Sampras thinks players are better today...

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by 35ft6, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    From Sports Illustrated:
    I know this isn't going to sway the hardcore Pete huggers, but I'm going microwave some popcorn in anticipation of the creative ways Pete's comment will be rationalized and ultimately dismissed. :-D
     
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  2. illkhiboy

    illkhiboy Hall of Fame

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    Pete's a classy guy, something you cannot always say about his fans. And something his detrators don't ever wanna admit. How is this guy arrogant? I think Pete has just the right amount of arrogance. He basically gives credit where it's due and is not scared to speak his mind. THAT's classy!
     
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  3. ATXtennisaddict

    ATXtennisaddict Hall of Fame

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    The best thing is to be both a Pete and Roger fan.

    In other words, a tennis fan.
     
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  4. TheNatural

    TheNatural Legend

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    Heres how his comments are rationalised

    I think its pretty logical or him to say that players are better today. Heck even he says he says that the new racket and string technology allows him to hit the ball better today(at 35) than he did in his prime. Enjoy your popcorn:D

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/20...iors.sampras.1st.ld.writethru.0691/index.html
    (Posted: Monday Feb 5, 2007 )
    "I know that he can beat most of these guys still - certainly at Wimbledon - so there's a temptation for him to want to do that,'' McEnroe said. "I know he's right. He can handle these guys but that's his call.''

    Sampras did play some exhibitions and World Team Tennis last year.

    "I've been hitting the ball pretty well and using the bigger racket with the new technology string,'' Sampras said. "It's really given me the ability to hit the ball better today than I did in my prime.''



     
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  5. brucie

    brucie Professional

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    I think thats a great comment from Pete, its most likely also true in Rogers case, don't know about Tiger but its probable.

    If only... (was it Vilas?) was like that about Nadal surpassing him.
     
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  6. Bjorn99

    Bjorn99 Professional

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    In real life, Pete is probably cursing a thick stream of vitirol. He is NOT happy with Federer's sudden appearance making him old hand news THIS FAST. Not at all. Don't let his political smarm fool you, for a second.
     
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  7. whistleway

    whistleway Semi-Pro

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    Too much was made out of USO '02 win. Sampras should have at least played a few more years. However u slice it, 31 is still too young to have been retired. He probably thought, yeah, that record would not be broken, at least for a few decades. And bam, it is gone !!
     
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  8. TGV

    TGV Rookie

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    Similar comments from Pete (from a Dec 2003 article):

    Many among the cognoscenti would point to 1993-97 - when he collected nine of his majors - as his prime. But Sampras contends: "The best tennis I played was when I was older. I wasn't as consistent week in and week out but that match I played against Andre [Agassi] at the 2002 US Open - my last match ever - was the highest level I have ever played.

    "Everyone was getting better when I was No 1 in the world and winning majors left and right. I was 10 times the player as I got older. When I was dominating I didn't have any bad matches and players overall weren't as good. The 2002 US Open Pete would beat the 1994 or 1995 Pete easily."

    Sampras clarifies why he believes he was better later in his career. "I served-and-volleyed a lot more on my second serve in the mid-to-late Nineties, and started using it more as a weapon. It was worth a few double faults to go for big second serves. The more I came in behind the second serve, the more effective a volleyer I became."


    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20031223/ai_n12718304
     
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  9. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    I don't really care about records, just good tennis. I think the record breakers like to focus on records, but I really don't care.

    I just want to play tennis and be inspired by great tennis players.
     
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  10. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    I know a lot of people with rush to dismiss the comment above but Agassi
    [at Queen's Club, 2003] made exactly the same point: that 'today's players'
    are vastly superior, both technically and athletically. Agassi made
    the point that the technique on groundstrokes had improved enormously
    during his playing career. And i got the impression that he took some credit
    for the technical evolutions in the game.

    In all honesty, looking at matches from the 1980s etc. it's quite astonishing
    how crude the technique on groundstrokes was, even at the highest level.

    Remodel today's players with the greatly reduced (and far less explosive)
    swings of the 1980s and they would hardly strike the ball and harder than

    the players of that generation, using the supposedly ' more powerful' racquet
    frames of today.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2007
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  11. The tennis guy

    The tennis guy Hall of Fame

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    I had said this many times, every 10 years, tennis at absolute term (without if this if that) improves dramatically. I just don't understand why many people don't believe that.

    Sampras said many times he played at higher level later in his career than his earlier career; Agassi said the same thing; Hewitt said he was a better player in 2004-2005 than when he was No. 1. It has nothing to do with relative to other players, just in absolutely term.

