The speed of the game - old vs. new

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

  1. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Thanks FlamEnemy, I appreciate that very much. I'll certainly keep contributing what I can.

    Pmerk34, no I'm not trying to convince anyone of who the greatest player is. Though I think it's Borg, I don't think it's by very much at all. My posts will likely not change anyone's set opinion on that topic. It takes a whole lot to be the greatest amongst all the great players that have walked onto a tennis court over the decades. The only thing I try to do is force people to look at this topic in ways that they may not have before. Many are too focused on only the "current" and "most recent" when it comes to tennis and life in general.

    As I've stated hundreds of times, calling someone the "greatest player ever" must NECESSARILY be a SUBJECTIVE and OBJECTIVE calculation, because you are forced to compare different players from different eras who played under entirely different circumstances.

    Naming any one player THE GREATEST ever necessarily will cause others that disagree to "bristle".

    Having said that, naming any 1 player the greatest ever will necessarily have its PROS and CONS.

    I assert ONCE again, that you can make plausible arguments for players such as Laver, Borg, Sampras, and yes, Federer. Those are my personal top 4, but any number of people do disagree with me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and each opinion will have pluses and minuses. Pick 1 of those 4, and anyone that has substantial tennis knowledge will be able to give you reasons for why you are wrong and why you are right. It's that simple.

    It's like asking someone, is Wilt Chamberlain or Michael Jordan the "Greatest" basketball player of all time. Well, which one is it, and why? Is there a "wrong" answer there? No, there is not. The same holds true when comparing/contrasting all time greats in tennis. This is necessarily so. Let's embrace the complexity and not always lurch towards a quick, easy, and oft-repeated answer that is of the "here and now".
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  2. Talker

    Talker Hall of Fame

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    Way before this OP ever came up, I was watching the old tennis matches and noticed how slow it was. Also how often the players used the towels.
    A good one was the 1980 Wimby finals.

    Also notice how hard they swing through the ball today, a big difference.
    On the flatter shots, the ball speed crossing the net today is amazing leaving little time to get to the ball and get properly set up.

    The extreme angles with top spin today causes a great amount of court coverage to get to them and then little time to get back in the neutral position.

    This is the way it should be, sports get more demanding as time goes on.
     
  3. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Why can't you make your feet faster? Think about drumming or boxing -- do you really think those guys can't make their hands move faster, while also improving precision, the more they train?

    In the past, I've noticed a difference in my footwork just from jogging and sprinting. Not even from specialized footwork drills but simply from running.
    Were you a better wrestler than you are now as a tennis player?

    Depends on how you define "harder" and "easier." Yeah, except on very rare occasions, you don't get punched in the face in tennis. So if that's how you define difficulty, by how hard you get hit, there's literally no comparison. But if we're talking difficulty in terms of becoming competent at a skill, like say if we were to agree it's easier to learn how to shoot a decent free throw than it is to learn how to play Trio Sonata No. 3 in D- on the organ, than no comparison. Tennis is much harder.

    And that's because the art of combat is so nebulous compared to top professional tennis. Fighting is a sport -- and I hope you know this -- where a naturally strong, powerful, aggressive, fearless person with no formal fight training can completely destroy a guy who's been studying martial arts his whole life. Maybe it's because combat is a part of our DNA. You have to tell kids "don't hit" over and over. But hitting a backhand volley isn't as natural. Everything in tennis, you have to learn.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  4. Andy G

    Andy G Semi-Pro

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    NoWay!! Not a chance. Today's game is way faster and harder. Yeah, I've youtubed Laver also. Did you happen to see the black and white video of him playing? I forget who he played but the clip dated early 60's. They were playing in slacks and sweater vests!! Are you insane. Let's see someone show up at the AO next month dressed like that and you could use a stopwatch to count how long they last. If you transferred any of the top players back in time, they would absolutely destroy anyone from that era.
     
  5. rocket

    rocket Hall of Fame

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  6. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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  7. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Good stuff Rocket. Both excellent examples of great tennis. I remember that Federer-Blake match. What was Blake thinking? He just kept trying to hit harder and harder and never really changed things up against Federer, who was really on that night.

    Laver-Connors, a young Connors vs. an approx. 35 year old Laver, but still 2 great players. Now, let's also remember the frames they were using. Could Blake and Federer hit like the way Connors and Laver were hitting with a T2000 and a wood frame even if they grew up with those frames?

    Yesterday's Racquet:

    [​IMG]



    Today's Racquet:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
  8. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Training is great, it's always best to be extremely fit. Yes, it's quite possible to reach the top without all that training. JOHN MCENROE. AGASSI. ETC. did that and more. Will you be at your "best"? No...it could be a real factor in some matches, but it certainly can be done, though I have never said it was ideal. (also note that Agassi is a perfect example of how all his later training never made him hit the ball any harder or get any faster (not to mention...ahem...doping) even though he loved to proclaim this up and down all around the town)

    NOW where you are really NUTS is implying that Laver wasn't perfectly fit. If you had any clue.,....UNREAL. Laver was playing a very fast athletic game. Hopman's boys trained HARD and did fitness feats that VERY few players could do today! If you don't think Borg or Vilas were every bit as fit as the fittest guys out there today....

