Jimmy Connors wonders whatever happened to 'killer instinct'

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by thor's hammer, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. thor's hammer

    thor's hammer Semi-Pro

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    #1
  2. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    probably because the top players aren't americans. players from other countries prefer not to expose their killer instincts when they complete like mcenroe, connors, ... serena would :)
     
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  3. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Connors has been saying this for the last 20 years. Just because a lot of players do not have visible disdain for their opponents doesn't mean they lack killer instinct. Nadal apologized to Roger after destroying him in the 2008 French Open. But the reality is he probabaly wanted to triple bagel him
     
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  4. mad dog1

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    Jimbo is talking specifically about the lack of killer instinct in American players.
     
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  5. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    He's still wrong, the top American players have flaws that keep them from winning slams not mental problems. Yeah Connors was a fiery competitor, so what. He also had the best return of serve and the best BH in the game for a long while not to mention awesome footwork and endurance. If he didn't have these other attributes his will to win would still resulted in losses
     
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  6. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    "Interesting, isn't it?" Jimmy Connors says Wednesday morning. "From domination to frustration."

    Once, American men regularly held all but one or two spots in the world top 10 rankings, thanks to a tennis boom Connors helped launch. Now he wonders if this country will ever again produce players with the "desire" and the "killer instinct" it takes to be great.

    "Killer instinct — that's almost taboo now," he says. "The sport has changed. Attitudes have changed. They all want to win, but how much?"

    The sad state of men's tennis in this country is just one of the many topics Connors addressed in our 45-minute conversation.

    .....


    He laments the social trends that have driven an entire generation indoors to a life of "obesity and computers and no exercise and diabetes."
     
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  7. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Jimmy Connors was one of a kind in the "killer instinct" department. He does, however, have a point in regards to modern day American tennis players. The fact is that Europe rule the roost now when it comes to tennis domination.
     
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  8. BeHappy

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    Borg didn't need to shout and swear to basically destroy Jimmy Connor's career while he was active.
     
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  9. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    I wouldn't say he destroyed Connors career
     
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  10. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    LOL. Are you joking? Connors was still playing full-time into his 40s, while Borg was burned out in his mid-20s.
     
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  11. BeHappy

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    That's why I added 'while [borg] he was active'.

    Didn't really worked for Connors against Borg either. Who had the better career, Nastase or Borg? Probably equally talented.

    Connors knows this, he's just promoting his seniors matches and this is an easy way to get into the media, and at the same time remind everyone how exciting his matches are.
     
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  12. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    i think there's a number of reasons why americans aren't winning any longer - some of them are a sense of entitlement, instant gratification, and too many choices which leads to distractions.

    look at MLB. so many of the stars come from poor nations such as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, etc. there's no sense of entitlement in these countries. there's no such thing as instant gratification there where baseball is seen as their only chance to get out of their impoverish situation. because many of the ball players are from poor families some of who can barely afford to feed and cloth their families, they certainly can't afford PS3, Xbox, Wii, iPads, etc so for entertainment, the kids focus all their time playing baseball. so from a very young age, these kids spend every afternoon and all weekend on the baseball diamond. they see their heroes who are now stars in MLB which only fuels their desire and passion to try harder to improve.

    kids in the US? there's too many choices, too many distractions and way too many luxuries have made them soft. if they get bored or arent' good enough at baseball, they can try basketball or football or something else. and if they aren't good enough at that? who cares? playing Wii, PS3 is just as much fun and easier and parents are very willing to buy this stuff for their kids.

    you see the same thing happening with basketball and football. a lot of the NBA stars come from impoverished families from the inner city.

    it's no surprise that the are so many serbians, another war torn country, close to the top in tennis. think about this...americans get in their car and drive everywhere. we barely ever walk anywhere. europeans do alot more walking and don't drive nearly as much. while they're walking, burning off calories and building muscles/endurance, americans are sitting in their cars in traffic, eating fast food, gaining weight and losing fitness. europeans have a better fitness base to build from starting from a very early age.

    adversity builds character. adversity pushes the human spirit to strive for and achieve more. adversity encourages us to push the boundaries. it's through adversity that we learn about who we are and what we're made of. right now even in this economic recession, life is too easy and comfortable compared to what people in lesser developed countries have to go through every day.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
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  13. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Despite his losing head-to-head, Connors has beaten Borg in two US Open finals, a US Open semi final and a Masters final. I should also mention that Connors in 1982 was an improved player, especially on serve.
     
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  14. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Yes where they all grow up with xbox and ps3 as well.
     
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  15. TennezSport

    TennezSport Hall of Fame

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    Very Well Said...........

