Greatest Player Ever ... vs. the Greatest Talent

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by byealmeens, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. byealmeens

    byealmeens Semi-Pro

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    Is Novak Djokovic the most talented player of all time? In other words, does he possess the best skill set? I am a Federer fan and feel he is the greatest “player” ever, due to his success in slams, time spent at #1, and amazing consistency and longevity. I also feel Federer is a better tactician, and structures points a bit better. However, I’m starting to believe Novak may be a bit more “skilled”, overall. In my opinion, he has the best return of serve ever, is the best athlete (some of the most incredible movement I’ve ever seen), best combination of defense and offense (better than Nadal), and quite possibly the best ground game overall (combining forehand and backhand). His serve may not be the best, but is certainly one of best and though his volleys may not compare to Rafter or Edberg, they are some of the best of his generation (as good Federer). I do think Roger has the greatest forehand of all time, maybe a little better serve when he’s on, but with everything else it seems Novak has the edge.

    Now I realize Roger can still beat Novak, and certainly has achieved a lot more. I also agree that Roger has improved … his backhand is quite possibly better than ever. I’m sure one could also argue that everything is relative … that he was as good as he needed to be in his prime but could have been even better. But based on what we’ve seen, and what we know today, does Novak possess slightly better tennis skill? Just curious ... would love to hear from other Federer fans in particular.
     
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  2. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    I always felt Federer is the most naturally talented player of my lifetime. Mecir, Stich, Agassi, Edberg (sans the forehand :p), Djokovic, and especially McEnroe and a couple others are comparable but I think Fed takes the cake there (just for me, of the players I've seen).
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
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  3. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

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    Skill vs Talent

    Skill is not the same as Talent.

    Skill is Talent that has been honed by repetition

    People try to say Nadal doesn't have any talent, but he sure has a hell of a lot of skill in putting the ball wherever he wants it to be.
     
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  4. _craze

    _craze New User

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    People try to say Nadal doesn't have any talent

    Who says Nadal doesn't have any talent?
     
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  5. NadalDramaQueen

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    Clarky.

    I've always thought Federer and perhaps even Murray were more talented than Djoker.
     
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  6. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    Greatest Ever: Laver or Pancho

    Greatest talent: McEnroe


    Who else could be all drugged up, go through multiple divorces, and have all those personal problem yet have as much success as Mac did
     
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  7. Cesc Fabregas

    Cesc Fabregas Legend

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    He didn't win any slams after those problems.
     
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  8. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    To me both of the criteria are satisfied by Federer. McEnroe, very talented but why so many rate him as having so much talent? Divine volleys and touch, but that's only one aspect of the game. He lacked power and groundstrokes.
     
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  9. ultradr

    ultradr Hall of Fame

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    Hmm, +1.

    It's possible that Pancho was better than Laver.

    McEnroe at the age of 50+, makes me wonder how he does what he does....
     
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  10. tennisaddict

    tennisaddict G.O.A.T.

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    I suggest OP watch some Fed matches from 2004-07. Fed did not have the backhand he has today, but his movement, forehand, serve , mental strength were lethal and THE best of all time. That is the sole reason he has 17 slams. It doesnt come by just being a good player. He did not need the defense of Nadal or Djokovic , as his game is built on offense.
     
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  11. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    Definitely not. Djokovic is an exceptional grinder. He probably has the best defence ever, along with Nadal, and is a very solid player, but he is not a wizard with the racket. His game is more meat and potatoes than haute cuisine, but he is very good at what he does.
     
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  12. DropShotArtist

    DropShotArtist Banned

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    Anyone with half a brain knows Federer is both the greatest player and greatest talent ever. Only a Fed hater would think or say otherwise.

    That being said the only talent that would come close is McEnroe, but he still lags quite a bit behind what Fed is capable of doing.

    Djokovic is not in the same plane as Roger with respect to talent. Even as an older player now with much slower movement and terrible consistency he can beat the best Djokovic has to offer.
     
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  13. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    Djokovic is definitely not the most talented player, but what he's done is combine the strengths of both Fed and Nadal whilst eliminating any of their faults / weaknesses.
    For example just look closely at his forehand, it's semi whippy like Nadal which gives him bounce off the court but combined with the aggressiveness of a Fed forehand it also gives him penetration thru the court.
     
