Who is more talented: Thiem or Nalbandian?

Who is more talented: Thiem or Nalbandian?

  • Thiem

    Votes: 33 32.0%
  • Nalbandian

    Votes: 70 68.0%

  • Total voters
    103

zill

Hall of Fame
Think this might be a close one! Have a vote. Both extremely talented. Thiem's Achilles heel was his backhand whereas Nalbandian's was his serve. The other shots they have were top notch.
 
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Kralingen

Legend
I never know how to break these down. In the other sports I follow, being athletically gifted is seen as a talent while in tennis it’s almost frowned upon, as if speed and flexibility and stamina are “not pure tennis” lol


Physical talent: Thiem and it’s not even close.

Shot-making/racket skill/etc: Nalbandian

however what I like about this comparison is that all the people who say a 1HBH requires more talent have to twist themselves into a pretzel lol.

Luckily Nalbandian loves to eat pretzels especially if he can dip them in cheese or other toppings.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
I never know how to break these down. In the other sports I follow, being athletically gifted is seen as a talent while in tennis it’s almost frowned upon, as if speed and flexibility and stamina are “not pure tennis” lol


Physical talent: Thiem and it’s not even close.

Shot-making/racket skill/etc: Nalbandian

however what I like about this comparison is that all the people who say a 1HBH requires more talent have to twist themselves into a pretzel lol.

Luckily Nalbandian loves to eat pretzels especially if he can dip them in cheese or other toppings.
Nalbandian was a fine athlete in his younger days. I think Thiem worked harder and actualized more of his physical potential but I'm not sure his innate talent in that respect was much higher. Compare 21 years old Nalbandian (2003) to 21 years old Thiem (2014-2015) for example. I would say Nalbandian bloomed a lot earlier where as Thiem has an almost inhuman work ethics. His ceiling might yet still be higher but I think his natural talent as an athlete is a bit overrated.
 

Kralingen

Legend
Nalbandian was a fine athlete in his younger days. I think Thiem worked harder and actualized more of his physical potential but I'm not sure his innate talent in that respect was much higher. Compare 21 years old Nalbandian (2003) to 21 years old Thiem (2014-2015) for example. I would say Nalbandian bloomed a lot earlier where as Thiem has an almost inhuman work ethics. His ceiling might yet still be higher but I think his natural talent as an athlete is a bit overrated.
This is a good point. I think in terms of minute footwork and staying balanced Nalbandian even in his fat version has Thiem beat. What kind of athletic talent is that? The same one that allows your groundstrokes to be more precise and accurate, I presume. also one look at their return position could tell you all there is to know about who has the better hand eye coordination and timing.

these are the “good talents” on TTW. Now on to the bad, cheating talents.

however even young Nalbandian was never even close to as fast as Thiem imo. Dude was a speed demon and the corollary is I don’t think Nalby would have had success in Thiem’s return position either. Thiem also has an ability to crush balls consistently that I’ve rarely seen in any player. That can be work ethic, but all pros have insane work ethic, there isn’t a single top player who didn’t hit 1 million balls by the time he turned pro.

Even Federer’s insane “talent” is also a function of dedicated and focused practice, how could it not be? You can’t wake up and be good at tennis, you must dedicate yourself to an absurd degree.
 
This is a good point. I think in terms of minute footwork and staying balanced Nalbandian even in his fat version has Thiem beat. What kind of athletic talent is that? The same one that allows your groundstrokes to be more precise and accurate, I presume. also one look at their return position could tell you all there is to know about who has the better hand eye coordination and timing.

these are the “good talents” on TTW. Now on to the bad, cheating talents.

however even young Nalbandian was never even close to as fast as Thiem imo. Dude was a speed demon and the corollary is I don’t think Nalby would have had success in Thiem’s return position either. Thiem also has an ability to crush balls consistently that I’ve rarely seen in any player. That can be work ethic, but all pros have insane work ethic, there isn’t a single top player who didn’t hit 1 million balls by the time he turned pro.