    We see this all the time. Just recently we were asked to work with one of the Universities in the area and out of all of their players there was only one American. When we asked why only one American, the reply was the American players didn't really want to work as hard and didn't qualify. The hunger just wasn't there.

    Cheers, TennezSport :cool:
     
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  16. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    thanks for your valuable contribution. you can go back to playing xbox and ps3 now. :twisted: ;)
     
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  17. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    thx. as a society, we have gotten too soft. it's all part of the rise and fall of empires. the same thing happened to the roman and british empires.
     
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  18. heftylefty

    heftylefty Hall of Fame

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    MadDog, there is a lot of validity to what you said, but I don't there were many missed meals at the Federer household. And they product a GOAT.

    You don't need to be in dire straits to produce hunger. Having the right tools, at the right time is a factor also. I was one of those kids that spent hours on the basketball court. I was living in a neighborhood that was pretty tough with a ton of guys that went on to DI and a few Pros in Football, Basketball and Baseball. Not too many guys spent as much time as me working their game, but I was not as nearly as good as the guys in my hood. My coordination and balance didn't come in until my mid 20's. By then I took up tennis because I wanted to compete in a sport I didn't have to worry about making a team to play.

    Tools without the Hunger is a waste. But hunger with the Tools, is a tough row to hoe.
     
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  19. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    heftylefty, my explanation was more general and obviously doesn't apply to every single person. i wasn't trying to write a graduate thesis that covers every possible scenario. there will always be those exceptions because people are individuals and individuals are unique. and yes, obviously if you don't have enough talent, you're not going to get to the top of the game regardless of what environment you grow up in. i can certainly agree w/ you there.
     
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  20. SoCal10s

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    looks like Jimbo wants a USTA job like Pat Mc.. and he should get it.. maybe wake some ol school farts up..
     
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  21. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    I think to some degree the same thing has happened in American tennis as in American golf. Players aren't as hungry anymore, the money has overwhelmed the sport. You can be a good but not great pro and between prize winnings, appearance fees, etc..., you can make pretty incredible money. And the money the top guys make? It's a whole different era now than it was 30 years ago. I've got a book with a picture of McEnroe being presented the large cardboard check after winning the US Open, I think it's for $60,000.

    And the way we train these kids, they are so catered to, so pampered, so enabled.
     
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  22. gregor.b

    gregor.b Professional

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    Talent is important yes,but the will to achieve is far more important.I have a friend who started speed skating in his early teens (which is fairly late) and he really had very little 'talent' as compared to some of the 'natural' athletes he was up against ( yes,PED'S are rife here too). He was single minded for a number of years,living,breathing,sleeping,eating to achieve the goal of World Champion.It all culminated after 12 years of unbelievable sacrifice against some of your US champs like Hedrick,Parra and Muse,who I think we can agree,all had talent by the truck full.NOTHING is set in stone provided you are prepared to work for it.
     
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  23. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Americans are losing ground in nearly all sports. they are still the no.1 sports nation but they have really lost some of their dominance in sports over the last decades.

    Just look at tennis, boxing and even american sports like basketball and baseball. of course they are still the no.1 in basketball and baseball but they have lost some matches and have to really fight hard to win now while they were just toying with them and sending the opponents home with 40+ points without even trying.

    I think the problem is that america is a wealthy country. most of the richer european countries have the same problem. if a country is wealthy the pressure to get good is not so high because they have a lot of ways to earn their living.
     
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  24. thor's hammer

    thor's hammer Semi-Pro

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    HBO Real Sports: Decline of Tennis in the U.S

    I didn't catch this when broadcast last month, but I have Time Warner Cable, and it's available in the HBO On Demand section under Sports:Sports Series:RS US Tennis. The whole segment is 13 minutes long and is pretty good; here's a 2 minute clip HBO posted on youtube...

    http://youtu.be/B5hC0HeJDxY

    Right in line with this discussion.
     
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  25. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    During Connors' year, he wasn't playing against the very best European players in compare to today. It's easy for him to say the American lack killer instinct b/c of what he has accomplished. There's nothing Roddick, Fish, or Ginepri can do when the European rules tennis. The Australian is facing the same situation. I don't hear Laver's complaining. It's a global sports and it's tough for today's player trying to emulate past champions. Fierce competitor like Connors is one thing, but that doesn't translate into slam materials if skills/talent doesn't measure up with the top players, you can't win. Hewitt is a fierce competitor like Connors, but he wasn't good enough. Chang was a fierce competitor, but after his FO win at 17, he didn't win squat afterward.

    I wonder if Connors ever thought about being in Roddick's shoes, b/c he would have never accomplished like he did in the 70s/80s. Fed/Nadal and all of the top players wouldn't allowed that to happen.
     
