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CGMemphis
12-17-2007, 10:08 AM
Not that its anything new about just how hard Agassi used to clobber the ball, but this video shows, what I feel is some very deceptive pace.

Agassi vs. Roddick, in Cincinnati 2004, watch at 1:24. Agassi clocks the forehand and Roddick just stabs low with a back-hand and passes Agassi with a brillant down the line winner:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=KilK8yb9xyM

I miss this man on the tour.

CAM178
12-17-2007, 10:33 AM
Great post, man, and great link. I missed seeing that match, so it was cool to see the HL reel. That match was incredible. I think that's the first time I've seen Roddick smile when losing. But then again, he just lost to an idol, who was in form and en fuego that day.

Chauvalito
12-17-2007, 10:35 AM
Roddick was hitting his backhand quite well, as well I have ever seen it.

CAM178
12-17-2007, 10:37 AM
He was damn sure hitting hs FH with a LOT more authority than he is now.

35ft6
12-17-2007, 11:09 AM
It was commonly known that Agassi, as hard as he hit during matches, hit even harder in practice. Especially during the end of his career when he became the ultimate percentage player.

Saw him practicing once and it was one of the craziest things I've ever seen on a tennis court. He didn't warm up at all, he was firing at 100 percent from the first ball. He hit with so much pace, it was like Forrest Gump playing ping pong, it almost had a CGI quality to it. Never seen anybody hit the ball like that. The torque he generated was just vicious.

tfm1973
12-17-2007, 11:14 AM
He was damn sure hitting hs FH with a LOT more authority than he is now.

I've heard announcers say that before and I agree with you, too. Roddick used to be known for his punishing forehand. Is there a reason he changed it? He'll never be a defensive player with his footspeed. Is his less aggressive forehand Brad Gilbert's work or Jimmy Connor's work?

35ft6
12-17-2007, 11:19 AM
Just watched the video.

Did Agassi have the best overhead of all time? It seemed like he never missed it even if he was behind the baseline.

Roddick's forehand used to be better.

jamauss
12-17-2007, 11:20 AM
It's difficult to watch Roddick play like that and think he's "better" now than he was back then. It seems like Roddick doesn't take the same chances now as he did back then. Or at least, they don't pay off for him now like they used to.

CAM178
12-17-2007, 11:23 AM
It's difficult to watch Roddick play like that and think he's "better" now than he was back then. It seems like Roddick doesn't take the same chances now as he did back then. Or at least, they don't pay off for him now like they used to.

Roddick is much more of a percentage player now, and it has hurt him.

As to Agassi's OH's, they were just nasty. That one he ripped into the corner full-speed from the other end of the baseline was just sick.

TnTBigman
12-17-2007, 11:49 AM
Nice clip. If you think that is pounding the ball on the groundies, you should see clips some of his older matches. (95-96). When I find the link I'll post it. Thats why Agassi is one of the greats. Pace and angle, pace and angle. As most of his opponents try harder and harder to match his pace, they realise they can't. He breaks your spirit.

A.J. Sim
12-17-2007, 11:53 AM
Maybe it's just me, but it seems like Roddick stands even farther back behind the baseline then he used to, leading to a much more defensive style of tennis; when he first came on, that forehand was just nasty and viscious; now it seems like he struggles to put people away. Anyway, I agree with what's been said, Roddick needs to get that powerful fh back.

Satch
12-17-2007, 01:13 PM
yeah i was talking about that clip too, really the way how Roddick played there, and his game now can't even compare.

mdjenders
12-17-2007, 01:22 PM
Wow, thanks for posting this. Shows what Roddick was capable of in his prime, driving the fh with authority and even hitting some nice backhands. All that bull crap about Connors improving the backhand is nonsense after you watch this video. The current Roddick could never sustain such baseline rallies as in this video.

bluetrain4
12-17-2007, 01:39 PM
The first time I saw Agassi play (on TV) was at the old Stratton Mountain, VT tourney in the summer in the mid eighties. The pace was simply unbelievable. I can't imagine what it would be like in person. There were hard hitters before Agassi, but his pace was so extraordinary.

I would say the same thing about early Seles. Obviously, as a woman she hit nowhere near as hard as Agassi, but the "wow" factor, given the context (i.e., womens' tennis) was the same.

CGMemphis
12-17-2007, 01:40 PM
I personally think Roddicks game is worse with Connors touch on his swings. He doesnt "go for it" like he used to as many of you say.

I have seen Agassi practice with that punishing crazy pace like you mentioned, he seems like a freakin machine and you wonder if you can ever just punish it like that.

CEvertFan
12-17-2007, 02:14 PM
What Connors should be doing for Roddick is showing him matches like this as well as trying to strengthen Andy's mental fortitude instead of trying to make him into more of a percentage player and having him try to come to net more. Roddick was always at his best when he was aggressive off the ground and took some chances as well as using that powerful forehand to dictate play. For the most part the current Roddick seems to pale in comparison to the one we saw during that Cincinnati match in 2004, who gave an in form Agassi all he could handle. Even at the US Open this year against Fed, Andy (who did admittedly play well) didn't hit his forehand with the same authority and pace as he did in 2004. It seemed like he was putting more topspin on the forehand instead of just cracking it flat like he used to.

