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View Full Version : The speed of the game - old vs. new


NLBwell
12-06-2009, 09:35 PM
While watching 2008 Aussi semis of Fed. vs. Djokovic on the TV and watching Laver vs. Roche on the computer (yes, I'm crazy) I was struck by how much faster the old grass-court game was than the modern game. With players serving and volleying, the distance between the players is much shorter (even more so when both are at the net). The old game is much quicker with players having to react and move faster. The position of the player at the net takes the time away from the opponent instead of the velocity of the ball.
Though tall guys could be very successful because of big serves and reach at the net (Smith, Newcombe), smaller guys could use their quickness around the court to get to the volleys and pass, as well as get to the net quickly to volley and back to retrieve lobs. Even though there were guys in the old game 6'7" or so with big games, their effectiveness was limited by their relative lack of quickness. People these days talk about how fast the ball moves, but the game today is much slower.

timnz
12-06-2009, 11:39 PM
Yes, you are correct. The common myth is that the modern game is so much faster that in the 'old days'. Actually it is completely the opposite. The biggest part of slowing the game is the court surfaces. Witness the near extension of indoor carpet and the considerable slowdown at Wimbledon. If you go back to the 50's and 60's you had laid canvas surfaces that were superfast.

I wonder if current players could have handled the old timers if they played them with the rackets of the period. I highly doubt it.

35ft6
12-07-2009, 12:08 AM
When people say the game is faster today they're talking about the mobility of the athletes and the speed of their shots. Surfaces seem much slower, that's for sure.

Datacipher
12-07-2009, 01:08 AM
When people say the game is faster today they're talking about the mobility of the athletes and the speed of their shots. Surfaces seem much slower, that's for sure.

Then they are horribly ignorant. The mobility of the athletes hasn't changed at all at the top of the game, though it might be a TINY bit faster on average. Speed of shots is also about the same, though, there is more spin now on average: in this sense the average shot is more powerful.

dropshot winner
12-07-2009, 01:11 AM
Then they are horribly ignorant. The mobility of the athletes hasn't changed at all at the top of the game, though it might be a TINY bit faster on average. Speed of shots is also about the same, though, there is more spin now on average: in this sense the average shot is more powerful.

The balls are heavier and bigger than before, so even if the shot itself is traveling at the same speed and spin compared to a ball of the 60/70s, it is tougher to controll.

fps
12-07-2009, 02:04 AM
Then they are horribly ignorant. The mobility of the athletes hasn't changed at all at the top of the game, though it might be a TINY bit faster on average. Speed of shots is also about the same, though, there is more spin now on average: in this sense the average shot is more powerful.

what data do you have to back this up? i see players now hitting the ball harder than ever from the ground, despite the heavier balls.

and i doubt tennis is the only sport on earth where the players haven't become fitter, faster and more mobile.

Blade0324
12-07-2009, 06:45 AM
Sorry but I have to disagree with the OP in all aspects. The speed of the ball is substantially faster today than it was in the older days. Serves are faster on average as are groundstrokes. Also the players are generally across the board a bit faster today than they used to be. There were some very quick players back in the day but on the whole players today are in better shape and faster. The speed of the courts today is a bit slower than it used to be and I feel like this is due to the fact that players hit the ball harder today so the court speed has slowed a bit to level the playing field so to speak.

TMF
12-07-2009, 07:07 AM
Then they are horribly ignorant. The mobility of the athletes hasn't changed at all at the top of the game, though it might be a TINY bit faster on average. Speed of shots is also about the same, though, there is more spin now on average: in this sense the average shot is more powerful.

And it's also horribly ridiculous when claiming something you don't have any evidence to backup. How often you see players in the past hit 130+ mph first serve? How often you see a 100+ mhp forehand in the past? How often you see players hitting winners from both wings from the baseline in the past? And there's a reason for players are cautious to rush the net today.

raiden031
12-07-2009, 07:10 AM
Then they are horribly ignorant. The mobility of the athletes hasn't changed at all at the top of the game, though it might be a TINY bit faster on average. Speed of shots is also about the same, though, there is more spin now on average: in this sense the average shot is more powerful.

So fitness experts have learned nothing in the past 30 to 40 years?

NamRanger
12-07-2009, 07:57 AM
And it's also horribly ridiculous when claiming something you don't have any evidence to backup. How often you see players in the past hit 130+ mph first serve? How often you see a 100+ mhp forehand in the past? How often you see players hitting winners from both wings from the baseline in the past? And there's a reason for players are cautious to rush the net today.




Radar guns today measure much more "accurately" than they did in the 1990s. Pretty good example is Agassi who in a decade added 10+ mph on his serve on average. Now, I know Agassi's serve got better, but let's be honest. I'm pretty sure Agassi didn't add 10+ mph on his serve from 95 to 2005.

kishnabe
12-07-2009, 08:06 AM
Laver vs Roche on the aussie open was awesome, it was fast and entertaining. I have seen Borg Vs John McEnroe wimbledon 1980 and I don't feel the same. Maybe in the 1960's and 70's it was faster than the 80's. Then 90's and 20's were faster than 80's. Im just guessing. I still think the serve and volley game is better than today's modern game. Maybe federer wins to much really gets annoying. Watching edberg,becker,borg,lendl,McEnroe, connors, laver,roche and rosewall is pretty fun.

Chadwixx
12-07-2009, 08:06 AM
Now, I know Agassi's serve got better, but let's be honest. I'm pretty sure Agassi didn't add 10+ mph on his serve from 95 to 2005.

He physically got alot better which would explain his bigger serve. Look at pics from 1995 and compare them to 2000+. Its night and day.

Players hit harder and the courts are slower.

NamRanger
12-07-2009, 08:13 AM
He physically got alot better which would explain his bigger serve. Look at pics from 1995 and compare them to 2000+. Its night and day.

Players hit harder and the courts are slower.



I'm not sure if he could add 10 mph on his serve purely from strength though. That kind of an increase in speed should constitute some kind of technique improvement.



Even Agassi said he was surprised that his serve was measured so high.

Chadwixx
12-07-2009, 08:20 AM
He got alot stronger, he was scrawny until around 1998. Take a look at him in like 1993 when he was wearing the pink spandex under the denium, he had tiny arms and a gut.

He was hitting everything harder, not just the serve.

Ive been doing a few bench press's and it does help your serve alot, at least it does me.

sureshs
12-07-2009, 08:24 AM
Quickness is not the same as ball speed.

AAAA
12-07-2009, 08:46 AM
I've seen matches between Goran, Becker, Sampras, Federer on grass and they were much faster than this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHaN2h21ANs

Also how is comparing a serve volley match on old grass vs a modern baseline match on a slowish hard court comparable?

35ft6
12-07-2009, 11:33 AM
Then they are horribly ignorant. The mobility of the athletes hasn't changed at all at the top of the game, though it might be a TINY bit faster on average.Over time, the players have become a lot more athletic. So I disagree with you. And really, maybe you're one of those dudes who become even more of a devil's advocate as the consensus grows, but commentators, players, trainers, and coaches agree.

The differences become more striking the farther back in time you go. Roddick in a recent press conference said that the game now is more about "legs" and less about ball striking. Maybe an overstatement, but I understand what he's saying. Not long ago, can't remember which tournament, but male players were skidding and falling all over the place. Never in the 80's did I see anything remotely close to that. It was a hard court tournament. And everybody keeps saying the courts are being slowed down, so that must mean a grittier surface with more bite and traction, but guys were falling down left and right. The commentators were talking about how they hoped no major injuries were caused, how it was an alarming thing. Guys are just running harder, having to change directions quicker, moving more aggressively.

Maybe tennis is attracting better athletes, or maybe they're just training better. When Lendl cross trained and did tons of off court work, people constantly went on about that. Now it's the norm. What we're seeing now is a generation of players who grew doing extensive footwork, strength, agility, flexibility, reflex, etc, drills since they were young. It's applied science. You can bet McEnroe wasn't doing the stuff Fed was doing...

Trying to find that video of Fed and that Asian junior being put through the paces.

President of Serve/Volley
12-07-2009, 03:26 PM
Faster Speed: The older generation would have a field day vs today's crop if you put them on carpet. Put Stefan Edberg vs Rafael Nadal on carpet, boy that won't be fun to watch.

Naturally, today's tennis, Nadal would likely dominant him. I actually miss the old mixed up styles of super quick tennis.

fps
12-07-2009, 03:33 PM
so basically, the courts are slower, the balls are designed to be slower, the players are on average more athletic and the players are hitting harder.

done.

kOaMaster
12-07-2009, 03:36 PM
there is one point I certainly agree:
serve & volley does make it look faster. you don't have 25-30 meters to react but maybe only 15 (plus the ball is slowing down). but so it was in the 90s.

now you don't want to tell me that a) fitnes, b) the technique and c) the technology didn't improve in the last 40 years?
you've got to be kidding me. try hitting a 240km/h serve with a wooden racket + the ball from 40 years ago. and I think all the athletes got A LOT fitter than those days - like in maybe all sports.

the only ignorant or naive person in here @ datacypher....

rocket
12-07-2009, 03:53 PM
Trying to find that video of Fed and that Asian junior being put through the paces.

This:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jwh0GfA_eo

rocket
12-07-2009, 03:55 PM
so basically, the courts are slower, the balls are designed to be slower,...

There's a good reason why.


And no, it's not just for Nadal & the likes.

NamRanger
12-07-2009, 04:53 PM
so basically, the courts are slower, the balls are designed to be slower, the players are on average more athletic and the players are hitting harder.

done.




Yes the players are on average more athletic and hit harder, but not to an extent that people make them. The elites were clearly just about as fast as one another and hit as hard as one another. Now from the wood to graphite era that's too hard of a comparison. However the players from the 90s I think on average were just about as athletic as the guys today; the only difference is IMO the technique on average is better overall.

President of Serve/Volley
12-07-2009, 05:20 PM
There's a good reason why.


And no, it's not just for Nadal & the likes.


They should mixed it up... More shots with serve and volley.

borg number one
12-08-2009, 06:12 AM
In general, yes, guys are more "athletic" and fit relative to the players of yesteryear, from about 1980 back. Yet, let's not put Borg in that category, because not many players of today if any are any more athletic than he was.

Racquet changes and string changes have made more of an impact in recent decades when making comparisons as to overall pace.

Yet, what the previous poster said about net play cutting down on the "ability to react" is true. Matches such as this Laver vs. Roche match illustrate that quite well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHaN2h21ANs

Which player today could hit these shots and win these points with a wood frame? Name one for me please. No, not even Federer.

Players of today, playing with wood frames, would get blitzed trying to play points like these, because many do not have the same level of pure "tennis skill" as some players of old. Players say during the 50's all the way till about 1980 had to depend primarily on the talents of their arms/hands. Of course, legwork and their footwork was still very important, but placement was the key, in that you had to really work to get the ball by someone. It often required several shots to accomplish, and not just one or two.

Sartorius
12-08-2009, 06:32 AM
Which player today could hit these shots and win these points with a wood frame? Name one for me please. No, not even Federer.

Players of today, playing with wood frames, would get blitzed trying to play points like these, because many do not have the same level of pure "tennis skill" as some players of old.

This is the umpteenth time I've read something like this and it always makes me giggle.

Of course if you hand a player of today a wooden frame, he wouldn't start hitting winners tomorrow. They are not trained to play with a wooden frame. But if you let them train to play with a wooden frame (or more specifically, train children to play with wooden frame), they can hit those shots. Also, if you quicken up the courts, players will start to come to the net more. The latter is perhaps my opinion and may be arguable, but the firmer seems painfully obvious to me.

And that second comment, "No player can have the skills of the old masters!"... Well, it just makes me giggle... Because, yes it is true that years ago there were players with outstanding tennis skills. But news flash, friend.. There were players with outstanding tennis skills 10 years ago. And there are actually players with outstanding tennis skills today (people argue, you know, perhaps one of them is the best). And probably, there will be great tennis players in the future as well.

borg number one
12-08-2009, 06:50 AM
I don't disagree with any of that, and I don't need any "news flashes", as I know exactly how the game has evolved decade by decade. Let's not overlook at how complex it was to hit shots like the guys from especially the 50's and 60's. Now, by about the late 1970's, you had increased physicality combined with great shotmaking, hence the "golden era" of tennis, with Connors, Borg, and McEnroe. Since then, we've been searching for the right formula, and tweaking surfaces, and racquet technologies, and string changes. From the 90's until now, besides racquet advancements, the changes in strings with the ability to hit a lot more spin more easily has been a huge factor in fostering the tennis style that is primarily played these days, on somewhat slower surfaces relative to the 90's and prior to that.

My main point is, though most players of yesteryear could not match the legwork of players of today, they certainly could hit shots with great pace, especially with modern frames. Players that have only played with modern frames would have a much more difficult time mastering wood frames (and their games would be COMPLETELY different), yet, it's easier to go in the OTHER DIRECTION (we've seen it time after time), as players successfully adapt from wood frames and find it quite easy and "cushy" hitting with modern frames. It's like shooting baskets in basketball into a tiny basket and THEN shooting baskets into a regular sized basket. Once you master a more complex skill set, going to what's "normal" seems almost effortless. The tiny sweet spot of old frames is the primary reason, besides how difficult it is to hit extremely hard shots over and over.

Changmaster
12-08-2009, 07:11 AM
In general, yes, guys are more "athletic" and fit relative to the players of yesteryear, from about 1980 back. Yet, let's not put Borg in that category, because not many players of today if any are any more athletic than he was.

Racquet changes and string changes have made more of an impact in recent decades when making comparisons as to overall pace.

