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ferrari_827
06-27-2006, 11:13 AM
I recently played on grass for the first time and will admit grass rewards many attributes of a good player:

quick reflexes,
bending the knees,
power,
volleying,
taking the ball early off the bounce,
quick movement.

Compared to clay, which rewards stamina, consistency, margin for error.

So I would say it takes a more talented player to play well on grass than on clay. This is assuming the player has more than just a big serve.

Looking at all the attributes grass rewards, it's no wonder Federer is suited perfectly for the grass, and could be just about unbeatable. Few can match his reflexes, taking the ball early, quick movements.

malakas
06-27-2006, 11:15 AM
Hmm..yes..but Roddick also does well in grass..;)

Rabbit
06-27-2006, 11:16 AM
I don't know about more talented. It takes a different type of player to win on grass. The most talented of all can win on clay and grass. Now if there were only a couple of players who've done that...wait...there are....Laver & Borg! There are a host of other players like Rosewall, Nastase, McEnroe, and Lendl who've won one or the other and made the finals of the other but never won. They are just as talented, IMO.

tnig469
06-27-2006, 11:17 AM
I recently played on grass for the first time and will admit grass rewards many attributes of a good player:

quick reflexes,
bending the knees,
power,
volleying,
taking the ball early off the bounce,
quick movement.

Compared to clay, which rewards stamina, consistency, margin for error.

So I would say it takes a more talented player to play well on grass than on clay. This is assuming the player has more than just a big serve.

Looking at all the attributes grass rewards, it's no wonder Federer is suited perfectly for the grass, and could be just about unbeatable. Few can match his reflexes, taking the ball early, quick movements.

I will agree with u on the attributes to win on grass or clay...but just like ppl have said...if u can play on both u r great...not just one or the other...and i know ur a fed fan lol

KBalla08
06-27-2006, 12:19 PM
well borg won what 6 french opens and 5 wimbys? well he was just awesome, but somehow couldnt win the us...

cabernetjunkie
06-27-2006, 12:20 PM
Hmm..yes..but Roddick also does well in grass..;)

Now that's funny!!!!! LOL;)

Tennis_Goodness
06-27-2006, 02:53 PM
On Grass there's slices, drop shots, volleys, aces, forehand winners, back hand winners.

You hit winners on grass, you don't win by errors. You have to have a very developed game to win on grass. You have to have a lot of shots.

Wimby is the original and the Super Bowl of tennis. You need it all to win here! That's why it's the biggest and most sought after tournmant in the game!

dh003i
06-27-2006, 03:03 PM
finally, some people who understand the prestige and importance of Wimbledon, and aren't historical ignoramus'.

!Tym
06-27-2006, 08:12 PM
I'll never buy this. I was trained the "old school" method of play with the classical technique, and also taught myself the heavy western style technique. In my opinion, it's a complete myth that classical styles require more talent. Don't believe me? Even Robert Landsdorp says so, going so far as saying that the elite claycourters are every bit as talented as Sampras/Agassi types, but no one will ever know it because of the grips they were taught. He argues that once you get to the top level, this kind of grip simply limits you too much. It's not a matter of talent. I mean think about this objectively for a moment, there has NEVER EVER been an extreme gripper who's been able to truly transcend outside clay. A few moments here and there? Yes, but a moment or two once in a blue moon, does not make for legendary status. My old coach, a former pro and national champ, used to say you'll never ever see an "all-time great" type player who uses extreme grips in an effort to prevent me from even thinking of trying that stuff out. Think about it, not even Wilander or Borg truly used the extreme grips/techniques. It's NOT a matter of talent either, if you believe that, then again think objectively. That's effectively like saying that of all the millions upon millions of players taught to use the extreme techniques, not one, not a SINGLE one, has ever been able to ascend to true "tennis legend" status. That's like saying no South American or Spanish player or any person taught an extreme technique has "true" talent, at least not compared to say a so-called "grass courter" like Henman, which to me is just absurd.

