Does some anti clay bias make Rafa's resume seem more 1-dimensional?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by kragster, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. kragster

    kragster Hall of Fame

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    There is no denying that Rafa's skills on clay far surpass those on any other surface. However, I feel that he gets labeled as a one surface wonder even when just what he's done outside of clay should put him in the top 20 all time!

    My theory is that part of the reason for this is because prior to Fedal (and except Borg), we had somewhat of a dichotomy in the tennis world -
    1) Those who did well everywhere but clay
    2) Those who did well ONLY on clay

    So clay was almost relegated to the status of this strange surface where 'relatively' unknown dirtballers from South America and Spain would slug it out while the top guns of each era (folks like Mcenroe, becker, edberg, sampras, Connors, Agassi etc) would battle it out else where.

    Perhaps the lack of big names battling it out on clay turned off tennis viewers a bit and subconsciously folks placed less importance to RG wins. I remember that as an Edberg fan and then later a Sampras fan, I pretty much paid very little attention to the FO (until Kuerten came along).

    So my theory is that if you flipped Nadal's resume to this

    6 Wimby's
    2 FO (+ 3 Finals)
    1 AO
    1 USO

    then people would give him more credit as an all-rounder just because to a lot of folks 6 Wimby's sounds better than 6 FO's. Even though that would be the exact same resume (balance wise).
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  2. SLD76

    SLD76 Legend

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    No, then people will say he was an all time great, but a beast on grass.

    Nadal is not discounted because he is supreme on clay.
    He is a great great champion, but results show that he is the most consistent on clay.
    Only in 2010-11, has he regularly made finals outside of clay

    he is still yet to defend a title not won on clay.

    He is an all surface champ, but his greatest strength is clay
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  3. FlashFlare11

    FlashFlare11 Hall of Fame

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    I don't think it's "anti-clay bias." I'm a Federer fan and pay very close attention to the clay season, as do most avid tennis fans. Perhaps Nadal would be better regarded if he won 6 Wimbledons instead. We'll never know. But, who is Nadal almost always compared to? Federer's 6 Wimbledons, 5 US Opens, 4 Australian Opens, and 1 French look much better than 2, 1, 1, and 6. Of course, Federer has 6 more overall slams, but it still looks more well-rounded.

    Traditionally, playing on clay is so far removed when compared to the other two surfaces. Clay-courters have historically had a lot of trouble on grass and hard courts. Generally, if you were successful on grass, you were also fairly successful on hard courts also because your game didn't need as much adaptation.

    All credit to Nadal though for winning slams on hard and grass!

    PS: I personally believe Roland Garros to be the second-most prestigious slam after Wimbledon.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  4. sunof tennis

    sunof tennis Professional

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    I think you may have a point, especially in the US. Traditionally, the US has favored hard serving, with big forehands or serve and volley tennis which is obviously suited more to fast hard courts or grass than clay. Also, before the advent of the new racquets and strings, tennis on clay was, at least for me, fairly boring, because the points were so long and usually won on errors rather than winners because it was so hard to put the ball away. I do think that there is some anti-clay bias here. In other parts of the world, no.
     
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  5. tacou

    tacou Legend

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    not so sure about this, how often do you hear "half of Sampras' titles were on grass" vs. "more than half of Nadal's titles are on clay"
     
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  6. BeHappy

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    Great players of the 60's did well on everything (Laver, Roche, Rosewall)

    70's you had Borg, Vilas won the AO on grass too

    80's you have Lendl and Wilander but although they both won on the grass of the Australian Open they couldn't win at Wimbledon, although Lendl got to two finals and McEnroe got to one French Open final.

    The 90's was were it got ridiculous, although you did have Agassi winning on everything, and Courier getting to one Wimbledon final, there were a whole host of surface specialists.

    Into the 2000's and Nadal really was a stereotypicalspecialist clay courter for most of his career, he really fluked his way to that 2007 Wimbledon final. It was only in 2008 when he stopped losing to journeymen (and spectacularly so!), although I feel his claycourt game has never reached his old level again.

    So really, I think that it's fair to say that Nadal's wins have been very one dimensional so far, but he's very rapidly started fixing that in the last few years.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  7. OddJack

    OddJack Legend

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    Interesting thought and I agree that

    6 Wimby's
    2 FO (+ 3 Finals)
    1 AO
    1 USO

    Looks better than what he has now.

    Why? For me because Clay is more brawn than brain. It's your power and stamina that wins the dirt and less your skills.

    Look at Sod who both his GS finals were on clay. What's the guy known for? Drop shots? half volleys? Variety?
    Power.

    It's true, as much as ********* will hate to admit. Clay is where Nadal's bulging muscles can do the most damage.

    And that's why I believe THIS djoker would not have beaten him in 2008 or 2010.
     
