Greatest Strokes of All Time - new book

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Moose Malloy, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Djokovic has a better bh than Agassi. He covers the court better because of his longer reach. Plus, Agassi was prone to get ace a lot.
     
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  2. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I don't know about that, but, World Tennis Magazine described Rosewall's backhand passing shot as being 80 MPH.
     
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  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I read some book from him.He was not at all - and probably never will be- a respected journalist from the technical point of view.He is more a chronicle journalist, a guy that grasps in the locker rooms and is well informed about the news and the insides.I respect him as a journalist but not as a tennis expert.

    anyway, you never watched Laver,Rosewall and many others from the start of the open era ( and 70´s and 80´s too).So, what should you know?
     
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  4. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Ridiculous! You have no idea what you're talking about.
     
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  5. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    I've watched plenty of their matches, borg even more so ..... but then keep up your delusional thinking that anyone who doesn't put your crush Laver at #1 in every aspect of tennis hasn't watched tennis in that era ....
     
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  6. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Flink has Laver as the #3 greatest player of all time.


    No, he's no Fed worshipper because he once said Sampras at his best beat Fed as his best. And like I said, he has Laver as #3 so I don't know why you are upset. Some experts have Laver much lower than #3.
     
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  7. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    That would be an interesting battle on any surface.
     
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  8. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    the only advantage djokovic has on Agassi's backhand is hitting on the stretch. Other that that, Agassi wins on everything.
     
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  9. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    Says the moron who said the reason Zang Jie lost to Serena is because the Chinese girl is short. lol :D
     
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  10. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Hey clueless. Your stupidity who doesn't know that undersize Zheng was struggling with the high kick serve, lacks the power on both wings.
     
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  11. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    then you should question her court positioning or ability to counter them by maybe taking them earlier.


    Hmm...then we have the extremely powerful giant Santoro and his little pigeon Safin. Don't forget Sanchez Vicario has never beaten players taller that she was...oh wait!:oops:


    Don't ever become a tennis coach because your motivation talk with your students would be: "dude, it doesn't matter how good you are, you will not become successful. The reason for that is because you are only 5'10".:shock:
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012
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  12. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    A player not at an optimum size for a tennis player doesn't means he/she can never beat other players. You just can't take one example(Safin/Santoro) and tell me that tennis doesn't reward players at an ideal size. Fact is female players that dominated the game are around 5 10 and male are at around 6 1 for the past decades.

    Did you watch Serena/Zheng match? Serena had a sizable advantage over Zheng, who was easily overpowered by Serena. Sure Serena served well and won many points, but Zheng short wingspan was easy to aced, even the slow high kick she can't get ball back in play. Since it's grass, serve is rewarding, and Zheng has nothing on her serve. The good part about Zheng is she moves well, consistent, and determine. But still...lacks the weapons on grass isn't good enough going against the bigger player.
     
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  13. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I remember reading an issue of World Tennis magazine sometime in the late 70's or early 80's. They posed similar questions and published different sets of answers for subscribers' answers and ATP players' answers. One thing that stood out was the subscribers ranked Connors' lob below other players (might have been 3rd, 4th, or 5th), but the pros ranked Connors' lob clearly at the top (ahead of Borg). I think he had such a great way of disguising it that it was extremely effective, and the players knew it better than the fans. I think he should be at the top.
     
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  14. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

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    Fed a top 5 server and no Agassi in top 5 BH list?
     
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  15. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Just a quick point here. A lot of players, including Federer have problems with high kick serves to the backhand. It's not unusual and that's how greats like Edberg made a living. Do you think Edberg would be so successful if his great kick serve wasn't effective against almost everyone. It's not necessarily tied to height.

    Some players like the shorter Bobby Riggs or Rod Laver could handle kick serves by hitting the ball earlier. Laver also because of his strong wrists could hit the ball above his shoulders very well if need be.

    The kick serve is somewhat less effective nowadays due to the two handed backhand.
     
