How Strings have completely changed the game of Tennis

SublimeTennis

Professional
This article says it all, seems many on here are new to tennis, so this article should prove most helpful.

It has quotes from many pro's talking about the introduction of dead Poly strings, Pete Sampras calling Luxilon "Cheatalon", and Agassi saying the strings are what allowed him to keep winning late in his career.

Poly strings allow players to play better than they really are. I used Gut as a kid, there is no comparison, instead of being careful you can take huge cuts at the ball, hit angles I though were never possible and I'm a 6.0 player.

https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/conspiracy-string-theory-how-new-technology-killed-american-mens-tennis
 

ChicagoJack

Hall of Fame
I stopped reading at this paragraph cited below. Kudos to the author for citing the impact of polyester on the game of tennis, but his grasp of exactly how the additional spin is generated is rudimentary at best.

Quote : "How so? Unlike springy natural gut or even synthetic nylon, Luxilon's polyester-based strings are dead. I've tried them. They play like a board and are murder on weak elbows and shoulders. But for touring pros with live arms and the Mach 1.0 racket head speed to match, polyester allows players to take massive cuts at the ball from the baseline and keep the ball in play thanks to hugely increased rotation (a.k.a. topspin).The grip on the ball is incredible."

This video explains the physics in greater detail:
String Theory, By Joshua Speckman, The Atlantic Magazine Online
http://www.theatlantic.com/video/archive/2011/01/string-theory/68157/
 

n8dawg6

Legend
i never found short-point serve and volley tennis to be particularly interesting to watch anyway. was always an agassi and especially a chang fan. as far as the actual league tennis i'm playing, i've never been more interested than i am now. i like where the game is.

interesting article, though.
 

n8dawg6

Legend
and just for the sake of spouting my opinions a little longer, there's some logical inconsistencies in the article (although his thesis very well may be correct). he complains about teenagers being physically disadvantaged by balls that bounce over their shoulders, but he also mentions in a different breath that Agassi started the trend of catching the ball on the rise ... before it gets that high. also, the fact that older players have the advantage isn't new either. let's not forget that it wasn't mullet acid wash jeans agassi who rose to lasting fame ... it was older bald bumblebee agassi. 17 yr old michael chang winning the french open in 1989 was an anomaly. it was crazy. the article seems to present that as more of a regular occurrence. as long as I've been watching tennis, the ATP has always been about a core group of elite players against everybody else. They usually maintain their status for a number of years. The only difference is that none of them have been american lately .... except in WTA? what about Serena, the WTA G.O.A.T. power player? oh, but the article is titled "men's tennis" ... but then later it says that poly changed the WTA too?

anyway, these are just inconsistencies. not sure if it upsets his thesis, but we do know that poly changed the game and we do know that there haven't been american men in the top 5 in a number of years.
 

ultradr

Legend
Yes, it is completely different game now. You need different set of talents to excel in this game, especially at the level of tour. Smaller subset of talents, simpler game dynamics.

Simply put, the style we used call as "clay court tennis" is the main stream.
 

ultradr

Legend
This article says it all, seems many on here are new to tennis, so this article should prove most helpful.

It has quotes from many pro's talking about the introduction of dead Poly strings, Pete Sampras calling Luxilon "Cheatalon", and Agassi saying the strings are what allowed him to keep winning late in his career.

Poly strings allow players to play better than they really are. I used Gut as a kid, there is no comparison, instead of being careful you can take huge cuts at the ball, hit angles I though were never possible and I'm a 6.0 player.

https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/conspiracy-string-theory-how-new-technology-killed-american-mens-tennis
However, the article completely ignores surface changes.

The whole thing was well coordinated, all around 2002-2004, surface changes at Wimbledon and US Open, slightly thicker balls, ranking system changes and so on.

Maybe chicken and egg thing. Whether string tech induced environment changes or environment change favored polyesters.
But it was not string technology alone. Many things happened together at around 2002-2004.

