Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Ethan04, Feb 18, 2005.
Weight: 170 lbs
Weight: 177 lbs
except santoro gets to the net QUITE often. part of the "magic" you know.
Sampras 170 ??? Maybe in 1995, in 2002 he was more like 200.
I'd say Santoro is more like 5' 8", if that.
I'd say Safin has the ideal build for modern tennis. I think they list him at 6' 4" 177, but he looks more like 200.
I think one of the great things about tennis is that one's body style does not have to conform to any particular standard, unlike sports like basketball and American football where you more or less have to be a freak of nature to succeed.
In the current top pro ranks you have seriously short players (Rochus), undersized players (Hewitt, Coria), average build players (Agassi, Gaudio, Nalbandian), tall players (Roddick, Federer, Henman), and very tall players (Safin, Johansson). It really runs the gamut.
Obviously one must be in excellent shape and one must learn to utilize the relative strengths of each body type. I really think being tall only helps on the serve and overhead. It actually hurts with most everything else like footwork, coordination, and reaction speed. Coria may wish he had Safin's serve, but I bet Safin wishes he had Coria's mobility.
I do agree that the 6'1"-ish players seem to have found a nice compromise, but there are so many successful players that are well outside of that range.
Whew!! I guess I'm glad I'm 6' 1" and about 170 lbs. (or should I add a few more pounds so I can compete with Federer?). Since it seems I have the "perfect" tennis build, perhaps I should enter Wimbledon this year and give Federer a run for his money? Maybe I can even beat Sampras' record? :lol:
Too bad it takes a lot more than just having the right body build.
I agree Daniel, there is no "ideal" tennis physique. Look at Rod Laver, he was only 5'8"
and he's arguably the greatest ever along with Fed and Sampras.
I've got three inches and forty pounds to go... Where's the "cold medicine?"
if Change had Sampras' height, he would not have his wheels, so maybe he might not of won a grandslam
Roger Federer doesn't even look close to 177 pounds... The guy is skinny as hell!!! He's prolly closer to 150 pounds... And I don't think Safin is 200 pounds. He may be very tall and have broad shoulders but he's actually quite lanky (like the vast majority of tennis players.. I believe Philipoussis, Gambill and Karlovic are the only ones in the top 100 to reach the 200lb mark).
I'd say that Sampras & Federer have the ideal tennis bodies. When you are 6ft plus you can cover court better and have better reach at the net. The God given talent that Sampras had that I'm sure Federe has as well is flexability. I once saw Sampras at Cincy tournament stetching and believe it or not he was touching his elbows behing his middle back. That's one for the hackers to try.
I believe you left out Dent
Labadze ..... anyone? LOL!
I think one of the most important traits in men's tennis is versatility. You look at a guy like Gustavo Kuerten....the smoothness of his footwork and strokes. It's almost like he was gliding around the court on skates. I think what makes guys like he and federer so great is the effortlessness with which they play. Guys like Agassi and Roddick really have to work almost twice as hard if they hope to compete with federer as we saw in the wimbledon final and us open quarterfinal match-up.
Safin, to me, is a freak of nature. He has the power from the baseline of an agassi. However, his movement around the court is much better imo. He can beat you at the net and with his booming serve.
Safin hits harder than Agassi.
I am pretty sure he drinks harder too
This could be one of the dumbest posts I've read. You write "If less than 5'10", perhaps social tennis or weekend warrior, at best top of ladder at local club? Or have to train really really hard, and be like Michael Chang (5'9"), but don't overtrain and lose the speed"
I guess Grosjean should have focused on becoming a 4.0 player instead of the tour? He's about 5' 8'' but he can hit through the ball and flatten it out unlike Chang could. That's a weapon for a smaller guys, take the ball early on the rise and flatten it out.