Too bad for Roddick that Fed is just a better player all around than he is or Andy would probably have at least 5 Slam titles by now, if not more.

HLM2
12-17-2007, 02:24 PM
Thanks for the vid, it was good quality too. How does agassi hit with that amount of pace its ridiculous, esp. considering his swing path isnt huge like say gonzales. How does he generate that type of pace with compact swings? is it pure swing speed?

CGMemphis
12-17-2007, 02:26 PM
Watch his step into it and his torque at the waist with his shoulders. He has a semi-compact back swing so he throttles his waist around. Its crazy.

krosero
12-17-2007, 02:35 PM
The first time I saw Agassi play (on TV) was at the old Stratton Mountain, VT tourney in the summer in the mid eighties. McEnroe beat him there in '86, in the third round. Was that the match you saw? I think Mac said Agassi had the biggest forehand he'd ever seen.

Satch
12-17-2007, 03:11 PM
I think that Roddick is much more nervous now then before, dunno why if there was some big changes in his private life or what maybe someone will know?

He is actually very nervous for a tennis player....

A.Davidson
12-17-2007, 03:22 PM
In a way, Roddick used to be a lot more like Agassi, but has since...settled.

He used to absolutely RIP that forehand, his greatest non-serve asset. And, while his backhand was never anything for the record books, at least it was passable. He even stood closer, took the ball earlier, and attacked more.

Now he's a muted version of his old self, and I gotta ask: did Connors do this?

RoddickAce
12-17-2007, 03:23 PM
His forehand diminished when he started to work on his net game. He tried to implement that into his game so much that he got away from his huge forehand.

Satch
12-17-2007, 03:29 PM
Look at 3:12 he reminded me on Sampras here.

edmondsm
12-17-2007, 03:32 PM
Here is one of the best clips of Agassi hitting the poop out of the ball.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK2nPvtmVJw

bluetrain4
12-17-2007, 03:40 PM
Just watched the vid. Cannot believe how much better Roddick's strokes were. Even the backhand is better. Did he change is grip since then?

Remember though, the way Agassi hits the ball, fairly low, fairly flat, really lets Roddick feed off of pace and hit well himself. His strokes wouldn't look that great if he was fending off heavy looping topspin, not that they still wouldn't be good.

CAM178
12-17-2007, 03:45 PM
Here is one of the best clips of Agassi hitting the poop out of the ball.

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK2nPvtmVJw

You might want to edit that link - 2 http's.

CyBorg
12-17-2007, 03:51 PM
Not that its anything new about just how hard Agassi used to clobber the ball, but this video shows, what I feel is some very deceptive pace.

Agassi vs. Roddick, in Cincinnati 2004, watch at 1:24. Agassi clocks the forehand and Roddick just stabs low with a back-hand and passes Agassi with a brillant down the line winner:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=KilK8yb9xyM

I miss this man on the tour.

Roddick's problem was that he was playing at Agassi's pace - playing Agassi's game. Notice how the pace of the rallies never changes - it's always just boom-boom-boom. Like clockwork.

Who beat Agassi in the final? Rafael Nadal. Using nasty topspin, which completely disrupted Andre's timing (something Roddick couldn't do).

Agassi may have hit the hell out of the ball like no one else but this didn't make him the best player in the world. Guys with variety always hurt him.

CGMemphis
12-17-2007, 04:16 PM
Yea guys who could change it up who had mental toughness, that is. Agassi had a way pounding those with weak minds and variety back into his game. It wasnt until Agassi added that nasty swinging volley and then the traditional punch volley (which was never really traditional LOL) that he was able to take the more varied players. But you are right, he struggled the most with those who could put spin and angles back at him.

Tennis_Bum
12-17-2007, 05:14 PM
I personally think Roddicks game is worse with Connors touch on his swings. He doesnt "go for it" like he used to as many of you say.

I have seen Agassi practice with that punishing crazy pace like you mentioned, he seems like a freakin machine and you wonder if you can ever just punish it like that.

Nice clip of tennis. I really enjoyed it. Man, Roddick was much better than he is now. At least he went for his shots, not like he's playing now. His forehand was much better then. Now he has average forehand and the same backhand. His net game, IMO, has not really improved since he hired Connors. No really big change in his game except the publicity that he's coached by Connors, the great one. Whatever. How many GS titles has he won since Connors coached him? ZERO!

federerfanatic
12-17-2007, 05:35 PM
The way you guys are talking you would think Roddick was unbeatable in 2004. Well I guess I didnt notice that:

04 Australian Open- lost in quarters
04 French Open- lost in 2nd round
04 Wimbledon- lost in final
04 U.S Open- lost in quarters

2004 matches with Federer- Federer 3-0
2004 matches with Hewitt- tied 1-1
2004 matches with Agassi- Agassi 1-0
2004 matches with Safin- Roddick 2-1

superman1
12-17-2007, 05:45 PM
Who beat Agassi in the final? Rafael Nadal. Using nasty topspin, which completely disrupted Andre's timing (something Roddick couldn't do).

