The speed of the game - old vs. new

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by NLBwell, Dec 6, 2009.

  1. Cantankersore

    Cantankersore Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, I would say he Ginobili is a much better athlete. Not that it would necessarily translate to being a better tennis player. One difference between the sports is that being tall and somewhat athletic makes you automatically a pretty good basketball player; having four inches on a guy and being able to palm a ball are pretty big advantages in basketball, whereas in tennis it is more of a double edged sword. This is obviously not the case in Tennis, the advantages are not as obvious. Still, given the same athletic ability, you would probably rather have a couple of extra inches.
     
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  2. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Players on the grass attacked and took time away from their opponents by shortening the court by moving to the net rather than consistently hitting hard. Players retuning a ball had to move quicker - quicker hands, quicker feet than players have to now in a baseline rally. Taller players these days are probably much quicker than they used to be because of training, but shorter players probably aren't much quicker than the guys then (they did do Harry Hopman's plyometrics). Of course, all players are now on average probably faster running behind the baseline (vs. quick reactions), but without the constant hours of hitting reaction volleys and reacting to them, the current players are not as quick in that sense. It is a different game and height has far less disadvantages than it did then, therefore you will see the trend of tall players continue. It doesn't mean that the players then weren't as good an athelete, it means the optimum size for a tennis player is now larger than it used to be.
     
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  3. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    You're an IDIOT. SERIOUSLY.
     
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  4. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Nope. And there is no metric to measure these things, so we can argue about it forever. I trained pro athletes for quite a while, did a masters degree in biomechanics...and i feel the evidence overwhelmingly supports the contention that training absolutely cannot push the ceiling up on those things, but again, a very lengthy argument, one which I have addressed earlier. More to the point, it's not something anyone wants to hear...the simple answer and the most palatable is: train hard = faster feet. It's not true, but hey, it sounds great and it appeals for SO many reasons! Of course we then follow it up with the ludicrous idea that say...Laver did not train hard enough maximize his speed. (a lack of rubber tubing and beach balls undoubtedly....nevermind Hopman's drills). But again, I'm preaching common sense (and SCIENCE!) against the public trends....and those who have both personal interest and in many cases, commercial interest in propagating it....I know I'm not going to win against that!

    Sorry for the digression, but this is an ENORMOUS topic....which again...is why I hardly want to write volumes on it, only to have numerous, rather ignorant, posters cite the men's health article they read...or their own common sense!
     
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  5. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    If Del Potro had Bryant's weight he would have destroyed his knees already.
     
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  6. Cantankersore

    Cantankersore Semi-Pro

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    The first point, I'll agree, wasn't really a point. The second point doesn't really seem to have much of a point, although it was something that baseball had trouble with. I must say though, thanks for masterfully addressing the third point. Drawing a larger sample from a larger population (having skill levels presumably following the same sorts of distributions as in previous generations, at least according to you) and filtering for skill obviously wouldn't tend to increase general professional skill level, I mean that is just common sense.
     
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  7. Cantankersore

    Cantankersore Semi-Pro

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    What about Karlovic? Joints don't get stronger the taller you are.
     
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  8. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    Karlovic isn't exactly know for moving. He's probably hitting 1.5 shots on average when serving and not much more on return.

    Del Potro is different, he has to move a lot as a baseliner and has surprisingly good defense for a guy of his size. If he had to carry an additional 25 pounds he'd be injured all the time.
     
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  9. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Datacipher, I for one appreciate your obvious knowledge on this topic and it is quite interesting. I think what you are alluding to is that there are just certain "limits" of physical/athletic improvement, and since many players actually trained very hard with many "old school" training techniques and in essence had great inherent talents, there has not been the degree of improved athleticism that people may somewhat imagine. We may be somewhat fooled by the changes in the game that are primarily caused by racquet and string technology vs. athletic/physical improvements.

    After all, just how superior are tennis athletes (especially among the top players) vs. other greats of say the 90's, 80's, and 70's? Though there are some "modern" training techniques, the players from decades ago also trained in somewhat "tougher" conditions often and learned to play/train in circumstances that are not really present now. Anyway, thanks for your input.

    An example of how in some ways, tennis was more "physical" in days past is this: imagine playing 5 setters at Wimbledon on much faster grass, where you have to react to low, skidding balls, or at Roland Garros, when the red clay was much slower than it is today. Now, also imagine playing those five setters with say a 16 or 17 ounce wood frame in your hand with no tourna grip on it, and just a leather grip, and also an approximately 70 square inch face. Your hands/forearm would have to be very strong to pull that off, relative to what the guys are experiencing these days. No gatorade and long breaks between points and "injury timeouts", etc. either.

    I don't doubt that there are many great athletes around today though. There's no question about that, but there were also plenty of superb athletes in decades past and I think that is what Datacipher is talking about, with a lot more expertise than most other posters on this board. I'm sure these things have been researched in peer-reviewed articles/studies, that Datacipher has read.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
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  10. asafi2

    asafi2 Rookie

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    NBA players heights are measured with shoes on and tennis players are not...sorry to be nitpicking.