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  26. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Wow. You underrate Connors MASSIVELY.
     
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  27. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    Completely agree.

    Connors would've won multiple majors if he was in his prime over the last 10 years and using current training methods and equipment.

    He was one of the greatest of all time. What he did with that old T-2000 (I think that was the designation) metal racquet was a thing to behold.
     
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  28. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    Interesting article. Connors was a true legend. BTW, he did play against some really great Europeans (ex. Borg, Becker, Wilander, Lendl), and I'll admit Borg beat him like a drum. It's tough to compare players in his generation to the ones we have now. When they were in their prime, Borg played with a wooden racquet and Connors played with a T-2000.

    I think I see his point when it comes to American players. I see a competitiveness in Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic that I don't see in any Americans. It could just be because Roddick, Fish, Isner, and company just don't have the talent that those guys do and since they can't compete at their level, killer instinct is irrelevant when they play them. Eventually, another Sampras, McEnroe, or Connors will come through. It's just going to take some time.
     
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  29. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    killer instinct is overrated. let's say player A has a killer instinct and he is playing B who is better. player B would still beat player A.
     
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  30. BeHappy

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    Not necessarily, look at Lendl's record in grand slams. He definitely could have used some killer instinct, at least in the first half of his career.

    A player with no killer instinct might be good enough to get ten chances (break points, set points, match points, whatever), but might only be able to take one.

    A player with a strong killer instinct might only be good enough to earn one such chance, but he might only need one too.
     
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  31. Ramon

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    Speaking of Lendl, I remember a round robin tournament where they had "dead rubber" matches that were only used to determine how the top players in their flights would get seeded in the semis. In the first match, Borg was upset by Gene Mayer (most likely because it was a meaningless match). Then Connors and Lendl played next. The winner of the match would play Borg in the semis and the loser would play Mayer. Connors with his "killier instinct" beat Lendl very easily and, of course, Lendl didn't seem to care. The semifinals ended up exactly as you would expect and it was Borg who beat Lendl in the finals. Maybe "killer instinct" isn't always so good! LOL
     
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  32. msunderland71

    msunderland71 New User

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    Was that the match where Connors called Lendl a "chicken" for throwing the match? Ha ha things were much more entertaining when the players dissed each other like that!
     
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  33. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    yeah but in terms of ranking, connors and lendl were pretty close and there's a big gap between the best american male player (fish) and the top european pros. fish could have a great killer instinct but he's not going to upset enough of those top european guys to capture a big title.
     
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  34. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Since we're discussing "killer instinct." Jimmy Connors' ex fiancee Chris Evert had about as strong a killer instinct as I've seen.

    I'm not sure if killer instinct has gone down at all, I just think people may show it differently now. I think Nadal's will try to crush anyone if he could. He was vicious in crushing Federer for example in the 2008 French.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2011
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  35. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    That's the match :)
     
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  36. Gizo

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    Connors and Lendl had a very humerous exchange at the net during their 1984 Wimbledon semi-final, 'I didn't call it out'. They dissed each other but had a lot of personality as well.
     
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  37. Legend of Borg

    Legend of Borg Legend

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    Nole has the killer instinct now.

    He's made Nadal cry more times than I can remember this year.

    No mercy.
     
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  38. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    yeah, the guys in the older generation DID have personality. So many of the guys today are just boring. There's no flair, no personality. I miss the characters of a few decades ago. One reason why tennis ratings largely suck is the personalities playing today have all the spice and appeal of day-old oatmeal. Boring.

    but re Djokovic, yes, he DOES have the killer instinct. At least this year. What he's done this year has been absolutely remarkable. Dude has just stepped on people's throats and not stepped off until they were cold and dead.
     
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  39. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Connors is right.But the problem with computers and not doing exercise, is something around the world, not just the US.So, if no american player is dominant anymore, he should look somewhere else (Training conditions,coaches,surfaces, basics,options...)
     
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  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree with you, and your overlook explains many things.I also think there are trends and upheavals.Look at Sweden, they are past the post Borg and Post Edberg era, they have the means but no top star...Spain is not poor, at least top spanish players come from middle to high class, still Spain has the greatest amount of top players.I think trneds happen too.

    Australia is a pretty well off country, with great weather and sporting conditions.But, after Hewitt and Rafter, nobody shoots the door.And, still, to have a champ like Hewitt or Rafter, they had to wait till Newcombe retired almost 2o years ago.

    Maybe, answer is there is not enough money, in terms of sponsors and raising funds to make it appealing for the young americans.Or maybe, the media focus on other sporting figures, which deprives young kids to have a look and develop the will for tennis.
     
