The eye test: who impressed you the most among those you watched?

GhostOfNKDM

Hall of Fame
Stats are useful and an objective measure of player comparison (to an extent)

But we also know its hard and really unfair to compare different generations with so many variables - surfaces, racket and string tech, prevalent trends of tournament prestige/importance Etc

Stats also tend to force us into binary choices among the top performers.

That’s why I think the ‘eye test’ - the ability of tennis fans to recognize extraordinary and sustained greatness having watched a lot of other tennis players in the same as well as different eras - is a better way to compare and appreciate past players.

It doesn’t force one into mutually exclusive scenarios and while completely subjective, the choices I reckon would come to parallel the same list as someone compiling purely from statistical data. Stats also get into subjective interpretation territory soon enough but with the pretense of certifiable clarity whereas with this approach we are clear frm the outset about the nature of the discussion.

So who are the best players you’ve watched?

To make it a bit more structured, how would you rate them across some parameters ( and this just a starter list, add your own): racket skills, athleticism, tactics, anticipation/court vision, endurance, mental strength, sportsmanship - that make these players and/or certain seasons of these players extraordinary to you?

examples of certain plays, achievements to illustrate your conclusions etc are always valuable.

The main condition is that you should have watched these players live (on tv/in stadium).

Merely citing stats from an era does not count and there are countless threads for that. Im aware this precludes older players whom most of us can only appreciate from achival footage but this keeps our discussions more ‘real’ rather than esoteric.
 

GhostOfNKDM

Hall of Fame
First serve fluidity/power - Sampras, Becker

Serve placement/disguise - Federer

Hand eye coordination/touch - McEnroe Federer

Movement - young Federer, Nadal on clay

Athleticism - Nadal, Agassi, Djokovic, Fed

Volleys - Edberg, McEnroe, Fed, Sampras

Return of serve - Agassi, Djokovic

Tactician - Federer, Agassi

Forehand - Federer, Sampras

2 handed backhand - Nalbandian, Djoko, Agassi, Nishikori, Safin

One handed BH - Wawrinka, Federer, Thiem
 

beltsman

Legend
First serve fluidity/power - Sampras, Becker

Serve placement/disguise - Federer

Hand eye coordination/touch - McEnroe Federer

Movement - young Federer, Nadal on clay

Athleticism - Nadal, Agassi, Djokovic, Fed

Volleys - Edberg, McEnroe, Fed, Sampras

Return of serve - Agassi, Djokovic

Tactician - Federer, Agassi

Forehand - Federer, Sampras

2 handed backhand - Nalbandian, Djoko, Agassi, Nishikori, Safin

One handed BH - Wawrinka, Federer, Thiem
Good list but I replace Sampras FH with Lendl.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
Hingis in every area except for the second serve and forehand. Seles in 1992, and Serena for serving in general. She embarrassed Hingis with her serving 100% first serves in their '01 US.

"I really have been working on that. I didn't imagine in my wildest dreams that it would have been 100 percent [in the second set]. Oh, my."
 

Antónis

Professional
I'll go with the shots/players that impressed me the most, that I had the chance to see live

Serve: Sampras, without a doubt - beautiful fluid motion, lots of variety and disguising (always the same ball toss), best 2nd serve ever. I've seen Fed live too. Lots of variety and placement too, but Sampras had the big heavy serve when needed. On the sheer power serve, Raonic, Opelka

Net game: I usually watch live tennis on clay, and usually there's not much volleying there (except when it's doubles). I still go with Sampras, not my favorite net player ever, not elegant like Edberg, no soft hands like J Mac, but still a great volleyer. I didn't see much of Fed's net game, but we all know he's very good there.

FH: Fed's 1st, Sampras close but with less variety and placement (more of a flat boomer). On the sheer power department, F Gonzalez and DelPo

BH: the double hander, I would go with Nalbandian (sweet motion, very good looking shot) and Safin - impressive easy power, nice motion. The down the line were a beauty to see; the one handers, Gasquet's is very nice, fluid, lots of wrist action (side spins from both sides of the ball), he can do about everything with his ohbh. Stan the Man is all about power, when he unleashes a big one, it is something. I must mention Cuevas and Kuerten here too, both have very efficient good looking one handers.

