Chopin's New Poll: Venus Williams v.s. Laver

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Chopin, Aug 21, 2009.

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Venus v.s. Laver (Please read handicaps before voting)

  1. Venus

    32 vote(s)
    50.0%
  2. Laver

    32 vote(s)
    50.0%
  1. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Point-by-point I can’t say I disagree very much with this post. For one, I agree that when we talk about “taking big swings” or a huge cut on the ball, the critical aspect is racquet head speed. As you say, if we were just talking about long backswings, in general that will be more difficult in the wood era, but that doesn’t apply to someone with relatively compact strokes like Federer – and Borg showed anyway that long, loopy strokes were not a deal-breaker in the wood era, if you were talented enough to do it.

    I think Borg is also an interesting example because he went against so much conventional wisdom. They said he would never win Wimbledon with his strokes, but he won it five times in a row.

    For me, it’s as if the conventional wisdom nowadays is the opposite: the claim that serve-and-volley won’t work anymore. Someone moving against the grain today wouldn’t be a baseliner like Borg, or even someone like Federer. Instead he’d be showing that it was still possible to win many Wimbledons by SV, attacking the net, etc.

    And someone short winning big titles, as you say, would be another example.

    That’s why I just can’t agree with argumentation that says, nobody does this today, because it doesn’t work. The only thing obvious is that no one is doing it. The reason is not obvious. And examples like Borg show that you can create a winning style in tennis even if goes against what everyone else (including experts) are doing and teaching.

    As for how I see Federer and Laver adapting to each other’s era, I do think that Laver’s height is an issue. There’s no point in saying otherwise. However I have plenty of questions about Federer in the wood era.

    On the one hand, my thinking is similar to yours, and I see him as a bit of a throwback to the era of classical strokes, who has enough talent and variety of shot to make him tough in any era.

    On the other hand, as I’ve said before I’m just not sure how to imagine what his game would look like if you threw him back. I know that he’d be compelled to serve-and-volley at least on first serve, if we’re talking about Wimbledon’s old grass and certain indoor surfaces. How much he would attack beyond that, I have no idea. In his early career we do have some matches of him doing that and doing it well – SV on first serve on grass. But by the time he hit his prime he was already cutting back on that, so when we talk about prime Federer in the wood era, what does that mean? What you would like is a full career where you could see how committed the player was to that style, against different opponents, in different situations. How does this player perform, when playing this style under pressure year after year? Federer’s career suggests not just that surfaces got slower but that he prefers baselining, even if he’s a talented volleyer. So at best I’m confident that he’d be a skillful net player in previous eras. But whether he would really be the best of his time at that game, at a time when masters of that game proliferated, I don’t know, and I have my doubts.

    But mostly it’s just uncertainty, because his career has not been about SV. In simplest, neutral terms, the data’s just not there.

    And some other signature features of his game would be missing, like the inside-out forehand, which couldn’t do much damage in the wood era. His backhand would be more open, and that’s another question I have. On certain days that stroke works just fine. But he has other days, not just against Rafa, when he makes a ton of unforced errors off that shot, or gets timid with it (“shanks” is not all we’re talking about and I agree with you that if all we’re talking about is his obvious shanks into Row 12C, that’s not much of a problem). He’d be facing very different pressures on his BH in previous eras, and he certainly wouldn’t face Rafa’s spin; but does that mean that his BH would be a-okay, no questions asked? I don’t know, this is just another big question for me.

    And I don’t think there’s a right answer. His fans will have an optimistic view. His critics will suggest that his BH will have problems then, no less than now. And how could you know either way? The time travel game is about as speculative as you can get.

    However when you talk about players closer to the wood/graphite transition, I have some more certainty. I see Sampras in the 50s and 60s basically playing the same game as he did in the 90s. He wouldn’t hit any of his strokes with the same consistency and power, but he could basically take his game back to those eras and it’s easy to see how he would have gotten a lot of titles. With Federer, yeah, he’ll get his titles, I just don’t know exactly how it would look.

    In the end, these imaginary matchups are fun – if they’re treated as fun and unknowable. Getting dogmatic about it can’t have any good result.
     
