What is a weak era or strong era in tennis?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I would tend to agree that one might believe that in general there is improvement in all sports as time goes on.

    This notion would seem to suggest that such improvement (or general "progress" in all players' abilities) should be pervasive and across the board--in every sport and both genders.

    But occasionally, when I watch a women's match (at one of the slams, usually) and I see the world no. 1 or 2 or 3 (Safina or Ivanovic or Dementieva) string together a bunch of double-faults.

    I think to myself: "This is one of the best female players in the world, and she can't even serve? Is this is a demonstration of general progress in abilities? I don't think so."

    (I know this is anecdotal, and obviously not very objective.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  2. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    First, you're letting your Federer fanboyism get to you again. This isn't about Federer's accomplishments. I don't blame Federer for the homogenized era of tennis. Nor can he do anythign about whom his opposition is.

    2nd, there are flaws with your "analogous" players above...HOWEVER, indeed, those are all predominantly baseliners, so to some degree, it's splitting hairs, and while there WAS more variety in baseline stroke in the 90's, the homogenization had already started by that point. The 90's pale in variety compared to the Mecir's, Lendl's, Connors, etc 80's. That in fact, was the beginning of the process. As you point out, it is indeed the all-courters/volleyers who really took the hit.
     
  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Good point, and very obvious to all those who watched closely tennis then and now.It is a fact, even if some newcomers will find it hard to accept.
     
  4. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Well, there's an inherent newcomers bias....a deep desire to believe "your" generation must be the "best"...oddly enough, this isn't as much of a factor in other sports I think...I notice a lot of young boxing fans for example are perfectly willing to entertain the idea that the Klitchko's may be 2nd rate for example...or that a prime George Foreman would more than hold his own today etc.

    But in any case, amazingly, newcomers have not only made up their biases already, they will vociferously defend it to the end!!

    I think that there has probably never been even close (perhaps the 90's) to as much DEPTH of 2 handed, dedicated, medium to heavy topspin baseliners as there are now! These are excellent players, and the average level of this style has gone up. (the high end, hasn't really moved....an Agassi, a Lendl etc would be just fine today)...but certainly as a whole, there is a formidable army of this style. This is also an effective style! These players could hold their own against anybody in history. The catch is....it's NOT the only style....their is a myth of evolution in tennis....that it's "survival of the fittest" and therefore....this style MUST be the best...it's not necessarily...it's one of many styles that can work. (including variation within baseliners as well as SV, etc).

    All I would say, is that I'd much much rather be the best in a "one" (yes, I'm glossing over some variation) style game, than be #1 in an era with assorted styles lurking. Mainly because some of those styles are extremely dangerous (you're much more likely to get upset by a red hot SV'er who's not normally at your level than a red hot baseliner (for various reasons)). In general the #1 will still win, but he'll:
    1.be pressured more
    2.be upset on occasion more
    3.be more drained having to deal with such varied obstacles

    I think what a lot of fedfanboys don't realize is that....it would have been a LOT LOT LOT LOT more fun to watch Fed play in a past era. A genuine Fed fan....not just a fan because he's a winner, would really have been off the edge of his seat, watching Fed try to keep a lid on a Petr Korda....or watching Fed look like the boring plain guy while Henri Leconte hits ridiculous winners, or watching Fed deal with Mecir's control, or watching Fed and Edberg ballet all over the court as Edberg looks to attack attack attack, or wondering if Boris is going to SV on this break-point as he glares down Fed, or wondering if Fed can keep passing Stich in the 5th....
     
  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think that's what many like of us like in tennis, the variety of different styles. Yes it would be interesting to see a Federer or Nadal play different style opponents like the ones you just mentioned.

    It's like food. A person may love pasta or sushi but constantly eating pasta would bore a person. We want variety. How about some veal? How about some dim sum? How about some steak?

    In tennis I'll take a bit of baseline power player, a bit of serve and volley, a dash of great touch player, a portion of all court player. I might bored with too much of one style.

    Federer versus Nastase. Federer versus Mecir. Federer versus Becker.

    How about Nadal versus McEnroe? What about Murray versus Leconte?

    I want these styles on my menu of tennis matches.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  6. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I agree COMPLETELY.

    Fed is a great player IMO, amd as a great player he should have some great competition.

    I'd love to see what he'd do against Nastase.
    Or Leconte. Or Edberg.

