Michael Stitch's Take on how to beat Nadal

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Tempest344, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. Tempest344

    Tempest344 Professional

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    #1
  2. Vision84

    Vision84 Hall of Fame

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    As soon as I saw this thread I knew it was going to mean junk him.

    Honestly I don't see Federer doing this. Federer will probably feel this is not an honorable way to win. I checked to see if Santoro has played Nadal and was surprised to see he hasn't.
     
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  3. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    It is more than honorable. That arrhythmic variety-based game is what works/has worked against Rafa. Neither blowing him off the court nor outsteadying him is going to work on clay over 4 or 5 sets.

    Stich's advice is sound as a pound, and really nothing terribly new, you know. Pretty sure Higueras is also in his ear with it. In some ways, sadly, Roger is more like Boris though - so stuborn in trying to win at the other guy's game on the other guy's surface. Is that...honorable? I think it's stupid, and not just because it is not worked against Rafa at RG three years running.

    Even in 12 and unders, you're taught to match up your strengths against the other guy's weaknesses.

    BTW, Ken Rosewall, John McEnroe, Micha Stich, Arthur Ashe, Pat Rafter, Yannick Noah, Andres Gomez, Guga Kuerten and many others have won countless matches (even a few on clay) by providing their opponents with no rhythm, playing with variety and coming in to finish points off.

    Now, Stich may be a Fed fan, like most others his age, but he's probably getting a little ahead of himself on this (while patting himself on the back for cruising through Alberto Costa). ANyway, Roger first has to pass 6 rounds before he earns a match with Rafa again.
     
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  4. Shabazza

    Shabazza Legend

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    I thought he only needs 1 match to play Nadal again. ;)
    It's worth a try in the MC final to see where it gets him.
     
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  5. Ash Doyle

    Ash Doyle Professional

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    Amen to that. The only dishonorable strategy is cheating. You play the strategy it takes to win, the quicker amatuers can get out of the 'Big Forehand' is the only real way to play tennis, the quicker they'll advace as players.
     
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  6. coloskier

    coloskier Legend

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    To be honest, the only guys that have beaten Nadal in the last two years have powered him off the court, which is really hard to do on this very slow clay. But it is worth a shot.
     
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  7. dh003i

    dh003i Legend

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    When Federer has beaten Nadal, come close to it, or played well in sets against him on clay, it hasn't been by blasting him off the court, nor by outlasting him from the baseline, imo. It has been by controlled aggression, and mixing it up.
     
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  8. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    Well said.

    And when did Stich become an authority on clay court strategy? I guess Boris Becker wasn't available - LOL! Last time I checked Fed already had a better resume on the dirt than Stich did over his whole career. If this were Thomas Muster, I might respect it. Or Bruguera (sp?), or Courier...



    http://www.angrybackhand.com
     
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  9. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Well because perhaps Stich considers himself to play a similar game to Federer. They both like to attack. Federer definitely plays more like Stich than Muster. Federer can't try to play a Muster-type game against Nadal, cause he'll lose.
     
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  10. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    How can you not listen to one of the clay greats? :lol:
     
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  11. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    everybody wants to be Federer's coach :)
     
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  12. dh003i

    dh003i Legend

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    Stich has a point. Federer could beat Nadal by playing the way Noah played against Wilander.
     
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  13. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

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    He wasn't exactly a clay great,I agree with you there but he did reach the finals in 96 beating Muster(who was the big favourite to defend his title that year) on his way there so I think he has the right to offer his opinion and the stuff he says here seems logical to me.
     
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  14. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Easier said than done. Otherwise Santoro would own Nadal on clay. I mean, I admit that it might literally the best thing to try against him, but I don't necessarily think it makes winning significantly all that more likely.
     
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  15. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    Exactly. Anything that is junk, Nadal loves. You don't want Nadal running you around. You gotta get control of the points. Pace and angles are the best way of doing this. Like what Davydenko does when he is on.
     
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  16. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    I read the article twice and did not get the impression Stich was recommending that Roger play like Santoro. Junkballing? Not really.