Landsdorp's argument, and mine as well, is that the problem is not talent, but rather that the grips, due to the technical limitations themselves, prevent true tennis "greatness." This kind of technique, I don't know how anyone can think it doesn't require talent. Try and teach Sampras' technique, and then try and teach Bruguera's simultaneously; see what's an easier technique to pick-up. The contortionist swings these elite extreme techniquers regularly pull off is DEFINITELY a testament to talent in my opinion. I can hit both styles, and to me there is no doubt which technique is easier to pull off, easier on the body. Which one is more efficient? Put it that way. It's not a matter of talent, it's a matter of playing smarter, which is what my old coach was incessant to me about, and why I should never even think of trying out the western stuff.

The thing is, a perfectly executed extreme technique by the elite talents of that style, can still be very effective. The elite clay courters have all had their moments here and there where they took on the best on the faster stuff and still won or more than held their own. The problem though is that legend status isn't built one a moment here or there, it's built on a career. The problem with extreme techniques is that if you're just a HAIR off under fast conditions, it's all over. There's no in between. The perfect example of this is the year ending semis between Becker and Bruguera which was on a lightning fast court. Bruguera slightly outplayed Becker for two sets, and was very close to taking it in straights, but let it slip away...then in the third, he was understandably dejected early, but once he tried to regroup mentally he couldn't. That was it, he got steamrolled in like two seconds flat. Suddenly he was whiffing at everything. That's the problem with this kind of technique. Everything needs to be fully clicking and engaged on faster stuff for it to do well, doesn't mean it can't, just that there's no margin for error. It's a misconception that this kind of technique gives more margin, NOT outside clay in my opinion it doesn't.

Tennis elitits and "purists" always seem to leave out of their argument that this kind of technique takes MORE time to hit, provides an inherently unstable hitting platform against pressure (i.e. in the Bruguera-Becker masters match, what I mean is that when Becker got pressured on the baseline by a hard shot, he could rely on just blocking/guiding the ball back deep using the opponent's juice and using almost no physical energy...meanwhile if Bruguera got clipped at the baseline, he'd have to flick his wrist off-balance, expend more energy, and have inherently less control and precision this way, be less able to turn his opponent's pace against him, etc.).

The bottom-line is that BOTH styles require talent, require reflexes. It takes reflexes, racket head speed, and hand-eye coordination to flail at the ball and still make clean contact for example. I mean look at Muster and his extreme grip one handed backhand, if it's so easy and requires no talent, then why couldn't Sampras do that? Muster regulary took massive cuts at the ball off the backhand wing and made clean contact, wheras Sampras was very prone to shanking his backhand.

Not saying, Muster's Sampras' equal in talent, of course, by no means; but just trying to be fair in the discussion.

Also, wanna know why clay courters need more stamina? It's not just because they're on clay, it's because point blank they're technique takes a lot...A LOT...more out of them physically. Seriously, if I start whaling with the clay court style technique, I get winded about ten times faster and more intensely than I do using the classical technique. I'm not a pro, but I've hit with former low level pros and could more than hold my own off the ground, using either tehnique, I'm adept at both at least "technically," so I'm not just making these opinions up out of bias...i.e. also going off what my old coach used to harp on me about.

Because of the huge wind-ups required to execute extreme techniques effectively, this is also why this style burns out quicker, fizzles out, it's like a short-lived fireworks display, arms and limbs a fliaing, then poof, the spark is gone...the fuse has gone soggy.

Add all these factors up and this is why repeatedly the "elite" "talents" among the extreme grippers, the best of the best at using these techniques, have fizzled out or failed to "transcend" tennis, particularly outside clay.