    When you talk about one player's decline, it doesn't refer to his asbolute level of tennis, it is relative to other players.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2007
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  12. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    but lendl hit bigger than players today, bigger than agassi even, and he used what would genuinely pass for a squash racquet,(75 inches^2)), then again you may be right because I've noticed recently that henman's serve hasn't increased in speed at all in 10 years of competetive tennis, it has stayed in the high 120's/low 130's, which suggests that the technology hasn't made the difference.
    I don't know what to think, there's conflicting evidence.
     
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  13. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, that and John Mcenroe well past his prime hitting 120s all of a sudden? I don't think so.
     
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  14. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    With respect, unless you can provide measurable data, i think that it is
    highly doubtful (imo).... i have seen several of Lendl's matches
    (eurosport sometimes broadcasts old matches of his) and his
    strokes do not seem particularly fast, especially not comapred to likes
    likes of Verdasco, Gonzales or even Federer*.... Tim Henman does reach
    those speeds on the [1st] serve but only as top speeds, certainly
    not as an average first serve speed. Henman's first serve is
    typically struck in the 105-118 range. In 2002, during the years in which
    he opted for more 'consistency' on the serve, serving at lower speeds
    today, his first serve average was lower than Venus Williams's.


    *I'm quite accurate at guessing at groundstroke speed, having made a
    study of recorded [actual] groundstroke speed of WTA players.



     
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  15. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    There was also a study for the ATP Tour (in the early 2000s) which found
    that the leading servers could serve at almost exactly the same speeds
    using wooden racquets, as when using 'modren' composite frames.
    The difference was, in fact, negligible.

    For his own part, John McEnroe has pointed out that he has improved his
    technique on both the serve and on his groundstrokes by some distance
    since he retired from the main Tour.
     
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  16. vudal

    vudal Banned

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    I think Rod Laver can beat Pete and Roger if they were the same age.
     
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  17. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    I agree about Henman, but whole-heartedly disagree about Lendl.

    There is no way Lendl hit as hard as the guys today. He hit hard relative to the players he was playing against.

    If you watch an Agassi/Lendl match from the early 90's you could see they are hitting about the same pace. However, Agassi when he retired was blasting the ball way faster than he was in the early 90's.
     
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  18. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    There is quite a high level of ignorance and misconception regarding the influence of technology as opposed to highly significant changes in technique on the professional game.

    As an aside, I have seen several players from the 1970s and 1980s and, quite frankly, they would be crushed, using the type of gentle 'half-swing' technique they had back then. Assuming they were equipped with today's I just can't see them generating enough power - or getting anywhere close to cope with the pace generated by today's players. It is insightful to note that of the players of his generation, 1970's player John Lloyd (commentating at Roland Garros 2006, for the BBC) thought that only Bjorn Borg (who he also claims to be 'faster' than Blake or Nadal) alone would be competitive off the ground with the players of this generation.


    During the rain at Wimbledon, players such as Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, John McEnroe, Virginia Wade, Martina Navratilova etc. etc. often discuss (the best) players' strokes and, inevitably, they select the strokes of this, or very recent, generations as being 'the best' in the women's game. Indeed, Tracy Austin selects today's players [Serena, Henin-Hardenne, Davenport, Venus (backhand)] as having the best (ever) strokes in the game. The only player player from a previous era that receives a mention is Graf (forehand). However, Navratilova and Billie Jean King are frequently credited with their volleying skills. Of today's players, Tracy Austin seems to feel that only Mauresmo and Henin-Hardenne are the only truly gifted volleyers, among today's top female players.

    Austin regularly points out that groundstrokes are far better technically today than during her career, or at any point in the past and that many of leading players of her generation had real technical 'weaknesses' off the ground. Tracy commented that Navratilova was 'weak' off the ground until well into her professional career - though not while Navratilova was in the studio. Chris Evert [in a studio discussion at Wimbledon 1998] commented that groundstrokes had improved vastly since the end of her playing career, pointing to players such as Hingis, Davenport and Seles. Evert also made the specific point about passing shots becoming more accurate and controlled than in her era.