I think that if Safin trained anywhere near as hard as lendl, sampras or federer then everyone maybe thinking that 6'5" and 220? is the perfect body for tennis. My point is that if many of the 6'6"+ super athletles in the NBA spent 8 hours a day playing tennis, like they do basketball, from childhood, then tennis history books maybe quite different.
Don't place Lendl near with Federer or Pete.
And only 3 examples are not enough for conclusions. If you can list 1000 examples then may be it could be counted enough in mathematical statistics.
I think Safin is 200 pounds at least, he looks more built than me and I am 5'11 185. Id put him between 200 and 210
Gustavo Kuerten for me. To me, a WILLOWY 6'3-5" is the way to go.
I'm talking about guys like Goran Ivanisevic, Petr Korda, and Michael Stich as well. These guys were all TALL, but not so tall as to be a detriment, a la Rosset and his complaint at 6'8" of having to bend down for balls.
To me, these guys benefited from their height in that they did not need necessarily huge swings to generate power. A guy like Grosjean or Berasategui you say? Have you seen how hard those guys have/had to work to generate their big bang power? They throw/threw every ounce of their being into their forehands to make it that big, it's no wonder Berasategui burned out so soon.
Stich meanwhile, could sometimes take the most languid swings and still come up with stunning pace. Tall guys simply have more leverage in my opinion. It's to me why Safin barely has to work to generate pace (does sneezing count...achew, go away little man...), yet a pesky little man like Rochus who is every bit as talented if not MORE (he's probably the greatest pound for pound 5'4" guy EVER in the history of the sport to put things in perspective), is but a mere waterbug trying to squeeze out every last ounce of "power" that he can. It's not a fair comparison.
BUT, to me, although Safin is in that 6'4ish range, he does not reap all the benefits. To me, although he moves well for his size and bulk, he does not move as well as peak Kuerten, Korda, Goran, or Stich. To me, those guys were able to change directions more easily. Safin moves great in a straight line, but make him change directions on the fly and that's where he's not quite up to speed. He's not slow by any means in this aspect, but it's certainly not his strength is all, Cliff Drysdale's said as much. It's the same with guys like Moya, Medvedev, Becker, and Kafelnikov. All rather hulking men for their height or at least not flighty like a little school girl builds, but at the same time, although they were all GREAT athletes, their ability to change directions on the fly was to me merely average. Run a straight line, and no doubt they could ram you like a bulldozer...but that's a different story isn't it?
Meanwhile, on the other, pansier side of the fence, guys like Kuerten, Stich, Korda, and Goran (WHEN he was all there mentally and not tanking or goofing around) to me were blessed with just about the perfect tennis bodies. So flighty and airy in build, yet still able to reap the power/reach benefits of their long wingspans. They were tall yes, but they compensated for not having Chang like low center of gravity (beneficial when it comes to changing directions, i.e. the concept behind the Feet You Wear Adidas shoes), by at the very least having a low gravitational force, lol...i.e. being born string beans. They changed directions rather easily, weren't lumbering of build like Martin, and unlike Chang weren't so easily passed at net. Chang was actually a technically VERY sound volleyer technique wise, but his reach was almost nill at net, and made him a sitting duck. I can't count the number of times, I saw a passing shot fly seemingly...JUST...out of the game and eager Chang's reach. Must have been sooo confoundingly ETERNALLY frustrating for him. The thing is with Chang, for one, he really was not 5'9", more like 5'6" according to friends who took side by side pictures with him, one even playing basketball with him. Secondly, his limbs were rather short for his height, average at best. It's like in the NBA, they don't just measure height for a player in the pre-draft camps, they also measure WINGSPAN which in many ways is just as important when evaluating a player's defensive potential. I.e. There are guys like Leandro Barbosa who may only be about 6'4" or so, but have MASSIVE wingspans of seven footers. Then there are guys like Sasha Vujacic who are say 6'6" or so, but with a 6'6" wingspan. What do you think the scouts would rather see? Longer wingspan is always better.