    Or a prime Noah. (I think it would be like Nadal against Tsonga in the 2008 AO semis: "Duh, there's nothin' I can do. These volleys are unbelievable.")

    Or Borg.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I know we've imagined Federer in past eras in other threads, but you guys have really thought of some delicious matchups here. Makes the head spin.
     
  8. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Okay here's a few of mine. I'll try to not include some of the past GOAT candidates.

    Federer versus Nastase (matches have to be with current equipment and old equipment, same with surfaces, old grass, new grass etc)
    Federer versus Sampras (okay I'm cheating with the GOAT candidate stuff)
    Federer versus Tilden
    Federer versus Mecir
    Federer versus McEnroe
    Federer versus Lendl
    Federer versus Jimmy Connors at Flushing Meadow, US Open final.
    Federer versus Pancho Gonzalez (I've thought to myself that if Nadal makes Federer cry, what would he do against the sullen Gonzalez serving bullets)
    Federer versus Roscoe Tanner on a fast surface
    Federer versus Lew Hoad
    Federer versus John Newcombe on old grass.

    Here's a few with Nadal.
    Nadal versus Mecir
    Nadal versus Edberg
    Nadal versus Tanner on a fast hard court
    Nadal versus McEnroe
    Nadal versus Korda
    Nadal versus Connors at Wimbledon
    Nadal versus Vilas 1977 on red clay. Two super strong lefties who can return everything. I would rather see them arm wrestle as I've written before.
    Nadal versus Wilander at the French
    Nadal versus Lendl at Flushing Meadow
    Nadal versus Pancho Gonzalez
    Nadal versus Lew Hoad
    Nadal versus Boris Becker

    I would say Nadal and Federer versus Godzilla but I think they would beat Stan Smith. (Sorry for the bad joke.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  9. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    nadal vs vilas would be very one-sided, like borg vs vilas, the most one-sided battle probably among the ones you listed
     
  10. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    I don't see that much of a difference in the baseliners in the 90s and 2000s tbh. As far as the analogies are concerned, well, they can't be that similar, can they ?
     
  11. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    Find me one place where I said any of the above. I only said you were over-rating the 90s in comparison to the 2000s to an extent . ( I see you had no response to the rebuttal I made regarding the mental toughness part ;), also the variety in baseliners in the two eras ) The 80s I agree were better than both by some distance

    I agree with the above, I'd have liked Fed to play in a more varied era, but there's nothing that can be done about it, can there ?
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  12. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    Remove those nostalgia glasses of yours . Perhaps you might be able to appreciate something current .. Remember you mentioning borg defeating #2,3,4,5 in a row at the Masters indoors, but failing to mention that federer pretty recently did almost the same , defeating #1,3,4,5.

    I think the 80s were better than both 90s and 2000s by some distance, but at times, I find it slightly annoying when people over-rate the 90s in comparison to the 2000s
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  13. piece

    piece Professional

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    I'd say that variety of styles, in and of itself, implies little to nothing about the strength of an era. The standard argument is that all Federer had to do to be the top player in the world is make sure that he was the best at the kind of game everyone on tour was playing. Sampras on the other hand had to adjust daily to players with radically different styles - there was no 'one style beats all' formula that he could focus on and perfect in the way Federer did. What people fail to notice is that in Federer's circumstances everyone is really good on every surface and at every event, whereas as in Pete's era the variety of styles resulted in numerous players who, for the most part, were completely inadequate when it came to certain surfaces. Sampras might have the challenge of playing Guga on clay one day, then the relief of a serve and volleyer like Ivanisevic the next. Federer, while not having to cope with so many variables, has to instead contend with players whose styles almost always suit the court they're playing on.

    Furthermore, Federer himself has said that earlier on in his career he might have had to deal with players whose special weapons might have been more potent or obvious than those possessed by players today, but that players today, while it may be harder to say for sure what their best shot is, have no weaknesses to exploit.

    So again, things are not so clear cut. Sampras may have had more variety to deal with, but his opponents probably also had more exploitable weaknesses than the men Federer faces.

    I'm not necessarily giving an argument here to the effect that Federer has contended with a stronger era than Sampras. What I am saying is that some of you think you have knockdown arguments against the strength of Federer's era when you don't because you're only considering the variety-uniformity binary from a narrow perspective.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  14. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    ^^

    Agree. I think the same too. You put in an excellent way ...
     