  2. World Beater

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    The question here is mainly this in my mind...why did players not try to hit with as much racket head speed in early wood era? Or even ignoring racket head speed because of the potential unfavorable risk-reward scenario... why did players not get their entire body weight behind the shot? These are the questions that pop up in my mind. is it because it was unsuccessful and therefore top players did not feature it...or because it was never tried???

    well for me it is a bit of a strange phenomenon...because we went from a known style - s/v, attacking 90's era to an era where players are doing very different things. why did suddenly this playing style disappear? it is a known style that achieved tremendous success in the 90's and before.

    even in the transitional era from samp to fed, there were attacking players but they just didnt have the same level of success as 90's players

    it is not the same comparison as borg playing with western grips. borg was somewhat of a revolution. i do not recall anyone even trying this type of style or having his stroke production and having his degree of success - i don't think it existed prior to him.

    s/v, attacking. continental grips etc all are known ways to play the game that have achieved tremendous success in the past. there are players who play the s/v 90's style even today - we do not hear of them because they are not having the same level of success. is it because they were not as good as their predecessors or because the conditions, general metamorphosis of tennis stroke mechanics didn't make it a high percentage strategy?

    I believe it is the latter because I have seen players like ancic, federer, dent, mirnyi etc make changes in their game to s/v less, chip n' charge less, and generally play a higher margin for error game from the baseline mixed with strategic attacks. why did these players do it? They had success with the s/v on both 1st and 2nd serve of the 90's in the late 90's and early 2000's. Why did these players alter their games?

    Well we have seen federer play the game of s/v when he was still developing...and he successfully challenged arguably one of the greatest practictioners of the s/v style - sampras. he also has given tough matches to other s/v practioners and had considerable success.

    the problem in my view with asserting "federer is a more comfortable baseliner and this is not just due to slower surfaces" is that we do not have any other players YET who are successfully practicing the s/v style at the top of the game today. So perhaps, s/v really isn't feasible at the highest level. There are no other datapoints to prove otherwise in today's game. s/v is not some new discovery in tennis strategy - it is a known style with selected players trying it without achieving great success(navarro, dent, mirnyi, karlovic, mahut, lopez etc).

    Maybe federer changed his game because of the changing conditions and the general evolution of stroke production (good or bad) in other players. Federer was not the only to alter his style BTW. Just because federer is extremely successful baselineing doesn't mean he couldn't demonstrate an equal competency at net. The fact that federer is probably the best net player at the top of the game in singles today supports this fact. Keep in mind, federer had a very unstable baseline game at the start of his pro career. There were few who could predict that he would be able to beat players of the calibre of the great agassi from the baseline as his game matured - another of the most reputed practitioners of this style. Federer chose a path based changing conditions, players and styles that would have the most success.


    The above is my theory - keep in mind that just like in science we have to continually question today's ideas in order to make progress. If some new datapoints pop up that challenge my ideas - i will have to make allowances for them or perhaps scrap my theory totally. I'm not so arrogant to say that it cannot happen. But till it does, i will stick with the available data and my interpretation of it (my theory).

    the data is incomplete...i agree...but i believe that the available data supports my assertions rather than the opposite. Your sentiment even echoes as such.

    Federer has competed with the best of both styles as the game transitioned from one era to another. from the s/v sampras style..to the agassi flat ball baseline style to now the heavy spin baseline era.

    I'm not sure why you make the point that the inside out fh..especially federer's would be unsucessful. Would it be less powerful, less spin? Absolutely! But would it still be effective at opening up the court. YES! When you consider the slower pace game allowing federer to use his footspeed and athleticism to get around more balls on his favored side...federer will actually be hitting more of his preferred shots. Also, longer reaction time allows for better footwork, more precise ball contact - less mishits.

    I still do not agree with this idea that federer somehow makes TONS of unforced errors on his bh side. THe only player who has been able to exploit federer with any degree of CONSISTENCY is nadal on the bh side. This is precisely not because federer's bh is weak but it is pitted against a supreme shot - nadal's fh. nadal essentially employs the same game plan against many players on tour - federer is no different in that his bh is vulnerable just as many other players on tour. it is not purely a matchup issue! nadal is also the #2 player in the world!

    even players like andy murray, david nalbandian, andre agassi had days where their bh's were just as bad. Andy murray was doing nothing with his bh against Cilic leaving balls short to be crunched on - many many matches can be pointed at those who supposedly have the reputation of having great backhands.

    The facts however are that federer would have achieved the "impossible" if not for rafael nadal. the other players do not even enter into the equation in the biggest tournaments.
     
