"The imbalance in Tennis right now."

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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
Although now that I think about it, I may be too in hock to the Safin/Hewitt paradigm. I think wawrinka did play better in his slam wins than Murray did in his, but I can't actually think of a del Potro performance that's better than Murray's best. His game is certainly more explosive but has he put on a better performance?
Del Potro's best performance is actually probably not at the level of Murray's best on grass and maybe HC. Del Potro did play amazingly to win his Slam but he's always had limited movement. The top players learned how to consistently exploit that limitation to the extent where I don't even think a peaking del Potro with the fearsome forehand would typically have enough to counteract it. Murray has a less exploitable hole in his game if he's firing in full flow, that being the weaker second serve. His forehand isn't typically great but when the whole game is flowing it is a weapon. Both have peaks that are clearly below that of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic IMO. Safin's and Wawrinka's peaks are probably in the ballpark of those greats but they produce those peaks a lot less often.
 
Del Potro's best performance is actually probably not at the level of Murray's best on grass and maybe HC. Del Potro did play amazingly to win his Slam but he's always had limited movement. The top players learned how to consistently exploit that limitation to the extent where I don't even think a peaking del Potro with the fearsome forehand would typically have enough to counteract it. Murray has a less exploitable hole in his game if he's firing in full flow, that being the weaker second serve. His forehand isn't typically great but when the whole game is flowing it is a weapon. Both have peaks that are clearly below that of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic IMO. Safin's and Wawrinka's peaks are probably in the ballpark of those greats but they produce those peaks a lot less often.
I agree. Before his injuries, I never noticed del Potro being a poor mover. I knew he wasn't great, but I didn't think of it as the glaring weakness it became. He grew in between, which may have made bending his knees harder - as Chris evert pointed out on Thursday, when sharapova did beat Serena, she was a better mover than she is now, and I believe her growth in height since then contributed to her decreased mobility and agility.

Anyway, when I was at Indian wells 2011 and saw del Potro live against Nadal, his immobility was shocking. I suspect it both got worse and players learned how to exploit it better.
 

dh003i

Legend
Regarding the comment talking about the "new level" in tennis with no tactical room to be exploited, beyond which further optimization seems difficult...wow. Talk about swallowing the McEnroe-generated new-age marketing BS hook, line and sinker.

These guys are not products of the "evolution of tennis" who have went off with Tibetan monks and meditated to new tennis highs, successively higher than one another. They are exceptionally rare talents. Federer is a natural talent on all surfaces and, despite the canard spewed around here, worked extremely hard throughout his career to improve weaknesses. Nadal was a natural prodigy on clay, but knew he needed to work on his game immensely to make inroads anywhere else. Djokovic was very good on all surfaces but is quite obviously naturally mentally weak, and had to work on that, as well as his poor fitness and some of his technique, to have any chance.

Yes, because Federer was so good, he set the bar high for Nadal and Djokovic. However, they both had the natural talent to get to where they got (which still wasn't as natural or great as Federer).

But this wasn't some "evolution of tennis", it was guys realizing that to compete with Federer they needed to really push their limits. You also see this with Wawrinka.

However, the same thing could be said about Lendl in the 1980s.

These aren't, however, giants "leaps of evolution" in the game. It's more like a 6-sigma event: Three tier 1 all-time greats successively in somewhat overlapping eras. However, none of these guys are immune to the laws of nature, and to talk as if any of them are playing better now than in their physical prime is the height of lunacy. Djokovic isn't as good as he was in 2011, it's just that few can beat him (e.g., Wawrinka did in the FO, but Federer who stopped him in 2011 is now older and inconsistent).

Djokovic will not levitate where he is now for years to come unchanged before deciding to call it quites, anymore than Federer could have. Djokovic fans seem to forget that no one would have predicted Djokovic's 2011 after his early career mental weakness and poor fitness...and remember, it is an incredibly strict regimen that elevated him from that, and his fitness could easily fall back down if he suffers any lapses; his mental strength was also suspect again in 2013 and parts of 2014.

So just as Djokovic emerged suddenly out of mental fragility and poor fitness to greatness, the same too could happen with say Krygios, Cilic, or even Wawrinka for a year or two.

