Do people forget ...

1477aces

Hall of Fame
That Federer was a complete head-case till he was nearly 22?

I hear all this talk about how Kyrgios will never put it together because he is almost 22 ...

Federer was considered a very late bloomer; people won slams and got to #1 at age 20 or barely 21 those days (Safin, Hewitt, Roddick). At 2003 Wimbledon, Federer hadn't made a slam QF in 2 years! He had only won 1 masters title in his career too. He only started taking tennis fully seriously when his coach died in 2002, and after hewitt destroyed him mentally at DC 2003.

Kyrgios too has the opportunity now to make use of his potential; though I feel it is substantially lower than Federer's and he has more mental issues than young Fed.
 

NGM

Hall of Fame
Kyrgios's mentality has been more stable after he took part in 3 weeks long psychological course organized by Dr Jeff Bond (007 in undercover?).

He is more mature right now I think.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
That Federer was a complete head-case till he was nearly 22?

I hear all this talk about how Kyrgios will never put it together because he is almost 22 ...

Federer was considered a very late bloomer; people won slams and got to #1 at age 20 or barely 21 those days (Safin, Hewitt, Roddick). At 2003 Wimbledon, Federer hadn't made a slam QF in 2 years! He had only won 1 masters title in his career too. He only started taking tennis fully seriously when his coach died in 2002, and after hewitt destroyed him mentally at DC 2003.
He has also pointed to his 2001 Wimbledon win over Sampras as a turning point in helping him to start taking tennis more seriously and realising his potential.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
Kyrgios's mentality has been more stable after he took part in 3 weeks long psychological course organized by Dr Jeff Bond (007 in undercover?).

He is more mature right now I think.
He also credits Lleyton Hewitt with mentoring him and helping him to get his head straight.
 

SLD76

G.O.A.T.
What OP says is all true

But don't forget also that Federer came up as a primarily serve volley player..

Then smack dab in the middle of his ascendance, courts were slowed and the game changed which is part of the reason players of his generation whose game was baseline oriented fared better earlier, especially a grinder like Hewitt .


So, he not only had his mental instability to deal with, but he also had to reconstruct his style of play which also served to delay his eventual dominance


Hell, even Pete who won a slam at 19, didn't really start to dominate the tour til age 21/22 and he didn't have to deal with retooling his game
 
D

Deleted member 307496

Guest
What OP says is all true

But don't forget also that Federer came up as a primarily serve volley player..

Then smack dab in the middle of his ascendance, courts were slowed and the game changed which is part of the reason players of his generation whose game was baseline oriented fared better earlier, especially a grinder like Hewitt .


So, he not only had his mental instability to deal with, but he also had to reconstruct his style of play which also served to delay his eventual dominance


Hell, even Pete who won a slam at 19, didn't really start to dominate the tour til age 21/22 and he didn't have to deal with retooling his game
Hewitt was better on quicker courts than slower courts.
 

SLD76

G.O.A.T.
Hewitt would have fared better in the 90's because passing shots (or making people hit tough volleys) was his forte. Once people stopped going to net, he was just a solid tough baseliner among many. He was still a very good player if that sounds I'm being harsh.

Yep.


He benefited from racquet string technology on the return and passing shots


But was negatively affected by court speed changes
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
The internet wasn't yet at its "peak" when Federer was young either. At least not to the level it's at today where you can spill your thoughts anywhere. That said, I'm not sure if Federer was ever as bad as Kyrgios in terms of completely tanking matches and engaging in crowd banter, or complaining about "pseudo" noises like he did at the AO. As far as I know, Federer also never "took a nap" on a changeover (USO vs Murray).

Federer's problems were mostly internal. I think he knew people expected a lot of him so sometimes it would boil over into a racquet smash/tantrum. Still, I understand what OP is trying to say and also hope Kyrgios can get his head together.

