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View Full Version : Does Federer have the smoothest tennis game of all time?


Ray Mercer
04-26-2011, 05:32 PM
I don't think I've ever watched someone move as effortlessly and have as much variation as Federer. Is there anyone worth watching from the 70's or early 80's who had that kind of flair?

Andres
04-26-2011, 05:37 PM
Stefan Edberg and Miroslav Mecir

tenis1
04-26-2011, 05:40 PM
Bjorn Borg.

Datacipher
04-26-2011, 05:55 PM
Stefan Edberg and Miroslav Mecir

Yes. The correct answer is Edberg. Not only was he the most graceful, but he was a big man playing the dynamic SV game, and STILL making it look smooth! Incredible!

Sampras, Federer, Mecir, Rios....all tie at the 2nd tier! Yannick Noah also was smooth in a way (his groundstrokes were ugly messes....but he was such an amazing athlete)

Another overlooked talent that I never see mentioned is Kiefer. He actually has a ton of talent, and a smooth game.

I am only speaking of the last few generations. In the past...there were a LOT of graceful players....

Datacipher
04-26-2011, 05:59 PM
I don't think I've ever watched someone move as effortlessly and have as much variation as Federer. Is there anyone worth watching from the 70's or early 80's who had that kind of flair?

Um.....I think Fed is right up at the top in terms of smoothness....but variation?? I think you'd be very surprised...a lot of players used as much or more variation in past eras. He only looks like he has so much variety because we live in an era of 2-handed topspin bashers.....even then, I don't know that Fed has that much more variety than say...Djoko, other than his heavy use of the slice BH, but that is almost forced in that it's hard to match topspin bashing with 2-handed machines all day long!

abmk
04-26-2011, 06:04 PM
Yes. The correct answer is Edberg. Not only was he the most graceful, but he was a big man playing the dynamic SV game, and STILL making it look smooth! Incredible!

Sampras, Federer, Mecir, Rios....all tie at the 2nd tier! Yannick Noah also was smooth in a way (his groundstrokes were ugly messes....but he was such an amazing athlete)

Another overlooked talent that I never see mentioned is Kiefer. He actually has a ton of talent, and a smooth game.

I am only speaking of the last few generations. In the past...there were a LOT of graceful players....

I'd put edberg up there at the top if it weren't for his UGLY FH ....

abmk
04-26-2011, 06:08 PM
Um.....I think Fed is right up at the top in terms of smoothness....but variation?? I think you'd be very surprised...a lot of players used as much or more variation in past eras. He only looks like he has so much variety because we live in an era of 2-handed topspin bashers.....even then, I don't know that Fed has that much more variety than say...Djoko, other than his heavy use of the slice BH, but that is almost forced in that it's hard to match topspin bashing with 2-handed machines all day long!

LOL , LOL and LOL !!!!!

Let's know when djoker does chip and charge occasionally or SnVs occasionally or hits the inside-in FH, uses the short slice ( LOL ! ) , hits winners by half-volleying from the baseline etc etc .....

slice bh compliment
04-26-2011, 06:15 PM
Nastase, Arazi, Rios, Maria Bueno, Manolo Santana, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Stich, Edberg, Noah, Mac, Krishnan .. all smoove as can be.

And they would all agree that Federer is in the top tier along with them.

JeMar
04-26-2011, 06:23 PM
Yes. The correct answer is Edberg. Not only was he the most graceful, but he was a big man playing the dynamic SV game, and STILL making it look smooth! Incredible!

Sampras, Federer, Mecir, Rios....all tie at the 2nd tier! Yannick Noah also was smooth in a way (his groundstrokes were ugly messes....but he was such an amazing athlete)

Another overlooked talent that I never see mentioned is Kiefer. He actually has a ton of talent, and a smooth game.

I am only speaking of the last few generations. In the past...there were a LOT of graceful players....

I dunno, man. Edberg is one of my favorite players, but he was pretty painful to watch on the baseline at times. That forehand kinda ruined it a little bit when you compare him to some other smooth strikers.

TMF
04-26-2011, 06:40 PM
Yes. The correct answer is Edberg. Not only was he the most graceful, but he was a big man playing the dynamic SV game, and STILL making it look smooth! Incredible!

Sampras, Federer, Mecir, Rios....all tie at the 2nd tier! Yannick Noah also was smooth in a way (his groundstrokes were ugly messes....but he was such an amazing athlete)

Another overlooked talent that I never see mentioned is Kiefer. He actually has a ton of talent, and a smooth game.

I am only speaking of the last few generations. In the past...there were a LOT of graceful players....

I give Edberg the edge on the volley, but footwork/movement, prime Fed is more smooth and graceful.

Lsmkenpo
04-26-2011, 06:52 PM
It depends on how we define smooth, to me smooth means relaxed and fluid movements, and I would have to say Federer's overall game is about as fluid as I have ever seen. It is very rare to ever see him hit any stroke and look like he is out of control, off balance, or forcing the motion.

Clay lover
04-26-2011, 06:56 PM
Fed for movement, Edberg for transition, Rios for strokes. EPIC WIN!!

Tshooter
04-26-2011, 06:58 PM
"Stefan Edberg "

Take another look at that forehand.

Datacipher
04-26-2011, 07:32 PM
I dunno, man. Edberg is one of my favorite players, but he was pretty painful to watch on the baseline at times. That forehand kinda ruined it a little bit when you compare him to some other smooth strikers.