Yet, what the previous poster said about net play cutting down on the "ability to react" is true. Matches such as this Laver vs. Roche match illustrate that quite well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHaN2h21ANs

Which player today could hit these shots and win these points with a wood frame? Name one for me please. No, not even Federer.

Players of today, playing with wood frames, would get blitzed trying to play points like these, because many do not have the same level of pure "tennis skill" as some players of old. Players say during the 50's all the way till about 1980 had to depend primarily on the talents of their arms/hands. Of course, legwork and their footwork was still very important, but placement was the key, in that you had to really work to get the ball by someone. It often required several shots to accomplish, and not just one or two.

If today's players had been trained from a young age with wooden rackets, then yes, I think at least some of them, especially someone like Federer, would be able to play a high level S+V game (although on faster courts) with old-school frames.

It seems like you're suggesting that players from the wooden age had much more tennis skill than today's players. How can you even say that? It's just that the game is so much different today than back then. If today's players were transported back to the old days, they would have trouble S+Ving with wooden rackets. By the same token, if you transported the players in the wooden age to today, they would have trouble hanging from the baseline with modern rackets, because the slower courts today would obviously discourage S+V.

Borg#1, it's clear that you have much respect for the players of the past, but it seems like you're making them out to be almost magical, and greatly exaggerating their skills, when it's really just as simple as the fact that they learned the game under different circumstances.

borg number one
12-08-2009, 07:36 AM
No, I wouldn't go that far. I agree that in general, the players of today are fitter and faster. Also, in general, the players of the past, especially 1980 and before had more pure shotmaking skill (by necessity), because of the technology they had to use. Players of today do have great skill, don't get me wrong, they do, no doubt. It's just that, unless you've played with wood racquets (as I have when I was 9-11) and then played with graphite frames, as I have from about 1980, and also played with the newest frames, it's hard for someone to appreciate how different the racquets are by decade.

I learned to first hit the ball with a Jack Kramer Autograph and played 12 and under tournaments, and got to #1 in Alabama with that racquet.

By 14 and unders, we moved to Texas, and I was playing with a Wilson Graphite and able to almost OVERNIGHT hit the ball much harder and the sweet spot seemed HUGE. I played with graphite frames through juniors, and played Nationals, as well as some Division 1 tennis my freshman year in college (I was on the practice team and would have been playing top 6 singles by sophomore-junior year at UT, which was top 5 in the country at the time. I chose school instead and stopped playing after my freshman year, no scholarship, but went on to grad school/law school to earn a real living instead of slugging it out on the tour).

I have also played several pro satellite tournaments with graphite frames back then (late 1980's-early 1990's). Now, I have changed frames consistently since then and now use a Fischer 95 square inch frame strung at near 60 pounds. I can hit the ball harder TODAY and it's much easier for me now, at age 41, compared to when I was say 18-20. Racquets make a huge difference, because I'm probably not any stronger now than I was when I was 20. Believe me, hitting with say a wood Jack Kramer is no joke. People do not appreciate how hard it is to hit hard shot after hard shot, going for winners with one of those.

borg number one
12-08-2009, 07:49 AM
By the way, I know the ITF regulates tennis balls, and that they do tend to vary in weight even from Slam to Slam, but where is the evidence as to the changed WEIGHT of the ball from say 1970 through today. When were they lighter and how much and when were they made heavier, and by how much? Thanks in advance.

Blade0324
12-08-2009, 09:01 AM
Faster Speed: The older generation would have a field day vs today's crop if you put them on carpet. Put Stefan Edberg vs Rafael Nadal on carpet, boy that won't be fun to watch.

Naturally, today's tennis, Nadal would likely dominant him. I actually miss the old mixed up styles of super quick tennis.


Yep it would be fun to see Nadal Pown Edberg over and over again. Edberg would not have much chance to be honest. There is a reason that players are so hesitant to come to net against him even indoors.

Blade0324
12-08-2009, 09:02 AM
They should mixed it up... More shots with serve and volley.


Umm, NO, S&V is gone and we don't want it coming back.
Serve, return, volley, end point. Yawn!!!

35ft6
12-08-2009, 11:19 AM
Which player today could hit these shots and win these points with a wood frame? Name one for me please. No, not even Federer.

Players of today, playing with wood frames, would get blitzed trying to play points like these, because many do not have the same level of pure "tennis skill" as some players of old. Players say during the 50's all the way till about 1980 had to depend primarily on the talents of their arms/hands. Of course, legwork and their footwork was still very important, but placement was the key, in that you had to really work to get the ball by someone. It often required several shots to accomplish, and not just one or two.Wooden rackets were used for a long time, for most of the 20th century. Do you think the level of play improved at all during that time? Did technique change?
http://www.sc.edu/library/spcollimages/tennis/lacoste.jpg
How would Lacoste do against Laver? Also, Borg used a wooden racket... could he volley as well at Roche?

TMF
12-08-2009, 11:35 AM
^
From the picture above, I donít think any player today can compete by wearing slack and a dress shirt. Itís just to show how much tennis has changed and the players are always getting better.

borg number one
12-08-2009, 12:03 PM
No, Borg could not volley as well as Roche, but his groundstrokes were far better, and his serve was quite good as well. His first serve was one of the best in the game, especially during about 1978-1981.

The game slowly evolved with wood racquets, overall till they were phased out in the early 1980's. The players overall were more athletic and fit, generally, with each successive era. So, no Lacoste probably could not compete well vs. Laver and Roche. Yet, I think Borg and Laver would be quite a tough match up, and I think Borg may very well have come out on top more often than not (Peak Borg vs. Peak Laver).

I would say the same applies for both McEnroe and Connors, but I don't think they would have fared as well against Laver as Borg. Then, you had the sea change in racquet technology, especially starting in about 1982 or so, and the increased athleticism continued as well.

So, IN GENERAL, the athletes of today are superior to the players of both the 1990's, 1980's and 1970's. Yet, they are not necessarily superior to those players as far as pure shot-making ability. Yet, I would not say the players of today are more athletic than Borg. No way, he could definitely "hang" with players of today in all athletic "departments", ESPECIALLY speed and stamina.

The thing that makes Borg stand out, in my opinion, is his nearly unparalleled athleticism (Nadal, Sampras, and Federer are in his league but not many others) , also combined with top-notch shotmaking ability with wood/wood + slight graphite inlay frame that was about 70 square inches (Donnay wood and then Donnay Borg Pro).

Now, put a modern frame in his hands (Head/Babolat/Wilson), growing up especially, and THEN add that to his quickness, speed, stamina, ability on all surfaces, upper and lower body strength, and mental toughness (clutch play) and you have in my opinion, the greatest player of all time, in terms of peak performance overall.

Now, as far as hard courts go, he did win about 9 hard court tournaments during his career, while losing 3 US Open finals on hard courts. Yet, he won a ton on Red Clay, Grass, and Indoor courts also, so he was a extreme threat on every surface, and every tournament. He won 11/27 GS tournaments played (best in the Open Era) and he won nearly 90% of his Grand Slam singles matches. Both are Open Era records.

Those are the reasons why, in my opinion, he is ever so slightly ahead of Laver, Sampras, and Federer. Yet, you can make plausible arguments for all four of those guys that are in my opinion, at "the top of the mountain": Laver, Borg, Sampras, and Federer.

I reiterate, you can make arguments for all 4. It's too bad we missed out on seeing him play from age 26-28 or so, when a player is still very fit and strong, but also has all that experience to draw from. But he made his choice to stop playing. He would have won more GS tournaments, in my opinion, but of course that's hypothetical. To say he WOULD NOT have won more I think is a less convincing argument to make, in my opinion.

When Borg retired, he had won 3 of 6 big slams, and McEnroe had won the other 3 (Borg won 2 FO's and a Wimbledon during 1980-1981, while McEnroe won 1 Wimbledon, and 2 US Opens). His WORST head to head record against ANY PLAYER was 7-7 vs. McEnroe, and guess what? That was ONLY on hard courts, grass courts, and indoor courts, with NO CLAY COURT matches.

Borg retired as the reigning FO champion, so he was easily still the best clay courter around. Plus, he would have still been a big threat at Wimbledon especially. In addition, he won the last 2 YEC tourneys he played in New York, beating both McEnroe and Lendl INDOORS. That was, in effect, the 4th major back then, since the top players did not play the AO during that time.

Basically until about 1980-1981, you have "apples to apples" pretty much, even though wood racquets SLOWLY evolved, some, they were still WOOD, and the tennis balls didn't change that much, and of course the courts were the same dimensions, although you saw a shift away from just grass/clay.

So, until 1981-1982, the 2 greatest players, in my opinion were Borg and Laver. Post 1981-1982, you had 2 other HUGE greats emerge in the Game, namely Sampras and Federer. That's how I arrive at my "top 4" male players in history.

Datacipher
12-08-2009, 03:40 PM
So fitness experts have learned nothing in the past 30 to 40 years?

Wow. I've posted extensively on this before. Without getting into volumes of detail. NO. Our "modern" training accounts for little, other than hype. Though steroids and other drugs have made real differences in performance. Ironically, much of the current trend is to dig up old-school training techniques and promote them as "new". LOL

Second, you simply can't give a person world-class speed. Laver wouldn't be any faster doing some dinky plyometrics. (actually, he and others under Hopman, did plenty anyways, and in some cases far more intensely than most of the players today). Mcenroe, did almost nothing, but was gifted with fast feet.

This kind of reasoning is actually a combination of a few of the ridiculous myths that go around tennis/athletics today. Sad ...it's almost like being in a new dark ages.

Datacipher
12-08-2009, 03:43 PM
Over time, the players have become a lot more athletic. So I disagree with you. And really, maybe you're one of those dudes who become even more of a devil's advocate as the consensus grows, but commentators, players, trainers, and coaches agree.

The differences become more striking the farther back in time you go. Roddick in a recent press conference said that the game now is more about "legs" and less about ball striking. Maybe an overstatement, but I understand what he's saying. Not long ago, can't remember which tournament, but male players were skidding and falling all over the place. Never in the 80's did I see anything remotely close to that. It was a hard court tournament. And everybody keeps saying the courts are being slowed down, so that must mean a grittier surface with more bite and traction, but guys were falling down left and right. The commentators were talking about how they hoped no major injuries were caused, how it was an alarming thing. Guys are just running harder, having to change directions quicker, moving more aggressively.

Maybe tennis is attracting better athletes, or maybe they're just training better. When Lendl cross trained and did tons of off court work, people constantly went on about that. Now it's the norm. What we're seeing now is a generation of players who grew doing extensive footwork, strength, agility, flexibility, reflex, etc, drills since they were young. It's applied science. You can bet McEnroe wasn't doing the stuff Fed was doing...

Trying to find that video of Fed and that Asian junior being put through the paces.

UGh. I have posted extensivly on this before, but can't bring myself to write another comprehensive discourse on it. Again, I disagree, and it does irritate me that yet more fitness/tennis myths are getting more and more extensively propagated. Though as, I said, I do think the AVERAGE level of athleticism has improved slightly, as has the average level of fitness. Maximal speed, power, footwork, timing, etc. NO CHANGE.NONE.

TMF
12-08-2009, 04:08 PM
Wow. I've posted extensively on this before. Without getting into volumes of detail. NO. Our "modern" training accounts for little, other than hype. Though steroids and other drugs have made real differences in performance. Ironically, much of the current trend is to dig up old-school training techniques and promote them as "new". LOL

Second, you simply can't give a person world-class speed. Laver wouldn't be any faster doing some dinky plyometrics. (actually, he and others under Hopman, did plenty anyways, and in some cases far more intensely than most of the players today). Mcenroe, did almost nothing, but was gifted with fast feet.

This kind of reasoning is actually a combination of a few of the ridiculous myths that go around tennis/athletics today. Sad ...it's almost like being in a new dark ages.


First, just b/c thereís a few bad apples on the tour who takes steroids doesnít mean the entire playing field are on steroid either.

2nd, drug tests are common today, which is easy to get caught. 30-40 years ago, how much drug test was practice? There could be many drug abusers back then but they donít get caught since no one care .

3rd, more athletes are competing than 30-40 years ago. Logic would say more athletes would produce more talented/better players given a greater sample of athletes. Not to mention greater diversity that comes from more countries competing.

kOaMaster
12-08-2009, 04:09 PM
Maximal speed, power, footwork, timing, etc. NO CHANGE.NONE.

how do you want to prove this fact?
I mean, in almost every sport, especially those where you need to be really fit, had a lot of improvements. not only because of new techniques, but also because they train harder, longer, the competition is bigger and so on.
why shouldn't that be in tennis?

I mean it's not just a "gift" that federer has good footwork. that is hard training.

35ft6
12-08-2009, 06:24 PM
UGh. I have posted extensivly on this before, but can't bring myself to write another comprehensive discourse on it. Again, I disagree, and it does irritate me that yet more fitness/tennis myths are getting more and more extensively propagated.Not just by me, but by players, former players, commentators, coaches, and trainers.

And it will continue. We still haven't seen NBA quality athletes on the tour. Imagine a Del Potro who can move faster than Nadal. Basically, a Lebron James or Kobe Bryant who grew up playing tennis.

And it's not just the guys. The women have become a lot more athletic as well.

35ft6
12-08-2009, 06:29 PM
This:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jwh0GfA_eoThis is the kind of stuff players weren't doing even in the 80's. I've read stories of guys in the 60's drinking after matches, eating steaks and drinking lots of milk to fuel up for matches. Things have progressed. That's no knock on the old timers, they did the best they could with the knowledge of diet, off court training, and technique of their day, and with the equipment they had.