As far as what Federer has credited for his turnaround in his mental state, I think I read or heard one time (maybe in a YouTube video) that the Hamburg 2002 final with Safin was also instrumental (no pun intended). He was doing an interview and was asked the question about his mental improvement and said (paraphrasing) 'I remember looking at Safin in that final while he was angry/smashing his racquet(s) and thinking to myself, is this what I really look like when I get angry?' And then I tried to be more controlled from that point on.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
The internet wasn't yet at its "peak" when Federer was young either. At least not to the level it's at today where you can spill your thoughts anywhere. That said, I'm not sure if Federer was ever as bad as Kyrgios in terms of completely tanking matches and engaging in crowd banter, or complaining about "pseudo" noises like he did at the AO. As far as I know, Federer also never "took a nap" on a changeover (USO vs Murray).

Federer's problems were mostly internal. I think he knew people expected a lot of him so sometimes it would boil over into a racquet smash/tantrum. Still, I understand what OP is trying to say and also hope Kyrgios can get his head together.

As far as what Federer has credited for his turnaround in his mental state, I think I read or heard one time (maybe in a YouTube video) that the Hamburg 2002 final with Safin was also instrumental (no pun intended). He was doing an interview and was asked the question about his mental improvement and said (paraphrasing) 'I remember looking at Safin in that final while he was angry/smashing his racquet(s) and thinking to myself, is this what I really look like when I get angry?' And then I tried to be more controlled from that point on.
Plus, I don't think Fed ever said he doesn't like tennis. He was a bit like Zverev in terms of temper, because he cared about the game.
 

Tennease

Legend
Federer had a lot of tantrums when he was younger. He got punished for throwing his racquet which ripped a curtain of the tennis academy he was training at. He also threw out his video game control when he lost playing a game against his coach (can't remember if it was with his coach Lundgren or with his friend).
 

Tshooter

G.O.A.T.
The internet wasn't yet at its "peak" when Federer was young either...
The internet "peaked" around 1991-1993. CompuServe. Usenet groups. You had to work for it with your 300bps dial-up or 1200bps if you were cutting edge. Most people looked at me like I was insane when I tried to explain that I was going "online" to send an message or later "browsing the World Wide Web." You didn't need a virus program or an ad-blocker or a VPN because the world wide network of DBs that infect the internet now were not involved. It was Nerd City and you didn't get bombarded with ads and the entire purpose was not to sell you something, steal your info or harass or insult you, like it is now. And it wasn't a world-wide cesspool of misinformation and "alternative facts." We saw the MIT coffee pot and dreamed a future of Unicorns, Ice Cream, Peace and Love. It was not to be. It was the peak.

The internet is in a very weak era now. The POTUS is a twitter troll. Twitter itself sucks. Facebook sucks. Instagram sucks. Phishing is rampant. The NSA is watching me type this. My ISP has just convinced the GOP Congress that ISPs should be allowed to sell my browsing history for fun and profit. This is the weak internet era. Open your eyes.
 
Fed wasn't too consistent from match to match or week to week until he got hold of poly. The poly was the game changer for him.
Do you actually believe this? It's one of the most ridiculous things I've heard in regards to Fed.

From 2003-2014, Fed used a graphite Wilson tour 90 with gut mains and poly cross strings. It's a tiny bit bigger than the PS 85, and about as "old school" of a frame as any player from this era has ever used.

If you think the type of cross string used is the difference between a head case and an 18 time Major champion, then I don't know what to say...It's preposterous.
 
1

1HBH-DownTheLine

Guest
So basically Nick needs to win Wimbledon this year and win 3 of the 4 slams next year to be worth anything.
 

Smasher08

Legend
So basically Nick needs to win Wimbledon this year and win 3 of the 4 slams next year to be worth anything.
Lol yep, and basically he also needs to trade down his Yonex for a vTour 89, and even then his complete psychology and progress will entirely depend on stringing it with poly crosses. ;)
 

SinjinCooper

Hall of Fame
Federer was coming of age as a kid developing the most complete game in the history of tennis. Literally A or A+ in every stroke, tactic, and technique. Of course he was going to lag behind more one-dimensional players in the speed with which he mastered them all.

