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View Full Version : What if Federer......


mojone
05-09-2007, 12:03 PM
Probablly asked countless times before but........How do you think Federer would have faired during the eras of Sampras, agassi.....and even Mac, conners, borg etc.? No question he would still be great but would he make every non clay slam a foregone conclusion?

Level of play aside....it just seems like most in the current men's field don't know how to be a true champion. Pete's game dominated most in his day, and he won more, but the tournies he entered weren't over before they began. Players knew how to reach within, step up their game, and rise to the occasion at times and could/did beat him......even if Pete wasn't having a bad day. Everyone for the most part rolls over for Fed. If he loses it's because of his own fault, not his oppenent. (generalization....excluding clay of course)

morten
05-12-2007, 04:41 PM
I wish he could meet some true attacking players like Rafter, Mac or Edberg... wont happen... He would be in real trouble IMO

zapvor
05-12-2007, 05:11 PM
i think federer could adapt to it and still win. last time he played sampras, he was able to upset sampras, and at wimbledon no less. hes very versatile. clay is the only thing left, and thats only because of nadal, who has clay running in his vessels instead of blood

CyBorg
05-12-2007, 11:04 PM
Federer would play fine against the Edberg-types, because in that era he would have been volleying more himself. He would have had to and he would have excelled at it. He has a great touch from all ends of the court.

tricky
05-13-2007, 12:35 AM
Hard to say if we're talking about wood. Federer's FH mechanics would not be possible at all with a wooden racquet at the pro level. And it's really his FH on a fast surface that the other players have no answer. The closest parallel to it would be Laver's wristy shot -- and well if Federer can do that with an Eastern grip, the wood era would have been in trouble. His BH would probably be better in the wood era (since the ball bounce and overall "heaviness" would be moderate) as his form is truly classical and his touch with the slice is phenomenal.

Had Federer come up through the early 90s, he would have dominated the Australian Open and done better than Sampras in the US Open. Most top pros today are trained to return 120+ serves, which would not have been the case with Sampras/Agassi's generation. Federer would probably have a more pace-oriented game and flattened out his serve at 120+, and this would driven his competition crazy. On clay, he'd struggle moreso and on grass, well it's up in the air how he would have done against Sampras's peak

In wood, hard to say. In early 90s, he would have done very well, but I don't think he would have dominated like he does now.

laurie
05-13-2007, 12:50 AM
Well, a collection of big servers all came through as teenagers in the late 1980s from different continents:

Sampras
Krajicek
Becker
Stich
Ivanesivic
Wheaton

Big serving was already a big factor in the early 1990s and the players had to deal with it. With the technique these players adapted - it was a combination of pace and spin, more technical than some of todas servers who hit flatter serves generally which are easier to deal with.

Like you said Tricky, Federer would have done very well in the early 1990s but probably not dominate. The pace on grass in the early 1990s was very quick. When the very top guys played eachother the pace of the game was not too dissimilar to today. We were talking about that brutal Austalian Open match between Sampras and Courier just a couple of weeks ago.

urban
05-13-2007, 01:09 AM
Tough question, because the equipment plays a big role. It seems that especially the new strings are changing the face of the game - more to a baseline orientated allround game. The assimilation of surfaces goes into the same direction. The 90s had more specialists for fast and slow courts, the seminfinal lineup could be completely different at RG or Wimbledon. Now players like Gonzales and Djokovic, Nadal and Federer could end up in the sf on both surfaces. Without the new strings and with more difference in court pace, Federer would have to change his game more, adapting more to the surfaces. Players, who could give him trouble, were imo especially Becker and Lendl. Becker with his non- compromising attacking game, and good backhand return on grass, could have crowded Federer, if he had stayed back too much. Lendl with his big penetrating forehand and hard and solid backhand, could put up an iron grip on Federer's baseline game, which is based on working his ways calmly into the forehand attack.

laurie
05-13-2007, 01:42 AM
Also Edberg with his kick serve and athleticism and quickness to net. Federer like most guys has trouble with the high ball to the backhand, Edberg would have went there often with that kicker.

