Greatest Forehands of All Time

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by hoodjem, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Lots of talk about volleys, backhands, groundstrokes in general, etc. On another post, 35ft6 was saying that Fed definitely had one of the five best forehands of all time, I agreed with him.

    So here we go--
    1. Federer
    2. Segura
    3. Lendl
    4. Sampras
    5. Borg
    6. Nadal
    7. Laver
    8. Agassi
    9. Courier
    10. Cochet
    11. Tilden
    12. Perry
    13. Budge
    14. Santana
    15. Okker
    16. Johnston
    17. Nastase
    18. Vines
    19. Gonzales
    20. Kramer
    21. Becker
    22. Safin
    23. del Potro
    24. Blake
    25. Moya
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
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  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Excellent list. I would put Borg's, Fred Perry's, John Newcombe, Nastase and Tilden up there also. I would think Borg's has to be in consideration for number one since he won on clay and grass with that stroke as the better of his two sides.

    I'm glad you put Segura up there since a lot of people think it was the greatest single shot in the history of tennis.

    I may move Lendl ahead of Sampras since it was a most consistent shot and they were close in pure power. Sampras' forehand was pretty awesome however.
     
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  3. President

    President Legend

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    I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure 35ft6 was talking about Nadal having one of the top 5 forehands of all time. Here is the post:

    It could be that its a different thread you are speaking of. If so, my apologies. Anyway, I think this is a good thread. I am inexperienced compared to many posters here, but I'm wondering why you have James Blake's forehand up there, particularly over Del Potro's. They have comparable power, but Blake's is much more prone to error. Obviously, Del Potro has achieved a lot more, despite being significantly younger.
     
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  4. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    umm, laver over lendl, nadal, agassi, courier ?????

    safin over agassi ????? when on, it was better, but consistency wise, it surely isn't up there
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
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  5. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    top 5

    federer
    lendl
    nadal
    courier
    agassi
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
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  6. martini1

    martini1 Hall of Fame

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    This has to be categorized by era. The modern racket since the late 90's has changed the fh very much. Nadal's heavy top spin fh for example can't really be compared to players from the 80's because they can't be done in such way (or vice versa).

    Federer for sure will top my list on the best forehand.
    On Power (hard court) I will pick Safin, Gonzo, and Delpo.
    Rafa is up there but I have some reserve since his lost to Soderling in RG. But it could be just an off day...
     
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  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Laver had an excellent forehand but his backhand was deadlier, and it's hard to see how his FH could go over other guys who were known for their forehands, eg, Sampras, Lendl, Nadal, Borg, Agassi. Pete's FH was not the single best thing in his game (his serve was) but it was a feared stroke that people consistently tried to stay away from; and for the other guys (the baseliners) their FH was their bread-and-butter weapon.
     
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  8. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    that's a very nice point; on any surface it was a weapon, but on clay it was even stronger.

    Agree with that too.
     
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  9. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Cochet and Perry were the first with court opening forehands. Perry modelled his forehand after Cochet, because it was hit so early and close to the ground. Vines had the hardest, big swinging forehand pre WWII. An Aussie with a big forehand was Ken Fletcher. Two of the best topspin forehands were those of Santana and Okker. Santana could hit a forehand in more than 35 ways, as John McPhee once noted. Okker's forehand was hailed by Fred Perry. It was coached by an Indonesian tennis coach, hit from the wrong foot and very flashy and deceptive. Okker was also very mobile and dangerous on the run.
     
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  10. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    In the open era, I will list Lendl's forehand as the best ever over Federer and Sampras.

    Lendl has a more consistent forehand than Pete and is at least as powerful as Pete's.

    Compared with Federer, I think Lendl hits it with more power and still not losing in the consistency department.

    Federer at times can be overpowered by other big guns even in the forehand side. For example overpowered by Del po in this US Open. Lendl however is rarely overpowered in the forehand rallies.
     
