The "athletes today are bigger & stronger argument" The guys playing today are undoubtably bigger and stronger than those of the 70s. Back then, there wasn't one guy who was over 6 feet. As of right now, there are two guys in the top ten under 6', Davydenko and Robredo. Davydenko is listed at 5'10" but given the "stretch" factor most pros use, he may be 5'10" in heels. And, the bigger argument doesn't hold too much water with me. Not when you consider that on paper, Ivo Karlovic should own a player like Oliver Rochus. Karlovic is I think the current tallest player on tour at 6'10". Rochus lists himself at 5'5", but I'd be really suprsied if he was over 5'3". Rochus is 2 - 0 against Karlovic and one of those wins was on grass! Back in the 80s, Tennis magazine did an article on the very topic of how big is optimal in tennis. They arrived at the conclusion that Jose-Luis Clerc had the optimal build and height for tennis. Clerc was 6'1" and weiged 176 pounds. I remember this really well because Cliff Drysdale made reference to it most every time he commentated on a Clerc match. If you look at today's top 10, you'll see that 6'1 +/- and inch is about where the majority are: Roger Federer 6'1" Rafael Nadal 6'1" Nikolay Davydenko 5'10" Andy Roddick 6'2" Fernando Gonzalez 6' James Blake 6'1" Tommy Robredo 5'11" Ivan Ljubici 6'4" Mario Ancic 6'5" Tommy Haas 6'2" Given that list, I don't think that the bigger/stronger argument is all that valid. The population of the world is getting taller, so it makes sense that athletes would get taller too. I just don't see that big a jump in height from the 80s. Stronger. Tennis is really not as much a game of strength as it is speed and timing. Players need speed to get in position to hit the next ball and they need to have excellent timing to hit the ball as well as they do. Agassi experimented with strength training to bulk up. Cliff Drysdale said that he thought it hindered Agassi's stroke and there was much talk/debate about it back then. Tennis players of today basically use high rep work in the weight room to build strength, not bulk strength. Today's athletes are in better shape argument I think this is simply refuted. Today's points are by and large shorter than the points of yesteryear. That, combined with the advent of the tiebreak pretty much disprove that today's athletes are more fit. Ivan Lendl said it best when he compared the players of today versus his era. He said that today's players were more like sprinters where in his day, they were more like marathon runners. If you look back to the clay court matches between Borg & Vilas when one point had 50 - 75 hits of the ball, all side to side, you'll see that they did much more running than today's players. Likewise on grass, in the days of wood, there were more and longer rallies on the grass than today. Now, this is not to say that the older guys were in better shape. No, they were conditioned for a different game. They played longer points and swung heavier rackets. I think that today's players are in great shape. I'm only saying that the guys back then were in as good a condition as the guys today. Any one competing on a world class level is going to be supremely conditioned or supremely talented. Today's 5.0 is the equivalent of a pro from <insert year here> Guys, if you need an NTRP rating, you do not qualify as a pro. The only reason for an NTRP rating is to handicap your competitive level. A pro from any era competes for a living. Ergo, he's on his own. I have had the great and distinct pleasure of playing a set of doubles against several world class players. (I had to pay for this, mind you.) The game they play bears no resemblance to what you and I do. One of the players was Gene Mayer who had a career high ranking of 4 in the world. I was ranted 5.0 at the time we played doubles. Mayer was really nice about the whole thing. Toward the end of the set, I asked him to hit a couple of balls at me with "everything". He wasn't feeling too good, but he agreed. I served and came in, and basically the balls were un-volleyable. He hit them at me and they were on me so fast with so much spin that while I could put a racket on them (he hit them at me), if they went over, it was just pure dumb luck. In short, anyone with an NTRP level is going to be a cupcake compared to a pro. We don't want to believe this, but it's true. That's why we have day jobs. I also got a chance to play 16 points in a round robin against a kid who is now on the Junior Davis Cup team. It was pretty much the same story. Point of this whole exercise is that guys who do this for a living play a game with which we are not familiar. Players of today are better because they've trained more There are two ways of looking at this IMO. I can agree and say that since Agassi benefited from doing nothing but tennis from age 6(?) and living at a tennis academy that yes, it's true. However, you could also say that had Rod Laver benefited from the same environment he would have been as trained and thereby the equal of any player today. Today's players may or may not be better trained. I really don't know. I think that today's players are a homogenous product of Academy tennis and that we've seen nothing but baseline bashing for the last decade or so. The difference in styles in the game that once made it a joy to watch have vanished. Is all hope lost for us old farts who miss a baseliner against a serve and vollyer? No! To tell you the truth, I've seen more sojourns to the net lately and heard more about players wanting to move forward than I have in a long time. Players are doing this because of Federer. There's such a gap between them and him that they realize there needs to be a change in tactic. Federer has become the benchmark. There is a poser in all this as Federer, since achieving the top spot, come to net less and less. But, if this motivates the guys under him to come to net, then all is not lost and maybe the pendulum is swinging away from the style that Nick Bollitieri invented. OK, so what does this all mean? Well, IMO, if you could transport Roger Federer to the 50s and give him the same access as Rod Laver, it would mean that Rod Laver would have some stiff competition. It also means that if you could transport Rod Laver to the 80s and let him grow up at Nick Bollitieri's, he'd be giving Roger Federer fits as well. Robert Landsdrop and Nick Bollitieri have both said that what a kid has to have to be a great or to have the potential to be a great is the timing. That is the one thing that can't be taught. You can take a kid and train him physically until he's in shape. You can teach him technique and drill him 4 - 6 hours a day on court until he has muscle memory enough to execute. You can coach him until he understands how to construct a point and find weaknesses. (This doesn't explain why Andy Roddick continues to HIT CROSSCOURT APPROACH SHOTS, but that is another thread.) But! you cannot teach timing. The great coaches agree that this is an innate ability that the great players have. In short, many things about the game change, but the eyes and hands for tennis is really what counts.