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  8. nadalwon2012

    nadalwon2012 Banned

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    Nadal is unlucky that only one of the 4 slams are played on clay. Imagine if 2 of the 4 slams were on clay, as is the current situation with hardcourt....and when Laver won the Calendar Year Grand Slam 2 years in a row none of those 8 slam victories were on hardcourt. 2 of them were on clay and 6 of them were on grass. Over the long history of tennis, hardcourt is the greatest imposter.
     
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  9. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    C'mon, If clay is all brawn, then what would you call the grass of the 90s? You really think Ivanisevic was using a lot of brain power when he was serving bombs at wimbledon in the 90s?
     
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  10. SLD76

    SLD76 Legend

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    again, sampras has what, 3-4 USO?

    if sampras had say 8 W, and one each of USO or AO, it may the case of calling him a grass beast.

    as it is, he is regarded as a fast court specialist who did not have the game for clay.
     
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  11. OddJack

    OddJack Legend

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    First, I didnt say its "all brawn". It's obviously not.

    Second, A good serves takes more skills than it takes muscle power. If you drop so many bombs you either shoot from atop of a tree (Isner) or very skillfull.
    How come Nadal cant drop bombs?
     
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  12. FlashFlare11

    FlashFlare11 Hall of Fame

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    Nadal is not "unlucky" that 2 of the 4 slams are played on hard court. It is his and his coach's fault for developing a playing style that is most potent on one surface when knowing that hard courts dominate the tour. The player is supposed to adapt to the tour and conditions, not the other way around. Hard court is not a pretender, it is the equalizer.
     
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  13. DjokovicForTheWin

    DjokovicForTheWin Banned

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    You have to admit, Wimbledon is generally regarded as more prestigious that FO. That's the only reason 6 W > 6 FO.
     
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  14. kragster

    kragster Hall of Fame

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    I think that as the mix of surfaces changes in the calendar year, the competition on those surfaces changes proportionally to adapt. The only case where that doesn't work is if there is an abrupt change in surfaces and the competition doesn't have the time to adapt.

    For example, right now hard courts are 2/3 of the season. Hence more people practice on HC, hence competition is better on HC. Thus the larger number of opportunities is compensated for by the fact that each opportunity is harder to convert. However if tomorrow they decided to make 3 slams grass, then you will suddenly see a disproportionate number of big servers in the top 10.

    Mathematically:

    Number of Clay Slams won (x) = Probability of winning Clay Slam (p)* Number of Clay Slam opportunities (N) = pN

    Since we have twice the number of HC slams but each slam has twice the competition

    Number of HC slams won (y) = Probability of winning Hard court Slam (0.5p) * Number of HC slams (2N) = 0.5p*2N = pN

    So basically it kind of works out to be the same!
     
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  15. fed_rulz

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    And that's about it -- if you have good serving skills (esp. on 90s grass), you really don't need to be as skillful as you need to be on clay to win points.

    tell me which surface required more "point construction" -- is it clay or the grass of 90s? My point was there wasn't a whole lot of brain power involved in the serving contests of the 90s; it requires more brain power (point construction) on clay than brawn. Someone like Nadal is blessed with both.
     
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  16. pound cat

    pound cat G.O.A.T.

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    Unfortunately for Nadal his one and only coach knew clay. But the fact that Nadal hs won tennis on the 3 other surfaces says

    Uncle Toni studied the other surfaces and coached Nadal how to play on them.

    Or

    Nadal's innate tennis skills, athleticism, aptitude, and determination allow him to excel on all surfaces even though he may favour one.

    Nadal is multi - dimensional not only in tennis but also in other sports such as Golf and Soccer.

    Either scenario is sheer brilliance.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  17. DeShaun

    DeShaun Banned

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    I suppose that the racquet skills needed for playing attacking tennis at the very highest level are more difficult to attain than those skills needed for playing upper eschelon-defensive tennis, and therein may lie the bias against the dirtballers who are in great physical shape and who play smart, patient tennis but are, perhaps as a group, not as technically skilled with a racquet as their attacking counterparts.
     
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  18. kragster

    kragster Hall of Fame

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    I think you are entitled to feel that way but its a little naive to dismiss clay court tennis as a game decided by stamina. I think there are lots of better athletes than Nadal who haven't won on clay. I think clay is about point construction and willingness to deal small blows rather than going for the knockout. It's like Rocky vs Apollo Creed (you keep taking punches until you find a good opportunity and then go for a punch).

    I think you should check the unforced error % for clay vs HC. IF it is very significantly higher, then you may have a point. But I don't believe it is.

    Also I think the very definition of a 'sport' is that things like endurance and power come into play. That's why so many people dismiss golf!
     
