Best all-courter(s) by decade

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

  1. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Nothing from memory stands out as the singlest highest. Some of the highest, just running a casual search: Navratilova was at 67% late in the '87 W final vs. Graf. She had 69% in the 1990 W final, that's probably one of her highest.

    Cash had 71% late in his win over Connors, 87W, and he had 60% in the final. He was at 63% in the 84 USO semis and 88 AO final, late in those matches.

    Edberg at 1992 USO - 70% vs. Lendl, 58% vs. Chang, late in those matches.

    Mac is tough, he played before net stats were commonly given on TV and in the media. He had 67% late in the '84 USO final, that's the highest I can recall for him.
     
  2. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    To the bold part: I spoke of "the strategy" but I was not referring to any particular past style of net play, still less the type of net play that was heavily characterized by chip-and-charge. Perhaps my phrasing seemed to imply something specific, but all I meant was net play -- high numbers of approaches, however that may come about. And I certainly agree with your description of how Federer came in during this match. That's all I meant by net play possibly working today: I don't need it to replicate any particular past style in any way; I'm just talking about net play, in whatever way (or ways) it might be produced today.

    Incidentally I don't know that net play, on clay courts, ever was heavily reliant on chip-and-charge. That was a prominent grass-court tactic, but even then, on grass courts, of course, the main way that players came in was behind their own serves.

    Generally speaking, at least apart from grass, it's always been the case that players would make approaches when they earned, or somehow got, a superior position over their opponent in a baseline rally. As you say above, "the strength of your approaches is directly related to whether you are able to gain the ascendancy in rallies", and that's always been accepted -- with one prominent exception.

    The orthodox SV style was known as the Big Game, and in its most extreme forms it came under criticism. Ellsworth Vines thought that its most orthodox adherents should develop their groundstrokes more, and that they should come in more judiciously rather than simply coming in behind both serves all the time. He felt that in some tennis circles it was merely taken for granted that merely being at the net would put you in a superior position over a baseliner. And his criticisms were spot-on. But I certainly wasn't referring to the kind of injudicious net-rushing criticized by Vines, as a style that could possibly come back today. That would not work today, and as Vines noted, it wasn't even working back then: the best attackers then were those who attacked smartly and who developed good groundstrokes with which to make good approaches.

    Now getting back to the question of net play today: that match was probably Federer's best ever on clay. And he had a stellar success rate, 76%. But it's not as if we're talking about how a 76% success rate against Nadal on clay should become the norm for all players. That was Federer's best effort and even he is not going to be reproduce it every day. All the more true for lesser players.

    But let's just start with the fact that a 76% success rate is possible against Nadal on clay. Then shouldn't it be possible to see Federer, at least (never mind other players, for now), produce similar rates on other, faster surfaces? I know grass is not what is used to be, but there is still common agreement that it's faster than clay and that Federer has a greater advantage over Nadal than he does on clay. Yet Federer does not have net stats on grass, against Nadal, that equal his Rome stats, much less surpass them.

    Why is that? It can't be that his level of play in the Rome match was a level above every match he's played on any surface. It was a very, very high level -- but surely he's had such days on grass or hard court. And those surfaces should be more suitable for him to come forward. So the natural question for me is, what happened? Why do his matches after Rome show lower success rates and even lower numbers of net approaches?

    It seems to me that Roche's influence can be a large factor in all this.

    Remember, I'm not asking why Federer did not become Edberg; and still less am I claiming that the tour as a whole can start attacking just as much as they did in the 70s or 80s or 90s. I don't know whether that is possible. I'm just saying, once Federer showed he could have a certain level of net success on clay against Nadal, then theoretically on faster surfaces he could have even better numbers. Yet Rome, on clay, seems to have been his high point as far as net play. Why is that?
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  3. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Certainly can't help but wonder how much this might have been part of the "communication" problem between them.

    I don't even like to think about that split though...I think that was one of the crappiest things Roger ever did...the things he said to the press were unnecessary.
     
  4. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    If i recall the Rome match, i think it was very hot and the court played very fast. Rome can be very fast, almost like a hard court because they sometimes put less sand on the underground. When Sampras won Rome in 1994, the courts played ultra fast like a billard plate, and Sampras, Becker and Stich reached the semis.
     
  5. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Traditionally, Rome was considered the fastest clay court.Hamburg was the slowest one, I think.
     
  6. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

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    Well i think this is a matter of strategy on federer's part rather than anything else.

    If you can end points on the baseline, then why come into net?