Well, I actually think his forehand was....a bit ugly in the way he chicken winged it...though even that was "smooth"...but really, I was referring to movement, not strokes. Sort of like how I mentioned Noah. I was thinking of footwork, and body motion....no the individual arm motion....

Speaking of which, if we wanted to get into the strokes themselves: I'm not a tremendous fan of either Edberg or Fed's serve motions. I like the Edberg flow...that' beautiful, but I feel like the arm, has a bit too much lag. Fed's motion...is relaxed, but slightly ugly to me, in that his arm goes up a tiny bit faster than it should...then slows down a bit at the top, while he drops his elbow WAY down. Again...with both it's nitpicking, but I wouldn't put either in my top 50 service motions, biomechanically or aesthetically.

If we add in GROUNDSTROKES only to the movement....it's probably Mecir. Actually though...Rios probably has a strong argument, and in fact, there's all kinds of journeymen with very smooth strokes...like say....Malisse.

Datacipher
04-26-2011, 07:34 PM
I give Edberg the edge on the volley,.


ROFL! YEah...that's a close one. Not that any of us even know what "smooth" on the volley is in your mind. Don't worry....I don't want to know.

Nadal = Borg
04-26-2011, 07:34 PM
Actually I'm sure that Federer has the world record for the most shanks in tennis history .







.

BrooklynNY
04-26-2011, 07:40 PM
Actually I'm sure that Federer has the world record for the most shanks in tennis history .

.

And don't forget about Federer's record for best volleys

jackson vile
04-26-2011, 07:41 PM
Stefan Edberg and Miroslav Mecir

To volley like that you have to have absolute insane footwork. Roger has great foot work, but even he can't do what Edberg did.

Backhanded Compliment
04-26-2011, 07:58 PM
Edberg... also consider just how good that footwork had to be to make that odd forehand work.

Also, McEnroe moved absurdly well but a bit more angular and less smooth than Edberg whose smoothness was set up by that kick serve and backhand approach. Mac was all about disrupting flow so we cant list him here but on his smooth points he was the smoothest, on his jerky points he so disruptive of flow. Mac had a variety of extremes. He hated to play Mecir for his smoothness.

Devilito
04-26-2011, 08:06 PM
It depends on how we define smooth, to me smooth means relaxed and fluid movements, and I would have to say Federer's overall game is about as fluid as I have ever seen. It is very rare to ever see him hit any stroke and look like he is out of control, off balance, or forcing the motion.

agreed. Gotta give it to Fed on this one

cc0509
04-26-2011, 08:09 PM
In summary, no Fed is the smoothest I have ever seen, but I would also say Borg and Edberg had grace and elegance.

1970CRBase
04-26-2011, 08:09 PM
1988 Wim SF.

When Mecir was "on", he could make even Edberg look slow on grass. Unfortunately, his bad back, he only had half a career before early retirement.

TheTruth
04-26-2011, 08:44 PM
No...

Guys like Rios, Arazi, Sampras, and Malisse fairly glided on the court. You couldn't see the effort at all. They were just there putting the ball away.

As regards effortless, Fed puts in a lot of movement, lunges, and running around the court. To me that doesn't equate to effortless.

Oh, and Berdych too, except that now he's playing more defense taking a bit away from his effortlessness. But, when he's in the zone, he commands the court and hardly moves around the court at all.

Ray Mercer
04-26-2011, 08:58 PM
No...

Guys like Rios, Arazi, Sampras, and Malisse fairly glided on the court. You couldn't see the effort at all. They were just there putting the ball away.

As regards effortless, Fed puts in a lot of movement, lunges, and running around the court. To me that doesn't equate to effortless.

Oh, and Berdych too, except that now he's playing more defense taking a bit away from his effortlessness. But, when he's in the zone, he commands the court and hardly moves around the court at all.

I disagree with Sampras. His baseline strokes are fairly ugly.

TenFanLA
04-26-2011, 09:02 PM
Overall Fed has the smoothest, most efficient, beautiful, artistic game of all time, no question. Even the all-time greats agree.

wy2sl0
04-26-2011, 09:05 PM
All those people you said glided didn't get to the balls that Fed does, and didnt have the surgical precision he does to be in the perfect position to attack every ball. That is why he is the greatest. He wins looking like he doesn't know how to lose.

TheTruth
04-26-2011, 09:10 PM
I disagree with Sampras. His baseline strokes are fairly ugly.

I was thinking more of moving around the court, but as time has revealed his baseline strokes weren't that "pretty."

What was so impressive about Sampras though, was that he wouldn't even look like he was trying, and before you knew it, it was gsm.

Ray Mercer
04-26-2011, 09:14 PM
I was thinking more of moving around the court, but as time has revealed his baseline strokes weren't that "pretty."

What was so impressive about Sampras though, was that he wouldn't even look like he was trying, and before you knew it, it was gsm.

Yeah that serve of his helped save his legs big time.

FedExpress 333
04-26-2011, 10:11 PM
I believe that Federer has the most artistic and aesthetic game ever, but Mecir and Edberg were close...

35ft6
04-26-2011, 10:35 PM
Edberg had a pretty game, but his serve and forehand were kind of ugly I thought.

People I've thought had pretty games at some point: Kuerten, Korda, Nalbandian, Coria, Srichiphan, Safin, Rios, Haas, Stich, Sampras... but, yeah, I might put Fed ahead of all of them. It's not just the lines of his strokes, his movement, the way he runs, changes directions, and scrambles, is pretty.