    Mix it up, construct points using top, pace, slice, and go in to finish things off with some angled volleys. There is a difference between that mature, intelligent, high% attacking tennis and ... junkballing a guy as good as Nadal.
     
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  17. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

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    i agree , stich said nothing about junkballs, all he said was more variety in pace and spin and mix up coming to net more. thats not junk at all
     
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  18. Stchamps

    Stchamps Banned

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    haha great sig
     
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  19. rk_sports

    rk_sports Hall of Fame

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    interesting strategy to be able to pull that off against Nadal

    if it counts, to some extent Tsonga did lot of damage with drop volleys in AUS

    but can anyone think of any players who did this sort of total change of tactics/strategy (against their natural style) and be 'successful' ?
     
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  20. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Yeah, Nadal is really good at hitting incredible winners off balls with no pace. It's amazing the kind of shots he can hit off a high sitter from way behind the baseline, and just watching the Monte Carlo finals, he can rip winners off very deep slice.
    I don't think of Santoro as a junkballer.
    Pretty good description of Santoro's game. He doesn't have Safin like pace, but he can hit a flat one down the line pretty well.

    Not really convinced that variety really makes that much of a dent on Nadal on clay. That kind of play works better against mentally fragile players and one-dimensional bashers. Nadal's concentration, fighting spirit, and understanding of point construction on clay is just at too high of a level.
     
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  21. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    What Tsonga proved that if you can zone for 3 sets the way I've NEVER seen anybody zone for 3 non-stop sets, just everything working, serves, volleys, and groundstrokes, you can beat Nadal easily. :)
     
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  22. edmondsm

    edmondsm Legend

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    Yeah you definitely can't power over him on clay. Mixing it up is the only way.
     
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  23. edmondsm

    edmondsm Legend

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    Well you don't have to play perfect (Blake has shown that). But if you get him on a hardcourt and flatten those strokes out not even he is mobile and tenacious enough to run everything down.
     
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  24. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    The times Federer used the drop shot seemed to work, and Rafa is fast. I like that play. It takes Rafa out of his comfort zone, and there's something to be said for that.

    Federer needs to unload on the forehand even when he gets a half-chance. I saw him squander opportunities to do so.
     
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  25. TNT16

    TNT16 Semi-Pro

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    Great point about the drop shots (and getting Nadal out of his [behind the baseline] comfort zone).

    Rather than unloading on the forehand I would like to see Fed go for the sharp angle forehand (to the corner of the service box) more often.
     
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  26. shawn1122

    shawn1122 Professional

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    Federer looked like he was semi-unloading on a lot of forehands in that match and still missed a whole bunch, that might not be the best strategy for him.
     
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  27. caulcano

    caulcano Hall of Fame

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    I agree, a strategy would to bring Nadal to the net & then have an opportunity to make a passing shot.
     
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  28. helloworld

    helloworld Hall of Fame

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    I think Stich underestimated Nadal's ability to go offensive. Give Nadal any short or junk ball, and he will make you run around the court like a dog running after a frisbee.
     
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  29. Vision84

    Vision84 Hall of Fame

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    I remember watching Nadal lose to Monaco on hardcout last year. I know Nadal was injured but Monaco's strategy was geat. He kept sneaking in behind shots when Nadal went for a slice and would put away the volley. I don't think Nadal slices enough on clay to give a player this opportunity though.
     
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  30. sarmpas

    sarmpas Semi-Pro

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    Either that or hit a clean winner which I've seen him do time after time.
     
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  31. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

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    No, there's a subtle...but BIG...difference, imo. The reason Santoro hasn't done better in his career other than being the guy who knocks out and makes top guys sweat on bad days is that for all his variety, the one thing he DOESN'T have in his bag of tricks is power.

    Stich at 6'4-5" and those long limbs and flat strokes of his could CRANK the ball when he really wanted to. He had the margin over the net that when he went for flat winners it wasn't necessarily that much of a risk for him the way it was for Chang. High bouncing topspin also didn't really seem to bother Stich that much at all, because of the combination of his exquisite timing, height, and economy of motion...but mostly because of his height.