Then we'd hear more hogwash about the "evolution of the game" because people would parrot similar hogwash that Djokovic was playing "better" at say 34 than at 28.
 
You don't know that Djokovic will begin to decline at all in 2016, yet alone decline seriously. The mantra that's been spread on these boards about decline being inevitable at 28 and a half or 29 is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of a logical proof. Google "inductive fallacy" if you don't believe me. The point is: that something has happened a bunch of times doesn't prove that it has to happen; that something hasn't happened doesn't prove that it can't happen.
Physical decline is inevitable. Normal human beings don't see it with them that early because they haven't maximized their physique. Whether the decline has straight effects on Nole's success remains to be seen. Most probable outcome is that his results start to be less consistent, with losses to players he "should've won".
 
Physical decline is inevitable. Normal human beings don't see it with them that early because they haven't maximized their physique. Whether the decline has straight effects on Nole's success remains to be seen. Most probable outcome is that his results start to be less consistent, with losses to players he "should've won".
Of course it is inevitable at some stage. Of course you cannot say for sure when it is inevitable. It is different for all humans, just as all aspects of the aging process. I promise you that the results of past players do not prove that decline is inevitable at 28/9. You'd need an entirely different argument than results to show that.
 

Russeljones

G.O.A.T.
Of course it is inevitable at some stage. Of course you cannot say for sure when it is inevitable. It is different for all humans, just as all aspects of the aging process. I promise you that the results of past players do not prove that decline is inevitable at 28/9. You'd need an entirely different argument than results to show that.
I agree that we shouldn't look to the past to predict something like physical decline. What could be interesting, however, is to look at the decline of players with differing styles. I am of mind to predict a pretty steep gradient to Novak's decline, once age catches up to him.
 
Of course it is inevitable at some stage. Of course you cannot say for sure when it is inevitable. It is different for all humans, just as all aspects of the aging process. I promise you that the results of past players do not prove that decline is inevitable at 28/9. You'd need an entirely different argument than results to show that.
Doesn't the decline of 100m sprinters prove the decline of fast twitch muscle power? How many 30+ sprinters have made their personal records at that age?
 
I agree that we shouldn't look to the past to predict something like physical decline. What could be interesting, however, is to look at the decline of players with differing styles. I am of mind to predict a pretty steep gradient to Novak's decline, once age catches up to him.
Djokovic is an interesting case. I've seen predictions of both sharp and steep decline. I think that's because there's widespread disagreement about whether he is more usefully compared to someone who dictates play (slow decline) or grinds (quicker decline). Anyway, a lot of decline is usually due to loss of motivation, and that's an intangible we can't predict without more knowledge of Novak than we have.
 

Russeljones

G.O.A.T.
Anyway, a lot of decline is usually due to loss of motivation, and that's an intangible we can't predict without more knowledge of Novak than we have.
I think the weight of the components that make up the decline is certainly up for discussion. I am sure motivational issues are derivatives of health issues more often than not.
 
Doesn't the decline of 100m sprinters prove the decline of fast twitch muscle power? How many 30+ sprinters have made their personal records at that age?
Okay, so if you could: a) demonstrate that fast twitch muscle power declines in all people by a certain age [presumably this would require some sort of medical study], and b) that that loss of fast twitch muscle power has as negative effect on elite tennis players as it does on sprinters, then you'd have something nearer to the sort of argument you need.

But simply noting that, for example, Sampras, Nadal, Becker, and Federer declined at 28, while McEnroe, Borg, Wilander, Courier, and Edberg did so earlier doesn't yield the same result, because it doesn't tell us why they declined. [In at least three of those cases, loss of motivation seems to have played a huge contributing role. Furthermore, results alone can't tell us whether the field caught up or the players got worse].
 

Russeljones

G.O.A.T.
Maybe. I'm not sure how we'd prove such a hypothesis though.
Going off the words of retired players. They are always talking about the encumbering influence injuries had on their decisions to stop playing at the highest level. At least that's the impression I have.
 
