Is A Zverev Too Tall to be the next Dominant Player?

REKX

Rookie
As a Federer and Nadal fan, I have been fascinated by them. Take Wimbledon 2008 for example, that was a match which reached a level of quality never seen before in tennis, and this is according to most fans, pundits, tennis experts, former champions and coaches. We have to ask, which players are going to take their place in the future?

Zverev is tipped by many to be the next dominant player in tennis, not just one grand slam here and there.

But watching him, forehand and backhand, especially serve is very good certainly capable of the highest levels, but his movement just doesn't look as good as people like Federer and Nadal, even at age 21. His height obviously has something to do with this.

Federer Nadal at 6 foot 1, and Djokovic at 6 foot 2, seem like the perfect height to be a dominant tennis player. Among many things, one of their greatest attributes is their movement. All Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at their peak had movement like we've never seen before. The winners that Federer used to hit from his forehand and his backhand were amazing to see, he doesn't do it much from his backhand now, but he could hit a running passing shot from his backhand. Zverev doesn't seem to have that particular attribute.

So watching him today, things like changing direction and long rallies you can see there is a big difference between him and the top 3.

Can Zverev be the next dominant player?
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
the game today is being dominated by 30+year olds, including a 37 year old..
once theyre gone, i think a 6'6" 20 something year old could dominate....
 

Sport

Legend
As a Federer and Nadal fan, I think Wimbledon 2008 is the greatest match to expose your main point. You are right, both Federer and Nadal at about 6' 1" reached the highest level of tennis ever that magical final. Even Djokovic is 6' 2". Thus, Zverev lacks mobility and speed to dominate RG or WB, he is just too tall. Also, his serve is not that good.
 

Towny

Hall of Fame
Depends what you mean by dominant. I don't think we're going to get a double digit slam winner with Zverev's height in the current climate as movement is usually too compromised. But you could imagine a player having a top class serve with powerful groundies off both wings racking up a reasonable number of slams. That player is not Zverev however
 

MeatTornado

Legend
As a Federer and Nadal fan, I think Wimbledon 2008 is the greatest match to expose your main point. You are right, both Federer and Nadal at about 6' 1" reached the highest level of tennis ever that magical final. Even Djokovic is 6' 2". Thus, Zverev lacks mobility and speed to dominate RG or WB, he is just too tall. Also, his serve is not that good.
This is the biggest problem. His movement is check mark against him, but you can live with a vulnerability like that if he made up for it in another area. At his height, he should have a huge serve and win more free points than Fed or Novak. But he doesn't.

Until he starts hitting serves like a 6'6" player should, he's just a gangly player with solid groundstrokes. And if he specializes in groundstrokes, how is he ever going to dominate his peers who also have the same strength as him, but with better speed?
 

bjk

Hall of Fame
Tall is always an asset in tennis, at least up to Karlovic height. There are always tradeoffs, but the real issue is whether he is making the most of his height. At 83% hold percentage, the answer is no. Querrey is the same height and holds at 88% percent. Zverev's real problem is first serve. He aces at just 10% (vs Querrey at 17%) and wins just 72% (vs Querrey at 82%). Basically he needs to go for more aces on first serve. If the opponent gets the ball back in play, the chances of winning the point go from 100% to about 66%.
 

upchuck

Professional
I won't blame his height, but I do think there is reason to think you can't dominate tennis anymore if you're not the best athlete out there, and Zverev is not the best athlete out there.

I'd argue that in the last 15 years, the best athlete has always been the guy who came out on top in the sport.
 

bjk

Hall of Fame
Watch out, some guy is going to hold at 94% and break at 20% and win a calendar slam and people are going to finally admit that height dominates athleticism. It's just a matter of time. Opelka could be the one, he has about a 2-year head start on Isner.
 
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IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Watch out, some guy is going to hold at 94% and break at 20% and win a calendar slam and people are going to finally admit that height dominates athleticism. It's just a matter of time. Opelka could be the one, he has about a 2-year head start on Isner.
But they don't hold at those percentages against good returners like Djok or Fed.

Look at Isner or Anderson's hold % against Djok and Fed...
 
D

Deleted member 716271

Guest
I think between 6 foot and 6 foot 3 or so is by far the best height to be an all time great but you could still be a great player at 6 6. He just isn't that good.
 
D

Deleted member 716271

Guest
5'11 to 6'3 IMO (180-190cm). The closer to 6'1 (185cm) the better.

