Best all-courter(s) by decade

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by leonidas1982, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Lewis Hoad is also on of the best all courters.Seemed more potent than Gonzales at the baseline, had great coverage and both, latheral and front movements, and, above all, had a sensational right arm and wrist ( as good as Laver´s).

    However, his serve was a bit suspect and he sometimes seemed to live on just crazy power, reluctant to change tactics.I´m sure a top Hoad vs a top Rosewall match ( like their 1956 Wimbledon and Forest Hills Finals) must have been masterpieces and a truly fascinating contrast.
     
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  2. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    It's an interesting point. The putaway shots of players have been devastating since the late 80's....so...it's thought of as an almost certain winner BUT it is against opponents like Chang, Borg, Nadal, Federer, Sampras etc, that their great speed and anticipation can result in some of these balls coming back....it may indeed be worth it to put away the ball, rather then have them hit the great counterpunching winner occasionally.
     
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  3. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I know its a small sample, but hasn't sampras been the most 'well-rounded' player we've come across, stats-wise(meaning a close to equal distribution of winners from net & from groundstrokes)? weren't Connors & Becker pretty balanced as well?

    Great as he is, Fed generally has hardly any winners from volleys, not sure how he can be called an all courter.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
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  4. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Yes Sampras and Laver consistently have well balanced numbers.

    I think that was also true of Connors, but off the top of my head I think his numbers could sometimes slide toward one end or the other (groundstrokes or volleys) depending on his opponent and his strategy, which often varied. Sometimes he was a relentless attacker, but at other times he stayed back at the baseline quite a bit.

    Becker often had more winners from groundstrokes than from volleys, though that often was the result of him trying to stay back and beat the baseliners at their own game, for which he was (rightly) criticized.

    Federer throughout most of his career has low volley winners, but at least he has some matches where he came in several dozen times. Nadal has never done anything like that, which is why I'm surprised he's getting votes as an all-courter. He may be comfortable at net and he may have skilled volleys, but it's not a great test of your net game if you're only up there 10 or 20 times in a match. The real test comes when you start pushing forward constantly and not always when you've already got the point won.
     
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  5. WCT

    WCT Rookie

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    How about Federer's early Wimbledon titles. Did anyone do stats for them?
    He used to serve/volley quite a bit more than he has in recent years.
    Not textbook behind both serves every point, but a good amount. I've never seen Nadal do anything like that.
     
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  6. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    And Federer rarely hits winners on his backhand side. The other day against Nadal they mentioned that his first backhand winner was in the first game of the second set. I notice that seems to be fairly common with him.

    As great as Federer has been I can't really see him as an all courter also. I agree with you Moose.
     
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  7. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    There’s a few reason for this...

    -court today the ball bounce higher
    -slower surface
    -heavier ball
    -players cover the court better today
    -ball coming back with more spin
    -easier to hit passing shot today

    It’s much harder to put away a clean winner today.
     
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  8. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Agreed as well. It's great that stats reflect this, certainly, I think it's apparent to knowledgeable observers anyways. I think if Fed came in more, gained confidence, and tightened up his volleys, he certainly could be an all-courter, but I don't have faith in his net game to that degree...and I think it's clear he doesn't really either.
     
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  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Certainly Federer has the ability to be a great all courter considering his beautiful movement but I think he tends to miss too many volleys, particularly forehand volleys and I don't that he, like many others today doesn't take the opportunity to hit floaters in the air to put away balls enough. He usually takes the route of using his heavyweight forehand to put away the shots which is about as effective.

    So over the years he decided to take of the route of everyone today, outrallying players from the baseline and you can't argue with his super results.

    My personal feeling is if he got to learn the feel of when to approach or hit attacking volleys that he might lose a little more at first but I think eventually he would have seen the results and even become a greater player than he was.

    I kind of feel he could have been able to play a little like Rosewall. By that I mean both are super baseliners and unmatched in their time but Rosewall learned how and when to approach the net and mixed it up with his fabulous groundies. Of course both both are different type players with somewhat different strengths but I actually feel that they are very similar in their smoothness and movement.

    Again who am I to argue with his results?
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
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  10. President

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    It's possible that by coming into net more, Federer may be able to win slightly more points than he does currently. The main problem I have with that though is the lack of tried and true success of net play in the past 10 years or so. How many players have won GS titles by coming to the net frequently, apart from Sampras and Federer in his first Wimbledon? I think that conditions today might be so adverse to volleying that hitting a putaway groundstroke is the higher percentage play than hitting a volley, even if one was an excellent volleyer.
     