To put it another way, from a perspective that make more sense; it's like the argument over Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Royce Gracie in MMA. No way was Royce Gracie the best athlete when he first came to the UFC, and no he didn't practice the flashy martial arts, or look like a ripped caveman stud like Ken Shamrock, or an Olympic caliber wrestler like Den Severn, etc. And yet? Yet, he cleaned house. How? Because his technique, the particular style he was TAUGHT, was simply more advantageous to him in the octagon. It wasn't a contest of measing "pure" talent. You can't measure that in any pure terms simply because different techniques and styles DO make a difference, and this is an objective issue, irrespective of "pure" talent which can't be measured anyway, since "pure" talent is always INFLUENCED.

Anyway, back to the point, in the old days everyone was clueless to jiu-jitsu basically and didn't know how to defend it or apply it. Thus, once on the ground, like a fish out of water, it was only a matter of time. Now? Now you have guy like Matt Hughes who is a superior athlete and physical "specimen" to Royce Gracie, and yet has also studied the "secrets" Gracie himself unwittingly unveiled for all those years. Without that knowledge, had Matt Hughes the wrestler faced Royce Gracie in their "pure" forms, the wrestler vs. the jiu-jitsu expert, who do you think would have won? Of course, Gracie the vast majority of the time. Matt Hughes could still have the same "pure" talent as before, yet without that knowledge of another technique he would have been a sitting duck not knowing how to defend himself and from what. Would have nothing to do with "talent," but rather simply technique, in my opinion.

To me, it's the same with the eternal debate over oh, grass courters and classical techniquers are the TRUE so-called "talents." Uh-uh, it's like putting a world-class Muay-Thai striker, or a Tae-Kwon-Do striker, or accomplished boxer, etc. up against a guy with a "ground" game. In MMA, under those circumstances, the striker without a knowledge of the ground, usually loses very easily, often times without ever even getting the chance to really even implement their striking game, because once on the ground, they have no way of getting back up, don't know how, try to escape, inevitably get submitted. Has nothing to do with "talent," but more to do with match-ups. A ground fighter with no striking game will have better early success than a striker with no ground game. Doesn't mean the striker isn't capable of learning a ground game, just that under those rules, the other guy has the advantage initially.

HollerOne5
06-27-2006, 08:59 PM
You need less talent, if for instance, you are Ivo Karlovic. All he has is a big serve and horrible everything else...so you be the judge.....

Although this could be argued since he now lost deep in the 5th set 2 years in a row now in the first round of WImbledon.

jhhachamp
06-28-2006, 10:41 AM
I think grass takes more athletic ability and clay takes more acquired skill. Hard is somewhere in between. The players that do well at Wimbledon generally could have excelled at many other sports. I am not as impressed with the athletic talent of those who succeed at the French.

chaognosis
06-28-2006, 10:52 AM
I don't know about more talented. It takes a different type of player to win on grass. The most talented of all can win on clay and grass. Now if there were only a couple of players who've done that...wait...there are....Laver & Borg! There are a host of other players like Rosewall, Nastase, McEnroe, and Lendl who've won one or the other and made the finals of the other but never won. They are just as talented, IMO.

Rosewall did win majors on both clay and grass -- many more, if one considers his incredible record in Pro championships as well. Also do not forget the musketeers, Borotra, Lacoste and Cochet, as well as Perry, Budge, Trabert, Hoad, Emerson, Connors, Wilander, and Agassi. There many be others as well, but these names stand out. Budge in particular was one of the great universal players of all time, and I believe he is often underrated by modern students of the game. And of course, Tilden was the greatest player of his era on every surface but could not play at the French during his dominant run in the 1920s.

sureshs
06-28-2006, 11:45 AM
I don't know about more talented. It takes a different type of player to win on grass. The most talented of all can win on clay and grass. Now if there were only a couple of players who've done that...wait...there are....Laver & Borg! There are a host of other players like Rosewall, Nastase, McEnroe, and Lendl who've won one or the other and made the finals of the other but never won. They are just as talented, IMO.

