why doesn't the better server win against the better returner in today's game?

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Also, we currently have 2 utterly insane returners operating on tour: Andy and Novak.

They're not just excellent returners, they're borderline freakish with their ability to send back a ridiculous serve, deep, often at the feet of the server - who immediately is wondering how the hell he's suddenly being faced with a half volley on the service line.

Some of the big serves these 2 get back with interest, well, I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. So many free points are ripped away from big servers' game when playing them. If one of them has an off-day, a Querrey might be able to blast their way through, but if either of them are anywhere near decent form, a big server always gets nullified.
I feel Murray is better than Djoko vs. the very biggest servers. The way he got those 135-147 mph serves back with interest, even when they came right on his body, was mind blowing.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
You can add Goffin to that list who dominated on clay with the most return games won short of Nadal (who's stats may have a bit of a boost from retiring early in the French Open undefeated.) Goffin won 37% of his return games on clay; Djoko 34%, Murray 33%. He's probably significantly better on the actual return itself.

Murray won Wimbledon with a big serve game in the final. He won 87% of his first serve points and got in 68% of his first serves. That's why he beat Raonic. Goffin is a perfect example of what a return game gets you without a great serve. Djokovic's run these last few years had been built around alread solid first serve points won numbers (still nothing compared to Sampras) and then he's added a superlative 2nd serve game. Murray is trying to match suit. If Murray had served like today in the French Open final we might have been looking at a very different result. The 4 French Open semi-finalists all dominated with good first serve points won numbers. The serve game is still dominant and Murray and Djokovic have aided there games tremendously by improving their serves. Its why Federer is still incredibly dangerous despite his movement declining.

Cilic and Tsonga show the threat of a big first serve game and they almost knocked out two of the favorites. We just don't currently have a slam caliber player who's got a great serve and nearly good enough movement. Federer is the closest thing and he nearly won the last 4 majors he played in. He might have won three of those if Djokovic had not improved his overall serve game with his fantastic 2nd serve. The return game is not dominating the tour; two great returners have improved their serve games. That's the story.o_O (@Gary Duane @falstaff78 )
Excellent comment
Andy's serve (in reasonably good form) was always going to be good enough to win the requisite 6 games per set against a guy like Raonic. The match was won in 3 key moments: The break of serve in set 1 and the 2 one-sided tiebreaks.

Those key moments that differentiated the two players were purely down to Andy's return game. And that factor won each set.
Raonic did break the Federer serve 3 times (aided by DF's, but still), so I have to say, I beg to differ. Andy has played plenty of matches serve wise, where a guy like Raonic could have broken him close to once per set.
His return game did aid him tremendously in the breakers and getting the break (and thus the match), but it was his own steady and excellent serve/hold gme that ensured the match never felt close even though we got two TB's in it.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Andy's serve (in reasonably good form) was always going to be good enough to win the requisite 6 games per set against a guy like Raonic. The match was won in 3 key moments: The break of serve in set 1 and the 2 one-sided tiebreaks.

Those key moments that differentiated the two players were purely down to Andy's return game. And that factor won each set.
Raonic did break the Federer serve 3 times (aided by DF's, but still), so I have to say, I beg to differ. Andy has played plenty of matches serve wise, where a guy like Raonic could have broken him close to once per set.
His return game did aid him tremendously in the breakers and getting the break (and thus the match), but it was his own steady and excellent serve/hold gme that ensured the match never felt close even though we got two TB's in it.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
It's not only that either. It's seeing how serve dominated all those matches were by Federer. He didn't get broken at all at Cincy 2012. Obviously the courts have something to do with that.
Cincinatti is hot and the courts are at a bit of altittude compared to the slams. These two factors cause lower air density and it makes The REAL SLAM play fast.:eek: This favors slicing generally too as the slice is easier to control in these conditions (relatively speaking) than topspin. The US Open final last year was extremely cool and a returner's paradise, with luck it won't be that way this year.

Court alterations are a minor factor. String technology is a massive change. Everybody is a beast with topspin these days and the higher, heavier bouncing balls favor the stronger, older players who have the endurance and upper body strength to handle these shots. Outside of the young Zverev's on tour, its just too much to handle for the less tall players until they are fully mature (22 and 23 years old.) This has moved back the break in age for the young players and we see players like Goffin and Raonic just beginning to play their best at age 25 and 26. Vesely and Pouille have been making strong statements this year (both 22). This is totally different from earlier tennis times. Think of Wilander, McEnroe, and even Borg; done with slams by age 26.

Federer's game was based on old technology and he's susceptible to the heaviest shots (Nadal and now Thiem looks troublesome). He's done great things with his game and offense to stop the bleeding in this area. The faster the conditions the easier it is for him to work his magic and keep the heavy baseliners on their heels. Wimbledon is a fast surface, but courtside temperatures are not enough to give Federer full advantage. Looking forward to the Fed hard court season in the heat.:D
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
Cincinatti is hot and the courts are at a bit of altittude compared to the slams. These two factors cause lower air density and it makes The REAL SLAM play fast.:eek: This favors slicing generally too as the slice is easier to control in these conditions (relatively speaking) than topspin. The US Open final last year was extremely cool and a returner's paradise, with luck it won't be that way this year.