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  11. martini1

    martini1 Hall of Fame

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    I think in order to be the "best", there's more than just power and consistency. They are important but Fed's liquid whip can hit ball pretty much anywhere he wants (most of the time) and it is very efficient. This is the forehand to be learned by juniors and the generation to come.

    Delpo's fh is very powerful but he still has a lot to learn on perfecting it. He is still a little predictable and the running fh doesn't stand out as one of the best in tour, yet.

    Again, in Lendl era there weren't too many 6'4" 6'6" 200+lb power baseliners with the rackets we see today. I think even Lendl in prime would have the chance of being over powered by the big guys or be constantly on the run by those 3000rpm top spin ground strokes.
     
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  12. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    In terms of extreme power, one should not forget (in no particular order):
    1.Flipper (the most powerful groundstrokes of any era)
    2.Berasetegui -the hardest pound for pound? Maybe the hardest period.
    3.Mancini
    4.Bruguera (as much spin and racquet speed off the forehand as Nadal)
    5.Korda (the only player I remember who would hit SURE cold winners off the forehand and backhand, because he had racquet speed equal to the most powerful players of all time, great timing, and would hit it flat!)
    6.El Aynaoui/Krickstein/Courier - short backswings, economical, built entire game around
    9.Larsson - a little like Del Potro, with every bit as much power, though he moved horribly! lol
    10.Soderling/johansson
     
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  13. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Now I know it was an exhibition but when I saw the Federer against Sampras matches a couple of years ago I got the impression that Sampras' forehand was more penetrating just in general than Federer's. I don't think it was a better forehand but I did believe it was more penetrating. Pete's was flatter and he hurt Federer often with his forehand.
     
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  14. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    It is. There is no question I think. Sampras' forhand is flatter and more penetrating, (not "flat", he can add as much spin as he likes), whereas Federer's has more spin. Federer produces that with a faster swing, and presumably, a lighter racquet, Sampras uses a heavy racquet and swings through the ball more, with a more controlled swing. Pros and cons to both.

    On a side note, this is something a lot of posters don't notice/realize, about many of the older players. Their power is deceptive becuase they dont' appear to be flailing as hard, but the combination of heavy racquets and clean striking produces fantastic power. This was certainly also true about the old wood days, so, a young poster, or a non-high level player sees that and thinks, hey, they aren't swinging that hard! But the truth is, they can POUND the ball with that swing. And it's much harder than it appears, as TV is deceptive that way. A lot of what the average fan/poster uses to judge power is actually, in a way, theatrics!
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
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  15. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks to everyone. Lots of excellent opinons evinced. (I had not realized how little I knew about the great forehands of the game.) Thank you everyone. Keep 'em coming.

    (Many edits made.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
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  16. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I don't disagree but simply offer a different interpretation of Laver's forehand. Yes, the backhand may have been deadlier, but that doesn't make the forehand weaker, only by comparison was it less feared. I regard Laver's forehand as similar to Nadal's: huge lefty power, flat drive or lots of topspin, deep to the corners when wanted or sharply angled when necessary.
     
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  17. martini1

    martini1 Hall of Fame

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    Are we slightly going off rail here from "greatest fh" to "most powerful fh"??? Cuz one is just a subset of the other.
     
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  18. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    alex clayton
     
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  19. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I like this description of Laver's forehand by Julius Heldman-"From the ground, about the only shot that Rod does not clobber is a forehand underspin or chip. I don't recall his using the shot much or at all when he was younger, but as he matured he began occasionally to hold the ball on his racket with some underspin and place it carefully while he ran for the net. But the next time he would literally jump and throw his racket at the ball with all the force he could muster, wrist and arms snapping over at the hit. The shot is unreturnable. It always ends the point, one way or the other, and you can never predict when the lightning will strike, although you know it will be often." The area in bold sounds pretty awesome to me. I think Laver could hit the ball pretty hard. lol.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
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  20. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Hoodjem,