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  16. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    According to TMF's, sublime logic you must be between 6'-6 foot 3 to handle kick serves and play great tennis in general. If you are shorter than that, you cannot be successful in tennis. :oops:
     
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  17. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It all depends on how well the player can handle the serve no matter what the height. I think a kick serve is more effective against a one handed backhand. Another guy with a one hander who could handle kick serves pretty well was Guillermo Vilas, and Vilas like Laver had wrists of steel. They could flick the ball with their wrists and hit the ball extremely effectively.
     
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  18. DolgoSantoro

    DolgoSantoro Professional

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    Deleted for irrelevancy.
     
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  19. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Federer's passing shots are fine but as has been discussed before video highlights are really pointless. You can take the worst player and put video highlights of great backhand passing shots together and the guy will look better at hitting a backhand than the greatest in history.

    You could put video highlights of Nadal serving and volleying and he'll look better than Edberg and we all know that's wrong.
     
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  20. DolgoSantoro

    DolgoSantoro Professional

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  21. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I understand. Out of curiosity was there a thread for best passing shots of all time?
     
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  22. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Newcombe,Lacoste,Lendl and Orantes
     
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  23. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Looks like reliability is among Flink's most important criteria, given the inclusion of Fed. Which is a perfectly valid view, BTW, but then what's Isner doing in there? The guy didn't have a breakout season until less than a year ago! What did Flink have to say about this particular pick?

    And while it's good to see Rafter getting some love, maybe it slipped Flink's mind that Edberg was the original master of the S&V-tailored kicker? Actually Isner would be a good substitute here. Ditto Stich.

    Many will disagree with me, but I feel Hewitt's return is often overrated. Now don't get me wrong, it was indeed a great shot that burned many a net-rusher in his prime. But as the cliche goes it needed its targets to cause serious damage; as a point-starting (or -ending) weapon it wasn't in the same league as that of the other four guys here.

    And one more thing: when you study the stats of truly elite returners (besides the clay-court specialists) you can usually find at least a couple of years when they posted 35+% in return games won. IIRC Hewitt never quite reached that level. Another guy who did was Chang, but then Hewitt would've probably benefited from the greater number of S&Vers in the '90s (not to mention that Chang's own return as a pure stroke wasn't most likely up to par with Agassi/Connors/Djoko/Murray's).

    I don't know who should take Hewitt's place then. Perhaps Rosewall?

    And I know this is another debatable point, but I do think that Murray's return, again as a pure stroke, is superior to Djokovic's, or at least potentially a more offensive weapon. To me this becomes rather clear when they play each other. In fact I'd say Murray is the guy who can come closest to Agassi in taking the offensive with his return today.

    Agassi's omission here is glaring to say the least. Again maybe Flink had his own valid reasoning? Anyway I can't speak for the old-timers, but I'd take Dre's BH over Djoko's.

    Noah deserves at least an honorary mention, as other posters have noted. And I'll also mention Smith's BH smash with a hat tip to Limpin (but I'm still not yet sold on his serve!).

    Um... Murray?

    I believe Orantes was known for his lob. Chang's and Hewitt's weren't half bad, either.

    No. 5 is perhaps the most dubious selection on all of these lists. I hope I'm not coming across as part of the anti-Djoko brigade. Far from it, I was touting Nole before many of you had even heard of the guy, and well before I joined this board, and I was absolutely over the moon when he finally fulfilled his potential last year. But Djoko's just not an all-time great passer. Heck, I'm not even sure if he's the 5th best passer right now. At the very least I'd take Fed and Murray over him.

    Mecir or Chang would be a better pick here. Laver and Rosewall among the old-timers. And I know somewhere Tym/ClairHarmony is already writing up another mile-long paean to Brugeura. :)

    BTW I didn't see any list for drop shots. Did Flink not include it or was it Moose's omission? Anyway I'm guessing McEnroe, Orantes and Coria would be in there. And probably the Aussies, too. Who else?

    I frankly think this is a bit of a myth regarding Kuerten's BH. Now don't feel alone, even Sampras doesn't hesitate to repeat the canard in his book about Guga's long backswing hurting him on fast surfaces (though this tidbit might have been Pete Bodo's own contribution). But then I ask, long backswing compared to what other player's?

