however, the referee is on the court during play, the referee may overrule the umpire's decision.
Ball kids may be employed to retrieve balls, pass them to the players, and hand players their towels. They have no adjudicative role. In rare events (e.g., if they are hurt or if they have caused a hindrance), the umpire may ask them for a statement of what actually happened. The umpire may consider their statements when making a decision. In some leagues, especially junior leagues, players make their own calls, trusting each other to be honest. This is the case for many school and university level matches. The referee or referee's assistant, however, can be called on court at a player's request, and the referee or assistant may change a player's call. In unofficiated matches, a ball is out only if the player entitled to make the call is sure that the ball is out.
In tennis, a junior is a player under the age of 18 who is still legally protected by a parent or guardian. Players on the main adult tour who are under 18 must have documents signed by a parent or guardian. These players, however, are still eligible to play in junior tournaments.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) conducts a junior tour that allows juniors to establish a world ranking and an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) or Women's Tennis Association (WTA) ranking. Most juniors who enter the international circuit do so by progressing through ITF, Satellite, Future, and Challenger tournaments before entering the main circuit. The latter three circuits also have adults competing in them. Some juniors, however, such as Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Frenchman Gael Monfils, have catapulted directly from the junior tour to the ATP tour by dominating the junior scene or by taking advantage of opportunities given to them to participate in professional tournaments.
In 2004, the ITF implemented a new rankings scheme to encourage greater participation in doubles, by combining two rankings (singles and doubles) into one combined tally. Junior tournaments do not offer prize money except for the Grand Slams, which are the most prestigious junior events. Juniors may earn income from tennis by participating in the Future, Satellite, or Challenger tours. Tournaments are broken up into different tiers offering different amounts of ranking points, culminating with Grade A.
Leading juniors are allowed to participate for their nation in the Junior Fed Cup and Davis Cup competitions as well. To succeed in tennis often means having to begin playing at a young age. To facilitate and nurture a junior's growth in tennis, almost all tennis playing nations have developed a junior development system. Juniors develop their play through a range of tournaments on all surfaces, accommodating all different standards of play. Talented juniors may also receive sponsorships from governing bodies or private institutions.
A tennis match is intended to be continuous. Because stamina is a relevant factor, arbitrary delays are not permitted. In most cases, service is required to occur no more than 20 seconds after the end of the previous point. This is increased to 90 seconds when the players change ends (after every odd-numbered games), and a 120 second break is permitted between sets. Other than this, breaks are permitted only when forced by events beyond the players' control, such as rain, damaged footwear, damaged racquet, or the need to retrieve an errant ball. Should a player be determined to be stalling repeatedly, the chair umpire may initially give a warning followed by subsequent penalties of "point", "game", and default of the match for the player who is consistently taking longer than the allowed time limit.
In the event of a rain delay or other such proponent, the match is resumed at a later time, with the same score as at the time of the delay.
Balls wear out quickly in serious play and, therefore, in ATP and WTA tournaments, they are changed after every nine games with the first change occurring after only seven games, because the first set of balls is also used for the pre-match warm-up. However, in ITF tournaments like Fed Cup, the balls are changed in a 9-11 style. Continuity of the balls' condition is considered part of the game, so if a re-warm-up is required after an extended break in play (usually due to rain), then the re-warm-up is done using a separate set of balls, and use of the match balls is resumed only when play resumes.
It has recently been proposed to allow coaching on court during a match on a limited basis.
A serve (or, more formally, a "service") in tennis is a shot to start a point. The serve is initiated by tossing the ball into the air and hitting it (usually near the apex of its trajectory) into the diagonally opposite service box without touching the net. The serve may be hit under- or overhand.
Experienced players strive to master the conventional overhand serve to maximize its power and placement. The server may employ different types of serve including flat serve, topspin serve, slice serve, and kick (American twist) serve. A reverse type of spin serve is hit in a manner that spins the ball opposite the natural spin of the server, the spin direction depending upon right- or left-handedness. If the ball is spinning counterclockwise, it will curve right from the hitter's point of view and curve left if spinning clockwise.
Some servers are content to use the serve simply to initiate the point; however, advanced players often try to hit a winning shot with their serve. A winning serve that is not touched by the opponent is called an "ace". If the receiver manages to touch it but fails to successfully return it, it is called a "service winner".