Actually, Agassi won Cincy '04 (beat Hewitt in the final). Nadal beat him in the final in Montreal in '05, a few months after Agassi limped off the court of Roland Garros and we wondered when he was going to announce his retirement. You talk about Nadal's variety, but in that match Agassi was the one with all the variety, and Nadal was the one sprinting from side to side and bashing the ball. Here's a great point from that match - http://youtube.com/watch?v=kO0kEDaLrG4

AlpineCadet
12-17-2007, 05:52 PM
Roddick's problem was that he was playing at Agassi's pace - playing Agassi's game. Notice how the pace of the rallies never changes - it's always just boom-boom-boom. Like clockwork.

Who beat Agassi in the final? Rafael Nadal. Using nasty topspin, which completely disrupted Andre's timing (something Roddick couldn't do).

Agassi may have hit the hell out of the ball like no one else but this didn't make him the best player in the world. Guys with variety always hurt him.Variety really does kill, just ask Santoro. ;)

edmondsm
12-17-2007, 06:08 PM
You might want to edit that link - 2 http's.

Thanks, I think I fixed it. I don't know why I'm having all this trouble with the hyperlink function lately. Here it is again just in case.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK2nPvtmVJw

CyBorg
12-17-2007, 06:15 PM
Actually, Agassi won Cincy '04 (beat Hewitt in the final). Nadal beat him in the final in Montreal in '05, a few months after Agassi limped off the court of Roland Garros and we wondered when he was going to announce his retirement. You talk about Nadal's variety, but in that match Agassi was the one with all the variety, and Nadal was the one sprinting from side to side and bashing the ball. Here's a great point from that match - http://youtube.com/watch?v=kO0kEDaLrG4

I stand corrected about the year.

I disagree about the variety aspect. I don't claim that Nadal could hurt Agassi anywhere but the baseline, however his groundstrokes have always had variety. The guy has two forehands, hits with nasty spin and creates incredible angles that Roddick could not. I'm not talking serve and volley here.

There's a reason why Agassi was mixing it up in that match. He attempted to disrupt Nadal's timing (in 2005 Rafa was playing even deeper than he does today) and that worked to some degree. Agassi still lost because by playing a game he wasn't altogether comfortable with he also took himself out of a rhythm.

Now take that match and compare it with the Roddick match. The Roddick match is pure flat-hitting baseline tactics (always flat, hence fixed pace) not at all unlike the Agassi-Kafelnikov clip from the Aussie Open in '00. Kafelnikov was another kind of an opponent that Agassi loved because there was nothing on his groundies that could surprise him. Nadal was a different story.

I resent the frequent reference to Nadal as a "basher". It bothers me because it's so close-minded. Flat-hitting hard courters strike me as the bashers. Nadal's groundies are a work of art.

P.S. Agassi was in pretty good health in Canada in '05. He got to the US Open final right after. Nadal deserves full credit for beating a tip-top Agassi.

NadalandFedererfan
12-17-2007, 07:24 PM
It is funny when people look at Nadal's very decisive 3 set win over Agassi in the 2005 Canadian Open final on hard courts, where Nadal spanked Agassi silly in the 1st and 3rd sets and only narrowly lost the 2nd set, it is said by Agassi supporters Nadal beat a past his prime Agassi. Well the funny thing is that in retrospect people will be saying that was Nadal before his prime too. He was only 19, even though he reached #2 that year he had been out of the top 30 the previous year, and you look at him now reaching Wimbledon finals and taking Federer to 4 or 5 sets, yet that year he was still losing to the likes of Gilles Muller at Wimbledon. So in retrospect it will be easy to look at that and say, "prime Nadal in 2005, surely you jest." :)

superman1
12-17-2007, 08:16 PM
Agassi was playing well at the time but the guy turned pro in 1986. It was 2005. As fit as he was, he wasn't moving NEARLY as well as he moved in the early 90's, even if he was striking the ball better than ever (thanks to Luxilon). Compare him to 10 years before - his feet actually used to leave the ground on some of those forehands. He was much more athletic. He struck the ball better than Nadal, but he just couldn't keep up with the kid's relentless defense. The match was definitely tougher for Nadal than it was for Agassi, in terms of mileage.

Agassi was also pretty damn close to taking the first set from Nadal in their Wimbledon match, and that was in 2006 when AA was playing some of the most average tennis of his career. He still had the tennis mind and the groundstrokes, but his body just wasn't reacting properly. The other two sets were ownage - Agassi just gave up.

I do give Nadal a hell of a lot of credit because the guy is looking like an all-courter these days. Otherwise, I think his hard court baseline play in 2005 was just as good, and nothing about it says to me that he would have done very well against Dre in their primes on hard courts. On clay, those would be close battles, but I doubt Andre would win many of those. And on grass, Andre is definitely the favorite, especially if the grass is actually grass. I can't see Nadal beating guys like Becker and Ivanisevic on fast, low-bouncing, sliding grass with a Toys R Us racquet.

They definitely are pretty evenly matched, but I still say that Agassi has more ability.

NadalandFedererfan
12-17-2007, 08:25 PM
I dont think Agassi would give Nadal any trouble on clay. Federer for me is a better clay courter then Agassi and yet Federer is fairly easy for Nadal on clay so far. When Agassi won the French he didnt beat any great clay courters, unless you count Moya who is the closet to that, and 4 or 5 of his wins were super tough hard fought struggles. Most other years he averaged out around the quarters.