I don't think today's player could even last a tournament wearing Stan Smiths or whatever shoes they wore in the 70's and probably some of the 80's.

nCode2010
12-08-2009, 06:31 PM
Hi, I'm new here. Regarding this topic I believe that the current top players are the best athletes this sport has ever seen. Just watch the balls they get to on defense - it's amazing.

Changmaster
12-08-2009, 06:45 PM
Not just by me, but by players, former players, commentators, coaches, and trainers.

And it will continue. We still haven't seen NBA quality athletes on the tour. Imagine a Del Potro who can move faster than Nadal. Basically, a Lebron James or Kobe Bryant who grew up playing tennis.

And it's not just the guys. The women have become a lot more athletic as well.

Having extreme athleticism wouldn't necessarily translate to being the best tennis player. I'd say Monfils is pretty similar to James or Kobe in terms of size (slightly smaller) and strength, and he's probably faster. Monfils can hit harder than Nadal, and he's arguably faster, but Nadal is clearly a better tennis player. So incredible athleticism by itself isn't enough to be the best.

But seeing an athletic beast like Monfils playing tennis today, almost proves that on average, players have become much more athletic than in the old days.

Toxicmilk
12-08-2009, 07:01 PM
Having extreme athleticism wouldn't necessarily translate to being the best tennis player. I'd say Monfils is pretty similar to James or Kobe in terms of size (slightly smaller) and strength, and he's probably faster. Monfils can hit harder than Nadal, and he's arguably faster, but Nadal is clearly a better tennis player. So incredible athleticism by itself isn't enough to be the best.

But seeing an athletic beast like Monfils playing tennis today, almost proves that on average, players have become much more athletic than in the old days.

I'd say that Nadal is pretty athletic as well. though.

Cantankersore
12-08-2009, 07:03 PM
Having extreme athleticism wouldn't necessarily translate to being the best tennis player. I'd say Monfils is pretty similar to James or Kobe in terms of size (slightly smaller) and strength, and he's probably faster. Monfils can hit harder than Nadal, and he's arguably faster, but Nadal is clearly a better tennis player. So incredible athleticism by itself isn't enough to be the best.

But seeing an athletic beast like Monfils playing tennis today, almost proves that on average, players have become much more athletic than in the old days.

Ivo Karlovic: 6'10" 230
LeBron James: 6'8" 250
Kobe Bryant: 6'6" 205
Juan Martin Del Potro: 6'6" 180
Gael Monfils: 6'4" 180

I'd say LeBron would be more comparable to a stronger, much more athletic Karlovic. Tennis does take natural skill though, so it wouldn't be automatic that he would a good player. Still, his size and movement would definitely be dangerous. Similarly, size wise Kobe is closer to a stronger, more athletic Del Potro.

Let's be honest too; as much as I like tennis, they're much better athletes.

tlm
12-08-2009, 07:29 PM
Have any of you claiming the game of old was faster watched any of that slow motion era lately? If you had you would not be saying that it was faster back in the day.This is so far from the truth it is hilarious.

TennisLurker
12-08-2009, 07:51 PM
I think you are overrating NBA athletes.

Football (I mean what americans call soccer) is by far the most popular sport in the world, all other sports are midgets when compared to football, it is played by the majority of european and latin american males, and the athletes are not NBA size. It is the sport with the most depth, and the best players tend to be around Federer height, with some exceptions like Messi who is Coria Chang size.

NBA athletes are successful because of the particular demands of their sport, perhaps they would also be successful in tennis because a big serve is such a huge advantage, but then, they would struggle with low shots.

Players who are six feet 1 or 2 like Fed are the best, they can have the best of both worlds.

nCode2010
12-08-2009, 07:52 PM
I think the Federer/Nadal AO final was proof enough of how the modern tennis players are the best athletes that have ever played. Did you see the amazing defensive gets from both guys?

Toxicmilk
12-08-2009, 08:02 PM
I think you are overrating NBA athletes.



NBA athletes are successful because of the particular demands of their sport, perhaps they would also be successful in tennis because a big serve is such a huge advantage, but then, they would struggle with low shots.

Players who are six feet 1 or 2 like Fed are the best, they can have the best of both worlds.

I think he was talking more about the level of athleticism rather than their height or w/e. When people talk about the NBA players being tall AND quick/fast...it's mostly cause tall people aren't usually like that.

TennisLurker
12-08-2009, 08:14 PM
I also understood that, I just disagreed with the notion that NBA athletes are all that, or would dominate tennis if they had chosen tennis as a sport when they were kids.

Do you think Ginobili is a more gifted athlete than Del Potro?

Cantankersore
12-08-2009, 08:35 PM
Yeah, I would say he Ginobili is a much better athlete. Not that it would necessarily translate to being a better tennis player. One difference between the sports is that being tall and somewhat athletic makes you automatically a pretty good basketball player; having four inches on a guy and being able to palm a ball are pretty big advantages in basketball, whereas in tennis it is more of a double edged sword. This is obviously not the case in Tennis, the advantages are not as obvious. Still, given the same athletic ability, you would probably rather have a couple of extra inches.

NLBwell
12-08-2009, 08:40 PM
Players on the grass attacked and took time away from their opponents by shortening the court by moving to the net rather than consistently hitting hard. Players retuning a ball had to move quicker - quicker hands, quicker feet than players have to now in a baseline rally. Taller players these days are probably much quicker than they used to be because of training, but shorter players probably aren't much quicker than the guys then (they did do Harry Hopman's plyometrics). Of course, all players are now on average probably faster running behind the baseline (vs. quick reactions), but without the constant hours of hitting reaction volleys and reacting to them, the current players are not as quick in that sense. It is a different game and height has far less disadvantages than it did then, therefore you will see the trend of tall players continue. It doesn't mean that the players then weren't as good an athelete, it means the optimum size for a tennis player is now larger than it used to be.

Datacipher
12-08-2009, 11:46 PM
First, just b/c thereís a few bad apples on the tour who takes steroids doesnít mean the entire playing field are on steroid either.

2nd, drug tests are common today, which is easy to get caught. 30-40 years ago, how much drug test was practice? There could be many drug abusers back then but they donít get caught since no one care .

3rd, more athletes are competing than 30-40 years ago. Logic would say more athletes would produce more talented/better players given a greater sample of athletes. Not to mention greater diversity that comes from more countries competing.

You're an IDIOT. SERIOUSLY.

Datacipher
12-08-2009, 11:52 PM
how do you want to prove this fact?
I mean, in almost every sport, especially those where you need to be really fit, had a lot of improvements. not only because of new techniques, but also because they train harder, longer, the competition is bigger and so on.
why shouldn't that be in tennis?

I mean it's not just a "gift" that federer has good footwork. that is hard training.

Nope. And there is no metric to measure these things, so we can argue about it forever. I trained pro athletes for quite a while, did a masters degree in biomechanics...and i feel the evidence overwhelmingly supports the contention that training absolutely cannot push the ceiling up on those things, but again, a very lengthy argument, one which I have addressed earlier. More to the point, it's not something anyone wants to hear...the simple answer and the most palatable is: train hard = faster feet. It's not true, but hey, it sounds great and it appeals for SO many reasons! Of course we then follow it up with the ludicrous idea that say...Laver did not train hard enough maximize his speed. (a lack of rubber tubing and beach balls undoubtedly....nevermind Hopman's drills). But again, I'm preaching common sense (and SCIENCE!) against the public trends....and those who have both personal interest and in many cases, commercial interest in propagating it....I know I'm not going to win against that!

Sorry for the digression, but this is an ENORMOUS topic....which again...is why I hardly want to write volumes on it, only to have numerous, rather ignorant, posters cite the men's health article they read...or their own common sense!

dropshot winner
12-08-2009, 11:56 PM
Ivo Karlovic: 6'10" 230
LeBron James: 6'8" 250
Kobe Bryant: 6'6" 205
Juan Martin Del Potro: 6'6" 180
Gael Monfils: 6'4" 180

I'd say LeBron would be more comparable to a stronger, much more athletic Karlovic. Tennis does take natural skill though, so it wouldn't be automatic that he would a good player. Still, his size and movement would definitely be dangerous. Similarly, size wise Kobe is closer to a stronger, more athletic Del Potro.

Let's be honest too; as much as I like tennis, they're much better athletes.

If Del Potro had Bryant's weight he would have destroyed his knees already.

Cantankersore
12-09-2009, 12:07 AM
You're an IDIOT. SERIOUSLY.

The first point, I'll agree, wasn't really a point. The second point doesn't really seem to have much of a point, although it was something that baseball had trouble with. I must say though, thanks for masterfully addressing the third point. Drawing a larger sample from a larger population (having skill levels presumably following the same sorts of distributions as in previous generations, at least according to you) and filtering for skill obviously wouldn't tend to increase general professional skill level, I mean that is just common sense.

Cantankersore
12-09-2009, 12:10 AM
If Del Potro had Bryant's weight he would have destroyed his knees already.

What about Karlovic? Joints don't get stronger the taller you are.

dropshot winner
12-09-2009, 12:15 AM
What about Karlovic? Joints don't get stronger the taller you are.

Karlovic isn't exactly know for moving. He's probably hitting 1.5 shots on average when serving and not much more on return.

Del Potro is different, he has to move a lot as a baseliner and has surprisingly good defense for a guy of his size. If he had to carry an additional 25 pounds he'd be injured all the time.

borg number one
12-09-2009, 04:16 AM
Datacipher, I for one appreciate your obvious knowledge on this topic and it is quite interesting. I think what you are alluding to is that there are just certain "limits" of physical/athletic improvement, and since many players actually trained very hard with many "old school" training techniques and in essence had great inherent talents, there has not been the degree of improved athleticism that people may somewhat imagine. We may be somewhat fooled by the changes in the game that are primarily caused by racquet and string technology vs. athletic/physical improvements.

After all, just how superior are tennis athletes (especially among the top players) vs. other greats of say the 90's, 80's, and 70's? Though there are some "modern" training techniques, the players from decades ago also trained in somewhat "tougher" conditions often and learned to play/train in circumstances that are not really present now. Anyway, thanks for your input.

An example of how in some ways, tennis was more "physical" in days past is this: imagine playing 5 setters at Wimbledon on much faster grass, where you have to react to low, skidding balls, or at Roland Garros, when the red clay was much slower than it is today. Now, also imagine playing those five setters with say a 16 or 17 ounce wood frame in your hand with no tourna grip on it, and just a leather grip, and also an approximately 70 square inch face. Your hands/forearm would have to be very strong to pull that off, relative to what the guys are experiencing these days. No gatorade and long breaks between points and "injury timeouts", etc. either.

I don't doubt that there are many great athletes around today though. There's no question about that, but there were also plenty of superb athletes in decades past and I think that is what Datacipher is talking about, with a lot more expertise than most other posters on this board. I'm sure these things have been researched in peer-reviewed articles/studies, that Datacipher has read.

asafi2
12-09-2009, 05:21 AM
Ivo Karlovic: 6'10" 230
LeBron James: 6'8" 250
Kobe Bryant: 6'6" 205
Juan Martin Del Potro: 6'6" 180
Gael Monfils: 6'4" 180

I'd say LeBron would be more comparable to a stronger, much more athletic Karlovic. Tennis does take natural skill though, so it wouldn't be automatic that he would a good player. Still, his size and movement would definitely be dangerous. Similarly, size wise Kobe is closer to a stronger, more athletic Del Potro.

Let's be honest too; as much as I like tennis, they're much better athletes.

NBA players heights are measured with shoes on and tennis players are not...sorry to be nitpicking.

Kobe, without shoes, was measured at a little bit less than 6'4 3/4" by the combine, and his wife measured him out to be the same thing.

So I think Kobe and Monfils are very comparable in height. So just subtract a little more than an inch from those NBA players and you'll get their real heights.

borg number one
12-09-2009, 05:29 AM
As far as NBA athletes being so much better as "athletes", let's agree that the games are very different. One is a team sport, whereas in tennis you have "no where to hide". Plus, stamina is somewhat different. All that jumping, and "physicality" when you have to push against other players and fight for the ball takes a lot of energy, but so does playing one long point after another, with the cumulative effect you feel from basically performing one series of short sprints in essence, after another. Your heart rate in top flight tennis keeps having to "race up" and then come back down, point after painful point, set after set. It's one of the toughest sports around in that respect alone.

I'd love to see NBA players run the way tennis players do on a court (without even hitting a ball) to simulate point play. How do you think most of those players would look after say one set of such "hypo points" and then set 2, set 3, and set 4? Many would start falling all over themselves trying to maintain balance and control, and that's not even factoring in the energy it takes to constantly swing hard at shots. Plus, once again, in tennis when you are totally spent, there's no where to hide or no "teammate" to simply pass the ball to. You also can't just "take a substitution" and have another player come in for you for a 5 minute break. Also, factor in PLAYING OUTDOORS in heat, instead of an indoor gym with A/C.

lawrence
12-09-2009, 05:38 AM
Since the black and white days, there are a LOT of things that have improved:

Rackets
Strings
Shoes
Clothing (although the significance of these is most likely weightless on gameplay)
Nutrition - both on and off court
Conditioning equipment
Fitness research
Supplementation
And luxuries such as the pampering some tour players get which affects mental conditioning

The difference may be minimal, but to say athletes are not more conditioned than they were back in the old days is absurd.

borg number one
12-09-2009, 06:00 AM
I think ON AVERAGE, yes, but when you start comparing certain players versus others (especially the greats at the top that were "cream of the crop") the differences are more marginal at times, depending on exactly which 2 players you are comparing. Plus, there were certain things, such as increased racquet weight which resulted in incredible wrist/arm strength (Rod Laver for example) that most any player these days could not easily replicate, even with some advanced "weight training". There's no substitute for being on the court for hours at a time, hitting with much heavier racquets. That's one aspect of the game that was tougher in days past. Nowadays, it's more about tons of running/sprinting a lot, so it's different in that respect, but the actual swinging of the racquet and hitting the ball have become easier.