Nick's a serve and a haircut. That kind of game better mature a lot quicker, because it doesn't have nearly the shelf life a game like Fed's does. And it demands incredible fitness and laser-like focus, because if anything goes wrong, there's no Plan B to fall back on.

The window of opportunity is closing rapidly for King Rat. If he doesn't wake up and take his profession seriously, the more talented players coming up behind him are going to start running laps around him in a hurry.
 

JMR

Hall of Fame
Federer was considered a very late bloomer; people won slams and got to #1 at age 20 or barely 21 those days (Safin, Hewitt, Roddick).
That's a bit of an exaggeration. Federer wasn't a late bloomer; he just wasn't an early bloomer. I did a survey once of the ages at which all-time great players (men) made their first slam final, and Fed's age was in the middle of the pack, maybe a little above average. For example, Jimmy Connors also was between 21 and 22 when he made his first slam final, the 1974 AO. No one ever talks about Jimbo as being a "late bloomer," even though he was only a few months younger than Fed at the equivalent career moment. He was just viewed as a normal ATG.

Roddick (not an ATG for this purpose, but you mention him) was about 10 months younger than Fed at the time of their respective first slam finals.

True late bloomers are guys like Rafter or Wawrinka.
 

Smasher08

Legend
That's a bit of an exaggeration. Federer wasn't a late bloomer; he just wasn't an early bloomer. I did a survey once of the ages at which all-time great players (men) made their first slam final, and Fed's age was in the middle of the pack, maybe a little above average. For example, Jimmy Connors also was between 21 and 22 when he made his first slam final, the 1974 AO. No one ever talks about Jimbo as being a "late bloomer," even though he was only a few months younger than Fed at the equivalent career moment. He was just viewed as a normal ATG.

Roddick (not an ATG for this purpose, but you mention him) was about 10 months younger than Fed at the time of their respective first slam finals.

True late bloomers are guys like Rafter or Wawrinka.
Interesting points. And Agassi might arguably be both precocious and a late bloomer.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
It's not about mental weakness or instability, when Kyrgios is focused his mental strength is not a problem. The problem is whether he likes tennis and wants to put in the long hard hours into being the best he can be. With Federer that was never in doubt, Federer's issues were different and fixed in time with confidence and improved physicality. Kyrgios is more like a young Agassi, but even less dedicated than that. Agassi was dedicated early in his career and put in a lot of work even if he didn't like tennis. Later in his career he took it to a new level. I don't really think Kyrgios is. For him he likes to play the game for fun and he treats training and practice like that. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it's not how you make the best use of your talent either which is what we all want him to do.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
Do you actually believe this? It's one of the most ridiculous things I've heard in regards to Fed.

From 2003-2014, Fed used a graphite Wilson tour 90 with gut mains and poly cross strings. It's a tiny bit bigger than the PS 85, and about as "old school" of a frame as any player from this era has ever used.

If you think the type of cross string used is the difference between a head case and an 18 time Major champion, then I don't know what to say...It's preposterous.
Andre Agassi vividly detailed his 2002 embrace of polyester string towards the end of his career in Open, his must-read memoir:

People talk about the game changing, about players growing more powerful, and rackets getting bigger, but the most dramatic change in recent years is the strings. The advent of a new elastic polyester string, which creates vicious topspin, has turned average players into greats, and greats into legends. [Coach Darren Cahill] puts the string on one of my rackets... In a practice session I don't miss a ball for two hours. Then I don't miss a ball for the rest of the tournament. I've never won the Italian Open before, but I win it now, because of Darren and his miracle string.
 

Bukmeikara

Legend
That Federer was a complete head-case till he was nearly 22?

I hear all this talk about how Kyrgios will never put it together because he is almost 22 ...