    Lastly, bear in mind, that all my references were to the top players. I agreed that the tour AVERAGE standards had gone up. For example, AVERAGE serve speed is up, AVERAGE fitness level is up, in my opinion. But the top end has not changed tangibly.
     
  9. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    PMERK34, it's the same sport, with very different racquets, more uniformity in court surface speed (slower grass, faster clay), and harder hitting now, with less serving and volleying, and I would say, a little less mental toughness than the era of Connors, Borg, McEnroe especially.

    Yet, as far as athleticism, guys like Borg, Vilas, Wilander, Lendl and Gerulitas were as fit or more fit than many of the top players (top 10) of today.

    Laver was very fit/athletic, especially in his "prime" during the 1960's.

    Watch the strength, fitness, quickness and athleticism of Roche and Laver in this clip (with very heavy wood racquets in their hands to "react" with):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHaN2h21ANs (1969 Australian Open SF).

    Could Djokovic and Murray play this well, attacking all the time and making very quick movements especially laterally and up and back constantly on the court with very heavy racquets in hand swinging away through 4-5 sets? This speaks to the 2 first posts on this thread by OP NLBWELL and TIMNZ.


    Now Sampras and Agassi are 2 other examples of very fit/atletic players, in that they started their careers in the late 1980's and did very well, but both were still near the top even after 2000.

    Jimmy Connors' fitness/athleticism goes underrated overall in my opinion, since his game actually required considerable fitness and quickness/reaction time. Yet, he wasn't the "fastest" guy, which hurt him when he matched up with Borg in baseline duels.

    So, I would agree with Datacipher's post above. On average, say amongst the top 1000 there has been some improvement in sheer athleticism, from what I've seen. Yet, as far as several players at or near the top, there has not been much improvement in the sheer athleticism of the sport, not during the last 30 years or so at least.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  10. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I cite that 1969 match between Laver and Roche as a video example of the substantial but different athleticism that was required during a past era of Tennis.

    The same is true of especially the top players during the 70s, 80's, and 90's. Substantial, but DIFFERENT, types of athleticism have been required during successive eras in Tennis. Yet, all these great players shown below were also great athletes, as are the players of today.


    1. (Borg-Connors Wimbledon Final 1977):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BURxh1YbZD0


    2. (Borg-Gerulaitas Wimbledon SF 1977):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWi27LrNXl8


    3. (Lendl-McEnroe 1984 Masters):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjH9mTDE0Nk


    4. (Becker-Edberg Wimbledon 1989 Finals):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT6dkwM92H8


    5. (Sampras-Agassi Wimbledon 1993 QF):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgVs...EF700ABA&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=36
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  11. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  12. britbox

    britbox Rookie

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    Thank you. It's like the weather reports telling that it's not raining but when you look out the window it's pouring down. I'd take an umbrella personally. The game is noticeably quicker whatever certain people insist.
     
  13. Dilettante

    Dilettante Hall of Fame

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    I'd say boxing is more strategic than tennis.

    ........

    About the previous discussion on pure skills, well: there's a sport/game/callitasyouwant that has accurately measurable skills: chess.

    In chess there is the same GOAT discussion as in tennis, but they are more realistic. For example: Bobby Fischer is a GOAT candidate, he had the greatest skills of his generation. Kasparov is another GOAT candidate, and he had the greatest skills of his generation.

    You can argue that Fischer made some stuff that probably no one will ever achieve again, and that his dominance and genius was short in time but probably unparalelled by anyone. Even Kasparov says that, but in chess there's not any discussion about the game evolving, because Kasparov's chess was stronger overall than Fischer's chess, period.

    If Fischer and Kasparov were the same age and played in the same era, it's arguable if Fischer would be better than Kasparov. Maybe he would (I personally think he would) but that wasn't the case, they didin't play in the same era and Kasparov played a more evolved chess because every human activity improves by time and acumulation of techniques, etc. So for me Fischer is a legitimate GOAT but 1972 Fischer would have been beaten by 1995 Kasparov. No way to change that fact and I'm a huge Fischer fan.

    I don't see why tennis should be that different. There's no way players from 30-40 years ago were more prepared and had more average skills. I think the current field is wy more prepared and has more overall skills that the field from 30 years ago.
     
  14. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    35 ft 6, yes, that was the 1981 French Open Final between Borg and Lendl. Borg was using the Donnay Borg Pro (some graphite inlays, but mostly a wood racquet) against Lendl playing with a graphite Adidas frame I believe.

    In 1981 Borg, Lendl, Vilas, and Gerulaitis, were all considered very fit/fast/quick, and were in the "top tier" in terms of fitness around then. Lendl was worn down by the fifth set, but in the coming years, he really worked on the fitness side to become probably the overall fittest player of the 1980's. McEnroe did the same later in the 1980's to keep up with Lendl.