Marius_Hancu
04-27-2011, 03:55 AM
Nastase and Federer

Edberg and McEnroe: a bit different, more jerky, highly spectacular, of course, though, super talented of course

TMF
04-27-2011, 07:49 AM
If we add in GROUNDSTROKES only to the movement....it's probably Mecir. Actually though...Rios probably has a strong argument, and in fact, there's all kinds of journeymen with very smooth strokes...like say....Malisse.

You're wrong again.

Fed's flawless footwork are being study by tennis coaches. Here's one example.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GATfKRKkqBs

It's just the movement...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sndfN2Jh5cc

Convinced now? Ok then.

chrischris
04-27-2011, 08:03 AM
Nastase, Arazi, Rios, Maria Bueno, Manolo Santana, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Stich, Edberg, Noah, Mac, Krishnan .. all smoove as can be.

And they would all agree that Federer is in the top tier along with them.

I would like to add Evonne Goolagong Cawley was a godess of smoothness and Vijay Amritraj too.
Fed is up there too IMO.

borg number one
04-27-2011, 08:17 AM
Rod Laver and Arthur Ashe were both very smooth. Laver was such a great all courter, moving between all areas of the court with easy power, always executing shots with great balance. Ken Rosewall was also very smooth out there, always balanced, great execution.

sureshs
04-27-2011, 08:34 AM
Smooth game is incompatible with topspin. It was OK in the old days. With heavy topspin, the ball moves in the air and off the ground, disrupting the rhythm.

Played last nite against a small boy whose father asked me to hit with him. The guy is like 1/10th my size, but killer topspin as expected. You need to be ready for abrupt direction changes and bounces.

That is why smooth game breaks down against Nadal.

rfm29
04-27-2011, 08:53 AM
Soon as I saw that surreshs had posted, I knew it would be a nadal>federer post...

Mortifier
04-27-2011, 09:19 AM
I dunno, man. Edberg is one of my favorite players, but he was pretty painful to watch on the baseline at times. That forehand kinda ruined it a little bit when you compare him to some other smooth strikers.

JeMar, would you mind explaining "machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time"? I know it's a six word story, but I quite don't get it. Everyone says it's very clever (and obviously I'm not).

Rock Strongo
04-27-2011, 09:42 AM
JeMar, would you mind explaining "machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time"? I know it's a six word story, but I quite don't get it. Everyone says it's very clever (and obviously I'm not).

He didn't actually know he had invented a time machine and went back in time during the process.

sureshs
04-27-2011, 09:50 AM
Soon as I saw that surreshs had posted, I knew it would be a nadal>federer post...

I didn't say anything about that. I just said smoothness is not necessarily a good quality these days. Smoothness does not produce much power or topspin. That is why people don't call Del Potro or Nadal smooth players.

Another aspect of smoothness was use of the one handed backhand and seamless transition with it to the net. That again is not applicable these days.

rommil
04-27-2011, 10:20 AM
Smooth game is incompatible with topspin. It was OK in the old days. With heavy topspin, the ball moves in the air and off the ground, disrupting the rhythm.

Played last nite against a small boy whose father asked me to hit with him. The guy is like 1/10th my size, but killer topspin as expected. You need to be ready for abrupt direction changes and bounces.

That is why smooth game breaks down against Nadal.

So you're calling your game smooth? It must break your back to kiss your own ***!! LOL

sureshs
04-27-2011, 10:23 AM
So you're calling your game smooth? Does it break your back to kiss your own ass? LOL

Actually, I have been told several times that my game is very smooth - serves and groundies both. But I am willing to admit that the smoothness, though appealing to fellow players at my level, comes at the expense of spin and power.

CocaCola
04-27-2011, 10:38 AM
Yes - when on - it looks amazing.

Boricua
04-27-2011, 10:38 AM
Bjorn Borg.

Ill second that one:)

rommil
04-27-2011, 10:47 AM
Actually, I have been told several times that my game is very smooth - serves and groundies both. But I am willing to admit that the smoothness, though appealing to fellow players at my level, comes at the expense of spin and power.

So you are having problems hitting against a toddler with topsin and you immediately think it's due to your "smooth" game? Ahahhahahaha.

Netzroller
04-27-2011, 11:55 AM
I'd definitely pick Federer as well.
Sure, other guys might do certain things very smoothly. But there is simply not a single element of Federers game that doesn't look fluid and natural. Whether it's his footwork or his fh/bh/serve/volley/trickshot, no unnecessary idiosyncrasies, nothing rushed or cramped.

That doesn’t mean other guys can't be equally effective nor that less smooth is always less fun to watch, but either is not part of this discussion. I think maybe the greatest advantage of a smooth game is it prevents injuries.


...Well, there is one thing about Federer though – the constant 'you know' in his interviews - that's not very smooth:)

sureshs
04-27-2011, 12:01 PM
So you are having problems hitting against a toddler with topsin and you immediately think it's due to your "smooth" game? Ahahhahahaha.

Not any toddler. These are twins, like the Bryans. Coach/father is a 4.5 player and a former teaching pro. I got away yesterday by hitting high backhand topspins spinning wildly at 1 rpm to his backhand. The balls almost hit the fence and due to his lack of height he could do nothing about it.

But give him a couple of years and he will refuse to waste his time hitting with me. Already been through that with a few juniors over the years.