    Stich also had a serve (one of the greatest of all time, first AND second) that the half-sliced Subway baguette, Santoro could only dream of. Not only could Stich serve with pace and angle due to his height, what really distinguished him was that his serve was INCREDIBLY hard to read due to the simplicity of the motion, slooow windup, then BOOM, the ball was by you, you had to guess, because he hit ALL the spots with the same apparent motion and ball toss. It's why Ivanisevic said that of all the big servers on tour, the hardest for him to return by far was Stich's because he couldn't read it at all, he said every serve looked exactly the same coming off his racket (...but of course wasn't).

    You add the combination of these two factors, plus, the fact that Stich also had the REACH (Santoro's inescapable flaw at net) to not just artfully but MASTERFULLY attack the net when need be?

    It's nice to say, oh, mix it up and keep a guy off balance, but in order to do so must also have TRUE dimension in your game. Santoro may seem like he has a lot of dimensions, but in reality, people ignore that the POWER game is also a dimension. Santoro's all tricks and gimics and FLUFF, but that can only get you so far. Can you imagine playing tennis with a feather duster in bunny slippers? That's what I liken Santoro's game too, and it's why his "blow wtih the wind" game has CONSISTENTLY only carried him...just...so...far.

    See Rios on the other hand did something Santoro never did, he actually was a TOP RANKED player, not just a one-trick pony like Santoro, a *lifelong* SIDE-ACT.

    The reason is simple, Rios' serve pound for pound was WAY more effective than Santoro's and Rios unlike Santoro WASN'T just one-speed, i.e. in Santoro's case that one-speed is OFF-SPEED junk. Santoro was like a major league knucleballer. A good one is befuddling and usually *pretty effecitve* and once every few games occasionally mesmerizingly effective, BUT at the end of the season when you tally everything up, all you see is a good pitcher with good results but never a GREAT pitcher with AMAZING results, in other words, good but no cy young. NOW, however, give a knuckleballer where that's all he's got, something a little else, like say Nolan Ryan's fastball? NOW, we're talking. If that ever happened, you'd have one scary dude, because between the two you had to GUESS, and that's everything in this game. If you're CONSTANTLY bracing for off-speed stuff, that's STILL predictable.

    Rios didn't have quite that level of fastball, but the point is that he did at least have SOME kind of fastball. He wasn't a 95 plus hurler, but he still had a "live arm" and could zing you with a solid and effective 90-95mph CUT fastball imo. That was enough of a changeup that he could keep you HONEST. If someone's always cheating waiting to run-in for the wide-speed stuff, you have to occasionally send them a frozen dart if you still want to stay in control.

    Fed like Stich isn't a midget, they can bop it when they need to BUT they can also do so much more. Being a virtuosa blender doesn't mean that the blender must not still be operated by POWER.
     
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  32. Morrissey

    Morrissey Guest

    Which explains the last two times they played on hardcourt Nadal won both times.
     
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  33. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    That's sorta what Stich did to Muster at the '96 FO when many were calling Muster possibly the clay GOAT. That sort of style can work even on clay, providing(like tym said) you are a really big strong guy who can hit a ton of aces, hit clean winners from all areas of the court, plus possess all the guile, touch etc of Santoro. And are also a great mover. It's funny how Santoro's journeyman like career is the default answer when anyone suggests players today at least attempt(like Tsonga did in Australia) to play an allcourt game when they are playing someone who is clearly better than them from the baseline. Santoro is a midget with no power in his game at all, touch & guile is all he has. Stich is quite different, he was one of the many power players of the 90s that caused the ATP to slow down surfaces.

    But then again maybe Stich's advice on how to play Nadal on clay can ultimately be answered with a quote from Mike Tyson:

    "Everybody's got a gameplan until they get hit in the face."

    I think Fed's been hit in the face enough to know what to try out there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
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  34. edmondsm

    edmondsm Legend

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    True. But Blake did have his number before. Nadal has improved, no doubt about it.
     