Return of serve: I've seen an Connors on an exo match (vs. Noah), late 80's, but that was too long ago. From those I've seen live, perhaps Kafelnikov, Hewitt returns well too
 

GhostOfNKDM

Hall of Fame
I'll go with the shots/players that impressed me the most, that I had the chance to see live

Serve: Sampras, without a doubt - beautiful fluid motion, lots of variety and disguising (always the same ball toss), best 2nd serve ever. I've seen Fed live too. Lots of variety and placement too, but Sampras had the big heavy serve when needed. On the sheer power serve, Raonic, Opelka

Net game: I usually watch live tennis on clay, and usually there's not much volleying there (except when it's doubles). I still go with Sampras, not my favorite net player ever, not elegant like Edberg, no soft hands like J Mac, but still a great volleyer. I didn't see much of Fed's net game, but we all know he's very good there.

FH: Fed's 1st, Sampras close but with less variety and placement (more of a flat boomer). On the sheer power department, F Gonzalez and DelPo

BH: the double hander, I would go with Nalbandian (sweet motion, very good looking shot) and Safin - impressive easy power, nice motion. The down the line were a beauty to see; the one handers, Gasquet's is very nice, fluid, lots of wrist action (side spins from both sides of the ball), he can do about everything with his ohbh. Stan the Man is all about power, when he unleashes a big one, it is something. I must mention Cuevas and Kuerten here too, both have very efficient good looking one handers.

Return of serve: I've seen an Connors on an exo match (vs. Noah), late 80's, but that was too long ago. From those I've seen live, perhaps Kafelnikov, Hewitt returns well too
I did not include any power servers but for sheer mph I guess any of these tall guys like Isner, Opelka, Karlovic etc would fit the bill.

Special mention to Roddick because he wasn’t the tallest but owned the record for the fastest (140 mph) serve for a while I think.

Plus whocan forget the visual of a tennis ball dug into clay like a meteorite.
 

BorgCash

Legend
Racquet skills
Edberg
McEnroe

Athleticism
Noah
Monfils

Tactics
Hewitt
Agassi

Anticipation / Court vision
Mecir
Federer

Endurance
Lendl
Hewitt

Mental Strength
Borg
Sampras

Sportsmanship
Edberg
Rafter
Borg for endurance also. Lendl for athletism.
 

BorgCash

Legend
I did not include any power servers but for sheer mph I guess any of these tall guys like Isner, Opelka, Karlovic etc would fit the bill.

Special mention to Roddick because he wasn’t the tallest but owned the record for the fastest (140 mph) serve for a while I think.

Plus whocan forget the visual of a tennis ball dug into clay like a meteorite.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
i saw a good amount of live tennis in the 80s
including mcenroe in '84.. the problem with him is
he made it look sooo easy it didnt "seem" impressive lol...
i remember a quote he said he "wanted to take tennis to a level
that the average fan couldnt even understand" and i think he did that lol

lendls power and noahs serve impressed me the most tho...
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
Racquet skills: Rios
Athleticism: Monfils
Tactics: Hingis
Anticipation / Court vision: Mecir
Endurance: Nadal
Mental Strength: Seles
Sportsmanship: Clijsters
Hingis had poor tactics after '97, and isn't Seles known for the exact opposite after '93? Aside from those, I feel this one.
 

skaj

Legend
Hingis had poor tactics after '97, and isn't Seles known for the exact opposite after '93? Aside from those, I feel this one.
I would not say her tactics were ever "poor". There was a rise of power players in the late 90s, so her tactical approach could not work as well as it did before, since she herself had no power. And Seles was never the same after the stabbing, she suffered from mental illnesses.
Anyway, it's about whose tactics, mentality etc. impressed me the most, I chose their display of those, whenever it happened.
 
D

Deleted member 771911

Guest
I saw del Potro live. I love his forehand but live, it was quite addictive. If I were rich, I might have just followed him round the tour watching him hit that shot.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
I would not say her tactics were ever "poor". There was a rise of power players in the late 90s, so her tactical approach could not work as well as it did before, since she herself had no power. And Seles was never the same after the stabbing, she suffered from mental illnesses.
Anyway, it's about whose tactics, mentality etc. impressed me the most, I chose their display of those, whenever it happened.
No, I get that it's your opinion and where you're coming from. Just give my alternative viewpoint.

The need for power in pro tennis is mostly fiction. Good finesse and strategy trumps it: players can only hit the ball so hard at angles before the other guy can't get there. The only time you can't generate off someone else's power is on your serve. That's what Hingis weight-trained and switched rackets for. But her real problem, and she knew this, was the poor jump and rotation into her serve. Hingis could out-baseline the power players till the point she kept telling herself she was weaker as a bad thing.

What you said about Seles, that's the reason I said what I said. Might sound messed up, but other people with stronger mentalities wouldn't have fallen susceptible to that situation like she did. Now if you're just talking about the on-court fortitude, I'm right there with you.
 

skaj

Legend
No, I get that it's your opinion and where you're coming from. Just give my alternative viewpoint.

