If Isner had Wawrinka's ground strokes?

Would he be GOAT?

  • Yes

    Votes: 12 50.0%
  • No

    Votes: 12 50.0%

  • Total voters
    24

captainbryce

Hall of Fame
No. Because even if someone has more “weapons”, it doesn’t mean they have the right mentality (tactics, strategy, etc) to know when and how to use them. And a perfect illustration to this is when you compare players like James Blake and Roger Federer. Two players that were of a similar age, similar size, have very similar weapons, similar athleticism, and similar speed. Federer has an amazing forehand, Blake has an amazing forehand. Federer has a really good one-handed backhand, Blake has a really good one-handed backhand. Federer has amazing footwork (slightly better than Blake), Blake has amazing foot speed (slightly better than Federer). Both of them can serve between 125-130 mph, both of them had great second serve returns. Yet one is a 20 time grand slam champion and the other only ever made it to the quarters.

Despite having similar abilities, Federer is objectively a much better player than Blake. Why? Mentality. Federer plays with variety, Blake does not. Federer employs strategy, Blake does not. Federer varies his spins and changes the pace, Blake is a ball basher who goes for broke every shot. Federer relied on serve placement rather than serve speed, Blake did not. Federer maintains control of his emotions, Blake does not. And perhaps most importantly, Federer was physically conditioned and prepared to play for 4 hours in a 5 set match, while Blake never was. And that’s how you can give two players almost identical weapons and prove that one will be able to use them in ways that compliment his game, whereas the other relies solely on the weapons because he has no actual game. (Edit: not to take anything away from Blake; he actually had some game, it just wasn’t enough to win majors).


So giving Isner Wawrinka’s weapons won’t mean anything unless Isner were to transform his entire game around to be a multifaceted player. Moreover, Isner’s biggest problems are his lack of speed and mobility, which translates to having zero defensive game. The fact that he has no defense, means that he still only has HALF of a game. Andy Roddick has basically the same weapons that Isner had (with the addition of having a slightly better defensive game, and a bit more variety from the baseline). It wasn’t a huge difference, but it was enough to get him a US Open title and make it to 4 other grand slam finals before running into Federer.
 
Last edited:

Mr.Lob

Legend
Isner needs somebody's return game, other than Karlovic or Opelika. He can hit a good forehand. Backhand often lands in parking lot. Movement ...nonexistent.

Big John's Xmas list:
1) Return game
2) Fleet of feet
3) A backhand

So if Big John gets all 3, he's unstoppable. 6 CYGS's in a row. Then retires as goat.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Isner needs somebody's return game, other than Karlovic or Opelika. He can hit a good forehand. Backhand often lands in parking lot. Movement ...nonexistent.

Big John's Xmas list:
1) Return game
2) Fleet of feet
3) A backhand

So if Big John gets all 3, he's unstoppable. 6 CYGS's in a row. Then retires as goat.
This poll asks the wrong question, and I misread it the first time. It's another GOAT thing, so of course there is no guarantee any player with any strokes would or could or should be GOAT.

A better questions would be: how good would a player be who wins more than 90% of service games and more than 30% of return games? Then the answer is that this player, also given good health and longevity, would be right at the top of the list of ATGs.

This is exactly why Murray, with a Fed-like serve, would have been invincible. Or why Djokovic, with Fed's serve, would already be over 20 majors. Or why Fed, with Murry or Djokovic numbers on return, would be at around 25+ majors already.

This is why a player like Med is so potentially dangerous. He's crossed the 30% threshold this year for winning service games on HC. He's #5 on this list right now and actually got to around 31% before the USO.

If he stays there, and if he gets into the elite stats of guys who get very close to 90% of return games on a surface, on that surface he will be around Djokovic peak level.

This is why this new group of very tall players who return well are so potentially dangerous. But so far we have not yet had one who can put it all together.
 
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ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
The problem is that a serve like Isner’s is ONLY possible due to his height, while a decent rest of the game is exactly NOT possible because of it.

I don’t principally dislike those "What If" questions, but if a player would have to shrink 20-25 cm directly after every serve it gets too abstract for me.

Maybe the serve of Sampras or Federer would be a good consideration for some players, but not the serve of a 2.10 m servebot.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
The problem is that a serve like Isner’s is ONLY possible due to his height, while a decent rest of the game is exactly NOT possible because of it.

I don’t principally dislike those "What If" questions, but if a player would have to shrink 20-25 cm directly after every serve it gets too abstract for me.

Maybe the serve of Sampras or Federer would be a good consideration for some players, but not the serve of a 2.10 m servebot.
But it's not that black in white in concept. I don't expect to ever see a guy nearly 7 feet tall who is a great mover, and therefore a great defender. but guys on the list of people with top return stats are becoming more numerous. A guy 6'6" is really about half way to 7 feet tall in comparison to guys who are 6 feet tall. The moment you have a guy 6'6" who is a great mover and does not have injury problems you have a guy who also tends to be more dominant on serve just because of that height. Roanic is only 6'5".

I consistently say that I think sooner or later we are going to have a superb tall server who moves well, taller than we've seen in the past, and if that happens the tour will be dealing with a new beast. There has been a tendency since at least the 90s to see more and more bots, but if you examine the height of ace returners, that's going up too.

Right now the top 5 returners (in games) on HC are 6'2", Djokovic, Nadal 6'1", Schwartzman, the only really small guy, and then Monfils, 6'4", and Med, 6'6".

Last year the top 5 guys for winning return games on HC were noticeably shorter. The height of great defenders is going up along with age.
 

Mr.Lob

Legend
This poll asks the wrong question, and I misread it the first time. It's another GOAT thing, so of course there is no guarantee any player with any strokes would or could or should be GOAT.

A better questions would be: how good would a player be who wins more than 90% of service games and more than 30% of return games? Then the answer is that this player, also given good health and longevity, would be right at the top of the last of ATGs.

This is exactly what Murray, with a Fed-like serve, would have been invincible. Or why Djokovic, with Fed's serve, would already be over 20 majors. Or why Fed, with Murry or Djokovic numbers on return, would be at around 25+ majors already.

This is why a player like Med is so potentially dangerous. He's crossed the 30% threshhold this year for winning service games on HC. He's #5 on this list right now and actually got to around 31% before the USO.

If he stays there, and if he gets into the elite stats of guys who get very close to 90% of return games on a surface, on that surface he will be around Djokovic peak level.

This is why this new group of very tall players who return well are so potentially dangerous. But so far we have not yet had one who can put it all together.
Don't know what Isner's winning percentage is on return games. Has to be one of the worse. He just doesn't have the hand/eye coordination and movement to return well. But in this thread of make believe...even Isner can become goat. ;)
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Don't know what Isner's winning percentage is on return games. Has to be one of the worse. He just doesn't have the hand/eye coordination and movement to return well. But in this thread of make believe...even Isner can become goat. ;)
I can tell you from memory that's around 10%. Maybe it peaked above that.


11%

What's amazing to me is that to get 11% of games you have to win around 30% of points. At any rate, he tops out barely about 51% of points, maybe 51.5% of games. That's probably really around 50.75% of points. You can't even check a decimal because he's too low to get on the lists, where you get a decimal.

 
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