Okay, so if you could: a) demonstrate that fast twitch muscle power declines in all people by a certain age [presumably this would require some sort of medical study], and b) that that loss of fast twitch muscle power has as negative effect on elite tennis players as it does on sprinters, then you'd have something nearer to the sort of argument you need.

But simply noting that, for example, Sampras, Nadal, Becker, and Federer declined at 28, while McEnroe, Borg, Wilander, Courier, and Edberg did so earlier doesn't yield the same result, because it doesn't tell us why they declined. [In at least three of those cases, loss of motivation seems to have played a huge contributing role. Furthermore, results alone can't tell us whether the field caught up or the players got worse].
Stamina and aerobic endurance doesn't decline that soon, marathoners are at their best in 30-35 age. Fast twitch muscles and the speed of muscle contraction is what I believe to be the major declining part at age 27-29. Sprinters would be good meter for that. Even the great Usain Bolt, at his age of 28 says that he would want to concentrate more on 200m now!

And it's easy to see that the fast changes of direction and the swinging of the tennis racquet needs exactly that fast muscle contraction. Sure, I cannot prove it "scientifically" but I'm a strong believer.
 
Going off the words of retired players. They are always talking about the encumbering influence injuries had on their decisions to stop playing at the highest level. At least that's the impression I have.
Maybe, but we'd need a systematic study of their comments, preferably with in-depth ethnographic interviews conducted over a long period.

I said this yesterday but I also think that physical decline and injuries aren't synonyms, although there may be a feedback loop between them. (Physical decline makes injuries more likely; injuries accelerate physical decline). The argument that physical decline is inevitable, if I understand it correctly, appeals to such things as diminished reaction time or as torpantennis just said to twitch muscle power. But injuries are not inevitable. They are always at least in part coincidental. Some players last much longer without injuries than others. So, if the reason that players lose motivation is because of injuries, that will certainly happen at different times for different players. If the reason is because of loss of twitch muscle power, it might be more likely to happen at a similar time (although players would have different abilities to respond to that decline, which would then be another factor affecting the final result).
 
Stamina and aerobic endurance doesn't decline that soon, marathoners are at their best in 30-35 age. Fast twitch muscles and the speed of muscle contraction is what I believe to be the major declining part at age 27-29. Sprinters would be good meter for that. Even the great Usain Bolt, at his age of 28 says that he would want to concentrate more on 200m now!

And it's easy to see that the fast changes of direction and the swinging of the tennis racquet needs exactly that fast muscle contraction. Sure, I cannot prove it "scientifically" but I'm a strong believer.
I imagine that serve and volley players need fast twitch muscles much more than do baseline players, and that baseline players need stamina and aerobic endurance at least as much. If that's the case, then the change in playing styles would indeed be likely to lengthen the careers of tennis players, as does seem to be happening, judging on recent results (such as 20 of the top 40 being 29+).
 
I imagine that serve and volley players need fast twitch muscles much more than do baseline players, and that baseline players need stamina and aerobic endurance at least as much. If that's the case, then the change in playing styles would indeed be likely to lengthen the careers of tennis players, as does seem to be happening, judging on recent results (such as 20 of the top 40 being 29+).
Guess what: I've previously got to the same conclusion! I think S&V is the most vulnerable to decline, BUT endless grinding comes second. Why? Because on endless grinding you need tons of those fast changes of direction, and chances are you will be less successful on it after the decline. What'd be the least vulnerable style to decline? IMO attacking baseline play, with a strong serve! With that playing style your winning rests more on your serve quality and your ability to play first strike tennis after the serve. Good anticipation is also key for that attacking baseliner.

Djokovic might have just lengthened his career, with help of Becker and the development of his serve and forecourt game. If Nadal doesn't change his style to get more to the forecourt, I believe his days of winning are in the past.
 

Russeljones

G.O.A.T.
Maybe, but we'd need a systematic study of their comments, preferably with in-depth ethnographic interviews conducted over a long period.