But then my revenge will begin when he gives up tennis in college and job and shows up rusty in 20 years time. I will still be around waiting for him.

fed_rulz
04-27-2011, 01:38 PM
I disagree with Sampras. His baseline strokes are fairly ugly.

+1 . His BH must rank among the ugliest strokes among GOAT candidates.

mellowyellow
04-27-2011, 03:43 PM
I always thought Cedric Pioline was very smoothe, and effortless. So he looked like he had been in a 5 hour match 4 games in. He also used a wide variety of shots on a regular basis. My vote would go to Edberg though.

adizzy
04-27-2011, 06:54 PM
I understand that people don't like to hear so much of federer, especially now that he is losing, but how is this even a contest. Fed is amazing, and the game today is about 200 times faster than before. c'mon.

namui
04-27-2011, 07:14 PM
Fabrice Santoro

borg number one
04-27-2011, 07:22 PM
Ill second that one:)

Me three! Bjorn Rune Borg was extremely smooth. Here is one of my favorite clips of him in action from Krosero. Even his Bancroft sounds smooth here and check out the tactical sliding and to top it all off, after two sets of stellar tennis, see his reaction after the last point...another day in the park for the Iceman.

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

Lsmkenpo
04-27-2011, 07:32 PM
^^^^^^^^^

Its a nice point but I just don't see the movement as smooth as Federer.

borg number one
04-27-2011, 07:47 PM
^^^^^^^^^

Its a nice point but I just don't see the movement as smooth as Federer.

Federer is a very smooth player, but there have been several others in his league in terms of that one quality, including Bjorn Borg and some others like Edberg, Laver, and even Mats Wilander actually. Borg, in my opinion, has some Nadal qualities combined with Federer qualities. As far as overall "ease of play", we have to factor in the wide variety of differences between past times and say the last ten years or so. Surfaces have become more homogenized for one thing, allowing for players to basically play the same style of play no matter the surface and then you have the change in racquets by 1984 or so. Lots of factors, for example, with wood frames, it's a lot more difficult to hit "smooth" easy-looking winners (in general), but of course, you do face more spin and pace in today's conditions. So, how does that "disrupt" your play? Like the debate over "greatest ever", I think it's more useful to point out players that were considered "smooth" during in their respective eras. Rosewall, Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Wilander, Edberg, and Federer are just some examples in my opinion, but of course this is a little like judging art. There's smoothness in terms of movement (seamless transition) and also smoothness of shotmaking (a player's form/shots), so we could break down the term "smooth" a little further. On this one particular question, I would put Laver, Rosewall, Ashe, Borg, Wilander, and Federer near the top.

Lsmkenpo
04-27-2011, 07:50 PM
Federer is a very smooth player, but there have been several others in his league in terms of that one quality, including Bjorn Borg and some others like Edberg, Laver, and even Mats Wilander actually. Borg, in my opinion, has some Nadal qualities combined with Federer qualities. As far as overall "ease of play", we have to factor in the wide variety of differences between past times and say the last ten years or so. Surfaces have become more homogenized for one thing, allowing for players to basically play the same style of play no matter the surface and then you have the change in racquets by 1984 or so. Lots of factors, for example, with wood frames, it's a lot more difficult to hit "smooth" easy-looking winners (in general), but of course, you do face more spin and pace in today's conditions. So, how does that "disrupt" your play. Like the debate over "greatest ever", I think it's more useful to point out players that were considered "smooth" during in their respective eras. Rosewall, Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Wilander, Edberg, and Federer are just some examples in my opinion, but of course this is a little like judging art. There's smoothness in terms of movement (seamless transition) and also smoothness of shotmaking (a player's form/shots), so we could break down the term "smooth" a little further. On this one particular question, I would put Laver, Rosewall, Ashe, Borg, Wilander, and Federer near the top.

Can't say I disagree with any of this, well thought out, nice post.

borg number one
04-27-2011, 08:01 PM
Can't say I disagree with any of this, well thought out, nice post.

Thanks Lsmkenpo.

borg number one
04-27-2011, 08:12 PM
I forgot to mention Sampras. I thought he was very smooth as well. His movement, that serve, his transition game too. I loved to watch how he would "take it up a notch" when it was about 30-30, over and over again, and you'd say to yourself, "where did THAT come from"?

So, here are four of the "smoothest" and greatest players ever in my opinion..

http://www.posters.ws/images/343308/pete_sampras.jpg

http://www.tennis24seven.com/wp-content/gallery/roger-federer/roger-federer.jpg

http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/EXID23531/images/rod_2_standard_getty_images.jpg

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/201/180/borgfrenchopen_display_image.jpg?1271506186

BrooklynNY
04-27-2011, 08:47 PM
In no specific order: Laver, Borg, Sampras, Federer, Santoro

This thread just gave me an idea

Bobby Jr
04-27-2011, 08:47 PM
Can't say I disagree with any of this, well thought out, nice post.
Yeah, I agree also.

borg number one - nice post on this topic.

piece
04-27-2011, 09:04 PM
I'd actually have to disagree with BN1 on this issue, as this is one of the few occasions where it's unnecessary to take into account change in surface and technology. Sure, one can say that lighter racquets and similar surfaces have made it easier to look smooth while moving and hitting, but this only shows that we can explain the smootheness of a modern player like Federer partly by reference to factors extrinsic to him. It doesn't, by any means, take away from the smootheness of Federer's play. All that we learn is that Federer may not have been as smooth as, say, Borg had he played under Borg's conditions. Which is completely irrelevant to who actually played more smoothly. I mean, if the question was "who hit faster groundstrokes, Borg or Soderling?" would you bother taking changes in racquet technology into account? No, because we don't want to know who would have hit faster with the same racquets, we want to know who actually hit faster with the racquets they did, in fact, use. Or at least that's how I interpreted the OP's question.