    If anything it's his FH that suffered from the long windup. Check out his matches against Pete and Agassi in 2000 (including those at the YEC that clinched his No. 1 ranking), and you can see Guga basically hugging the baseline and even killing Agassi on BH exchanges in the YEC final. Another thing about that BH of his was that he could still hit winners at will when he hadn't positioned himself properly on that wing. It really was a fantastic and deadly stroke, yes even off clay.

    I think I actually wondered about this on the GSOAT thread, and then asked not to take on the burden of starting another thread on my own, LOL.
     
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  24. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    NonP,

    I didn't write that Kuerten's backhand wasn't excellent on all surfaces but I still felt it wasn't quite as effective on faster courts despite Kuerten coming up with some great hard court tournament wins. It was a wonderful backhand.

    There are some so great passing shots in the history of tennis. Laver and Rosewall had superb passing shots and lobs. Borg was the best I've seen. Connors was fantastic. Chang and Mecir were great but Mecir had such a short career I'm reluctant to put him there. Nevertheless Mecir was fantastic. Nastase, Tilden, Segura, Wilander, Lendl all had great passing shots.
     
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  25. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    pc1, ( or anyone else) care to be more specific and compare the Laver/ Rosewall forehand/ backhand passes and their respective lobs. Would I be correct that Laver's were more glorious from out of position, and slightly better on the dead run and harder to read, while Rosewall was more consistent, better at setting up the pass/ lob the shot before, with his underspin at your feet, and better at using the angles? Just a wild guess. Hell if this is not challenging enough, you can throw nastase's gifts in this dept for a three way analysis.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
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  26. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Laver's power was overwhelming and he hit with heavy topspin on both sides, but, could wallop his underspin backhand as well. In addition to crippling passing shots, he was also known to knock down opponents by hitting right at them. He also hit on the run as well as, or better than, anyone ever did, on both sides. Rosewall had power enough with pinpoint accuracy, great touch, and also hit well on the run, but, not with the power of Laver. Both were great lobbers. Laver hit more offensive topspin lobs, Rosewall more defensive underspin or flat lobs. Yes, Rosewall was a bit steadier than Laver even though he hit with a lower margin for error. Both were great volleyers and great net players. Rosewall handled low volleys better, Laver destroyed high volleys better than anyone, but, he went for too much on low volleys to be as good as Rosewall. Nastase hit even higher looping, heavier topspin than Laver, had great touch and variety, but, not the power of Laver. Nastase's most famous shot was his topspin 1hb lob. Laver did it too, but, not with as much success as Nastase.

    Here's Nastase going for his topspin 1hb lob. It comes up short in this point, but, you'll get an idea of what it was all about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf4wrrpzdYc&feature=player_detailpage#t=75s
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
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  27. WCT

    WCT Rookie

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    Flink started covering tennis in 1974. I'm guessing he's around 60. He saw a lot of open era tennis. He said his first Wimbledon was 1965. His father had moved to London.

    Nobody has seen everybody play. Who saw Tilden, Budge or Kramer? As far as analyzing, I'd put Flink ahead of any of the broadcasters who weren't former players. Bud Collins, Dick Enberg, Chris Fowler. I'll take him over Carillo any day of the week, and she played. I don't mean broadcasting style either. I mean as far as being analytical , breaking down players strokes/games.

    I haven't seen him do tv for years, nor do I ever recall him being the lead analyst for any network. However, I saw him do a good bit of it throughout the 80s. A bunch of stuff on ESPN and MSG network. He wasn't someone who spewed out info he broke down player games and strokes.

    I first heard him filing reports, for CBS radio, from Wimbledon and the French.
    He did this for several years, and I thought was excellent at it. Hey, I'm not calling him the greatest tennis commentator I ever saw or read, but he always struck me as really knowing his stuff.

    Does that mean I agree with all his rankings? No. Honestly, his lists skew more towards the modern players than I would have expected. 3 of the top 5 returns from active players is a lot. PC's first post said it for me. There are so many great players with so many great strokes to choose from. Someone will always disagree.

    I can disagree and still respect his tennis knowledge. Ashe didn't think Laver was a great volleyer. McEnroe thinks Nadal is a great volleyer. I disagree with both statements, but am certainly not going to argue that Ashe and McEnroe really knew the game.