I said this yesterday but I also think that physical decline and injuries aren't synonyms, although there may be a feedback loop between them. (Physical decline makes injuries more likely; injuries accelerate physical decline). The argument that physical decline is inevitable, if I understand it correctly, appeals to such things as diminished reaction time or as torpantennis just said to twitch muscle power. But injuries are not inevitable. They are always at least in part coincidental. Some players last much longer without injuries than others. So, if the reason that players lose motivation is because of injuries, that will certainly happen at different times for different players. If the reason is because of loss of twitch muscle power, it might be more likely to happen at a similar time (although players would have different abilities to respond to that decline, which would then be another factor affecting the final result).
You're either trying too hard not to agree with me, or you genuinely believe this, which would make you a shockingly bad dinner guest, I reckon. ;)
 
Guess what: I've previously got to the same conclusion! I think S&V is the most vulnerable to decline, BUT endless grinding comes second. Why? Because on endless grinding you need tons of those fast changes of direction, and chances are you will be less successful on it after the decline. What'd be the least vulnerable style to decline? IMO attacking baseline play, with a strong serve! With that playing style your winning rests more on your serve quality and your ability to play first strike tennis after the serve. Good anticipation is also key for that attacking baseliner.

Djokovic might have just lengthened his career, with help of Becker and the development of his serve and forecourt game. If Nadal doesn't change his style to get more to the forecourt, I believe his days of winning are in the past.
Yes, I agree with that. In fact, I had another discussion on another board about this and we actually came to the conclusion that a retriever (such as Chang) might be even less likely to have prolonged success than a serve and volleyer. (Strong serve helps them too, so a Sampras or Karlovic was always likely to keep going longer than an Edberg or Becker). Grinders are similar to retrievers but don't rely quite so much on foot speed.

On another note: tennis is a more complicated sport than running, as it also relies on mental skills. By this, I don't mean psychological ones but more strictly ratiocinative ones such as those needed in chess. Tennis needs players to be good at exercising judgment (which shot to play when), thinking through a strategy and adapting it if necessary, and so on. This means that at least until the frontal cortex is fully developed, young players suffer a significant handicap. Given that, it's now quite surprising that young players enjoyed as much success as they did in the 80s and 90s, and no surprise that they are no longer so successful.
 

Firstservingman

Talk Tennis Guru
Discussion from before 2015 RG
Wisdom





Debate
Interesting.
I agree with Omnipotence (he's such a smart and charming poster, don't you think?), but calling a post by Tutsi Frutsi "debate" is a bit of a stretch.

Djokovic won't decline for a while, and I just can't see the others stepping up.
I'd bet though that Novak might lose the hunger, he seems like the type that might if his results dip a little, then plateau.
We'll have to see.
 

dr325i

Legend
Avoided the net like a plague yesterday.

Wish he was more magical than mechanical
That is called strategy. Nothing to do with the magic or mechanics.
And...welcome to the 2000s and 2010s - the net play is a thing of the past and used just as necessity.
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
Interesting.
I agree with Omnipotence (he's such a smart and charming poster, don't you think?), but calling a post by Tutsi Frutsi "debate" is a bit of a stretch.

Djokovic won't decline for a while, and I just can't see the others stepping up.
I'd bet though that Novak might lose the hunger, he seems like the type that might if his results dip a little, then plateau.
We'll have to see.
I think he/she is cold, callous and impersonal. I agree and disagree with them often, in their war with the self.

I thought that Nole might lose the hunger already by this year but the AO quashed all such thoughts. I think he realises that he must make the most of his prime years and he had a late start in living in the shadow of Fedal for so long. As such, he'll be hellbent for a while... I suspect.

It is retribution.
 
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I think he/she is cold, callous and impersonal. I agree and disagree with them often, in their war with the self.

I thought that Nole might lose the hunger already by this yeah but the AO quashed all such thoughts. I think he realises that he must make the most of his prime years and he had a late start in living in the shadow of Fedal for so long. As such, he'll be hellbent for a while... I suspect.

It is retribution.
I've been meaning to ask you this for a few days but kept forgetting: do you see Borna Coric as a player entirely in the Djokovic mould? From your comments on him, I got that impression. I see what you mean. But hasn't he normally been taken to be modeled on Nadal? Isn't he even sometimes called "Baby Nadal"?
 
