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View Full Version : Most underrated shots ever...


Jack Romeo
02-21-2006, 07:43 AM
I. Forehands
a. Chris Evert
b. Jimmy Connors
c. Patrick Rafter
II. Backhands
a. Boris Becker
b. Ivan Lendl
c. Jennifer Capriati
III. Serves
a. Andre Agassi
b. Jim Courier
c. Hana Mandlikova
IV. Volleys
a. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario
b. Mats Wilander
c. Sergi Bruguera
V. Overhead
a. Monica Seles
b. Jimmy Connors
c. Justine Henin-Hardenne
VI. Return
a. Pete Sampras
b. Steffi Graf
c. Martina Navratilova

coach
02-21-2006, 05:50 PM
I agree with agassi's serve-- mixes it up well, goes wide on both sides nicely. Hard to attack and get a rhythm against.

!Tym
02-21-2006, 06:44 PM
Beyond my obvious bias, I would pick Bruguera over Vicario and Wilander on the volley for a few reasons.

1) Vicario and Wilander were very good doubles players...which is notable for the discussion of my thesis, because to be a very good doubles players you need to actually play doubles. It's like with Hewitt, practice makes more perfect. Bruguera assigned about as much importance to doubles as he did the New York Mets.

2) On the richter scale of tennis impact, Vicario and Wilander are 8 and 9's respectively, whereas Bruguera was a 6 by comarison. Not the same evidence to draw from, and as such Bruguera is one of the most stereotyped players of his generation...a cliche' who only knew how to hit topspin and was fast but lacked "real" talent such as soft hands and angles...when in reality when he was physically healthy and giving full effort, he generated some of the most extreme feathered angles of anyone, had very soft hands, and was believe it or not a "good volleyer" according to McEnroe and "always loves that drop volley."

He beat Rafter basically his first and only time at Wimbledon right after having won the French. The key note is that he shocked the British reporter by serving and volleying his way to victory in what he called the match of the tournament. He said it wasn't just the utilitarian volleys either, that some of the touch and "artistry" he showed on the volleys was "Edberg-like." Hey, don't shoot me, shoot the messenger.

In his victory over Courier in the 93 French finals, though he did not come in much, when he did he made enough of an impression with the touch he showed on his volleys that Bud Collins seemed utterly shocked...again, it's the whole let's stereotype anyone who hits with extreme topspin mentality again.

When he made his run at the 97 Lipton, PMac and Cliff were acting like oh, he knows how to volley now and comes in occasionally. No, that's not the case, he's always had naturally good hands. He's just never come in much and like Rios and Krajicek was constantly derailed by injury problems. I think ultimately, it's easier to repeat a cliche' than it is describe a reality that is somewhere in between black and white...which like much in life, falls somewhere in that gray area.

Ultimately, I pick Bruguera over Vicario and Wilander as being underrated volleyers, simply because if Bruguera hit a nice volley people always acted like they were shocked.

I honestly, however, believe that if you gave Bruguera an Aussie coach growing up, and raised him on hard/grass/or indoors, he unlike Vicario and Wilander also had the potential to be a top player as a serve and volleyer. No dissrespect to Wilander and Vicario or their talent, but they physically did not have the length or height you would need to be a full-time serve and volleyer. When you're that size, the best you can hope for is to be a great mix-up play serve and volleyer in my opinion. Speed is not enough to be a top ten/twenty serve and volleyer. Bruguera had the speed of those two, but more than that he also had the ideal S&V frame as well, not too tall, not too short, supple, long limbs...plus naturally soft hands believe it or not.

The biggest obstacle he faced in his development as a volleyer in my opinion was that his technique on the forehand and backhand are the most ideosyncratic I've ever seen, particularly on the forehand. Works great on clay, but as far as the transition game into the net; it's exactly what you would never teach...very inneficient, and hardly stealth. Vicario and Wilander whilst great on clay, their techniques were nowhere near as ideoysyncratic nor convoluted. Having a smooth and seamless transition game is a huge cornerstone in volleying, in my opinion, though it's rarely discussed. Furthermore, his service technique, same thing. His technique was something that worked adequately for a baseliner in that it didn't require a whole lot of engery to get off, unlike say Roddick whose serve can go off later in matches because it requires so much energy to execute. With Brugera, his technique gave him almost no forward momentum, which is tremendously important to serving and volleying. Look at Rafter and Edberg, not the most mph, but if you look at their motions; you see how they have been optimized for serving and volleying, naturally carrying their body weight into the net. It's like a sprinter who starts from a standing start vs. one who starts in the sprinter's crouch from the get go; makes a difference.

Nevertheless, I've seen Bruguera out cat and mouse an inspired Leconte at the net in the Paris Indoors, which left Leconte flat on his back clapping. This was a match in which unlike the stereotype, Bruguera engaged Leconte in a touchy-feely match, more about feathered angles and feel than trying to "mindlessly bash" the ball or "push the ball" as I've heard him stereotyped. Did he do this in his career a lot? Sure, if he thought it was going to win him the match; doesn't mean that that's all he was capable of.