The need for power in pro tennis is mostly fiction. Good finesse and strategy trumps it: players can only hit the ball so hard at angles before the other guy can't get there. The only time you can't generate off someone else's power is on your serve. That's what Hingis weight-trained and switched rackets for. But her real problem, and she knew this, was the poor jump and rotation into her serve. Hingis could out-baseline the power players till the point she kept telling herself she was weaker as a bad thing.

What you said about Seles, that's the reason I said what I said. Might sound messed up, but other people with stronger mentalities wouldn't have fallen susceptible to that situation like she did. Now if you're just talking about the on-court fortitude, I'm right there with you.
My point was, the mental strength/tactics Monica/Martin demonstrated was what impressed(the topic of the tread) me. Whether they were consistent at it during their careers is another topic.

Also nowhere have I mentioned "the need for power", just meant to say that if Hingis had more power it would be easier for her to execute her brilliant strategy play.

As for the Seles part, that's where people are often wrong when it comes to depression and mental illnesses in general. Anyone can become mentally ill, no matter how mentally strong they are. But yes, again I was talking about her attitude on court, mainly in her teen pre-stabbing years, how focus she was, how she would actually go for more when it was tight, how long she could sustain her concentration in marathon matches.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
My point was, the mental strength/tactics Monica/Martin demonstrated was what impressed(the topic of the tread) me. Whether they were consistent at it during their careers is another topic.

Also nowhere have I mentioned "the need for power", just meant to say that if Hingis had more power it would be easier for her to execute her brilliant strategy play.

As for the Seles part, that's where people are often wrong when it comes to depression and mental illnesses in general. Anyone can become mentally ill, no matter how mentally strong they are. But yes, again I was talking about her attitude on court, mainly in her teen pre-stabbing years, how focus she was, how she would actually go for more when it was tight, how long she could sustain her concentration in marathon matches.
Yep, just saying what I felt in comparison (and why). I wasn't the only one in the thread to agree and disagree with entries like this.

Contrary, she had plenty of power. That's how she hit Pierce off the court in her prime. Muscles don't add all that much in reality, and her backhand technique was perfect. She just wasted all that power on topspin counterpunching after '97.

That's actually very true. Psychology is sometimes just something else when it comes to training. Not so straightforward. Besides, it took a lot to make adjustments to her game to become pretty much an all-courter the way she did.
 

skaj

Legend
Yep, just saying what I felt in comparison (and why). I wasn't the only one in the thread to agree and disagree with entries like this.

Contrary, she had plenty of power. That's how she hit Pierce off the court in her prime. Muscles don't add all that much in reality, and her backhand technique was perfect. She just wasted all that power on topspin counterpunching after '97.

That's actually very true. Psychology is sometimes just something else when it comes to training. Not so straightforward. Besides, it took a lot to make adjustments to her game to become pretty much an all-courter the way she did.
Hingis basically had no (physical)power of her own, she was great at using her opponent's power however.
Technique can help you only so much when you have a player twice your size across the net, who also knows how to use the racket. Good fitness helps, I agree, with the right tactical approach.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
Correct. Power is power. It doesn't matter where it comes from if you have good technique. The serve is the only exception: you have to bring that power.

Right: If your technique falls below a certain level. '97 Hingis had the technique to bully power players around, and she lost that technique along with everything else in '98 when she slacked off. So she became a standard baseliner to avoid getting smoked off attacking-style play, a standard baseliner who obviously wasn't comfortable with having to restrict herself that way. Just as an example, Venus cleverly devised a plan to combat Hingis in '98 where she'd switch from their previous hard bashing to instead controlled power to force Hingis to overcompensate and wear herself out. Hingis had worse fitness in '98 and couldn't dictate play, as her technique had degraded and she went to a worse racket (and shoes/puberty issues).

But the ****ing Venus Williams was actually hitting less powerful than in '97 when Hingis demolished her and played around with her. The scoreboard just painted the false narrative that Venus was outmuscling Hingis- she was really outplacing Hingis since Hingis lost her all-court mastery and Venus actually trained to play smarter. This is how she won Sydney '98 and posted H2H numbers even though Hingis was better. Same with Serena. Molitor and even other tour players kept telling Hingis to combat her topspin pushing (IE, mental safety barrier) with more attacking like she'd done in '94-'97, and Hingis' excuse was that wasn't her nature. She started to play even safer. It was the source of at least two feuds between her and Molitor I can recall where they briefly split up even when Hingis was more fit than in '97-'99. And so like basically every other young genius, her problem was stubbornness and a willingness to only change what she was comfortable changing.
 