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  35. fastdunn

    fastdunn Legend

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    Fed shows some reluctance to do all court game. i don't think he is currently confident enough to try all court game against nadal on clay. in fact, he becomes increasingly more baseliner against anyone at quarter-final or later at slams.

    he tried all court games on other surfaces with only partial success.
    for example, at dubai final a few years ago, he failed something like 7 consecutive net points and eventually gave the title to nadal.
    also last sunday, i think he failed something like 5 consecutive net points in 1st set which made him reluctant in approaching/transition game thru out 1st set.
    and then spurt of aggressive game in the beginning of 2nd set and then hided behind baseline again to give up 4-0 lead.

    To me, he has not decided in his mind on whether he wants to beat nadal from base line or with all court game. I think he still wants to beat nadal largely from baseline, not really with all court or transition game. I could be wrong but he looks that way to me watching last couple of years....
    in a way, he appears to be done with adding tony roche's game and decided to make his baseline game more solid with jose higueras, so to speak...
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
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  36. edmondsm

    edmondsm Legend

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    Still though, a little dropshot here or there wouldn't hurt.
     
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  37. Morrissey

    Morrissey Guest

    It IS worth a try but I would take advice from a guy who was great on clay. If Borg, Lendl or Guga had advice I'd probably listen very closely. Not a guy who won 3 career clay titles, all in Germany (Munich, Stuttgart, Hamburg).
     
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  38. superstition

    superstition Hall of Fame

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    !Tym, you clearly haven't seen what Santoro is capable of, like when he took Blake to 5 sets and won games with aces while cramping so badly that he let the serve returns go by...until finally he ran out of steam.

    Santoro is an amazing player who even won a title on grass last year. I'd like to see anyone else do what he's done with his stature and unconventional forehand.

    Yes, when he's off it is like he's using that feather duster and playing with gimmicks. But, look at his age and his small body. I'm only 31 and I can't even consider trying to play 5 sets against Blake because of back, knee, and heel pain. I'm 6' 2" and can't serve as well as Santoro can when he's on. People shouldn't knock Santoro and should instead appreciate the variety he's added to tennis. I'd much rather watch him hit a two-handed slice forehand than watch another Andreev hit extreme topspin.

    A "junkballer" who has nothing but a bag of gimmicks doesn't take Federer in his prime to tiebreaks, either. True junk are shots that the player doesn't have control over. That's club tennis, not professional level.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2008
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  39. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

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    No, I clearly HAVE seen what Santoro is capable of. You have to understand that when I say so and so plays like so and so, it is a GENERALIZATION made with the thought in my head that this is in relation to OTHER pro players. Of course, Santoro can serve aces. EVERYONE at the tour level can serve aces, even Schaalken and Kucera could. It's all relative, but relative to his peers ain't none of them gonna be thinking wow this guy's serve is amazing.

    I never said the guy wasn't talented. He is, BUT that's relative to his BODY SIZE. I never said that he couldn't generate power because he didn't have talent, he's just a small guy for tour level, doesn't have the racket head speed and "live arm" of other smaller guys who CAN generate big power (see Berasategui), and yeah, he's just a small guy and there's nothing he can do about it. Regarding his serve and stamina being better than yours? My feeling is, well, yeah, OF COURSE it is, the guy's a PRO. I thought that was assumed. There is a WORLD of difference between a top fifty caliber pro and the rest of the world...a WORLD, and again I thought that was assumed.

    You take any pro's weakest stroke, and there's about a 99.9% chance it's still better than 99.9% of the world anyway, at their WEAKEST stroke.

    Want an example? How about the one I've often cited in the past about how Arnaud Clement who was sideline with an injury to his playing arm for several months being so antsy to play and compete again, that he decided to enter a high level club tournament playing with his OFF-hand...and? Guess what, he WON the tournament. I point to that example, because it really does show that guys who can make to the top fifty, even top 300 in the world, really are on a different planet from everyone else.

    Again, I have absolutely, positively, 110% seen plenty of what Santoro is capable of, I just think you're reading too much into my comments by taking them too *literally*.