    Dilettante, that's a very interesting analogy. As to the skill level of players 30 years ago, I think what you are overlooking is the increased skill/strength it takes to hit great tennis shots, over and over during a long match, with wood racquets versus modern frames. That's where there is skill difference. That takes incredible talent and years of honing. Hitting harder shots and putaways with today's frames is quite a bit easier, but yes, it requires you to move about the court more and cover larger distances, hence the increased demands on your legs for today's players.
     
  15. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Take a naturally strong athletic 6'5 guy and put him in front of Fedor and see what happens. Yes, skill matters in tennis alot. However, when we are talking about people who are close to even in athleticism, then it comes all down to sheer skill. At some point, if your skill level is high enough, you can take on anyone despite their natural athletic advantages over you.



    And it depends on the rule set. The 145 lb female fighter can easily take down most athletic guys under certain rule sets. If we're talking about a no rules street brawl, sure the 6'5 guy can win. But anyone can win in an uncontrolled environment.
     
  16. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    They've done this several times.
    I'm talking under MMA rules.
     
  17. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Borg and Lendl in 1981 Master Finals. It's on indoor carpet and the camera angle is a bit better.

    Fed versus Monfils in Miami 2008 on one of those slow down hard courts everybody complains about. Trying to find a similar camera angle to Lendl's clip...
     
  18. rocket

    rocket Hall of Fame

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  19. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Yes and Fedor has come out on top every time has he not?



    Under MMA rules, an experienced champion female fighter could easily dismantle any non-trained athletic man. I think you are severely underestimating the amount of skill it takes to fight on a professional level in any contact sport such as MMA, Boxing, Kickboxing, etc.; yes, you have freakishly strong and athletic people like Brett Rogers and Brock Lesnar out there, but the best fighters in the past and now are still the ones who have the highest level of skill (Sakuraba, Fedor, CroCop, Nogueira).



    I watch both MMA and Tennis extensively; and both require a ton of tactics and strategy. Each sport requires a great amount of strategic depth IMO, with neither having more than the other. When it comes down to just overall athleticism, I think MMA fighters have the edge in bursts of speed and strength. Tennis players are abit more agile (depending on who we are comparing though), have more stamina, and generally have to be fitter.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  20. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    You actually believe that's real?
    Uh, yeah. I guess I'm not sure what your point is. I chose huge guy verses woman for a reason. Huge guy verses baddest guy alive... not so much.[/quote]It would depend on weight (which was one of my original conditions) and what you mean by "athletic" but assuming Lebron James never had combat training, put him against Cyborg Santos in an open weight bout and I put my money on King James..
    Yeah, me, too. And I was a martial arts junkie up to my 20's -- black belt, boxing, wing chun, etc. -- and I'm telling you a big strong, athletic man will destroy a trained female fighter. It's simply biology. In tennis you see the biology come into play, too, that's why the number 6 of UCLA can probably beat the number 10 female in the world, but you need a certain amount of skill before biology becomes the determining factor.

    Bottom line, the fact there are weight classes in the MMA game should tell you something about how a physical advantage can trump skill.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2009
  21. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    See 1979 Borg-Connors Upload on You Tube from Poster Krosero below.

    These are 2 Giants of the Game Going at it on Rublico (Green Clay). There's great physicality on display. Watch some of these gets and the power they can generate with tiny low powered frames. I love the point construction as both players look to be in great form this day at the 1979 Pepsi Grand Slam.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTMx--E0OhY

    From Wikipedia: The Pepsi Grand Slam was a men's tennis tournament played as part of the ATP Tour from 1976-1981. The tournament was played in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 1976 and Boca Raton, Florida from 1977-1981. It was held on outdoor clay courts and featured a field of four players.
     
  22. RelentlessAttack

    RelentlessAttack New User

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    Impressive gets from Borg! I think he more than anyone, if he had grown up in the modern era, would be successful in the current tour, though other past greats were definitely all great athletes
     
  23. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    You obviously missed the whole point of the original post. While watching both a modern match and an old grass-court match AT THE SAME TIME, the old match was obviously a much quicker game. The extent of how much faster the game was back then surprised me, therefore, I wrote the OP.
    No matter how hard you hit the ball from the baseline, it can not get to the opposing player as quickly as if you are hitting it from the frontcourt. Because of the ball slowing down from drag and even more the bounce of the ball (and even that is emphasized by the fast grass vs. modern court) you would probably have to hit a baseline shot at 150 to 200 mph from the baseline to get the ball to the opponent as quickly as a reasonably solid 50 mph volley. The game was about quickness and reactions instead of power and court coverage.
     
  24. surfvland

    surfvland Semi-Pro

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    Todays game is much faster and more powerful. Also the serve in the mens game is much more of a dominating factor.
     
  25. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Actually, no. More powerful, maybe, but the rest is not true. The reason they slowed the grass down at Wimbledon was because the serve was far too much a factor. Service breaks are much more common now than they were on the grass in the 80's 70's or 60's.
     

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