Originally Posted by kimbahpnam
tell Nadal that.....
If Nadal gets stomped, it's usually by a guy who hits on the flatter side of things. Most of his upsets are caused by players who hit relatively flat on the tour. So if we told Nadal that, he would confirm the OP's observation for people who have the timing to pull this off consistently.
Originally Posted by KenC
My question is "What is the point of full western grips and overworked strokes, especially on the FH, if they don't do so much damage?" At worst, they create junk balls because the technique is too demanding, and at best they produce a ball that jumps off the bounce and bounces higher than normal. But, those ball get sent back every time.
What I am seeing at the NTRP equivalent of 5.0+ here is way too many people who try to create a lot of spin with their western FHs and crazy looking strokes, but are neutralized by heavy hitters who use a normal amount of topspin. And this is on clay. On cement the advantages of killer topspin are seriously diminished.
Generally there are 3 basic matchups. Defensive vs aggressive, aggressive vs aggressive, defensive vs defensive. This doesn't mean "this guy is pushing and that guy is bashing", it means "this guy is looking more to get balls into play and the other guy is looking to force the point open". Aggressive vs Aggressive would basically be Safin vs Agassi, Federer has popped in all but the final scenario (being defensive vs Nadal's aggression to his backhand, aggressive vs Nadal's defensive, or aggressive vs Nadal's aggressive).
More often than not, the topspin player will be playing the more defensive role in a majority of the shots for a majority of the points compared to a flatter hitter. However, it is almost always on the flatter hitter to really decide how the match will be played. If he REALLY wants to be aggressive, he has to take the ball earlier and play with better timing. If he is used to this, then he inherently has an advantage. If he normally likes to play from further back, then he either comes out even or has a disadvantage depending on how he performs. If he decides to be defensive, then the spin player has the option to then either be more aggressive (by using his spin to open up more angles) or to play a similar defensive-minded strategy. This again results in the flatter hitter either being in an even or disadvantageous position because spin grants better safety and the spin hitter will be able to hit from closer to the court. If he decided to be aggressive without taking the ball on the rise, then he is in nothing short of a disadvantageous position because he is hitting from way behind the baseline, with very little to ensure his ball is deep, inside the lines, and over the net. He will eventually miss or hit short.
So from this, we can tell that in a VAST MAJORITY of scenarios, the spin hitter will be in a very strong position during rallies. However, for those flat players who CAN and WILL hit the ball early, consistently, and cleanly, the spin players are at a MASSIVE disadvantage. The ball is coming back earlier AND faster than they are used to compared to more hybrid opponents.
However, only a few (and extremely skilled or talented at that) can do that. Heavy topspin throws people off their game. For some, it's by a lot. For some, it's very little. Is it really worth it? Well, you could make an argument that for a vast majority, you come out either even or in a strong position... But for that small minority you are essentially ****ed if you ever play against them. Nadal has adapted by incorporating flatter shots in his arsenal, and it's served him well.
Strategically, for lower level players, I would say it is good... Because how many of them can really hit the ball so well? Most players who take the ball on the rise still won't hit it hard and return it with a good amount of spin. Very few below 5.0 can actually crank it consistently on the rise. Nadal has made it work because he travels around the world, has a good few months to play on clay to rack up wins, and has the body and legs to stay in points long enough to make it work.
I really don't advocate a Full Western grip (Roddick is an example of why you SHOULDN'T go full western). I advocate Eastern and Semi-Westen because they allow you to hit either flat or heavy spin while giving ample access to the other. Nadal uses Semi-Western, and Federer uses a mild Eastern. That's why these guys can hit so hard and hit with so much spin. It simply gives them a better range of shots. Full Western doesn't give you that option. Flat is stupid hard to hit with Full Western.
I would say heavy topspin is undervalued and often misused when it IS valued. The reason we're all not professional players on the tour (aside from age and fitness) is that we still have things to learn about tennis. Decisions like when to and when not to abuse heavy topspin is one of those things.