Court alterations are a minor factor. String technology is a massive change. Everybody is a beast with topspin these days and the higher, heavier bouncing balls favor the stronger, older players who have the endurance and upper body strength to handle these shots. Outside of the young Zverev's on tour, its just too much to handle for the less tall players until they are fully mature (22 and 23 years old.) This has moved back the break in age for the young players and we see players like Goffin and Raonic just beginning to play their best at age 25 and 26. Vesely and Pouille have been making strong statements this year (both 22). This is totally different from earlier tennis times. Think of Wilander, McEnroe, and even Borg; done with slams by age 26.

Federer's game was based on old technology and he's susceptible to the heaviest shots (Nadal and now Thiem looks troublesome). He's done great things with his game and offense to stop the bleeding in this area. The faster the conditions the easier it is for him to work his magic and keep the heavy baseliners on their heels. Wimbledon is a fast surface, but courtside temperatures are not enough to give Federer full advantage. Looking forward to the Fed hard court season in the heat.:D
I think court alterations are more than a "minor factor." Not as big as string technology, but big enough to make a noticeable difference. If court alterations were only minor Federer would not be able to beat Djokovic and Murray in Cincy and Dubai much less in straight sets in every match but one since 2012 while losing matches on courts like the AO and IW. I also don't think the "young" (in air quotes because most of them aren't that young) players deserve excuses tbh. Most of them just aren't that good. Goffin was never touted as the next great player anyway, and Raonic had obvious holes in his game when he was younger and still has them now even though they've improved. None of Nadal, Djokovic, or Murray had any Raonic sized holes (movement, backhand, and ROS) when they were coming through the ranks. And the other 2 main guys from his generation are no better. Dimitrov is a lost cause and Nishikori is a piece of glass. Thiem is almost that age now and hasn't done much at all (it's the truth), but I'll give Zverev, Kyrgios et al a few years.

Nadal surprised people with massive topspin, but I don't think Djokovic or Murray brought anything ground breaking in technological terms. Poly strings were already a thing by 2007-2008. All of them just broke through primarily because they were really good.
 

Legend of Borg

G.O.A.T.
Exactly. Of course you can't take players, who are hardly top-10, but have massive serves and pin them against some of the greatest players of all time and say: Why aren't they winning more? (Karlovic is doing pretty well vs. Djoko though).

As for the Courier-comment, look a few seconds later in the video, where Martina says Andre couldn't compete with Pete as an athlete. Raonic, Isner, Karlovic can't compete with the big 4 in terms of athleticism. Their vastly better movement is a difference maker.
Had Andre had the movement of the big 4 - and thus a better defense - he could have been a bigger problem for Pete on grass.

Changes in the game wise, it also must be mentioned that life as a volleying playing has become vastly more difficult these days, cause everyone can belt groundstrokes from whatever position in the court (and Rafa, Andy and Djoko can all belt passing shots from impossibly stretched out wide on the run positions) with enough spin to land in or dip low at the volleyer's feet with tremendous pace on.
Those kind of shots weren't quite in the game for most of Sampras' reign and they have tipped the balance somewhat towards the better baseliner.

It also must be said that Novak, Andy and Rafa all have tremendous hold games as well, especially in the years, where they do go deep at Wimbledon (Rafa not so much in recent years).
interesting

how do you reckon some of the historically best volleyers on the tour would fare with S&V on today's grass and hard courts?

say you put prime sampras, edberg and becker in today's wimby draw, do you reckon they'll get bounced by some random top 50 baseliner because their playstyle is so outdated and string technology has advanced so far?

or do you see them making the semis or even final against players like murray and djokovic?
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Federer's game was based on old technology and he's susceptible to the heaviest shots (Nadal and now Thiem looks troublesome).
That's funny because Federer's FH was THE HEAVIEST shot on tour at his peak and he has used poly on the crosses since 2002.

But whatever it takes to hype up Thiem I guess.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
interesting

how do you reckon some of the historically best volleyers on the tour would fare with S&V on today's grass and hard courts?

say you put prime sampras, edberg and becker in today's wimby draw, do you reckon they'll get bounced by some random top 50 baseliner because their playstyle is so outdated and string technology has advanced so far?

or do you see them making the semis or even final against players like murray and djokovic?
Edberg would be in some real trouble but I could still see him doing well because he is such a smart player. Becker would do ok because of his serve. Sampras would do just fine because of his serve and because at his peak his baseline game was good enough to hang with the best.
Also you are ignoring the effect that modern technology would have on their serves. Imagine a Sampras that rarely double faulted and served 60-65% first servers...Nearly unbreakable.

All assuming you give them enough time to adjust to modern conditions.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
interesting

how do you reckon some of the historically best volleyers on the tour would fare with S&V on today's grass and hard courts?

say you put prime sampras, edberg and becker in today's wimby draw, do you reckon they'll get bounced by some random top 50 baseliner because their playstyle is so outdated and string technology has advanced so far?

or do you see them making the semis or even final against players like murray and djokovic?
I def. still see them going deep, look how far Raonic got with a fairly net rushing style for today's standards (think he S&V'ed on 45 % of his first serves in the final). But I see them winning the vast majority of matches on "old" grass with older equipment and strings vs. the likes of Novak, Andy and Rafa.
Whereas I think they would have their problems with them on current grass with current equipment. Sampras would probably still be able to match them on today's grass, just because he was so darn good, but not so sure about Becker/Edberg. I think they would lose more often than not against the very best trying to play their styles with current equipment on modern grass.