HBK4life

Professional
Seeing Agassi practice in person is a site. I saw him practice during a Davis Cup weekend when I was a kid. This is before I knew more of the mental and emotional aspects of the game. I wondered “how anyone could beat a guy like this he crushes the ball and hasn’t missed a shot in an hour”.
 

socallefty

Legend
I don’t think watching on TV is an accurate eye test. You see the power, spin, movement differences between the greatest players and the rest of the tour only when you watch them live in person at tournaments. Also, the way that the biggest serves sound like is unreal in person and you appreciate the difference between a 140mph and 120mph serve much better.

I’ve been going to the LA Open (before it went bankrupt) and Indian Wells for more than a couple of decades - so, I’ve seen all the greats from the Nineties and this century live including Sampras, Agassi and the Big 3. Without any hesitation, I can say that the 2015 and 2016 versions of Djokovic I saw at Indian Wells is by far the highest level of tennis I’ve ever seen played. That’s why I consider him the BOAT as he was clearly better in my eyes than any version of Federer, Nadal and Sampras I’ve seen.

I also think that the quality of tennis keeps going up and the current version of the sport is the most enjoyable that I’ve ever seen - the average pace and spin of serves/shots keeps going up every five years. Yet, the players seem to get bigger/faster and are still able to defend the full court in long rallies without making more errors. I am not in the camp of those who think that the current era is weak or those who don’t believe Federer when he said that he was better in 2015 than he had been in his peak Slam winning seasons. The Big 3 have kept improving and while their mobility went down in speed compared to their early-mid twenties, they all seemed to serve and hit bigger when they were in their late twenties and early thirties along with controlling point patterns much more strategically to play to their strengths. For me, the Big 3 were at their most formidable well into their Thirties and it is no surprise that Nadal and Djokovic are still dominating the Slams - Nadal barely seems to lose sets anymore at Roland Garros.
 

Sunny014

Legend
Athleticism - Rafael Nadal by far
Super Flexible Ankles like Mr Fantastic - Djokovic
Power on Serve - Roddick ( each of those serves looked like they were 200mph to me, wish roger had that power in his shoulders )
Hand-eye co ordination - Federer
Court Coverage - Gael Monfils
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
I don’t think watching on TV is an accurate eye test. You see the power, spin, movement differences between the greatest players and the rest of the tour only when you watch them live in person at tournaments. Also, the way that the biggest serves sound like is unreal in person and you appreciate the difference between a 140mph and 120mph serve much better.

I’ve been going to the LA Open (before it went bankrupt) and Indian Wells for more than a couple of decades - so, I’ve seen all the greats from the Nineties and this century live including Sampras, Agassi and the Big 3. Without any hesitation, I can say that the 2015 and 2016 versions of Djokovic I saw at Indian Wells is by far the highest level of tennis I’ve ever seen played. That’s why I consider him the BOAT as he was clearly better in my eyes than any version of Federer, Nadal and Sampras I’ve seen.

I also think that the quality of tennis keeps going up and the current version of the sport is the most enjoyable that I’ve ever seen - the average pace and spin of serves/shots keeps going up every five years. Yet, the players seem to get bigger/faster and are still able to defend the full court in long rallies without making more errors. I am not in the camp of those who think that the current era is weak or those who don’t believe Federer when he said that he was better in 2015 than he had been in his peak Slam winning seasons. The Big 3 have kept improving and while their mobility went down in speed compared to their early-mid twenties, they all seemed to serve and hit bigger when they were in their late twenties and early thirties along with controlling point patterns much more strategically to play to their strengths. For me, the Big 3 were at their most formidable well into their Thirties and it is no surprise that Nadal and Djokovic are still dominating the Slams - Nadal barely seems to lose sets anymore at Roland Garros.
Now that's something. I'm with you about '15 Djokovic being the highest physical level of tennis we've ever seen. He definitely could've played all-court if he'd wanted. That year was a real reflection of the otherworldly year '97 Hingis was having. 2015 was almost as stellar. Dude was on top of the world, and then some guy came out of nowhere and played once in a lifetime-level tennis to deny him that CYGS the same way Majoli did her at that same RG. He beat Nadal for the final, she beat Seles for it: Have to wonder how he'd have done if he started out in better health just like when Hingis fell off (the horse).