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  14. byealmeens

    byealmeens Semi-Pro

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    Perhaps “talent” isn’t the right word … I meant skill, of course. Groundstrokes, serve, return, etc. I agree that when at his best, Roger has the most “up-side” or potential, and assuming that is the definition of talent, then I am referring to skill. That being said, how is Djokovic less skilled? If he has the strengths of Nadal and Fed without the weaknesses that would seem to indicate he is more skilled.

    And McEnroe … seriously? He’s more talented/skilled than Novak Djokovic? I think John himself would disagree with this statement.
     
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  15. byealmeens

    byealmeens Semi-Pro

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    I have watched these matches ... I've watched almost every televised Federer match. And I agree that his movement and serve WERE the best. My point is ... I don't think they are any longer. And not because of age necessarily, but because Novak is simply better. Certainly a better mover, and as good a serve if not better. Also, Fed may still have the best forehand, but overall, FH & BH combined I don't think Roger is as strong as Novak. I think Novak has simply taken the "modern game" to another level.
     
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  16. Warmaster

    Warmaster Hall of Fame

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    If Djokovic his movement is better, his groundstrokes are better and his serve is better, then why does Federer at 31 win more service games than prime Djokovic?
     
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  17. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    Novak has won 1 of the last 4 majors, and 3 of the last 9 masters 1000. It is a great resume, but does it really deserve so much hype?
     
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  18. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    Talent is wonderful but without the focus, mentality and shaping your entire lifestyle in order to win you can't be truly the best in this game. Fed & Novak have done this. Talent alone won't get it done, obviously.

    They are both amazing talents but, like Sampras, Fed made the game look easy and fluid. You can call him Mr. Perfect on technique and movement.

    Let me be first to sound the Nalbandian alarm. I always was wowed by his talent though it doesn't always translate to wins.
     
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  19. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Djokovic has six slams. Once he's up there past Agassi and is nudging Nadal, then let's reconsider this topic. Until then, Djokovic is simply the player whose talent finally came to fruition through training and hard work. Look at Nadal on grass and HC, same thing there. But then look at Federer on EVERYTHING: he only needed half a year to start dominating once he won at Wimbledon.
     
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  20. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Talent: Marcelos Rios.
     
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  21. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Djoko is not the greatest or the most talented. His volley is bad for a top 20 pro, his serve is adequate for a top 20 pro, and his ground game is tops in the world on hard courts at this moment in time.

    He will be the greatest if and when he surpasses Federer's career achievements.

    He will never be the most talented based on skills because so much of his success is based on fitness and physicality and not skill. Don't get me wrong, he is highly skilled from the back of the court but the one thing that makes him stand out now is his speed and flexibility and recovery ability - able to recover after qrueling 5 set matches.
     
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  22. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Grass courts highlight "skills" more than other courts. Djoko is still not a great grass court player. Clay and slower hard courts like AO highlight physicality and fitness more and this is where Djoko excels.
     
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  23. byealmeens

    byealmeens Semi-Pro

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    So you feel that at 31 years of age, Federer does move better, and has better strokes and a better serve? Hard to believe he has trouble beating Novak at all … or Murray for that matter. Clearly this is not the case. I think you would have to at least agree that Novak is the best mover in the game right now.

    As for stats, they can be misleading. If you look at 2012 serve stats for instance, Raonic had the best numbers … most number of service games won … best percentage of first serves, etc. However, I don’t think he’s the best server out there. When he plays the top guys and in big matches, his numbers are not nearly as good. In the AO, Roger did a great job holding as well … until he played Murray. Novak, however, had little trouble holding against Murray. I don’t think he lost serve at all in the semi or the final … if he did, I don’t recall when it was.

    Another interesting stat is return of serve. If you go by stats, Flavio Cipolla had better return numbers than Roger Federer. For the life of me, I don’t even know who that is … but I doubt he’s better than Roger.
     
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  24. LuckyR

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    "Talent" in sports is sometimes used to describe someone who either has pretty strokes or as a backhand complement to describe someone who doesn't seem to work hard off of the court to get results on the court.

    Ultimately it means whatever the person who happens to be using it, wants it to mean.

    I will say this: Fed is the GplayerOAT because of his career accomplishments, but right now, the best tennis ever played in the history of the game is being played by Novak when he is "on" and on his prefered surface. Or to put it another way, tennis, like every other human endeavor, improves over time.
     