Incidentally, play with wood racquets looks smoother to me anyway. Watching Laver play Roche on grass is about the most aesthetically pleasing tennis gets for me.

borg number one
04-27-2011, 09:21 PM
I'd actually have to disagree with BN1 on this issue, as this is one of the few occasions where it's unnecessary to take into account change in surface and technology. Sure, one can say that lighter racquets and similar surfaces have made it easier to look smooth while moving and hitting, but this only shows that we can explain the smootheness of a modern player like Federer partly by reference to factors extrinsic to him. It doesn't, by any means, take away from the smootheness of Federer's play. All that we learn is that Federer may not have been as smooth as, say, Borg had he played under Borg's conditions. Which is completely irrelevant to who actually played more smoothly. I mean, if the question was "who hit faster groundstrokes, Borg or Soderling?" would you bother taking changes in racquet technology into account? No, because we don't want to know who would have hit faster with the same racquets, we want to know who actually hit faster with the racquets they did, in fact, use. Or at least that's how I interpreted the OP's question.

Incidentally, play with wood racquets looks smoother to me anyway. Watching Laver play Roche on grass is about the most aesthetically pleasing tennis gets for me.

That's why I was mentioning that we should look at "smooth" players from different eras and especially a guy like Laver. I do think that different conditions should be considered though, especially if someone has never even watched much tennis before the 1990's. Some tennis fans who have not watched much tennis in the wood era (or played in that era) are under the impression that everything was just somehow "easier" back then, thereby implying that Federer's "smoothness" is therefore even more impressive since EVERYTHING about the Game today is more difficult. I'm not saying that this precludes any player from being considered smooth, just by virtue of when they played. There have been smooth players from just about every decade tennis has been played and I completely agree that Laver is a standout. The term "smooth" can be thought of in different ways (hitting smooth, moving smooth, etc.) and that's the central reason when you look at player X and try and decide whether you think his or her game is smooth, it makes a difference. An example where I do think you need to consider the playing conditions is the following: no matter what, given the technology pre-1984 or so, players could not easily rifle extremely hard shots down the line for example on passing shots from way back behind the baseline. Technology has changed that dynamic. So, I think it's worth considering, but on something like this everyone analyzes these things a bit differently.

World Beater
04-27-2011, 09:24 PM
If we are talking total package.

Federer.

But there are other players who could either rival federer or best him in certain aspects - groundstrokes, movement, volley etc.

piece
04-27-2011, 09:32 PM
example where I do think you need to consider the playing conditions is the following: no matter what, given the technology pre-1984 or so, players could not easily rifle extremely hard shots down the line for example on passing shots from way back behind the baseline. Technology has changed that dynamic.

Sure, technology has changed that aspect. It may have (although I'm unsure) even changed how easy it is to play a smooth game. But the question wasn't 'who would be the smoothest player ever, adjusting for technology?'. So, Just like racquet and string technology need not be considered when asking 'who hit the fastest groundies ever?' (all you need to do is check the mph of the ball off the racquet), technology and surface change need not be considered when asking 'who is the smoothest ever?' (all you need to do is check who actually moved and hit more smoothly). Of course, I may be way off the mark in interpreting the central question of this thread here, but if I'm not, then I don't see how the considerations you've raised are relevant (however interesting they may be).

borg number one
04-27-2011, 10:05 PM
Sure, technology has changed that aspect. It may have (although I'm unsure) even changed how easy it is to play a smooth game. But the question wasn't 'who would be the smoothest player ever, adjusting for technology?'. So, Just like racquet and string technology need not be considered when asking 'who hit the fastest groundies ever?' (all you need to do is check the mph of the ball off the racquet), technology and surface change need not be considered when asking 'who is the smoothest ever?' (all you need to do is check who actually moved and hit more smoothly). Of course, I may be way off the mark in interpreting the central question of this thread here, but if I'm not, then I don't see how the considerations you've raised are relevant (however interesting they may be).

I think I understand what you are pointing out, that you can consider this without considering changes in conditions, but the thread does point to "the smoothest tennis game of all time". I do agree with you that one can determine who is the "smoothest ever" without factoring in any changes in conditions over time, but for me that's incomplete. If I did that, I'd probably have to go with Laver but not by much as there have been some other very smooth players. Yet, almost inevitably the response of someone that never played with wood frames or watched any tennis before 1984 or so would be that something akin to, "well he hits smooth, but he can't hit with the same power as Federer and he doesn't hit hard as "smoothly". So, then what is the proper response to that?