But there are more knowledgable people than me who can give a better evaluation of that.
However, I do remember Rafter, one of the very best volleyers, has said that volleying has become so much tougher now, because of the spin the strings allow. So as a volleyer, you need to be able to deal with a violently spinning ball hit with more speed than it was possible in the 80's and 90's. That's changed the position of power to the guy trying to hit the passing shot. Also, obviously the higher bounce has a big impact as well, as the volleys don't stay as low as they used to.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
I think court alterations are more than a "minor factor." Not as big as string technology, but big enough to make a noticeable difference. If court alterations were only minor Federer would not be able to beat Djokovic and Murray in Cincy and Dubai much less in straight sets in every match but one since 2012 while losing matches on courts like the AO and IW. I also don't think the "young" (in air quotes because most of them aren't that young) players deserve excuses tbh. Most of them just aren't that good. Goffin was never touted as the next great player anyway, and Raonic had obvious holes in his game when he was younger and still has them now even though they've improved. None of Nadal, Djokovic, or Murray had any Raonic sized holes (movement, backhand, and ROS) when they were coming through the ranks. And the other 2 main guys from his generation are no better. Dimitrov is a lost cause and Nishikori is a piece of glass. Thiem is almost that age now and hasn't done much at all (it's the truth), but I'll give Zverev, Kyrgios et al a few years.

Nadal surprised people with massive topspin, but I don't think Djokovic or Murray brought anything ground breaking in technological terms. Poly strings were already a thing by 2007-2008. All of them just broke through primarily because they were really good.
Well its going to be hard to be satisfied when you are hoping for a new big 3 ATG player to show up. Even Murray is movement wise incredibly strong for his height and very unique in the history of tennis. Dimitrov was clearly a flash in the pan who probably fared well in 2014 because of Murray's relative weakness coming off back surgery. He's at best a top 20 player. Injurkori has no serve. Goffin has no serve, but they are excellent top 10 players. (Goffin is there in the points race). I am a Thiem expert and he's on the cusp. He's likely to see some disappointment during the NA hard court season as he has a horrible record (thought the same on grass a month ago.;)) He's gotten stronger and stronger coming into the French Open. His meters moved in the Goffin match less than a day before the Djoko showdown were about the same as what Tsonga did versus Isner in their long Wimby 5 setter (20-18 games in the fifth) and about equivalent of 7 sets over two days. He may fall back if he can't add even more strength to support his hyper physical game (Nadal territory.)

I'm having 2nd thoughts about these tall players. I wonder if Kyrgios and Zverev have had some initial success because their height allows them to handle high bouncing balls a bit earlier. They may not go as high in the rankings as hoped as they get larger, heavier, and possibly slower as their frames fill out. I can think of quite a list of tall players that leveled out (Janowicz crashed lol). Cilic, Berdych, Delpo even. Raonic is over the hump where he's probably not going to get much bigger, but he's now improving.

Pouille and Vesely are making moves at age 22. I"m not touting them as future top 5, but it will be interesting to see how high they will go.

Everyone on tour may have been on poly by 2007, but players like Federer were not using that kind of string when they developed their games. The poly game would not have been as entrenched at that point and I think that is why we saw a changing of the top 10 as better poly players arrived on tour and some adapted better than others. Murray and Djokovic in their younger years would have done well on the current tour, but not as well. Its a heavier game and I don't think they would have had as strong a results at a young age. (Still better than Thiem overall.)

If my tall player theory is right Stevo, Thiem may be the cream of the current crop. 2016 is kind of Thiem's Djokovic 2010. 4 months younger. We'll have to watch and see if he can get some bigger wins against top players. In the big hard court events Thiem will seed out R16 with Berdy, Raonic, Wawa, and Ninja. Those may be some trees he can fell and maybe that will get the vulture label off of Thiem's back. SF and M1000 Fs against the current top players are almost the equivalent of wins in the past with peak Djokovic gobbling them up.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I def. still see them going deep, look how far Raonic got with a fairly net rushing style for today's standards (think he S&V'ed on 45 % of his first serves in the final). But I see them winning the vast majority of matches on "old" grass with older equipment and strings vs. the likes of Novak, Andy and Rafa.
Whereas I think they would have their problems with them on current grass with current equipment. Sampras would probably still be able to match them on today's grass, just because he was so darn good, but not so sure about Becker/Edberg. I think they would lose more often than not against the very best trying to play their styles with current equipment on modern grass.

But there are more knowledgable people than me who can give a better evaluation of that.
However, I do remember Rafter, one of the very best volleyers, has said that volleying has become so much tougher now, because of the spin the strings allow. So as a volleyer, you need to be able to deal with a violently spinning ball hit with more speed than it was possible in the 80's and 90's. That's changed the position of power to the guy trying to hit the passing shot. Also, obviously the higher bounce has a big impact as well, as the volleys don't stay as low as they used to.
I agree...Becker and Edberg would have to adjust their games to cope but they were definitely talented enough to do it. Sampras' brilliance would still shine through and sure he could not attack the net quite as much as he did but his baseline game was more than more than enough to keep them honest and he was just so good at closing net and so efficient at putting away volleys that he could still have success. Like you said, if freakin Raonic can do it Pete could thrive. Also guys today stand farther back on the serve and baseline so again that is an advantage for a serve volleyer.