See excerpt on Rod Laver from Wikipedia:

"Although of a slightly short and medium build (1.72 m), Laver developed a technically complete serve-and-volley game, with aggressive groundstrokes to back it up. As Dan Maskell put it, he was "technically faultless, from his richly varied serve to his feather-light touch on drop volleys plus a backhand drive carrying destructive topspin when needed or controlling slice when the situation demanded it." His left-handed serve was well disguised and wide swinging. His wristy groundstrokes on both flanks were hit with topspin, an innovation in the 1960s, as was the attacking topspin lob, which Laver developed into a weapon. His stroke technique was based on quick shoulder turns, true swings, and exquisite timing. His backhand, often hit on the run, was a point-ender that gave him an advantage. Laver was very quick and mobile and had a gigantic left forearm. Rex Bellamy wrote, "The strength of that wrist and forearm gave him blazing power without loss of control, even when he was on the run and at full stretch. The combination of speed and strength, especially wrist strength, enabled him to hit ferocious winners when way out of court." At the net, he had forcing volleys, often hit as stroke volleys. Especially on the backhand, he could hit sharp underspin angles as well. Julius Heldman pointed out, "He is competent on low balls, handling them with underspin for control, but he will cream any ball at waist level or higher." He was difficult to lob, because of his springing agility, and when forced to retreat, he could come up with a vicious counterpunch.

As an amateur, Laver was a somewhat flashy player, often a late starter. He had to learn to control his adventurous shotmaking and integrate percentage tennis into his game when he turned professional. In his prime, he could adapt his style to all surfaces and to all conditions. Laver had a great record in five-set-matches, often turning things around with subtle changes of tactics or by simply hitting his way out of danger. When he got into the "zone", he went for broke. Then he would, as Heldman explains, "literally jump and throw his racket at the ball with all the force he could muster, wrist and arm snapping over at the hit."

FlamEnemY
12-09-2009, 06:33 AM
If Del Potro had Bryant's weight he would have destroyed his knees already.

This is actually quite interesting. How often do basketball players injure their knees? Those guys are quite big and the game is rough. I'm curious how (in theory) they will do on court, rather than on basketball field.

35ft6
12-09-2009, 09:09 PM
Datacipher, I for one appreciate your obvious knowledge on this topic and it is quite interesting. I think what you are alluding to is that there are just certain "limits" of physical/athletic improvement, and since many players actually trained very hard with many "old school" training techniques and in essence had great inherent talents, there has not been the degree of improved athleticism that people may somewhat imagine. We may be somewhat fooled by the changes in the game that are primarily caused by racquet and string technology vs. athletic/physical improvements.Just look at the numbers of world record times in other sports if you want something quantifiable and "objective." Times are improving across the board. And yes, training can improve and enhance athleticism. Just ask people in rehabilitation who perform exercises and drills to regain and improve their damaged motor skills, balance, and mobility.

35ft6
12-09-2009, 09:14 PM
This is actually quite interesting. How often do basketball players injure their knees? Those guys are quite big and the game is rough. I'm curious how (in theory) they will do on court, rather than on basketball field.I'd like to see a study that establishes a correlation between injuries and height in tennis. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a higher incidence of leg problems with taller guys, but it seems like injuries happen across the board. And it can be argued taller guys with big games who don't have to continuously grind to win points save wear and tear on their body compared to their lesser powered counterparts.

35ft6
12-09-2009, 09:16 PM
As far as NBA athletes being so much better as "athletes", let's agree that the games are very different.That's why we're talking about athleticism and not saying stuff like Lebron sucks at tennis or Federer stinks at water polo.

Somewhere on these boards, I read that scouts for tennis federations in other countries, what they look for above all else in little kids is athleticism. Natural hand eye coordination, speed, and footwork. That above kids who have already been taught to hit well.

borg number one
12-10-2009, 02:55 AM
Tennis is somewhat unique among sports, in my opinion, in that it may be the sport that MOST combines great athleticism as well as great amounts of skill that must be honed for many years from a young age. Can anyone name another sport that combines severe athleticism along with a high degree of skill like tennis. Basketball and soccer come to mind, but they are team sports as well. In addition, it is also a "thinking man's/woman's game", so you also have to have a good "tennis mind" to be successful (temperament and ability to construct points, etc.). So, let's add athleticism to tennis skill and the mental aspect as well.

So, you can find great athletes, but there are perhaps a low percentage of people out there that have the innate skill (the ability to be able to hit shots extremely well) required in tennis.

It doesn't matter how fast or how strong you are on a tennis court, if you can't for example, follow up a blazing forehand with a soft shot into the open court once in a while for a winner. That is "tennis skill" that some people have, with primarily eye/hand coordination, yet it must also be developed over thousands of hours of training from a fairly young age. So, I understand that you must have good athletes, that's a given, but tennis skill is much overlooked. That's why guys like Fabrice Santoro, for example, has a big career edge over say a Marat Safin (7-2).

Now, when you combine great athleticism with great tennis skill, you have the potential to have a truly GREAT tennis player, such as Laver, Borg, Sampras, Nadal, or Federer. You must have great athleticism and also tennis skill, one without the other won't get you very far. You must have the right kind of "tennis mind" as I've mentioned. I understand that tennis federations are trying to identify great athletes, but they will have a difficult time being top notch players unless they also don't start playing from a fairly young age, and hone their skills during lots of tournaments, thousands of hours of practice. Plus, if such players just don't have the "talent" (i.e. genetic advantages) to be able to hit certain shots, there are limits to how good they can become. They must also have the right "mental makeup". You might be able to bash the ball left and right, and run sprints for hours, but if you break down mentally every match, it does you no good.

To some extent, some people are just born with the ability to play good tennis, like some are born with a "gift" when it comes to music talent. Some have it, and others don't. There is no substitute for that with more modern training regimens/techniques.

dlk
12-10-2009, 03:26 AM
Borg , I agree with your post. Early in my life what got me interested in tennis, was how it was an athletes' sport, that combined physicality, yet has technical skill (see hitting a 90mph fast in baseball), then the mental game of one person battling another person. Athletism, can overcome some of tennis' technical skills, so it makes sense that scouts search for athletism over techncial skill. The common statement in sports, "you can't teach athletism." I believe todays' athletically ranked 50 player would be in top 10 30years ago, just because of superior physical physique & conditioning. Nadal & FED would demolish the players of the 60-70-80s.

borg number one
12-10-2009, 03:43 AM
Well, DLK, I'm glad you appreciate those aspects of tennis. It is truly a beautiful sport due to the reasons you list in your post.

As to your comment:

"I believe todays' athletically ranked 50 player would be in top 10 30years ago, just because of superior physical physique & conditioning. Nadal & FED would demolish the players of the 60-70-80s."

That's a tough one. If they kept their racquets, while the older players had to rely on wood racquets, or even the racquets of the 1990's, the old players would have a VERY difficult time competing. Racquet advances and string advances have not been just for nothing. Comparing across eras is very complicated due to this. Players of the 60's and 70's especially, and the 90's less so, played with technology that forced them to "create everything" on their own, instead of relying on their racquets so much. So that's a very difficult comparison to make. Having said that, if you placed certain players of the past in today's era, with the opportunity to grow up with TODAY'S technology, they would dust the court with some of the top players. Now, Nadal and Federer are two GREAT players, that would have likely fared well in just about any era. They are that good. But, players like Laver, Sampras, and Borg, could have similarly competed quite well in today's game, if they had the advantages to technology advances, in my opinion. They were also that good. The same can't be said of all players of yesteryear, or all players of this era.

pc1
12-10-2009, 05:45 AM
I believe todays' athletically ranked 50 player would be in top 10 30years ago, just because of superior physical physique & conditioning. Nadal & FED would demolish the players of the 60-70-80s.

It's all debatable. As Borg number one wrote, if you moved the athletes of today to the past, they very well may have problems with the old small frame wood rackets.

I would have to disagree with your statement that Nadal and Federer would demolish the player of the the 60's-70's-80s. If that's the case why does John McEnroe at age 50 do so well today. Wasn't McEnroe winning in World Team Tennis against players in their twenties now and just a few years ago?

McEnroe says he serves harder now than he did in the 1970's and that's obviously mainly due to the racket technology.

Federer and Nadal would do well in any era but they would have to adjust to the different rackets and playing conditions. I don't know if they could play the style that they play with now and win in the 1960's. They would have to play differently.

dropshot winner
12-10-2009, 05:48 AM
It's all debatable. As Borg number one wrote, if you moved the athletes of today to the past, they very well may have problems with the old small frame wood rackets.

I would have to disagree with your statement that Nadal and Federer would demolish the player of the the 60's-70's-80s. If that's the case why does John McEnroe at age 50 do so well today. Wasn't McEnroe winning in World Team Tennis against players in their twenties now and just a few years ago?

McEnroe says he serves harder now than he did in the 1970's and that's obviously mainly due to the racket technology.

Federer and Nadal would do well in any era but they would have to adjust to the different rackets and playing conditions. I don't know if they could play the style that they play with now and win in the 1960's. They would have to play differently.

The rackets and strings do make a difference, but it's not that big. Didn't Roddick serve 140 mph bombs with a wooden racket a few years ago?

NamRanger
12-10-2009, 05:49 AM
Tennis is somewhat unique among sports, in my opinion, in that it may be the sport that MOST combines great athleticism as well as great amounts of skill that must be honed for many years from a young age. Can anyone name another sport that combines severe athleticism along with a high degree of skill like tennis. Basketball and soccer come to mind, but they are team sports as well. In addition, it is also a "thinking man's/woman's game", so you also have to have a good "tennis mind" to be successful (temperament and ability to construct points, etc.). So, let's add athleticism to tennis skill and the mental aspect as well.

So, you can find great athletes, but there are perhaps a low percentage of people out there that have the innate skill (the ability to be able to hit shots extremely well) required in tennis.

It doesn't matter how fast or how strong you are on a tennis court, if you can't for example, follow up a blazing forehand with a soft shot into the open court once in a while for a winner. That is "tennis skill" that some people have, with primarily eye/hand coordination, yet it must also be developed over thousands of hours of training from a fairly young age. So, I understand that you must have good athletes, that's a given, but tennis skill is much overlooked. That's why guys like Fabrice Santoro, for example, has a big career edge over say a Marat Safin (7-2).

Now, when you combine great athleticism with great tennis skill, you have the potential to have a truly GREAT tennis player, such as Laver, Borg, Sampras, Nadal, or Federer. You must have great athleticism and also tennis skill, one without the other won't get you very far. You must have the right kind of "tennis mind" as I've mentioned. I understand that tennis federations are trying to identify great athletes, but they will have a difficult time being top notch players unless they also don't start playing from a fairly young age, and hone their skills during lots of tournaments, thousands of hours of practice. Plus, if such players just don't have the "talent" (i.e. genetic advantages) to be able to hit certain shots, there are limits to how good they can become. They must also have the right "mental makeup". You might be able to bash the ball left and right, and run sprints for hours, but if you break down mentally every match, it does you no good.

To some extent, some people are just born with the ability to play good tennis, like some are born with a "gift" when it comes to music talent. Some have it, and others don't. There is no substitute for that with more modern training regimens/techniques.




Boxing, MMA, full contact 1 on 1 sports, etc.

borg number one
12-10-2009, 06:16 AM
Yes and no Namranger. Tennis requires quickness and speed (sprinting over a distance and changing directions on a court over and over), whereas Boxing and MMA are more about pure quickness and not running fast over any great distance.

Boxing and MMA also, though they do employ strategy, do not require the same acumen as tennis in that constructing points in a myriad of ways and "out thinking" your opponent over the course of a long match, it can be argued, is more of a mental feat than "out thinking" your fellow boxing opponent or MMA foe.

You also don't have to fight off the elements and are in constantly controlled conditions with MMA and Boxing. Yet, both boxing and MMA require great strength, fitness, quickness, strategy, and mental toughness/physical toughness. There's no question about that.

35ft6
12-10-2009, 10:57 AM
Tennis is somewhat unique among sports, in my opinion, in that it may be the sport that MOST combines great athleticism as well as great amounts of skill that must be honed for many years from a young age....

It doesn't matter how fast or how strong you are on a tennis court, if you can't for example, follow up a blazing forehand with a soft shot into the open court once in a while for a winner.This is brought up during these discussions all the time. By the way, I love these discussions. :) But yeah, somebody brings up how skill intensive tennis is, and it's true. Off the top of my head, only world class gymnasts and figure skaters start systematically training as early and often under expert guidance the way tennis players do.

Still, with all else being equal, the better athlete wins. Look at Borg's dominance on grass and clay. Was he REALLY the most talented ball striker on the tour for those years?

Far as blazing speed goes, 90% of the time spent on court it probably doesn't PHYSICALLY matter. During the rally, you don't need blazing speed to stay in it. Just ask David Nalbandian's stomach. But at the same time, I wrote "physically" because I remember during his prime, Chang would really make his opponents hit 2 or 3 extra shots to win the point, and by the later sets, they're making unusual unforced errors left and right because they're so spooked by Chang's defense. Speed takes a mental toll on your opponent.

Athleticism is a huge asset in pro tennis where everybody can hit the ball well.