    To be clear, I haven't read this nor any book Flink has ever written. I read him in WORLD TENNIS mostly and had the same impression from that as I did his broadcasting. That is what informed my opinion of the guy.
     
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  28. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I've had an exhausting day but I will give you some descriptions of Laver's and Rosewall's passing shots and offensive lobbing tomorrow.
     
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  29. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    I loved the old MSG telecasts with Flink, Carillo, and Collins. They were so different from each other but a real hoot together. I respect Flink's knowledge even though I had a mistrust of his Evert worship. In the 80's there were several American tennis journalists that I thought were propagandists for their favorites. In hindsight I was probably wrong about Steve. But I still see him as someone that knows a lot about his faves but not necessarily everyone else.
     
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  30. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Let's start with Rosewall-Rosewall often in his first game receiving (in the old serve and volley days of course) would lob several times to prevent the volleyer from closing in at the net. The volleyer would react by moving both a bit which would give Rosewall better angles to pass. Arthur Ashe once wrote that by the time you figured out Rosewall was lobbing on the forehand side, the ball was bouncing on the baseline. Obviously Rosewall's footwork was so superb and his anticipation so great that he was often in perfect position to hit the passing shot.

    When Rosewall returned serve, it often wasn't hit particularly hard but the ball would often be angled, perhaps sharply angled low over the net so when the volley was hit it wouldn't be that penetrating. This would set Muscles up his passing shot. And because his anticipation was so great he would often move in to take his opponent's volley with a volley of his own to hopefully put the ball away.

    It was often never super spectacular (except when he somehow hit incredibly sharp angles without huge topspin) but efficient.

    Laver's versatility in shotmaking to me is perhaps unsurpassed among the players I have seen and this goes for his returns and passing shots. As John Alexander wrote, Laver has an infinite amount of returns. If you served wide to Laver's backhand in the deuce court Laver had the perfect return in six varieties. Some of them are his full swing topspin backhand down the line and crosscourt, a sharp angled crosscourt chip and his punishing slice return down the line. Despite all of this Laver wrote that most of the pros would serve to his backhand to avoid Laver's great forehand return.

    Laver could hit the ball very very early to take time away from his opponents at the net, sometimes almost on the half volley. He could hit topspin lobs off both sides. He also had a shot, a low sliced backhand lob that Ashe described as diabolical. It would land one inch out of the opponent's reach and one inch inside the baseline according to Ashe. Of course we all know about the variety of spins that Laver could hit plus the immense power, touch and angles. One last thing about Laver, I think because of his massive wrist strength, he was often able to disguise where he hit his passing shots until the last moment.

    Here's a nice example of how both handled net rushers. Great clip by Krosero.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSXETXKi7OI
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
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  31. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Good descriptions here. Rosewall often hit his first lobs - all underspun- too low deliberately, to let the net rusher get the smash, and to tire him out on the longer run. Later on he hit it just a little higher. He was no absolute first strike player, more a combination hitter. He anticipated very well and was always in position to hit the next shot. Therefore he made the court on his side smaller, than it really was. His slightly underspun backhand was hard too, and could pass the volleyer straight down the line.
    Laver was extremely versatile with his returns and passings, which he could hit as flat drive, topspin or hard underspin. When he got hot, he passed you from either flank, on either side, or directly through the body. He could hit extreme angles, with his balls often dipping very sharp after net passage. He could hold the ball long on the racket side, and so could hide the direction of the pass until the net player made a futile move. Even the older Laver at 37, as in the Borg WCT match of 1975, could find angles on the backhand, i haven't seen since.
    Along with Santana, Laver was the first who turned the offensive topspin lob into a weapon, hitting it from both sides (i think Vic Seixas was the first who hit a topspin lob on the forehand). I often saw him hitting a topspin lob directly on the return, to surprise the net rusher. It took a sharp curve, only the fall down like a pierced balloon. He even hit topspin lobs from the volley, to use suprise tactics on net exchanges.
     
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  32. BTURNER

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    Thanks guys, I see my ideas weren't far off, but unjustifiably generic and bland. those descriptions of their respective passing talents are great. I have seen almost nobody try a lob return in singles and make it work, let alone topspin lob volleys. I need to watch more of these two.
     