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  25. byealmeens

    byealmeens Semi-Pro

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    You have a good point … I agree that grass displays skills well. However, Novak has been no slouch there either. He’s won Wimbledon and lost in the semi last year. He’s not exactly weak on grass, just not as strong as on hardcourt. Not sure if grass is less physical though … Nadal has played pretty well on it – probably better than on hardcourtm - and he's about as physical as they come.

    So let me ask you, do you feel that is Novak’s predominant strength … fitness and/or physicality? Does he hold an edge anywhere else?
     
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  26. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Definitely not. Similar pace off the first, but worse placement, spin, variety. And a much weaker second serve.

    If his serve is better, how is it that even from the start of 2011 until now (Nole's peak), his hold pct% is 86-87, whereas Federers is 90-91%?

    Novak has a much stronger drive BH, better defense, a better return but I think prime Fed was a more formidable player (although I think some people exaggerate the discrepancy between the two, I don't think one would "destroy" the other).
     
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  27. byealmeens

    byealmeens Semi-Pro

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    Well said. Perhaps this describes my point best. The game continues to improve, the standard is higher, and Novak at his "best" has the best tennis skills I have ever seen.

    Incidentally, I also agree that Federer is the greatest "player" of all time. His career has been amazing and to determine GOAT one has to consider his amazing consistency over the years.
     
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  28. paulorenzo

    paulorenzo Hall of Fame

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    I hate arguments involving talent, especially when it's somehow involved or confused with skill. talent, to me, is too difficult to measure by eye. or too difficult to distinguish from skill. talent is natural, while skill is attained.

    For example, tennis player X has great hand eye coordination since he is able to hit the ball cleanly, quickly, and consistently regardless of his position in relation to the ball. Now we must see if this is due to talent or if it is an acquired skill. one quick but shallow way to see if the great hand eye stems from talent is to see if he displayed similar traits when he was young. i think this is why people consider gasquet quite talented, and reasonably so. but it should be also measured bio-mechanically, since it is possible for players to begin practice at a very early age (3 years old in gasquet's case).
    Since talent is a natural aptitude, something in tennis player X's body must set it apart from everyone else if his hand eye does indeed stem from talent. whether its a higher number of rods and cones in the eye or a more complex set of small fine motor muscles in the shoulder, it has to be special, not attained through repetition or conditioning.


    And stuff like that doesnt get proven as much as the word talent gets thrown around.
     
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  29. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    Good point! Some players make shots look so easy it's as if they were born with it but of course they've hit many, many thousands of shots. You wonder how many backhands Gasquet has hit during his childhood and the mind boggles.

     
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  30. Warmaster

    Warmaster Hall of Fame

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    And where exactly did I claim those things? I merely asked for an explanation as to how Federer's serve stats are better when apparently to you, Djokovic is better on all fronts.

    Anyway, the reason the stats are misleading is because the top players, on average play against stronger opposition far more often.

    If for example, Raonic had to play Federer's opponents from last year and vice versa, Federer's stats would improve and Raonic's decline.

    The same logic applies to the return of serve stats.

    It's still a useful tool to compare top players though, as you would expect them to face comparable opposition during a year.
     
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  31. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    Djokovic is a very consistent baseliner and probably has the best return ever, but no way is he playing the best tennis ever. His results do not reflect that and his on court performance does not reflect that either. He is a great human backboard, but certainly not the player that has displayed the greatest strokes, shot repertoire or court craft. What currently separates him is that he is able to play the best defense on these slower courts, but that does not make him the most skilled or best tennis player ever. The latest does not mean the greatest.

    In terms of not only results, but completeness, Federer's ability at his best is still unmatched.
     
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  32. Anaconda

    Anaconda Hall of Fame

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    No.



    Really? Federer is actualy quite stubborn when it comes down to adjusting when in trouble. Tactically Djokovic is actually smarter than Federer, in terms of structure, they approach the game too differently to make a comparison.


    Connors and Agassi have at least as good of returns and we can argue Federer and Murray (plus perhaps schuettler) have some of the best defensive returns ever. Djokovic doesn't cover the wide areas on the serve as good as others either, so this is in doubt too.