Also another aspect that isn't getting mentioned are half volleys...absolutely critical to deal with those dipping balls. Sampras had perhaps the best half volleys ever while Rafter's were something of a relative weakness compared to the rest of his brilliant volley game.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Edberg would be in some real trouble but I could still see him doing well because he is such a smart player. Becker would do ok because of his serve. Sampras would do just fine because of his serve and because at his peak his baseline game was good enough to hang with the best.
Also you are ignoring the effect that modern technology would have on their serves. Imagine a Sampras that rarely double faulted and served 60-65% first servers...Nearly unbreakable.

All assuming you give them enough time to adjust to modern conditions.
Yeah, just look at his results at the Australian Open on Rebound Ace from 1988-1994: SF, QF (withdrew w/injury before QF match), F, SF, SF, F, F, SF. And there's a good argument that he would have beaten Lendl in the 1990 final if he hadn't been injured.
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
Well its going to be hard to be satisfied when you are hoping for a new big 3 ATG player to show up. Even Murray is movement wise incredibly strong for his height and very unique in the history of tennis. Dimitrov was clearly a flash in the pan who probably fared well in 2014 because of Murray's relative weakness coming off back surgery. He's at best a top 20 player. Injurkori has no serve. Goffin has no serve, but they are excellent top 10 players. (Goffin is there in the points race). I am a Thiem expert and he's on the cusp. He's likely to see some disappointment during the NA hard court season as he has a horrible record (thought the same on grass a month ago.;)) He's gotten stronger and stronger coming into the French Open. His meters moved in the Goffin match less than a day before the Djoko showdown were about the same as what Tsonga did versus Isner in their long Wimby 5 setter (20-18 games in the fifth) and about equivalent of 7 sets over two days. He may fall back if he can't add even more strength to support his hyper physical game (Nadal territory.)

I'm having 2nd thoughts about these tall players. I wonder if Kyrgios and Zverev have had some initial success because their height allows them to handle high bouncing balls a bit earlier. They may not go as high in the rankings as hoped as they get larger, heavier, and possibly slower as their frames fill out. I can think of quite a list of tall players that leveled out (Janowicz crashed lol). Cilic, Berdych, Delpo even. Raonic is over the hump where he's probably not going to get much bigger, but he's now improving.

Pouille and Vesely are making moves at age 22. I"m not touting them as future top 5, but it will be interesting to see how high they will go.

Everyone on tour may have been on poly by 2007, but players like Federer were not using that kind of string when they developed their games. The poly game would not have been as entrenched at that point and I think that is why we saw a changing of the top 10 as better poly players arrived on tour and some adapted better than others. Murray and Djokovic in their younger years would have done well on the current tour, but not as well. Its a heavier game and I don't think they would have had as strong a results at a young age. (Still better than Thiem overall.)

If my tall player theory is right Stevo, Thiem may be the cream of the current crop. 2016 is kind of Thiem's Djokovic 2010. 4 months younger. We'll have to watch and see if he can get some bigger wins against top players. In the big hard court events Thiem will seed out R16 with Berdy, Raonic, Wawa, and Ninja. Those may be some trees he can fell and maybe that will get the vulture label off of Thiem's back. SF and M1000 Fs against the current top players are almost the equivalent of wins in the past with peak Djokovic gobbling them up.
Yes, you are a Thiem expert as much as I am the man in my avatar. ;) I do confess however to having doubts about Zverev and Kyrgios like you, but I don't expect Thiem to be that great. He is another guy that might win a RG (don't think he will do it anywhere else), but will need the Big 4 to be gone or all severely declined to do it. Much like Raonic at Wimbledon.

Anyhow, predictions are fun but ultimately we can only wait and watch.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, just look at his results at the Australian Open on Rebound Ace from 1988-1994: SF, QF, F, SF, SF, F, F, SF. And there's a good argument that he would have beaten Lendl in the 1990 final if he hadn't gotten injured.
yup...and in fact the higher bounce might help out his trademark kick serve and volley play...same with rafter. I reckon Edberg could definitely adjust, his results on the slower rebound ace are a good point.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
yup...and in fact the higher bounce might help out his trademark kick serve and volley play...same with rafter. I reckon Edberg could definitely adjust, his results on the slower rebound ace are a good point.
And it's not just Edberg. Becker won the Australian Open in 1991 and 1996. Sampras took the title in 1994 and 1997. Even a post-peak McEnroe made the QF two of the three times he played on Rebound Ace (1989 and 1992) and probably would have made at least the QF in 1990 if he weren't defaulted in the 4th round. All of the big S&V guys from that era did just fine on the slower, bouncier hard courts.
 