As for grass, the grass today is nothing like the grass of then and Nadal is a much better and tougher opponent on todays grass then old grass. If Nadal can do that well vs Federer on todays grass I think he definitely would have a chance to beat Agassi in his prime on it. Of course on the old grass Agassi would be much superior, but luckily for Nadal he plays today and people will evaluate how good he was on the grass he was lucky enough to be born at the time to be on.

I agree Agassi is better on hard courts those years he was serious about tennis, but I still dont think it is fair to say 2005 is Nadal's prime atleast until it is proven he burns out soon like people are predicting.

iradical18
12-17-2007, 08:45 PM
I'm in the same camp as the rest of the folks that posted before me, what the hell happened to Andy? I mean, he can still pound a forehand when he gets the chance to go for a winner, but in that video all of his forehands were hit deeper, and flatter than they are now.

35ft6
12-17-2007, 08:51 PM
Just to be devil's advocate, and I agree his forehand used to be more of a weapon, but Roddick is still top 5 in the world, and maybe it was good to add more variety to his game. In that video, you could just see the youthful vigor, and how long could he have kept up that brand of smash mouth tennis? Maybe it could be argued that adding some shots to his game has allowed him to stay near the top as he's gotten older. Not sure. He just doesn't have what it takes to be a true all court player. He's a natural at killing the ball. When he was around number 1, I remember watching a match between him and Safin, and he was hitting harder than Marat. But playing all court tennis the way Federer can, or even the way Nadal can, doesn't seem natural to Andy at all. He looks more and more awkward the closer he gets to the net.

iradical18
12-17-2007, 09:53 PM
Just to be devil's advocate, and I agree his forehand used to be more of a weapon, but Roddick is still top 5 in the world, and maybe it was good to add more variety to his game. In that video, you could just see the youthful vigor, and how long could he have kept up that brand of smash mouth tennis? Maybe it could be argued that adding some shots to his game has allowed him to stay near the top as he's gotten older. Not sure. He just doesn't have what it takes to be a true all court player. He's a natural at killing the ball. When he was around number 1, I remember watching a match between him and Safin, and he was hitting harder than Marat. But playing all court tennis the way Federer can, or even the way Nadal can, doesn't seem natural to Andy at all. He looks more and more awkward the closer he gets to the net.

Those are great points, he certainly needed some variety but you are right about him not having what it takes to be a true all courter. I think that we can all agree that it's something you have to be born with, not something you can just learn or add to your game by changing coaches.

35ft6
12-18-2007, 01:21 AM
^ I think his mistake is he comes to the net TOO much. He seemed really committed to whatever that one coach, the one right after Gilbert, was telling him because it seemed like he almost had a kamikaze approach to charging the net. He does need variety in terms of finishing off the easy points at net but for a while he was coming to the net way too much. Really haven't watched him play that much lately. Connors was the best at attacking the net at the right time. It would be cool if he could get some of that across to Andy but craftiness can't be taught either. He should try a bit more of Gilbert's approach again which was, basically, "sure, lets work on the weaknesses... but mostly, lets impose your strengths on the other players and not worry so much about becoming like Federer... hit BIG!"

!Tym
12-18-2007, 03:20 AM
Notice how the pace of the rallies never changes - it's always just boom-boom-boom. Like clockwork.
The 95 German Open quarter matchup between Bruguera and Agassi is a GREAT example of a strategy in my opinion perfectly concocted to take Agassi out of his game.

Bruguera won easily 3 and 1. Granted, the conditions were VERY slow, damp, and overcast; however, it still does not change the fact that it was THE strategy to adopt that day.

Bruguera made a point to close out the first game on his serve with two *massive* forehands, biggest of the match in the FIRST game only to never attempt them again despite the initial success. Bruguera's intent is to establish that he has the capability of ending the point at any time...even if it's not his point-in, point-out strategy.

This is key, because it gets Agassi to be at least casually aware that while primarily a speedy, defensive player like Chang, he is NOT like Chang in that he can't just sit-back and relax like it's t-ball practice. Chang because of his small stature was *not physically capable* of ending points outright with pure pace, the way guys like Muster, Nadal, and Bruguera could IF they wanted to.

This is why in "Winning Ugly" Agassi writes that of all the top players, Chang worried him the least so long as he was having a half-way decent day; he said because Chang plays just like him except it's like a light weight vs. a heavy weight. He does everything Chang does except with more power *on average*. Note that neither Chang nor Agassi were particularly known for having a huge discrepancy/wide *range* between their softest shots on average and their hardest. Both of these guys were more about what they could bring to the table consistently. Chang consistent rally shots but with consistently amazing speed. Agassi with consistent power but with consistently amazing precision.

Funny because Bruguera was spooked by guys like Chang and Muster, because guys who never gave up were like his anti-christ. Agassi, on the other hand, tended to break players down more in terms of x's and o's and specific problematic strokes and/or tactics; which is *precisely* why he was so blown away by Gilbert at their fateful dinner meeting, and why he embraced Gilbert's methodical x's and o's, football coach, mentality of playing *strategic* tennis.