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  33. illkhiboy

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    Agassi's backhand definitely had more power than Djokovic's but he lost his share of backhand to backhand battles. In that, players like Nalbandian, Safin, and even Coria often came out on top in backhand battles against Agassi by changing direction and hitting winners up the line. Though it was really tough for them to out-hit Agassi in pure cross court exchanges.
     
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  34. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I've heard that Laver also used to deliberately hit a short low lob to tempt his opponent to hit a smash, then he would hit a winning volley off the smash, (which would usually demoralize the opponent to think that anyone could be that strong and that quick).
     
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  35. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Now how can that be? Don't you know that players of that era couldn't possibly do things like that. :)

    There was a story that John Newcombe gave about a tournament in the early 1970's in which he was playing Laver. Laver won the first two sets and Newcombe won the next two. It was close in the fifth set. Newcombe was serving and having a lot of success volleying to Laver's backhand and smashing away Laver's backhand lobs. So Newk served to Laver, hit a volley to Laver's backhand and shifted his weight back to prepare for what he thought was a lob by Laver. Laver brought his racquet back like he was about to lob then hit a crosscourt chip to Newcombe's forehand! Newcombe realized that he was moving backwards so if he attempted a volley it would not be penetrating and Laver would move in, hit his great forehand and probably pass him. So he figured (all this in a fraction of a second) that he would just hit the ball back deep and start the point over again. Newcombe hit the ball out by a fraction. He give Laver and look acknowledging what a brilliant shot it was. Newcombe thought the crowd didn't even know what a brilliant shot Laver made.

    We're talking about passing shots but actually we should rephrase it as how to handle a player at the net. It could be passing shots, lobs, dinks, whatever. Wouldn't be a bad thread to start. I may start one.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
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  36. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    pc1, cool. And yeah, most of those guys you named would've been a better pick than Djokovic. That was a real head-scratcher.

    Obviously it was rather hyperbolic to say Agassi never lost a BH battle, but at the same time let's keep in mind that he had lost a step or two by the time he was slugging it out with those guys. That's especially crucial since we're talking changing direction.
     
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  37. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    He had Evert at #1 in 4 of the categories I mentioned in the OP. care to guess which ones? some were kinda obvious, I think.
     
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  38. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    When Laver and Rosewall were playing their best tennis against each other, that is the best description of pure shotmaking ability.
     
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  39. BTURNER

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    Return, backhand, lob or passing shot, mental toughness. I was wondering if you would care to post the women's lists, in either this thread or in another.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
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  40. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    This list is great comedy.
     
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  41. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Drak,

    Got any opinions on the Flink list?
     
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  42. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    To be honest, it gave me a great chuckle. Just very funny.
     
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  43. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Okay. Actually the book in general is a great read even if you are amused by the list.
     
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  44. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Haha! I agree, but, I doubt we'll agree on why.
     
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  45. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    I'm sure we would have quite a few things we would agree on. I'll give you one, Laver not being on the list for greatest FH or BH.
     
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  46. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree with you. Kind of hard to accomplish what Laver did without a great forehand or backhand. Flink is obviously very knowledgeable about the game but I don't believe he carefully thought out his picks logically.
     
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  47. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    ^you do realize he only had a top 5 list for each stroke? its impossible for anyone to come up with a list that's going to please everyone. and to say that leaving someone off the top 5 fh list means that they must think that player didn't have a great fh is a bit of a stretch, did you read the book? the chapters on Laver's matches break down his game in more detail than just about anyone has(certainly more than anyone on this forum)
    ditto with Lenglen & players that no one has seen, with no good footage of those players, this book is the next best thing. you feel like you have seen them all play after reading it. if no Laver footage existed, this book could educate any curious fans about his game pretty well. I'm sure he's seen more Laver matches than anyone on here, tennis is his living, he covered every Wimbledon & USO of the Open Era.