For a right-handed player, the forehand is a stroke that begins on the right side of the body, continues across the body as contact is made with the ball, and ends on the left side of the body. There are various grips for executing the forehand, and their popularity has fluctuated over the years. The most important ones are the continental, the eastern, the semi-western, and the western. For a number of years, the small, apparently frail 1920s player Bill Johnston was considered by many to have had the best forehand of all time, a stroke that he hit shoulder-high using a western grip. Few top players used the western grip after the 1920s, but in the latter part of the 20th century, as shot-making techniques and equipment changed radically, the western forehand made a strong comeback and is now used by many modern players. No matter which grip is used, most forehands are generally executed with one hand holding the racquet, but there have been fine players with two-handed forehands. In the 1940s and 50s, the Ecuadorian/American player Pancho Segura used a two-handed forehand to devastating effect against larger, more powerful players. Currently, France's Fabrice Santoro uses a two-handed forehand. Some females such as Monica Seles and France's Marion Bartoli also use a two-handed forehand.
For right-handed players, the backhand is a stroke that begins on the left side of their body, continues across their body as contact is made with the ball, and ends on the right side of their body. It can be executed with either one hand or with both and is generally considered more difficult to master than the forehand. For most of the 20th century, the backhand was performed with one hand, using either an eastern or a continental grip. The first notable players to use two hands were the 1930s Australians Vivian McGrath and John Bromwich, but they were lonely exceptions. The two-handed grip gained popularity in the 1970s as Björn Borg, Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, and later Mats Wilander and Andre Agassi used it to great effect, and it is now used by a large number of the world's best players, including Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. Andy Roddick uses the extreme western grip to create massive amounts of top spin. It is difficult to do this and could possibly cause injury if done incorrectly. Two hands give the player more power, while one hand can generate a slice shot, applying backspin on the ball to produce a low trajectory bounce. The player long considered to have had the best backhand of all time, Don Budge, had a powerful one-handed stroke in the 1930s and 1940s that imparted topspin onto the ball. Ken Rosewall, another player noted for his one-handed backhand, used a very accurate slice backhand through the 1950s and 1960s. A small number of players, notably Monica Seles, use two hands on both the backhand and forehand sides.
A volley is made in the air before the ball bounces, generally near the net, and is usually made with a stiff-wristed punching motion to hit the ball into an open area of the opponent's court. The half volley is made by hitting the ball on the rise just after it has bounced, once again generally in the vicinity of the net. The swinging volley is hit out of the air as the player approaches the net. It is an offensive shot used to take preparation time away from the opponent. From a poor defensive position on the baseline, the lob can be used as either an offensive or defensive weapon, hitting the ball high and deep into the opponent's court to either enable the lobber to get into better defensive position or to win the point outright by hitting it over the opponent's head. If the lob is not hit deeply enough into the other court, however, the opponent may then hit an overhead smash, a hard, serve-like shot, to try to end the point. Finally, if an opponent is deep in his court, a player may suddenly employ an unexpected drop shot, softly tapping the ball just over the net so that the opponent is unable to run in fast enough to retrieve it.
Players may also be matched by their skill level. According to how well a person does in sanctioned play, a player is given a rating that is adjusted periodically to maintain competitive matches. For example, the United States Tennis Association administers the National Tennis Rating Program, which rates players between 1.0 and 7.0 in 1/2 point increments. Average club players under this system would rate 3.0-4.5 while world class players would be 7.0 on this scale.
Aside from the historical significance of these events, they also carry larger prize funds than any other tour event and are worth double the number of ranking points to the champion than in the next echelon of tournaments, the Tennis Masters Series (men) and Tier I events (women). Another distinguishing feature is the number of players in the singles draw, 128, more than any other professional tennis tournament. This draw is composed of 32 seeded players, other players ranked in the world's top 100, qualifiers, and players who receive invitations through wild cards. Grand Slam men's tournaments have best-of-five set matches throughout. Grand Slam tournaments are among the small number of events that last two weeks, the others being the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California and the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida. Currently, the Grand Slam tournaments are the only tour events that have mixed doubles contests. Grand Slam tournaments are held in conjunction with wheelchair tennis tournaments (with the exception being Wimbledon, where the grass surface prevents this) and junior tennis competitions. Grand Slam tournaments are often seen as the culmination of a particular season, such as the US Open Series. These tournaments also contain their own idiosyncrasies. For example, players at Wimbledon are required to wear predominantly white, a rule that has motivated certain players, such as Andre Agassi, to skip the tournament.
|January||Australian Open||Melbourne||Hard (Plexicushion)|
|August-September||US Open||New York City||Hard (DecoTurf)|
The Tennis Masters Series is a group of nine tournaments that form the second-highest echelon in men's tennis. Each event is held annually, and a win at one of these events is worth 500 ranking points. When the Association of Tennis Professionals, led by Hamilton Jordan, began running the men's tour in 1990, the directors designated the top nine tournaments, outside of the Grand Slam events, as "Super Nine" events. These eventually became the Tennis Masters Series. In November at the end of the tennis year, the world's top eight players compete in the Tennis Masters Cup, a tournament with a rotating locale. It is currently held in Shanghai, China, and will move to London in 2009.