    Prime Federer comes out on top here. The amount of times Federer has came up with clutch and miraculous shots from being dead in the point on the biggest points on the biggest stage is why he has won what he has. Djokovic's movement might be better in terms of defense, but Federer's defense primarily relies on his readability of the game, his quick reactions and his anticipation; they both defend well, but differently. Now, I'm not saying Djokovic doesn't produce amazing gets from being down in the rally on big points but Federer is notorious for this. Djokovic defends slightly better, but Federer's offense is quite a bit better than Djokovic's.




    I think Safin has Djokovic beaten actually. Expands way less energy too.


    Djokovic's serve isn't one of the best in the game, nor is his volleys. In fact, it was Djokovic's serve in 2009-2010 which caused a big decline in his game and I'm not even going to mention how bad his second serve was. He has made some mechanical tweaks and is a lot more solid, but his serve is more of a 'tool' than a weapon.

    Volleys; Hmm This one is tough, because he doesn't serve and volley a lot, nor does he venture to the net a lot, he can volley no doubt, but it's hard to rate his volleys among his peers when 90% of the tour can't volley properly.
     
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  33. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    First of all, I never said Novak had the best "court craft" (whatever that is...). I was specifically speaking about his ability to win tennis matches. That (not: court craft) is what "the best tennis ever played" means, at least to me.

    I don't disagree with "the best defense ever", as you put it, but you are missing the point if you can't see his ability to turn defense into offense in a single shot.

    We are all entitled to our opinions (which is all this thread is, after all), but IMO Novak on his prefered surface would beat Fed at his best. As I acknowledged, this does not take away from Fed's career being the GOAT.
     
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  34. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    Is this a trick question? I have more natural ability then Fed, faster, tall and smooth, but I couldn't hold his hat. Look up TRAINING, DESIRE, NATURAL TALENT, AND PROVIDENCE. Fed rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  35. DeShaun

    DeShaun Banned

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    The most talented players from my lifetime are Rios and Federer. I place Rios above McEnroe because in Rios were combined talents for both touch and power, not just touch alone. Granted, Rios played with one of those Yonnex rackets that, in my experience, produce enormous amounts of spin, but Rios wielded it so much better than the rest.
     
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  36. mental midget

    mental midget Professional

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    federer, rios, mcenroe, nastase to go a bit further back, those are the guys i'd place under the heading 'could do anything they wanted with the ball.'

    federer has the best trophy case, and, in my opinion, the best highlight reel in the history of modern tennis, so he gets the nod from me.
     
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  37. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    Well, it was the original poster who started this thread to talk about who has the best skillset ever. He intentionally said he was not talking about the numbers. See below.

    If you are talking about Djokovic's ability to win matches, even there he is not the best ever. He has had only one season where he lost less then 10 matches, Federer has had 4. His 2nd best season was last year when he went 75-12. Federer's season last year at 31 was barely worse at 71-12.

    The top 5 list for winning percentage currently stands at 1.Bjorn Borg 82.7 %, 2.Rafael Nadal 82.7 %, 3.Jimmy Connors 81.8 %, 4.Ivan Lendl 81.8 %, 5.Roger Federer 81.6 %. Djokovic comes in at 7. with 79.5 %, so he still has a long way to go before his ability to win matches comes out on top.

    http://www.atpworldtour.com/Reliability-Zone/Reliability-Overall-Career-List.aspx


    Regarding ability to turn defense into attack, I still don't see anyone better than Federer at his best. At his best he has much stronger offensive skills than Djokovic, who is more your classic counter-puncher feeding off the pace of others, which explains why whenever he comes up against another counter-puncher like Ferrer or Hewitt, it's a huge grindfest.

    Look at what Federer at his best did to player's like Hewitt in the first link below. Hewitt was the 2nd best player in the world, at the height of his powers and riding his high confidence from a 16 match winning streak during the US hardcourt season. Djokovic has never put in a performance like this, even against Hewitt now, who was able to extend him and win sets on the 2 occasions they played last year, including at the Australian Open. Invariably with Djokovic, it is about the wars of attrition and extended rallies his game cannot seem to escape. This is not the sign of a player with amazing offensive skills. They are decent enough, but they are not the best ever. What Djokovic is able to do better than most others is to stay in the point and get the opponent to play one extra ball. Federer at his best, by contrast, is more aggressive, can literally hit winners out of nowhere and destroy an opponent in double-time, and with no grinding in sight.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfb2PDlIc3o

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCecVSK2H0o

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6az62bmV5hM

    Don't get me wrong, Djokovic is obviously an excellent all-round player, but to describe him as the best ever is the kind of unwarranted hyperbole so many here accuse commentators of exhibiting. Djokovic is the best player currently on tour, but the best ever? Whether talking about ability or results, no way.
     