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  11. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think that seems to be what people say nowadays that volleying very tough but my viewpoint is if you can instinctively recognize a good time to hit a strong volley that it has to be more effectively than hitting a putaway groundie which for obvious reasons if more likely to be returned.
     
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  12. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Yes. I've written about it a lot before. In 05ish...I said that he should be coming in more in easy matches...and that he might regret it one day...not rounding out his game more.

    He has three big problems coming in:
    1.hasn't developed the best instinct for when/how to come in
    2.no confidence
    3.blows volleys by not sticking to good fundamentals (I wrote a lot about this to)

    Yes...you're saying exacly what i said to about his results...in a way...he was lulled into this....of course...why come in when you can beat everyone from the back? Why even give them a chance to pass you?? It worked, so nobody can dispute that...only that it's possible that those skills/experience of coming in, may really be of benefit to him now, had he developed them.
     
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  13. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I am sure a lot of people fear that. I am sure many juniors and their coaches ffear that. It's become quite an ingrained doctrine. But that's not the problem....in fact, even a guy like Henman was doing very well late in his career, as were some others. Do you really think that great SV'ers were there the last 5 years but were evolved out of the game??

    As I have mentioned before, it was clear that a dearth was coming based on he juniors. Sampras in his prime would be doing fine, if he chose to come to the net, so would many of the past greats. Let me ask you this? Do you think that Sampras wouldn't even be in the top 100? Where are these SV players that can quite beat the top guys...but would have been in past eras?? I don't see them in the top 100 at all...and as time has gone on...I don't see them in the top 1000....
     
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  14. President

    President Legend

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    I'm not saying it can't be an effective strategy, but I do question whether it is the MOST effective one in the current conditions. As you have said before, a S&V style takes much longer to develop than a baseliner. If there is not a clear advantage to serve and volley during current conditions, then why would any coach develop a player with that style in 2011 forward? Pete Sampras would definitely still be in the top 10 with his style, and I'm sure he would even be in the top 5. But the fact remains that S&V and actually netplay in general is not an optimum strategy in today's conditions.

    Would Federer have had a better career if he had had a better net game, but inferior groundstrokes? I really doubt that.
     
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  15. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    But I don't think the discussion is about Federer having inferior groundies and a better net game. I think he could have remained at the same high level for groundies but improved his net game.
     
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  16. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I have a good buddy of mine who is a very good tennis coach. He's a natural serve and volleyer with a one handed backhand. He also works out with the College Team he coaches and the players can't believe how consistent he is off the ground.

    I asked him one day if he would teach the old style one handed backhand all court type of play instead of the two handed backhand power groundstroke game of today. He told me he would love to but none of the parents want him to teach their kids that style of play.

    And that's great point about Pete Sampras. I have no doubt peak Sampras would do just fine today. In three of the four majors he would be one of, in not THE favorite to win the tournament. Thank goodness they changed his style from a two handed baseliner to the style he played.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
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  17. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

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    Sampras would do fine. Players do need to instinctively recognize when the appropriate time to move forward is.

    I also think Federer can benefit just from the 'bluff' aspect of the net, providing he doesn't brick volleys like he has been clearly displaying as of late. He needs to force these players to hit passes consistently, he hits big enough to be able to force an issue. It just seems he is lost around the net these days.
     
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  18. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    thing is rosewall had it easier at the net , quite a bit easier , in fact.

    But I agree, he needs more practice to not fluff easy volleys and know when to approach the net .... rather than annacone, someone like henman might be more helpful in this regard IMO , he was mixing it up well in the later part of his career. He could help fed on when to approach the net

    Its weird when he makes some absolutely tough volleys/half-volleys but misses sitters
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
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  19. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    you mention henman, but he himself started playing more from the baseline than he used to earlier, started mixing it up more. You are quite in denial about the conditions becoming quite a bit tougher for net-rushing (not denying the coaches have had a big effect as well )
     
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  20. piece

    piece Professional

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    I was just about to mention this. Henman was killing it from the baseline in '04
     
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  21. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Indeed, I'm well aware Henman starting doing that MORE, but do you really believe he stayed at the top of the game based on HIS groundgame?! ;-)

    No, I'm not in denial, I have written on here specifically, more than once, that I believe it would be "tougher than ever" to be an SV or netrusher (do you remember any of the times I've said this)....however, I absolutely believe that an elite netrusher (which Henman really wasn't) could absolutely be at the top of the game.
     