Movement > serve.
I think so but under like 5'11 they lack pop and some of the court geometry can suffer. Over 6'3 and the movement is no good, even great athletes who can run fast in a straight line at 6'5 can't move side to side with the same agility as a normal height person.

Federer is 6'1, Nadal is a bit below and Djokovic a bit above so that is probably the best height.

I don't agree with people who think that a really tall player would be ideal and we just haven't seen it yet because they are rarer.
 

bjk

Hall of Fame
But they don't hold at those percentages against good returners like Djok or Fed.

Look at Isner or Anderson's hold % against Djok and Fed...
Nobody holds at their usual rate against Fed and Djokovic. It also goes the other way, the servebots can't break. They are weak returners and have no chance against a top server like Fed. But like I said, the day is coming when a Zverev comes along who can serve or a Kyrgios who can return, and that player will dominate the sport, and then all of these debates will be settled. Height dominates. Ultimately the sport will have to figure out a way to reduce server dominance.
 

Enga

Hall of Fame
I think there could be something to it, the height. You have to work hard like Andy Murray to be good at defense as a huge person, and it seems like the top of the game is all about turning defense into offense. One has to wonder if that playstyle combined with his height contributed to Murray's injuries though.

I think the height makes it easier to get to near the top though. Just not the very top. I think it helps a guy blast juniors, and touring amateurs away with huge shots they don't know how to defend. But against the best of the best, it seems like being able to reach those huge shots, and put a bit of extra on it, is where the best excel.
 

kimguroo

Legend
He is tall and it affects his movements. He is young but I don’t think he can improve his movement when he is getting old so his movements will be slower and slower. Good news is currently there is no promising young tennis players so if fed, Nadal and Djokovic retire, he might have a chance to win GS or he might have similar career like berdych if dominant young player suddenly appears. In my opinion, 6’ 1” is ideal height for tennis. Plus one or two inch might be max except rare case like monfils.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Height dominates.
Look at the heights of the top olympic men volleyball teams.

Now look at the heights of men tennis champions.

Now explain to me why height >6'4" dominates in volleyball but not in tennis :)
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
This is the biggest problem. His movement is check mark against him, but you can live with a vulnerability like that if he made up for it in another area. At his height, he should have a huge serve and win more free points than Fed or Novak. But he doesn't.

Until he starts hitting serves like a 6'6" player should, he's just a gangly player with solid groundstrokes. And if he specializes in groundstrokes, how is he ever going to dominate his peers who also have the same strength as him, but with better speed?
He doesn't even really specialize in groundstrokes. He still has a cookie cutter FH that doesn't do anywhere near enough damage. Looks like he decelerates on it a lot of the time, and obviously that hurts him when under pressure even more. He goes big on the BH every now and then. It's a solid stroke, but he's frightened to death to go for the lines on his FH side.

And his volleying is horrible. I know it's not as important as it once was, but even today being a decent volleyer at least, is a must. You're not going to win every point by hitting clean winners past guys with incredible defence like Djokovic or Nadal.

Until he improves the FH he'll struggle in BO5 because his strategy right now is to back himself in 20-30 shot rallies consistently, so by the 2nd week he'll either be injured or tired or both. And if he runs into a guy like Coric or Chung (never mind Djokovic or Nadal) they'll almost certainly tire him out.
 
D

Deleted member 716271

Guest
Why are point guards typically shorter than other basketball positions?

More movement/quickness required.

Why are tennis champions not as as tall as NBA centers or men volleyball stars?

More movement/quickness required.
Good analogy, prototype point guards I thought are as big as a tennis player could be and still move well. Someone like Russell Westbrook would be at about the upper limit of ideal size for a tennis player. The lateral movement required and agility is always going to favor someone under 6'3 and power and the geometry of the court will always favor someone over 6'. So I think we're looking at a fairly narrow range
 

bjk

Hall of Fame
Find the 4-time GS champion in this photo. Does anyone think that Courier could win in the current era? Tennis really has changed.

 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Find the 4-time GS champion in this photo. Does anyone think that Courier could win in the current era? Tennis really has changed.

Tennis at the top few spots has not changed as much as you think.

Courier and Sampras were 6'1" and kicking butt in their era.

Federer and Nadal are 6'1" and are (still) kicking butt in their era.

Considering the power that Courier generated with a 85" racket and full-bed synthetic gut, a 25-year old courier with a 97" frame and poly or gut/poly would be kicking ass today with a huge serve and huge forehand! He also had pretty good put-away skills at the net for a baseliner...
 
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