Immediate threats to Djokovic

  • Wawrinka
  • Murray
  • Federer
Longer term threats (next 36 months)

  • Nishikori
  • Raonic
  • Dimitrov
  • Kyrgios
  • Coric
  • Nadal
  • Physical decline
  • Waning hunger
  • Injury
I think Federer and Murray have been dealt with for the moment. Murray might be able to come back at Djokovic at the US Open and Wawrinka should be hugely dangerous.

In 2016, I expect at least a couple of the name in the second list to make a real push and have great results. It's doubtful that some will produce consistent enough results to topple Djokovic from the #1 spot though unless Nadal has an unreal resurgence. Murray perhaps has the credentials to sneak something but IMV Djokovic would have to dip below his level from 2013-14 for Murray to cash in. We know Djokovic won't win every Slam going because that's not his way. Some of those names may snag a Slam, but probably won't usurp Djokovic from the pinnacle of the game until at least 2017. A Nadal resurgence is about the only thing that can happen to challenge #1 assuming Djokovic keeps up his very high level. Currently, Kyrgios and Coric especially, are rising quickly. Still, they need time to really tool up, especially with the stratospheric baseline standards currently being achieved.
You forgot gluten...
 

swordtennis

G.O.A.T.
yo Near was there ever an imbalance in the sport when Nadal won 9 French Opens? Or when Fed was mopping up 3 years straight? Djokovic has had 2 3 major seasons. How many does Fedal have? Not sure.....
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
yo Near was there ever an imbalance in the sport when Nadal won 9 French Opens? Or when Fed was mopping up 3 years straight? Djokovic has had 2 3 major seasons. How many does Fedal have? Not sure.....
More than Djokovic.

But Nadal never quite created a total imbalance that Djokovic has achieved, which is akin to the imbalance Federer created by the end of 2006.

In other words, Djokovic's dominance of the field right now is legendary.
 

swordtennis

G.O.A.T.
It is some great stuff. It will be interesting when one of the young punks take him out. Not if just when. That will be cool stuff. Right now Djokovic just needs to maintain mental focus and priority number one or 2 is to polish off fedal once and for all and all the trolls. This is great historical stuff going on here in tennis. Things never stay the same for long.
just have to add.
I said it before djokovic just needs to drub Nadal in a couple masters and a major and that most likely will polish off Nadal as a serious threat. Not easy. Just has to maintain the mental strength. Federer might hang on a little more.
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
It is some great stuff. It will be interesting when one of the young punks take him out. Not if just when. That will be cool stuff. Right now Djokovic just needs to maintain mental focus and priority number one or 2 is to polish off fedal once and for all and all the trolls. This is great historical stuff going on here in tennis. Things never stay the same for long.
That's going to be extremely difficult for the young punks. Djokovic has such a buffer in level that even if he dips, he'd still likely be the best player in the world, and he'd still legitimately contest at all 4 Slams. The "when" could be quite a way down the line and coincide with Djokovic slowly fading. I think the more realistic threats for 2016 will come from long established known enemies, so Wawrinka, Nadal, Murray and Federer.
 

swordtennis

G.O.A.T.
Well that is what I was thinking. Who knows when? I do not. No one does. But it will happen. Prob start in the masters first.
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
If I had to guess, I'd say that we'll see serious consistent new challengers for the Masters 1000 events by 2017 and we'll even get a couple of clear hints in 2016. For it to filter through to the Slams will take longer I reckon. Djokovic will still be standing regardless #predictions.
 

SpinToWin

Talk Tennis Guru
I feel like some beast from Bloodborne craving the old blood... Only in my case I'm craving fresh blood... And Djokovic is Father Gascoigne who minces everything before it becomes a threat... Or is he perhaps the Moonlight Presence?? now who is the "dear Hunteeeeer"?
If I had to guess, then I think that we will have the first slam winner from the next generation in 2017...

I don't know about you guys, but to me the tour feels stale like a preserved fart from president Roosevelt that was left to infuse in the New York sewers for the past few decades... Somebody please open the window and let in some fresh air... Alright, enough literary tricks now lol
 
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