Don't forget Agassi

emcee
06-28-2006, 11:48 AM
Yeah I think you have to be more athletic/talented to win on grass and have to have more heart/stamina/grit to win on clay. Athleticism is often just called "talent" but you can argue that heart and grit are talents as well.

!Tym
06-28-2006, 01:17 PM
I think grass takes more athletic ability and clay takes more acquired skill. Hard is somewhere in between. The players that do well at Wimbledon generally could have excelled at many other sports. I am not as impressed with the athletic talent of those who succeed at the French.

Um, Bruguera played second division pro soccer upon retiring and lots of injuries and late middle age (in athlete terms), and Krajicek said after to losing to him in straights indoors during his prime before the injuries set in that he couldn't believe how fast he had become. Nadal's uncle was an elite soccer player. Muster was on the Austrian national junior soccer team while simultaneously juggling tennis growing up, which is why he got irritated when people said he didn't have talent, he brought this point up and said he always thought he was good with balls. Moya, not athletic? The guy has a phenomenal pysique yet still moves like a gazelle. To me, a guy like Philipoussis, a great grass court player in his day...especially when the courts still actually played like grass...is a BAD athlete. He's slow and lumbering. He's talented in the hands and strokes wise, but in terms of actual athleticism? Arantxa had some of the quickest feet ever pound for pound in woman's tennis, and her best surface was clay. Kuerten is definitely an athlete, yet not a grass courter.

Really, in my opinion, there are plenty of athletes on clay. It takes athleticism to and agility to recover and run down balls as these guys do. Even though these guys hit with spin, it's not like the balls they're retrieving are lollipops.

I mean look at Ferrero, his feet during his prime, the footwork was astoundingly crisp, talk about quick feet and little steps. Berasategui had to have quick feet and athleticism to run around as many balls as he did to set-up his forehand when that's ALL he had.

There are plenty of great athletes who were primarily clay courters, yet it wasn't due to lack of athleticism that they couldn't succeed elsewhere. It's usually because they never worked on developing a big serve since they grew up on clay and the emphasis on serving there is more on setting up the point for your groundstrokes since big serves don't pay off as much on that surface. That and more tellingly that their extreme grips and swings flat-out limit their ability to return. It's simply NOT possible to return "normally" with this kind of grip on faster surfaces or against big serves. You have to either stand very far back to get your "normal" swing in like Muster and Nadal and Kuerten, but in the process you also give up a ton of court angle to the server. You can do that or you can stand in closer to cut off the server's angles, yet then in torn be forced to chip the ball back weakly without any action or mustard behind it. It's a SEVERE trade off. The name of the game on grass is scooping the ball up early on the rise, big serving, returning, and volleying. All of these things are inhibited by growing up on clay and being taught the extreme grips.

It's not about talent or athleticism. People forget that while it's true clay gives more time to hit that these swing techniques also take more time to wind-up and hit. This is why a guy with classical strokes (Medvedev, Kafelnikov, Lendl, etc.) can also succeed on clay much more readily than a guy with western strokes can on fast grass. Having more time to set-up your shots, which classical technique allows, is NEVER a disadvantage. The reason the guys with classical technique seem to have better reflexes is simply a matter of technique. Their technique allows them to react faster and make EASIER manipulations to the racket when pressured. The western grip is an inherently unstable hitting platform, it can only be hit one way. You can't effectively block the back with it under pressure or guide it, pushign it back deep and into a corner the way Sanguinetti or Kucera for example do beautifully. This is why one Tennis One article called the western grip and the ensuing problems with on the pro tour with it, the "all or nothing" grip. It's very effective when reproduced faithfully and well, but this is only when the athlete is at peak fitness and physicality AND isn't burned out from the physical punishment this style imposes, but just a slight drop off or injury and the results can be devastating as a result.