    Points are generally shorter on faster surfaces, and federer can usually gain the ascendancy using his forehand very quickly in points and actually win points without having to come to net that often. He still is aggressive and does approach the net when the game play allows him to, but its not going to be as conscious of a choice as it is on clay.

    On clay, its a different story. Because of nadal's elite movement + defense + topspin...trying to outduel him from the baseline is extremely difficult. So in order for him to end points in his favor, he has to approach the net at some point. Doing this of course implies that he gains the advantage in the rally to allow him to hit an approach shot of sufficient quality. The first window of opportunity, federer usually strikes on clay against nadal...on faster surfaces, federer doesnt need to approach the net and risk getting passed - he can just hit another penetrating forehand - which is a higher percentage shot for him.

    apart from clay, federer has fared reasonably well against nadal. I believe they are equal or with federer having a slight advantage.

    on the faster surfaces, federer holds the distinct edge - indoor hard courts. slower hardcourts - nadal may hold the slight edge. But the slowest hardcourts are in fact slower than the rome surface.

    I don't know federer's win % at net at wimbledon against nadal - but im sure it must have been decent. Maybe not 75%. From what i understand, the grass surface isnt a whole lot faster than Rome. Faster than Roland garros...sure, but not rome.

    Hewitt recently commented that the grass is playing slower than RG clay - dont know if this was exaggeration or not..but the fact that he is discussing it shows it is within the same ballpark. henman said something similar before he retired.

    the 75% win at net i think is a more a reflection of federer's baseline play that day than his quality of net play, which was good..but it was more due to federer hitting quality approach shots.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2011
  7. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    The first all courters were Cochet,Tilden,Budge and Perry.next came Hoad, and Laver took it to its maximum.From early 2000´s NO ALL COURTER AT ALL (FED had too many shortcomings as an all courter)
     
  8. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I did stats on Mac d Arias at the '84 RG(a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win)
    have Mac at 76% at net(69-89)
    he was absurdly good in the 1st 2 sets(45-52) (86%)

    Also, I have different numbers on Fed at 2006 Rome, 55-74(74%) not 64-84(76%)

    Would be interesting to compare my count with anyone else who tried to track approaches on that match, usually I'm not that far off with my counts on modern matches.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  9. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Not sure what's implied here.

    An all-courter means plays equally well in all areas of the court: on the baseline, up at the net, anywhere in-between, volleying, hitting groundies, approaching, etc.

    An all-surface player (plays equally well or is able to win on fast, slow, grass, clay, hard-courts) would be called, I guess, . . . an all-surface player.
     
  10. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I'm not sure being an all-courter requires equal abilities in all areas of the court. I think being great at baseline with good ability at the net,able to serve and volley or attack the net frequently as part of a strategy is good enough to qualify too. I think in terms of all courters there are players who have a bias towards baseline play and those who are more biased towards net play.

    A guy like Sampras was probably better at the back of court than at the net in his early years. But he would still be an all court player - once he started coming in on first and second serves all the time he became a serve and volley player.
     
  11. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Okay, maybe not equal but good enough where one can do it and be comfortable and win. Laver is the best example I can think of. He could play both back-court and S&V with equal effectiveness on any given day against any opponent. Sampras, not so equal, but maybe he qualifies. Both would bias towards net-play.

    Federer would certainly bias towards the baseline. Is he an all-courter anymore?
     
  12. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    In the 80s I think that Lendl was the best all-courter, given how often he varied his playing style and tactics.

    For the most part he won his RG titles by playing as a defensive grinder, patiently engaging in long, gruelling rallies and outlasting a lot of opponents.

    For the most part he won his US Open and Masters titles by playing as an attacking, power baseliner, creaming the ball and teeing off winners and passing shots.

    He reached his Wimbledon finals by out and out serve-volleying on pretty much 100% of 1st and 2nd serves.

    So he achieved a lot of success at the big events on different surfaces with a range of radically different playing styles.

    In the open era I don't think any player has transformed their game as much from RG to Wimbledon as he did, as Borg stayed back on 2nd serves at Wimbledon. In 1987 for instance he played text-book clay court tennis to beat Wilander in the RG final and win the title. A few weeks later he then played text book grass court tennis to beat Edberg in the Wimbledon semis and reach the final. Watching him and his polar opposite styles of play in those 2 tournaments and those 2 matches in particular, was like watching 2 different sports.

    Of course there were quite a few matches on carpet, hard courts and even clay (more often at smaller events rather than at RG) where he also came to the net a lot, and he had an effective slice which he used alongside his topspin backhand.
     
  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Lendl is a good one.