And the article suggested Federer is the victim of this changes but I disagree.
He became the top player right at the beginning of this "Power Baseline" tennis and in fact the #1 beneficiary of this change so far.
 

Booger

Hall of Fame
And the article suggested Federer is the victim of this changes but I disagree.
He became the top player right at the beginning of this "Power Baseline" tennis and in fact the #1 beneficiary of this change so far.
You mean Nadal? He would have been just another clay court specialist before the changes that boosted him to top 5 all time.
 

gchen

New User
I pretty much agree with the article.
Most top players are using polyester strings. The strings allow you to swing harder and to get more spin. This has greatly helped the baseline players. Even changed the racquets used by players. The ATP players used to use small head sizes 85-90 in the 1990s, even when there were widebodies and 110 racquets. Suddenly everyone is using a 98 minimum, if not 100 or 110.

The premise is that the US players are at a disadvantage due to the court surface differences. On clay and slow courts the balls bounce even higher and the rallies are much longer. So the european players who are more consistent and used to the high bounce are at an advantage. In the US the courts are relatively fast, so the points, even with polyester, tend to be shorter. Nowadays serve and volley is almost dead, as is the one handed backhand.
 

NLBwell

Legend
There is more serve and volley going on and more one-handed backhands than there were a few years ago. Things would have to change a lot for serve and volley to be the primary way of playing again, similarly for one-handed topspin backhands, but they won't disappear. During that period of time, many people were saying no good player would ever hit a slice backhand - that is was dead at the pro level. Now almost every player has a slice one-handed backhand.
 

MixedMaster

Semi-Pro
I am happy with the changes the poly strings have made. I use a gut/poly combination that allows me to still hit a good
Ball at 66.
 

SublimeTennis

Professional
However, the article completely ignores surface changes.

The whole thing was well coordinated, all around 2002-2004, surface changes at Wimbledon and US Open, slightly thicker balls, ranking system changes and so on.

Maybe chicken and egg thing. Whether string tech induced environment changes or environment change favored polyesters.
But it was not string technology alone. Many things happened together at around 2002-2004.

And the article suggested Federer is the victim of this changes but I disagree.
He became the top player right at the beginning of this "Power Baseline" tennis and in fact the #1 beneficiary of this change so far.
I mentions it, and other things if you read the entire article. Yea I'm with you, court speed is everything, imagine Nadal with Gut strings on fast courts, likewise Sampras with slow courts playing today.

I disagree with you on Federer though, you have to remember his FOUNDATION was 85 Inch racquet with Gut, and SERVE AND VOLLEY, so he had to adapt his game to progressively slower courts, I mean come on let's be honest here, if the courts were as fast as the 90's, Federer would be in his 20 something GS. Or look at Agassi, everyone says "Wow, look how long he played", but read what he wrote, being a baseliner to begin with the courts slowed down and strings gave huge control, he said "I never won the Rome open, Cahill put in these new Luxilon strings and I win it". "I practice for two hours and don't miss". Telling you, I think it will be proven somehow that players of yesteryear were BETTER:) I really do, a 57 year old Mac holding off a 32 year old Roddick to a 5-7 loss is nothing short of miraculous, watch the match, don't listen to those who say "Oh Roddick wasn't trying", they are ignorant and don't understand power shares, but watch the match, Roddick was CONFUSED, he'd nail a 135 mph serve and Mac would pop it over the net, Roddick rushes to the net pops it up and Mac puts it away.

Today it's PHYSICAL, players play better than their abilities with remarkable strings, racquets, slow courts, there is no strategy, sorry the strategy is hit to the left, then the right, repeat until your opponent loses concentration, Nadal, Djoker and Murray prime examples. Don't misunderstand, they are GREAT, but great modern slow court players, put them on a fast court, net play, strategy and you'd never hear of them.
 