Even Federer’s insane “talent” is also a function of dedicated and focused practice, how could it not be? You can’t wake up and be good at tennis, you must dedicate yourself to an absurd degree.
Absolutely. I think 'talent' as seen by many - given the strong work ethic shared by the majority of professionals - is about the things a player can produce in the face of (micro and macro) adversity as well their ability to consistently produce surprising things that are unlikely to have been extensively practiced in and of themselves. Using Fed as an example, Fed's ridiculous half volleys, reflexes, handling of different conditions, instincts, anticipation, ad hoc volleys from the baseline, court-sense and all-round ability to surprise the opponent, commentators and viewers over and over again; these are what I think constitute the perceived talent that he has. Those faculties will of course piggy back off of his trained techniques, but they all require a strong creative input, borne of his own instincts and affinity. There's a reason the word 'genius' has been bandied around, regardless of one's opinion on the use of that particular word.
 

3loudboys

Legend
Thiem also though like how he beat Nadal a few times on clay. Has a positive record against Fed as well.
Unquestionably a top player with many talents - an earlier post alludes to the appreciation of pretty stuff and ignoring the hard graft - have to agree. Nalby had more eye candy feel and skill which is more easily recognisable as talent.

That said still Nalby for me even given that - only player to beat the big 3 in a row - Madrid 2007. Delighted to post this again as its a damn good watch.

 

NatF

Bionic Poster
This is a good point. I think in terms of minute footwork and staying balanced Nalbandian even in his fat version has Thiem beat. What kind of athletic talent is that? The same one that allows your groundstrokes to be more precise and accurate, I presume. also one look at their return position could tell you all there is to know about who has the better hand eye coordination and timing.

these are the “good talents” on TTW. Now on to the bad, cheating talents.

however even young Nalbandian was never even close to as fast as Thiem imo. Dude was a speed demon and the corollary is I don’t think Nalby would have had success in Thiem’s return position either. Thiem also has an ability to crush balls consistently that I’ve rarely seen in any player. That can be work ethic, but all pros have insane work ethic, there isn’t a single top player who didn’t hit 1 million balls by the time he turned pro.

Even Federer’s insane “talent” is also a function of dedicated and focused practice, how could it not be? You can’t wake up and be good at tennis, you must dedicate yourself to an absurd degree.
I definitely think hands and early ballstriking is valued more, not just on TTW but generally. I can't say I disagree with it though not to the exclusion of everything else.

Regarding work ethic I'm referring to an article that came out a few years back on Thiem's training regime, it sounded brutal moreso than I've seen from other players. Obviously all pro's work extremely hard, even the ones who make it look easy on the court. As far as speed goes, agree to disagree, I don't think Thiem is that fast - maybe post prime Big 4 he looks great but with all these young guys if they came up 10 years earlier they wouldn't look very impressive.

For all Thiem's power he's not been able to hit through post-prime Djokodal in slam matches consistently. So that tempers my impression of him.
 

Milanez82

Hall of Fame
Thiem is a hard worker. Nalbandian had talent. I’m fascinated by the poll results. How on Earth is Thiem winning? Is it all kids who started watching tennis in 2015 voting?
Nalbandian and other top player were workers too
Its fascinating that people think talent alone can get you anywhere
 

McGradey

Professional
Thiem is an optimiser
He maximised his game through hard work

Nalbandian on the other hand was born with game

Look at Thiem’s serve for example, it’s an incredible kick serve when it works but fk me does it take a lot of effort to use it effectively

any dip in concentration or onset of tightness is catastrophic for Thiem

I wouldn’t say the same is true of Dave, he has a few more tricks in his repertoire and his game didn’t rely on peaking all the time
 

Keizer

Hall of Fame
When on, Nalbandian was one of the best tacticians on a tennis court I have ever seen. It's not just that he beat Big 3, it is how he beat them. If you watch some of the HC finals against Nadal you'd think Nalbandian was playing tennis at a different speed, he was completely bamboozling him. Thiem beats old Big 3 on power alone, he has nothing on Nalbandian in terms of point construction or all court play.
 

Blahovic

Semi-Pro
Nalbandian has better hands, which people often confuse for being a more talented player. Thiem's power is a more useful raw talent than Nalbandian's hands.