On the seniors tour, he easily dispatched of a much more "serious" Courier in a final on clay hitting almost nothing but feathered drop volleys and drop shots. He was far less serious than in his tour days, and on tour, he never would have employed such a strategy against Courier...instead going for more of a combination of the "mindlessly bashing" and "pushing" strategy...with the occasional "mix-up" net foray.

Still, it shows, that the innate capability, namely, the soft hands were there. Was he a great volleyer? No way, you actually need to practice and commit to going there more than once in a blue moon to become that. It takes work, just like anything else. Given the amount of work he put in, in that regard; I think he was very underrated and...good.
Raise him in Australia though with traditional technique, however, and he could have undergone a successful reincarnation into a serve and volleyer in my opinion...unlike say Roddick or Agassi, who to my mind were born to be baseliners only.

Phil
02-21-2006, 07:03 PM
Sergei Bruguera an underrated volleyer (in 77 paragraphs or less)???? ROTFLMAO

Speed is not enough to be a top ten/twenty serve and volleyer. Bruguera had the speed of those two, but more than that he also had the ideal S&V frame as well, not too tall, not too short, supple, long limbs...plus naturally soft hands believe it or not.

Sounds like you've gone Brokeback Mountain over SB-as I've always suspected.

arosen
02-21-2006, 07:25 PM
Tym, when I'd need a book, I'd go to a library, thank you :)!

Baghdatis's backhand is something noone talks about, but I believe it took him to the final of AO and let him open a set lead on Fed.

RiosTheGenius
02-21-2006, 07:29 PM
Sergei Bruguera an underrated volleyer (in 77 paragraphs or less)???? ROTFLMAO



Sounds like you've gone Brokeback Mountain over SB-as I've always suspected.
Seriously...

bcaz
02-21-2006, 09:11 PM
Another classic from !Tym ... please come back more often with more gems ... I've even forgotten your old handle from the old boards (I'm old; it'll hit me in an hour or two), but jeez, please, keep em' coming. Literacy is lacking on these boards, not to mention perspective and institutional memory ...

Jack Romeo
02-22-2006, 07:26 AM
i was really more focused on players who got multiple slams or got to number one, or at least stayed in the top 10 for a substantial period of time. so i can't really put players like baghdatis on the list, at least not yet.

i would also like to add marat safin to the list of players with underrated forehands. everyone talks about his backhand. but i think his forehand is equally devastating... or equally erratic, whichever way you wanna view it. ;)

i think the list is pretty obvious. for example, in choosing chris evert as a player with an underrated forehand, well that's a no-brainer. how else could she get to number one, win 18 slams and compete so consistently for 18 or so years if all she had was her backhand? i saw an old video of her match against navratilova at wimbledon 1978 and she was hitting her forehand equally as hard as martina. she attacked short balls and hit powerful line-drive winners from her forehand wing.

then of course, there's pete sampras' return. sure it's not a weapon per se. but he couldn't have possibly created all those records if he didn't win more than just a few points as the reciever. he didn't hit outright return winners often but he ended up winning a lot of those recieving points as well. he also chipped and charged so it means that he was also capable of being offensive with his returns.

Camilio Pascual
02-22-2006, 09:38 AM
II. Backhands
a. Boris Becker
b. Ivan Lendl
c. Jennifer Capriati
IV. Volleys
a. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario
b. Mats Wilander
c. Sergi Bruguera


Most underrated (as in misunderstood, misanalyzed) backhand:
Steffi Graf's 1H Slice BH
It was often described in terms such as "weak" and "not effective," mainly by broadcast journalists. It was an excellent control stroke that kept the ball low against the legions of TS hitting 2H BH players, negating their ability to crack winners off hip-high balls. It even worked very well for her on clay where legions of 2-handers routinely traded belt high topspin-to-topspin groundstrokes.
Lost in Bud Collins' clever nickname of "Fraulein Forehand" for her, is the fact that her slice BH was often the set up shot for the killer forehand. She would keep slicing the ball low XC and wait for the opponent to try a d-t-l COD (change-of-direction) shot. She would then attack any short or weak replay and crack a XC FH, often for a winner, it was almost always a strong forcing shot. But, it was the low, deep XC slice that set the winner up.
A claycourter drumming out 7-8 deep XC TS shots a point gets recognized and praised for his patient and disciplined play. This aspect of Graf's game was shadowed by the glitter of her spectacular forehand winners.

BTW, I saw Bruguera playing on The Tennis Channel about a month ago and he was hitting SLICE FOREHANDS!!!

kevhen
02-22-2006, 09:46 AM
Is Federer's return underrated? He seems to get alot of balls back with his reach and ability to play defense and block when he has too. I don't hear people talk about how great a returner he is maybe since he doesn't always unload with big return winners like Agassi would but he seems to win alot of sets like 6-2 so that would be 4 holds and 2 breaks.

peterb
02-22-2006, 04:11 PM
Ivan Lendl's chip return. It ended Mac's career.