When we are considering something over "all time" in tennis, I always consider the changes in conditions, but that's just me. I'm not saying that everyone has to view this aspect of tennis through such a prism. I always try and stand in the shoes of players from different eras (as much as possible), otherwise I think I'm missing some nuances. If a player is considered "smooth", then it is due to his/her movement and hitting primarily, most of us agree. Well, hitting and moving are inevitably impacted by such factors as: the technology you are using, your opponent's firepower, the surface you are playing on. All of those things have been impacted by technology changes, surface changes, and other changes in tennis through the years. Even with a question like "who hits the fastest groundies ever", yes, we can make conclusions based on mph or kph (but even that is not easy if you go back in time, we can do that for all the players playing now though for example). Yet, is that sufficient? Not for me. If Raonic hits the hardest serve "ever recorded", the first thing I think of is, well how hard would Tanner serve with a very current Wilson frame? Raonic may hit the fastest serve ever recorded (even though there all radar guns are not created equal, another topic), but I see no disadvantage in also considering that players from the past used very different technology and would surely have been able to hit differently.

IvanisevicServe
04-27-2011, 10:46 PM
Nadal
Karlovic
Soderling
Monfils
Isner

Silky smooth.

accidental
04-27-2011, 11:21 PM
No...

Guys like Rios, Arazi, Sampras, and Malisse fairly glided on the court. You couldn't see the effort at all. They were just there putting the ball away.

As regards effortless, Fed puts in a lot of movement, lunges, and running around the court. To me that doesn't equate to effortless.

Oh, and Berdych too, except that now he's playing more defense taking a bit away from his effortlessness. But, when he's in the zone, he commands the court and hardly moves around the court at all.

This post is The Truth.

Would also add Nalbandian to that list as well as Guga on clay.

vive le beau jeu !
04-27-2011, 11:47 PM
smooth among tennis greats ?
edberg/sampras/federer !

piece
04-28-2011, 01:30 AM
Yet, almost inevitably the response of someone that never played with wood frames or watched any tennis before 1984 or so would be that something akin to, "well he hits smooth, but he can't hit with the same power as Federer and he doesn't hit hard as "smoothly". So, then what is the proper response to that?.

The proper response would be to to treat such a claim as irrelevant to the question of who, in fact, played more smoothly.

Raonic may hit the fastest serve ever recorded (even though there all radar guns are not created equal, another topic), but I see no disadvantage in also considering that players from the past used very different technology and would surely have been able to hit differently.

There is a potential disadvantage if you let those kind of considerations affect your belief as to who hit the fastest serve ever. Whether Tanner would hit fastest under different conditions has absolutely no bearing on how fast he actually did hit. However, so long as you acknowledge that, in bringing up these considerations of technology etc., you are effectively changing the subject, then certainly there is no harm in it.

namelessone
04-28-2011, 01:41 AM
From all the player I've had the privilege to witness, Federer. No contest.

Hitman
04-28-2011, 01:51 AM
Edberg was amazing in his time, very fluid movement, and great transition to the net.

Overall, Federer, as far as overall court coverage is conerned. He was deceptively quick, but I think a lot of it had to do with his anticipation. Federer probably the best at anticpating play and point construction from all aspects of the court.

But there are many other players out there who are great. But of this generation, I give the nod to Federer. You don't win 16 slams and not be a good mover. And some of shots just seemed effortless and silky smooth.

A true pleasure to watch, can't think of a single player in this very tough era that we are in now who has his artistry.

borg number one
04-28-2011, 04:32 AM
The proper response would be to to treat such a claim as irrelevant to the question of who, in fact, played more smoothly.



There is a potential disadvantage if you let those kind of considerations affect your belief as to who hit the fastest serve ever. Whether Tanner would hit fastest under different conditions has absolutely no bearing on how fast he actually did hit. However, so long as you acknowledge that, in bringing up these considerations of technology etc., you are effectively changing the subject, then certainly there is no harm in it.

Piece, we look at these things a bit differently I suppose. With Laver in my example I was speaking about pace and smoothness (pace in relation to smoothness). On the serve question, I know what the top readings are (Raonic and Karlovic), but I also understand that radars have changed over time and that racquets are very different. So, I factor that in. So, we have some objective readings (we compare readings from the same radar technology). Yet, if you don't factor those things in, you are missing some key details. Radar readings are through the years not exactly the same (though serves have gotten harder on average over time). Plus, the racquets have changed. I think these things are relevant and that if one doesn't factor them in, it's an incomplete analysis in my opinion. It's part of the story but not the complete story. I like considering all such variables.

piece
04-28-2011, 04:52 AM
Piece, we look at these things a bit differently I suppose. With Laver in my example I was speaking about pace and smoothness (pace in relation to smoothness). On the serve question, I know what the top readings are (Raonic and Karlovic), but I also understand that radars have changed over time and that racquets are very different. So, I factor that in. So, we have some objective readings (we compare readings from the same radar technology). Yet, if you don't factor those things in, you are missing some key details. Radar readings are through the years not exactly the same (though serves have gotten harder on average over time). Plus, the racquets have changed. I think these things are relevant and that if one doesn't factor them in, it's an incomplete analysis in my opinion. It's part of the story but not the complete story. I like considering all such variables.

Changes in radar technology must be taken into account in any analysis that relies on their readings. That is clear. I understood that we were talking about change in racquet technology and playing surfaces and the bearing they have on issues like 'who was the smoothest player ever?' and 'who hit the fastest serve ever?'. In both cases, changes in racquet technology and playing surfaces probably effected who the smoothest player/fastest server was. I've already conceded this. But the answer to the question is wholly determined by particular facts like "Karlovic has the fastest recorded serve" or "Edberg played more smoothly than any other player". That these guys used different racquets and/or played on different surfaces to their predecessors has absolutely no bearing on whether or not Karlovic served faster than Tanner. Thus the questioned is answered, quite completely, without any reference to racquet technology or surface change.