    Great that you have Tom Okker there on the list. His forehand was very unique and a great weapon. Arthur Ashe used to write that for a period of time every year, Tom Okker would become the best player in the world. A great talent and it's a shame he never won a major. He won a lot of tournaments and he's better than many that won majors.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
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  21. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Sue Barker for the womens:)
     
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  22. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Okker won 30 total singles titles, and rose to no. 3 in the world in 1974. He beat Laver at Queen's Club in 1968 on grass. Not too shabby. (He was actually ranked no. 1 in doubles for a time in 1979.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
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  23. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near Talk Tennis Guru

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    Relax folks, ...
    At it's best, Federer's forehand was an irresistible force and the most potent forehand I have ever seen. It is quite clear to me that it is substantially superior to the Sampras forehand. As for Lendl, I simply haven't seen enough of him but to be sure his forehand looks powerful, consistent and also versatile, though even from the little I have seen it does not look to be the potent whirlwind that Federer's was/is. As for Segura, I can only go by what I have read really, in that his shot has been considered by some to be the best shot in the history of the sport.

    It is pretty hard to argue with Federer winning 15 slams (and counting perhaps) with the forehand being his biggest and best weapon. The discrepancy between him and Lendl to me seems too great to place Lendl above Federer in this list. To be sure on that inference I really do need to see a bit more of Lendl's forehand though.
     
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  24. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near Talk Tennis Guru

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    Relax folks, ...
    *The discrepancy between Federer and Lendl in terms of their final majors count*
     
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  25. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    One thing I should mention is that while total majors is a very important factor in determining greatness, it isn't the end all so while there is a gap in total majors between Lendl and Federer, there is also a gap with total tournaments won, unofficially Lendl won around 140 plus tournaments in his great career and his lifetime winning percentage was even higher than Federer's is now.

    Both have great forehands and clearly their forehands were their best side but you cannot necessarily assume if a player has a better record that they may automatically have a better forehand.
     
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  26. Cesc Fabregas

    Cesc Fabregas Legend

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    Open era.

    1.Federer
    2.Lendl
    3.Sampras
    4.Nadal
    5.Courier
     
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  27. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I'd say it's nearly irrelevent. It's a weak correlation at best. To present that as the basis for one's reasoning.....what can be said?
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
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  28. AndyArodRoddick

    AndyArodRoddick Professional

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    yap, maybe i would change Courier, but the other 4 are good for me.
     
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  29. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    Id have Jimmy Arias in there for sure, his forehand with the old wooden racquet was something
     
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  30. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Yes, and Aaron Krickstein.
     
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  31. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I partly blame Arias and Krickstein (among others) for the present malaise of slugfests.
     
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  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think you can blame racket and string technology plus coaches like Nick Bollettieri.
     
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  33. teachingprotx

    teachingprotx Rookie

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    Boris Becker had the best looking on the run down the line FH. the way he could "bend it" like a bowler back around and into the court was pure poetry
     
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  34. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Absolutely!

    Borg, Lendl, Arias, Bollettieri, graphite, Luxilon, Courier.
     
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  35. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near Talk Tennis Guru

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    Relax folks, ...
    Of course, I already know this. I could have made a very long post detailing all sorts of potential bargaining points and it definitely isn't the be all and end all. However, I find it to be the most telling statistic between the two player and in a tie-break situation, so to speak, I find it to be the real clincher based on what i've seen, their successes and how much of their success came through their forehand. I already admitted that I could do with seeing more Lendl so it isn't like this opinion is set in stone and won't be reconsidered.

    I can't really comment at all on tournaments won other than there has been a trend in top players winning less overall tournies by the time their careers are over. Why is this? The physicality of the game? Less tournies entered? To analyze every single aspect would be extremely complicated, although hugely interesting.

    Anyway, I definitely don't see my reasoning as being unreasonable at all in the way that Datacipher seems to be implying it is. All of these things hold relevance and some aspects may hold rather significant relevance.

    ***

    Also, to you and anybody else, can you think of some of the greatest 'forehand' performances in tennis? One that comes to mind for me was Federer beating Hewitt at the US Open 2004.