Anyway, back on point, this is why it was so important for Bruguera to punctuate the end of the first game of the match by making sure to hit out and hit BIG, it didn't matter if the balls went out that early, the point was to establish that he COULD.

With this seed planted in Agassi's head, Bruguera immediately goes into passive, pusher mode. Agassi starts off relatively hot and pounding balls crisply and into corners; and yet, Bruguera's strategy seems to be to want to BAIT Agassi to play hero because he knew the conditions were specifically against it from a percentage stand-point. For Agassi's shots to continue to go-in, he'd need to *believe in his chosen strategy 100%*...anything less, and he'd start misfiring and have nothing else to fall back-on as Bruguera was the superior athlete/mover AND could also hit big too, thus allowing him to surprise Agassi at certain key, PIVOTAL moments.

Remember, Chang did not worry Agassi from the perspective of *giving him things to think about out there*. Agassi felt that with Chang all had to worry about was settling into a groove and *get sadistic*...like playing with a mouse, his strategy was to just show up and swing little man Chang by the tail from corner to corner all day long until his wheels fell off. Bruugera, at least in this match, made sure Agassi had things to think about. Bruguera had explosive point-ending power when he wanted it, he had tremendous foot speed, he also had tremendous angles, and extreme topspin that could cause balls to bounce out of Agassi's ideal strike zone. On faster courts, Agassi could rush Bruguera's huge swings, but this wasn't a fast court; and even then, unless Agassi was in the zone like he was in the Olympic finals, Bruguera had given him very tricky matches before.

In other words, Bruguera knew Agassi's only real strategic chance on the day given the conditions was to be in Olympic form...he wasn't. He is good form to start-off, not great; and yet for most of the first set you could tell Agassi *believed* he could win this match, until he didn't.

Bruguera after the first game fed into this, by giving Agassi what he *needed to believe*...then he systematically implemented the rest of his game plan and took it away--it went like a poof in the sky.

Mid first-set, Bruguera starts mixing in some HUGE moonballs, not in terms of pace, but in terms of flying into the next hemisphere known as mars.

Remember, after the first game, Bruguera LETS Agassi get some cuts-in. At this point, Agassi's feeling cautious but optimistic about his chances. Then, Bruguera starts throwing in waaay exaggerated (even for him) moonballs. The point of these shots, was that Agassi being Agassi would need to put AWAY or shut up. Well, Agassi being Agassi, very talented, DID put away some of these shots. And yet, I think that was part of Bruguera's strategy, because even Agassi knew he couldn't put away moonballs exaggerated to that degree against someone with Bruguera's footspeed nearly enough to win if that was going to be his strategy for the rest of the match...unless he was in the zone, and he wasn't, and he knew it.

At this point, Agassi's head is starting to swirl a little; Bruguera's given him things to think about by oscillating between allowing him to play his game and then suddenly not? ...does that make any sense? Exactly, now let's throw in a cutesy short angle for good measure--man, now that's just irritating, exactly.

Well, another moon ball? which brings us to THE pivotal point in the set, pivotal because the instant Agassi loses it you can almost hear the air pop and empty out of his state-of-the-art Nike Air sneakers.

...actually, it was two points in succession--not one, that broke Agassi's back.

The first of these two to close out this game late in the first was if memory stands correct a RIDICULOUSLY exaggerated moon ball rally, an epic point, eventually won by Bruguera. Then, before Agassi could even think about what had just happened; Bruguera quick serves him, Agassi reacts and hits the return, Bruguera ends the point before Agassi can even blink with ONE SHOT--game over and it's the most agressive backhand he'll attempt ALL match.

In short, it's the kind of shot, Bruguera's not even thought of attempting in awhile now...or *has he*?

That is the beauty of strategy and tactics folks.

5-love down in the second and Agassi watches a perfectly placed lob float JUST out of his reach and gives it the middle finger. Was there any doubt at that point?

Think now of why Agassi owned Becker in MOST but NOT all matches they plaed. When Becker tried to *mix-in* attacking the net with INTENT against Agassi as he did most players, in other words, play his trademark BRUISING brand of ALL-court tennis that made him great...he would win. Problem is, Becker apparently wasn't interested in winning against Agassi (most of the time at least) so much as he was in *beating Agassi at his own game*.

Becker had big but inconsistent groundies, and only fair side-to-side coverage, and he was not able to generate extreme angle or topspin to get the ball out of Agassi's ideal strike zone. Becker's on a good day could conceivably take out Chang from the baseline...Becker's groundies on his best day could NEVER take out Agassi from the baseline if that's ALL he was willing to try and bring to the table that day. Get the picture?

To make Agassi nervous, you have to be willing to implement every tool that you have that he KNOWS you can do better than him; make him *insecure*. Old man Agassi vs. young man Nadal KNEW Nadal could run circles around him, without getting tired, KNEW Nadal could bounce the ball up out of his ideal strike zone or pull him wide with short angles, etc. To me, Agassi looked just a little nervous and fearful in facing young Nadal; but that's just my opinion.

Remember, the first time Agassi played Rios? I do, he and Gilbert were taunting Rios before the match about how they were going to crush "the little man"--ha-ha.