Sampras had long limbs for his height. When he was serving, his effective reach and contact point were higher than they typically should be for someone of his height. Basically at contact, his contact point was at the same height as the taller Rusedski's.
Anyway, back to the point: Kuerten, long, tall, lanky, and lean is ideal. Get all the benefits of reach and leverage, yet being so literally light on your feet (read emaciated) allows easy recovery...what stays in motion, stays in motion (remember Trevor "Tank" Kroneman?)...unless you're light as a feather and slinkier than Harry Houdini.
Interesting discussion today by Luke Jensen and Lief Shiras re Nadal (in his match against Alberto Martin in the final).
Jensen, quite rightly, noted that Nadal is about 6'1 or 6'2, instead of the 6'0 on the ATP site. And he's probably about 178 pounds.
The reason I'm bringing this up, though, is that Jensen kept comparing him to Roddick in terms of body size, style and forehand.
I certainly don't see the comparison in many respects, especially in terms of serve. If Nadal had that, he'd unbeatable. *lol*
They may have height in common, but I think Nadal has a genetic soccer-style physique that Roddick doesn't have.
No bad reflection on Andy at all. I just was surprised at the analogies Luke was drawing between the two today. I see more differences than I do similarities. Except they both go to the ISO forehand a lot.
I think it's a misconception that Safin is quite bulky. The truth is that he actually has a tall and lean body type. There is a shot of him practicing, in the latest ACE tennis magazine in the UK, and I was surprised at how lean he actually is. It's just that his broad shoulders make him seem bulkier than he actually is.
I've got the Safin vs Fed (AO 2005) match on DVD and Safin moves unbelievably well. During his rallies with Fed, he was changing directions on the fly extremely well. Throughout the match, both commentators, including Cliff, kept mentioning what an excellent mover Safin is. Even Hewitt, in his interview before the final, acknowledged what a good mover Safin is.
Yes, Grif is right... The "huge bulky Russian badass" myth about Safin is just a myth... I don't really understand how it came about. Someone like Moya is bulkier yet doesn't weigh close to 200 pounds. Even Nadal and Roddick are bulkier.
Maybe I'll post a couple pics later to prove my point...
Grif makes a very good point, any"body" that can outlast Federer in a 5 sets slam (AO 2005) final would have to have an almost perfect tennis body ! BTW, that is my match of the year. Safin does appear to be heavier because I think he is "big boned" thus looks more massive. His stats, which are always not quite accurate, list :
Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 195 lbs from :
Yes, I agree...Safin is NOT bulky per say, but in terms of for what his height is? He's not as lanky and thin as say Kuerten or Stich. Tennis players in general are rarely TRULY bulky, it's all relative. I've seen Safin without his shirt on many times, I know he's no linebacker, I know he's no Bary Bonds. That's a given, he's a tennis player, not a football player, not a baseball player.
With that said, while he moves very well for a man of his size, he is to me definitely broader shouldered than Stich, Korda, etc.
I've also heard McEnroe and Drysdale themselves say that while Safin is very fast going in one direction, he's not the best at changing directions. The thing is, this is all *relative*. He's still very fast. But is he the fastest ever, or the fastest in the sport at changing directions? Hardly. He's not Clement, he's not Chang, he's not Hewitt, he's not Grosjean, he's not Berasategui, etc. when it comes to stopping on a dime and reversing direction. More than that, he's also not Kuerten. Kuerten at his physical peak was unbelievably light on his feet, he was like a butterfly out there.
To me, Safin is more along the lines of a Kafelnikov mover, very good for his size, but still doesn't mean he's as agile as Clement or Schuettler.
Again, like I said, it's all relative. He's by no means below average at changing directions, but you're kidding yourself if you think he's got the agility of Patrick Rafter or Pat Cash, for example.