    It would be good to define some of these performances from the likes of Lendl, Segura, Sampras etc and to maybe even show highlights of the matches. Unfortunately, I can't help so much here so it would be cool if folks who have heaps of videos and such would perhaps provide highlights.

    Right on.
     
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  36. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Well you are entitled to reason as you please, but I find it....unfathomable. There are millions MILLIONS of factors that go into winning a slam, on and OFF court. Even if we reduce the millions of off court reasons, we are left with innumerable on court reasons, opponents, draw, strategy, fitness.....if we eliminate all of those, and only think of strokes...well the forehand still wouldn't be at the top of the list. To say that this is a relevent factor in judging Federer's forehand as superior to Lendl's.....well...wow...

    Would you judge Edberg's serve as superior to Stich or Krajicek? Would you judge Federer's serve as superior to Ivanisevic's? Would you judge Federer's volleys as superior to Mcenroe's? Is Sampras fitter than Lendl?

    Slams won is REALLY not a relevent factor on which to base any of these judgments. In the case of many of strokes (while posters nominations seem limited to slam winners), it is quite possible, and in many cases, likely, that some journeymen are in fact in the top 5.

    I believe that you are looking at an area of comparison (slams won), which happens to coinicide with your opinon in the comparison of interest (forehand) and have irrationally decided to use the former to support the latter. I'd also suggest that your other self-directed suggestion (that you need to see some more of Lendl's forehand) would be far more fruitful in making your judgement!
     
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  37. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I think this is a bit tricky to determine. In men's tennis, it's hard to have a dominating performance with only a forehand. The men are too good and too capable of keeping it away from your forehand, unles you can set it up with, for example, the serve. So usually the greatest one-sided performances were more than just the forehand, and perhaps the best forehand-only performances might be close matches or even losses. However, if you want to talk about Hewitt, I recall one match at the AO in which El Aynaoui tore him apart with the forehand, I think the forehand by itself was much more devastating than Federer's at the 04 open, though it is really difficult to say, and I'd have to go back and watch the matches again. Another one that jumps to mind is Berastegui beating Agassi, largely with his killer forehand. That isn't easy to do with Agassi's control off the ground.
     
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  38. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Somebody posted this match on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NflgNYKfCDM&feature=related

    You can get a bit of a taste of the Alberto's forehand, and why it was so feared even though he was a tiny guy. What I think is also signficant about Alberto's forehand, and one of the primary reasons it might have been a bigger weapon than Federer or many other great forehands is that he often hit it VERY deep. It is also striking to see how even the 1998 Agassi, who was not as quick as the 1988 Agassi, was SO much quicker than he was in his last few years.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
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  39. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    We have some stats in chart form: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=194913.

    Andreev defeating Roddick hit an average of 1 forehand winner per game, can't recall if we ever found a higher rate.

    One that I've learned of since then is Lendl in the 1987 Masters final over Wilander: 18 forehand winners over 25 games, per the New York Times (I haven't found a copy of that match anywhere to confirm the number).
     
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  40. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near Talk Tennis Guru

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    Relax folks, ...
    Yes, there are millions of factors or whatever. I don't find your argument compelling here because none of those are tie-break situations. Goran's serve is clearly (to most) better than Federer's and McEnroe's volleys are clearly superior. In the case of a tie-break - which the debate about Federer's and Lendl's forehand more or less is - I will use such a factor to determine the likely hierarchy, and it is the slam count that I find to be the most compelling tie-breaker breaker, so to speak.

    Pc1 mentioned some other possible aspects to consider that I also find compelling, such as overall tournaments won and winning percentage and such. Even all of these though have a zillion other contributing factors, of which I have never denied.

    I definitely feel that discussions on such things do become relevant in the case of such a tie-breaker, even if ultimately actually 'judging' the parameters is still extremely difficult.