  15. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think so but I thought it would be fun anyway. Very similar players but Nadal is better in most ways. Still want them to arm wrestle, left handed of course.

    They are so similar, even the physical way they run. Nadal and Vilas are not smooth movers like a Borg, Rosewall or Federer. The one thing I would favor Vilas over Nadal is that I think his backhand is a more natural shot for him. Nadal's backhand is excellent however. I would be curious how long the rallies are.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  16. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    That point I disagree with. Mecir is very unique as a baseliner with his touch, changes of speed and angles. His movement is about as good as anyone's. Connors is perhaps the best pure ball striker that ever lived. He almost never mishits the ball and his footwork was incredible. He could lob, something lacking today, hit an occasional drop shot and he does something that today's baseliners rarely do, he attacks the net constantly when there is a short ball. The Connors return is perhaps better than anyone's today.

    I'll discuss the others later but I have to leave to play some doubles.
     
  17. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mecir was a unique specie in himself, much like a Mc Enroe or a Laver.The way they moved, saw the game, visualize and invented their options...this is very difficult to be tought.Federer is as good or better technichally than most of the all time greats and, except for the volley, can match up anybody but his tennis is not exactly fitting in the mold of the players I mentioned before ( we could also include Nastase among them).
     
  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    No nosthalgia.I just talk in terms of variety of game styles, strokes and, if you want to add it, personalities.There are brilliant players today and there were lousy players then, but if you know things it is easier for you to make a choice, isn´t it?

    As for Federer defeating all those players, I didn´t know.It certainly ranks with Borg´s feat ( though Borg did it twice in a row, see what happens at this year Masters).Given his dominance and inspiration, Federre is the only player that, IMo, can do that.

    ...and, yes, the early to mid 80´s were great, but in terms of variety, mid 70´s were just as good ( with less power, certailnly) if not better.
     
  19. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    That's my problem....and why I found my tennis viewing going down and down....my love of the game didn't wane....it's just that...well...I couldn't fight the feeling...I've seen this before...in fact...I've seen it ad nauseum! Sure, there was always the chance this could be a great (as in tight) match...and sure...there are fine players out there! But....well....I got pretty bored of watching the same baseliners playing the same baseline game...no matter the surface! Only the occasion (grand slam final), or the "grudge" (eg. Fed/Nadal) etc, seemed to make the matches "big". The element I missed was the interesting variety of match-ups....so many combinations....and each different on each surface! I mean...it was pretty neat to see say.....Jimmy Connors vs Sergi Bruguera! Regardless of what round and where....you could speculate about how those radically different styles would interact....what strategies they might choose...but you couldnt' be sure at all what the match would look like...the players wouldn't know for sure either! Could be a one-sided destruction! Is Bruguera's topspin gonna drive Connors back?? Will Jimmy be able to control that heavy a ball? Will the heaviness make him miss a lot? Or will Jimmy's flat, low balls, drive Bruguera's way back, and make him cough up short balls?? Will the ball jump up too much even for the Connors backhand? How much will Jimmy come in?

    For the last 10 years...I kind of knew how every match would look...power topspin baseline tennis, played from mediocre to very well (actually often really well...because that's what every player did, and was used to playing against). Nothing wrong with that style....but uh....got pretty tired of it every single match!
     
  20. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I don't think Pancho would have terribly kind words for Fed either if he cried after ;-)

    On another interesting note...it'd be fascinating (not that I endorse this aspect of Mac's behavior) to see how Fed would react to John quietly cursing him out under his breath every changeover! lol.

    And actually...I written about this before....I think Fed would ABSOLUTELY HATE his every error being wildly celebrated, and being booed and jeered, by a partying stadium of New Yorkers willing Connors to win....


    I hadn't thought of this one, but how interesting that would be with two iron-men of fitness going to war at Flushing. Nadal is the superior athlete by far, but Lendl's strokes are better suited to the surface, and...at least until recently, Lendl's serve was clearly better.
     
  21. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    This is apparently true from a purely logical point-of-view.

    But I feel obligated to say that the matches are (to me) far more interesting when there is a contrast of styles,

    As examples consider Borg versus Mac in the 1980 Wimbledon finals: mostly baseliner versus classic serve-and-volley touch player--equals great match.

    Compare that to Borg versus Vilas at the French Open finals (either 1975 or 1978 ): mostly baseliner versus baseliner--pretty one-sided matches and you might as well watch paint dry (of course I guess you could count the rallies--I'm sure records were set).

