Originally Posted by WildVolley
As I understand it, shot tolerance is how many balls a player is used to/willing to hit into play before they feel they must end the point by hitting an awesome shot.
Clay court specialists, for instance, are believed to have a higher shot tolerance, and don't mind hitting 30 balls in a row to win a point. Serve and volley players tend to want to conserve energy and end the point quickly and will become very uncomfortable if pinned to the baseline and therefore, because of a lack of shot tolerance, go for a winner even if they don't have the ball they want.
Shot tolerance is the ability to deal with a level of ball, has nothing to do with patience.
It is one thing to have nice looking or good strokes, but shot tolerance is how they hold up. The difference between having a good forehand return against a 100, a 115, and a 130mph serve. The difference between having a steady backhand against a 4.5 club player's forehand topspin, a DI college kid's topsin, and Rafa's topspin.
A DI college kid can have a beautiful 1hbh, and James Blake can have an ugly 1hbh, but James' backhand can return Roddick's serve where the college kid is overmatched.