  3. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

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    Federer's bh would be an even more effective shot. Federer's slice is considered the best in the game today - take that shot to the slicker, more uneven, skidding surfaces of laver's heyday. With the strike zone of tennis in those days being lower, where federer prefers it..who can get the bh out of federer's strike zone?

    imagine taking other supreme shots - karlovic first serve to the fast court era of the 90's..what happens to ivo's game? transplant hewitt to the 90's era..how much success he has?

    you are right...it is speculative but there is SOME data contrary to what most believe and that is what makes this discussion fun.

    let me clarify what i mean by DATA. i think we are privileged in a way to make judgements of players today in the context of history because how much the game has changed in such a short time. from the way the ball is struck to the different hybrid styles to players that have played in the fast court era and had to adapt to the newer era of tennis. judging their success in the different eras.

    this is by no mean immune to criticism as it assumes the level of a player to be constant over a career, which it is not. but we can still gain valuable insight.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2009
  4. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    World Beater, though I have a less optimistic view than you do concerning Federer (for the reasons stated above), I think you've asked some good questions and I respect where you're coming from. There's room for debate but, for one thing, I'm leaving for a week's vacation and may not even have web access. So I'm going to find out if I can go a week without checking the boards :)

    That's one thing. But mostly, my opinion about these threads is becoming stronger all the time. They're not about Federer, nor even about Laver. They're about the OP, and getting attention. I have no desire at all to add a genuine debate into such a thread as this, and give it more attention than it's worth. Someone else can do that if they wish.
     
  5. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

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    no worries. you made some nice points and i had not replied in some time. so i just wanted to acknowledge that and perhaps give my 2cents.

    enjoy your vacation. will talk to you on TT in the future.

    Cheers!
     
  6. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    I have the same feelings.

    Many posters have been just replying to Chopin that he is a troll.
    One recent poster posted the definition of internet troll and Chopin did seem to meet most all the requirements with his Laver TW posts.

    Im really curious ???

    Chopin, do you feel you are a TW troll ?

    You have been really trying to diminish the heritage and skill level of Rod Laver against different modern players and you know this is a very sore point for the poster population that respects the history and skill level of prior tennis generations.

    Chopin, do you feel you are a TW troll ?
     
  7. mental midget

    mental midget Professional

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    for future reference, adopting the diction of a james bond super-villain is no substitute for clarity of thought.
     
  8. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    LMAO....now that was good....
     
  9. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    Agreed on the phrasing but the thought process and content reminded me of this:

    Maybe I'm off base here but both "stories" do elicit the same reaction from me.

    I also couldn't help but wonder if the need to relate each story was driven by this or something similar:



    5
     
  10. Chopin

    Chopin Hall of Fame

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    No, absolutely not. My threads usually spark thoughtful discussion. I don't aim to offend people, but to push people out of their comfort zones so they're forced to consult other viewpoints, no matter how objectionable those viewpoints may seem to them.

    One person's troll is another person's intellectual radical. To many people, I'm the latter. My viewpoints aren't popular, but as I've demonstrated time and time again, they're backed up many of the legends of the game.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2009
  11. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I see your point and concur.
     
  12. helloworld

    helloworld Hall of Fame

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    Venus will win 6-4 6-4. Are you satisfied now?
     
  13. Hypatia

    Hypatia New User

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    I seem to remember he bet her two houses she couldn’t beat Harold Solomon. Chris Evert, or Evert Lloyd back then, said that Martina would lose to the 1,000th ranked guy, never mind #100.
     
  14. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    The tennis establishment these days is seriously worried about the declining numbers of fans and interest.

    So what are they doing? Everything they can to hype and promote the game. The Fed is GOAT thing is just one prong of their hype, another is the Fed-Nadal Rivalry is the greatest rivalry ever campaign.

    It's all part of the "Don't You Want to Be Part of History--Then Watch Tennis? (and all the commercials of our sponsors) Campaign.

    Tennis broadcasting revenues were dropping pretty dramatically compared to the later 1970s-early 1980s, because viewership numbers are down. And remember, ad revenues are based on viwership numbers. Very simple.
     
  15. Chopin

    Chopin Hall of Fame

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    Maybe in the United States. Tennis is exploding internationally. It's very, very popular. Look at where players are coming from--all around the globe--even the war torn FSU states.