I know you are fond of considering counterfactuals relating to what players would have done under other conditions (like would Tanner have had the fastest serve ever if he played with modern racquets), but surely you can see that the facts of the matter are completely independent of these counterfactual considerations in the particular cases we're considering.

When discussing the GOAT, you obviously must factor in things like technology change, because you're trying to quantify how good/great these guys are in a way that transcends contingencies like the surfaces they played on and the technology they had access to. In cases like serve speed and smoothness, as I understand it, we are not looking to find who would have been the fastest server or smoothest all else being equal, we're looking at who really served the fastest and who really was the smoothest. I mean, if I asked you who hit the fastest serve ever and you told me that Karlovic has the highest reliably measured serve speed, but Tanner might have been able to hit even faster had things been different, I'd been strongly inclined to say that the first half of your answer was completely sufficient to answer my question, and the latter half, while interesting, was irrelevant to my question.

Gorecki
04-28-2011, 05:01 AM
guys guys...

MECIR and no other!!!

PSNELKE
04-28-2011, 05:29 AM
Adding a poll wouldn´t hurt.

But Fed, Edberg and Mecir would be my favs.

borg number one
04-28-2011, 05:30 AM
Changes in radar technology must be taken into account in any analysis that relies on their readings. That is clear. I understood that we were talking about change in racquet technology and playing surfaces and the bearing they have on issues like 'who was the smoothest player ever?' and 'who hit the fastest serve ever?'. In both cases, changes in racquet technology and playing surfaces probably effected who the smoothest player/fastest server was. I've already conceded this. But the answer to the question is wholly determined by particular facts like "Karlovic has the fastest recorded serve" or "Edberg played more smoothly than any other player". That these guys used different racquets and/or played on different surfaces to their predecessors has absolutely no bearing on whether or not Karlovic served faster than Tanner. Thus the questioned is answered, quite completely, without any reference to racquet technology or surface change.

I know you are fond of considering counterfactuals relating to what players would have done under other conditions (like would Tanner have had the fastest serve ever if he played with modern racquets), but surely you can see that the facts of the matter are completely independent of these counterfactual considerations in the particular cases we're considering.

When discussing the GOAT, you obviously must factor in things like technology change, because you're trying to quantify how good/great these guys are in a way that transcends contingencies like the surfaces they played on and the technology they had access to. In cases like serve speed and smoothness, as I understand it, we are not looking to find who would have been the fastest server or smoothest all else being equal, we're looking at who really served the fastest and who really was the smoothest. I mean, if I asked you who hit the fastest serve ever and you told me that Karlovic has the highest reliably measured serve speed, but Tanner might have been able to hit even faster had things been different, I'd been strongly inclined to say that the first half of your answer was completely sufficient to answer my question, and the latter half, while interesting, was irrelevant to my question.

Yes there are readings that we can compare and of course, Raonic, Karlovic, and Roddick have the top "readings", but have they hit the fastest serves ever? Maybe. Why? Changes in the radar technology used over the years (not just racquets). So, in that case, I conclude that they have the top readings with the current radar technology and with the current practice of having service readings after EVERY serve at Tour events (more readings and readings with different radar). So, did they really serve harder than ANYONE EVER HAS? Maybe would be the correct answer in my opinion (a lot of flux in the readings, with some years when the readings suddenly went way up/down). Are their readings the highest given the current framework? Yes, I do completely agree with that. So, basically, I'm trying to control for as many variables as possible. When it's possible to basically make a pure apples to apples comparison that's one thing, but very often that just is not the case. To the original topic, as to "smoothness" I do agree that you can basically say Laver or Federer or some other player (it's very subjective) . There really is no disputing who is the "smoothest" as it's not a topic that has completely objective measures. So, since it is a very subjective topic, when I try and formulate some answers I factor in all the things that I consider when considering how smooth a player is. Since it is subjective, others may not do that at all. On this specific topic (how "smooth" a player is), no two people are going to arrive at their answers in exactly the same way.

Bobby Jr
04-28-2011, 05:34 AM
......Fed's motion...is relaxed, but slightly ugly to me, in that his arm goes up a tiny bit faster than it should...then slows down a bit at the top, while he drops his elbow WAY down. Again...with both it's nitpicking, but I wouldn't put either in my top 50 service motions, biomechanically or aesthetically.
(re: Federer's motion)

Come again? :shock:

His serve is one of the best examples ever of a biomechanically sound and fluid delivery. Minor quirks aside what does he really get wrong biomechanically that detracts from the quality of his serve?

piece
04-28-2011, 05:45 AM
I know that radar readings may not be consistent over time nor accurate. I already acknowledged that. It's off topic anyway. In a question of who served fastest or who was smoothest, the variables you brought up (racquet technology and playing surface) don't need to be controlled for at all because we only want to know who actually served fastest, not who would have served fastest in some counterfactual, adjusted-for-technology/surface-change, world. Do you agree with this? I have a hard time seeing what it is you're arguing against, especially since you didn't address this point in your most recent post. As to the subjectivity of smootheness. Yeah, it's subjective if you don't define what you mean by smootheness (and even if you did it may be an intractable question anyway) but that doesn't have anything to do with the issue I had with your original post: that racquet tech and surface homogenisation have nothing to do with who ACTUALLY played the smoothest game ever.