    I have only seen a few hours of Lendl, and looking at the forehands side by side I feel Federer's was a little better; I feel he can do more with it. However I did not try to analyze this shot by shot and sort of put a tick to each new type of general forehand stroke each can produce. But then there is a big problem of gauging how big a difference technology has had, the eras, the players, court speeds, etc. It is all incredibly difficult to judge with certainty.

    As for the italics; No. There is no confirmation bias here and I didn't actively look to seek out some statistic that bends the way of the word to favour one player in some sort of crude act of subjectivity. Plainly speaking it is the stat that compelled me the most and would have done regardless of if I was a bigger fan of Lendl than I am Federer or loved Lendl and hated fated, and such, etc.
     
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  41. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near Talk Tennis Guru

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    Relax folks, ...
    Hmm, this is interesting and thanks. Are there any plans for analyzing more matches? Work loads could be rationed.
     
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  42. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I can't confirm, but I think Berastegui may have hit 32 FH winners in 44 games with Agassi which would be 2nd on your chart. You may also want to look at some of Gonzalez matches....I know he has come close to 1 FH winner per game. He once hit about 18 FH winners in around 22 games.
     
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  43. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near Talk Tennis Guru

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    Relax folks, ...
    I can't edit posts yet which is a bit annoying. Is it a privilege that is only granted when one has made it out of Noobcity? Or am I missing an obvious trick...

    Yeah; one more thing to add. Absolutely I must see more of Lendl. My suggestions at the moment are only provisional in my mind. I don't claim I am absolutely correct, but only that my reasoning isn't some kind of illegal stupid. =P

    I especially look forward to watching many decades of tennis, and to understand what it feels like to keep a vigilant eye on the whole landscape and context of tennis. I think there is something to be said for actually living through eras and actively experiencing the whole context and 'aura' of the landscape in realtime.

    Cheers.
     
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  44. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    It's true in general today's players hit with more speed from baseline than Lendl's era with the help of the much improved racket technology.

    However if Lendl competes today he can benefit from the new technology and sport science as well. Even with only the old rackets he already can hit bigger forehand than most of the present players. Now if we give him a modern racket, I can't image how strong and explosive his forehand would be if he was still young and fit. He will be able to control the ball much easier with modern racket as well.


    If Lendl competes today, yes he will face more big guns than before, however, the power of his strokes themselves will increase to another level by the help of modern technology. His forehand can be even more devastating and even more accurate.

    Now image if Federer hits forehand with an old Lendl's racket. How good would he be? Would he still be able to make all the shots with no help from today's racket? I seriously doubt.

    My conclusion, with modern new racket, Lendl will have even more lethal and powerful forehand with amazing accuracy. I think it would be a better forehand than Federer's.
     
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  45. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Two of us on this board are still getting stats for matches -- winners, unforced errors, service percentages, etc. Those charts were a byproduct of that effort, not the goal, though they were nice to have (and I haven't updated them in a long time). There are no fixed plans, we just do whatever matches spark an interest or a particular question.
     
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  46. Fedchamp

    Fedchamp Semi-Pro

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    IMO modern day forehands ie in the last 20 years are more powerful. I recently watched video of Sampras vs Lendl and Sampras' forehand was noticeably more powerful. Lendl and all the players of his generation and before all had more compact swings. He abbreviated his follow through and had less racquet speed than modern players. I think in terms of pure power , Sampras had the biggest forehand.
     
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  47. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    #47
  48. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    We do have one rate higher than Adreev's: Nadal had 23 forehand winners in 22 games over Roddick at Queens: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=204088.

    That's a best-two-of-three and not the greatest sample, but still, 22 games is long enough to be a blowout match in a best-of-five.
     
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  49. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    5,639
    #49
  50. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,442
    Lendl in his later years tended to temporize on his forehand. He was comparable of hitting much harder. That being said, Sampras' forehand is one of the hardest hit forehands I've seen. It may have been exhibitions but in the Sampras against Federer matches a few years ago, Pete's forehand was also in my opinion noticeably more powerful than Federer's.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
    #50

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