SublimeTennis

Professional
i never found short-point serve and volley tennis to be particularly interesting to watch anyway. was always an agassi and especially a chang fan. as far as the actual league tennis i'm playing, i've never been more interested than i am now. i like where the game is.

interesting article, though.
Yea but wouldn't you like VARIETY in tennis? Wouldn't it be great to see for example half of the year slow court, the other half fast court? Court speed is so huge, it would be great to watch serve and volleyers against baseliners, you know like it has been in the history of tennis:)
 

SublimeTennis

Professional
I pretty much agree with the article.
Most top players are using polyester strings. The strings allow you to swing harder and to get more spin. This has greatly helped the baseline players. Even changed the racquets used by players. The ATP players used to use small head sizes 85-90 in the 1990s, even when there were widebodies and 110 racquets. Suddenly everyone is using a 98 minimum, if not 100 or 110.

The premise is that the US players are at a disadvantage due to the court surface differences. On clay and slow courts the balls bounce even higher and the rallies are much longer. So the european players who are more consistent and used to the high bounce are at an advantage. In the US the courts are relatively fast, so the points, even with polyester, tend to be shorter. Nowadays serve and volley is almost dead, as is the one handed backhand.
Yea I LOVE my PS85 and 90, but really with Lux Rough I can get almost as much control with a Babolat 100, so these smaller racquets are going extinct. Who was it, Agassi's old trainer, said "They shouldn't even have a 90 in tennis shops", while I disagree, they are great to practice with, work on basics, I can't believe the success with the Bab PD, more controlled power, less mishits, can even hit relatively flat, and just raw controlled power.
 

ultradr

Legend
I disagree with you on Federer though, you have to remember his FOUNDATION was 85 Inch racquet with Gut, and SERVE AND VOLLEY
Hell no. Maybe for young people, he may look all court but no way. He was very much baseliner and still hard core baseliner.
Federer hit baseline 90% of time at indoor season from late 90s to early 2000s, when still majority of players serve and volleyed indoor.
This is time when everybody still serve and volleyed for both 1st and 2nd serves at Wimbledon including some players who was labeled "baseliner".
Federer S&Ved for mostly 1st serves that is what Federer did S&V at most.


Federer won his 1st Wimbeldon by reducing serve and volley and lead the whole power baseline era.

The whole thing started when Wimbledon & US Open slowed surfaces ~2002-2004.
That's when era of Federer-Nadal started. They together lead "pwer baseline era".
 

0d1n

Hall of Fame
However, the article completely ignores surface changes.

The whole thing was well coordinated, all around 2002-2004, surface changes at Wimbledon and US Open, slightly thicker balls, ranking system changes and so on.

Maybe chicken and egg thing. Whether string tech induced environment changes or environment change favored polyesters.
But it was not string technology alone. Many things happened together at around 2002-2004.

And the article suggested Federer is the victim of this changes but I disagree.
He became the top player right at the beginning of this "Power Baseline" tennis and in fact the #1 beneficiary of this change so far.
I agree with the point that the surface changes might have been just as important as the string changes. However, a ton of pros still use gut (yeah, most of them in hybrids), and poly was available way before 2002-2004 so it's clearly not just the string changes that influenced the changes in the game.

I disagree with the point that the change favoured Federer. His best surfaces are fast surfaces. He's a shot maker with a great serve and pretty much the best net game on tour today. Yeah, he's not necessarily got Rafter's/Edberg's volley technique, but still, he's close while having many other weapons that those guys did NOT have.
Suggesting that the slower surfaces are an advantage for him when he would most likely blow everybody away on fast indoor hardcourt / carpet and on faster grass is...well...just a suggestion lacking actual arguments in my view.

You mean Nadal? He would have been just another clay court specialist before the changes that boosted him to top 5 all time.
Nadal is receiving a slight boost from the slower surfaces but to suggest he would be "just a clay court specialist" before the changes is ... misguided.
He's a freakin' Wimbledon champion. Yeah...the grass is slightly slower than the 80's, but it's still grass. Agassi won Wimbledon on so called fast grass. Nadal is a better player than Agassi on most surfaces...yeah, including grass.