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  22. Bobby Jr

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    This ^... Oh god the amount of times I've wished he'd stuck to the basics instead of going for the backspin volley of God*. He does his net stats a disservice by trying those so often - especially since he has really good hands and shown many times he can volley well.

    He could do well to spend a day with Stefan Edberg to work on what works. I'm sure Edberg would oblige.

    I also agree with whoever posted above that if he's going to go down the Annacone road he should serve-volley/chip & charge way more in earlier round matches to get into a better groove with them.

    I was talking with a coach at my local (a former top 50 pro) and said Fed should try coming to the net way more, even if the success rate was only 50%. Because that would still be an improvement (sometimes a significant one) compared to staying back against Nadal/Djokovic and would save a hell of a lot of running.

    *To be fair, the spin on many of the shots he's trying to volley makes many of them harder to handle than they might appear on TV.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
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  23. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    That's exactly right...I wrote this stuff about Fed's volley a bunch a times a couple years ago...in addition, he sometimes tries to run right through the volley too much, or just tries to drop the racquet head for a low volley...kind of make it look....casual...well...I"m pretty sure I wrote that he ""thinks he's John Mcenroe"....b/c Mac's the only one I ever saw get away with that stuff with any consistency....and...he's not Mac...and there's no shame in that! On the other hand, Fed has good hand, good feel...problem is...I bet HE DOES get away with that stuff...in practice...it's another thing to get away with against Nadal in a big match!

    Edberg...Cash....those are great examples of guys with amazing instincts, feel, skill, and experience at the net...but DID NOT get sloppy in the slightest. You know...it's that missed volley here or there....often on big points, or difficult balls...that can make all the difference...and blow your confidence while letting the other guy's go sky-high. If the other guy thinks you might blow a challenging volley, all the more likely he'll be confident enough to make you hit that tough pass. If he thinks you're a freakin wall...and that anything other than perfection means the point is just OVER...and that's when nerves, pressure, pure frustration start to take their toll.

    I think Edberg would be good for Fed....I remember a story about Edberg once...I THINK it was Todd Martin? who told it...he said he was practicing with Edberg and having some trouble with his volley.....he asked Edberg for advice and Edberg's response was: you gotta watch the ball. Martin was astonished that here's one of THE greatest volleyers of all time, and that was his key advice he identified for Martin! LOL

    That's also why I believe in Nadal's volley more...even though Fed is probably 10x more naturally gifted up there....Nadal doesn't get sloppy...he doesn't get too fancy either (even though...actually much to my surprise a few years ago...Nadal has soft hands too!).

    I think the coach is right....well...it's a tough call...you see Fed isn't really at that point...he'd have to tighten it up...be successful a couple times in a row attacking...and then he'd get the confidence/momentum....just doesn't feel like that will happen. On the other hand...if you're going to lose, might as well lose trying something different! Those guys are getting pretty confident against him (mind you, that can change like the wind)....but it doesn't really help Fed to play them "close", the same old way, and still lose.

    50% is actually not too bad in a way....because you have to consider...if you've been rushing a lot, and coming up overall at 50%...I bet on the BIG pressure points...you're actually at 75%!


    That is true...certainly there's some very heavy spin out there today...so I wouldn't blame a guy for blowing some of those balls....IF he was sloppy setting up, or trying something too flashy. Mind you, Fed doesn't do those things on the majority of volleys...but in his case right now...one time is too many.
     
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  24. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    And the thing is that for sitters, considering the bigger racquet that he has than Rosewall had that he should miss less than Rosewall. He has to be consistent and he is not at the net. I think he has the ability to be a very good volleyer.
     
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  25. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    well yeah, that's what I said too ... he shouldn't be missing some of the easy ones that he does ..

    But another factor as has already been mentioned above in this thread is the massive spin on the ball these days, some of them the volleys are tougher to make than they look.
     
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  26. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Ha ha. es, Fed did have a good run with his magic half-volleys but they don't seem to be sticking anymore.