I think people who bring up the "tennis requires skill" overstate its importance because they're mostly framing their argument within the context of recreational tennis where there are way more mismatches. So yes, on public courts, you see a 230 pound former college player beat up on a ultra fit 20 year old triathlete and you think "skill is more important." But you get a 170 pound former college player and put him up against the 230 pounder and you may suddenly think "wow, being fit and being able to move is really important."

On the ATP tour, less of these mismatches. Everybody has great technique, good footwork, etc. Yes, the top players have an extra gear, but they can all hit the ball, and there is almost always some overlap between the players, meaning a guy ranked 90 in the world, if he's playing out of his mind at 100% and he comes up against a dour Andy Murray playing at 85%, he's got a shot against the number 4 player in the world. At that level, it's about being mentally stronger, better at taking negative feelings and channeling them in positive ways, and being a fitter, better athlete.

All else being equal, athleticism makes all the difference in the world. If only for those 2 or 3 points that really determine the outcome of a set, having that extra athletic gear, being able to run down that extra ball, makes the difference. Sampras did this a lot. He would look almost disinterested for most of the set, and then all of the sudden at 3-3 or 4-4 he would hit a running forehand, break serve, and coast out the set. He was one of the best athletes in tennis at the time, but he only needed the athleticism for a few points during the set.

Just think about it, if anybody in the top 10 gained 15 pounds of fat, how much do you think it would affect their ranking? Extra fat diminishes your athletic ability, that's all it does. Makes you less agile, less fast, and less explosive. Verdasco, Agassi, and Ginepri are three great examples of players who reached a new level just by becoming more fit (fit=maximizing and enhancing your natural athleticism). It matters a lot.

borg number one
12-10-2009, 11:43 AM
I think you bring up a lot of good points in that previous post 35ft6. I guess I place more weight on shotmaking ability than you do when analyzing players, but I agree athleticism is extremely important, but I would say that you need all elements to be a truly great player. If you remove any of those key ingredients, it's very tough to be anywhere near the top.

Let's look at 5 GREAT players (I'll include Nadal, since he and Federer are regarded as overall today's two best players, and they are both "hall of fame" material). Laver, Borg, Sampras, Federer, and Nadal. What do they ALL have in common?

They are unquestionably GREAT pure athletes. They are all very fast and very quick, with incredible eye/hand coordination. In terms of pure stamina, perhaps Laver, Borg, and Nadal are all a bit ahead of Sampras, Federer.

All five are also highly skilled as shotmakers. They all can win points in MANY different ways, even Nadal. All five are quite creative and capable of hitting so many different types of shots, from ANYWHERE on the court.

I disagree with you somewhat when you say that Borg was more athlete than shotmaker. His forehand and backhand were extremely good, even when just hitting back and forth from the middle court compared to someone. You cannot be that consistent and win on Red Clay and then make huge adjustments to win on fast grass, reach 4 finals at the US Open, and also a lot indoors, without being a great shotmaker.

He had the best forehand in the game, probably the 2nd best backhand during his time, as well as a very good serve, and "okay" volleys, which were greatly aided by his very fast reflexes. Again, remember, he could generate lots of pace AND spin, with a tiny frame (72 sq. inches), and hit much like players of TODAY, unlike other players of his era. Lendl came next, in that he was also much like many players of today.

Then, what else do all 5 have? They all have a high degree of mental toughness/determination, and "high tennis IQ's", in my opinion. Even Nadal is no "dummy" on the Court. He literally figured out how to hurt Federer badly and often, which is not easy, especially on a variety of surfaces. Finally, to varying degrees, all five players can "remain calm" under pressure and raise the level of play at critical stages. This is in effect a mental talent on the tennis court, and not just a purely athletic talent.

Yet, I do agree, that at critical stages of a match, top players do rely heavily on pure athleticism/stamina. Yet, mental toughness and sheer shotmaking ability also comes into play. There is a constant need to use all these "tennis ingredients" throughout matches, and especially at key stages when the score is tied up.

You just can't rely on constantly running and being "in the right spot". You still have to get the ball over the net, into an open court, or behind someone, at the right times. This takes mental toughness and the ability to replicate certain shots with consistency, but also to hit shots that have not been hit before at all during a match as a "surprise factor" to overcome another player.

NamRanger
12-10-2009, 12:50 PM
Yes and no Namranger. Tennis requires quickness and speed (sprinting over a distance and changing directions on a court over and over), whereas Boxing and MMA are more about pure quickness and not running fast over any great distance.

Boxing and MMA also, though they do employ strategy, do not require the same acumen as tennis in that constructing points in a myriad of ways and "out thinking" your opponent over the course of a long match, it can be argued, is more of a mental feat than "out thinking" your fellow boxing opponent or MMA foe.

You also don't have to fight off the elements and are in constantly controlled conditions with MMA and Boxing. Yet, both boxing and MMA require great strength, fitness, quickness, strategy, and mental toughness/physical toughness. There's no question about that.




I don't think you understand boxing or MMA if you don't think these sports require a skillset that is equally tough if not harder than tennis. In tennis, a mishit results in you losing one point, which really in the grand scheme of things doesn't really matter. However, you messing up on your technique in boxing or MMA, results in you eating a fist to the face.


There is a TON of strategy in both sports; if you think Fedor has been undefeated for years in MMA because he's lucky, well, let me tell you. He's not. He is a cerebral fighter who is nearly perfect in every way. He has faced opponents who are far more athletic than he is and far stronger, yet he comes out on top every time due to superior strategy and technique.

borg number one
12-10-2009, 12:59 PM
I never said Boxing or MMA don't require skill and/or strategy. Yet, I don't think they are as cerebral as tennis, that's all, but obviously you disagree. Perhaps, you have experienced boxing or MMA at a very high level (personally) as I have experienced tennis at a high level, in my life. So, we have different perspectives on this.

As for some other differences, it is a fact that boxers/MMA fighters don't have to run to the same degree as tennis players (sprinting across the court and covering large distances over the course of points and cumulatively over the course of a match). In addition, they never compete in say 90 degree weather, over 3-4 hours, on red clay or on hard courts, with wind also playing into the equation. Their environments are controlled.

I'm not denying that boxing and/or MMA are physically grueling and require strategy, but tennis does as well, and in certain ways that boxing and MMA do not. I'd argue that tennis is more chess than say either boxing or MMA, but one may disagree. I'm only speaking as someone that has watched a lot of boxing bouts and some MMA (not much). Plus, I've never competed in either boxing or MMA, so I can't speak to it from personal experience. Yet, I have lived and breathed tennis at very high levels. The sport becomes increasingly complex as you "move up the ranks", increasing in physicality and also mental demands.

At the same time, tennis does not require the same "high pain threshhold" as those sports do, in that you are not enduring as much pain, other than the "burn in your muscles", fatigue, and basically "sucking wind". It's more mental agony than sheer physical agony with tennis, but there's plenty of physical agony in high level tennis as well. Just not to the degree as say boxing, MMA, or say football or rugby.

35ft6
12-10-2009, 06:39 PM
I don't think you understand boxing or MMA if you don't think these sports require a skillset that is equally tough if not harder than tennis.I strongly disagree with this. Maybe someday in the future it could reach new levels of skill, but seriously consider this: you can take a super strong, naturally athletic, 6'5" guy off the street who has absolutely no combat training whatsoever and he will destroy the world's greatest 145 pound female fighter.

On the other hand, let a guy practice for even 5 or 10 years and he'll get destroyed by a 145 pound player in the WTA top 100. That's how much more skill counts in tennis.

35ft6
12-10-2009, 06:49 PM
I agree athleticism is extremely important, but I would say that you need all elements to be a truly great player. Of course. But all else being equal, the better athlete wins.
In terms of pure stamina, perhaps Laver, Borg, and Nadal are all a bit ahead of Sampras, Federer.Have you ever seen Fed tired?
I disagree with you somewhat when you say that Borg was more athlete than shotmaker. His forehand and backhand were extremely good, even when just hitting back and forth from the middle court compared to someone.Sure, he had incredible groundies, but to me a shotmaker is somebody who can create something out of nothing. Being rock solid and powerful is a skill, too, but for that time, and it's a bit before my time, wouldn't you say Vitas G, Nastase, Mac, and even Connors were superior shot makers? I'm not an expert on Borg, but I think of him as somebody who won by superior consistency, incredible stamina, and an unshakeable mental attitude. Not necessarily by artistry and skill a la Mac.This is in effect a mental talent on the tennis court, and not just a purely athletic talent.I would argue that without the proper physical conditioning, especially in the later stages of the match, your ability to express your mental talent will be severely limited. Becoming a better athlete allows you to express your tennis creativity better, in the same way developing your drawing skills and expanding your color pallet allows an artist to express their imagination better. You just can't rely on constantly running and being "in the right spot". You still have to get the ball over the net, into an open court, or behind someone, at the right times. This takes mental toughness and the ability to replicate certain shots with consistency, but also to hit shots that have not been hit before at all during a match as a "surprise factor" to overcome another player.I agree with most of what you say even though it's a straw man for the most part since I said about 4 times "all else being equal." :)

makenakai
12-10-2009, 11:25 PM
I have wrestled and fought and am also an avid tennis player and student of the game for over 40 yrs. Tennis is boxing without the blood they say, and IMO its only partially true. It is hand to hand combat in every way of course, but the net makes all the difference. With all due respect, if you have not fought you will NEVER understand it. No one can who hasn't faced an equal sized opponent with the same strength who can and does hurt you. You can make 3 errors (serve out) and one good serve and be even and not even winded. Make 3 errors in a row in a fight and you are badly hurt or even done. Certainly you would not get back what those blows took away. In tennis, You can neutralize, defend, trick or outfox an opponent into beating himself without actually attacking. To win a fight, you have to actually beat your man - ie attack successfully. Get aced, point over. Get hit good...get ready to be hit again...and again...each one weakening you more...til you escape or hit the deck... Tennis is way easier, man.

TennisD
12-10-2009, 11:27 PM
Then they are horribly ignorant. The mobility of the athletes hasn't changed at all at the top of the game, though it might be a TINY bit faster on average. Speed of shots is also about the same, though, there is more spin now on average: in this sense the average shot is more powerful.
No. Now saying that the athletes in a sport as competitive and constantly evolving as tennis have essentially not progressed in terms of speed, quickness, strength, power, etc... in ~40 years...that's ignorant. The speed of the shots, just to touch on one thing, is most DEFINITELY not the same. Not even by a longshot. Even if we look at something as easily quantifiable as serve speed, the number of players that could consistently top 120-125 mph on their first serve even 20 years ago is considerably lower than the number that can do it today.

Datacipher
12-11-2009, 12:49 AM
No. Now saying that the athletes in a sport as competitive and constantly evolving as tennis have essentially not progressed in terms of speed, quickness, strength, power, etc... in ~40 years...that's ignorant. The speed of the shots, just to touch on one thing, is most DEFINITELY not the same. Not even by a longshot. Even if we look at something as easily quantifiable as serve speed, the number of players that could consistently top 120-125 mph on their first serve even 20 years ago is considerably lower than the number that can do it today.

Here we have a certifiable idiot. Read my numerous, numerous posts on serve speed. Then get a clue. Seriously. I love how these guys make up stats. "the number of players...". Like they have ANY CLUE. There are few people in the world that know more about serve speed stats than I do...give me a freaking break.....!

Datacipher
12-11-2009, 12:53 AM
The first point, I'll agree, wasn't really a point. The second point doesn't really seem to have much of a point, although it was something that baseball had trouble with. I must say though, thanks for masterfully addressing the third point. Drawing a larger sample from a larger population (having skill levels presumably following the same sorts of distributions as in previous generations, at least according to you) and filtering for skill obviously wouldn't tend to increase general professional skill level, I mean that is just common sense.

LOL. There just comes a point where you've written extensively on a number of issues being addressed (drug testing, athleticism, training, speed of the game...style....blah, blah blah) and a no-mind comes along and spews out such ignorance...that you just can't do it one more time. I'm too old to waste time on people this proud of their ignorance! ;-) Plus, they are generally kids...they don't want to hear the truth anyways...it infringes too much on the hero-worship they rely on to validate themselves!

I tried to keep my participation in this thread (and have ignored countless like it) because really, I shouldn't be involved. I'm not going to regurgitate the self-validating pablum these kids want to hear! So I shall take my leave of this thread. I do not want to stand in the way of more myth-building and self-gratification! Rest assured, to those I called idiots, it is not possible to impress me any more deeply than you already have....

TennisD
12-11-2009, 01:29 AM
Here we have a certifiable idiot. Read my numerous, numerous posts on serve speed. Then get a clue. Seriously. I love how these guys make up stats. "the number of players...". Like they have ANY CLUE. There are few people in the world that know more about serve speed stats than I do...give me a freaking break.....!
I've got a clue, thanks. I really wish I could find the studies I'd seen not too long ago comparing average serve speed by decade. Perhaps you misunderstood what exactly I was getting at; what these numbers had shown was that, in each decade, the number of players hitting at an average speed of x (let's say 120mph) increased. So, if in the 80's that number was (as an example) 10, then in the 90's it increased to, again, for example, 25. Please though, go ahead and show me your results. I'm not prepared to sift through your 2000+ posts of well earned internet seriousness and serve statistics superiority :rolleyes:

EDIT: Sorry, I'm sure that came off a bit combative. I'd love to see your numbers though. The question over whether or not players (as well as the speed of the game) have changed over a span of 40 years should be a moot point; between the technology that has been introduced to the game, and the fact that the players are constantly getting stronger, fitter, faster, etc... due to the constant evolution of modern training renders this a non-argument.

borg number one
12-11-2009, 03:07 AM
35 ft 6, interesting stuff. As to Federer, YES, OH YES, I've seen him tired MANY times. The French Open Finals are a prime example and this last Australian Open was another. He tends to get slightly tired by late 4th set, and 5th set, but that is normal, and not unusual at all. The same thing possibly occurred against Del Potro at the US Open, but to a lesser degree. He is someone that relies on winning matches either in 3 or 4 sets. If a match goes five sets, his chances are just not that good. This USED to happen to him against Nalbandian as well, before we saw a "prime" Federer.