I mentions it, and other things if you read the entire article. Yea I'm with you, court speed is everything, imagine Nadal with Gut strings on fast courts, likewise Sampras with slow courts playing today.

I disagree with you on Federer though, you have to remember his FOUNDATION was 85 Inch racquet with Gut, and SERVE AND VOLLEY, so he had to adapt his game to progressively slower courts, I mean come on let's be honest here, if the courts were as fast as the 90's, Federer would be in his 20 something GS. Or look at Agassi, everyone says "Wow, look how long he played", but read what he wrote, being a baseliner to begin with the courts slowed down and strings gave huge control, he said "I never won the Rome open, Cahill put in these new Luxilon strings and I win it". "I practice for two hours and don't miss". Telling you, I think it will be proven somehow that players of yesteryear were BETTER:) I really do, a 57 year old Mac holding off a 32 year old Roddick to a 5-7 loss is nothing short of miraculous, watch the match, don't listen to those who say "Oh Roddick wasn't trying", they are ignorant and don't understand power shares, but watch the match, Roddick was CONFUSED, he'd nail a 135 mph serve and Mac would pop it over the net, Roddick rushes to the net pops it up and Mac puts it away.

Today it's PHYSICAL, players play better than their abilities with remarkable strings, racquets, slow courts, there is no strategy, sorry the strategy is hit to the left, then the right, repeat until your opponent loses concentration, Nadal, Djoker and Murray prime examples. Don't misunderstand, they are GREAT, but great modern slow court players, put them on a fast court, net play, strategy and you'd never hear of them.
You make a lot of good points. However, to me...your conclusion smells of bias against those guys. Greats just adapt and find a way to win. And Nadal and Djokovic are greats. Murray is not yet there...but he's close.
So...you'd hear of those guys regardless of "fast court", "net play", "strategy"...whatever.
That's why even arguments about greats across different eras being "futures level players today" are also stupid. Saying that "Laver would not be a top player today" because he was playing like he was playing is stupid. He was playing like that because the conditions available to him when he played favoured that style. If the conditions would have been different (i.e. 98 sq inches graphite racquets and gut/poly hybrids + slightly different surfaces) he would have tweaked his game, played a a slightly different way...he would have adapted, he would have found a way to win.
Just like Djokovic would have found a way to win in the conditions available to him in the 80's for example. Champions do that, it's the reason they are champions in the first place.
Have a look at this...it might give some perspective on what champions really are... https://www.ted.com/talks/david_epstein_are_athletes_really_getting_faster_better_stronger?language=en
 

TennisCJC

Legend
I agree with the point that the surface changes might have been just as important as the string changes. However, a ton of pros still use gut (yeah, most of them in hybrids), and poly was available way before 2002-2004 so it's clearly not just the string changes that influenced the changes in the game.

I disagree with the point that the change favoured Federer. His best surfaces are fast surfaces. He's a shot maker with a great serve and pretty much the best net game on tour today. Yeah, he's not necessarily got Rafter's/Edberg's volley technique, but still, he's close while having many other weapons that those guys did NOT have.
Suggesting that the slower surfaces are an advantage for him when he would most likely blow everybody away on fast indoor hardcourt / carpet and on faster grass is...well...just a suggestion lacking actual arguments in my view.



Nadal is receiving a slight boost from the slower surfaces but to suggest he would be "just a clay court specialist" before the changes is ... misguided.
He's a freakin' Wimbledon champion. Yeah...the grass is slightly slower than the 80's, but it's still grass. Agassi won Wimbledon on so called fast grass. Nadal is a better player than Agassi on most surfaces...yeah, including grass.



