Does Federer have the best baseline game on tour in 2017??

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
Does he?

What do you think?

Nadal is an all-time baseliner and Federer seemed to outclass him in IW and be at least even with him in Miami. Granted, we've only seen tennis on HC so far this season.

We know that Federer gains so much from his outstanding serve and that he uses his skills at the net much more than pretty much all other top players, but is his game from the baseline now also the best?

Who do you think are top five right now in terms their baseline game?

 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
Well Fed is the best baseliner by default because there are no other great baseliners currently.
Looked tight between Nishikori and Federer at the AO, with Fed's ability to churn out more free points on serve probably making the difference. It's just one match though. Kei hasn't been setting the world ablaze.
 

Sysyphus

G.O.A.T.
Some of the guys who have been winning a significantly higher percentage of their return points this year probably are more solid from the ground.

Also, 60s Weed called and sez feder's ground game will be imprudently EXPOSED at the Garros.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
Some of the guys who have been winning a significantly percentage of their return points this year probably are more solid from the ground.
Certainly an indicator, but Fed's earning his baseline kudos points less through being solid and more through being potent. I thought it was great how he bossed Nadal in IW and Kyrgios in Miami from the baseline, albeit he was still coming up with some frustrating misses and moments of inconsistency, but that's to be expected with his high-risk high-reward style. Matches against the likes of Nishikori and Wawrinka might be better barometers. He faired well, though I'm not sure he was superior.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
Federer is certainly aggressive enough with his serve, return and overall tactics as to mask the weakness of his baseline game, which would be to continuously resist and hold up in much longer rallies on a regular basis. In the short rallies which are still very much connected to that first strike, whether it be the serve or return, Federer is dominant currently. It feels that way, at least. I welcome stats.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
Yes on HC because of predictable bounce (if Fed keeps his current form/gameplan he'll also be a monster indoors this year), on other surfaces (clay especially), nope.
 

H_Richardson

Semi-Pro
At the AO Stan was winning a lot of the baseline points but in IW it was more even, maybe the edge to Fed there. Probably the best baseliner currently by a tiny margin.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
A variety of answers from a bunch of really astute observers of the game.

Most interesting...

How do we gauge it?
 

Krish872007

G.O.A.T.
It's right up there for sure, at least as far as these first 3-4 months of 2017 are concerned. One can argue that the courts at the AO and his aggressive tactics may have helped cover up any deficiencies, but I think he stepped it up in Miami when he needed to. In the final he was bossing points from the baseline and striking the ball relatively cleanly. Still prone to errors/shanks off both wings though - might see more of those crop of on clay.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
It's right up there for sure, at least as far as these first 3-4 months of 2017 are concerned. One can argue that the courts at the AO and his aggressive tactics may have helped cover up any deficiencies, but I think he stepped it up in Miami when he needed to. In the final he was bossing points from the baseline and striking the ball relatively cleanly. Still prone to errors/shanks off both wings though - might see more of those crop of on clay.
In the end though, that's an intrinsic part of one's baseline game. We can't punish Federer based on how he'd potentially do in more longer rallies when he doesn't allow them in the first place. Such weaknesses may only be exposed on clay. Federer is forcing his paradigm squarely on his opponents and thus far they've been unable to respond. At the same time, nobody else is in particularly startling form.
 

Krish872007

G.O.A.T.
In the end though, that's an intrinsic part of one's baseline game. We can't punish Federer based on how he'd potentially do in more longer rallies when he doesn't allow them in the first place. Such weaknesses may only be exposed on clay. Federer is forcing his paradigm squarely on his opponents and thus far they've been unable to respond. At the same time, nobody else is in particularly startling form.
Mostly agree, and that's what makes it difficult to effectively isolate and critique someone's baseline game in particular - so it's a difficult question to answer. Stan is right up there based on his performances at the AO and IW, Dimitrov was brilliant at the back in Melbourne, even Berdych hit a purple patch in Miami. Don't think we've seen enough of all the players to reach a meaningful conclusion - Rafa alternates between good and terrible. Most others haven't really played enough yet on account of their early exits, by virtue of the same guys (Fed/Nadal/Stan) reaching the back end of tournaments again and again.
 

SpinToWin

Talk Tennis Guru
Hard to say, the baseline game isn't so clearly defined. I'd say Fed has a big advantage on serve, as his serve sets him up favourably in the rally usually. Thus he can dictate from the off generally, which inflates the perceived quality of his game, especially with his hyper offensive strategy. Then he has the return, which has become more offensive and potent, and hence requires less quick movement from him off the second shot. However, and this is why @Gary Duane has seen a lesser percentage of games won IMO, the risk involved in his return game is considerably higher, so he needs a certain extent of fortune and good timing to string together a few points on the return to get a break. He gives away more return games as a result I'd say. It was quite apparent in some of Rafa's service games on Sunday I think.

So what's the basic point? Fed has implemented new strategies to get himself into neutral or unfavourable situations in rallies less, meanwhile pushing for favourable situations, where he can dominate with very aggressive play. The result is that when rallies manifest themselves, it's often to Roger's advantage, giving a perceived boost to his ground game.

