EXCLUSIVE: Jan Kodes – ‘Too Many Guys Want To Play Hard-Court Tennis On The Grass’
Former Wimbledon champion Jan Kodes has questioned some players’ tactics at this year’s championship.
The 1973 champion spoke to Ubitennis about the current state of the men’s game at the tournament. Kodes, who contested a total of five grand slam finals during his career, believes too many players treat the courts at Wimbledon ‘like a hard-court.’ The Czech used Rafael Nadal’s loss to Muller as one example, arguing that it was the Muller’s game on the grass the resulted in his win.
“Some of the guys, they want to play on grass like on a hard-court, which is very difficult. As you have seen yesterday (Wednesday) with the match between Nadal and Muller, Muller played the grass court tennis. As for Nadal, he played a little bit like on a clay court.” He said.
Kodes also used his theory to explain why Karolina Pliskova is out of the tournament and underdog Magdaléna Rybáriková is still left in the draw. Going into the tournament, many tipped new world No.1 Pliskova to win the title with her strong serve. Nevertheless, the 71-year-old has questioned her ‘hard-court approach’ to the tournament. A view that divides opinions.
A former world No.5 that was introduced into the tennis Hall of Fame in 1990, Kodes contested 12 Wimbledon tournaments between 1966 – 1978. He admits that learning to play on the grass wasn’t easy. In his six first appearances at Wimbledon, the Czech only managed to win one main draw match.
“I was born on the clay. It took me three or four years to adapt to the grass. Thinking how to play, how to return, how to finish the point and so on.” He admitted.
“Many players are now coming and they don’t have a strategy on grass. A strategy is very important.”
So what was the key to Kodes’ 1973 triumph? The Czech insists that the most important aspect about playing on grass is how a player returns, and not their serve. Due to the speed of the grass courts, some argue that serving is critical for players.
“In my opinion the most important thing is the return of serve. Many people think it is the serve, the speed of the serve and so on. I am not so sure because I think the return is very important. I won Wimbledon not because of my serve, but because of my return. It was the same with (Jimmy) Connors and (Bjorn) Borg.” He Concluded.