I mean look at the racket head speed Muster and Kuerten could generate on their one-handed backhands, and Berasategui and Bruguera and Ferrero and Moya on their forehands. We're talking whip-lash racket head speed here, and that does require athleticism and explosiveness in my opinion, that's fast twitch muscles in action right there. This is much of what separates a decent clay courter from the elite ones. The elite ones have as one IMG scout said of Coria "a live arm." That's what they look for, and why they were scouting Coria intently at the Orange Bowl junior tournie back in the day. You can't teach that. And for that matter, you also can't teach Coria's OBVIOUS athleticism either in my opinion. This is a guy whose feet are downright terrier on LSD like.

Basically, the all-time great level clay courters, just like the all-time great grass courters...were BOTH terrific athletes. Just as the elite clay courter is separated from just an ordinary clay courter by that little extra athleticism, so to is the case with the the elite grass courter from the mundane grass courter...think Karlovic, Byron Shelton, Max Mirnyi types compared to Edberg, Becker, Sampras.

Anyway, the SHORT version of my opinion is that...

It's not about talent or athleticism so much, but rather that one style is preferable to another.

Remember, the kind of things that bode well for grass, being able to take the ball early, returning efficiently, developing a big serve and volleys, etc. are all skills that give a decided advantage on ANYTHING outside clay. Three of the four slams PLUS the year ending masters series tournament ALL do NOT favor the extreme western technique in my opinion. Again, it's not about talent. Bruguera, a guy who only played on hard courts ONE time in his life prior to turning 18, and who played Wimbledon just twice prior and not for four years, *serve and volleyed* most of his way to victory over Rafter at Wimbledon in 94. Rafter was ranked 21 in the world at that time and considered highly touted and ATP Newcomer of the Year, so he was not a slouch back then either. To me, this tells me that had Bruguera been raised on hard courts or grass like Henman, he most certainly had the potential to be an "athletic" grass courter as well. The body frame/height, quick feet, agility, soft hands, were all there...but he was developed differently. Simple as that.

The extreme western grip is a disadvantage on EVERYWHERE outside clay. The reason NONE of the all-time greats used the true extreme western style technique is simply because to be an all-time great you have to do more than win just one single major event. Again, four of the five crown jewels of tennis (including the Masters) ALL favor more traditional techniques. The only exceptions to this chain of dominance of the more traditional techniques are Corretja and Kuerten at the Masters Cup, and note this is when they made a concerted effort to slow the courts down, which to me was after 97, that they went that route. And even then, these were really just once in a blue moon events and not something to be counted on with any regularity.

This is all comes down to a style argument, i.e. just as the point of MMA was initially to compare the effectiveness of the different style camps, and not a "talent" or "athleticism" debate, though it's often mistaken for that. It's a case of one style is more "useful" for practical purposes than another on the pro tour when talking about dreams of becoming a tennis great. You can't be "great" when you're "style"/technique only allows you to truly be great on clay. Four of the only 5 tournaments that actually count are arguing against your style, shutting it out.

Rabbit
06-28-2006, 01:23 PM
Rosewall did win majors on both clay and grass --

Great catch. I stand corrected. My focus, incorrectly, was on the French and Wimbledon. Rosewall did win the US Open on grass and the Australian (many times) on same. Again, great catch.


Don't forget Agassi


Sorry, my list was not meant to be a complete one, but the omission of Agassi was glaring as he is still a top tenner. Another great catch.

urban
06-28-2006, 01:37 PM
I must say, i am confused about my view on grass court tennis, after seeing most of the Fed-Henman match today. Is Fed really so good, that he can win exclusively from the baseline, or are the other players so weak? Henman didn't look so bad, in the first set, when he attacked over the backhand side, but then, he fell apart. Fed plays like Borg, maybe Borg was a bit more offensive on grass. He is consistent, doesn't make errors, and can finish the points with his long, pinpoint forehand, which always goes in. But it is pure baseline tennis, not traditional grass court tennis. Peter Bodo has expressed similar thoughts on 'tennis magazine online'. Is this the time of pleasant shotmaking only without real attack? But, why the hell, Fed with all his baseline skills cannot win on clay and cannot against Nadal? As i said, i am confused.