    As to "strength" of players, I don't know which would be be higher. But as to the excitement and interest of the matches--it is no contest!
     
  22. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    It's fine to say if you enjoy tennnis back then since there's more variety and not closer to homogeneous as it is today. But the ideal of having more variety means greater depth and talent is pure conjecture. You can have another million athletes competing on the tour and they will play the same style today rather than in the past. Condition, technology dictate the game, not the players. Had tennis never changed at all since day one, I'm sure the player's playing style wouldn't change either, but I would believe they can do everything better than the past generations.
     
  23. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    No, that's incorrect, for the very explanation you are about to provide below. What is correct is that it doesn't necessarily imply anything about the strength of any individual player. However, having a number of different styles playing at the highest level absolutely implies a difficulty not present in a homogenized field. To dispute that basic property, one would have to believe that: each player can deal with all style equally and thus individual match-ups won't matter.

    OK, now, just to be clear here, you're presenting two different premises:

    1.Sampras had to adjust to radically different styles (not your argument, but you seem to be accepting it here)
    2.Federer's opponents are equally good across all surfaces and thus he faces a consistently higher level of opposition

    NOW, important to note that the two are NOT related, but you seem to be presenting them as counterbalances.

    There are however 3 extreme flaws with your second argument. The first is that Sampras does NOT play the same people on each surface. I think there would be merit to your argument, if say, Sampras played the same 7 people on each surface, but that was not the case. It is not round robin, and it is the nature of the elimination draw that makes it likely that Sampras, or any other top player will actually be playing the toughest opponents on THAT surface (incidently, Ivanisevic on clay, is not a good example, as he was quite adept at all surfaces, and grew up on clay...arguably his grand-slam breakthrough came on clay).

    The second problem is that a consistent level of play does not imply the best level of play. To believe this, you would have to believe that all styles do equally well on all surfaces. This is not so. Thus, if you argue, hey, that Sampras had a "break" by playing a guy not suited to a surface, you must also acknowledge that Federer does not face the "challenge" of a facing a guy particularly suited to that surface. This in fact, turns into the very argument that I and others have presented. A lack of challenge through homogenization. However, I do agree with you, that it is possible to get a weaker match-up of this kind! Again, the elimination draw format helps minimize that.

    This leads into the third problem, your implication that a homogenized style, and thus, a consistent hierarchy of players, leads to a homogenized level of play. Granted, if two baseliners play the same way they always do, the points are likely to be fairly long, and look fairly similar regardless of the surface, but the ACTUAL level of the play...probably depends on how the "one" style is suited to that surface. For example, I'd say the style is well suited to the FO, I think the average level of play at the FO is higher today...on the other hand, it's WOEFULLY suited to grass (oh please, do not let somebody invoke the more-holes-than-swiss cheese slow grass myth ...to go off on a tangent....lol). In the specific case of Sampras, I'd say his odds of winning the FO in today's era would be worse than ever, on the other hand, I'd say he'd really be cruising through some Wimbledon titles. Now a Nadal or Federer, can give anyone a tussle at Wimbledon or any other surface, but in many of the earlier rounds, Sampras would be about as worried about many of the guys of today as he was facing a Costa, Muster, Kafelnikov etc. In fact, if I came to Federer and said "ok, Roger..it's the third round of Wimbledon...who would you rather face, an in-form xavier malisse or...an in-form Taylor Dent? He'd pick Malisse every day of the week. In fact, if I were Roger, I'd rather face Hewitt than Dent
    I'd also take any baseliner out of the top 10 (and maybe some in it) over an in-form Wheaton or Flipper.

    In short:
    1. a variety of styles at the top level DOES inherently add difficulty to the #1 players challenge
    2.you make a good point that the #1 player may get a break at times by facing a person ill-suited to a surface, but I believe this factor would not come close to outweighing either #1, or the converse implication, that a top player must face people particularly suited to a surface
    3.again, the elimination draw makes #2 particularly true.
     
  24. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    To the bolded part, I certainly agree that variety should not automatically be equated with greater skill. Arguments have to be made for it. It can't just be assumed to be better.

    But once I start thinking about, i have a hard time seeing how a diverse field would not be a problem for any top player.