Thiem has more athleticism, more power, more serve dominance, better movement, a much more dictating forehand, and many more accomplishments.

It's 100% Thiem. And I love Nalbandian, he was a special player and one of my favourites to watch.

Nalbandian was just a bit too small.
 

Mark-Touch

Hall of Fame
talent is when you aren't that good at a lot of the really important stuff in tennis, but very good at some of the less important, eye-catching stuff.


cf. Nick Kyrgios, Marcelo Ríos, Grigor Dimitrov, Roger Federer, David Nalbandian
FTFY.
 

RF-18

Talk Tennis Guru
Thiem at his best always boggled my mind. He has the whole package for a modern day baseliner. Thiems talent is off the charts and not many players in history can hit the ball the way he does. He is a scary player.
 

Ray Mercer

Hall of Fame
Unquestionably a top player with many talents - an earlier post alludes to the appreciation of pretty stuff and ignoring the hard graft - have to agree. Nalby had more eye candy feel and skill which is more easily recognisable as talent.

That said still Nalby for me even given that - only player to beat the big 3 in a row - Madrid 2007. Delighted to post this again as its a damn good watch.

He made Nadal look like a journeyman. It takes an insane amount of skill to make an all time great at his physical peak look like an absolute bum with pure shotmaking.
 
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skaj

Legend
Nalbandian has better hands, which people often confuse for being a more talented player. Thiem's power is a more useful raw talent than Nalbandian's hands.

Thiem has more athleticism, more power, more serve dominance, better movement, a much more dictating forehand, and many more accomplishments.

It's 100% Thiem. And I love Nalbandian, he was a special player and one of my favourites to watch.

Nalbandian was just a bit too small.
If better hands means hitting a very good forehand, arguably the best backhand ever, textbook volleys, amazing lobs, efficient passing shots, remarkable drop shots, flat ball, spin, slice, pace, ball on the rise very early, super angles and what not, all of which was Nalbandian able to do, that for you means "confuse for being a more talented player"? Not to mention superb anticipation, footwork as good as anyone, tactical abilities among the best ever, one of the best returns of serve etc. Plus Nalbandian had plenty of power, on a top of his skill.

Thiem is not really a more gifted athlete(see young Nalbandian c.2003, before he got fat), he is just more fit, harder worker( talent). He isn't a tremendously gifted athlete, like Nadal, Sampras, Monfils etc. Like Nadal, he hits his forehand with everything he's got, it does not make the shot "more dictating". Nalbandian was dictating with his forehand too(and with his backhand), but he did it as a tactician, gradually building a point, and smacking a winner at the right moment. Basically the only thing, beside fitness, where Thiem has the advantage is the serve, but it has little to do with talent(and his height even less).
 

zill

Hall of Fame
If better hands means hitting a very good forehand, arguably the best backhand ever, textbook volleys, amazing lobs, efficient passing shots, remarkable drop shots, flat ball, spin, slice, pace, ball on the rise very early, super angles and what not, all of which was Nalbandian able to do, that for you means "confuse for being a more talented player"? Not to mention superb anticipation, footwork as good as anyone, tactical abilities among the best ever, one of the best returns of serve etc. Plus Nalbandian had plenty of power, on a top of his skill.

Thiem is not really a more gifted athlete(see young Nalbandian c.2003, before he got fat), he is just more fit, harder worker( talent). He isn't a tremendously gifted athlete, like Nadal, Sampras, Monfils etc. Like Nadal, he hits his forehand with everything he's got, it does not make the shot "more dictating". Nalbandian was dictating with his forehand too(and with his backhand), but he did it as a tactician, gradually building a point, and smacking a winner at the right moment. Basically the only thing, beside fitness, where Thiem has the advantage is the serve, but it has little to do with talent(and his height even less).
Thiem’s hand eye coordination is phenomenal though. And the way he hits is unique. Simply heavier than traditional styles.
 