Damn, though...two GOAT contenders at the top of their games- you'd really wanna see them play. Martinka '97 with her light tennis and Djokovic with the physical tennis, two different styles and excellent defense-to-offense from both of them. I feel like Martinka would have the edge on clay cause it's her native surface, but '15 Djokovic ruled hardcourts for all time. But then you've gotta consider how successful Martinka was at Melbourne, literally unlike anything we've ever seen, with a bigger win streak to boot. He also lacked in doubles: grass would be lopsided. Something tells me their hardcourt matches would be art in motion, for sure so if she could keep her first serve solid and avoid giving him return winners.

@Graf1stClass This thing right here is a real match. Not some 'Martinka and Sampras' farce. Sampras and his flat game never even factored on the red stuff.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
Seeing Agassi practice in person is a site. I saw him practice during a Davis Cup weekend when I was a kid. This is before I knew more of the mental and emotional aspects of the game. I wondered “how anyone could beat a guy like this he crushes the ball and hasn’t missed a shot in an hour”.
It helps if he's tanking on purpose because he didn't want to be there.
 

BGod

Legend
Federer overall. But Agassi on returns and basically in extended rallies. Sampras was just a viper on serve. My favourite player is a mesh between Fed, Rafter & Andre. All different styles.

But Fed from 05-07 was just something else. Novak in 2015 was a machine but just felt like default given weak field. That's not a knock I have 2015 as GOAT season but, endurance tennis not my preference.
 

Graf1stClass

Professional
Now that's something. I'm with you about '15 Djokovic being the highest physical level of tennis we've ever seen. He definitely could've played all-court if he'd wanted. That year was a real reflection of the otherworldly year '97 Hingis was having. 2015 was almost as stellar. Dude was on top of the world, and then some guy came out of nowhere and played once in a lifetime-level tennis to deny him that CYGS the same way Majoli did her at that same RG. He beat Nadal for the final, she beat Seles for it: Have to wonder how he'd have done if he started out in better health just like when Hingis fell off (the horse).

Damn, though...two GOAT contenders at the top of their games- you'd really wanna see them play. Martinka '97 with her light tennis and Djokovic with the physical tennis, two different styles and excellent defense-to-offense from both of them. I feel like Martinka would have the edge on clay cause it's her native surface, but '15 Djokovic ruled hardcourts for all time. But then you've gotta consider how successful Martinka was at Melbourne, literally unlike anything we've ever seen, with a bigger win streak to boot. He also lacked in doubles: grass would be lopsided. Something tells me their hardcourt matches would be art in motion, for sure so if she could keep her first serve solid and avoid giving him return winners.

@Graf1stClass This thing right here is a real match. Not some 'Martinka and Sampras' farce. Sampras and his flat game never even factored on the red stuff.
I still feel as though you're not completely serious. Something in this post implies satire.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
Seeing Agassi practice in person is a site. I saw him practice during a Davis Cup weekend when I was a kid. This is before I knew more of the mental and emotional aspects of the game. I wondered “how anyone could beat a guy like this he crushes the ball and hasn’t missed a shot in an hour”.
i think i saw him practice briefly in '95 for washington tournament with brad gilbert..
from what i remember he was literally clubbing some of those balls
then he had a match later on with todd martin and watched that too, and he did tone it down ALOT...he won tho of course
 

socallefty

Legend
Now that's something. I'm with you about '15 Djokovic being the highest physical level of tennis we've ever seen. He definitely could've played all-court if he'd wanted. That year was a real reflection of the otherworldly year '97 Hingis was having. 2015 was almost as stellar. Dude was on top of the world, and then some guy came out of nowhere and played once in a lifetime-level tennis to deny him that CYGS the same way Majoli did her at that same RG. He beat Nadal for the final, she beat Seles for it: Have to wonder how he'd have done if he started out in better health just like when Hingis fell off (the horse).

Damn, though...two GOAT contenders at the top of their games- you'd really wanna see them play. Martinka '97 with her light tennis and Djokovic with the physical tennis, two different styles and excellent defense-to-offense from both of them. I feel like Martinka would have the edge on clay cause it's her native surface, but '15 Djokovic ruled hardcourts for all time. But then you've gotta consider how successful Martinka was at Melbourne, literally unlike anything we've ever seen, with a bigger win streak to boot. He also lacked in doubles: grass would be lopsided. Something tells me their hardcourt matches would be art in motion, for sure so if she could keep her first serve solid and avoid giving him return winners.