captainbryce

Hall of Fame
SHORT ANSWER: The Surfaces

Surfaces (hard courts and grass) are generally slower and higher bouncing today than they were in the Sampras era. That gives the edge to the returners and changes the entire equation! This fact has been proven simply by measuring the average rally length at each of the grand slam tournaments and comparing them to past tournaments.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
And it's not just Edberg. Becker won the Australian Open in 1991 and 1996. Sampras took the title in 1994 and 1997. Even a post-peak McEnroe made the QF two of the three times he played on Rebound Ace (1989 and 1992) and probably would have made at least the QF in 1990 if he weren't defaulted in the 4th round. All of the big S&V guys from that era did just fine on the slower, bouncier hard courts.
those courts were still faster than the ones today but yeah that is telling. For some of them you can argue that maybe the competition on slow hard was not up to snuff as they did not play a lot of the baseline grinders of today (although Becker punked chang in the 96 final way past his prime), but sampras in particular was dead even with Agassi from 94-95 on slow hard(if he wasn't emotionally compromised due to Gullickson's illness during the 95 AO that match would have gone at least 5 for sure, and Sampras would have a good chance at winning, and that might be Agassi's best match ever and he is a top 3 player ever on slow hard) and he also destroyed another baseliner in Courier in the semis of the 94 AO. Also beat a slew of clay court specialist baseline grinders to win the 97 AO. Sampras proved himself plenty against the best baseliners of his era on slow hard so I have little doubts that he would do just fine.

And most people talk about how they would have to adjust to slower conditions/poly strings but they also neglect that players today have no experience playing against S&V and attacking players who give them no rhythm. That would be an adjustment too.
 
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buscemi

Hall of Fame
those courts were still faster than the ones today but yeah that is telling. For some of them you can argue that maybe the competition on slow hard was not up to snuff as they did not play a lot of the baseline grinders of today (although Becker punked chang in the 96 final way past his prime), but sampras in particular was dead even with Agassi from 94-95 on slow hard(if he wasn't emotionally compromised due to Gullickson's illness during the 95 AO that match would have gone 5 for sure and that might be Agassi's best match ever) and he also destroyed another baseliner in Courier in the semis of the 94 AO. Also beat a slew of clay court specialist baseline grinders to win the 97 AO. Sampras proved himself plenty against the best baseliners of his era on slow hard so I have little doubts that he would do just fine.

And most people talk about how they would have to adjust to slower conditions/poly strings but they also neglect that players today have no experience playing against S&V and attacking players who give them no rhythm. That would be an adjustment too.
Right. My main point is that, even in an era when S&V and net rushing made a lot more sense, the leading S&V players were still able to adjust quite well to the surface and conditions at the Australian Open. Obviously, if McEnroe/Edberg/Becker/Sampras were playing nowadays, their games would have developed differently, and they would play a different/modified style of game given the surface/conditions/technology that exists today.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Right. My main point is that, even in an era when S&V and net rushing made a lot more sense, the leading S&V players were still able to adjust quite well to the surface and conditions at the Australian Open. Obviously, if McEnroe/Edberg/Becker/Sampras were playing nowadays, their games would have developed differently, and they would play a different/modified style of game given the surface/conditions/technology that exists today.
completely agree
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
That's funny because Federer's FH was THE HEAVIEST shot on tour at his peak and he has used poly on the crosses since 2002.

But whatever it takes to hype up Thiem I guess.
He didn't develop his entire game in the poly era. It may have given him a technogical boost that spurred him on his great run and worked well with his game, but he wasn't born and bred on those strings. The poly revolution would have take a while to fully affect the tour for similar reasons. Kuerten flashed bright and took full advantage of the strings as far back as 1997.

I'm surprised you rate Federer heavier than Nadal. It was harder. The peak Federer forehand has a lot of competition these days. The higher spin rates result in higher bouncing balls that require greater upper body strength to handle and also require more strength to hit the ball back as harder due to the energy being imparted as spin. If you are not tall its a rough game to break in against at a young age and it favors the strong, powerful veterans.

Federer's stats dropped considerably after 2007 and he's only gotten them back in top form these last few years with the racket change and his very aggressive style. The racket helps some with the heavier shots, but the attacking style doesn't allow the opponents to hit as heavy in rallies and if Fed can get to the net all the better. Federer' was declining at age 26 as his stats show and part of the problem was the influx of players who had more time on poly earlier in their development. Its a testament to his greatness how he's adapted his game over the last few years.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
Edberg would be in some real trouble but I could still see him doing well because he is such a smart player. Becker would do ok because of his serve. Sampras would do just fine because of his serve and because at his peak his baseline game was good enough to hang with the best.
Also you are ignoring the effect that modern technology would have on their serves. Imagine a Sampras that rarely double faulted and served 60-65% first servers...Nearly unbreakable.

All assuming you give them enough time to adjust to modern conditions.
Keep an eye on the Wimby junior champ. Shapavalov looks like a left handed Edberg. He's got a long way to go, but should have wild cards at Citi and the Rogers cup. 127 mph serves already, beautiful volleys, and an incredible lefty one handed backhand. You might get to see the closest thing to that game style in the modern era in the upcoming years with any luck.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
He didn't develop his entire game in the poly era. It may have given him a technogical boost that spurred him on his great run and worked well with his game, but he wasn't born and bred on those strings. The poly revolution would have take a while to fully affect the tour for similar reasons. Kuerten flashed bright and took full advantage of the strings as far back as 1997.

I'm surprised you rate Federer heavier than Nadal. It was harder. The peak Federer forehand has a lot of competition these days. The higher spin rates result in higher bouncing balls that require greater upper body strength to handle and also require more strength to hit the ball back as harder due to the energy being imparted as spin. If you are not tall its a rough game to break in against at a young age and it favors the strong, powerful veterans.