    But Lendl really didn´t feel much comfortable S&V on grass, not because he couldn´t hit agreat serve and a winning volley, but because of footwork, he never dealt off well on grass.

    Mac had the tools as well, but he had no patience to stay back on clay

    Wilander would be the one that could have a better balance, yet his serve was never good enough to win on the fast grass.

    So, it is not easy, as opposed to maybe other decades, find a perfect all round player in the 80´s...oh¡ wait, yes, Hana Mandlikova¡¡¡
     
  14. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    By today's standards Federer is. Even when he was at his most baseline orientated he still had matches where he approached the net many times. I think nowadays Federer has gone back to playing more at the net.

    Definitely baseline biased and he's probably on the very least end of what's acceptable. There are a few players today who I'd call baseliner with net ability - perhaps Federer is one of them. Guys like Fish, Youzhny, Lopez etc...thread the line between all courters imo.
     
  15. Rosewall

    Rosewall Rookie

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    40's: Bobby Riggs
    50's: Tony Trabert
    60's: Ken Rosewall
    70's: Jimmy Connors (special menion Ilie Nastase)
    80's: John McEnroe (special mention Miloslav Mecir)
    90's: Pete Sampras
    00's: Roger Federer (special mention Jo-Wilfried Tsonga)
    10's: Roger Federer

    Everyone has their own definition of what an all-court player is. The attributes I look at: able to employ a mix of styles and strategies to exploit weaknesses of opponent, use entire court with variety of shots to set up point, has few weaknesses and does not rely on dominant strokes.

    In other words, these guys are athletes, artists, and master strategists. Most of those with big serves and forehands (Kramer, Becker) I put in the serve-and-volley category. The exception is Sampras... otherwise I don't have a candidate for the 1990s. I understand quibbles with me listing Federer given my definition of an all-courter. Master strategist? LOL! He is more in the Bill Tilden category. Had the game to play all-court, but pretty much did whatever he wanted because he was so dominant in his era.

    Also interesting that some of the all-court guys on my list are flakey/volatile. Mac, Nasty, Tsonga, Mecir... so much talent never close to fully realized. Maybe it was their artistic side that doomed them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  16. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    An interesting but unusual selection.
     
  17. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I like the choice. Borg didn't play most of the 1980's and I think he's the only challenger so I would probably go with McEnroe too.
     
  18. President

    President Legend

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    Was Connors not an allcourter? From the matches I've watched of him, he certainly seemed to be. He seemingly charged the net whenever it seemed prudent to do so.

    How good was McEnroe's game from the baseline?
     
  19. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Connors was an all courter but his weak serve imo was too weak to regularly serve and volley. I guess the exception was the 1982 Wimbledon final. McEnroe wasn't of the level of Connors at the baseline but imo he was a pretty good baseliner. You should check out the 1984 US Open semi between Connors and McEnroe. There were lots of great baseline rallies.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TKUe_OA2ro

    Some of the rallies had some great variety by McEnroe off the ground. Different spins, angles, pace, looping shots etc. Check the 55 minute and 27 second mark.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  20. President

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    I'm about halfway through, but it's definitely a great match. Still, do you think that McEnroe was a better allcourter than a guy like Boris Becker? Becker seemed clearly better than McEnroe from the backcourt, while still coming to the net very frequently (and effectively, behind his huge serve). I guess McEnroe's ground game is just not super impressive to me, with my 21st century goggles. I am much more impressed with the strokes of guys like Becker, Lendl, Connors, and Borg. With his ground game, I'm not certain John McEnroe should qualify as a true all court player. He looked like he could rally off the ground but couldn't really finish points from there. Isn't the definition of an allcourter someone who can play totally competently (as in, they could win a match against a good player playing solely from that area of the court) from either the baseline or the net? Maybe someone can correct me?
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  21. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    McEnroe imo had a better backhand than Becker, more variety, took the ball better on the rise, could drop shot (basically a huge weapon for him) and perhaps most important, I think he moved far better than Becker. Remember McEnroe won on all surfaces, even red clay. Becker never won a clay tournament.

    But as with you I am also more impressed with the strokes of Lendl, Connors and Borg also. They are three of the groundstrokers I love to watch. First time I saw McEnroe I thought his strokes were ugly but I realized over time it fit into his game. And yes I agree with you that he rarely could put shots away from the backcourt but that was a part of his game. His main strength was the volley and his serve.
     
  22. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    As I recall, Jmac´s backcourt game was dominating on a very fast indoor or grass court because of his anticipation and geometry, taking also the ball on the rise with a short backswing.Not because of power.
     