@Graf1stClass This thing right here is a real match. Not some 'Martinka and Sampras' farce. Sampras and his flat game never even factored on the red stuff.
You are not serious, are you? I can‘t tell if you are trolling or if you have never watched WTA and ATP matches in person. There is a huge level difference of about 3 UTR points between the top WTA and ATP players - the top ATP players are above 16.5 and top WTA players are around 13.5. If you compare a WTA player from the nineties with a modern ATP great, the level difference would be even greater if they were both at their peaks. It would be like watching Djokovic play a top college player - not much fun for those playing or watching. The women hit hard, but typically with much less spin on both serves and shots - also, the footwork is no comparison as neutral balls on the ATP tour are outright winners on the WTA tour as the women have much slower movement.

I see current WTA players in the top 100 come and practice against the head coaches at my club who are guys around the age of 30 who played only on the ATP Futures/Challenger tour and retired 7-8 years ago with ATP rankings in the 700-900 range. The practice matches are highly competitive as the coaches still have an UTR between 12.5 to 13 (NTRP 5.5) while the WTA Pros ranked between 50-100 are in that UTR range also. That’s why the practice/hitting partners for most WTA pros are either ex-college male players or retired guys who never made it on the ATP tour to a ranking below 500.
 

Graf1stClass

Professional
You are not serious, are you? I can‘t tell if you are trolling or if you have never watched WTA and ATP matches in person. There is a huge level difference of about 3 UTR points between the top WTA and ATP players - the top ATP players are above 16.5 and top WTA players are around 13.5. If you compare a WTA player from the nineties with a modern ATP great, the level difference would be even greater if they were both at their peaks. It would be like watching Djokovic play a top college player - not much fun for those playing or watching. The women hit hard, but typically with much less spin on both serves and shots - also, the footwork is no comparison as neutral balls on the ATP tour are outright winners on the WTA tour as the women have much slower movement.

I see current WTA players in the top 100 come and practice against the head coaches at my club who are guys around the age of 30 who played only on the ATP Futures/Challenger tour and retired 7-8 years ago with ATP rankings in the 700-900 range. The practice matches are highly competitive as the coaches still have an UTR between 12.5 to 13 (NTRP 5.5) while the WTA Pros ranked between 50-100 are in that UTR range also. That’s why the practice/hitting partners for most WTA pros are either ex-college male players or retired guys who never made it on the ATP tour to a ranking below 500.
I'm certain it's a jest. I'm more surprised that someone can still have a ranking after being retired for 8 years. Or are you saying that was their ranking when they had played?
 

socallefty

Legend
I'm certain it's a jest. I'm more surprised that someone can still have a ranking after being retired for 8 years. Or are you saying that was their ranking when they had played?
That was their ATP ranking when they last played before becoming coaches - so, they never really made it on the ATP tour, but they still have NTRP and UTR ratings from playing USTA and UTR tournaments currently. But, they can still hang with top-ranked WTA women even today - both coaches are fanatics about staying fit, do weight training every evening after coaching all day and are extremely fit and strong. One of them still coaches and trains/works out with lower ranked ATP players when they come for the Indian Wells tournament (those players cannot afford traveling coaches) and he usually comes back with good stories about the top players.

Interestingly, one of them had beaten Karatsev as a junior and the other had beaten Basilishavalli a couple of times as a junior. So, a lot of ‘back in the day’ stories from them recently when Aslan made his run at the AO and Niko won Doha this week. These coaches are a couple of the guys who had to drop out of trying to make it on the tour due to lack of financial resources and that’s why I am a big proponent of the PTPA as are they.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
You are not serious, are you? I can‘t tell if you are trolling or if you have never watched WTA and ATP matches in person. There is a huge level difference of about 3 UTR points between the top WTA and ATP players - the top ATP players are above 16.5 and top WTA players are around 13.5. If you compare a WTA player from the nineties with a modern ATP great, the level difference would be even greater if they were both at their peaks. It would be like watching Djokovic play a top college player - not much fun for those playing or watching. The women hit hard, but typically with much less spin on both serves and shots - also, the footwork is no comparison as neutral balls on the ATP tour are outright winners on the WTA tour as the women have much slower movement.

I see current WTA players in the top 100 come and practice against the head coaches at my club who are guys around the age of 30 who played only on the ATP Futures/Challenger tour and retired 7-8 years ago with ATP rankings in the 700-900 range. The practice matches are highly competitive as the coaches still have an UTR between 12.5 to 13 (NTRP 5.5) while the WTA Pros ranked between 50-100 are in that UTR range also. That’s why the practice/hitting partners for most WTA pros are either ex-college male players or retired guys who never made it on the ATP tour to a ranking below 500.
Not only have I watched them in person, I've watched mixed doubles. Do you think it's a mystical, inexplicable 'phenomenon' that Hingis dominated mixed doubles, a decade and a half past her prime? No. If you've both wielded potent technique and hit against it, seeing another batch of pros hitting in person won't knock your socks off.