You make a lot of good points. However, to me...your conclusion smells of bias against those guys. Greats just adapt and find a way to win. And Nadal and Djokovic are greats. Murray is not yet there...but he's close.
So...you'd hear of those guys regardless of "fast court", "net play", "strategy"...whatever.
That's why even arguments about greats across different eras being "futures level players today" are also stupid. Saying that "Laver would not be a top player today" because he was playing like he was playing is stupid. He was playing like that because the conditions available to him when he played favoured that style. If the conditions would have been different (i.e. 98 sq inches graphite racquets and gut/poly hybrids + slightly different surfaces) he would have tweaked his game, played a a slightly different way...he would have adapted, he would have found a way to win.
Just like Djokovic would have found a way to win in the conditions available to him in the 80's for example. Champions do that, it's the reason they are champions in the first place.
Have a look at this...it might give some perspective on what champions really are... https://www.ted.com/talks/david_epstein_are_athletes_really_getting_faster_better_stronger?language=en

I think you are putting why too much emphasis on the mystical greatness of Nadal and Djokovic. Old Federer has beaten Djokovic at Shanghai and Dubai as these are fast surfaces. Racket tech and strings make a huge difference at the top of the game. Federer has made Wimbledon final the last 2 years. Court type and speed make huge difference in results at pro level.

Yes, Nadal is a great player but I don't think I would have ever bet on him to win Wimbledon if ATP regulated head size to 95" and banned poly strings. I definately wouldn't have bet on Nadal to win Wimbledon with 95", no poly AND old low and fast bouncing grass. Also, I don't think he would have won USO with these constraints. He still could have won Aussie Open as it played very slow and high until recently.
 

0d1n

Hall of Fame
I think you are putting why too much emphasis on the mystical greatness of Nadal and Djokovic. Old Federer has beaten Djokovic at Shanghai and Dubai as these are fast surfaces. Racket tech and strings make a huge difference at the top of the game. Federer has made Wimbledon final the last 2 years. Court type and speed make huge difference in results at pro level.

Yes, Nadal is a great player but I don't think I would have ever bet on him to win Wimbledon if ATP regulated head size to 95" and banned poly strings. I definately wouldn't have bet on Nadal to win Wimbledon with 95", no poly AND old low and fast bouncing grass. Also, I don't think he would have won USO with these constraints. He still could have won Aussie Open as it played very slow and high until recently.
All of this is fine. I did not say that surfaces don't matter, on the contrary. What I did say however is that the surface changes did not favour Federer, and the "huge advantage" that was offered to Djokovic and/or Nadal is blown out of proportion.
Let me reiterate, if Agassi, a baseliner with way less athletic ability than Djokovic could win on so called "fast grass"...so could Djokovic. So...where are those (i.e. Djokovic would never handle faster conditions...bla bla) statements coming from ? Are we forgetting the fact that champions are champions because they find a way to win despite conditions not favouring them ?

Also, if I understand things correctly, you are assuming that we would have the same Nadal, with the same technique, even with those restrictions you mention (let's go even further and say wooden racquets).
My whole point is that we would NOT have the exact same Nadal with the exact same game if he would not have had his Babolats when he was growing up. He would be however the same exceptional athlete, with adapted technique, but still winning. Sure, if we would introduce such restrictions now, when those guys are fully developed that would hurt them, but that's pretty much stating the obvious isn't it ?
Same with anyone of the wooden racquet era greats. Put their ability in current times, have them grow up with current equipment and current training methods, and guess what. They would still be great. Nastase would be just as good with a graphite racquet as he was with wood. Actually he would be much better, due to the superior equipment, and certainly would be a match for the "Murrays" of the world. Also, he would not be hitting his forehand with a continental grip, and rushing the net as often as he did.
That's basically what I'm stating.
 

SublimeTennis

Professional
Hell no. Maybe for young people, he may look all court but no way. He was very much baseliner and still hard core baseliner.
Federer hit baseline 90% of time at indoor season from late 90s to early 2000s, when still majority of players serve and volleyed indoor.
This is time when everybody still serve and volleyed for both 1st and 2nd serves at Wimbledon including some players who was labeled "baseliner".
Federer S&Ved for mostly 1st serves that is what Federer did S&V at most.