    And I doubt there's a more 'logical' writer than Flink, he's essentially a computer when it comes to tennis as anyone who's followed his work for the last 30 years would know. He was one of the first statisticians of the Open Era(he does have a photographic memory) I'm sure he put great thought into this list(as he does with every word he's ever written about the game, he's no blogger that just thoughtlessly puts out gossip or innuendo about anything that pops into his head. he's remained more like a newspaper/magazine writer than an internet writer, which is pretty hard to do in this age)

    Having done stats on a lot of matches, esp older ones (which I does think bring you a different perpective on players & matches, maybe more so than someone just watching for fun, like majority of viewers) I did notice that Laver was just about the most balanced player I encountered. Meaning his winners were pretty much equally distributed on every shot(and that's pretty rare, most players have a lot more winners on one side than the other. for example Flink's top 2 - Fed & Nadal, those guys hit majority of all winners they hit from the fh side, sometimes to a ridiculous %. I know we don't have stats for every player that ever played & every match, but I would bet that Fed & Nadal have hit more fh winners than anyone in history. many longtime observers have commented on them taking the fh to another level. does it really seem a joke to rank them 1 & 2? even if stats indicate they deserve it?

    and look at McEnroe - the majority of all his winners from volleys in the matches I've done (with often a big edge to his fh volley - notice Flink put him in top 5 of fh volley)

    In a way, not putting Laver in top 5 of fh or bh is a compliment, because it shows that he was such an all around player that he didn't rely on just one shot to dominate(which you can argue with Sampras and the serve & Federer with the fh)

    I notice with all the criticism in this thread, no one has bothered to actually compile their own top 5 list. I guess that's too much work, its much easier to say 'this list is joke, blah, blah.'
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
    #97
  48. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Have to say I'm with Moose. With only 5 strokes to choose in each category you're bound to have some questionable omissions. We all know comparing eras is a tricky business. I mean, I started that "Greatest Serves" thread more than 2 years ago and I don't think we're even halfway done, and remember, that one is about the serve only, the most "independent" stroke in this game! Just imagine trying to compare all the historic contenders for other strokes--which, again, are even more difficult to assess than the serve--with biased fans waiting to dissect and eviscerate every selection of yours they don't like.

    So yeah, I thought Flink did a decent job. Djokovic for the passing shots was the only selection I found highly dubious, and even that's not entirely crazy. And as others have said Flink isn't one of those hack journos with nary an understanding of the finer points of tennis or its long history.

    At the very least this is much more respectable than the farce Tennis Channel put together for the umpteenth frivolous GOAT ranking. If that didn't make you wary of the so-called expert opinions, nothing will.
     
    #98
  49. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Of course it's impossible to please everyone. Lists like this are generally very subjective however and it's a big however we do have some statistical information nowadays to analyze things like serve and serve return. So the thing I disagree with clearly and again it is arguable is the inclusion of Roger Federer as the fifth best first serve in tennis history. I think in this stat era information points to the fact that players like Roddick or even Karlovic have had superior first serves to Federer. Still Federer has a superb first serve and it's not like we have Frankie Durr as the best first serve for women.

    Like I wrote in my first post, the list is reasonable with nothing outrageous.

    Moose you started this thread so you must have known there would be some disagreement. I'll throw in some picks and I'll take the criticism. Bear in mine that I haven't had that much time to put deep thought into this.
    First serve
    1. Pancho Gonzalez-I'll pick him over Sampras because as many have said, his first serve took so little out of him that he could still be serving bombs in the fifth set. Over the years Gonzalez in my opinion has probably been named the most times for the greatest serve ever before Pete Sampras. Vic Braden was of the opinion (in the year 2000) that Gonzalez would be able to serve about 140 mph with the racquets at that time.
    2. Sampras-Dominated the 1990's in percentage of holding serve. Even in his last year he was in the top ten. Possibly number one.
    3. Goran Ivanisevic-Goran, along with a few others are possibly the greatest lefty serve ever.
    4. Kramer-Perhaps he didn't serve as hard as some but he had a high percentage of first serves and a lethal combo of a powerful flat first serve plus a slice serve that could pull you off the court.
    5. Roddick-Hesitant to pick him over guys like Vines, John Doeg or Newcombe but Roddick has led the ATP many times in percentage of holding serve, more than Federer. And the guy could bomb it over 150 mph.
    5. Vines-Many think Vines is number one.
    Others choices-Tilden, Doeq, Newcombe, Ashe, Tanner, Stan Smith, Hoad, Ashe, Tanner, McEnroe.