Blahovic

Semi-Pro
If better hands means hitting a very good forehand, arguably the best backhand ever, textbook volleys, amazing lobs, efficient passing shots, remarkable drop shots, flat ball, spin, slice, pace, ball on the rise very early, super angles and what not, all of which was Nalbandian able to do, that for you means "confuse for being a more talented player"? Not to mention superb anticipation, footwork as good as anyone, tactical abilities among the best ever, one of the best returns of serve etc. Plus Nalbandian had plenty of power, on a top of his skill.

Thiem is not really a more gifted athlete(see young Nalbandian c.2003, before he got fat), he is just more fit, harder worker( talent). He isn't a tremendously gifted athlete, like Nadal, Sampras, Monfils etc. Like Nadal, he hits his forehand with everything he's got, it does not make the shot "more dictating". Nalbandian was dictating with his forehand too(and with his backhand), but he did it as a tactician, gradually building a point, and smacking a winner at the right moment. Basically the only thing, beside fitness, where Thiem has the advantage is the serve, but it has little to do with talent(and his height even less).
You make it sound like Thiem can't do any of the things you listed. Thiem probably has the most powerful and heaviest combination of groundstrokes in history, no one else has as much crazy power and spin from both sides. That's talent, that's natural power and coordination. Every player works hard; they can't hit the ball like Thiem. Plus he's got good height, power on the serve, movement, hands, variety.

Nalbandian was amazingly talented, but he was too small and lacked explosiveness for the modern tennis-playing athlete. 180cm isn't enough. No one has done anything at the absolute top of the game with that height since Agassi/Hewitt.

Unfortunately, Nalbandian ultimately only reached 1 slam final despite the field being wide open in the early 2000s and then he didn't get a single big win at slams post-2003 when the level went up.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I never know how to break these down. In the other sports I follow, being athletically gifted is seen as a talent while in tennis it’s almost frowned upon, as if speed and flexibility and stamina are “not pure tennis” lol


Physical talent: Thiem and it’s not even close.

Shot-making/racket skill/etc: Nalbandian

however what I like about this comparison is that all the people who say a 1HBH requires more talent have to twist themselves into a pretzel lol.

Luckily Nalbandian loves to eat pretzels especially if he can dip them in cheese or other toppings.
I heard somewhere that Nalbandian could do a standing backflip. Young Skinny Dave. Not mature Fat Dave.
 

skaj

Legend
You make it sound like Thiem can't do any of the things you listed. Thiem probably has the most powerful and heaviest combination of groundstrokes in history, no one else has as much crazy power and spin from both sides. That's talent, that's natural power and coordination. Every player works hard; they can't hit the ball like Thiem. Plus he's got good height, power on the serve, movement, hands, variety.

Nalbandian was amazingly talented, but he was too small and lacked explosiveness for the modern tennis-playing athlete. 180cm isn't enough. No one has done anything at the absolute top of the game with that height since Agassi/Hewitt.

Unfortunately, Nalbandian ultimately only reached 1 slam final despite the field being wide open in the early 2000s and then he didn't get a single big win at slams post-2003 when the level went up.
He cannot do it as good as Nalbandian, 90% of those things. And that is the point of the thread, comparison. Spinning the ball is talent? That is his style of play, the one he chose. It's not the ultimate style everyone wants so that you can say that everyone works hard and wants to play like Thiem but not everyone manages to play like him. And certainly not every player works as hard as Thiem, he is well known as one of the hardest workers in tennis today. I don't know how height is a talent, and his serve, movement, hands, variety are nothing special.

Even if we agree that Nalbandian's height "is not enough for for modern tennis-playing athlete"(but it was enough to beat prime Federer back-to-back, who would, just like in the mood Nalbandian would, win the last year's US Open final without much trouble), that's a physical component not talent. And even if we talk about physical potentials 1) Thiem is not some amazing specimen like Borg, Nadal, Monfils 2) Nalbandian has excellent physical potentials - strong, quick, balanced, well-coordinated, with great reflexes(the fact that he did not care about fitness is another thing, but that only shows how great his talent was - to have such amazing wins despite being physically unfit).

And there were no players that height with big results lately, mainly because the players today, the new generations are simply taller in general.
 
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