    Kobe, without shoes, was measured at a little bit less than 6'4 3/4" by the combine, and his wife measured him out to be the same thing.

    So I think Kobe and Monfils are very comparable in height. So just subtract a little more than an inch from those NBA players and you'll get their real heights.
     
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  11. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    As far as NBA athletes being so much better as "athletes", let's agree that the games are very different. One is a team sport, whereas in tennis you have "no where to hide". Plus, stamina is somewhat different. All that jumping, and "physicality" when you have to push against other players and fight for the ball takes a lot of energy, but so does playing one long point after another, with the cumulative effect you feel from basically performing one series of short sprints in essence, after another. Your heart rate in top flight tennis keeps having to "race up" and then come back down, point after painful point, set after set. It's one of the toughest sports around in that respect alone.

    I'd love to see NBA players run the way tennis players do on a court (without even hitting a ball) to simulate point play. How do you think most of those players would look after say one set of such "hypo points" and then set 2, set 3, and set 4? Many would start falling all over themselves trying to maintain balance and control, and that's not even factoring in the energy it takes to constantly swing hard at shots. Plus, once again, in tennis when you are totally spent, there's no where to hide or no "teammate" to simply pass the ball to. You also can't just "take a substitution" and have another player come in for you for a 5 minute break. Also, factor in PLAYING OUTDOORS in heat, instead of an indoor gym with A/C.
     
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  12. lawrence

    lawrence Hall of Fame

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    Since the black and white days, there are a LOT of things that have improved:

    Rackets
    Strings
    Shoes
    Clothing (although the significance of these is most likely weightless on gameplay)
    Nutrition - both on and off court
    Conditioning equipment
    Fitness research
    Supplementation
    And luxuries such as the pampering some tour players get which affects mental conditioning

    The difference may be minimal, but to say athletes are not more conditioned than they were back in the old days is absurd.
     
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  13. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I think ON AVERAGE, yes, but when you start comparing certain players versus others (especially the greats at the top that were "cream of the crop") the differences are more marginal at times, depending on exactly which 2 players you are comparing. Plus, there were certain things, such as increased racquet weight which resulted in incredible wrist/arm strength (Rod Laver for example) that most any player these days could not easily replicate, even with some advanced "weight training". There's no substitute for being on the court for hours at a time, hitting with much heavier racquets. That's one aspect of the game that was tougher in days past. Nowadays, it's more about tons of running/sprinting a lot, so it's different in that respect, but the actual swinging of the racquet and hitting the ball have become easier.


    See excerpt on Rod Laver from Wikipedia:

    "Although of a slightly short and medium build (1.72 m), Laver developed a technically complete serve-and-volley game, with aggressive groundstrokes to back it up. As Dan Maskell put it, he was "technically faultless, from his richly varied serve to his feather-light touch on drop volleys plus a backhand drive carrying destructive topspin when needed or controlling slice when the situation demanded it." His left-handed serve was well disguised and wide swinging. His wristy groundstrokes on both flanks were hit with topspin, an innovation in the 1960s, as was the attacking topspin lob, which Laver developed into a weapon. His stroke technique was based on quick shoulder turns, true swings, and exquisite timing. His backhand, often hit on the run, was a point-ender that gave him an advantage. Laver was very quick and mobile and had a gigantic left forearm. Rex Bellamy wrote, "The strength of that wrist and forearm gave him blazing power without loss of control, even when he was on the run and at full stretch. The combination of speed and strength, especially wrist strength, enabled him to hit ferocious winners when way out of court." At the net, he had forcing volleys, often hit as stroke volleys. Especially on the backhand, he could hit sharp underspin angles as well. Julius Heldman pointed out, "He is competent on low balls, handling them with underspin for control, but he will cream any ball at waist level or higher." He was difficult to lob, because of his springing agility, and when forced to retreat, he could come up with a vicious counterpunch.

    As an amateur, Laver was a somewhat flashy player, often a late starter. He had to learn to control his adventurous shotmaking and integrate percentage tennis into his game when he turned professional. In his prime, he could adapt his style to all surfaces and to all conditions. Laver had a great record in five-set-matches, often turning things around with subtle changes of tactics or by simply hitting his way out of danger. When he got into the "zone", he went for broke. Then he would, as Heldman explains, "literally jump and throw his racket at the ball with all the force he could muster, wrist and arm snapping over at the hit."
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
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  14. FlamEnemY

    FlamEnemY Hall of Fame

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    This is actually quite interesting. How often do basketball players injure their knees? Those guys are quite big and the game is rough. I'm curious how (in theory) they will do on court, rather than on basketball field.
     
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  15. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Just look at the numbers of world record times in other sports if you want something quantifiable and "objective." Times are improving across the board. And yes, training can improve and enhance athleticism. Just ask people in rehabilitation who perform exercises and drills to regain and improve their damaged motor skills, balance, and mobility.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
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  16. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    I'd like to see a study that establishes a correlation between injuries and height in tennis. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a higher incidence of leg problems with taller guys, but it seems like injuries happen across the board. And it can be argued taller guys with big games who don't have to continuously grind to win points save wear and tear on their body compared to their lesser powered counterparts.
     
