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Navratilova criticizes lack of racket regulation

NEW YORK -- Martina Navratilova criticized the tennis establishment on Saturday for not having enough regulations to deal with the size and strings of rackets.

"It takes less skill to hit great shots or to hit powerful
shots because you just bang away," Navratilova told a news
conference at the U.S. Open. "Tennis used to be more like
squash -- now it's more like racquetball.

"Hit the ball as hard as you can, it will still go in."

The 49-year-old Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles
titles during her illustrious career, is playing women's and
mixed doubles at the Open in her final tournament.

She said the new rackets are too powerful for the game and have
essentially eliminated the need to volley, changing the way both
singles and doubles are played.

"You can be a great volleyer and still not be able to win on
a slower court against great baseliners," she said.

"Two people on the baseline, two people at the net, you
should win every time. It does not happen. The rackets help the
groundstrokes so much more than they help the volley."

Navratilova said "the powers that be aren't regulating"
tennis enough.

"I'm disappointed that the racket manufacturers are
dictating what kind of tennis we're watching," she said.

"They're saying, 'Oh, this is the rackets we need to be
playing with.'"

She praised the strict rules dictated by the Professional
Golf Association.

"If golf regulated their game the same way tennis regulated
our game, they'd be hitting 400 yard drives, hooking it left and
right, any which way they want to, or keeping the ball straight
even though you have a hook swing but the ball still goes
straight."

Navratilova has reached the second round of both doubles
events in the swan song of her career. She suggested racket
heads should be smaller and there needs to be "some kind of
restriction on the strings."

"I am disappointed with the direction the game is going,
period," she said, noting that even top-ranked Roger
Federer has essentially given up on serve-and-volley tennis.

"I'm the greatest volleyer that's ever played, and I would
have a hard time serve-volleying in today's game, so something
is wrong.

"The courts are too slow, the rackets are too powerful, so
you're going to see much more one-dimensional tennis. It takes a
genius to play really well at the net.

"Even Federer, he used to serve and volley. Now he's staying
back more because it's safer."