Federer was considered a very late bloomer; people won slams and got to #1 at age 20 or barely 21 those days (Safin, Hewitt, Roddick). At 2003 Wimbledon, Federer hadn't made a slam QF in 2 years! He had only won 1 masters title in his career too.
June 02-July 03, two years?! Federer was number 6 at the end of 2002 with a Master title in a very tough clay field + Miami final. Also at the time top 20 you had up and coming Hewitt, Roddick, Coria, Nalbandian, Ferrero, Safin. Now days you have 30-35 years old Tsonga, Gasquet, Monfils, Berdych, Lopez, Karlovic, Wawrinka, Federer and Nadal. Very big difference ...
 
Andre Agassi vividly detailed his 2002 embrace of polyester string towards the end of his career in Open, his must-read memoir:

People talk about the game changing, about players growing more powerful, and rackets getting bigger, but the most dramatic change in recent years is the strings. The advent of a new elastic polyester string, which creates vicious topspin, has turned average players into greats, and greats into legends. [Coach Darren Cahill] puts the string on one of my rackets... In a practice session I don't miss a ball for two hours. Then I don't miss a ball for the rest of the tournament. I've never won the Italian Open before, but I win it now, because of Darren and his miracle string.
I've read the book. I also understand the benefits of polyester strings. I ALSO know that using poly strings in the crosses only doesn't give you anywhere near the same amount of insane spin and control as a full bed of poly does. To claim that Federer's success or consistency is due in any large measure to poly cross strings is complete madness.
 
If early Fed was a "complete head-case," then I guess the more recent personalities on the tour ought to get "positively-certifiable-menace-to-society-get-that-nutjob-a-straitjacket" labels.

For reals now, kinda quaint by comparison. Think he sulked a couple times, yeah? The early L's upset him some, if memory serves. Does that kind of stuff even happen anymore?
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
If Kyrgios couldn't make a breakthrough in transitional era, I doubt that he ever will, to be honest.
He's only 21! He's already made a "breakthrough" in beating Djoker two weeks in a row and basically owning him from the back of the court. Let's look at what other ridiculously over-hyped players have been doing:

Kei and Raonic: injured constantly (and I mean constantly)
Thiem: loses early in most tournaments
Tomic, Coric: results are a joke

Zverev has game and great potential, but not the body or build to be a dominating player.

I can't believe I am defending Nick since he's been a complete a-hole on court. It's very apparent to nearly everyone in the tennis community and to those who have watched tennis for decades that he is THE coming player. Read what Wertheim says about him:

"Kyrgios, like everything and everyone, comes shaded in grey, even if the coloration is starker than most. Let’s get the negative over and done with: he has committed multiple acts that are simply not defensible. That out of the way, let’s now acknowledge the good. And there’s plenty here. While other players ignored the masses, I saw Kyrgios—multiple times—engage the fans and selfie mafia at events, most recently at Indian Wells. Follow him on social media and note how often he heaps praise on his colleagues. And note his gushing over his girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic. (Not exactly a go-to move for successful male athletes in their early 20s.) He concedes points. He plays doubles (and plays it well). He makes ballkids feel like human beings and not furniture fixtures or hired help.

Above all, Kyrgios’ tennis lately has been, well, Big League. He is always going to win easy points off his serve. But, seeing him at Indian Wells, I was so impressed by the well-roundedness of his game. He didn’t just beat Djokovic, for the second time in two weeks. He out-returned him and, I would contend, beat him from the baseline in neutral rallies. And this game after beating Mischa Zverev in a freighted match in the previous round.