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  17. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    That's why we're talking about athleticism and not saying stuff like Lebron sucks at tennis or Federer stinks at water polo.

    Somewhere on these boards, I read that scouts for tennis federations in other countries, what they look for above all else in little kids is athleticism. Natural hand eye coordination, speed, and footwork. That above kids who have already been taught to hit well.
     
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  18. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Tennis is somewhat unique among sports, in my opinion, in that it may be the sport that MOST combines great athleticism as well as great amounts of skill that must be honed for many years from a young age. Can anyone name another sport that combines severe athleticism along with a high degree of skill like tennis. Basketball and soccer come to mind, but they are team sports as well. In addition, it is also a "thinking man's/woman's game", so you also have to have a good "tennis mind" to be successful (temperament and ability to construct points, etc.). So, let's add athleticism to tennis skill and the mental aspect as well.

    So, you can find great athletes, but there are perhaps a low percentage of people out there that have the innate skill (the ability to be able to hit shots extremely well) required in tennis.

    It doesn't matter how fast or how strong you are on a tennis court, if you can't for example, follow up a blazing forehand with a soft shot into the open court once in a while for a winner. That is "tennis skill" that some people have, with primarily eye/hand coordination, yet it must also be developed over thousands of hours of training from a fairly young age. So, I understand that you must have good athletes, that's a given, but tennis skill is much overlooked. That's why guys like Fabrice Santoro, for example, has a big career edge over say a Marat Safin (7-2).

    Now, when you combine great athleticism with great tennis skill, you have the potential to have a truly GREAT tennis player, such as Laver, Borg, Sampras, Nadal, or Federer. You must have great athleticism and also tennis skill, one without the other won't get you very far. You must have the right kind of "tennis mind" as I've mentioned. I understand that tennis federations are trying to identify great athletes, but they will have a difficult time being top notch players unless they also don't start playing from a fairly young age, and hone their skills during lots of tournaments, thousands of hours of practice. Plus, if such players just don't have the "talent" (i.e. genetic advantages) to be able to hit certain shots, there are limits to how good they can become. They must also have the right "mental makeup". You might be able to bash the ball left and right, and run sprints for hours, but if you break down mentally every match, it does you no good.

    To some extent, some people are just born with the ability to play good tennis, like some are born with a "gift" when it comes to music talent. Some have it, and others don't. There is no substitute for that with more modern training regimens/techniques.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
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  19. dlk

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    Borg , I agree with your post. Early in my life what got me interested in tennis, was how it was an athletes' sport, that combined physicality, yet has technical skill (see hitting a 90mph fast in baseball), then the mental game of one person battling another person. Athletism, can overcome some of tennis' technical skills, so it makes sense that scouts search for athletism over techncial skill. The common statement in sports, "you can't teach athletism." I believe todays' athletically ranked 50 player would be in top 10 30years ago, just because of superior physical physique & conditioning. Nadal & FED would demolish the players of the 60-70-80s.
     
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  20. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Well, DLK, I'm glad you appreciate those aspects of tennis. It is truly a beautiful sport due to the reasons you list in your post.

    As to your comment:

    "I believe todays' athletically ranked 50 player would be in top 10 30years ago, just because of superior physical physique & conditioning. Nadal & FED would demolish the players of the 60-70-80s."

    That's a tough one. If they kept their racquets, while the older players had to rely on wood racquets, or even the racquets of the 1990's, the old players would have a VERY difficult time competing. Racquet advances and string advances have not been just for nothing. Comparing across eras is very complicated due to this. Players of the 60's and 70's especially, and the 90's less so, played with technology that forced them to "create everything" on their own, instead of relying on their racquets so much. So that's a very difficult comparison to make. Having said that, if you placed certain players of the past in today's era, with the opportunity to grow up with TODAY'S technology, they would dust the court with some of the top players. Now, Nadal and Federer are two GREAT players, that would have likely fared well in just about any era. They are that good. But, players like Laver, Sampras, and Borg, could have similarly competed quite well in today's game, if they had the advantages to technology advances, in my opinion. They were also that good. The same can't be said of all players of yesteryear, or all players of this era.
     
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  21. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It's all debatable. As Borg number one wrote, if you moved the athletes of today to the past, they very well may have problems with the old small frame wood rackets.

    I would have to disagree with your statement that Nadal and Federer would demolish the player of the the 60's-70's-80s. If that's the case why does John McEnroe at age 50 do so well today. Wasn't McEnroe winning in World Team Tennis against players in their twenties now and just a few years ago?

    McEnroe says he serves harder now than he did in the 1970's and that's obviously mainly due to the racket technology.

    Federer and Nadal would do well in any era but they would have to adjust to the different rackets and playing conditions. I don't know if they could play the style that they play with now and win in the 1960's. They would have to play differently.
     
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  22. dropshot winner

    dropshot winner Hall of Fame

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    The rackets and strings do make a difference, but it's not that big. Didn't Roddick serve 140 mph bombs with a wooden racket a few years ago?
     