    Jo Durie (who is now professional coach and commentator for eurosport), says that you "cannot compare" the baseline play from her era that of today. Moreover, she recalls how certain players players (Seles and Capriati) arrived on the Tour in the late 1980s/ 1990s and literally 'blew' her peers "off the court'. At the time, Seles and Capriati were both teenagers; neither were physically strong, and did only limited physical training. Jo Durie was rather taller (6 ft+), and physically stronger, than a coltish fifteen year-old Capriati - yet she laughs (now) at the difference in power, when they played, back in the early 1990s (Durie lost 6-1 6-2). Capriati's Prince Mid racquet was smaller and less 'powerful' than Navratilova's Yonex Midplus frame. Both Capriati's and (especially) Seles' technique and game-style was a portent of what was to come. On a broader scale, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati all made their impact upon the professional game in the late 1980s and 1990s. All three were using racquets made of the same material(s) that Navratlova used - and Steffi's Wilson and and Jennifer's Prince frames were smaller than Navratilova's Yonex frames of the late 1980s/early 1990s. Yet Steffi, Monica and Jennifer all hit a heavier/faster ball off the ground than Martina, sometimes by an acute margin. Jo Durie made the point that even as 13-14 year-old, the Tour novice Jennifer Capriati was hitting the ball much, much harder than far taller and physically stronger women - and with 'humiliating' results. Capriati destroyed the confidence of senior Tour players by hitting right through - and past - them. At the time Capriati was small and ertainly not physically imposing, as was the 16 year-old Monica Seles. As a coach, Jo Durie fully understands (and appreciates) the changes in technique and the levels of fitness (movement is far more 'explosive' than before) that have transformed the game. In her eurosport broadcasts from WTA tournaments throughout the year, Durie also provides a technical description of how groundstrokes have changed mechanically :

    * far longer swings
    * far greater trunk and shoulder rotation
    * changes in playing stance etc. etc.)

    - though she does say that changes in racquet technology partly enabled these mechanical changes to occur within the game.

    The downside of longer, and far more aggressive (and faster) swings, is that injuries are far more prevalent on both Tours than at any point in the past. Many injuries (to the trunk, abdomen) have increased exponentially, as an ATP trainer, working at Queen's Club (London) pointed out. He said that these kind of injuries hardly occurred back in the 1980s but are now commonplace today...
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2007
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  19. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Christopher, awesome post!

    I just don't understand how some people REFUSE to see the difference in the swings from the 80's and how different they are compared to today.

    Forgetting the result of the shot, and just looking at the massive upper body rotation and full swings players today take compared to yesteryear, I just can't explain how some people are stuck saying the players from the 70's, 60's, 50's, and beyond were hitting just as hard. Or that it is the equipment.

    Jeez!

    Anyways, excellent post!
     
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  20. vudal

    vudal Banned

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    Players today are better players and stronger players because the humans have evolved to have bigger tootles then back in the stone age.
     
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  21. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

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    You are kidding. Agassi of the late 80's and early 90's hit way harder then later in his career.
     
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  22. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    I don't know about tha, I thought so too, not having seen lendl in years, but if you download a the becker- lendl ao final from Laurie's website it is actually shocking how hard Lendl hit the ball.
     
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  23. Nick Irons

    Nick Irons Semi-Pro

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    Yawn

    Yes, atheletes are smarter in terms of nutritional, conditioning and strength training.

    Yes, the evolution of the game has created powerful shots from off both sdes of the ball.

    But make no mistake, it is the racquet technology that is the key component in this equation.
     
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  24. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    So you're saying John Mcenroe added 20-30 mph to his serve as he aged? That's not very plausible.
     
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  25. Nick Irons

    Nick Irons Semi-Pro

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    When did he say 20-30 mph ?
     
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  26. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Oh, I agree. Lendl had a viscious forehand that seemd to get harder and more dialed in throughout the course of the match. I've seen that match several times.

    Still don't think it is as hard as todays players. Even Agassi has said he hit harder at the end of his career than in the early 90's. And as I said, Lendl and him hit at about the same pace back then.

    What was it that Lendl use to say about AA? "Forheand and a haircut".
     
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  27. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    #27
  28. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    LMAO!

    No he wasn't. He has said so himself.
     
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  29. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    You gotta give some nod to technology on that one. Lendl's racquet was not that far dated from a woodie. I'm pretty sure he used the same frame in '88 that he used in '81 when he lost to Borg at the French.
     
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  30. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    storm, could you split those two clips up? Put them in back-to back posts? The guga one gets stuck.
     
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  31. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    Personally, I have a problem with "opinions" of any kind, since they are both biased and deal with whatever the sayer is comparing it to in their own wealth of experience. McEnroe, Laver, Shriver, etc. all have different and conflicting opinions on this issue and an array of other topics. If you're a person who believes in the validity of "opinions" which one do you go with?

    1. The first published one
    2. The last published one
    3. The one concealed in hate

    Please, the idea of people spouting someone else's opinion as a fact, is um, well, I won't say what I think about that!
     