See this 2008 article:
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/aus/2008-01-17-fivesets-tennis_N.htm

Excerpt from the article as to the 5 set records of players:
At the top of the list is Swedish backboard Bjorn Borg, whose 81% winning percentage (26-6) is the best of all time. Others in the top 10 include double Grand Slam winner Rod Laver (fourth) and Spanish bull Rafael Nadal (tied for 10th). Three-time French Open winner Nadal leads active players.

I've never seen Borg get tired/visibly breathing very hard. Nadal and Borg are as strong and "ready to go" in the fifth set as they are in set one. Yet, they are absolute anomalies among players.

Borg was both incredible shotmaker and athlete. To play the way he did, though he was great at defense, also required the ability to create shots and also be on the offensive at the right times. Sometimes, people think that say a net charger is somehow more "creative" or a "shotmaker" versus a baseliner, but someone like Borg or Nadal have to often create incredible angles from the baseline, especially for passing shots, which require a degree of skill from the baseline that the vast majority of players, even players as talented as McEnroe do not have (running 2 handed backhand passing shots cross court, or the ability to lace a down the line passing shot off the forehand side). McEnroe could hit these shots, but not the way Borg and Nadal hit them, very consistently. That takes pure shotmaking ability, and not just athleticism. They are high degree of difficulty shots.

Cantankersore
12-11-2009, 04:26 AM
LOL. There just comes a point where you've written extensively on a number of issues being addressed (drug testing, athleticism, training, speed of the game...style....blah, blah blah) and a no-mind comes along and spews out such ignorance...that you just can't do it one more time. I'm too old to waste time on people this proud of their ignorance! ;-) Plus, they are generally kids...they don't want to hear the truth anyways...it infringes too much on the hero-worship they rely on to validate themselves!

I tried to keep my participation in this thread (and have ignored countless like it) because really, I shouldn't be involved. I'm not going to regurgitate the self-validating pablum these kids want to hear! So I shall take my leave of this thread. I do not want to stand in the way of more myth-building and self-gratification! Rest assured, to those I called idiots, it is not possible to impress me any more deeply than you already have....

Hey now, I'm still kind of a kid. I grew up on Sampras and Agassi. Still, while I was being sarcastic, I was trying to make a point.

I think that it is a reasonable assumption that the likelihood a child is born with a given level of "talent" in any generation is fixed. I think even you would admit that we aren't getting worse at training athletes. If this weren't the case, it would be expected that we would see older players dominate the younger players well past the age the age their performance would start to decline.

So lets say that the level of talent a child is given in tennis is based on a scale from 1 to 1000, with their talent points being given to them by means of 1000 fair, independent coin flips. So, our population seems to have a talent level coming from an approximately normal distribution with mean 500 and variance 250. Bell curve, hooray! (The actual distribution isn't relevant, but the law of large numbers is.) The fact that we have more people in countries where Tennis is playable means that we're more likely to discover more spectacular outliers.

Some of these may also end up being great talents at soccer or whatever, since skill in tennis and soccer would seem to have a fairly high correlation. Since soccer is more lucrative, some of these players may end up getting drained away to play it. But it mustn't be forgotten that this competition hasn't just popped up, it has been around for a while, and so it wouldn't seem unreasonable to assume that the proportion of skilled players get drained off.

Anyway, there are all sorts of other factors that would go into this sort of thing, but many can be argued that they haven't changed across generations. In the end, for me, this leaves the default conclusion that players are now better than they have ever been. Might this be false? Sure, but personally I have yet to be convinced. Does this mean that previous generations weren't great? No, not at all. They were the best at their time.

This is by no means a formal argument, but I think you can see that we can respectfully disagree.

Changmaster
12-11-2009, 06:05 AM
35 ft 6, interesting stuff. As to Federer, YES, OH YES, I've seen him tired MANY times. The French Open Finals are a prime example and this last Australian Open was another. He tends to get slightly tired by late 4th set, and 5th set, but that is normal, and not unusual at all. The same thing possibly occurred against Del Potro at the US Open, but to a lesser degree. He is someone that relies on winning matches either in 3 or 4 sets. If a match goes five sets, his chances are just not that good. This USED to happen to him against Nalbandian as well, before we saw a "prime" Federer.

See this 2008 article:
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/aus/2008-01-17-fivesets-tennis_N.htm

Excerpt from the article as to the 5 set records of players:
At the top of the list is Swedish backboard Bjorn Borg, whose 81% winning percentage (26-6) is the best of all time. Others in the top 10 include double Grand Slam winner Rod Laver (fourth) and Spanish bull Rafael Nadal (tied for 10th). Three-time French Open winner Nadal leads active players.

I've never seen Borg get tired/visibly breathing very hard. Nadal and Borg are as strong and "ready to go" in the fifth set as they are in set one. Yet, they are absolute anomalies among players.

Borg was both incredible shotmaker and athlete. To play the way he did, though he was great at defense, also required the ability to create shots and also be on the offensive at the right times. Sometimes, people think that say a net charger is somehow more "creative" or a "shotmaker" versus a baseliner, but someone like Borg or Nadal have to often create incredible angles from the baseline, especially for passing shots, which require a degree of skill from the baseline that the vast majority of players, even players as talented as McEnroe do not have (running 2 handed backhand passing shots cross court, or the ability to lace a down the line passing shot off the forehand side). McEnroe could hit these shots, but not the way Borg and Nadal hit them, very consistently. That takes pure shotmaking ability, and not just athleticism. They are high degree of difficulty shots.

??? The article you cited doesn't seem to really support your point. Yes, Borg has the highest 5-set winning %, but the article then goes into the reasons why someone might have a better or worse 5-set record. 5-set record doesn't say that one player is better than the other; as the article shows, some very unremarkable players have excellent 5-set records. Pat McEnroe has said that when Federer gets into a 5th set, it usually means he's playing below par, and the other player is playing very well. Just because someone has a good 5-set record doesn't necessarily mean that they are much better or fitter than another player. Is someone like Wayne Arthurs more fit and mentally stronger than Nadal because he has a better 5-set record? Of course not, there are a multitude of factors, and a player's 5-set record is not a really a significant stat when comparing players.

I disagree with your notion that Fed tends to get tired by the 4th and 5th sets. In 2006, he had an epic 5-setter in Rome against Nadal on clay, and he had 2 match pts in the 5th set (although he lost that match). Especially in 2009, although he has lost a couple tight 5th setters, he has also gutted out incredible 5 set wins as well (vs Berdych, Haas, Del Potro). And of course, you can't forgot the 16-14 5th set against Roddick, Fed did not appear tired at all at the end of the match. Yes, sometimes his level may drop a bit in the latter sets, but it can also drop earlier in the match, too, and isn't necessarily indicative of a lack of stamina. Just like with Borg, I can't recall an instance where I saw Fed visibly tired, i.e. breathing hard. Have you? It's been said many times that Fed appears to sweat much less than other players, including Nadal.

Perhaps Fed's stamina is just SLIGHTLY below the level of Nadal's and Borg's, but the difference is irrelevant, and he is clearly one of the fittest players in history (you don't get to 22+ straight major semis without being superbly fit). You lumped in Fed with Sampras when you said that Laver, Borg, Nadal all have better stamina. This is most certainly not true, it's widely known that Fed has better stamina than Sampras. If you're comparing stamina, than Fed, Laver, Borg, and Nadal should be lumped together, and Sampras should be left behind.

borg number one
12-11-2009, 06:38 AM
Fitness certainly has an impact on your 5 set record. With each successive set, it becomes more about stamina and a little less about pure tennis ability.
I'm not saying Federer does not have stamina. He is very fit, but I think neither he or Sampras have the same stamina as say Borg, Laver, or Nadal, that's all. Yet,

Of the current players, several have better long match stamina than he does including top players Nadal, Del Potro, and F. Gonzalez, and maybe even Verdasco, in my opinion. The French Open tends to expose this more than other Grand Slams.

Yes, I've seen Federer visibly tired, at the French Open in particular. Against Nadal he prefers cooler temperatures there for a reason, and that's the fatigue factor.

The 2007 French Open final was one match in particular where that was clearly visible. Federer won the second set, but Nadal started wearing him down quick in the 3d and 4th sets and the match was quickly no longer a real contest. He was just a step or two slower, and of course, that's all it takes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWIo87wj1hU&feature=related (set 3)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPMpYEYZK_w&feature=related (set 4)

Camilio Pascual
12-11-2009, 06:52 AM
Can anyone name another sport that combines severe athleticism along with a high degree of skill like tennis.
Martial arts and gymnastics are good candidates.

Changmaster
12-11-2009, 07:06 AM
Fitness certainly has an impact on your 5 set record. With each successive set, it becomes more about stamina and a little less about pure tennis ability.
I'm not saying Federer does not have stamina. He is very fit, but I think neither he or Sampras have the same stamina as say Borg, Laver, or Nadal, that's all. Yet,

Of the current players, several have better long match stamina than he does including top players Nadal, Del Potro, and F. Gonzalez, and maybe even Verdasco, in my opinion. The French Open tends to expose this more than other Grand Slams.

Yes, I've seen Federer visibly tired, at the French Open in particular. Against Nadal he prefers cooler temperatures there for a reason, and that's the fatigue factor.

The 2007 French Open final was one match in particular where that was clearly visible. Federer won the second set, but Nadal started wearing him down quick in the 3d and 4th sets and the match was quickly no longer a real contest. He was just a step or two slower, and of course, that's all it takes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWIo87wj1hU&feature=related (set 3)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPMpYEYZK_w&feature=related (set 4)

What? Delpo, Gonzalez, and Verdasco are better at longer matches than Fed? Fed beat Delpo in 5 at the french, and I'm not sure where gonzalez came from. Your evidence?

I still disagree about relative stamina between Fed and Borg, Nadal. I think the difference in stamina between them is so small that it is irrelevant, and you can't use that to boost any one of those players over another. Remember, Fed has beaten Nadal in 5 setters, too. Sampras is not even in the conversation as far as stamina goes (although partially due to his blood disorder).

I guess I just don't like how you're inferring that Fed's stamina is in any way poor, since he ranks among the best in history as far as stamina goes. He should be in the same category as Borg and Nadal (I don't know much about Laver's stamina, do you have evidence that it was better than Fed's? I know Laver has a better 5-set record, but remember, that's not necessarily indicative of stamina. Even players less fit than others can have great 5-set records. I'm sure there have been more than several players who have great 5-set records, but have unremarkable fitness.)

AAAA
12-11-2009, 07:08 AM
Generally modern racquets, strings, shoes*, and training allow modern players to play faster more of the time than players during the days of woodies. This doesn't mean modern players are genetically inherently faster rather modern stuff allows the pace of the game to be played at a consistently higher pace so long as the players are good enough.

* Stan Smiths, Dunlop Greenflash and canvas and leather shoes worn before then do not provide the same lateral support as modern tennis shoes.

TMF
12-11-2009, 07:23 AM
LOL. There just comes a point where you've written extensively on a number of issues being addressed (drug testing, athleticism, training, speed of the game...style....blah, blah blah) and a no-mind comes along and spews out such ignorance...that you just can't do it one more time. I'm too old to waste time on people this proud of their ignorance! ;-) Plus, they are generally kids...they don't want to hear the truth anyways...it infringes too much on the hero-worship they rely on to validate themselves!

I tried to keep my participation in this thread (and have ignored countless like it) because really, I shouldn't be involved. I'm not going to regurgitate the self-validating pablum these kids want to hear! So I shall take my leave of this thread. I do not want to stand in the way of more myth-building and self-gratification! Rest assured, to those I called idiots, it is not possible to impress me any more deeply than you already have....

And you are still getting old and that's why your brain cells is dying. People move forward while you are still blind by living in the past.

Yes leave this thread, you are just a waste of space and time.

borg number one
12-11-2009, 07:25 AM
Changmaster, I think you are misunderstanding my subtle point here. Perhaps I'm not being clear enough, so let me elaborate a little.

In a fifth set, at this next French Open let's say, if Federer got in a fifth set with Nadal, Del Potro, or even Verdasco or Gonzalez, I would argue that those guys have games that would not "drop off" as much as Federer's.

You saw this at the 2009 AO against Nadal, and I don't think it's just a "mental" issue or "clutch play" issue. He physically drops off just a "tad".

That's not to say that he does not have excellent stamina. He does. He's in very good shape and is very fit.

Sampras had bad long match stamina, compared to say Courier or even Agassi during his prime, and he was never a serious threat at the French Open, so I'm not including him in this comparison.

Federer does not have as much stamina as Borg, Nadal, or Laver, in my opinion, but he has better stamina than probably 90-95% players in the top 100.

The fact that he was just 20-10 in five setters as of 2008 (not sure what his current record is) speaks to this. What is your explanation for that? It's not just, for example, that he's somehow "frustrated" that he didn't win in 3 straight sets.

In that article, Patrick McEnroe states:
"The two biggest factors are being physically fit and being a good pressure player," ESPN's Patrick McEnroe says. "If you have those two, chances are you're going to be a good five-set player. He adds: "There are always going to be some weird ones out there."