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  23. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Boxing, MMA, full contact 1 on 1 sports, etc.
     
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  24. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Yes and no Namranger. Tennis requires quickness and speed (sprinting over a distance and changing directions on a court over and over), whereas Boxing and MMA are more about pure quickness and not running fast over any great distance.

    Boxing and MMA also, though they do employ strategy, do not require the same acumen as tennis in that constructing points in a myriad of ways and "out thinking" your opponent over the course of a long match, it can be argued, is more of a mental feat than "out thinking" your fellow boxing opponent or MMA foe.

    You also don't have to fight off the elements and are in constantly controlled conditions with MMA and Boxing. Yet, both boxing and MMA require great strength, fitness, quickness, strategy, and mental toughness/physical toughness. There's no question about that.
     
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  25. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    This is brought up during these discussions all the time. By the way, I love these discussions. :) But yeah, somebody brings up how skill intensive tennis is, and it's true. Off the top of my head, only world class gymnasts and figure skaters start systematically training as early and often under expert guidance the way tennis players do.

    Still, with all else being equal, the better athlete wins. Look at Borg's dominance on grass and clay. Was he REALLY the most talented ball striker on the tour for those years?

    Far as blazing speed goes, 90% of the time spent on court it probably doesn't PHYSICALLY matter. During the rally, you don't need blazing speed to stay in it. Just ask David Nalbandian's stomach. But at the same time, I wrote "physically" because I remember during his prime, Chang would really make his opponents hit 2 or 3 extra shots to win the point, and by the later sets, they're making unusual unforced errors left and right because they're so spooked by Chang's defense. Speed takes a mental toll on your opponent.

    Athleticism is a huge asset in pro tennis where everybody can hit the ball well.

    I think people who bring up the "tennis requires skill" overstate its importance because they're mostly framing their argument within the context of recreational tennis where there are way more mismatches. So yes, on public courts, you see a 230 pound former college player beat up on a ultra fit 20 year old triathlete and you think "skill is more important." But you get a 170 pound former college player and put him up against the 230 pounder and you may suddenly think "wow, being fit and being able to move is really important."

    On the ATP tour, less of these mismatches. Everybody has great technique, good footwork, etc. Yes, the top players have an extra gear, but they can all hit the ball, and there is almost always some overlap between the players, meaning a guy ranked 90 in the world, if he's playing out of his mind at 100% and he comes up against a dour Andy Murray playing at 85%, he's got a shot against the number 4 player in the world. At that level, it's about being mentally stronger, better at taking negative feelings and channeling them in positive ways, and being a fitter, better athlete.

    All else being equal, athleticism makes all the difference in the world. If only for those 2 or 3 points that really determine the outcome of a set, having that extra athletic gear, being able to run down that extra ball, makes the difference. Sampras did this a lot. He would look almost disinterested for most of the set, and then all of the sudden at 3-3 or 4-4 he would hit a running forehand, break serve, and coast out the set. He was one of the best athletes in tennis at the time, but he only needed the athleticism for a few points during the set.

    Just think about it, if anybody in the top 10 gained 15 pounds of fat, how much do you think it would affect their ranking? Extra fat diminishes your athletic ability, that's all it does. Makes you less agile, less fast, and less explosive. Verdasco, Agassi, and Ginepri are three great examples of players who reached a new level just by becoming more fit (fit=maximizing and enhancing your natural athleticism). It matters a lot.
     
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  26. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I think you bring up a lot of good points in that previous post 35ft6. I guess I place more weight on shotmaking ability than you do when analyzing players, but I agree athleticism is extremely important, but I would say that you need all elements to be a truly great player. If you remove any of those key ingredients, it's very tough to be anywhere near the top.

    Let's look at 5 GREAT players (I'll include Nadal, since he and Federer are regarded as overall today's two best players, and they are both "hall of fame" material). Laver, Borg, Sampras, Federer, and Nadal. What do they ALL have in common?

    They are unquestionably GREAT pure athletes. They are all very fast and very quick, with incredible eye/hand coordination. In terms of pure stamina, perhaps Laver, Borg, and Nadal are all a bit ahead of Sampras, Federer.

    All five are also highly skilled as shotmakers. They all can win points in MANY different ways, even Nadal. All five are quite creative and capable of hitting so many different types of shots, from ANYWHERE on the court.

    I disagree with you somewhat when you say that Borg was more athlete than shotmaker. His forehand and backhand were extremely good, even when just hitting back and forth from the middle court compared to someone. You cannot be that consistent and win on Red Clay and then make huge adjustments to win on fast grass, reach 4 finals at the US Open, and also a lot indoors, without being a great shotmaker.

    He had the best forehand in the game, probably the 2nd best backhand during his time, as well as a very good serve, and "okay" volleys, which were greatly aided by his very fast reflexes. Again, remember, he could generate lots of pace AND spin, with a tiny frame (72 sq. inches), and hit much like players of TODAY, unlike other players of his era. Lendl came next, in that he was also much like many players of today.