Federer's stats dropped considerably after 2007 and he's only gotten them back in top form these last few years with the racket change and his very aggressive style. The racket helps some with the heavier shots, but the attacking style doesn't allow the opponents to hit as heavy in rallies and if Fed can get to the net all the better. Federer' was declining at age 26 as his stats show and part of the problem was the influx of players who had more time on poly earlier in their development. Its a testament to his greatness how he's adapted his game over the last few years.
heaviness is the combination of pace, spin and depth. In a combination of these factors, the Federer forehand outstrips Nadal's quite handily I think. That AO graphic of course comes in handy. It's not even close.

Peak for peak Federer very rarely had trouble handling Nadal's forehand with his own. However when he runs around his BH and unleashes the IO monster into Nadal's FH, Nadal often has trouble handling it. There is a rally during the 07 FO final I remember that perfectly shows this. Federer's FH at peak was king at forcing errors because people could not handle it.And on top of that you add that it was a shotmaking machine and maybe you will slowly start to get a clue as to why it's the greatest shot ever and why you should not be making ludicrous statements such as "the peak Federer FH has a lot of competition these days"

I know it's a popular belief that Fed declined because of his competition because that is utter garbage. He was declining in 07 stats wise and by the eye test but he had winning records against Nadal and Djokovic that year. He was losing to more mugs, not to the new younger generation. Same in 08 and no doubt that was brought about by mono and again he was losing to guys who he used to whip handily before.

Also his 09 and 12 resurgences show again that it was not the new generation that toppled him but his own decline. That was the real resurgence when he won slams and returned to #1 in the midst of the strongest fields of the last 15 years. I mean you keep holding onto 2015 as if it is some resurgence or return to peak years because of his games won% matches 2006 when it should be abundantly clear that the numbers are propped by him barely playing on slow hard courts and the complete lack of depth in the field.

I mean the lengths people go to mask the complete ineptness of the next generation is amusing. "Federer is peaking at age 34! It is impossible to break in these days because the old veterans like Berdych and Ferrer are too good and powerful!" I mean you just made up a whole narrative about how it took Fed till 34 or some bs to adjust to the modern "heavy" baseline game and used that as an excuse for the younger generation. I mean c'mon man..would it kill you to admit that these guys are scrubs compared to generations past?
 
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metsman

G.O.A.T.
Keep an eye on the Wimby junior champ. Shapavalov looks like a left handed Edberg. He's got a long way to go, but should have wild cards at Citi and the Rogers cup. 127 mph serves already, beautiful volleys, and an incredible lefty one handed backhand. You might get to see the closest thing to that game style in the modern era in the upcoming years with any luck.
I'll have to check him out but I am just so wary of any young players these days they are all so overhyped, the ones with talent don't want to work for it, etc.
 

Flash O'Groove

Hall of Fame
But for the question to be really relevant it needs to have some "others things being equals". Djokovic, Murray and Nadal are not in the same category of player than Raonic, Cilic, Isner, etc. A better comparison would thus to look at how Raonic perform against Goffin or Nishikori.

If you look at the h2h of Arthurs, Ferreira, Rosset, etc. against Agassi, I'm pretty sure it's heavily tilted toward returner. How's that!?
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
I'll have to check him out but I am just so wary of any young players these days they are all so overhyped, the ones with talent don't want to work for it, etc.
I don't think this kid will do much til age 22, so this is just a preview and a chance maybe to see him against the best. Its impossible to say with the more mature physique required in today's game. The 15 year old Canadian FAA (Felix Augur Alissamei) will be playing Rogers Cup too. That kid just sprouted up to 6' 3". You can't tell even with a talent like Thiem. He suddenly looked a lot stronger at the beginning of this year and has been a warrior recently and looking physically much stronger. He may be peaking physically and he'll stall as a borderline top ten player or he may get over the hump in the next year or so. Thiem with 80% of Nadal's stamina would be a load. Shavapalov may end up the ideal height. FAA needs to stop growing ASAP. 6' 3" or he may become another player his too tall to be an ATG. I don't spend much time either with these unproven players. I'd not seen Shavapalov much before and was surprised he had a chance to match Federer with singles and doubles crowns as a junior. Caught a bit of their doubles and singles and mightly impressed, but I've been impressed with players like Rublev who have fallen away. Its just not quite worth watching some of these players when its that far out. These two are a long, long way away.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
heaviness is the combination of pace, spin and depth. In a combination of these factors, the Federer forehand outstrips Nadal's quite handily I think. That AO graphic of course comes in handy. It's not even close.

Peak for peak Federer very rarely had trouble handling Nadal's forehand with his own. However when he runs around his BH and unleashes the IO monster into Nadal's FH, Nadal often has trouble handling it. There is a rally during the 07 FO final I remember that perfectly shows this. Federer's FH at peak was king at forcing errors because people could not handle it.And on top of that you add that it was a shotmaking machine and maybe you will slowly start to get a clue as to why it's the greatest shot ever and why you should not be making ludicrous statements such as "the peak Federer FH has a lot of competition these days"

I know it's a popular belief that Fed declined because of his competition because that is utter garbage. He was declining in 07 stats wise and by the eye test but he had winning records against Nadal and Djokovic that year. He was losing to more mugs, not to the new younger generation. Same in 08 and no doubt that was brought about by mono and again he was losing to guys who he used to whip handily before.