    After all, I've seen Philipoussis hit some absolutely perfect drop shots in my lifetime...does that mean we should start calling him a "feel" player like McEnroe? Or how about McEnroe, I've seen him out hit big hitters from the baseline on a point here or there, does that mean we should start calling him a "power baseliner" too? No, of course, they're pros. They're EXPECTED to have ALL the shots in the book. The only difference is that when we lable certain players as having such and such style, we're pointing out that this is the style they play a bit more than the rest, not that literally that's the only style and way they can win points. After all, Courier and Berasategui were both OVERWHELMINGLY known for ONLY their famous inside-out forehand play, does that mean I've never seen them win points at net, from the deuce court, with a serve, with a gasp...backhand...? No, of course not. I've seen Rafter outhit plenty of elite baseliners from the baseline for a game or two here, it happens. He just couldn't make a CAREER out of it if that was ALL he tried to do. NO pro could. Edberg won his fair share of points with his forehand too, it happens, it MUST happen if you expect to last at the tour level for very long.
     
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  40. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

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    Put it another way. Travis Lutter knocked out Marvin "the Beast" Eastman with one punch, with ONE punch! ...does that mean he's the next coming of Mike Tyson? Umm, not quite.
     
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  41. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    If somehow Roger finally wins RG on this, his tenth try, and it ends up being even partially because of Michael's advice:

    A Stich in time saves nine.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2008
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  42. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    I more or less agree with you. I was making a point but in, admittedly, a glib way. I feel like some people today overstate how effective serve and volley is, and variety is. It's like the answer to beating anybody who is seemingly unbeatable (if only on clay) is "serve and volley" or "employ more variety."

    I've said before that Santoro is so effective because there aren't more Santoros. If people actually watched Santoro and decided to play like him, the effectiveness of his style would quickly erode IMO, since a lot of his mojo is predicated on the fact that nobody else plays like him, so you can't prepare yourself for playing him. Even now, he's somebody you can lose to or beat 2 and 2 regardless of how HE plays, just based on how YOU play that day.

    On faster surfaces, like people have already brought up, sure variety/serve and volley on any given day could be Nadal's kryptonite if he doesn't have rhythm off the first groundstroke of the match (as Kendrick proved), but I think in general, variety and S and V are overestimated, and like some have already pointed out, it seems like people who can hit flat, deep, penetrating shots and run Nadal like a yo yo, a relatively aggressive, smash mouth, one-dimensional style, as demonstrated by Davydenko, Tsonga, Berdych, and Blake, might actually be a better ploy against Nadal.

    Even on grass, Nadal's results against our times premiere "variety player," Federer, is pretty good. It's taken 9 sets and lots of games for Roger to beat Nadal twice at Wimbledon. So not sure how it would work better enough to mean wins on Nadal's fave surface clay, where I think his footwork and mental strength might make him immune to the effects of variety. Not sure though. This thread became more interesting the last few days. :)
     
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  43. dh003i

    dh003i Legend

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    That's interesting, when thinking of the greatest ever on clay, I think Borg, Nadal, Kuerten.

    But in any event, Stich certainly had a measure of success on clay, although not FO title. However, basically the strategy Stich suggested is what worked for Fed for much of the match against Nadal at Monte Carlo. If he'd stuck to that consistently, maybe served a little better, I argue he would've won.

    And why bring in a quote from a punk like Tyson? Tyson was just a front-runner who never beat any great boxer. When put up against an all-time great boxer, like Holyfield or Lewis, what did he do? Nothing. He got destroyed. He bit off Holyfield's ear. A worthless punk. Now he's just a sideshow in boxing who people unfortunately watch for freak-appeal. Tyson is the most over-rated boxer of all time. I'm not even sure I'd call him a "great" boxer.
     
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  44. superstition

    superstition Hall of Fame

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    Posting in all caps every so many words doesn't add to your points.