    The best example I can think of is the RG-Wimbledon double. If you've been playing for months on clay, grinding away on the dirt against the best baseliners, then you have only two weeks to prepare to play a serve-and-volley game against the best serve-and-volleyers -- that's a huge task in front of you.

    Today if you can count on playing at the baseline at both Slams, against baseliners in both places, well I'm not going to say the adjustment is easy; I do think there's a tendency to exaggerate the homegeneity today, as if there were no variety, and no adjustments to make -- but it can't be as difficult as the night-and-day contrast that used to take place going from RG to Wimbledon.

    A smaller example is Cash-Pernfors in the 1986 Davis Cup final. It was on grass, and Cash had trained to face attacking players, serve-and-volleyers. But Wilander -- who did play attacking tennis, or at least something approaching it -- was replaced at the last minute by Pernfors, who did play from the baseline. Now you think this might be easy, facing a baseliner on grass. But Cash just wasn't prepared for it. He just wasn't prepared to have to serve-and-volley against the kind of stellar defense that Pernfors was producing. Cash still won, but he never quite got his best rhythm going.

    I just mention that to illustrate how hard it might be to face one kind of player for three rounds and then suddenly to face the complete opposite. Even if it seems on paper that it should be easy for you -- a relief as you put it -- you might simply find the transition very difficult to make.

    And on that point, about facing a Goran on clay, and finding it a relief -- I just don't see it happening that way. If you're facing someone who is a relief to play, then you're facing someone who is not playing effectively. And that person would not likely be standing in your path to begin with. They'd be out in the first or second round. You'd be much more likely to face someone who is playing effectively on that surface, regardless of their style. And in that case, why wouldn't it be difficult to face three tough baseliners on clay and then a tough serve-and-volleyer who knew how to play on clay?
     
  25. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Fine post, Krosero. More diversity should by any means be more difficult to overcome than more streamlined opposition. To face a Vilas or Wilander at Paris, and two weks later, to face a Mac, Edberg or/and Becker at Wimbledon, is an enormous task. To keep some posters quiet: Around 2005, Federer had imo some diverse opponents, in Nadal or Coria on clay or at Paris, and Roddick or Flipper at Wimbledon and on grass.
     
  26. piece

    piece Professional

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    To address the point that elimination format takes care of the potential to meet ineffective opponents, consider that ineffective opponents would only be eliminated had they had to face more effective opponents on their way through the draw, this won't always be the case in an era that contains large numbers of players whose styles fail to be optimal under regularly encountered circumstances. So basically, who's to say that the serve and volleyer didn't reach (say) the fourth round of the FO because they played, up until that point, only other players whose styles also were ill suited for clay. This would happen all the time in a varied era of the sort we're discussing.
     
  27. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    Consider this case:

    A) federer is scheduled to meet the winner of safin/santoro.

    B) federer is scheduled to meet the winner of safin/robredo.

    Both on hard court. Now santoro brings in more variety than robredo who is a grinder/baseliner and is more likely to beat Safin. If he defeats Safin, federer will face santoro.

    You would expect Safin to defeat Robredo on a HC and then play federer in scenario B. So having a baseline contest here would make it more likely that federer faces Safin.

    No prices for guessing who federer will want to face ? santoro or safin. The Variety brought in by santoro's game in this case is actually helping federer, isn't it ?
     
  28. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    mecir's peak period was in the 80s, not the 90s ....so was connors'. I was referring to the 90s

     
  29. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    @ bold part: I rest my case !
     
  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree.In fact, due to the diversity, a S&V player could find along the path other S&V on clay.Tanner, himself, was 2 times a FO quartefinalist by that circumstance.

    But, also, the 70´s and 80´s were the era of specialisation, because court conditions were so much diverse.If you look at the top 50 in the ATP rankings at any time during those years, you´ll find that, about 15-20 players were CC addicts, around 20-25 would be fast court S&V´ers, and about 15 players were all courters, that could play well in different courts.
     
  31. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I really did not recall that feat.I think it is a great feat, just like Borg´s winning the 1979 Masters, but I recognize I followed the " day to day" much more in the Borg years than in Fed´s time.I do not think it has to do anything with Nosthalgia rather than I was more interested in tennis then than now.Simple as that.

    But , of course, if it makes you happier to think the other way round, I have no problem with that.
     
  32. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Disagree. You are overrating s/v players b/c prime Fed's owned them. If they are so much trouble, then Ancic, Karlovic, Minar, Bjorkman, Henman would gave him fit. And no, Fed rather play Dent over Hewitt any day. You are crazy !
     