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  32. The tennis guy

    The tennis guy Hall of Fame

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    You are a moron. Go ask Agassi himself, and watch his serve speed and ground stroke speed. It's not how fast you feel by watching on TV. Many guys had the impression some women hit harder ground stroke than Roddick by watching TV.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
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  33. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    Thanks a lot, dude :)

    I know (also) that if i used the swing path of the older club players (who learned technique back in the 1970s and 1980s, i wouldn't generate anything like the power that i do with my long, aggressive swings. And they use more 'powerful' [oversize] racquets than the control frames that i play with. It's simply a matter of physics and creating momentum toward the ball. Far more torque - but also far more strain (placed) upon the body, hence all the injuries on both Tours. The swings were totally different then and any pro tennis player (especially those that now teach) will point this out immediately, without hesitation.

    I don't think that the fundamentals of a good service motion have changed all that much, though, so i would not be surprised if certain players back in the 1960s and 1970s were serving 100MPH + serves on a consistent basis. Serving (from the television footage that i have seen) could be very dynamic back then - though the women seemed to simply get the ball into play, even on first delivery.



     
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  34. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    Actually, on many shots some women do hit the ball harder on some shots than Roddick does. You only need to study Hawk-Eye data to see that.
    Serena Williams both regularly strike forehand measured in the 85MPH to 90 MPH + range, and that it is harder (faster) than many of Roddick's measured forehands, though his top speeds are higher, no question. The BBC present extensive Hawk-Eye data (average speed of all groundstrokes struck, fastest groundstroke recorded) at Queen's Club and at Wimbledon each year. I've recorded so much of it that i'm now very accurate in guessing actual speeds before checking them against the graphical displays. I'd like to get a job presenting this data! :)

    Roddick is not an especially heavy ballstriker (off the ground) in the men's game. Federer actually hits a heavier forehand and both Verdasco and Gonzales hit rather heavier groundstrokes.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
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  35. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    I'm inclined to go with the opinions of players that have become professional coaches, that have taken a long-terns interest in the development of technique throughout their own career, and subsequently.

    And, in all honesty, there really isn't disagreement among these kind of players, not in the broadcast interviews that i have seen. This includes Pam Shriver, Tracy Austin, John Lloyd (Davis Cup captain), Chris Evert, Jo Durie (coach to Elena Baltacha), and Sam Smith. All describe radical changes in technique off the ground, from the 1980s onward. It's not a debatable point. There is unanimity across the board.

    To use just one example, Pam Shriver pointed out [at Wimbledon, 2001] that her own forehand, as it was coached in the 1970s, would be 'totally crushed' in the modern professional game.


     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
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  36. Polaris

    Polaris Hall of Fame

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    Well played, Christopher07. That was a pleasure to read.
     
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  37. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    Absolutely.
    Agassi made the point at both Queen's Club and at Wimbledon [2003] that he hit the ball 'better' in the 2000s than ever before, and that he hit it harder. And, he argued, he had to keep improving to stay at the top of the game, as it evolved.
    That seemed to be his attitude toward tennis, and toward sport in general.
     
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  38. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    Thanks a lot, Polaris :)
     
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  39. BlackSheep

    BlackSheep Rookie

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    Wow that was pretty deep.....who knew that Pete had this side.
     
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  40. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    I'm not where you got this... McEnroe (apparently) regularly served in the 100 - 110 MPG range during his 'first' career. Now McEnroe typically serves between 110 and 120 MPH on the first serve, as recorded at both Queen's Club (exhibition match) and on the Delta season ending Championships. It's an 'improvement' - but certainly not an increase of 20 -30 MPH...

    And, just to add context, his opponent in the exhibition at Queen's Club, Boris Becker (who was playing with a contemporary Fischer racquet) was serving no harder than when he was playing at Wimbledon in the 1990s - a first serve average consistently struck in the 120 - 130 range. Becker said that he practised hard ahead on the match and that the primary difference in his game was not being able to move as explosively to the ball as he once did.

     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
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  41. The tennis guy

    The tennis guy Hall of Fame

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    Why do you have to put so many "some" in there? Look at average speed.

    The notion Serena Williams hit 85+ mph off ground CONSISTENTLY is just ridiculous. Yes, she hits 90+ occasionally.

    I have seen many of those hawk eye graphic as well. They showed them when someone hit incredible shot. Look at the average speed.
     
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  42. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

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    I know the average speed. Did you read the post?
    I didn't say consistently (ball after ball) at all.
    Oh dear.