    Then, what else do all 5 have? They all have a high degree of mental toughness/determination, and "high tennis IQ's", in my opinion. Even Nadal is no "dummy" on the Court. He literally figured out how to hurt Federer badly and often, which is not easy, especially on a variety of surfaces. Finally, to varying degrees, all five players can "remain calm" under pressure and raise the level of play at critical stages. This is in effect a mental talent on the tennis court, and not just a purely athletic talent.

    Yet, I do agree, that at critical stages of a match, top players do rely heavily on pure athleticism/stamina. Yet, mental toughness and sheer shotmaking ability also comes into play. There is a constant need to use all these "tennis ingredients" throughout matches, and especially at key stages when the score is tied up.

    You just can't rely on constantly running and being "in the right spot". You still have to get the ball over the net, into an open court, or behind someone, at the right times. This takes mental toughness and the ability to replicate certain shots with consistency, but also to hit shots that have not been hit before at all during a match as a "surprise factor" to overcome another player.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
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  27. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    I don't think you understand boxing or MMA if you don't think these sports require a skillset that is equally tough if not harder than tennis. In tennis, a mishit results in you losing one point, which really in the grand scheme of things doesn't really matter. However, you messing up on your technique in boxing or MMA, results in you eating a fist to the face.


    There is a TON of strategy in both sports; if you think Fedor has been undefeated for years in MMA because he's lucky, well, let me tell you. He's not. He is a cerebral fighter who is nearly perfect in every way. He has faced opponents who are far more athletic than he is and far stronger, yet he comes out on top every time due to superior strategy and technique.
     
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  28. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I never said Boxing or MMA don't require skill and/or strategy. Yet, I don't think they are as cerebral as tennis, that's all, but obviously you disagree. Perhaps, you have experienced boxing or MMA at a very high level (personally) as I have experienced tennis at a high level, in my life. So, we have different perspectives on this.

    As for some other differences, it is a fact that boxers/MMA fighters don't have to run to the same degree as tennis players (sprinting across the court and covering large distances over the course of points and cumulatively over the course of a match). In addition, they never compete in say 90 degree weather, over 3-4 hours, on red clay or on hard courts, with wind also playing into the equation. Their environments are controlled.

    I'm not denying that boxing and/or MMA are physically grueling and require strategy, but tennis does as well, and in certain ways that boxing and MMA do not. I'd argue that tennis is more chess than say either boxing or MMA, but one may disagree. I'm only speaking as someone that has watched a lot of boxing bouts and some MMA (not much). Plus, I've never competed in either boxing or MMA, so I can't speak to it from personal experience. Yet, I have lived and breathed tennis at very high levels. The sport becomes increasingly complex as you "move up the ranks", increasing in physicality and also mental demands.

    At the same time, tennis does not require the same "high pain threshhold" as those sports do, in that you are not enduring as much pain, other than the "burn in your muscles", fatigue, and basically "sucking wind". It's more mental agony than sheer physical agony with tennis, but there's plenty of physical agony in high level tennis as well. Just not to the degree as say boxing, MMA, or say football or rugby.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
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  29. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    I strongly disagree with this. Maybe someday in the future it could reach new levels of skill, but seriously consider this: you can take a super strong, naturally athletic, 6'5" guy off the street who has absolutely no combat training whatsoever and he will destroy the world's greatest 145 pound female fighter.

    On the other hand, let a guy practice for even 5 or 10 years and he'll get destroyed by a 145 pound player in the WTA top 100. That's how much more skill counts in tennis.
     
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  30. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Of course. But all else being equal, the better athlete wins.
    Have you ever seen Fed tired?
    Sure, he had incredible groundies, but to me a shotmaker is somebody who can create something out of nothing. Being rock solid and powerful is a skill, too, but for that time, and it's a bit before my time, wouldn't you say Vitas G, Nastase, Mac, and even Connors were superior shot makers? I'm not an expert on Borg, but I think of him as somebody who won by superior consistency, incredible stamina, and an unshakeable mental attitude. Not necessarily by artistry and skill a la Mac.
    I would argue that without the proper physical conditioning, especially in the later stages of the match, your ability to express your mental talent will be severely limited. Becoming a better athlete allows you to express your tennis creativity better, in the same way developing your drawing skills and expanding your color pallet allows an artist to express their imagination better.
    I agree with most of what you say even though it's a straw man for the most part since I said about 4 times "all else being equal." :)
     
    #80
  31. makenakai

    makenakai New User

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    I have wrestled and fought and am also an avid tennis player and student of the game for over 40 yrs. Tennis is boxing without the blood they say, and IMO its only partially true. It is hand to hand combat in every way of course, but the net makes all the difference. With all due respect, if you have not fought you will NEVER understand it. No one can who hasn't faced an equal sized opponent with the same strength who can and does hurt you. You can make 3 errors (serve out) and one good serve and be even and not even winded. Make 3 errors in a row in a fight and you are badly hurt or even done. Certainly you would not get back what those blows took away. In tennis, You can neutralize, defend, trick or outfox an opponent into beating himself without actually attacking. To win a fight, you have to actually beat your man - ie attack successfully. Get aced, point over. Get hit good...get ready to be hit again...and again...each one weakening you more...til you escape or hit the deck... Tennis is way easier, man.
     