  33. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Uh unbelievable. (note TMF that you are the only one who even TRIED to touch my post, though now several of my arguments are being used by others).

    Of course, for reasons obvious to everyone, I generally ignore you...and the logic in this post...yikes....

    -we're talking about TOP players
    -we're not talking about ROGER specifially (yes...the sun rises and sets by him for you, we all know that)
    -even if you're list showed top players, even if this WERE about Roger, and not a generalized #1, you'd have to show he did WORSE against the SV players.....who were the baseliners owning him in his "prime" (love how you had to add this in...we would not want to mention how Henman won his 6 of his first 7 matches with Roger, Roger's only win by default! lol)

    But really...I just wanted to comment on your "list"!!! Best ever! LOL

    Yes.....indeed....those players would have been at the TOP in the 90's.....everyone would have been terrified of a well-into-his-30's Henman or Bjorkman!! (note...funny how those 2 had some of their best results in the mid 2000's......)
     
  34. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

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    If everybody played the same - styles were homogenized and the courts all over the world were around the same speed with slight variances.

    ---> Wouldn't this mean we would have more competitors at the each of the slams realisitically contending for the title.

    This has been the argument that has been used to ascertain hardcourts as the most competitive surface - its neutrality allowing a larger pool of players to be successful.

    In contrast, if we had surface specialists, we would have maybe only the top specialists on each surface realistically vying for the title.

    To get to #1, you would have to beat a slew of specialists on each surface or to beat a larger pool of competitive players at each grand slam.

    Which is stronger?

    What do i think?
    -->
    I think that getting to #1 is much harder if the styles and courts are homogenized because so many players have the potential to pick up ranking points all over the calendar and on any surface. Every round is going to be competetive because the pool of capable players is larger.

    If we have an era of extreme specialists, becoming #1 is a little easier because you have to be an all-round player to pick up points everywhere on the calendar, and those surface specialists are unlikely to win on their least favorite surface.

    However, winning the titile is always going to be harder because it is difficult for an all-round player to be better than the best surface specialist of that particular era unless the calibre of the all round player is that much higher.
     
  35. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    At the end, a true nº 1 must excell in , at least 2 or 3 surfaces and learn to develop an all round game.Or disguisse their shortcomings, maximizing their strengths, which also implies a personal comittment.

    Rosewall,Laver,Connors,Mac,Federer,Nasty and Sampras were natural all around players.Borg,Becker,Lendl,Wilander,Nadal and Agassi improved their game to perform very competitive tennis even in their weakest surfaces and the reward was a few or more than a few years at top of the game.

    Stich and Safin, for instance, were a case of a natural all round player but lacking the menthality to become a real champion.Edberg,Ashe,Smith,Newcombe,Courier,Hewitt or Kuerten were more unidimensional players but they had the strength of character to overcome shortcomings and, if not, maximize their best talents to impose their style and their strengths.

    That shows that, at the end, talent + hard work pays off and all those guys had to really work their asses.
     
  36. piece

    piece Professional

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    Datacipher, it seems like you feel that the contrast in play we see between the 90s and now is not a product of change in the surfaces being played on and the balls being used. I disagree. It seems to me that the homogenisation in play that we see now is neatly explained by changes to various aspects of court and equipment that have had the net effect of favouring a certain style of play. Given this assumption, it is reasonable to hold that a top player in modern times will very rarely have to play someone with a style ill-suited to the occasion, and will almost always have to play someone with a style very well suited to the occasion.

    Correspondingly, if we operate under the assumption that the variety of the 90s was a function of conditions (such as ball type and surface type) that differ from those in modern times, then it makes sense to think that a top player in the 90s would sometimes play someone very well suited to the conditions and sometimes play someone ill-suited to the conditions (given my argument against your position regarding the elimination format in my post above).

    If you reject this assumption of variety as a function of the kind of conditions I mentioned then I understand your disagreement with some of my positions outlined earlier, but it does seem to be a standard position as evidenced by the public opinions of experts, commentators and players in recent times.