Deuce
05-13-2007, 01:50 AM
Nevermind how Federer would have fared vs. all of those guys...
Shlomo Glickstein would have torn Federer to shreds.

galain
05-13-2007, 02:05 AM
Shlomo Glickstein wouldn't have held a candle to Nduka Odizor mate! Who else could balance a ball in their afro? That's mind destroying power right there...

tricky
05-13-2007, 02:57 AM
Big serving was already a big factor in the early 1990s and the players had to deal with it. With the technique these players adapted - it was a combination of pace and spin, more technical than some of todas servers who hit flatter serves generally which are easier to deal with.

Oh I disagree there. The one thing that's definitely improved since the 90s is the overall ability of the pro to read and return heavy, fast serves. In the early 90s, having a 120+ serve could take a mediocre player into the top 15. You mention a handful of big servers of that generation. Nowadays even many, many D1 players have the ability to hit 120+ Many pros can get into the 130+ range. Even Federer, who is not known for a "big" serve, can hit 130+ on a fast court. This just wasn't true 15 years ago. Due to the way the courts are now, most are now sacrificing pace for more spin.

Now, sure, Sampras is still the king. Placement, impossible to read, and variety. But his novel mechanics (as well as Stich's, Krajieck's, Goran's, etc.) were adapted by an entire generation of pros and top college players. And in turn, to make the pro levels, a generation of kids now have been trained to read 110+ serves in a way that would be astounding 15 years ago. I'm sure the next generation will be even more impressive.

The pace on grass in the early 1990s was very quick. When the very top guys played eachother the pace of the game was not too dissimilar to today.

It's a hard call because Federer also would have been better on 90s grass. He would have less problems with his BH and his skidding slice would have been a vicious weapon on old-school grass. I would imagine he would have attacked the net more (as he did in his teens.) If Sampras didn't exist, he would have done very, very well on grass.

I should say, though, that IMO Sampras would have dominated tennis in all non-clay surface had the game stayed in wood. His strokes, including his running FH, would be fine on wood. His serve, dial it back another 10-15mph, would still be impossible to consistently return cleanly.

laurie
05-13-2007, 05:11 AM
Hi tricky.

I just don't don't think that today's servers place the ball as well or as consistently. training and racquets have allowed people to serve consistently faster - but surprisingly second serves now are much slower as a whole - i definitely find that a technique issue, thses guys serve fast but don't have the skill to go for big second serves maybe due to racquets so they all go for the safe kicker. In other words, the racquets could allow them to become complacent technique wise and not really hone their serving skills.

I always compare Tennis to cricket.

In cricket, fast bowlers like Shohab Aktar have bowled as fast as 100mph but stil get caned all over the ground.

The fast bowlers who add deception and variation to their bowling but bowl around 10 - 15 mph slower are much more effective, trouble bastmen much more and take many more wickets - people like Glen McGrath and Curtly Ambrose as he got older.

In tennis I think it's the same, I think it's easier to block back today's serve becuase there is not as much variety and deception by the best servers - pace is not everything.

laurie
05-13-2007, 05:34 AM
I will also like to add that despite faster (1st serving only)
there are still a lot more rallies than there were in the 1990s.

In the 1990s, the serve was designed to end the point there and then, never mind having to volley on many occassions. Players served much closer to the lines. And the returner had to deal with the frustration that brings to the mind.

These things would have presented different challenges to Federer in the 1990s. I'm not saying he wouldn't adapt but there would have been different challnges.

tricky
05-13-2007, 06:04 AM
In the 1990s, the serve was designed to end the point there and then, never mind having to volley on many occassions. Players served much closer to the lines. And the returner had to deal with the frustration that brings to the mind.

That's where I disagree. In the late 80s/early 90s, that's when you started seeing a number of power servers on tour, and also a general increase in average height. However, as the return game improved and players (esp. those coming up through the ranks) were more exposed to this new level of server, they became better accustomed to generating passing shots. As a result, serve specialists, who were too tall to move effectively through court or to hit anything but flat shots in their optimal zone, started to drop in ranks. Ergo why the average height has started dropping down again.

there are still a lot more rallies than there were in the 1990s.