    #81
  32. TennisD

    TennisD Semi-Pro

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    No. Now saying that the athletes in a sport as competitive and constantly evolving as tennis have essentially not progressed in terms of speed, quickness, strength, power, etc... in ~40 years...that's ignorant. The speed of the shots, just to touch on one thing, is most DEFINITELY not the same. Not even by a longshot. Even if we look at something as easily quantifiable as serve speed, the number of players that could consistently top 120-125 mph on their first serve even 20 years ago is considerably lower than the number that can do it today.
     
    #82
  33. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Here we have a certifiable idiot. Read my numerous, numerous posts on serve speed. Then get a clue. Seriously. I love how these guys make up stats. "the number of players...". Like they have ANY CLUE. There are few people in the world that know more about serve speed stats than I do...give me a freaking break.....!
     
    #83
  34. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    LOL. There just comes a point where you've written extensively on a number of issues being addressed (drug testing, athleticism, training, speed of the game...style....blah, blah blah) and a no-mind comes along and spews out such ignorance...that you just can't do it one more time. I'm too old to waste time on people this proud of their ignorance! ;-) Plus, they are generally kids...they don't want to hear the truth anyways...it infringes too much on the hero-worship they rely on to validate themselves!

    I tried to keep my participation in this thread (and have ignored countless like it) because really, I shouldn't be involved. I'm not going to regurgitate the self-validating pablum these kids want to hear! So I shall take my leave of this thread. I do not want to stand in the way of more myth-building and self-gratification! Rest assured, to those I called idiots, it is not possible to impress me any more deeply than you already have....
     
    #84
  35. TennisD

    TennisD Semi-Pro

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    I've got a clue, thanks. I really wish I could find the studies I'd seen not too long ago comparing average serve speed by decade. Perhaps you misunderstood what exactly I was getting at; what these numbers had shown was that, in each decade, the number of players hitting at an average speed of x (let's say 120mph) increased. So, if in the 80's that number was (as an example) 10, then in the 90's it increased to, again, for example, 25. Please though, go ahead and show me your results. I'm not prepared to sift through your 2000+ posts of well earned internet seriousness and serve statistics superiority :rolleyes:

    EDIT: Sorry, I'm sure that came off a bit combative. I'd love to see your numbers though. The question over whether or not players (as well as the speed of the game) have changed over a span of 40 years should be a moot point; between the technology that has been introduced to the game, and the fact that the players are constantly getting stronger, fitter, faster, etc... due to the constant evolution of modern training renders this a non-argument.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
    #85
  36. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    35 ft 6, interesting stuff. As to Federer, YES, OH YES, I've seen him tired MANY times. The French Open Finals are a prime example and this last Australian Open was another. He tends to get slightly tired by late 4th set, and 5th set, but that is normal, and not unusual at all. The same thing possibly occurred against Del Potro at the US Open, but to a lesser degree. He is someone that relies on winning matches either in 3 or 4 sets. If a match goes five sets, his chances are just not that good. This USED to happen to him against Nalbandian as well, before we saw a "prime" Federer.

    See this 2008 article:
    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/aus/2008-01-17-fivesets-tennis_N.htm

    Excerpt from the article as to the 5 set records of players:
    At the top of the list is Swedish backboard Bjorn Borg, whose 81% winning percentage (26-6) is the best of all time. Others in the top 10 include double Grand Slam winner Rod Laver (fourth) and Spanish bull Rafael Nadal (tied for 10th). Three-time French Open winner Nadal leads active players.

    I've never seen Borg get tired/visibly breathing very hard. Nadal and Borg are as strong and "ready to go" in the fifth set as they are in set one. Yet, they are absolute anomalies among players.

    Borg was both incredible shotmaker and athlete. To play the way he did, though he was great at defense, also required the ability to create shots and also be on the offensive at the right times. Sometimes, people think that say a net charger is somehow more "creative" or a "shotmaker" versus a baseliner, but someone like Borg or Nadal have to often create incredible angles from the baseline, especially for passing shots, which require a degree of skill from the baseline that the vast majority of players, even players as talented as McEnroe do not have (running 2 handed backhand passing shots cross court, or the ability to lace a down the line passing shot off the forehand side). McEnroe could hit these shots, but not the way Borg and Nadal hit them, very consistently. That takes pure shotmaking ability, and not just athleticism. They are high degree of difficulty shots.
     
    #86
  37. Cantankersore

    Cantankersore Semi-Pro

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    Hey now, I'm still kind of a kid. I grew up on Sampras and Agassi. Still, while I was being sarcastic, I was trying to make a point.

    I think that it is a reasonable assumption that the likelihood a child is born with a given level of "talent" in any generation is fixed. I think even you would admit that we aren't getting worse at training athletes. If this weren't the case, it would be expected that we would see older players dominate the younger players well past the age the age their performance would start to decline.