“Future No. 1” is one of those phrases that gets thrown out cavalierly, with too little respect and acknowledgement for the hard work and professionalism and dedication (and luck) that this entails. But if Kyrgios isn’t well on his way to the top, who is? Put it this way: if I were picking a player outside the former Slam winners to be the sport’s next big winner—and next big star—he’s probably tops on the list right now."

https://www.si.com/tennis/2017/03/29/mailbag-nick-kyrgios-maria-sharapova-miami-open
 

Vrad

Professional
It's not about mental weakness or instability, when Kyrgios is focused his mental strength is not a problem. The problem is whether he likes tennis and wants to put in the long hard hours into being the best he can be. With Federer that was never in doubt, Federer's issues were different and fixed in time with confidence and improved physicality. Kyrgios is more like a young Agassi, but even less dedicated than that. Agassi was dedicated early in his career and put in a lot of work even if he didn't like tennis. Later in his career he took it to a new level. I don't really think Kyrgios is. For him he likes to play the game for fun and he treats training and practice like that. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it's not how you make the best use of your talent either which is what we all want him to do.
Also, Kyrgios is being groomed by Tennis Australia. There is little evidence that they are capable of developing non-headcase players.

If he was coming out of a different tennis system I would be much less concerned that his talent and skills would be wasted.
 

1477aces

Hall of Fame
June 02-July 03, two years?! Federer was number 6 at the end of 2002 with a Master title in a very tough clay field + Miami final. Also at the time top 20 you had up and coming Hewitt, Roddick, Coria, Nalbandian, Ferrero, Safin. Now days you have 30-35 years old Tsonga, Gasquet, Monfils, Berdych, Lopez, Karlovic, Wawrinka, Federer and Nadal. Very big difference ...
01 wimbeldon to 03 W not a single slam QF. Yeah, he did snag a masters title, but crashed out at wimbeldon in the first round when people thought he was a favorite in 02. He was a headcase period till he broke through.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
01 wimbeldon to 03 W not a single slam QF. Yeah, he did snag a masters title, but crashed out at wimbeldon in the first round when people thought he was a favorite in 02. He was a headcase period till he broke through.
Amazing how it all suddenly came together at 2003 Wimbledon. He rarely ever faltered again after winning that maiden Slam.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
I like that this thread opens the door for some good discussion, but I think the similarities in career trajectory are pretty superficial. Also I should point out that young Federer had more game and was a more complete player, regardless of his results.

I'm sure I'll get burned at the stake for saying this but Kyrgios' reminds me of a young Tsonga, both in results and strengths/weaknesses. They both broke through by beating Nadal at a major. Both owned Djokovic for a time (remember that Jo Willy had a four match winning streak over Novak in 2008/09, who wasn't as listless as he's been these past 7-8 months.) Both were/are seen as tough outs in a big match. Sure, JWT's ascent came at 22-going-on-23, whereas Nick is a year younger, but that may be explained by Tsonga's injury-plagued early years. Both scored some notable victories in smaller tourneys, but JWT had a Masters win and major final to his name by 23, so Nick has a ways to go before he even matches that C.V.

The main difference between young Tsonga and young Kyrgios seems to be that the latter is a contender in a much more open field. Nicky gets his fair share of hype, and much of it is warranted, but I'm not sure if he'd sneak even one major if his prime years occurred from 2008 to 2012, like JWT's did. Let's wait and see if he takes that next step in his development before we coronate him. I suspect that his limitations as a player may be his undoing if his ambitions are to dominate the game.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
I like that this thread opens the door for some good discussion, but I think the similarities in career trajectory are pretty superficial. Also I should point out that young Federer had more game and was a more complete player, regardless of his results.

I'm sure I'll get burned at the stake for saying this but Kyrgios' reminds me of a young Tsonga, both in results and strengths/weaknesses. They both broke through by beating Nadal at a major. Both owned Djokovic for a time (remember that Jo Willy had a four match winning streak over Novak in 2008/09, who wasn't as listless as he's been these past 7-8 months.) Both were/are seen as tough outs in a big match. Sure, JWT's ascent came at 22-going-on-23, whereas Nick is a year younger, but that may be explained by Tsonga's injury-plagued early years. Both scored some notable victories in smaller tourneys, but JWT had a Masters win and major final to his name by 23, so Nick has a ways to go before he even matches that C.V.