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  19. FlashFlare11

    FlashFlare11 Hall of Fame

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    I agree fully. I just totally disagree with the notion that Nadal's relative lackluster results on hard courts couldn't be helped. It was fully in his or Toni's control on how to develop Nadal's game. They chose to make it more suitable to clay than hard, and that is why Nadal isn't as successful on the surface. Nothing about it was out of Nadal or Toni's control.
     
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  20. pound cat

    pound cat G.O.A.T.

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    They both grew up in Majorca...and all they know is clay...you go with what you know. But when you play pro tennis you learn to accomodate your tennis to whatever the ATP tournaments play on which players have learned ot do. No such things as clay court specialists anymore. They are all multidimensional, and good players succeed on any surface.
     
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  21. fed_rulz

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    I agree with you overall, but the 90s servefests disproves your generalization? there was rarely any display of skill that "wowed" the public, that the grass and balls were changed to make the game more palatable to the general public.

    But yes, in general, grass court tennis required a lot of skill before and after the 90s decade.
     
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  22. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Nadal won like 90% on clay including 14 MS, never defend non-clay title, hold a record of 81 straight win on clay. I think you should convert everything he's done on clay to grass too, not just slam titles.
     
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  23. ultradr

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    ALL of current top players are 1-dimensional period: You have to be good
    at your baseline game.
     
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  24. Clarky21

    Clarky21 Banned

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    You better hold onto your a** because the I can feel the earth moving from the stampede of *******s that are going to bombard you for this comment. :shock:
     
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  25. OddJack

    OddJack Legend

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    Duplicate, deleted.
     
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  26. OddJack

    OddJack Legend

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    I believe you both are biased, hence your comments regarding the way you throw this " point construction" into the mix.

    You both assume simply because the rallies are longer on clay then there got to be more "point construction" involved. As if serve and volley, a two strike point, is not point construction.

    If you, for a moment, remove this bias eyeglasses that blur you vision, you will note that, point construction is key in all three surfaces but what makes clay different, obviously, is the speed of the court and that where more power and spin behind the ball makes all the difference. I can show you numerous of what you call " Point Construcion" by Nadal in all three surfaces and they all look the same, and you know what it is.

    What you really want to believe is that "Rallies are longer, therefore there is more point construction" but what you are really looking at is the same point construction repeated 2-3 times more for a point, that would be shorter on any other surface for the same point.

    It is naive to believe Nadal is winning caly because of point construction, unless you want to factor in his muscle power and strong legs into this "point construction".
     
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  27. kishnabe

    kishnabe G.O.A.T.

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    I don't think his resume is one dimensional. After reaching his 2nd Wimbledon final in 2007..... all thought of him being just a clay courter was demolished. 2006 seemed like a fluke....!

    Adding 2 Wimbledons, Australian and US open changed all that. He did way better than any other clay court specialist who won RG!
     
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  28. Clay lover

    Clay lover Hall of Fame

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    I think more people are biased against Nadal than they are biased against clay.
     
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  29. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Both of Lendl's Australian Open titles were on Rebound Ace hardcourt.
     
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  30. Crisstti

    Crisstti Legend

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    I don't think anyone other than Rafa "hating" Fed fans ever say that ;).

    This.

    Well, Rafa has the game for every surface (for some more than for others, of course).

    This.

    I don't think a player can control that sort of thing to such a degree. Especially if they grew up playing on a certain surface.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  31. FlashFlare11

    FlashFlare11 Hall of Fame

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    Perhaps in other cases, this may be out of a player's control. But look at how unorthodox Nadal's game is. His game takes the clay advantage to a competely different level. His game isn't even natural for him. That Toni and Rafael went so out of their way to develop such a game shows that they weren't totally thinking of the entire tour. Nadal's success on hard courts is a testament to his talent and sheer determination, but the style of play he was brought up on was and will probably continue to be more of a detriment on hard courts than an advantage.
     
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  32. OddJack

    OddJack Legend

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    This

    This
     
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  33. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    1. reg bias -- the same thing applies to you as well.
    2. I really don't see any point construction in serve fests. Grass court tennis pre-90s & post 2000s did require "point construction", but you are on thin ice if you want to argue that one/two-shot tennis is all about point construction.
    3. Why do you bring in Nadal? I never said Nadal was winning it solely due to point construction; you made a comment about clay court tennis in general.
    4. You admit it was point construction 2-3 times over in clay courts. Even if the strategy is the same (and this applies only to Nadal), you cannot really generalize that all clay courters have just one strategy that they use over and over again.

    I think you need to follow your own advice and remove your tinted glasses.
     