    So lets say that the level of talent a child is given in tennis is based on a scale from 1 to 1000, with their talent points being given to them by means of 1000 fair, independent coin flips. So, our population seems to have a talent level coming from an approximately normal distribution with mean 500 and variance 250. Bell curve, hooray! (The actual distribution isn't relevant, but the law of large numbers is.) The fact that we have more people in countries where Tennis is playable means that we're more likely to discover more spectacular outliers.

    Some of these may also end up being great talents at soccer or whatever, since skill in tennis and soccer would seem to have a fairly high correlation. Since soccer is more lucrative, some of these players may end up getting drained away to play it. But it mustn't be forgotten that this competition hasn't just popped up, it has been around for a while, and so it wouldn't seem unreasonable to assume that the proportion of skilled players get drained off.

    Anyway, there are all sorts of other factors that would go into this sort of thing, but many can be argued that they haven't changed across generations. In the end, for me, this leaves the default conclusion that players are now better than they have ever been. Might this be false? Sure, but personally I have yet to be convinced. Does this mean that previous generations weren't great? No, not at all. They were the best at their time.

    This is by no means a formal argument, but I think you can see that we can respectfully disagree.
     
    #87
  38. Changmaster

    Changmaster Rookie

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    ??? The article you cited doesn't seem to really support your point. Yes, Borg has the highest 5-set winning %, but the article then goes into the reasons why someone might have a better or worse 5-set record. 5-set record doesn't say that one player is better than the other; as the article shows, some very unremarkable players have excellent 5-set records. Pat McEnroe has said that when Federer gets into a 5th set, it usually means he's playing below par, and the other player is playing very well. Just because someone has a good 5-set record doesn't necessarily mean that they are much better or fitter than another player. Is someone like Wayne Arthurs more fit and mentally stronger than Nadal because he has a better 5-set record? Of course not, there are a multitude of factors, and a player's 5-set record is not a really a significant stat when comparing players.

    I disagree with your notion that Fed tends to get tired by the 4th and 5th sets. In 2006, he had an epic 5-setter in Rome against Nadal on clay, and he had 2 match pts in the 5th set (although he lost that match). Especially in 2009, although he has lost a couple tight 5th setters, he has also gutted out incredible 5 set wins as well (vs Berdych, Haas, Del Potro). And of course, you can't forgot the 16-14 5th set against Roddick, Fed did not appear tired at all at the end of the match. Yes, sometimes his level may drop a bit in the latter sets, but it can also drop earlier in the match, too, and isn't necessarily indicative of a lack of stamina. Just like with Borg, I can't recall an instance where I saw Fed visibly tired, i.e. breathing hard. Have you? It's been said many times that Fed appears to sweat much less than other players, including Nadal.

    Perhaps Fed's stamina is just SLIGHTLY below the level of Nadal's and Borg's, but the difference is irrelevant, and he is clearly one of the fittest players in history (you don't get to 22+ straight major semis without being superbly fit). You lumped in Fed with Sampras when you said that Laver, Borg, Nadal all have better stamina. This is most certainly not true, it's widely known that Fed has better stamina than Sampras. If you're comparing stamina, than Fed, Laver, Borg, and Nadal should be lumped together, and Sampras should be left behind.
     
    #88
  39. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Fitness certainly has an impact on your 5 set record. With each successive set, it becomes more about stamina and a little less about pure tennis ability.
    I'm not saying Federer does not have stamina. He is very fit, but I think neither he or Sampras have the same stamina as say Borg, Laver, or Nadal, that's all. Yet,

    Of the current players, several have better long match stamina than he does including top players Nadal, Del Potro, and F. Gonzalez, and maybe even Verdasco, in my opinion. The French Open tends to expose this more than other Grand Slams.

    Yes, I've seen Federer visibly tired, at the French Open in particular. Against Nadal he prefers cooler temperatures there for a reason, and that's the fatigue factor.

    The 2007 French Open final was one match in particular where that was clearly visible. Federer won the second set, but Nadal started wearing him down quick in the 3d and 4th sets and the match was quickly no longer a real contest. He was just a step or two slower, and of course, that's all it takes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWIo87wj1hU&feature=related (set 3)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPMpYEYZK_w&feature=related (set 4)
     
    #89
  40. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    Martial arts and gymnastics are good candidates.
     
    #90
  41. Changmaster

    Changmaster Rookie

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    What? Delpo, Gonzalez, and Verdasco are better at longer matches than Fed? Fed beat Delpo in 5 at the french, and I'm not sure where gonzalez came from. Your evidence?

    I still disagree about relative stamina between Fed and Borg, Nadal. I think the difference in stamina between them is so small that it is irrelevant, and you can't use that to boost any one of those players over another. Remember, Fed has beaten Nadal in 5 setters, too. Sampras is not even in the conversation as far as stamina goes (although partially due to his blood disorder).