Also, don't forget his reach. Tall guys have a huge advantage in that they can get to many balls simply by virtue of their long strides and reach. A guy like Rochus TRULY has to scamper out there. Who do you think has to run more out there? And the thing is Rochus and his "taller" brother Cristophe Rochus are *amazingly* fleet of feet. Their foot speed is literally blinding at times, that's not Safin.
He's an unbelievably mover for his size, but for a tennis player of his size, he's not the thinnest guy. In other sports, he would be thin. But he's no Mario Ancic thin. The thing is Ancic is not the same caliber of athlete that Safin is, which is why Safin is in my opinion a slightly better mover than him. BUT, if you put world class athleticism into the body of say Stich and Kuerten? THEN, you have not just very fast for your body (factoring in the reach advantage), you have the advantage of being not just thin slim, but *emaciated*. Safin has broader shoulders than those two, it counts.
Stich was also on the German national soccer time up until he was 18. He could fly.
And Kuerten? I can honestly say that at his peak he covered the court as well as anybody in the game. It was virtually impossible to get the ball by him. It was like playing Michael Chang with POWER.
With Safin, I do not feel he can move quite the same. Remember, Safin plays more on top of the baseline than Kuerten with MUCH more compact strokes. Kuerten on the other hand played deep behind the baseline and took haymaker cuts at the ball from both sides. I believe that this claycourt style requires unbelievable wheels to be effective. You have to cover so much more ground you camp out behind the baseline. Furthermore, his extreme grips also require more time to set up. Safin is more like Agassi, except bigger. Kuerten is more like scampering Corretja, only with major putaway power as well.
Who do you think has to use their wheels more during a match? Agassi or Corretja? What's more fatiguing, clay style or hard court style?
Having played on both, playing on clay the clay style way take SO much more out of me physically personally, and requires me to run SO much more. Just my opinion.
Again, Safin's a beautiful mover for his height, but h'es not the best ever for his height. That's all I'm saying. It's relative. By the same token, Safin's not bulky at all compared to a baseball player, but he's a tennis player. Relative to other tennis players his height, he is perceived as more *solid*ly built than those guys. Again, it's a relative comparison. Next to Kuerten or Stich, he's got more of a man's body as opposed to that of a little boy. He's slim sure, but James Bond's also fashionably slim, still doesn't mean you don't perceive him as a man's man.
I hope this clarifies my stance.
BTW, Safin relative to the sport of tennis, IS huge. All the other players perceive him as such, as some monster out there. Why? Well, for a tennis player, he kind of is.
In the NBA, where full body contact is a way of life, Safin would be average at best size. He would get pushed around like a fly out there unless he bulked up. But in tennis, the need for TRUE bulk is really not a need at all. I feel that tennis players are more known for Wayne Ferreira type bodies. Next to that, Safin is considered huge by his peers for a reason. Again, relative.
Look at Shaq, he's considered huge in the NBA. BUT, he's also a tremendous athlete for his size which separates him from the other huge guys in the NBA, and there HAVE been others...they're just slow as molassas, however, so you never hear about them. Shaq could outsprint the entire Magic team, including, Penny Hardaway, from one side of the court to another because he was both a GREAT athlete for his size, but also because of his huge stride length advantage. However, in terms of pure agility, although he is incredibly agile for a man of his size, and commentators and other players are constantly commenting on how surprisingly quick he is...he's still no Allen Iverson in terms of agility. It's a limitation of his body type, again it's relative.
Safin next for a tennis player is considered a massive man among his peers. But Kuerten of about the same height was not. Why is that? Because Safin presents the appearance of a more solidly built man, slim but in proportion. Kuerten meanwhile presented the picture of a frail and limp wet noodle out there. Say they both have equal world class athleticism, which I believe they do, then in that case, I take Kuerten overall for agility.
Why? I honestly don't believe that Safin would be able to play the true extreme western grip clay court style from many feet behind the baseline as effectively as Kuerten. For a few points? Yes. For a match? Yes. In impressive isolated incidents? Yes. For a career? No way, he would get exposed then.