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  41. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    True. Plenty of the top tennis players today love computer games.
     
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  42. 6-2/6-4/6-0

    6-2/6-4/6-0 Semi-Pro

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    I'll agree to a certain extent with Jimmy. The killer instinct and mental fortitude that used to make players like Sampras, Mac, Conners, etc. great just doesn't seem to be there. American players seem to reach a certain level in the bottom of the top then, then they marry a super-model and try to maintain a lifestyle rather than digging in to become the best (just like Nole has done as a contrast).

    I'll throw out another theory - that half of our problem as Americans is that we don't know how to play anymore. It was amazing to me to see that video clip with Pat McEnroe saying 'the Spanish trained players always hit the right shot, they may not make it, but it was the right shot.' The number of times that I mumble to myself watching guys like Fish and Roddick choose the absolute wrong shot on critical points is plentiful (granted I'm not in those situations, and I couldn't make the shot against the guys they were playing 96 times out of 100 even if I were able to get to that point in a match against them). Fish hitting cross-court backhand approaches when he needs to go down the line is one that always makes me grimace, and the passing shot often gets by him when he does.

    Our point construction is poor, our shot selection is poor. I've beaten people much better than me simply because I can use slice effectively and like to approach the net and many current players aren't comfortable against those tactics. There's nothing about that way of playing that should reasonably cause someone serious problems facing that, but we've become a nation of bangers who look at players like Nadal and Agassi and hit the crap out of the ball thinking we're like them, but not realizing that they both know how to put together points and had great shot selection - they aren't/weren't just crushing the ball from the baseline like idiots waiting for a winner or an error to happen.
     
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  43. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    I completely agree.

    Roddick and Fish play a lot of brain dead tennis.

    Agassi was a joy to watch. I prefer all courters, but the man moved his opponent around like a puppet on a string. He knew the geometry of the game and used it to his advantage. The American players of today, Roddick, Fish, Isner, they just don't play smart tennis. It's literally painful for me to watch
     
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  44. Bjorn99

    Bjorn99 Professional

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    Roddick plays smart NOW. He just doesn't have a backhand that can hurt anyone. He is the modern day version of Jim Courier. Isner is totally maxed out and plays well imo. Fish? Holy ****? This guy is totally overachieving.

    The problem is that the talent pool of the United States is mired in the ghettos and no white man is interested in dipping into it, and pulling out Tsonga 2.0 and 3.0.
     
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  45. Wilander Fan

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    I think the problem is that the money is NOT there. You have to be a top 4 player to make rock star money. Outside the top 20 and you are just getting by. Compare this to other pro sports in the US. If the money is not there, the level drops and its a viscous circle. Soon you are going to see guys in the top 100 who have day jobs like you see in squash and other low exposure sports.

    You see the top 8-10 players always get to the qfs and upsets are much rarer than they used to be..its because the level of play at the bottom has in fact dropped. The talent is not as deep.
     
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  46. Ramon

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    I think you can put up a better argument that the money is so high the players are spoiled.

    http://www.wimbledon.com/heritage/history/prize-money

    When Connors won Wimbledon in 1974, his prize money was only 10,000 pounds. Now the winnner gets 1,100,000 pounds. Even the qualifiers who lose in the first round of the US Open get something. That doesn't even compare to the size of their endorsement contracts. Players who don't make it to the top can make money in other ways, like coaching other pros, coaching in college, teaching at tennis resorts, starting a tennis school, writing for tennis magazines, etc. It's a free enterprise system and it's there if you want it and are good enough to be relevant.

    Unlike other sports, I just don't think the demand is there to pay big money just to be in the top 100. People have to be willing to pay money just to watch you play, and since tennis is an individual sport it's tough to imagine that a lot of people will pay big money to see #53 vs #86.
     
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  47. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    yeah but the prize money in connors' time was a lot compared to rod laver's time, and still the u.s. produced connors and mcenroe.
     
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  48. Posture Guy

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    I completely disagree that Roddick is playing smart now. The guy simply doesn't have a clue how to craft a point. He doesn't understand the angles of the court and he routinely hits the wrong shot. He'll approach when he should stay back, he'll stay back when he should approach, and his approach shots just suck.

    Fish? I'm very impressed by his grit and effort, but he does a lot of what Roddick does.
     
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  49. Ramon

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    I remember how the NFL linemen from the 70's had all these stories about how they played with serious injuries and made a small fraction of the money that today's players get, and today's players sit out games for minor sprains.

    I think the lesson here is that money might not be as relevant as we make it out to be. Under the present system, I think more than enough players are making enough to get by that the viewing public has enough variety to keep their interest.
     
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  50. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Complete nonsense
     
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