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  38. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    By court craft I mean the ability to construct points using the whole court and a full repertoire of shots to win matches.
     
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  39. kalyan4fedever

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    I literally stopped at the bolded part are u for serious or pretending to be a fed fan
     
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  40. Le Master

    Le Master Semi-Pro

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    Not that it's my opinion, but there actually are many who believe Federer's backhand is more powerful and accurate than ever right now.
     
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  41. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    No way is Djokovic the most talented. He's fast, but his footwork is not the best. He plants his feet too early and loses balance off hard court. I think Fed, Nadal, Ferrer, Murray, all have better footwork. (not raw speed)

    His volleys are definitely not as good as Federer. I'd say Nadal volleys better than Djoko.

    Also, his serve is not that great either. It's pretty good, but not a big weapon for him.

    His groundstrokes are very solid, he's very flexible, and he's quick. That's why he's an amazing player. But I don't think you could say he's the most talented.
     
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  42. Shaolin

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    Great post. Rios was like a Mcenroe/Agassi hybrid.

    Greatest ever: Federer

    Most talent ever: Rios, Federer
     
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  43. above bored

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    I think those people have short memories or have only started watching Federer more recently.

    Even before he started to dominate the game, his backhand was considered excellent and he was more explosive all-round. He's more conservative today than he was, even back in 2003. He says as much below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq066-sAEW0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntBs8zHvrgY

     
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  44. Magnus

    Magnus Legend

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    Federer is the most talented player in history, and the gaps between him and others is huge.
     
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  45. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    The greatest vs most talented?
    Rod Laver vs Rod Laver
    A tough match indeed
     
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  46. Magnetite

    Magnetite Professional

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    If comparing Federer and Djokovic, I'd say Federer is more skilled and talented. His hands are just better. He seems to have more feel, and a wider variety of abilities on the court.

    Just to be clear however, at such a high level, the skill and talent gap that we are talking about is minute.
     
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  47. 90's Clay

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    Gotta throw Agassi's name in the hat here.

    THe man could literally play in mud or on ice and find a way to win the tournament.

    There wasn't a surface this guy couldn't win on. That takes tremendous talent
     
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  48. byealmeens

    byealmeens Semi-Pro

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    Very good point! It's difficult to compare when the differences are so small. Also, with all of Novak's success, it's difficult to not give him a lot of credit.
     
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  49. byealmeens

    byealmeens Semi-Pro

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    I agree with a lot of your points, but I disagree that Fed's game has not improved, especially his backhand. I think the standard is higher today ... baseline bashing is a huge part of the game and Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray have raised the bar. His backhand has become better if for no other reason than to compete with these guys.

    But there are intangibles, of course. Confidence, movement, fitness, etc. At his prime, Federer had more of each, and I think maybe that is what he's referring to. In terms of the stroke it self ... the consistency, power, and even spin I would say is better today.
     
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  50. Clay lover

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    I think what makes tennis exciting is we still have different styles. Yes the game is becoming more one-dimensional but we still can see obvious differences between the big 3. When Hewitt was no.1 I thought that the tenacious, speedy baseline style was gonna dominate but out came Federer and his brand of smooth, elegant and efficient attacking tennis. He has the characteristics of a consistent modern baseliner but mixes it up with precise aggression and occasional all court play. Federer absolutely owned but then Nadal came out of nowhere and started regularly beating Federer. Nadal is not a natural attacker but he has his own talent in shotmaking: The ability to move the ball around when on the defensive. Never have I seen a person manipulate the ball so well even when pressured. Then Djokovic suddenly took over with his consistent, ball-machine like baselining with equal ability to attack and defend off both wings.

    I would say all of them are talented; talented in their own ways and talented at executing their styles. We should not, however, equate talent to the ability to hit hard, or worse, the possession of "pretty shots".
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
    #50

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