    Aside from your apparent rejection of this assumption, you did raise another point that, if correct, would count against my views. You discussed the apparent poor skills on grass of today's players (especially when compared to 90s players) as a potential counterexample to my contention that modern players are, in general, adept (due to their choice of playing style) in today's playing conditions. I would contest this view on the grounds that, if one can discern whether a particular player, group of players, or era at large is better than another player/players from different era on grass just by watching them play, then why not do the same for hardcourt, or indoor surfaces, or clay (as you have, in fact, done)? Why not, to simplify this whole discussion, forget considerations of variety entirely, and, since you can tell who's better just by watching, just observe two eras and conclude in favour of one era purely on the basis that they exhibit a higher level of play in general. So basically, I don't feel compelled to accept that the 90s players were better on grass for much the same reason as most posters on this board wouldn't feel compelled to accept someone's opinion that modern players are simply better in general than past players.

    Given these points, I think the arguments I made before about the implications variety has for the strength of an era remain tenable.
     
  37. piece

    piece Professional

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    I should add that I don't (nor do I need to, for my arguments to work) accept premise 2 in your post, Datacipher. All I need is the weaker claim that it is less likely that a top modern player will face an opponent poorly suited to the conditions being played in than it is that a top 90s player would face such an opponent, and the chance that a top modern player will face an opponent well suited to the playing conditions is very similar to the chance that a top 90s player will face an opponent well suited to the playing conditions. Moreover, I don't take this as axiomatic as I have offered arguments in favour of this contention. These arguments do, I'll admit, seem to be reliant on the assumption that the baseline style of the modern game is a function of the conditions players are subject to, as was the variety of styles seen in the 90s game. But maybe they could be reformulated so they can stand independent of the truth of this assumption.
     
  38. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    ABSOLUTELY NOT!! ANOTHER one of the most ridiculous myths this board has produced....good God...how do people buy into that one. (no offense PIece...you seem to be here to talk rationally...but the TIMELINE doesn't match at all, nor is the mechanism plausible)
    ???????? "neatly????? wow. It's not even plausible to me, in theory, let alone in my experience working with juniors.

    Have you seriously thought through that theory?
     
  39. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Please quote premise #2, and rephrase in terms of premise #2. The premise you present here does not appear to contradict #2 in principle:

    "2.Federer's opponents are equally good across all surfaces and thus he faces a consistently higher level of opposition"

    The wording of #2 was chosen to reflect your earlier post. If your position differs, that is fine, but it is not clear to me what you are at odds with.

    You should reformulate them then, because that premise...as I stated above...is absolutely ludicrous to me...I CANNOT state that strongly enough, and I have posted extensively on this subject in the past, particularly in threads regarding SV tennis.
     
  40. piece

    piece Professional

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    I'm not sure why it would be necessary to rephrase in terms of premise 2. You're right that the assumption I detailed in my last post is not incompatible with 2, but why need it be? I can certainly reject an assumption whilst holding true some other assumption with which the former is consistent.

    My position is that no, Federer's opponents are not equally good across all surfaces, but they are much nearer to being in this state than Sampras' were. Now, to my mind it is obvious that Federer's opponents are, in additional to this, very good on all surfaces. Sampras' opponents were too but not in the same way, since in Sampras' case it was differing sets of his opponents that were good on different surfaces, so it was the sets of opponents that were roughly equally good, all surfaces considered, rather than the individual players. Federer's peers, on the other hand, make up a more unified set of players who are good on all surfaces.

    So in Sampras' group one is more likely to face a player poorly suited to the conditions (since pretty much all sets of players participate in all events, some of which are ill-suited to the conditions being played in), in Federer's group one is less likely to face someone poorly suited to the conditions (since almost all players are well suited to the conditions). Furthermore when one does face a player well suited to the conditions (in either group) there is little difference between that player's aptitude, on average, for the conditions being played in and the aptitude of a player well suited to the conditions from the other group.

    This paragraph above relies on the style-as-a-function-of-conditions premise, which I find reasonable and think could be supported by decent arguments. The truth of the claims in the above paragraph, however, are not necessary for the truth of my overall position: that variety of an era does not, in and of itself, entail the superiority of that same era over some other era which is comparatively homogenised (even if we hold that both eras are, all things being equal, quite similar in skill set). To see why, just apply the claims I am making about the 90s era and the modern era (see above) to two hypothetical groups and assume the truth of the claims relative to those two groups. There doesn't seem to be anything intrinsically absurd about the particular claims I am making, rather your gripe with them seems to stem from your position on how the homogenisation we observe actually arose. So if we hypothesise that it arose in the way I describe for one of our hypothetical eras, then this is enough to show that we could have two groups, of similar objective skill set, and be told that one has more variety than the other but still not be able to validly (or even reasonably) infer that the one with more variety is stronger than the one that is more homogenised.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
  41. DeShaun

    DeShaun Banned

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    A strong era is when slams are passed around. Slams are horded during weak eras.
     