Quite simply, I do not feel his body is made for that...now if he were a little bit shorter, I would say, yes, his body could very well be made for that. But at his height, I believe his body would become a burden over the long haul, for anything more than a few short sprints.
Again, it's all relative, and it's just my opinion. I fully admit it doesn't have to be true, and that's ok too.
Best post you'll read in this thread
I think Safin has a big head. That makes him look bigger. I remember a photo from 2000 after he beat Sampras in the US Open. He was standing next to Sampras and he dwarfed Sampras. It was odd looking. I think his head was much bigger than Pete's. It's a proportion thing.
I agree, !Tym, it's relative. Heck, everything is. Pau Gasol is considered too slim and frail in the NBA yet compared to tennis players he's definitely bulky. Sure. My point is, even by ATP standards Safin isn't particularly big. Of course he's more solid than Kuerten or Korda, but then does it get much skinnier than those two on the ATP tour? ... Thought not.
I can name quite a few players that are as bulky, or, in many cases, bulkier than Safin. Around his height, you have Philipoussis, Moya, Enqvist, Gambill, J. Johansson, Haas, Novak...
I'm actually looking at the top 10 now, and apart from Henman, Coria and Federer everybody out there has a similar/bigger build than Safin.
I don't think anyone considers the guys mentioned here "bulky", Gambill is probably the most muscular of the lot, but still lean and ripped to the bone. Sampras had a fairly slender upper body, but man if you take a good look at his legs they're HUGE. His quads almost remind me of Eric Heiden's! Same thing with Courier, and Becker. These guys were all the hardest hitters of their era, and I think that they're superior leg strength and development helped set them apart from their peers at the time. Tanner had the biggest legs for his era, and the biggest serve, not a coincidence IMO. Agassi is very solidly built in the lower body, and you can see his pecs buldging out of his shirt when he plays. Take a good look at Gonzalez' legs. Who's got the most powerful forehand in the game today? You guessed it! My point is these guys all had or have big strong legs, and obviously knew or know how to use them to their advantage. I don't think there is an "ideal" body type to become a champion, but having a pair of legs sure seems to help.
There is an "ideal"
One who thinks abstract will argue my case. Federer with his 6'1'' 175 frame is indeed "ideal" for tennis. However this does not mean he has the best capabilities in performance. Lets look at tennis with a somewhat blurred perspective. Shorter (smaller) players generally tend to be faster (agility). This of course is a benefit for them because of their lower center of mass to the ground. A taller player tends to have a harder time switching direction and bending over and up again....this comes with thier body frame. Now you CAN have a tall guy be more agile than a shorter, lighter guy; However, this is NOT the general trend therefore cannot be used to argue what is "ideal". Tall players generally provide longer swing strokes thus generally more power on serve and groundstrokes.
Federer and Sampras are somewhere in the "middle" of all these body frame benifits. With allows them to better excel in both tall and short (lighter and heavier) body frame benifits. Federer has a better shot at training to be more agile than say a taller player because the taller player has more limitations on how far his training will allow him to improve in all aspects of the game.
Don't get mad at me for using this comparison but think of it like this. In politics, if your in the center (Federer, Sampras), its easier to enter either the left or right of politics (tall player benefits, short player benifits). If you are very much so on ONE side of the political spectrum, you will be great doing things on your side....but will struggle with being like the other side.
Thus the "potential" for a 6'1'' 175lb player is greatest and is truely "ideal" in every sense of the word (if you know what the word means). Except in our real tennis world....things like who wants it the most and mental ability (in the mind) always helps to determine who wins the match.
I think the ideal height is taller than 6'1". I'd choose 6'4" or so. Being taller would be advantages in almost every aspect of tennis. Theres a lot of very agile and mobile sports people in all sorts of sports that are 6'4" or taller. Marat is pretty mobile, he looked almost just as mobile moving side to side during rallies as Federer and Hewitt. He's a bit less agile, but still pretty agile.