Right. Decline of S&V and service-oriented offense due to improved return game and passing shots of each ensuing generation. That is even true in women's tennis, where more female players can handle service pace that used to be considered ATP-level.

i definitely find that a technique issue, thses guys serve fast but don't have the skill to go for big second serves maybe due to racquets so they all go for the safe kicker

Again, I disagree with that, knowing some D1 college players. If you ask them to dial back their serve (back into the 100-110 range), most can play lines fairly well. They however don't because against top players, they need to bump their serve up past 115+ range.

I feel that this has been true with every generation of tennis. The return game is always one step behind the service, but both elements evolve. And, so, in this one element of tennis, I feel that an ATP pro today would be better at reading the ball and service game from the 90s, than somebody from that era.

laurie
05-13-2007, 06:09 AM
Ok, I think we agree on some things and disagree on others - you make some nice points.

Cheers.

Deuce
05-13-2007, 09:53 PM
Shlomo Glickstein wouldn't have held a candle to Nduka Odizor mate! Who else could balance a ball in their afro? That's mind destroying power right there...
I think Nduka learned that trick from Ion Tiriac, who would habitually do that after the 5th game of the first set.
Rumor has it that he twice forgot the ball amidst his bird's nest hair, and played the first three points of the sixth game with ball in hair.

... unless it was all just a nasty dream...

Micce
05-15-2007, 12:47 PM
In the early 90s, having a 120+ serve could take a mediocre player into the top 15. You mention a handful of big servers of that generation.

Actually in the early 90ís the big servers in the top 15 were: Becker, Stich, Lendl and Sampras. They werenít mediocre players.

Even Federer, who is not known for a "big" serve, can hit 130+ on a fast court. This just wasn't true 15 years ago.

You have to pay attention to that 120 mph serve about 15 years ago would be clocked about 130+ today because the radar guns currently in use are more accurate.

Right. Decline of S&V and service-oriented offense due to improved return game and passing shots of each ensuing generation. That is even true in women's tennis, where more female players can handle service pace that used to be considered ATP-level.

There isnít too many female players whose service pace today is same as it used to be considered at ATP-level. Only Williams sisters and Petrova comes to my mind. Actually Brenda Schultz-McCarthy served in 90ís nearly as hard as Williams sisters today. I think Monica Seles had better return game than any female player today.

Again, I disagree with that, knowing some D1 college players. If you ask them to dial back their serve (back into the 100-110 range), most can play lines fairly well. They however don't because against top players, they need to bump their serve up past 115+ range.

I think itís completely different thing to serve on the lines in trainings. Whereas in match situations, under the pressure, it isnít easy to play the lines. I think well-placed spin serve under 110 mph is more difficult to return than 120+ flat serve which is placed in the middle of the service box. As we have seen several times, when Roddick canít get accuracy on his flat 1st services, e.g. Federer can handle them pretty easily.

I feel that an ATP pro today would be better at reading the ball and service game from the 90s, than somebody from that era.

I disagree. After the 90ís I havenít seen anybody (except Federer) reading the ball so well and returning so aggressively than e.g. Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe and Becker did at their best. When I look at the todayís top 10 I canít find many players who have extremely good return game compared to the top 10 players of 90ís.

The fact is that if one can serve as accurately with such good pace and spin as e.g. Sampras, Krajicek, Becker, Ivanisevic, Rosset and Stich did when they played their best tennis there isn't matter if you are the best returner in the game, you just can't return those serves.

Federer usually holds his service games pretty easily, because of good placement and spin of his serve. He doesnít need to serve 130+ bombs. In the Masters Cup SF versus Nadal last year he was slicing his serves all time to Nadalís backhand and Nadal couldnít handle them.

CEvertFan
05-15-2007, 05:27 PM
I think Federer has the talent to do well in any era he played in.