I think Fed gets somewhat exposed when he plays a great returner, who can get him on the back foot when he's on serve. Nishikori did that to him at times, but Nishi lacked the serve to really put heavy pressure on Roger in my estimation.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Does he?

What do you think?

Nadal is an all-time baseliner and Federer seemed to outclass him in IW and be at least even with him in Miami. Granted, we've only seen tennis on HC so far this season.

We know that Federer gains so much from his outstanding serve and that he uses his skills at the net much more than pretty much all other top players, but is his game from the baseline now also the best?

Who do you think are top five right now in terms their baseline game?
I'd go by return game. According to my figures Federer is WAY down the list in returning. One look at career figures on returning, HC, makes me conclude that.

The question is: Why?

My personal conclusion is this: Fed likes a fast game and is unwilling to grind for long points. He'll do it if he HAS to, and that's why he does so well on 1st serve returns, winning points, but not so well on 2nd serve points, winning them.

That same mindset reverses on serve, where aggressive groundstrokes pay off. And I think that is even more true for Sampras, who if anything was more aggressive.

I don't think it is ability but rather mindset.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
I'd go by return game. According to my figures Federer is WAY down the list in returning. One look at career figures on returning, HC, makes me conclude that.

The question is: Why?

My personal conclusion is this: Fed likes a fast game and is unwilling to grind for long points. He'll do it if he HAS to, and that's why he does so well on 1st serve returns, winning points, but not so well on 2nd serve points, winning them.

That same mindset reverses on serve, where aggressive groundstrokes pay off. And I think that is even more true for Sampras, who if anything was more aggressive.

I don't think it is ability but rather mindset.
His mindset is giving him the ability (or allowing him to use his abilities) to dominate almost every player in shorter exchanges while at least going even and usually winning in medium exchanges. I suspect he might be losing out slightly in the much longer rallies.
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
No poll? I would say, yes by far he is the best baseliner in 2017!
Well, his forehand is possibly the best on tour right now and the backhand is very good. His sheer ball-striking is superb right now, but he won't resist so well with his movement now as he did in 2015 in the defensive sense. I'd say that Federer currently has the best forehand on tour (yet again) along with Del Potro. Wawrinka's is excellent too. So is Nadal's.

Hard to say, the baseline game isn't so clearly defined. I'd say Fed has a big advantage on serve, as his serve sets him up favourably in the rally usually. Thus he can dictate from the off generally, which inflates the perceived quality of his game, especially with his hyper offensive strategy. Then he has the return, which has become more offensive and potent, and hence requires less quick movement from him off the second shot. However, and this is why @Gary Duane has seen a lesser percentage of games won IMO, the risk involved in his return game is considerably higher, so he needs a certain extent of fortune and good timing to string together a few points on the return to get a break. He gives away more return games as a result I'd say. It was quite apparent in some of Rafa's service games on Sunday I think.

So what's the basic point? Fed has implemented new strategies to get himself into neutral or unfavourable situations in rallies less, meanwhile pushing for favourable situations, where he can dominate with very aggressive play. The result is that when rallies manifest themselves, it's often to Roger's advantage, giving a perceived boost to his ground game.

I think Fed gets somewhat exposed when he plays a great returner, who can get him on the back foot when he's on serve. Nishikori did that to him at times, but Nishi lacked the serve to really put heavy pressure on Roger in my estimation.
Fed had his patience tested a lot by Bautista-Agut and he found just about enough form off the baseline in the second set to stave off the threat. He didn't look anything special from the baseline in that match. I feel like Stan and Kei can go with Federer stroke for stroke and Federer has to rely on bits of inspiration at times against both in the rallies rather than being able to consistently hang with them with consistently deep rally strokes. It feels like Federer outsmarts them a lot of the time.. but hey I guess that's part of the deal.
 

killerboi2

Hall of Fame
Yep. Murray and Djokovic - garbage start to the season. Nadal - finished. The rest - MUGS. Fed is playing better than all of them unfortunately.
 

SinjinCooper

Hall of Fame
Of course he does.

He's still playing baseline tennis literally ever single match, and he's won ever match and tournament of significance the entire year. Just because some of you can only conceive of baseline tennis as grinding from a meter behind the baseline doesn't mean that's the reality.

Nadal match: 17 approaches out of 127 points.
Kyrgios match: 35 approaches out of 269 points.

It's almost 90% straight start-to-finish baseline, and the majority of the approaches were just for shortball putaways or dropshot chases. That's not "all court" tennis in this or any universe. Fed's a baseliner, pure and simple. And as the only one winning, he gets the crown.
 

every7

Hall of Fame
I think there are players with a better baseline game than Federer (Nishikori, Wawrinka).

They can stand and bang with Federer, but we are not seeing that because Federer is wisely mixing things up and killing everyone with his transition-attack game, neutralizing the importance of baseline-only tennis and even limiting the role court speed is playing in his matches.

Amazing stuff for sure.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
His mindset is giving him the ability (or allowing him to use his abilities) to dominate almost every player in shorter exchanges while at least going even and usually winning in medium exchanges. I suspect he might be losing out slightly in the much longer rallies.
Yup. That's my conclusion too, but this always happens with a more aggressive mindset.
 
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