When Agassi played Rios years later at the Lipton when Agassi was at the top of his game and Rios on the comeback trail (and generally stinky and injured during that time)? Agassi did not look nearly as confident to me as he did the first time. Why? Because by this time, Agassi had learned from experience that Rios could "Dr. Feel Good" his game into oblivion if he was on--rendering it irrelevant. Never have I seen a more perfectly concocted foil to Agassi's "style" from the baseline as Rios' grand design. Agassi's style was the baseball to Benito Santiago's glove--his golden glove.

Rios loved to take the ball on the rise against pace, and Agassi's shots had a consistent trajectory and skidding pace to them that didn't bounce too low for "the little man." Rios didn't have Agassi's power, but he had angles, dinks, drop shots, disguise, and the kitchen sink in spades.

Rios, in short, could make Agassi uncomfortable and pull him out of his ideal strike zone but Agassi couldn't FORCE Rios out of his....

federerfanatic
12-18-2007, 08:13 AM
Tym never misses a chance to laud Bruguera. :)

CGMemphis
12-18-2007, 08:36 AM
Wow, nice write up on how to take Agassi out his game. I remember that match. It was great.

I started this thread just ro marvel at the pace Agassi could wrack it at. I loved the man, he wasnt the perfect player by any means, but you loved to root for him, admire his leaping foreheads and torque and just watch him play. From the hair to the no hair, from the neon to the tennis whites, he gave tennis fans something players now dont, a genuine persona.

Agassi played his game, win or lose. He developed more and more, and had ups and downs, and that was the intriguing part of him. He was human with a touch of superhuman to him. We could relate to him and loathe him at the same time.

When he was movign himself downward into the sub-100 rankings, tanking matches...we all said "Andre, what are you doing?!" We knew he was better. He was the phenom that you could relate to.

Bruguera, great player, great game. Got the best of Agassi.

Todays tennis, especially the Americans, lack what Andre brought to the game. But it goes in cycles. We are beginning to see an up cycle.

Methodical, robotic tennis is boring. Darth Federer is a machine and an incredible record-breaking stud, no doubt. Nadals guns a blazing and clam-diggers aside, is a great talent. They lack the human appeal, the man you want to route for, the man you seems to route for because you can relate to him type of player.

Andre has his faults, but the game misses him already.

CyBorg
12-18-2007, 11:34 AM
!Tym - great post. Thanks for the insight.

Very nice point about Becker. It doesn't at first seem obvious why a guy like Agassi would succeed against Becker - we all remember Becker's 1992 Wimbledon loss to Andre (something that seemed so bizarre at the time) and yet if one watches the match one can see that Andre was never take out of his medium. Becker also employed similar tactics on clay, coming up short in a number of important claycourt finals by trying to beat guys at their own game.

If Boris knew his limitations better he would have continued to win majors for much of the 90s.

Some interesting ideas from you on the intricacies of Bruguera's game. My concern today is that this is exactly what we DON'T see in clay court tennis today - this kind of a penchant for mixing it up. Some say the derogatory word "moonballing" (although some don't think of it as derogatory), but really it's just smart tennis and not everyone can do it. This is why I always point out that most of the clay players today play like hardcourters (in other words, closer to Agassi than Bruguera) - never a change in pace. Davydenko is a great example of this - a guy who is actually quite similar to Agassi. Ferrer is also quite a bit like this. After Nadal these are out best clay players.

This is why I always point out that Federer has no competition on clay outside of Nadal. Everyone else plays on clay just like he does (hence the notion that Roger, an alien in a clay land has to beat another alien while both are equally incompetent at what they are doing). There are no Brugueras out there to mix things up. I bet if Roger were to meet someone like Andrei Medvedev circa 4th round at RG he'd be having loads of problems.

bluetrain4
12-18-2007, 11:46 AM
Fantastic post Tym - really insightful analysis.

When we talk about the "loss of variety," it is often in reference to the death of S&V tennis and the intriguing baseliner/S&V matchups that go with it.

But, I think equally that we have lost variety within the baseline game. You're post highlights many examples of how players employ different shots and tactics, paces, spin, etc., in playing from the baseline. We may call all of them baseliners, but what they do is completely different from one another.

Rios and Agassi and Chang, for example, were very different baseliners, and we don't see that variety at the baseline as much anymore, never mind the variety that comes with all-court and S&V tennis as well.

CGMemphis
12-18-2007, 12:16 PM
Rios and Agassi and Chang, for example, were very different baseliners, and we don't see that variety at the baseline as much anymore, never mind the variety that comes with all-court and S&V tennis as well.

I think some pro's are of the mindset that S&V is pointless when they cant hit the same angles from the baseline. Watch the amateurs and highschool kids. Its very rare to see the S&V tactics taught anymore. Theres something to be said for freaking an opponent out with a kicker outwide and a slice down the T with someone charing the net.

!Tym
12-20-2007, 05:17 AM
!Tym - great post. Thanks for the insight.

Very nice point about Becker. It doesn't at first seem obvious why a guy like Agassi would succeed against Becker - we all remember Becker's 1992 Wimbledon loss to Andre (something that seemed so bizarre at the time) and yet if one watches the match one can see that Andre was never take out of his medium. Becker also employed similar tactics on clay, coming up short in a number of important claycourt finals by trying to beat guys at their own game.