    I agree that certain commentators like to hype the game, but ultimately it's a pretty blanket statement to assume that all the legends of the game (who are quite well off anyways and guaranteed jobs as commentators) would say that Federer is GOAT if they didn't believe it.

    No, the only way you can explain the Federer GOAT argument, by and large, is based on Federer's historic and unrivaled accomplishments.

    I mean, come on, the guy is on the verge of winning his 16th major and holds a plethora of records.
     
  16. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Resurrected, as example.
     
  17. hcb0804

    hcb0804 Hall of Fame

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    Laver easily beats Venus
    Laver was a smart player; Venus..........no

    Laver would be just like Ashe said about McEnroe:

    "A little nick here, a little cut there, and before you know it, you've bled to death."

    Venus would have definitely been nicked and cut to death by Laver, the original slicer and dicer.
     
  18. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    you didn't read the handicaps. I would say Venus would win under these conditions.

    >>Venus Williams is being given a significant handicap in this match. She's allowed to use a graphite racquet and any modern strings, while Laver is forced to use wood. In addition, she's able to use the doubles alleys, while Laver is not. Also, she is given a 15-0 advantage in every service game, and a 30-0 advantage in every return game. The surface is hard courts.

    Who wins?<<
     
  19. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Actually, I think Laver would blast Venus off of the court!
     
  20. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Oh, well, under those conditions, Laver still wins 1-1, maybe 2-2.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  21. Chopin

    Chopin Hall of Fame

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    Excellent to see my threads getting more interest. Post on, gentlemen!
     
  22. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Those handicaps are ridiculous. Doubles alleys + graphite vs wood + 15-0 headstart on serve + 0-30 headstart on return????

    The doubles alleys handicap I saw between Kathy Horvath and Vince van Patten in the early 80s was won by Horvath (she was in the top 10 and Van Patten in the top 30, I think). The full doubles alleys advantage proved huge once Horvath began to exploit it. (Van Patten also had only one serve).
     
  23. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    Chopin - dumb as ever ...
     
  24. Chopin

    Chopin Hall of Fame

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    There, there, Joe.
     
  25. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    " ... she's able to use the doubles alleys, while Laver is not. Also, she is given a 15-0 advantage in every service game, and a 30-0 advantage in every return game ..."

    Say, can it get any dumber?
    Right.
    It can't.
     
  26. Chopin

    Chopin Hall of Fame

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    Dumber? We'd have to go to one of your Graf as "bombshell" threads. Oh, wait, they always crash, burn and get deleted!

    In the words of one former Talk Tennis poster, "ROFL."
     
  27. Chopin

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    This thread proves that certain posters will stop at nothing for their fix of Chopin. Boys, I don't care much about Laver at the moment (though note that he's losing this poll) as other triumphs have occurred in recent days.

    OK, boys, I'm off.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  28. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Chopin is the crack of TT! Wait, what? Let's try again. The opium of TT!
     
  29. THUNDERVOLLEY

    THUNDERVOLLEY G.O.A.T.

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    That much is true.
     
  30. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    I have never called Graf a "bombshell", dummy.
    Maybe some news ABOUT Graf, but not Graf herself.

    But as we are at it - why not tell us more about why Steffi Graf never won the grand slam in you twisted parallel universe ... ?
     
  31. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    There, there Chopin. Let's avoid the non sequiturs, please.
     
  32. Ramon

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    I didn't vote. I think those handicaps are ridiculous to the point that they prove nothing if they are used in any match. Even suggesting those handicaps would be an insult to Venus.
     
  33. Chopin

    Chopin Hall of Fame

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    Thanks, you have to give me that.:wink:
     
  34. Chopin

    Chopin Hall of Fame

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    Yes, you did.

    Here is the exact title of your deleted thread (Google it--it's cached, kiddo):

    "BOMBSHELL: Lovely Steffi on new YouTube clip!"

    The thread sure bombed, if that's what you really meant.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  35. THUNDERVOLLEY

    THUNDERVOLLEY G.O.A.T.

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    Owned.

    Yikes!!!
     
  36. tennytive

    tennytive Semi-Pro

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    Speakung of exact titles…

    What is v.s.? Virginia Slims?
     
  37. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    The very premise of Steffi Graf being a bombshell was so ridiculous the entire thread was deleted! Hahaha!
     

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