The first difference is you're comparing these lackluster journeywomen to the best women we've ever had. I'm not just talking about Martinka but her contemporaries. Do you know how badly the pudgy Seles would've blown those Top 100 women out? Davenport? Kournikova? Mauresmo? Venus? There's no question that by the mid-2000's, the power game was on the way out, which is how a still-injured Hingis who was just 'feeling out things' was able to break back in so easily before her injuries got worse. All these players practiced with men. They aren't boxing. A little extra spin has its advantages, and it has its tradeoffs. Watch a light tennis player in Martinka hit with those same retirees and tell me with a straight face she'd hit the same mindless ball bashing as all those other hopefuls. Not a chance, and you respect her too much to even insinuate it.
 

galain

Hall of Fame
Live from fence-side, Thomas Johansson was incredibly impressive.

I used to wander the grounds of the AO during qualies and the first two days when I lived in Melbourne and got to see a lot of pros from that era up close. Johansson is the one who really sticks out for me as being much more impressive in person than he looks on tv.

Agassi was also incredible. I didn't get as close to his court but I never really appreciated him until I saw him live. How he could control the rally was amazing.

From fence-side again, Federer practising his serves left me open mouthed.

The ones who were surprisingly ordinary were also interesting. I must have caught Kournikova on a bad day, Tommy Robredo was consistent but not much else, and it did my heart good to see Sabine Appelmans struggling with the wind as much as I do.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
I still feel as though you're not completely serious. Something in this post implies satire.
Something tells me you're fishing for likes. Which part is it? Do you think he's a better volleyer than Martinka? Do you think his backhand form's better? Is his serve placement stronger? You're wrong for all three. His anticipation is worse too. That's why he slides all over the place. No, sir: It's the physicality that makes Djokovic such a strong competitor. He's the best physical tennis player we've ever had. That's why you need to pair the best woman to challenge him, the only woman who doesn't play physical tennis.

If you're intent on comparing Serena or someone like that, obviously Djokovic would destroy her. Serena plays a power game like most of the women. Osaka's no different. She's lucky they turned tennis into 70% hardcourt tournaments. Even faces like Hsieh, with her minimal doubles record, play the power game- why do you think she envies Graf so much? Graf's just a power forehand and a power slice. Men play the same game as the women but better in every way. But Martinka plays a game of reflections. Men don't know that game...not anymore.
 

HBK4life

Professional
Live from fence-side, Thomas Johansson was incredibly impressive.

I used to wander the grounds of the AO during qualies and the first two days when I lived in Melbourne and got to see a lot of pros from that era up close. Johansson is the one who really sticks out for me as being much more impressive in person than he looks on tv.

Agassi was also incredible. I didn't get as close to his court but I never really appreciated him until I saw him live. How he could control the rally was amazing.

From fence-side again, Federer practising his serves left me open mouthed.

The ones who were surprisingly ordinary were also interesting. I must have caught Kournikova on a bad day, Tommy Robredo was consistent but not much else, and it did my heart good to see Sabine Appelmans struggling with the wind as much as I do.
You didn’t . I saw Kournikova several times in person had she looked more like me no one would have ever heard of her.
 

BGod

Legend
I don’t think watching on TV is an accurate eye test. You see the power, spin, movement differences between the greatest players and the rest of the tour only when you watch them live in person at tournaments. Also, the way that the biggest serves sound like is unreal in person and you appreciate the difference between a 140mph and 120mph serve much better.

I’ve been going to the LA Open (before it went bankrupt) and Indian Wells for more than a couple of decades - so, I’ve seen all the greats from the Nineties and this century live including Sampras, Agassi and the Big 3. Without any hesitation, I can say that the 2015 and 2016 versions of Djokovic I saw at Indian Wells is by far the highest level of tennis I’ve ever seen played. That’s why I consider him the BOAT as he was clearly better in my eyes than any version of Federer, Nadal and Sampras I’ve seen.

I also think that the quality of tennis keeps going up and the current version of the sport is the most enjoyable that I’ve ever seen - the average pace and spin of serves/shots keeps going up every five years. Yet, the players seem to get bigger/faster and are still able to defend the full court in long rallies without making more errors. I am not in the camp of those who think that the current era is weak or those who don’t believe Federer when he said that he was better in 2015 than he had been in his peak Slam winning seasons. The Big 3 have kept improving and while their mobility went down in speed compared to their early-mid twenties, they all seemed to serve and hit bigger when they were in their late twenties and early thirties along with controlling point patterns much more strategically to play to their strengths. For me, the Big 3 were at their most formidable well into their Thirties and it is no surprise that Nadal and Djokovic are still dominating the Slams - Nadal barely seems to lose sets anymore at Roland Garros.
No offense I just don't get it. I hit with lower ranked pros and played regionally for years attending a lot of tournaments but in my earlier years the Canadian Open. Novak at his best is a high percentage machine, but is there no value in hitting difficult shots? Federer was sublime while Agassi was basically a more versatile baseliner to Novak.