Federer won his 1st Wimbeldon by reducing serve and volley and lead the whole power baseline era.

The whole thing started when Wimbledon & US Open slowed surfaces ~2002-2004.
That's when era of Federer-Nadal started. They together lead "pwer baseline era".
Do you have a source for that? I ALWAYS assumed Fed started out serve and volleyer, but always ready to admit when wrong. I know he used 85 with Gut, you aren't disputing that, right? But yea, sources please I would actually like to know.

I agree that "Baseliner" is relative, Borg was considered a baseliner but spent about a third of his time at net, different time.
 

SublimeTennis

Professional
I agree with the point that the surface changes might have been just as important as the string changes. However, a ton of pros still use gut (yeah, most of them in hybrids), and poly was available way before 2002-2004 so it's clearly not just the string changes that influenced the changes in the game.

THAT'S A BIT DECEIVING, SORRY I'VE NEVER COPIED SO NOT SURE IF I'M DOING THIS RIGHT. THEY USE GUT ONLY WITH DEAD POLY, NO ONE USES FULL GUT, FIRST IT'S JUST FACT, SECOND PUT GUT IN YOUR RACQUET AND TRY TO KEEP THE BALL IN, I'M 6.0 PLAYER AND I CAN'T.

I disagree with the point that the change favoured Federer. His best surfaces are fast surfaces. He's a shot maker with a great serve and pretty much the best net game on tour today. Yeah, he's not necessarily got Rafter's/Edberg's volley technique, but still, he's close while having many other weapons that those guys did NOT have.
Suggesting that the slower surfaces are an advantage for him when he would most likely blow everybody away on fast indoor hardcourt / carpet and on faster grass is...well...just a suggestion lacking actual arguments in my view.

IT'S COMMON SENSE AND LOGIC. WHY DOES NADAL ONLY CONSISTANTLY WIN ON THE SLOWEST COURT ON THE PLANET? AND THEN HAVE A TOUGH TIME ON THE FASTEST? COME ON IF YOU THINK NADAL COULD PLAY IN THE 90'S YOU'RE NOT USING LOGIC, SAMPRAS COULD DO NOTHING ON MODERN CLAY, OR OLD FOR THAT MATTER, JUST ADMIT, THERE IS NO BIAS AGAINST NADAL, HE'S PROBABLY THE BEST MODERN PLAYER, BUT ANY OTHER ERA YOU'D NEVER HEAR OF HIM. YOU CAN SAY "OH AGASSI USED A HUGE RACQUET", TRUE BUT HE HAD SHORT COMPACT SHOTS, NADALS ENTIRE GAME IS MASSIVE TOPSPIN FROM 5 FEET BEHIND THE BASELINE, YOUR POINTS DON'T MAKE SENSE

Nadal is receiving a slight boost from the slower surfaces but to suggest he would be "just a clay court specialist" before the changes is ... misguided.
He's a freakin' Wimbledon champion. Yeah...the grass is slightly slower than the 80's, but it's still grass. Agassi won Wimbledon on so called fast grass. Nadal is a better player than Agassi on most surfaces...yeah, including grass.

"SLIGHT BOOST', OK SORRY BUT NOW I KNOW YOU AREN'T REAL. AGAIN, AGASSI TOOK SHORT COMPACT SWINGS ON THE RISE TAKING AWAY TIME.