Also his 09 and 12 resurgences show again that it was not the new generation that toppled him but his own decline. That was the real resurgence when he won slams and returned to #1 in the midst of the strongest fields of the last 15 years. I mean you keep holding onto 2015 as if it is some resurgence or return to peak years because of his games won% matches 2006 when it should be abundantly clear that the numbers are propped by him barely playing on slow hard courts and the complete lack of depth in the field.

I mean the lengths people go to mask the complete ineptness of the next generation is amusing. "Federer is peaking at age 34! It is impossible to break in these days because the old veterans like Berdych and Ferrer are too good and powerful!" I mean you just made up a whole narrative about how it took Fed till 34 or some bs to adjust to the modern "heavy" baseline game and used that as an excuse for the younger generation. I mean c'mon man..would it kill you to admit that these guys are scrubs compared to generations past?
LOL. That last part is a wonderful weak era view that is not backed up with any facts. I'm surprised you aren't aware of the changes in his game, or at least would acknowledge them. The jump from 2013 to 2015 in the stats is huge. How is Federer magically wining more first serve points these last few years (better than his peak)? Did everyone suddently forget how to return on tour? Open your eyes. It just doesn't fly. The tour didn't fall off a cliff; Federer improved greatly.

The eye test is a lie if you don't have the complete picture. A great fan like yourself may remember the past so well that you just compare and see only Federer's obvious losses in movement (and the stats show he's not playing as well in facet's of the game). I don't have an agenda, but a lot of Fed fans on here seem deadset on degrading Djokovic's slam domination. As a group, I see little or no mention of improvements to his game and that's a shame.

I do believe your eye test on decline in 2007 because the stats back it up. Of course losing matches to Djokovic and Murray are going to hurt his stats some; kind of a mathematical fact. But the losses to Canas boggle the mind.

I know in 2009 Murray had great hard courts stats and those victories over Fed early in the year helped him have better points stats on hard courts than Federer, but I am not really seeing that year as a great field. I watched then, but in hingsight I don't know how Murray had some of his far an away best hard court numbers and then we call the hard court field strong. Murray and Djokovic were not in their primes.

I'll buy 2012 as the greatest field especially for the top 4 players. I'd rate 2011 highly too for that matter. 2013 was weaker because Federer did not play well at all and Murray was gone after Wimbledon. 2014 was weaker too with Murray on the mend from back surgery, Federer improving with Edberg and a new racket, but we had Wawrinka. 2015 and 2016 look stronger to me than 2013 and 2014.

Fed's 2016 stats on hard courts which are from Australia are very impressive. Those are the slow ones.;) Its why I am full of hope for him to make a strong run on US hard court season.

The weakness is in the lost generation and I'm happy enough with how Goffin and Raonic are performing of late. Strings have made a huge difference to the game and I laugh and laugh at the fools on this site who keep going to the well on the minor court alterations made at some of the majors.

Here is one excellent discussion of the impact of strings and on the "weak" next generation:
https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/conspiracy-string-theory-how-new-technology-killed-american-mens-tennis

The following explains how strings also trump what people are "seeing" as court speed changes:
https://fogmountaintennis.wordpress.com/

If you understand what is holding the youngest players from breaking into the game, then you'll realize that 22 is starting to be the normal time for players to start to emerge. We are having an early bumper crop of young talent looming:
1. Vesely
2. Pouille (21 in the world), phenomenal play at Wimby
3. Zverev (27 )
4. Kygrios (18)
5. Tomic (19) excellent Wimbledon play
6. Thiem (9) won tournaments on three different surfaces this year

Pretty soon that may well be 5 younger players in the top 20. So much for "weak".:mad: Wake up metsman; the Federer and next generation glasses are half full.;) Enjoy.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
LOL. That last part is a wonderful weak era view that is not backed up with any facts. I'm surprised you aren't aware of the changes in his game, or at least would acknowledge them. The jump from 2013 to 2015 in the stats is huge. How is Federer magically wining more first serve points these last few years (better than his peak)? Did everyone suddently forget how to return on tour? Open your eyes. It just doesn't fly. The tour didn't fall off a cliff; Federer improved greatly.

The eye test is a lie if you don't have the complete picture. A great fan like yourself may remember the past so well that you just compare and see only Federer's obvious losses in movement (and the stats show he's not playing as well in facet's of the game). I don't have an agenda, but a lot of Fed fans on here seem deadset on degrading Djokovic's slam domination. As a group, I see little or no mention of improvements to his game and that's a shame.

I do believe your eye test on decline in 2007 because the stats back it up. Of course losing matches to Djokovic and Murray are going to hurt his stats some; kind of a mathematical fact. But the losses to Canas boggle the mind.

I know in 2009 Murray had great hard courts stats and those victories over Fed early in the year helped him have better points stats on hard courts than Federer, but I am not really seeing that year as a great field. I watched then, but in hingsight I don't know how Murray had some of his far an away best hard court numbers and then we call the hard court field strong. Murray and Djokovic were not in their primes.

I'll buy 2012 as the greatest field especially for the top 4 players. I'd rate 2011 highly too for that matter. 2013 was weaker because Federer did not play well at all and Murray was gone after Wimbledon. 2014 was weaker too with Murray on the mend from back surgery, Federer improving with Edberg and a new racket, but we had Wawrinka. 2015 and 2016 look stronger to me than 2013 and 2014.