Phil
02-22-2006, 04:23 PM
Agassi's serve. Although he didn't/doesn't hit it 140 mph, speed was never the key to his serving success. Placement and kick. Agassi is right up there with the big bombers-Goran, Sampras, Kraijchek, etc. in percentage of games holding serve. Everyone knows his return of serve was ridiculously good, but his ability to hold his serve is, I think, what put him over the top as an all-time great.

Hewitt rulez
02-22-2006, 04:35 PM
I agree that Safin's forehand is. I think that his service return, and volley are both underrated too.

Jack Romeo
02-22-2006, 08:30 PM
Is Federer's return underrated? He seems to get alot of balls back with his reach and ability to play defense and block when he has too. I don't hear people talk about how great a returner he is maybe since he doesn't always unload with big return winners like Agassi would but he seems to win alot of sets like 6-2 so that would be 4 holds and 2 breaks.

c'mon... on this board, nothing federer does is underrated...

slice bh compliment
02-23-2006, 05:23 AM
Some newer players/fans get the impression that Bjorn Borg was a pusher/retriever/counter-attacker. No doubt, he was one of the greatest at defense, but I think his first serve is often overlooked.
Had I not seen him play live, I'd probably rate his first serve outside the elite.
However, I remember his serve as a weapon. Lots of aces when he went for it. Hard to attack.
Underrated.

Warriorroger
02-23-2006, 06:03 AM
Tim Henman's game on clay:
He plays beautifully on clay. His problem is that there are tons of others who can outlast anyone.

Gabriela Sabatini's 1st serve:
Although her second serve sometimes dropped before the net (:p), her first serve when on, was difficult to return.

Monica Seles 1st serve:
In her in heydays in 90-93, not a weapon, but when she returned, she would frequently ace and hit over 105 mph.

Roger Federer and Steffi Graf slice backhand:
Many talked about the 'weak' Graf backhand, yet 4 generations could not consistantly overcome the nasty slice Steffi executed. Same goes for Roger, although he can hit terrific offensive backhands, he slices more than any men in the top 20. Proving that slice, if your footwork is proper, can be a weapon.

http://hej.hr/images/news//886674_Roger_Federer.jpghttp://www.tc51-eschwege.net/BILDERTENNIS/STEFFI6.JPG
King Roger Federer Queen Steffi Graf

TGV
02-23-2006, 06:59 AM
Agassi's serve. Although he didn't/doesn't hit it 140 mph, speed was never the key to his serving success. Placement and kick. Agassi is right up there with the big bombers-Goran, Sampras, Kraijchek, etc. in percentage of games holding serve. Everyone knows his return of serve was ridiculously good, but his ability to hold his serve is, I think, what put him over the top as an all-time great.

Along these lines, I think Roddick's serve is underrated as well. In all those threads about best serves, his name is rarely mentioned. Stats show that his service win percentages in the last 3 years have been: 90%, 92% and 93% (all time record). This is better than Ivansevic, Krajicek, Becker etc. And he doesn't have the benefit of playing on many carpet tourneys as in the 90's where you can hold serve easier. The other amazing thing is that for such a humoungous server, he always has a high 1st serve %age (>60%) and few double faults.

Also, contrary to perceptions, his serve is still good. For instance, in the USO match he lost against Muller, he got broken only one time. He is losing because he can hardly break back, and has become surprisingly bad in tie-breakers (loss of nerve? in key moments), and not because all of sudden his serve has become like Coria's.

Jack Romeo
02-23-2006, 08:13 AM
when i say underrated, i mean a shot that is quite effective but not really talked about as that player's main strength. so i definitely do not consider andy roddick's serve to be underrated. it is clearly the strongest part of his game. people do talk about how strong it is. just scan this board and see how many times we've talked about his 152mph or whatever speed of the serve.

Warriorroger
02-24-2006, 05:44 AM
Forgive me for bringing the terrible twosome up again :)

Footwork Federer and Graf. Although both are cited to have excellent footwork, it is the footwork of those that wins/won/enables/enabled them matches. Although Federer is a brilliant shotmaker, great in everything, his slice would have been eaten by the top men had he not been so fast and dancer like on the court. Graf on the other hand had a better slice, but very awkward forehand winners she could not have excuted had she not been so fast and dancer like on the court.

http://www.wxs.nl/upload_mm/d/0/7/federer-40201.onlineBild.jpghttp://www.postech.ac.kr/group/tennis/picture/graf//graf2.jpg

scoot
02-24-2006, 06:53 AM
I agree about Graf's speed. She was the fastest player around in her day. In fact, it was her footspeed that allowed her to run around her forehand all day long. I also agree about Graf's backhand. It was not a "weakness" as many simpletons would like to think. It was extremely reliable, she made very few errors and one of the sharpest knife-like slices around. It was not a floater by any stretch and was the perfect setup for her killer forehand. It was also a great antidote to the multiplying #s of 2 handers that were creeping into the game.