You make a lot of good points. However, to me...your conclusion smells of bias against those guys. Greats just adapt and find a way to win. And Nadal and Djokovic are greats. Murray is not yet there...but he's close.
So...you'd hear of those guys regardless of "fast court", "net play", "strategy"...whatever.
That's why even arguments about greats across different eras being "futures level players today" are also stupid. Saying that "Laver would not be a top player today" because he was playing like he was playing is stupid. He was playing like that because the conditions available to him when he played favoured that style. If the conditions would have been different (i.e. 98 sq inches graphite racquets and gut/poly hybrids + slightly different surfaces) he would have tweaked his game, played a a slightly different way...he would have adapted, he would have found a way to win.
Just like Djokovic would have found a way to win in the conditions available to him in the 80's for example. Champions do that, it's the reason they are champions in the first place.
Have a look at this...it might give some perspective on what champions really are... https://www.ted.com/talks/david_epstein_are_athletes_really_getting_faster_better_stronger?language=en
READ MY POST AGAIN, TAKE A BREATHE, THINK, THEN WRITE, SORRY BUT YOU DON'T HAVE A CLUE.
 

SublimeTennis

Professional
I think you are putting why too much emphasis on the mystical greatness of Nadal and Djokovic. Old Federer has beaten Djokovic at Shanghai and Dubai as these are fast surfaces. Racket tech and strings make a huge difference at the top of the game. Federer has made Wimbledon final the last 2 years. Court type and speed make huge difference in results at pro level.

Yes, Nadal is a great player but I don't think I would have ever bet on him to win Wimbledon if ATP regulated head size to 95" and banned poly strings. I definately wouldn't have bet on Nadal to win Wimbledon with 95", no poly AND old low and fast bouncing grass. Also, I don't think he would have won USO with these constraints. He still could have won Aussie Open as it played very slow and high until recently.
Great, common sense. Nadal on slow court, large racquet with dead poly, THAT'S HIS GAME, 4500rpm shots, so yes he's going to dominate this era, especially slow courts, Well nothing to add, you are right, Nadal with a 95 with Gut? Wow, he'd be in trouble.
 

SublimeTennis

Professional
All of this is fine. I did not say that surfaces don't matter, on the contrary. What I did say however is that the surface changes did not favour Federer, and the "huge advantage" that was offered to Djokovic and/or Nadal is blown out of proportion.
Let me reiterate, if Agassi, a baseliner with way less athletic ability than Djokovic could win on so called "fast grass"...so could Djokovic. So...where are those (i.e. Djokovic would never handle faster conditions...bla bla) statements coming from ? Are we forgetting the fact that champions are champions because they find a way to win despite conditions not favouring them ?

Also, if I understand things correctly, you are assuming that we would have the same Nadal, with the same technique, even with those restrictions you mention (let's go even further and say wooden racquets).
My whole point is that we would NOT have the exact same Nadal with the exact same game if he would not have had his Babolats when he was growing up. He would be however the same exceptional athlete, with adapted technique, but still winning. Sure, if we would introduce such restrictions now, when those guys are fully developed that would hurt them, but that's pretty much stating the obvious isn't it ?
Same with anyone of the wooden racquet era greats. Put their ability in current times, have them grow up with current equipment and current training methods, and guess what. They would still be great. Nastase would be just as good with a graphite racquet as he was with wood. Actually he would be much better, due to the superior equipment, and certainly would be a match for the "Murrays" of the world. Also, he would not be hitting his forehand with a continental grip, and rushing the net as often as he did.
That's basically what I'm stating.
The "Greats" DO NOT always find a way to win, that's your response? Really? Despite every expert in the world disagreeing with you? If greats can adapt, why could Sampras not do anything on Clay? Or why did he do great on grass? Smelling troll here
 

0d1n

Hall of Fame
"Read my post again, breathe, think, then write".
I think that's what your advice to me was.
I suggest you take your own advice.
Your "debate style" smacks of teenager or mature guy (in age only) who gets to play "internet superhero" to make himself feel better.

Now...to address some of your points which are not personal attacks:
- yes, less and less players use full gut, most if not all are migrating to hybrids. But plenty of them played with full gut well into their professional careers, and kept the ball in court just fine. Federer, Williams sisters, Tommy Haas, Radek Stepanek, Michael Llodra...and so on. It is clear that gut hybrids offer a small advantage which is why they are now migrating. It's called adaptation...evolution...and that's fine.
- I was initially talking about Federer not getting an advantage from the surfaces, not Nadal. Convenient how you just addressed him. Yes ... even talking about him...saying that he only wins on the slowest courts on the planet when he won Wimbledon and the US Open is...well...not dealing with reality.