    Cash is one guy who anyone learning to volley could do well to watch. So many talk about Henman/Rafter but Cash/Edberg are benchmarks for good forecourt feel and getting the basics right when the pressure is on.

    50% would be a significant improvement in his recent matches against Nadal and Djokoivc. At least he'd be making the other person have to deliver and, as you say, that pressure is compounded on big pressure points.

    If this is a way for him to win more in this part of his career I think he needs to work it into earlier (theoretically easier) matches a lot more. Nothing beats match practice. Edberg wasn't just great at it because of some mythical talent - he also was great because he got so much practice at it in matches.
     
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  27. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Yes, absolutely. But one problem now though is...Some of Fed's magic aura is gone. Yes..mainly to Djoko and Nadal...but across the board, the players will at least be slightly more optimistic about possibly beating him as they once were...especially if he starts playing his "B" game...and possibly not doing it at it's best either.

    So....it's just riskier now...not saying he shouldn't try to do it...but the tragedy is...in 04,05, etc...he could have come out playing left-handed in a clown outfit....let the opponent get up 0-6, 0-3....then switched to his right hand....and let the opponent fold the instant he switched! I've never seen a guy hold that much of a psychological edge over all his opposition....there were occasional matches back in those days, against even lower-ranked players, where Fed was playing worse, but won anyways. Of course, this has always happened to champions...but it was part of the difference between Fed losing say...10 matches instead of 5.

    Back then, Fed could have experimented, played terrible serve and volley for a bit...and STILL would have had the opponent believing he really had no chance in the end...

    Of course part of that was that Fed ENJOYED beating down guys badly...and put in the work to do it....but still....some SV and netrushing...wouldn't have hurt...IN FACT, it might have given even a bigger edge, in that Fed would have been perceived as toying with the opposition!



     
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  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Not at all; Rosewall was short, much shorter than Fed, but he had such quick feet, mind and hands he seldom got passed when he hit a clear approach.
     
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  29. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Is there a difference between fast and quick?
     
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  30. pc1

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    Incidentally Rosewall almost never missed a volley with those tiny wooden racquets. I was watching the 2006? Rome final with Nadal and Federer. Nadal did a between the legs shot with Federer on top of the net and Federer hit it into the net. Would you bet Rosewall would miss that with a wood racquet?

    It's does make me wonder how much harder it is to volley today. I would think it may be but I would think with the larger and lighter racquets that it would be easier to put away sitters than with the small wood racquets. I think Laver mentioned that some of them almost felt guilty volleying with the big racquets of today.

    Check the great volleying by Rosewall here and Roche is incredible too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJubuKDN7Fk
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011
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  31. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    It should be MUCH easier to volley now, of course, if anybody did...Rosewall´s footwork should be taught in all tennis schools around the globe, anytime ( and , maybe in some ballet academies, too)
     
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  32. pc1

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    I'm not sure if it's easier with the extra spins and other things with the racquets of today but certainly with sitters or just mid court floaters it should be a clinch with the racquets of today.

    But it's clear to me that no one is even close to Rosewall in volleying today. It's my opinion of course but I have no doubt about that. Rosewall was as kiki wrote like a ballet dancer on the court and his footwork was legendary.
     
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  33. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Reminds me of Gonzales, years ago, when Braden was talking to him about a large-headed graphite racquet and asked him how he would have played "I would have served 140mph and never missed a singled volley". lol
     
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  34. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    All court greatness is also a matter of being able to play all the shots at the court´s length...and make the right decision, or the most unexpected for the oponnent ( and, at this, I can´t find anybody doing it better than the Rocket).
     
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  35. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Pancho, with the new frames, still young (I'd throw in strings, shoes, clothes, courtside refreshments, etc.) would likely be extremely tough for anyone. He was well before my time, but his serve and volley game alone would likely cause some huge problems.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XTR8z5kjWc
    (Early 1960's tennis with Alex Olmedo, Barry McKay, Lew Hoad, and Pancho Gonzalez. A comment is made that Gonzalez is "king of the throne" but he is "getting a little old" at 33.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2011
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  36. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    #86
  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    ¡ How entertaining and flasy that tennis was ¡ Good footage, BN1
     
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  38. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    BTW, the Hoad,Laver,Rosewall and Gonzales foursome made for the top " all court game" era.They loved to use the court at full length and change tactics, spins and directions on the spot.
     