  23. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree with you.
     
  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    What are your opinions of the following all courters?

    Nastase
    Gerulaitis
    Kodes
    Ramirez
    Okker
    Kriek
    I guess you watched them all.
    Would be interesting to know.
     
  25. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    All very talented players of course and all of them extremely fast. Gerulaitis, Nastase, Kriek and Okker were often called the fastest players in tennis.

    Nastase may have been the most talented of this bunch and he's one of the most talented ever. His anticipation was uncanny. He had a very good backhand and a super forehand which was great on the run. Very versatile with a wide variety of shots, perhaps too many at time to choose. His variety were very solid but not the most penetrating but he was very hard to pass. Excellent and underrated serve.

    Gerulaitis was an extremely flashy and solid from the baseline player. Good first serve but a weak second serve. Excellent volley. Backhand was fine but I don't think it was the best passing shot. Very talented and probably would have won far more if not for his nightlife.

    Kodes was fun to watch. Excellent backhand return and backhand which was the stronger of his two groundstrokes. Good serve and good volley. Very good mover.

    Ramirez didn't have any major attacking weapons but he was solid in all areas. Great at lobbing especially in doubles where his teamup with Brian Gottfried was one of the fun doubles teams to watch. Excellent mover with a good volley.

    Tom Okker had one of the flashiest forehands I've seen. Very wristy and unique swing. I was at the US Open in the mid 1980's I think watching a player hit from the stadium far away. I couldn't see the face but I knew immediately from the swing that it had to be Tom Okker. I think he was playing the Senior events. Excellent volleyer with very fast hands. Good backhand. Great doubles player. One of the best in doubles ever. Very talented player and some thought he would be number one. Arthur Ashe thought in the early 1970's that at some time every year Tom Okker would become the best in the world for a period. Excellent on all surfaces.

    Kriek was a surprisingly hard hitting player considering he was relatively small. A very good first serve and a second serve in which I recalled he took so risks and had more than his share of double faults. Strong hitter but I recall he was prone to errors.
     
  26. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree.

    If I had to associate a stroke to any of them it would be.

    Nastase: Serve,OH and speed ( strong Fh as well)
    Gerulaitis: FH volley ( good sliced BH )
    Ramirez: BH volley ( solid top spin baselining, too)
    Okker:FH ( and great quickness)
    Kodes:BH ( good volley and solid FH as well)
    Kriek: ROS ( and raw speed)

    But they didn´t have any real weakness, except for Vitas second serve and Kriek love for UE.
     
  27. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    By the way I meant Nastase's volley was very solid not variety as I typed in.
     
  28. conway

    conway Banned

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    70s- Connors. He was one of the dominant baseliners but was willing to come to net much more than Borg who really only came in for grass.

    80s- Becker. He played at the baseline much more than McEnroe or Edberg, and at the net much more than Lendl.

    90s- Sampras

    2000s- Federer

    2010s- no idea, Murray? Maybe Tsonga. Maybe Olderer. No good option here really.
     
  29. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Whole 70,and early 80 is far richer than any other open era decades for top and secondary all courters.
    Laver and slighty less Rosewall, Nastase,maybe Connors, Ramírez,Kodes,Gerulaitis, Gorman,Okker,Fibak,Young Mac was more rounded than even peak Mac.
    Then some others who have a predominant style yet could be competent at its complementary
    Ashe Borg Amritraj Newk Gottfried Mayer Panatta Orantes Mc Namara Kriek Taroczy Gunthardt Scanlon Lutz Gimeno Smid Cox
    Those guys were as good as semi all courters as Fed
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    And of course Court Peak Navy Goolagong Mandlikova Reid Hanika Fromholtz Turnbull and ocasionally Jaeger and Jausovec
     
  31. The_Mental_Giant

    The_Mental_Giant Hall of Fame

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    And sampras is a Serve and volleyer..
     
  32. Vensai

    Vensai Professional

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    How many Pete Sampras matches have you watched? He was very much capable of playing great all-court tennis at this best. He wouldn't have beaten Andre Agassi as many times as he did without a solid game from the baseline.
     
  33. 70後

    70後 Semi-Pro

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    They had to be all courters back in the 60's, 70's, 80's and even 90's. How otherwise could they handle a broad spectrum of playing conditions and consequently a wide variety of playing styles? Not anymore.
     
  34. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Yes but the title of the thread is BEST all courter(s) by decade, not whether there was any.
     
  35. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    I wouldn't say Becker was the best
     

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