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  34. nadalwon2012

    nadalwon2012 Banned

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    Nadal is the GOAT of clay (and the defending RG champion) having won 78 of his 79 best-of-5 set matches on clay and 6 Roland Garros titles. Surely nobody expects him to be GOAT of another surface. 2 Wimbledons and a great chance at more (having made the 2011 Wimbledon final), and winning the AO and USO and making the last 2 USO finals. And did I mention he's only 25? He's making grass and hardcourt slam finals in the current calendar year, bound to win more of those slams. Good luck finding negatives in that record....
     
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  35. sbengte

    sbengte Legend

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    Which world do you live in ? The Universal law of Tio states that the tour and the conditions are supposed to adapt to Ralph , as in more clay court tournaments, easier schedule, two year ranking system etc
     
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  36. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    This is pretty funny.

    Do you think the ballbashing that goes on HC requires some higher brain power? Or servefests on grass(old grass)?

    Soderling made finals in RG because he has powerful strokes that can hit through the court even on clay and RG has gotten faster over the years. Soderling was also one match away from making SF in USO and WB, does this say something about those courts as well?

    Coming back to clay, it's actually one of the few surfaces that forces you to think about moving your opponent around while gauging your own fatigue level. I'm not the first to call it chess on a tennis court but that's what it looks like many times. On traditional clay it's almost impossible to hit through your opponent so you have to plan things a bit.

    And there is no anticlay bias outside of US. Only USA treats clay as a second rate surface(heck, roddick skips most european clay events and it is a wonder when he lasts more than 2-3 rounds in RG) and that's because it had 2-3 players that did any good on this surface in the last 20 years. Considering the fact that USA dominated the last 2 decades in tennis overall, this "anticlay" bit came into focus more(especially with Sampras's bad results in RG) but it is still empty rhetoric for anyone that knows the history of the game.
     
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  37. nadalwon2012

    nadalwon2012 Banned

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    There is no doubt, the big-serving surfaces require less tactical knowledge than clay. Grass too, considering its all about big serves and big returns. Clay is all about point construction without blasting clean winners or aces.
     
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  38. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    And we have a winner.
     
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  39. nadalwon2012

    nadalwon2012 Banned

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    It's probably all about the American fans then, or British, both of whom never have success on clay with their guys (except for Murray in 2011 and America no success since Agassi in 1999 lol).
     
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  40. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    Wimbledon is regarded as the most prestigious event in tennis, not just against RG. Nothing can compare to it.

    A better discussion would be RG versus AO versus USO.
     
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  41. namelessone

    namelessone Legend

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    So tennis had no equalizer until the mid 1980's despite being played since 1870's? :)

    Poor tennis... :(

    If you wanna talk about a equalizer, let's talk about clay. It basically takes ballbashing and big serving out of the equation and turns it into a strictly baseline battle.
     
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  42. nadalwon2012

    nadalwon2012 Banned

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    Hardcourt is an equalizer, it allows the tactically not so smart players to do better than they would on clay. Although its not good for tennis to give the dumb players an easy way out. The guys that grew up on clay are generally the more intelligent players on tour. Everybody should get their game working on clay, because it improves them as thinking tennis players.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
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  43. FlashFlare11

    FlashFlare11 Hall of Fame

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    Hard court plays faster than clay and slower than traditional Wimbledon grass. The serve is much more neutralized on hard than on grass, though not as much as on clay. You can hang around or behind the baseline all day, but you can see how well that has worked for certain players. Serve-and-volley isn't as effective either. You need all these parts to do well on hard. In other words, you need variety.
     
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  44. nadalwon2012

    nadalwon2012 Banned

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    You only need a big serve and big forehand to do well on hardcourt, actually. See Berdych (a renowned unintelligent player I might add).
     
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  45. Talker

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    Nadal's resume is filled with other clay titles besides slams so he does look 1D pretty much.

    Some slams may be more prestigious to some like Wimbledon but the French Open is very special also in what it takes to win there.
    I personally admire that kind of physical challenge.
     
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  46. nadalwon2012

    nadalwon2012 Banned

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    Federer's masters shields look one dimensional, nearly all of them are on hardcourt. Nadal has some Indian Wells titles don't forget.
     
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  47. FlashFlare11

    FlashFlare11 Hall of Fame

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    Federer has clay Masters titles as well. He would probably have more if there was a grass Masters.
     
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  48. nadalwon2012

    nadalwon2012 Banned

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    Not many. It's even, except Nadal has more masters shields and on the way to about 25 or 30 of them if his clay dominance continues. Nadal racked his up with clay, and Federer racked his up with hardcourt.
     
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  49. FlashFlare11

    FlashFlare11 Hall of Fame

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    Nadal getting to 30 Masters titles? There are 3 clay Masters events a year. This means Nadal would have to win every clay Masters event for the next 9 years and even then he'd only be at 28.
     
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  50. TTMR

    TTMR Hall of Fame

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    Maybe, but clay is a third rate surface anyway*. Only animals slop around in the dirt.


    *2009 excepted
     
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