Now on to the point with regards to the greats finding a way to win...I don't mean to say they are all Federer, who can play on anything including a hockey ring on ice skates and still win.
I say they find a way to win in their environment, and make some choices based on that.
If you read carefully I said that if Nadal had grown up with different equipment available to him (including 95'' racquets + gut), he would be a different Nadal, but he would still be winning.
The equipment can't take away his freakish movement/athletic ability and superb timing. Of course if you would refuse him the possibility of playing with his own equipment NOW he would be affected. That is not the point.
The point is...that champions are champions regardless of equipment. They USE equipment, and adapt to the conditions available to them, but they are champions because of their physical qualities, mental strength and work ethic, not because of Babolat racquets and poly strings.
You mention the Sampras example...Sampras IS a perfect example of adaptation. He dumped the two hander for a one hander. He chose to play an attacking style. He chose not to play a patient game, but rather a "get the first strike in" style of play. The conditions available to him were suitable for that style of play, he grew up in America where he most likely did not train extensively on clay.
He made a choice, and HE ADAPTED. Yes, he was a mediocre clay player because he chose to focus on what could bring him the benefits...the best "bang for the buck", and that was faster surfaces.
Do you think if he would have grown up at the Sanchez academy in Spain and training almost exclusively on clay, his results on the stuff would have been the same ??
He would still have been a great player because of his own qualities, but his style of play would have probably been different.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
I stopped reading at this paragraph cited below. Kudos to the author for citing the impact of polyester on the game of tennis, but his grasp of exactly how the additional spin is generated is rudimentary at best.

Quote : "How so? Unlike springy natural gut or even synthetic nylon, Luxilon's polyester-based strings are dead. I've tried them. They play like a board and are murder on weak elbows and shoulders. But for touring pros with live arms and the Mach 1.0 racket head speed to match, polyester allows players to take massive cuts at the ball from the baseline and keep the ball in play thanks to hugely increased rotation (a.k.a. topspin).The grip on the ball is incredible."

This video explains the physics in greater detail:
String Theory, By Joshua Speckman, The Atlantic Magazine Online
http://www.theatlantic.com/video/archive/2011/01/string-theory/68157/
I think the author is right. While snap back does occur, the main driver in the new spin era is the deadness of poly. His take on it is 100% correct. If you don't have the racquet head speed to displace the strings, you won't benefit from snap back. And truthfully, snap back is only a small contributor to spin. The steeper angle and harder swing is the main factor in increased spin.

As to the article itself, I think the author is basically correct. He's blaming the downfall of American tennis on poly. He justifies it by citing the string. He mentions, but really misses, the real culprit. It's surface. While the rest of the world rears juniors on clay, the US and Australia have embraced hard courts. When a kid starts out, he is basically defensive because he's not big enough to generate offense. Playing on clay allows a beginner to hone his defensive skills. As the player becomes physically bigger, they can then generate offense. The reason for polyester was $'s. Players in these areas couldn't restring and had to have something durable. Poly fit the bill. It also allowed them to swing harder and as they grew into their games, they built spin-centric games.

Who was the first player in the Open era to win Wimbledon who didn't grow up on clay? Answer? Not Rod Laver, he grew up on clay. Not Jimmy Connors, he grew up on clay. Not John McEnroe, he grew up on clay. Not Boris Becker or Stephan Edberg, they both grew up on clay. No, the first player to win Wimbledon who didn't grow up on clay was none other than Mr. Image himself, Andre Agassi. I've heard Patrick McEnroe say that juniors should grow their games on clay. I don't know if the USTA is really doing anything about it though. I think the USTA should go back to green clay at the Open. That would do a lot for the sport IMO.
 
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