In 2009, the Tennis Masters Series will undergo several changes. The series will be renamed again, this time as the "Masters 1,000 Series," a reference to the number of points the champion of each event will garner. (All other tournaments will have their ranking points adjusted proportionately.) The Tennis Masters Cup, in addition to its relocation, will be renamed the "ATP World Tour Finals". However, Shanghai will host a new Masters 1,000 Series event. The Monte Carlo and Hamburg events were originally downgraded; however, the Monte Carlo tournament was eventually granted Masters 1,000 Series status, with the exception being that the event would not be mandatory. The ATP also plans to be more stringent in its examination of players who withdraw from Masters 1,000 Series events. Each player who withdraws will be examined by a medical panel. The ATP plans to fine, and even suspend, players who disregard these rules.
|March||Pacific Life Open||Indian Wells, California, U.S.||Hard||Outdoor|
|March-April||Sony Ericsson Open||Key Biscayne, Florida, U.S.||Hard||Outdoor|
|April||Masters Series Monte Carlo||Monte Carlo, Monaco||Clay||Outdoor|
|May||Internazionali d'Italia||Rome, Italy||Clay||Outdoor|
|May||Masters Series Hamburg||Hamburg, Germany||Clay||Outdoor|
|August||Rogers Cup||Montreal / Toronto, Canada||Hard||Outdoor|
|August||Western & Southern Financial Group Masters||Cincinnati, U.S.||Hard||Outdoor|
|October||Mutua Madrileña Masters||Madrid, Spain||Hard||Indoor|
|October-November||BNP Paribas Masters||Paris, France||Carpet||Indoor|
|November||Tennis Masters Cup||Shanghai, China||Carpet||Indoor|
The Challenger Series for men is the lowest level of tournament administered by the ATP. It is composed of roughly 160 events and, as a result, features a more diverse range of countries hosting events. The majority of players use the Challenger Series to work their way up the rankings, including World No. 1s Pete Sampras, Marcelo Ríos, Patrick Rafter, and Gustavo Kuerten. Andre Agassi, between winning Grand Slam titles, plummeted to World No. 141 and used Challenger Series events for match experience and to progress back up the rankings. The Challenger Series offers prize funds of between US$25,000 and US$150,000.
Below the Challenger Series are the Futures Tournaments, the main events on the ITF Men's Circuit. These tournaments also contribute towards a player's ATP rankings points. Futures Tournaments offer prize funds of between US$10,000 and US$15,000; however, futures status is granted only to events offering a total of US$30,000, meaning that two or three tournaments are played. Approximately 400 Futures Tournaments are played each year.
Female players who have played at least part of their careers during the open era and who have won at least two Grand Slam singles titles are as follows: Margaret Court (24), Steffi Graf (22), Chris Evert (18), Martina Navrátilová (18), Billie Jean King (12), Monica Seles (9), Serena Williams (9), Justine Henin (7), Evonne Goolagong Cawley (7), Venus Williams (7), Martina Hingis (5), Hana Mandlíková (4), Arantxa Sánchez Vicario (4), Maria Sharapova (3), Virginia Wade (3), Lindsay Davenport (3), Jennifer Capriati (3), Nancy Richey Gunter (2), Tracy Austin (2), Mary Pierce (2), and Amélie Mauresmo (2).
By the latter half of the 1950s and 1960s, Budge and others had added Pancho Gonzales and Lew Hoad to the list of contenders. Budge reportedly believed that Gonzales was the greatest player ever. Gonzales said about Hoad, "When Lew's game was at its peak nobody could touch him. ... I think his game was the best game ever. Better than mine. He was capable of making more shots than anybody. His two volleys were great. His overhead was enormous. He had the most natural tennis mind with the most natural tennis physique.
During the open era, first Rod Laver and then more recently Björn Borg and Pete Sampras were regarded by many of their contemporaries as among the greatest ever. Cliff Drysdale has said that Laver is the greatest player ever. Mats Wilander said, "The greatest player ever is not necessarily the player who has won the most. I would say that Björn Borg is the greatest player ever because he won Wimbledon five times in a row. And out of those five times, he won the French Open all of those five years, plus another year. Laver has said that Sampras is "equal to anyone who has ever played the game. John McEnroe has said that either Laver or Sampras is the greatest player ever. Roger Federer is now considered by many observers to have the most "complete" game in modern tennis, with the potential to surpass the achievements of these past greats. Many experts of tennis, former tennis players and some of his own tennis peers believe Federer may become the greatest player in the history of the game. The tennis historian Raymond Lee did a statistical analysis account of the question, counting tournament wins totals and percentages of career match wins and wins in a 5 year period. His alltime list ranks Laver ahead of Borg and Tilden (tie), Federer, Gonzales, Rosewall, Budge, Lendl, Connors, Sampras in the top ten.