If Boris knew his limitations better he would have continued to win majors for much of the 90s.

Some interesting ideas from you on the intricacies of Bruguera's game. My concern today is that this is exactly what we DON'T see in clay court tennis today - this kind of a penchant for mixing it up. Some say the derogatory word "moonballing" (although some don't think of it as derogatory), but really it's just smart tennis and not everyone can do it. This is why I always point out that most of the clay players today play like hardcourters (in other words, closer to Agassi than Bruguera) - never a change in pace. Davydenko is a great example of this - a guy who is actually quite similar to Agassi. Ferrer is also quite a bit like this. After Nadal these are out best clay players.

This is why I always point out that Federer has no competition on clay outside of Nadal. Everyone else plays on clay just like he does (hence the notion that Roger, an alien in a clay land has to beat another alien while both are equally incompetent at what they are doing). There are no Brugueras out there to mix things up. I bet if Roger were to meet someone like Andrei Medvedev circa 4th round at RG he'd be having loads of problems.

COMPLETELY agree with you about everyone being brought up and taught to play EXACTLY the same way now. It's like these academy style coaches are churning out kids with the same parts and the only thing that separates a "star pupil" from a so-so one is who's better at the SAME technique. It's depressing to watch really.

To be honest, the reason I think this is the trend now is simply because it's easier and more profitable for coaches to sell the "sure thing" to parents, i.e. the "see Mrs. Smith, your son looks just like the pros already under my tutelage, give me a high-five (and $65 an hour more on the side)!"

Not only that, but it also makes it EASIER for coaches to coach ONE style and the same technique over and over again, than it is to freelance it and try to help and gently nudge a student to find his proverbial inner voice and personality on the court and in his strokes.

Edberg was actually a baseliner in his early junior years, when he decided to follow his inner-voice and switch to a one-handed backhand and become a dedicated serve and volleyer. As Edberg put it, he said players need to ask themselves PERSONALLY how I should play and how my strokes should be. In other words, players need to get intimate with themselves and really try to find their own UNIQUE *identity*. To me, this is something that young players today are never given the opportunity to do anymore and yes it sometimes CAN hurt them.

As Edberg says, if he hadn't followed his own voice and remained a baseliner, he would have been 200 in the world. When Edberg decided to go his own way, he said he was growing up at a time when everyone was trying to copy Borg; but the point is he DID go his own way and because of it he became the best player HE could be.

To me, the reason why we no longer see players with any "inspiration" in their strokes and game (meaning *uniquely* ideosyncratic YET *very* effective...take the Forget serve, the Edberg kicker, the Bruguera forehand/backhand motions, the Chang dipping wrist take back, the Goran "I invented it completely natural" Motion since I was twelves years old, etc.) is because the "system" for producing "top players" and "how to do things" is so mechanized now that parents and young players today think that the following the WRIT path is the ONLY way to succeed. It's like how with the whole "how to get into an Ivy League" college "blue print" is so readily available everywhere now, and parents buy into it hook, line, and sinker developing "kids" who do 1-part community service today, 2-parts study for SAT tomorrow, 3-parts find summer internship, 4-parts try to get onto at least one varsity sports team, 5-parts must not ever take Home Economics or Wood Shop as an elective and experience "living", etc.

As an example, of what I'm talking about? Kevin Kim. I remember reading an old article on him when he was a junior, and the article was on how his old PRIVATE coach, was horrified by what the Palmer Academy did to the game he had spent molding all those years with him. Basically, Kim left for the Palmer Academy (and his private coach) after reaching #1 in the nation and generating a buzz. The problem is that once he went to the Palmer Academy they tried to "mold" and transform what made him unique into EVERYONE ELSE.

His results plummeted, he struggled mightily to regain his confidence, and he was miserable. His old coach said that when he saw him again, he looked nothing like the player he knew. The "new and improved" factor-ized Kim was trying to hit loopy topspin and nothing else. As his old coach put it, everyone hits that way, but not everyone can hit as hard as Kevin and that's what made him great!

He was furious at what they had done to his game, and was saying how he should have never have left for the academy and too many promising juniors are doing that these days because they think that's the only way, and that juniors need to stay home and be with their families and with a private coach who TRULY knows him and and what's best for his game AS AN INDIVIDUAL, etc.

And the thing is, it's funny because a guy who is often ridiculed these days for not having REAL talent befitting of his very high ranking is none other than Andy "My Serve is Faster than Yours" Roddick. Guess what, Roddick is actually one of the BIG-time examples of the OLD style of player. Meaning a guy like Edberg who found his OWN unique ideosyncrasies that worked for HIM, as in if it works for me it doesn't matter if it doesn't work for everyone else at the "academy."

As a little back history, Roddick was NOT considered a top prospect as a junior, and it was actually his older brother who was supposed to be the tennis star not little tag along Andy. The turning point in Roddick's game, however, and subsequent meteoric almost overnight rise to BIG-TIME prospect was his serve. Yes, the huge growth spurt helped; but a lot of other guys get late big growth spurts too...but NO ONE serves like Andy either.