So, Federer's RELATIVELY poor 5 set record, if Patrick McEnroe is right (and I think he is), is that Federer is EITHER a poor "pressure player" or he tends to "slow somewhat" by the fifth set.

It's one or the other, or a combination thereof. It may be a combination of the two, but I think it's a little bit more about pure stamina, than his inability to be "clutch", given that he's won some very big, tense matches.

We are "splitting hairs" a bit, in that we are trying to differentiate all time greats in this discussion. Yet, I take it that that you think that the difference between Federer and Nadal or Borg is "negligible". I disagree with that. I think there is a noticeable difference.

pmerk34
12-11-2009, 08:01 AM
And it's also horribly ridiculous when claiming something you don't have any evidence to backup. How often you see players in the past hit 130+ mph first serve? How often you see a 100+ mhp forehand in the past? How often you see players hitting winners from both wings from the baseline in the past? And there's a reason for players are cautious to rush the net today.

A match from 1980 looks like Dinosaur tennis as Larry Stefanki would say. Let alone 1966

pmerk34
12-11-2009, 08:02 AM
Changmaster, I think you are misunderstanding my subtle point here. Perhaps I'm being not being clear enough, so let me elaborate a little.

In a fifth set, at this next French Open let's say, if Federer got in a fifth set with Nadal, Del Potro, or even Verdasco or Gonzalez, I would argue that those guys have games that would not "drop off" as much as Federer's.

You saw this at the 2009 AO against Nadal, and I don't think it's just a "mental" issue or "clutch play" issue. He physically drops off just a "tad".

That's not to say that he does not have excellent stamina. He does. He's in very good shape and is very fit.

Sampras had bad long match stamina, compared to say Courier or even Agassi during his prime, and he was never a serious threat at the French Open, so I'm not including him in this comparison.

Federer does not have as much stamina as Borg, Nadal, or Laver, in my opinion, but he has better stamina than probably 90-95% players in the top 100.

The fact that he was just 20-10 in five setters as of 2008 (not sure what his current record is) speaks to this. What is your explanation for that? It's not just, for example, that he's somehow "frustrated" that he didn't win in 3 straight sets.

In that article, Patrick McEnroe states:
"The two biggest factors are being physically fit and being a good pressure player," ESPN's Patrick McEnroe says. "If you have those two, chances are you're going to be a good five-set player. He adds: "There are always going to be some weird ones out there."

So, Federer's RELATIVELY poor 5 set record, if Patrick McEnroe is right (and I think he is), is that Federer is EITHER a poor "pressure player" or he tends to "slow somewhat" by the fifth set.

It's one or the other, or a combination thereof. It may be a combination of the two, but I think it's a little bit more about pure stamina, than his inability to be "clutch", given that he's won some very big, tense matches.

We are "splitting hairs" a bit, in that we are trying to differentiate all time greats in this discussion. Yet, I take it that that you think that the difference between Federer and Nadal or Borg is "negligible". I disagree with that. I think there is a noticeable difference.

Fed gets tired in some 5th sets ( 2009 us open). Are you still trying to convince everyone that somehow Borg is the best player ever?

kOaMaster
12-11-2009, 08:03 AM
Nope. And there is no metric to measure these things, so we can argue about it forever. I trained pro athletes for quite a while, did a masters degree in biomechanics...and i feel the evidence overwhelmingly supports the contention that training absolutely cannot push the ceiling up on those things, but again, a very lengthy argument, one which I have addressed earlier. More to the point, it's not something anyone wants to hear...the simple answer and the most palatable is: train hard = faster feet. It's not true, but hey, it sounds great and it appeals for SO many reasons! Of course we then follow it up with the ludicrous idea that say...Laver did not train hard enough maximize his speed. (a lack of rubber tubing and beach balls undoubtedly....nevermind Hopman's drills). But again, I'm preaching common sense (and SCIENCE!) against the public trends....and those who have both personal interest and in many cases, commercial interest in propagating it....I know I'm not going to win against that!

Sorry for the digression, but this is an ENORMOUS topic....which again...is why I hardly want to write volumes on it, only to have numerous, rather ignorant, posters cite the men's health article they read...or their own common sense!

maybe you cannot make your feets getting faster, but you can train them to do it more consistently. it makes a huge difference whether a person trains 20h or 1h per week. and as in all other popular sports, I am really sure about that, the pro's do train a lot more.
I don't have particular insight to the tennis terms of athleticism, but I know what it is in football (soccer). If you try to compare lets say the premier league or the top teams of the champions league what the differences are to lower leagues, they usually say its "harder", faster, you don't have as much time, you run more.
exactly the same things people from the 60s, 70s, 80s say: football skills have always been around. pele was gifted, beckenbauer too. but maybe those guys wouldn't be succesfull today, because what changed is that everything got so much more powerfull. and really, this isn't a thing of a special sport, take a look at anything.
the amount of time athletes can spend on their sport is so much higher in average that the whole level raised.
I'm not saying e.g. laver was lazy, but I say that he didn't need to be perfectly fit. his tennis talent was a big enough advantage so that others couldnt do a lot and especially not if they weren't anywhere equal in physical terms. (same with borg).
I also believe that the "density" in the highest ranks increased. the differences aren't huge, so can't allow NOT to do as much as possible to stay there.

do you really think players 40 years ago were equally trained and raised with as much effort as they are now? or do you think this is actually useless, they could reach the tops also without all this training?

TMF
12-11-2009, 08:10 AM
A match from 1980 looks like Dinosaur tennis as Larry Stefanki would say. Let alone 1966

You know what, you can't argue with Datacipher. He think he knows better b/c he claimed he's an old man and people in here are just kids. We will have to wait til 50 more years to be in his level.:roll:

pmerk34
12-11-2009, 08:16 AM
You know what, you can't argue with Datacipher. He think he knows better b/c he claimed he's an old man and people in here are just kids. We will have to wait til 50 more years to be in his level.:roll:

He's trapped in nostalgia land

FlamEnemY
12-11-2009, 08:16 AM
Fed gets tired in some 5th sets ( 2009 us open). Are you still trying to convince everyone that somehow Borg is the best player ever?

Come on, let's be fair, he speaks his mind and doesn't try to convince anyone.
borg number one, your posts are very interesting. Please do write more about the subject, this also goes for the others :)

borg number one
12-11-2009, 09:10 AM
Thanks FlamEnemy, I appreciate that very much. I'll certainly keep contributing what I can.

Pmerk34, no I'm not trying to convince anyone of who the greatest player is. Though I think it's Borg, I don't think it's by very much at all. My posts will likely not change anyone's set opinion on that topic. It takes a whole lot to be the greatest amongst all the great players that have walked onto a tennis court over the decades. The only thing I try to do is force people to look at this topic in ways that they may not have before. Many are too focused on only the "current" and "most recent" when it comes to tennis and life in general.

As I've stated hundreds of times, calling someone the "greatest player ever" must NECESSARILY be a SUBJECTIVE and OBJECTIVE calculation, because you are forced to compare different players from different eras who played under entirely different circumstances.

Naming any one player THE GREATEST ever necessarily will cause others that disagree to "bristle".

Having said that, naming any 1 player the greatest ever will necessarily have its PROS and CONS.

I assert ONCE again, that you can make plausible arguments for players such as Laver, Borg, Sampras, and yes, Federer. Those are my personal top 4, but any number of people do disagree with me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and each opinion will have pluses and minuses. Pick 1 of those 4, and anyone that has substantial tennis knowledge will be able to give you reasons for why you are wrong and why you are right. It's that simple.

It's like asking someone, is Wilt Chamberlain or Michael Jordan the "Greatest" basketball player of all time. Well, which one is it, and why? Is there a "wrong" answer there? No, there is not. The same holds true when comparing/contrasting all time greats in tennis. This is necessarily so. Let's embrace the complexity and not always lurch towards a quick, easy, and oft-repeated answer that is of the "here and now".

Talker
12-11-2009, 10:22 AM
Way before this OP ever came up, I was watching the old tennis matches and noticed how slow it was. Also how often the players used the towels.
A good one was the 1980 Wimby finals.

Also notice how hard they swing through the ball today, a big difference.
On the flatter shots, the ball speed crossing the net today is amazing leaving little time to get to the ball and get properly set up.

The extreme angles with top spin today causes a great amount of court coverage to get to them and then little time to get back in the neutral position.

This is the way it should be, sports get more demanding as time goes on.

35ft6
12-11-2009, 11:01 AM
maybe you cannot make your feets getting faster, but you can train them to do it more consistently.Why can't you make your feet faster? Think about drumming or boxing -- do you really think those guys can't make their hands move faster, while also improving precision, the more they train?

In the past, I've noticed a difference in my footwork just from jogging and sprinting. Not even from specialized footwork drills but simply from running.I have wrestled and fought and am also an avid tennis player and student of the game for over 40 yrs...

Tennis is way easier, man.Were you a better wrestler than you are now as a tennis player?

Depends on how you define "harder" and "easier." Yeah, except on very rare occasions, you don't get punched in the face in tennis. So if that's how you define difficulty, by how hard you get hit, there's literally no comparison. But if we're talking difficulty in terms of becoming competent at a skill, like say if we were to agree it's easier to learn how to shoot a decent free throw than it is to learn how to play Trio Sonata No. 3 in D- on the organ, than no comparison. Tennis is much harder.

And that's because the art of combat is so nebulous compared to top professional tennis. Fighting is a sport -- and I hope you know this -- where a naturally strong, powerful, aggressive, fearless person with no formal fight training can completely destroy a guy who's been studying martial arts his whole life. Maybe it's because combat is a part of our DNA. You have to tell kids "don't hit" over and over. But hitting a backhand volley isn't as natural. Everything in tennis, you have to learn.

Andy G
12-11-2009, 02:36 PM
While watching 2008 Aussi semis of Fed. vs. Djokovic on the TV and watching Laver vs. Roche on the computer (yes, I'm crazy) I was struck by how much faster the old grass-court game was than the modern game. With players serving and volleying, the distance between the players is much shorter (even more so when both are at the net). The old game is much quicker with players having to react and move faster. The position of the player at the net takes the time away from the opponent instead of the velocity of the ball.
Though tall guys could be very successful because of big serves and reach at the net (Smith, Newcombe), smaller guys could use their quickness around the court to get to the volleys and pass, as well as get to the net quickly to volley and back to retrieve lobs. Even though there were guys in the old game 6'7" or so with big games, their effectiveness was limited by their relative lack of quickness. People these days talk about how fast the ball moves, but the game today is much slower.


NoWay!! Not a chance. Today's game is way faster and harder. Yeah, I've youtubed Laver also. Did you happen to see the black and white video of him playing? I forget who he played but the clip dated early 60's. They were playing in slacks and sweater vests!! Are you insane. Let's see someone show up at the AO next month dressed like that and you could use a stopwatch to count how long they last. If you transferred any of the top players back in time, they would absolutely destroy anyone from that era.

rocket
12-11-2009, 06:50 PM
Yesterday's tennis:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SptdffCeVmM&NR=1

Today's tennis:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcT9CphRG_I

pmerk34
12-11-2009, 07:13 PM
Yesterday's tennis:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SptdffCeVmM&NR=1

Today's tennis:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcT9CphRG_I

Not even the same sport anymore..

borg number one
12-11-2009, 07:13 PM
Good stuff Rocket. Both excellent examples of great tennis. I remember that Federer-Blake match. What was Blake thinking? He just kept trying to hit harder and harder and never really changed things up against Federer, who was really on that night.

Laver-Connors, a young Connors vs. an approx. 35 year old Laver, but still 2 great players. Now, let's also remember the frames they were using. Could Blake and Federer hit like the way Connors and Laver were hitting with a T2000 and a wood frame even if they grew up with those frames?

Yesterday's Racquet:

http://www.woodtennis.com/kramer/jkramers.jpg



Today's Racquet:

http://i544.photobucket.com/albums/hh329/FabFed/rac3.jpg

Datacipher
12-11-2009, 07:13 PM
maybe you cannot make your feets getting faster, but you can train them to do it more consistently. it makes a huge difference whether a person trains 20h or 1h per week. and as in all other popular sports, I am really sure about that, the pro's do train a lot more.
I don't have particular insight to the tennis terms of athleticism, but I know what it is in football (soccer). If you try to compare lets say the premier league or the top teams of the champions league what the differences are to lower leagues, they usually say its "harder", faster, you don't have as much time, you run more.
exactly the same things people from the 60s, 70s, 80s say: football skills have always been around. pele was gifted, beckenbauer too. but maybe those guys wouldn't be succesfull today, because what changed is that everything got so much more powerfull. and really, this isn't a thing of a special sport, take a look at anything.
the amount of time athletes can spend on their sport is so much higher in average that the whole level raised.
I'm not saying e.g. laver was lazy, but I say that he didn't need to be perfectly fit. his tennis talent was a big enough advantage so that others couldnt do a lot and especially not if they weren't anywhere equal in physical terms. (same with borg).
I also believe that the "density" in the highest ranks increased. the differences aren't huge, so can't allow NOT to do as much as possible to stay there.

do you really think players 40 years ago were equally trained and raised with as much effort as they are now? or do you think this is actually useless, they could reach the tops also without all this training?