The main difference between young Tsonga and young Kyrgios seems to be that the latter is a contender in a much more open field. Nicky gets his fair share of hype, and much of it is warranted, but I'm not sure if he'd sneak even one major if his prime years occurred from 2008 to 2012, like JWT's did. Let's wait and see if he takes that next step in his development before we coronate him. I suspect that his limitations as a player may be his undoing if his ambitions are to dominate the game.
I don't think comparison with Jo is insulting to Kyrgios or anything given how impressive was the former when he burst into tennis scene in 2008 AO (though IIRC I first saw him play in 2007 Queens and already liked his game). That said, aside from big serving (where I still feel Kyrgios is slightly better) and occasional low % touch shots/showboating I do think they differ in other areas of the game and their approach/tactics. Tsonga always essentially tries to blow you off court while Kyrgios doesn't shy away from long rallies, varying pace/spin and letting opponent beat himself, he doesn't always try to force the issue. I also find Kyrgios groundstrokes harder to read (especially his BH), I think he has better disguise on his shots and can hurt you off both wings unlike Jo (whose BH is mostly a rally shot with an occasional big DTL attempt which usually misses the mark).

I think dominant serve/service game and consistency from the backcourt is a very good recipe for domination in today's era/conditions so I do think Kyrgios has much more upside than Jo, not overlapping with the big 4 in their primes obviously also helps as you said.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
I don't think comparison with Jo is insulting to Kyrgios or anything given how impressive was the former when he burst into tennis scene in 2008 AO (though IIRC I first saw him play in 2007 Queens and already liked his game). That said, aside from big serving (where I still feel Kyrgios is slightly better) and occasional low % touch shots/showboating I do think they differ in other areas of the game and their approach/tactics. Tsonga always essentially tries to blow you off court while Kyrgios doesn't shy away from long rallies, varying pace/spin and letting opponent beat himself, he doesn't always try to force the issue. I also find Kyrgios groundstrokes harder to read (especially his BH), I think he has better disguise on his shots and can hurt you off both wings unlike Jo (whose BH is mostly a rally shot with an occasional big DTL attempt which usually misses the mark).

I think dominant serve/service game and consistency from the backcourt is a very good recipe for domination in today's era/conditions so I do think Kyrgios has much more upside than Jo, not overlapping with the big 4 in their primes obviously also helps as you said.
Oh, definitely not an insult to Nick, I just used that comparison to temper down some of the hype while still giving K his due. He's a fantastic player, even if I feel his ceiling is not as high as some think.

As for their stylistic traits, I agree that they are quite different but I was referring more so to what their pure strengths were, stroke-for-stroke. Both can bludgeon people on serve and have a 1-2 befitting a power player of this era. It helps the comparison that their early careers unfolded in a fairly similar fashion (well, more similar than Federer-Kyrgios in terms of results.) Jo is perhaps a little stronger off the return (not saying much), at net and has more of a predilection for first-strike ground stroking. Nick has more variety as you said, but I feel a lot of his ostensible game plan is really just unstructured, chaotic laziness. I don't see much clarity of thought there. Amazingly, it often works in his favour because of how unpredictable his (pattern-less) patterns of play are. That and the aforementioned disguised strokes make playing him a beguiling experience.

Still, his movement (as much a staple of the modern game as the serve or forehand) leaves much to be desired, and I don't think he will ever wreak enough havoc on the return to be that dominant day-in, day-out player that so many yearn for. For all the fancy strokes, trick shots, and genuinely impressive skills Kyrgios possesses, it doesn't change the fact that, at the end of the day, tennis is still just a series of alternating serve and return games. No amount of tweeners and jump-smashes will offset a weak return, or mediocre movement. Which is to say, weaknesses are often obscured by flashy, sometimes less consequential, strengths.

Or maybe I'm being a killjoy. :p
 
Last edited:
Top