1/ serve: They have a huge advantage on serve and the serve is the most dominant shot in tennis. The extra height and leverage also makes it possible for them to serve more efficiently and to use much less energy serving during a match.
2/ return of serve: They also have a huge advantage on the return of serve.
There's ussually only time to take about one step and reach out on the return of serve. Being 6'4" lets players take a long step and also reach out further with their long body and limbs
3/ Mobility/agility: Tall players can generally afford to be a bit less mobile than someone thats a bit shorter because they can compensate with their reach, so there isn't too much of a mobility/agility disadvantage. Also because they can compensate with their reach, they can use a bit less energy running, straining and stretching for balls compared to shorter players.
4/ power: being taller allows more leverage and power on strokes.
5/ Net play: When tall players stand at the net they can volley more comfortably as the net is lower than their racquet when they're in their normal stance and holding their raquet at about waist height. They practically stand 'over the net'. They're also harder to pass as they have more reach at net.
6/ Overheads are easier. They don't have to jump as much, and are harder to lob.
It seems though that taller players are injured more often than shorter ones... I can't explain exactly why, but undeniably that's what ends up happening: Ivanisevic, Guga, Norman, Krajicek, Philipoussis, Enqvist... Considering the very important part that injuries play in a professional career, I'd say it could be a huge liability.
I also wanted to point out that taller players seem to have shorter pro life span. Think of all time greatest players, (even in open era) on average their hight would be 6.0 or lower. Connort, Mac, Sampras, Lendl, Agassi... to the present times... you know the names...Interesting that all time biggest forehand belongs in my view to Fed, Gonzales and Roddick, on average, less than 6.0!
I also dispute that being tall helps in net play. All of the best volleyers of recent time that I know of were not unusually tall:
Edberg, McEnroe, Rafter, Henman, Sampras
Granted, they were not on the shorter end, but I really think that very tall players lack the coordination, footwork, and agility to be very effective at net.
I also cannot think of many very tall players that are particularly good at returning serve, disputing the claim that a larger "wingspan" helps in this department. Think of the return games of guys like Ancic, Ljubicic, Ivanisevic, Johansson, etc. Not much to write home about. Most of the best serve returners I can think of are relatively short (Connors, Agassi, Hewitt). Safin may be an exception, as there are always exceptions.
My original point remains that there are almost as many disadvantages to being tall as there are advantages. The best players are the ones who can use whatever body style they possess as a strength.
I agree with the last sentence. But I think as more tall players start to use their body type and height to it's full advantage like Safin does, the height advantage will show up more.
Out of all those tall guys you mentioned with big wing spans Safin stands out because he grew up on clay and got to develop the rest of his game including his movement more than the rest. The better returners you mentioned like Agassi and Hewitt probably have a better technique also, They also seem to be the most consistent guys during rallies. The taller guys still have to have a technique as good as the best returners in order to utilize their height advantage like Safin does. (some of those guys you mentioned may not have as consistent a backhand during rallies for example, due to their technique not being as good as Connors,Agassi or Safin, so that would also make their return less consistent and less effective).
This is all just my opinion ofcourse, theres no right or wrong.
You can't say this with any certainty, since at this point the freaks haven't really had a shot at mastering tennis due to it being cost prohibitive.
All else being equal, there's no reason why the freaks you see in the NFL, track and field, and NBA wouldn't dominate the ATP. The only reason why it hasn't already happened is because tennis is expensive. And it's not just a matter of "lessons and academies are expensive," it's also a matter of a person is more likely to play if his parents play, and his parents are more likely to play if they're relatively affluent. In the USA anyways.
In general, I think tennis players are some of the best conditioned and most highly skilled professional athletes around. But in terms of sheer athletic ability, compared to the NBA and NFL and such, they're average to below average.
I don't think Shaquille O'Neal would be able to play a long 5 setter in tough conditions, with heat, humidity...
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