Training is great, it's always best to be extremely fit. Yes, it's quite possible to reach the top without all that training. JOHN MCENROE. AGASSI. ETC. did that and more. Will you be at your "best"? No...it could be a real factor in some matches, but it certainly can be done, though I have never said it was ideal. (also note that Agassi is a perfect example of how all his later training never made him hit the ball any harder or get any faster (not to mention...ahem...doping) even though he loved to proclaim this up and down all around the town)

NOW where you are really NUTS is implying that Laver wasn't perfectly fit. If you had any clue.,....UNREAL. Laver was playing a very fast athletic game. Hopman's boys trained HARD and did fitness feats that VERY few players could do today! If you don't think Borg or Vilas were every bit as fit as the fittest guys out there today....

Lastly, bear in mind, that all my references were to the top players. I agreed that the tour AVERAGE standards had gone up. For example, AVERAGE serve speed is up, AVERAGE fitness level is up, in my opinion. But the top end has not changed tangibly.

borg number one
12-12-2009, 03:51 AM
PMERK34, it's the same sport, with very different racquets, more uniformity in court surface speed (slower grass, faster clay), and harder hitting now, with less serving and volleying, and I would say, a little less mental toughness than the era of Connors, Borg, McEnroe especially.

Yet, as far as athleticism, guys like Borg, Vilas, Wilander, Lendl and Gerulitas were as fit or more fit than many of the top players (top 10) of today.

Laver was very fit/athletic, especially in his "prime" during the 1960's.

Watch the strength, fitness, quickness and athleticism of Roche and Laver in this clip (with very heavy wood racquets in their hands to "react" with):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHaN2h21ANs (1969 Australian Open SF).

Could Djokovic and Murray play this well, attacking all the time and making very quick movements especially laterally and up and back constantly on the court with very heavy racquets in hand swinging away through 4-5 sets? This speaks to the 2 first posts on this thread by OP NLBWELL and TIMNZ.


Now Sampras and Agassi are 2 other examples of very fit/atletic players, in that they started their careers in the late 1980's and did very well, but both were still near the top even after 2000.

Jimmy Connors' fitness/athleticism goes underrated overall in my opinion, since his game actually required considerable fitness and quickness/reaction time. Yet, he wasn't the "fastest" guy, which hurt him when he matched up with Borg in baseline duels.

So, I would agree with Datacipher's post above. On average, say amongst the top 1000 there has been some improvement in sheer athleticism, from what I've seen. Yet, as far as several players at or near the top, there has not been much improvement in the sheer athleticism of the sport, not during the last 30 years or so at least.

borg number one
12-12-2009, 07:20 AM
I cite that 1969 match between Laver and Roche as a video example of the substantial but different athleticism that was required during a past era of Tennis.

The same is true of especially the top players during the 70s, 80's, and 90's. Substantial, but DIFFERENT, types of athleticism have been required during successive eras in Tennis. Yet, all these great players shown below were also great athletes, as are the players of today.


1. (Borg-Connors Wimbledon Final 1977):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BURxh1YbZD0


2. (Borg-Gerulaitas Wimbledon SF 1977):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWi27LrNXl8


3. (Lendl-McEnroe 1984 Masters):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjH9mTDE0Nk


4. (Becker-Edberg Wimbledon 1989 Finals):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT6dkwM92H8


5. (Sampras-Agassi Wimbledon 1993 QF):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgVs32WB9Bc&feature=PlayList&p=33745599EF700ABA&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=36

35ft6
12-12-2009, 08:56 AM
1983 French Open Finals Lendl versus Borg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW4z0FnUz4o&feature=related).

2008 French Open Nadal versus Almagro (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9vM0eBDvQw).

It's not just the heaviness and speed of shot, today's players have to cover a lot more court.

By the way, correct me if I'm wrong, but Lendl and Borg were the two fastest, fittest, most powerful players of the time?

britbox
12-12-2009, 09:02 AM
1983 French Open Finals Lendl versus Borg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW4z0FnUz4o&feature=related).

2008 French Open Nadal versus Almagro (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9vM0eBDvQw).

It's not just the heaviness and speed of shot, today's players have to cover a lot more court.

Thank you. It's like the weather reports telling that it's not raining but when you look out the window it's pouring down. I'd take an umbrella personally. The game is noticeably quicker whatever certain people insist.

Dilettante
12-12-2009, 09:47 AM
Yes and no Namranger. Tennis requires quickness and speed (sprinting over a distance and changing directions on a court over and over), whereas Boxing and MMA are more about pure quickness and not running fast over any great distance.

Boxing and MMA also, though they do employ strategy, do not require the same acumen as tennis in that constructing points in a myriad of ways and "out thinking" your opponent over the course of a long match, it can be argued, is more of a mental feat than "out thinking" your fellow boxing opponent or MMA foe.

You also don't have to fight off the elements and are in constantly controlled conditions with MMA and Boxing. Yet, both boxing and MMA require great strength, fitness, quickness, strategy, and mental toughness/physical toughness. There's no question about that.

I'd say boxing is more strategic than tennis.

........

About the previous discussion on pure skills, well: there's a sport/game/callitasyouwant that has accurately measurable skills: chess.

In chess there is the same GOAT discussion as in tennis, but they are more realistic. For example: Bobby Fischer is a GOAT candidate, he had the greatest skills of his generation. Kasparov is another GOAT candidate, and he had the greatest skills of his generation.

You can argue that Fischer made some stuff that probably no one will ever achieve again, and that his dominance and genius was short in time but probably unparalelled by anyone. Even Kasparov says that, but in chess there's not any discussion about the game evolving, because Kasparov's chess was stronger overall than Fischer's chess, period.

If Fischer and Kasparov were the same age and played in the same era, it's arguable if Fischer would be better than Kasparov. Maybe he would (I personally think he would) but that wasn't the case, they didin't play in the same era and Kasparov played a more evolved chess because every human activity improves by time and acumulation of techniques, etc. So for me Fischer is a legitimate GOAT but 1972 Fischer would have been beaten by 1995 Kasparov. No way to change that fact and I'm a huge Fischer fan.

I don't see why tennis should be that different. There's no way players from 30-40 years ago were more prepared and had more average skills. I think the current field is wy more prepared and has more overall skills that the field from 30 years ago.

borg number one
12-12-2009, 11:53 AM
35 ft 6, yes, that was the 1981 French Open Final between Borg and Lendl. Borg was using the Donnay Borg Pro (some graphite inlays, but mostly a wood racquet) against Lendl playing with a graphite Adidas frame I believe.

In 1981 Borg, Lendl, Vilas, and Gerulaitis, were all considered very fit/fast/quick, and were in the "top tier" in terms of fitness around then. Lendl was worn down by the fifth set, but in the coming years, he really worked on the fitness side to become probably the overall fittest player of the 1980's. McEnroe did the same later in the 1980's to keep up with Lendl.

Dilettante, that's a very interesting analogy. As to the skill level of players 30 years ago, I think what you are overlooking is the increased skill/strength it takes to hit great tennis shots, over and over during a long match, with wood racquets versus modern frames. That's where there is skill difference. That takes incredible talent and years of honing. Hitting harder shots and putaways with today's frames is quite a bit easier, but yes, it requires you to move about the court more and cover larger distances, hence the increased demands on your legs for today's players.

NamRanger
12-12-2009, 12:43 PM
I strongly disagree with this. Maybe someday in the future it could reach new levels of skill, but seriously consider this: you can take a super strong, naturally athletic, 6'5" guy off the street who has absolutely no combat training whatsoever and he will destroy the world's greatest 145 pound female fighter.

On the other hand, let a guy practice for even 5 or 10 years and he'll get destroyed by a 145 pound player in the WTA top 100. That's how much more skill counts in tennis.



Take a naturally strong athletic 6'5 guy and put him in front of Fedor and see what happens. Yes, skill matters in tennis alot. However, when we are talking about people who are close to even in athleticism, then it comes all down to sheer skill. At some point, if your skill level is high enough, you can take on anyone despite their natural athletic advantages over you.



And it depends on the rule set. The 145 lb female fighter can easily take down most athletic guys under certain rule sets. If we're talking about a no rules street brawl, sure the 6'5 guy can win. But anyone can win in an uncontrolled environment.

35ft6
12-12-2009, 02:07 PM
Take a naturally strong athletic 6'5 guy and put him in front of Fedor and see what happens. Yes, skill matters in tennis alot.They've done this several times.And it depends on the rule set. The 145 lb female fighter can easily take down most athletic guys under certain rule sets. If we're talking about a no rules street brawl, sure the 6'5 guy can win. But anyone can win in an uncontrolled environment.I'm talking under MMA rules.

35ft6
12-12-2009, 02:37 PM
Thank you. It's like the weather reports telling that it's not raining but when you look out the window it's pouring down. I'd take an umbrella personally. The game is noticeably quicker whatever certain people insist.Borg and Lendl in 1981 Master Finals (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jZmFMUGTTU&feature=related). It's on indoor carpet and the camera angle is a bit better.

Fed versus Monfils in Miami 2008 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj4zC3cTl9o) on one of those slow down hard courts everybody complains about. Trying to find a similar camera angle to Lendl's clip...

rocket
12-12-2009, 06:25 PM
seriously consider this: you can take a super strong, naturally athletic, 6'5" guy off the street who has absolutely no combat training whatsoever and he will destroy the world's greatest 145 pound female fighter.

Not going to the extreme, but d'you mean like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we3RXk08qSM&NR=1

Or like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg9JNYPzjmw

NamRanger
12-12-2009, 06:55 PM
They've done this several times.I'm talking under MMA rules.



Yes and Fedor has come out on top every time has he not?



Under MMA rules, an experienced champion female fighter could easily dismantle any non-trained athletic man. I think you are severely underestimating the amount of skill it takes to fight on a professional level in any contact sport such as MMA, Boxing, Kickboxing, etc.; yes, you have freakishly strong and athletic people like Brett Rogers and Brock Lesnar out there, but the best fighters in the past and now are still the ones who have the highest level of skill (Sakuraba, Fedor, CroCop, Nogueira).



I watch both MMA and Tennis extensively; and both require a ton of tactics and strategy. Each sport requires a great amount of strategic depth IMO, with neither having more than the other. When it comes down to just overall athleticism, I think MMA fighters have the edge in bursts of speed and strength. Tennis players are abit more agile (depending on who we are comparing though), have more stamina, and generally have to be fitter.

35ft6
12-13-2009, 02:27 AM
Not going to the extreme, but d'you mean like this?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we3RXk08qSM&NR=1You actually believe that's real?Yes and Fedor has come out on top every time has he not?Uh, yeah. I guess I'm not sure what your point is. I chose huge guy verses woman for a reason. Huge guy verses baddest guy alive... not so much.[/quote]It would depend on weight (which was one of my original conditions) and what you mean by "athletic" but assuming Lebron James never had combat training, put him against Cyborg Santos in an open weight bout and I put my money on King James..I watch both MMA and Tennis extensively; and both require a ton of tactics and strategy.Yeah, me, too. And I was a martial arts junkie up to my 20's -- black belt, boxing, wing chun, etc. -- and I'm telling you a big strong, athletic man will destroy a trained female fighter. It's simply biology. In tennis you see the biology come into play, too, that's why the number 6 of UCLA can probably beat the number 10 female in the world, but you need a certain amount of skill before biology becomes the determining factor.

Bottom line, the fact there are weight classes in the MMA game should tell you something about how a physical advantage can trump skill.

borg number one
12-13-2009, 05:33 AM
See 1979 Borg-Connors Upload on You Tube from Poster Krosero below.

These are 2 Giants of the Game Going at it on Rublico (Green Clay). There's great physicality on display. Watch some of these gets and the power they can generate with tiny low powered frames. I love the point construction as both players look to be in great form this day at the 1979 Pepsi Grand Slam.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTMx--E0OhY

From Wikipedia: The Pepsi Grand Slam was a men's tennis tournament played as part of the ATP Tour from 1976-1981. The tournament was played in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 1976 and Boca Raton, Florida from 1977-1981. It was held on outdoor clay courts and featured a field of four players.

RelentlessAttack
12-13-2009, 01:44 PM
Impressive gets from Borg! I think he more than anyone, if he had grown up in the modern era, would be successful in the current tour, though other past greats were definitely all great athletes

NLBwell
12-14-2009, 09:36 PM
NoWay!! Not a chance. Today's game is way faster and harder. Yeah, I've youtubed Laver also. Did you happen to see the black and white video of him playing? I forget who he played but the clip dated early 60's. They were playing in slacks and sweater vests!! Are you insane. Let's see someone show up at the AO next month dressed like that and you could use a stopwatch to count how long they last. If you transferred any of the top players back in time, they would absolutely destroy anyone from that era.


You obviously missed the whole point of the original post. While watching both a modern match and an old grass-court match AT THE SAME TIME, the old match was obviously a much quicker game. The extent of how much faster the game was back then surprised me, therefore, I wrote the OP.
No matter how hard you hit the ball from the baseline, it can not get to the opposing player as quickly as if you are hitting it from the frontcourt. Because of the ball slowing down from drag and even more the bounce of the ball (and even that is emphasized by the fast grass vs. modern court) you would probably have to hit a baseline shot at 150 to 200 mph from the baseline to get the ball to the opponent as quickly as a reasonably solid 50 mph volley. The game was about quickness and reactions instead of power and court coverage.

surfvland
12-14-2009, 11:56 PM
Todays game is much faster and more powerful. Also the serve in the mens game is much more of a dominating factor.

NLBwell
12-17-2009, 09:01 AM
Todays game is much faster and more powerful. Also the serve in the mens game is much more of a dominating factor.


Actually, no. More powerful, maybe, but the rest is not true. The reason they slowed the grass down at Wimbledon was because the serve was far too much a factor. Service breaks are much more common now than they were on the grass in the 80's 70's or 60's.