The field is categorically weaker with more sports driving away talent and very top heavy wealth imbalance.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
No offense I just don't get it. I hit with lower ranked pros and played regionally for years attending a lot of tournaments but in my earlier years the Canadian Open. Novak at his best is a high percentage machine, but is there no value in hitting difficult shots? Federer was sublime while Agassi was basically a more versatile baseliner to Novak.

The field is categorically weaker with more sports driving away talent and very top heavy wealth imbalance.
Every time the guy slides, he's hitting a difficult shot.
 

ne1410is

New User
I disagree. I saw Kournikova practicing multiple times, including with her mom who was wearing stilletto heels and daisy dukes with a crop top. She definitely had skills.

Her mom stood at the net and held the racquet in this way that didn’t inspire confidence in me but surprised me in that the racquet didn’t get knocked out of her hand. She stood at the net (can’t really run in stilettos) and Anna just hit ball after ball onto her mom’s racquet, rallying for practice while her mom stood there and held onto the racquet. It was impressive, she was using a 105 sq in Yonex SRQ 500 at the time. Hitting balls repeatedly into a 105 sq in “window” over the net is something I could not do.
Despite all the hype around her, she was actually quite nice to me, and readily obliged when I asked for a photo and autograph. Unfortunately I didn’t have as nice of an experience with other players (who ironically had a reputation as being nice).
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
I disagree. I saw Kournikova practicing multiple times, including with her mom who was wearing stilletto heels and daisy dukes with a crop top. She definitely had skills.

Her mom stood at the net and held the racquet in this way that didn’t inspire confidence in me but surprised me in that the racquet didn’t get knocked out of her hand. She stood at the net (can’t really run in stilettos) and Anna just hit ball after ball onto her mom’s racquet, rallying for practice while her mom stood there and held onto the racquet. It was impressive, she was using a 105 sq in Yonex SRQ 500 at the time. Hitting balls repeatedly into a 105 sq in “window” over the net is something I could not do.
Despite all the hype around her, she was actually quite nice to me, and readily obliged when I asked for a photo and autograph. Unfortunately I didn’t have as nice of an experience with other players (who ironically had a reputation as being nice).
I always love to hear stories like these. When was this?

Kournikova's issues were mental, if we're not counting her injuries. She always said she had no trouble focusing in practice...just like Hingis said she had no trouble being aggressive in practice. They were practice court champions. Hingis the Queen, and Kournikova, the Practice Court Princess.
 

Graf1stClass

Professional
That was their ATP ranking when they last played before becoming coaches - so, they never really made it on the ATP tour, but they still have NTRP and UTR ratings from playing USTA and UTR tournaments currently. But, they can still hang with top-ranked WTA women even today - both coaches are fanatics about staying fit, do weight training every evening after coaching all day and are extremely fit and strong. One of them still coaches and trains/works out with lower ranked ATP players when they come for the Indian Wells tournament (those players cannot afford traveling coaches) and he usually comes back with good stories about the top players.

Interestingly, one of them had beaten Karatsev as a junior and the other had beaten Basilishavalli a couple of times as a junior. So, a lot of ‘back in the day’ stories from them recently when Aslan made his run at the AO and Niko won Doha this week. These coaches are a couple of the guys who had to drop out of trying to make it on the tour due to lack of financial resources and that’s why I am a big proponent of the PTPA as are they.
Thank you for clarifying. They haven't played the large events, and they managed to defeat the 100 best players is what you're stating. Do you remember the scoreboard? This recalls the notable event the Williams sisters had played against a player out of the 200 ranking when they were still in their more arrogant youthful phase of their career. They lost pretty terribly from what I remember, and I'm certain these WTA ladies were no superior to them.
 

ne1410is

New User
I always love to hear stories like these. When was this?

Kournikova's issues were mental, if we're not counting her injuries. She always said she had no trouble focusing in practice...just like Hingis said she had no trouble being aggressive in practice. They were practice court champions. Hingis the Queen, and Kournikova, the Practice Court Princess.
1997 Acura Classic in Manhattan Beach
 
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