You've maintained your position throughout this discussion, but haven't (as far as I can tell) addressed my argument against your position. It isn't enough to reiterate that 'it's good to take all the variables into account', because the variables you're considering are completely irrelevant to answering the question, thus it is unecessary to consider them, and doing so may actually just confuse the issue.

charliefedererer
04-28-2011, 08:17 AM
Federer is a very smooth player, but there have been several others in his league in terms of that one quality, including Bjorn Borg and some others like Edberg, Laver, and even Mats Wilander actually. Borg, in my opinion, has some Nadal qualities combined with Federer qualities. As far as overall "ease of play", we have to factor in the wide variety of differences between past times and say the last ten years or so. Surfaces have become more homogenized for one thing, allowing for players to basically play the same style of play no matter the surface and then you have the change in racquets by 1984 or so. Lots of factors, for example, with wood frames, it's a lot more difficult to hit "smooth" easy-looking winners (in general), but of course, you do face more spin and pace in today's conditions. So, how does that "disrupt" your play? Like the debate over "greatest ever", I think it's more useful to point out players that were considered "smooth" during in their respective eras. Rosewall, Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Wilander, Edberg, and Federer are just some examples in my opinion, but of course this is a little like judging art. There's smoothness in terms of movement (seamless transition) and also smoothness of shotmaking (a player's form/shots), so we could break down the term "smooth" a little further. On this one particular question, I would put Laver, Rosewall, Ashe, Borg, Wilander, and Federer near the top.

Great post.

I'm surprised no one else has included Wilander.

Along with Federer, I'm not sure anyone just glided around the court seemingly so effortlessly.

(Perhaps that's because after his 1988 three slam wins, he gave "effortless" a negative connotation, as he seemed to just disappear.)

DjokerIsTheBest
04-28-2011, 08:29 AM
I always thought Sharapova looked really smooth, no carpet there, that's for sure.

Lsmkenpo
04-28-2011, 10:27 AM
(re: Federer's motion)

Come again? :shock:

His serve is one of the best examples ever of a biomechanically sound and fluid delivery. Minor quirks aside what does he really get wrong biomechanically that detracts from the quality of his serve?

This isn't my post you are quoting, I think you made a mistake.

Mortifier
04-28-2011, 12:25 PM
He didn't actually know he had invented a time machine and went back in time during the process.

Thanks for the explanation, I'll let it grow on my for a bit before I declare it "epic" as many internet users would say.

Gotten Davis Cup tickets yet my friend?

heftylefty
04-28-2011, 12:40 PM
To piggyback on what borg number one and charliefederer stated about Mats Wilander: I think Mats was/is very smooth in the way he made the game look easy to play.

Lotto
04-28-2011, 02:55 PM
Show me a smoother shot please:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji914RSFrew

Bobby Jr
04-28-2011, 03:09 PM
This isn't my post you are quoting, I think you made a mistake.
Oh... random ha ha. Sorry, it was Dataciphers.. How on earth did I manage that ?- I was trying to multiquote and bring two posts into it and got tangled. lol

(edited to fix it now)

Datacipher
04-28-2011, 06:51 PM
(re: Federer's motion)

Come again? :shock:

His serve is one of the best examples ever of a biomechanically sound and fluid delivery. Minor quirks aside what does he really get wrong biomechanically that detracts from the quality of his serve?

Bobby, I was mainly talking about aesthetic quality, not biomechanical efficiency. However, as I said, I think the timing is not as sound as it could be, if you want to talk biomechanics. In addition, I think his elbow is too low which doesn't detract from the final result (since he raises it up later), but isn't technically very efficient, (though mainly it just bothers me because it looks ugly). I also think his toss gets away from him occasionally. Again, those are relative nitpicks, but I would disagree when you say "best examples ever"....I can think of DOZENS of players with motions I think were biomechanically sound...simply because there are SO MANY and have been so many great serve motions...great examples abound through the history of tennis. This is even moreso if you stray from top players, like for example, a Dilucia. Of course i can think of hordes who were were worse as well. But again, in terms of aesthetics...(or biomechanics...though that one may be closer) I don't think he would make my top 50. SO many superb motions, anything less than absolute optimum will disqualify you from GOAT motion.

What I do like about Fed's serve is that it's simple, and that he is relaxed while hitting it. The latter is particularly important, and Fed probably would be in my top 50 in that category!

Bobby Jr
04-28-2011, 07:41 PM
Bobby, I was mainly talking about aesthetic quality, not biomechanical efficiency.
Ah, OK, I was just going by what you wrote which didn't make the distinction that you mainly talking about the aesthetics.

"I wouldn't put either in my top 50 service motions, biomechanically or aesthetically."

I would disagree when you say "best examples ever"....I can think of DOZENS of players with motions I think were biomechanically sound..
I wont go with you on this.

For comparison sake could you could name some top 50 players who do it better than Federer in terms of biomechanical sound-ness and also look pleasing to you?

Or, another way, if you were teaching a teenage male a new serve from scratch - who of current top 50 players would you use for examples of how-to?

I personally think Federer would be right near, if not the top, in most areas for simplicity, efficiency and effectiveness.

I tend to think you need to discount freaks of nature such as Karlovic/Isner and aim for someone with a serve which would be a good foundation for someone of any build/height, and also discount serves which depend on extreme movement(s) (be it the arch, toss, knee bend, arm position, shoulder flexibility etc) beyond the match-long capacity of the average up-n-coming player.