  42. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I hope, some posters here understand their own posts. Logic and dialectics are sensible disciplines, be careful.
     
  43. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Yes, you can, but you specifically framed it as a rejection of #2, the implication being that your new premise would be directly related, and I could then see what it was you disagreed with. Otherwise, you've simply said "I reject #2....now here's a different premise...". That is also fine, but leaves #2 hanging...and makes a logical progression difficult.

    Oh...O..K...then this was your problem with #2? That's just fine, the word "equally" was not meant to be taken literally...and really could not without much more extensive definition...

    WOW. OH NO. Ok...here we go. No. Unacceptable. I hope others are following this. Piece is now arguing that Sampras's opponents could be much worse on surfaces they weren't suited to, but no better than equally good to Federer's opponents on surfaces suited to them.(!!!!!!!)

    ...and of course that would also mean Sampras' opponents, on their BEST surface were no better than Fed's opponents on their WORST surface! Unreal.

    That was indeed my point when I called you on this line of argument, and if indeed you simply fall back to this argument, (which I see as complete concession) there is little more to say. If you are going to argue that, 90's players, on the surfaces best suited to their particular styles, are only equal to the level that Federer's opponents can reach on EVERY surface....well....that sums it up right there. If one believe that, then obviously all other points are moot.

    Honestly, you are entitled to this belief, I hope it is clear to all, and I hope you continue to be clear and straightforward about it, but I find it completely implausible, evaluating by both tennis experience, and pure logic. I also think it's an incredible disservice to all players from the past, and a rather preposterous and overbearing claim about the style played today.
     
  44. Xemi666

    Xemi666 Professional

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    Strong era: the era which has the players I like the most.

    Weak era: the era which has the players I dislike the most.
     
  45. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    That doesn’t make sense. Take Fed/Nadal out in their generation or take Pete out in the 90s, the era will be stronger(according to your logic).

    In fact, take out the top 50 players and the slam titles can be spread out to make the field look stronger than it is now, despite lack the quality.
     
  46. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    Strong era: an era in which one's fav. player does well
    weak era: an era in which one's fav player's records tumble
     
  47. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It's an interesting debate. I think a good portion of this discussion has to be somewhat subjective. I think we do have to look at the skills and the physical talents of the players. For example you look at an Edberg and you know he's fabulous volleyer but he can't match Agassi or Chang from the baseline.

    You look at Sampras and you see he has the serve to overpower many players, including Agassi plus you see his speed and overall skills. You have to ask yourself, objectively of course which is hard at times to do if you put a player into another era, how would they do?

    Can a serve and volleyer like Stan Smith do well today? Maybe not. Can a baseliner like Roddick do well years ago. Who knows? I do think a Roddick, with his huge serve would do well in most eras but would he have been number one?

    Is a John Newcombe, who was a great serve and volleyer able to play today's type of game? I think he could have and yes, with his great first and second serves I think he would do well today. The man had power, good groundies, excellent stamina and was consistent from the baseline. He also had surprising touch if he needed it. Check out his lobs against Connors in the 1975 Australian Open Final. He had to lob a lot because he wasn't in top shape yet and was exhausted from a long five set match with Tony Roche I believe.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NPNsU20bis

    I think Pete Sampras would do well today and challenge for number one.
     
  48. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    A strong era is one in which your favorite players dominated. A weak era is on in which players you do not care for dominated.
     
  49. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Somewhat. Although sometimes during a strong era one playing is hording the slams since they are just so great. It is key to look at the other players in that case and ask yourselves if they would be multiple slam winners in other eras.

    In the case of the current era in mens tennis I dont think that is the case. Hewitt, Roddick, Safin, Murray, etc..would only be 1 or 2 or even quite possibly 0 slam winners in any era. Djokovic is the one possible exception but he might end up with more than 2 in this era anyway.

    I would say the Graf-Seles era had alot of really strong players held back by Graf, Seles, and Navratilova still being around. Sabatini, Novotna, Pierce, all had potential to win 4 or more slams in some other eras.
     
  50. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    I like how you support your argument with facts :confused:
     

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