    I guess I just don't like how you're inferring that Fed's stamina is in any way poor, since he ranks among the best in history as far as stamina goes. He should be in the same category as Borg and Nadal (I don't know much about Laver's stamina, do you have evidence that it was better than Fed's? I know Laver has a better 5-set record, but remember, that's not necessarily indicative of stamina. Even players less fit than others can have great 5-set records. I'm sure there have been more than several players who have great 5-set records, but have unremarkable fitness.)
     
    #91
  42. AAAA

    AAAA Hall of Fame

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    Generally modern racquets, strings, shoes*, and training allow modern players to play faster more of the time than players during the days of woodies. This doesn't mean modern players are genetically inherently faster rather modern stuff allows the pace of the game to be played at a consistently higher pace so long as the players are good enough.

    * Stan Smiths, Dunlop Greenflash and canvas and leather shoes worn before then do not provide the same lateral support as modern tennis shoes.
     
    #92
  43. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    And you are still getting old and that's why your brain cells is dying. People move forward while you are still blind by living in the past.

    Yes leave this thread, you are just a waste of space and time.
     
    #93
  44. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Changmaster, I think you are misunderstanding my subtle point here. Perhaps I'm not being clear enough, so let me elaborate a little.

    In a fifth set, at this next French Open let's say, if Federer got in a fifth set with Nadal, Del Potro, or even Verdasco or Gonzalez, I would argue that those guys have games that would not "drop off" as much as Federer's.

    You saw this at the 2009 AO against Nadal, and I don't think it's just a "mental" issue or "clutch play" issue. He physically drops off just a "tad".

    That's not to say that he does not have excellent stamina. He does. He's in very good shape and is very fit.

    Sampras had bad long match stamina, compared to say Courier or even Agassi during his prime, and he was never a serious threat at the French Open, so I'm not including him in this comparison.

    Federer does not have as much stamina as Borg, Nadal, or Laver, in my opinion, but he has better stamina than probably 90-95% players in the top 100.

    The fact that he was just 20-10 in five setters as of 2008 (not sure what his current record is) speaks to this. What is your explanation for that? It's not just, for example, that he's somehow "frustrated" that he didn't win in 3 straight sets.

    In that article, Patrick McEnroe states:
    "The two biggest factors are being physically fit and being a good pressure player," ESPN's Patrick McEnroe says. "If you have those two, chances are you're going to be a good five-set player. He adds: "There are always going to be some weird ones out there."

    So, Federer's RELATIVELY poor 5 set record, if Patrick McEnroe is right (and I think he is), is that Federer is EITHER a poor "pressure player" or he tends to "slow somewhat" by the fifth set.

    It's one or the other, or a combination thereof. It may be a combination of the two, but I think it's a little bit more about pure stamina, than his inability to be "clutch", given that he's won some very big, tense matches.

    We are "splitting hairs" a bit, in that we are trying to differentiate all time greats in this discussion. Yet, I take it that that you think that the difference between Federer and Nadal or Borg is "negligible". I disagree with that. I think there is a noticeable difference.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
    #94
  45. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    A match from 1980 looks like Dinosaur tennis as Larry Stefanki would say. Let alone 1966
     
    #95
  46. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Fed gets tired in some 5th sets ( 2009 us open). Are you still trying to convince everyone that somehow Borg is the best player ever?
     
    #96
  47. kOaMaster

    kOaMaster Hall of Fame

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    maybe you cannot make your feets getting faster, but you can train them to do it more consistently. it makes a huge difference whether a person trains 20h or 1h per week. and as in all other popular sports, I am really sure about that, the pro's do train a lot more.
    I don't have particular insight to the tennis terms of athleticism, but I know what it is in football (soccer). If you try to compare lets say the premier league or the top teams of the champions league what the differences are to lower leagues, they usually say its "harder", faster, you don't have as much time, you run more.
    exactly the same things people from the 60s, 70s, 80s say: football skills have always been around. pele was gifted, beckenbauer too. but maybe those guys wouldn't be succesfull today, because what changed is that everything got so much more powerfull. and really, this isn't a thing of a special sport, take a look at anything.
    the amount of time athletes can spend on their sport is so much higher in average that the whole level raised.
    I'm not saying e.g. laver was lazy, but I say that he didn't need to be perfectly fit. his tennis talent was a big enough advantage so that others couldnt do a lot and especially not if they weren't anywhere equal in physical terms. (same with borg).
    I also believe that the "density" in the highest ranks increased. the differences aren't huge, so can't allow NOT to do as much as possible to stay there.

    do you really think players 40 years ago were equally trained and raised with as much effort as they are now? or do you think this is actually useless, they could reach the tops also without all this training?
     
    #97
  48. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    You know what, you can't argue with Datacipher. He think he knows better b/c he claimed he's an old man and people in here are just kids. We will have to wait til 50 more years to be in his level.:roll:
     
    #98
  49. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    He's trapped in nostalgia land
     
    #99
  50. FlamEnemY

    FlamEnemY Hall of Fame

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    Come on, let's be fair, he speaks his mind and doesn't try to convince anyone.
    borg number one, your posts are very interesting. Please do write more about the subject, this also goes for the others :)
     

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