Moose Malloy
06-28-2006, 01:40 PM
As i said, i am confused.

You're not the only one. This is a very strange time for pro tennis IMO (& I've been following the game for 20 years). Guys come to net more on clay than grass. Something's not right.

sureshs
06-28-2006, 01:42 PM
But, why the hell, Fed with all his baseline skills cannot win on clay and cannot against Nadal? As i said, i am confused.

It is simple. The ESPN commentator said it during the Fed-Gasquet match this week. Fed's BH is superb when the bounce is lower. On clay, specially with Nadal's lefty FH, the bounce is higher on the BH and it becomes vulnerable. There is also a control issue for BH DTL shots when the ball is spinning heavily away from him as with Nadal on clay.

BTW, Fed "cannot win on clay" is not quite correct. He has beaten every other clay courter out there except Nadal in the finals.

urban
06-28-2006, 01:48 PM
Yes, that is certainly right, that Fed can hit the backhand better in his comfort zone on grass. But if he would make a step into court on clay and hit the backhand earlier, he could prevent, that the topspin would bounce high.But given the new grass game,i am not sure, that Nadal cannot beat Fed on grass. If they both play from the baseline, and Nadal can beef up his serve, why not?

sureshs
06-28-2006, 02:04 PM
Yes, that is certainly right, that Fed can hit the backhand better in his comfort zone on grass. But if he would make a step into court on clay and hit the backhand earlier, he could prevent, that the topspin would bounce high.But given the new grass game,i am not sure, that Nadal cannot beat Fed on grass. If they both play from the baseline, and Nadal can beef up his serve, why not?

Why not indeed? That is why I am predicting a Nadal win in the final in 4. Fed will have immense pressure to take revenge for FO and he himself hypes Wimbledon up too much, so he will be tentative and unforced errors will creep in. Couple of times he will come to the net, but the Nadal passing shot will demoralize him. Nadal meanwhile will start with the underdog image and that will motivate him further.

I watched Nadal against that guy, Bogdonavic, and Nadal came to the net several times. In one point, he stood at the net and exchanged volleys and finally put it away. This rumor that Nadal cannot volley is not true.

Re: stepping in: Nadal's shots sometimes bounce very short (not all the time, as people think). It is difficult to get that close without hovering in no-man's land. Also, if you try to take it on the bounce, but the ball is spinning away during the forward swing, Fed's timing and reading of the spin better be perfect, otherwise it will be a mishit, specially with that small racuet head of his.

Tennis_Goodness
06-28-2006, 02:11 PM
Sureshs, i'm sorry but picking Nadal to win Wimby is a really ridiculous claim.

Nothing that has happend supports this except fanism. You have to be realistic and Nadal even making it to the finals is something that is very very unlikely!

How old are some of these posters?

textbook strokes
06-28-2006, 02:38 PM
Yes, that is certainly right, that Fed can hit the backhand better in his comfort zone on grass. But if he would make a step into court on clay and hit the backhand earlier, he could prevent, that the topspin would bounce high.But given the new grass game,i am not sure, that Nadal cannot beat Fed on grass. If they both play from the baseline, and Nadal can beef up his serve, why not?

It's not that easy to step in against diabolic an unpredictible topspin like Rafa's, on clay or hard, but on grass, the ball won't bounce that high. That's why I don't see the spaniard being as dominant at W.

jhhachamp
06-29-2006, 06:59 PM
Tym, sorry it took me so long to get back to you, but I have been busy and your posts were very long! They were good posts though, and I may have to reconsider my views! It seems like grass and clay require different types of athleticism. Clay courters will probably frequently be top soccer players due to the great footwork, while grass courters probably would excel more in sports like basketball and football because they are generally bigger and stronger.