    Kavlovic has had some of the greatest first serve stats in recent years and Isner is fantastic too.

    Second serve
    1. Sampras-Was talking to a well known great and he thought Sampras' second serve was the best, before that it was Jack Kramer.
    2. Jack Kramer
    3. John Newcombe
    4. Vines
    5. von Cramm

    Others-Roddick, Gonzalez, Rafter

    Forehand
    1. Segura
    2. Federer
    2. Borg-Probably the most error free forehand I've seen. People forget his forehand was considered by far the best in tennis in his time. Surprisingly versatile on that side in my opinion.
    4. Lendl
    5. Nadal-I do wonder how his forehand would translate to wood. He probably would adapt well.

    All can be interchanged. Others-Kramer, Newcombe, Nastase, Agassi, Tilden, Perry, Laver, Vines, Fletcher, Okker. Perry's forehand was picked by World Tennis magazine I believe as the greatest in history a number of years ago. However too many had said that the best single shot they had ever seen in tennis was Pancho Segura's two handed forehand. Among them were Vines, Kramer, Riggs. Laver said it was the best forehand he ever played against and Segura was past his best at the time.

    Backhand
    1. Rosewall
    2. Budge
    3. Connors
    4. Laver-Most versatile backhand of the top five and probably the most dangerous when Laver was on. More prone to errors than the others in my opinion.
    4. Borg

    Others-Kovacs, Djokovic (too early to put him higher), Agassi, Mecir (not a long enough career), Edberg, Arthur Ashe, Don McNeill. Ashe's backhand was unbelievable when he was on his game and it had the most variety of any backhand, along with Laver that I've seen.

    Forehand Volley
    1. Kramer
    2. Newcombe
    3. Budge Patty
    4. Sedgman
    5. John McEnroe

    Others-Wilmer Alison, Rosewall, Segura

    Backhand Volley
    1. Tony Roche
    2. Edberg
    3. Rosewall-Rosewall had this amazing backhand volley in which the ball almost seemed to be pass him and he would, with his back almost to the net, hit a sharp angle drop volley.
    4. McEnroe
    5. Laver

    Others-Sedgman, Budge, Ashe
    Overhead
    Too many to list but my favorite is Yannick Noah. Kramer was great too as was Sampras and Gonzalez. It seemed to me that Sampras' form on his jumping overhead was very similar to Noah's. Noah was taller and I think he jumped higher so I'm picking him.

    Lob
    1. Riggs-He was legendary for his lobs. He would on occasion toss up over a hundred in a long match. The lobs would often wear down his opponents.
    2. Rosewall
    3. Nastase
    4. Borg
    5. Connors

    Others-Segura, Santana, Orantes, Laver

    Passing shot
    1. Borg-I put Borg ahead of Nadal because I believe he's faster with more stamina. His passing shots were incredible with a wood racquet. It's scary to think of what he could do with the current modern racquets.
    2. Nadal
    3. Laver
    4. Rosewall
    5. Connors


    Others-Wilander, Mecir, Nastase, Vilas, Agassi (not great on the run), Nastase. With Mecir at times you would think he could get to any shot and pass his opponent.

    Mental toughness is so arbitrary that I'm not picking any candidate.

    I took into account the extra spin and power today's racquets provide on shots.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
    #99
  50. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    9,277
    Maybe. The only backhands I've seen that I can say off the top of my head were better than Laver's were Connors, Agassi and maybe Borg and Djokovic, all 2 handers. Some will say Rosewall had a better backhand, but, after seening Laver's crippling crosscourt topspin backhand passing shots on the stretch from outside of the doubles ally, I have to go with Laver.

    Laver's forehand was actually very similar to Federer's forehand. The biggest differences were the grip and Federer's more consistent open stance and longer upper body rotation. Having said that, Laver did shank the ball more than most on the forehand side, going for so much with that huge wrist snap and Conti grip. Back then, a shank was called a "carry" because it was considered a double hit (strings and frame), and was an automatic loss of point. Anyway, I don't think I would put Laver's forehand in the top 5. Maybe top 10.
     

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