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  39. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    yeah, of course it should be much easier to volley today. No one hits passing shots from way behind the baseline as they did in rosewall's day, oh wait :oops:
     
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  40. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    bad, bad example to use tbh, federer played brilliantly at the net that day, was 64/84 at the net . One missed volley in that match doesn't really show much

    Rosewall too would've missed his share of easy volleys I'm sure, its just that memory mainly records the highlights and on quite a few occasions tends to forget the misses ( obviously he was a clearly better volleyer than fed, but doesn't mean he didn't miss sitters on occasions )
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2011
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  41. krosero

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    That comes to a 76% winning rate, which is frankly astounding for someone coming in so much. Every once in a while you will see such a success rate for someone who wins 8 of 10 total approaches in a match, which is not remarkable. But for someone who comes in 80 times, 76% is astoundingly good. I'm not sure who else has done that, because typical numbers even for the greatest net players of the Open Era tend to be around 55% to 70%.

    Everyone says you can't come to net today, but if Federer can get that kind of success rate against Nadal on clay, then that shows the strategy can definitely work. It's not as if Nadal was playing badly that day -- or as if those numbers were produced on some surface disadvantageous to Nadal, like fast indoor hardcourt. They were produced on clay against the king of clay. So obviously Federer was executing the strategy correctly.

    In fact if he hadn't knocked those forehands long on his two match points, and he'd won one of those points, the match might be held up today as a shining example of what good net play can do even against a baseliner on his favorite surface. But since Federer lost the match, not much more was said about it.

    But the strategy was working; Federer just had to do more of it.
     
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  42. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    That was one match but the point is that I do think Federer would have had a bit better results if he knew when to approach better. Yes Federer was fantastic that match at the net.

    I agree.
     
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  43. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Wasn't Roche still the coach of Federer in that Rome match? I still think, that Roche would have helped Federer enormously with getting a sounder volley. His departure was imo premature, and ever since Federer's game has declined a bit.
     
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  44. pc1

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    Yes he was. They focused on Roche often in the match.
     
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  45. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I think you are right about Roche being Fed's coach then. Good idea, as Roche was an all-time great volleyer.

    If you voluntarily give up the volley and net-play, then you are giving 50% of the court.

    Maybe Annacone can bring some of it back. Fed is better when he volleys more, and his opponents are uncertain and thus fear his more complete game--not just his forehand backcourt game.
     
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  46. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Interesting. what are some of the higher %'s in matches involving Cash, Edberg, Mac, or Navratilova you've come across?

    Edberg was at 72% in the '91 USO Final.

    I had Borg at 75% vs Vitas at '81 Wimbledon.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
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  47. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Martina´s % was very very high for such a risk taking player.Her confidence helped a lot to overwhelm players that could have passed her more often than they did.

    Edberg´s % would be also prety good; he was difficult to pass since he had a great reach at the net.
     
    #97
  48. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

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    2,751
    eh...not that simple.

    Federer's success at net that day was directly related to his baseline play. To this day i havent seen federer hit his fh AND bh AND serve against nadal on clay as well as rome 2006.

    Federer was coming behind some wicked approach shots and was forcing the action because his bh was penetrating the court and he was able to use his fh to outmaneuver nadal. His approaches were calculated and were the result of mostly great baseline play.

    If federer was chipping and charging the net ala edberg, rafter. Then i would agree that approaching the net in 80s/90s style fashion would be a viable strategy. This match however is NOT a datapoint for this.

    The strength of your approach shots is directly related to whether you are able to gain the ascendancy in rallies. Gaining the upper hand against nadal in rallies on CLAY is a very difficult task. I dont think i need to elaborate on why...

    There is a reason on why to this day federer was able to produce one match with truly all court play to even have a chance of defeating a very good nadal. It took his absolute best performance on clay against nadal and he still lost. This is not the norm for federer, and i would be hardpressed to believe the norm for any other "all-court" player against nadal given how well federer plays from the baseline.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
    #98
  49. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

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    maybe in nostalgia land, roche and rosewall NEVER EVER missed a volley. But not in reality.

    Heck i would have wagered that sampras would never have missed a point blank smash, dumped a crucial volley, or double faulted on a match point, the way sampras is talked about here.

    But i am glad i am not a betting man...
     
    #99
  50. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
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    3,621
    +1.
    thought federer lost, I think this was the best clay match he ever played.
     

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