    I'm used to seeing/recording the average speeds and the fastest speeds. I think that you missed the general point of the post. Also, the detail i isn't presented with nearly as much complexity (or completeness) in US television broadcasts (I have friends that live in the US). The BBC present the data in terms of graphical charts, analysing the trajectory and speed etc. of the ball across an entire match.


     
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  43. acetennisman

    acetennisman Rookie

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    I believe that the technique is the biggest change. The only thing the new technology allows you to do is hit the ball will a more consistent result with less effort. Another point: dont judge how hard players are hitting but the feel of the speed of play. Instead also watch how early they take balls. Often enough todays game, players have all learned to, with the proper technique(as a yet), take balls off the ground with greater consistency power and control.
     
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  44. Ronnie92

    Ronnie92 Banned

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    All players of the 70's and 80's would get KILLED in today's game. This I agree with.

    However, I cannot tell if Pete is better or worse than Fed. I'd like to say that people like Agassi are much, much better than Andy Roddick and Nadal (despite how much I like Andy).

    I think Pete would have won 18+ if he had the same [lack of] competition Fed has.
     
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  45. Phil

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    Also...I can recall first watching Sampras live at the USO in around '93 or '94-and in later years, of course-and I haven't seen anyone hit a harder forehand-before or SINCE. And he played with an 85 si racquet. Of course, he was unique in how hard he hit his forehand, but reading through this thread, you'd think that the #120 player today would blow the top 10 from 1990 or 1995 off the court. I doubt it.
     
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  46. federerforever

    federerforever Rookie

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    This is the funniest thing I have ever heard. Sampras is also a great comedian. With the exception of Federer todays players have so little talent and mental toughness that it is not funny anymore. People should watch matches between Macenroe and Borg in 80s and realize that what makes tennis players legends is not what racquet you have but how mentally tough you are and what variety as well as how smart you are on court. MacEnroe in 81 after beating Borg in US Open final did not even have a smile on his face in the presentation ceremony. He was a true cyborg and the same thing can be said about Borg.
     
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  47. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    Well, there you go. I think the commentators are crappy. All of them, and I wouldn't believe one word that came out of their mouths. Tracy Austin whose article before the AO had to be pulled because it was so dismissive of Serena Williams, a 7-time gs champion. Mary Carillo who was foolish enough to say that Sharapova was a better player than Serena Williams. Again, that crazy logic, when she said it, Serena had 6 slams to Maria's one. Who listens to these people? or do people really listen to these people? Tracy Austin who rather than commentate on the actual game concerns herself with Serena's weight. Pam Shriver, so full of hatred it's pathetic, and the McEnroe's, come on. But, I guess it's a matter of who we choose to listen to, and as far as commentators I'll take the lesser known Katrina Adams on the Tennis Channel, she is objective, breaks the game and not the players. I guess I like a little truth in my commentary and I can spot a liar a long ways off!
     
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  48. jktennis59

    jktennis59 New User

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2006
    Messages:
    82
    Location:
    Caracas, Venezuela
    In the past, tennis players were athletes because they played tennis. Today they have to be athletes to play tennis. That's the difference. Todays game is more phisically demanding than 15 or 20 years ago.
    To me, the golden era of tennis was in the 90's (Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Becker, Edberg, Ivanisevic, Chang, Rios...etc.) but I have to admit that today tennis players are phisically and technically better than before.
    The problem is that 10 or 20 years ago we were younger and more passionate. At this age we had our idols and it's hard to admit that Federer is a better player than mi idol (Sampras, of course). Federer and Sampras never played each other at their best condition so it's impossible to compare.

    In two years Federer will break Sampras grand slam record. In 20 years my grandson will break Federer's records and......
     
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  49. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    120
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    Well, i'm still young and, though i have no particular attachment to today's players i think that its glaringly obvious that that they better technically equipped than players of the 1970s and 1980s. I cringe when i look at the groundstroke (not the serve or the volley) technique in replays of 'classic matches'.

    And, If so many pros that were playing then can admit that there has been enormous technical improvement in the game without hesitation, then why on earth is it so hard for fanatical contributors to tennis forums to admit the same?
    Do they actually know the sport better than the (ex)pros, some of who now teach?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2007
    #49
  50. christopher07

    christopher07 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    120
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    His forehand doesn't (didn't) look especially heavy to me, certainly not on most shots. The annoying thing is that there is no means of proving it (and making a direct comparison with today's players etc.) as groundstroke speed etc. wasn't recorded back then as it is today.
     
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