    The post I responded to denigrated Santoro's game, so even if you have seen "110%", you haven't taken it into full account. Yes, everyone agrees that he's not a "power player". However, he can hit enough aces to win games against a power hitter at his age and with his height while cramping severely enough to be unable to hit a return. Yes, I know all pros can hit aces. Yes, I know I'm not a pro. But, your hyperbolic dismissal of Santoro was out of line unless you're only talking about him when he's off.

    Santoro doesn't just hit "junk". He can construct points with precision and depth and can pack enough power to get the ball past an opponent.
     
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  45. tennis_hand

    tennis_hand Hall of Fame

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    well, federer should take matches against nadal in a light hearted way and try to hit junks.

    federer is too serious to try this strategy. or he is afraid of throwing himself off his form. but then, he can't be more consistent than nadal on clay at the baseline, unless he can hit his winners and volley winners in a 3 set match.
     
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  46. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

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    Was just a joke, wasn't a serious reference to opening up a discussion of who's the greatest ever boxer or whatever. Just saying that in pro sports, it doesn't matter how big the legend or mystique of someone, these are all pro athletes here and a pro athlete's worst in one area is still better than the vast majority in that same area.
     
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  47. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

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    How was I out of line? It's just a message board. Of course, he doesn't just hit junk, I just think you're taking me too literally. It's like if someone says hey that guy's a real killer, real bad temper, does that mean everyone thinks he's really a killer?

    I didn't mean any offense, and I'm sorry I wasn't careful enough with my words for you, but it is what it is. Of course, Santoro can construct points with precision and depth and can pack enough power to get the ball past an opponent. That's my point, OF COURSE. I just thought that was assumed. NO ONE on here is that particular (no, not even me) that they can represent EVERY LITTLE DETAIL in perfect fairness to everyone and every little detail. Hyperbole, brushing over, exaggeration, stereotyping, blah, blah, blah that's just NORMAL on a message board and I don't see any reason why it should be taken so offensively if you understand that and don't feel like everyone must be held to this perfect standard. EVERYONE glosses over things, and you can point out and make an example of my BOLD type all you want, but the real truth is that it's just easier for me to type that way than to reach for the italics key. I wasn't OVERLY trying to make a statement with it, if you know what I mean.

    Honestly, I sometimes think we hold each other to too high a standard on here. Again, it's just a message board and you can't expect everyone to ALWAYS represent everyone so perfectly fairly all the time. Glossing over is how humans function sometimes and there's nothing wrong with that.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2008
    #47
  48. superstition

    superstition Hall of Fame

    Joined:
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    I wasn't offended, just offering counterpoint. And, please stop typing in caps. It's really obnoxious. You don't need to capitalize words to emphasize anything. The quality of the points will determine their force.
     
    #48
  49. edmondsm

    edmondsm Legend

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    In an in between place.

    Very good points. But it is hard for me to see what Federer could do to beat Nadal outside of "change things up". When Fed and Nadal play, whether it is at the French or Wimbledon, the tennis is played mostly from the baseline. At the French, Federer's serve is less affective, the ball gets up on his backhand, and Nadal's court coverage is enhanced by his great clay court movement. But at Wimbledon, Fed's serve skips through the grass, his slice stays low, he can come over the backhand, and his forehand really penetrates.

    So I don't see how Fed can beat Nadal with any reliability on clay unless he finds a better plan then stand behind the baseline and try to go blow for blow.
     
    #49
  50. Morrissey

    Morrissey Guest

    I think Sampras said in an interview with Mike & The Mad Dog here in NY he couldn't really come up with any answers. He spoke with Fed about it during their exos and Fed was saying to Pete that its harder than everyone thinks for him to come to net so much, because the surface doesn't really allow it to happen often. Most importantly Nadal's heavy shots keep him pinned behind the baseline.

    "It's hard to hit an approach shot when the ball is bouncing on your backhand side above the shoulder." All while standing a a few feet behind the baseline. Then if you come behind it Nadal's passing shots keep any net rushers honest. That's one thing that Muster didn't have. He was a grinder but he wasn't the athlete Nadal is and he could never hits those amazing passing shots like Nadal does. That's why Nadal is 100-1 on clay as of today.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2008
    #50

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