Not many people mention it, but Roddick's serve was NOT something academies and coaches taught. When asked how he came up with the wicked motion, he said you won't believe it but one day I was just fooling around but found that I was blasting BOMBS. When he saw that, he ADOPTED it. Hey, if it works, it works! And the rest is history, NO ONE taught him that serve. The point is he found it HIMSELF...while he was MESSING AROUND. What does that say about the effectiveness of the rigid academy style? To me, it says that if you follow the road, you might miss the hot chick standing at the side of the road looking to hitch a ride and have a good ol' time.

Many of the greatest inventions are accidents that worked, the problem is that today's style of REARING a pro tennis player no longer has the time nor leaves the room for accidents.

Had Roddick only been fooling around fatefuly one day when he was 48 years old...it would have been too late. Thank goodness for him, he was fooling around in his LATE TEENS! Proving that it's never too late to immediately adopt WHAT WORKS. Case in point? Edberg's one-handed backhand which I believe he switched to when he was 16, and guess what it turned out to be one of the best one-handed backhands to ever grace the game. Just goes to show how much unique talent is getting squashed and never allowed to rise to the surface these days, because juniors and parents today are so afraid to take their eyes off the road for even one second.

...btw, I think Becker knew his limitations; he was just dead-set on proving to you that he didn't have those limitations! ...err, which was kind of the problem. Sheesh, well that's Becker logic for you.

!Tym
12-20-2007, 05:27 AM
As a final note, ever wonder why attempted duplicate copies of the new "latest and greatest" thing in tennis never quite seem to work as good as the original? If you ask me why, it's because if you put Pamela Anderson in front of a mirror for a few seconds, then put Sally Fields trying REALLY, really hard to be just as busty in front of that same mirror a few seconds later; does that make Sally Fields just as busty as Pamela Anderson? No, of course not, don't be ridiculous Balky BartalkamousIcan'tspell!

Examples: Gael Monofils has Roddick's serve...but he doesn't. I have Bruguera's forehand...but I don't as that would be an insult to man-kind. Ivan Ljubijic learned from the best and has Goran's mojo...HA! Now that's a good one.

Moral of the story? Trying to copy a masterpiece is like trying to copy an Oreo cookie; why would you even WASTE YOUR TIME TRYING when you know it can't get any better. Do something mo' better on YOUR OWN TIME.

It's meeee time...can I get an...ohmmmm.

bluetrain4
12-20-2007, 11:15 AM
Wow! more unbelievable posts by Tym. The "uniqueness", "finding your own way" points were very well thought out. Obviously, someone has to teach kids how to hit strokes in the first place, and academys can do that. But, everyone can't have "perfect" strokes, at least from a technical perpective (in as much as there is such a thing). At some level, as Tym says, players have to do what's comfortable, and as long as the strokes don't break down, and the player can have a natural rythym to the stroke, so be it.

Look at some of the greatest players in history and their less than textbook strokes. Exhibit A - Steffi Graf, would you really teach a kid to hit an extreme eastern forehand off the hip, slightly behind the "optimal" contact point.
Exhibit B - Courier - the strokes speak for themselves. Ugly, yes. Effective, yes. Exhibit C- Monica Seles, 2 hands off both sides wouldn't work for many players. It did for her. Exhibit D - Edberg's ugly continental forehand. No it wasn't a huge weapon, but that wasn't the point. It provided him with continuity in his game as he never had to worry about grip changes from serve to volley to forehand. He couldn't rip winners, but he could effectively block back shots and get into position for the strenghts of his game. There are many more examples, and Tym's right, the rigidity of teaching tennis and the attendant results are boring to watch.

CGMemphis
12-20-2007, 11:42 AM
Ok, so now the original point of me posting this thread, Agassi could pound the ball, Roddick was completely out of position and basically just got his racquet on it and pointed it. It become and passing down the line winner with Agassi's original pace.

CyBorg
12-20-2007, 12:06 PM
I'm curious to see what Igor Andreev can do next year. It was pointed out on another board that in terms of ability he compares somewhat to David Ferrer (although he has a much more exagerrated style, particularly his forehand), with all the tools to be a top-10 guy.

It would be really nice to see his unique forehand out there winning him some tournaments. I'm not sure his head is in it, but we'll see.

vandre
12-20-2007, 12:18 PM
i'm with you on andreev. i caught his 1st rnd FO match against roddick from this yr (rerun on ttc) and he played very well. there were also moments during the dbls match at the davis cup final when he seemed to be the more dominate player. don't know if that's just his game or my general dislike for davydanko rearing its ugly head. but anyway, he could have a good 08 (as good as anyone not named roger or rafa) if he can keep his head together!

stormholloway
12-20-2007, 12:47 PM
P.S. Agassi was in pretty good health in Canada in '05. He got to the US Open final right after. Nadal deserves full credit for beating a tip-top Agassi.

Tip-top? Not quite. He was in good form, but not tip-top.

CyBorg
12-20-2007, 01:24 PM
Tip-top? Not quite. He was in good form, but not tip-top.

These guys go through wear-and-tear - no one is in perfect condition, especially after RG/Wimbledon. As it turns out Nadal wasn't either.