Fed's 2016 stats on hard courts which are from Australia are very impressive. Those are the slow ones.;) Its why I am full of hope for him to make a strong run on US hard court season.

The weakness is in the lost generation and I'm happy enough with how Goffin and Raonic are performing of late. Strings have made a huge difference to the game and I laugh and laugh at the fools on this site who keep going to the well on the minor court alterations made at some of the majors.

Here is one excellent discussion of the impact of strings and on the "weak" next generation:
https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/conspiracy-string-theory-how-new-technology-killed-american-mens-tennis

The following explains how strings also trump what people are "seeing" as court speed changes:
https://fogmountaintennis.wordpress.com/

If you understand what is holding the youngest players from breaking into the game, then you'll realize that 22 is starting to be the normal time for players to start to emerge. We are having an early bumper crop of young talent looming:
1. Vesely
2. Pouille (21 in the world), phenomenal play at Wimby
3. Zverev (27 )
4. Kygrios (18)
5. Tomic (19) excellent Wimbledon play
6. Thiem (9) won tournaments on three different surfaces this year

Pretty soon that may well be 5 younger players in the top 20. So much for "weak".:mad: Wake up metsman; the Federer and next generation glasses are half full.;) Enjoy.
2013? When his back was in pieces for most of the year? That is the barometer you set? No one cares about 2013, Federer 2014-2015 is clearly worse than his late 2011-2012 resurgence. No question about that no matter what games won% say. No one is denying his serve is as good as ever against most of the field but in the big matches against Djokovic he has not brought it so what is the difference really. I did not even bring up his serve. Complete strawman from you because you have no other argument. The fact that his return games % in 2015 on hard was identical to 2006 is explainable by 1 thing and 1 thing only and you can do all the bellyaching you want and it doesn't change that.

The game is not at all different from the mid-late 2000's when the last young generation broke through in spectacular fashion. Everyone was using poly back then and the game was thoroughly baseline dominated. Yet your argument is that the baseline game and heaviness has improved today so the young players have more to overcome? Just another spate of excuses to make up for the fact that the current crop sucks plain and simple. Everyone's standards have been lowered when people tout Raonic and Goffin as the best of a generation as if that means anything other than an indication that the generation sucks. Thiem is a nice little player on clay who has done nothing of clay, but again if he is the best of a generation that too means the generation is awful.

I mean the exaggeration is ridiculous..Apparently getting trashed by Berdych is now the barometer for "phenomenal play at Wimbledon" and losing to the guy who got trashed by berdych is the barometer for excellent play. I mean this is the problem...these guys can't even take down a declined berdych/tsonga/ferrer much less the corpses of Stan/Fed/Nadal and obviously not even gonna mention the current "big boys" of Djoker and Murray. Therefore, you have to pull whatever you can out of your ass to make their failures look a little better.

I mean the number of excuses I hear from you to explain thiem's terrible FO semi performance is enough to span a book by now...When does the novella for why Thiem lost in the second round of Wimbledon come out?

Oh so 09 is a weak field now? That's what you are making up now to lend credence to your ridiculous argument? That is the strongest top 10 in recent memory. Nadal was dominant and in peak form for the first half of the year. Djokovic was solid on clay, Murray was solid in many parts of the year, and yes he lost at the HC slams but again that is because excellent performances from verdasco and cilic took him down. Delpo emerged as did Soderling and Roddick and Davydenko had their resurgences. Maybe not as heavy at the top as 2011-2012 but still sronger because of much more depth throughout the field. And if you have any knowledge at all of tennis history you know that a top heavy field can often not be that great because the name does not equal the performance. 2011 is a perfect example of this. 2009 is the strongest field in recent memory. Field strength is all about who plays how well at the time, not the names in it.
 
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Meles

Bionic Poster
2013? When his back was in pieces for most of the year? That is the barometer you set? No one cares about 2013, Federer 2014-2015 is clearly worse than his late 2011-2012 resurgence. No question about that no matter what games won% say. No one is denying his serve is as good as ever against most of the field but in the big matches against Djokovic he has not brought it so what is the difference really. I did not even bring up his serve. Complete strawman from you because you have no other argument. The fact that his return games % in 2015 on hard was identical to 2006 is explainable by 1 thing and 1 thing only and you can do all the bellyaching you want and it doesn't change that.

The game is not at all different from the mid-late 2000's when the last young generation broke through in spectacular fashion. Everyone was using poly back then and the game was thoroughly baseline dominated. Yet your argument is that the baseline game and heaviness has improved today so the young players have more to overcome? Just another spate of excuses to make up for the fact that the current crop sucks plain and simple. Everyone's standards have been lowered when people tout Raonic and Goffin as the best of a generation as if that means anything other than an indication that the generation sucks. Thiem is a nice little player on clay who has done nothing of clay, but again if he is the best of a generation that too means the generation is awful.

I mean the exaggeration is ridiculous..Apparently getting trashed by Berdych is now the barometer for "phenomenal play at Wimbledon" and losing to the guy who got trashed by berdych is the barometer for excellent play. I mean this is the problem...these guys can't even take down a declined berdych/tsonga/ferrer much less the corpses of Stan/Fed/Nadal and obviously not even gonna mention the current "big boys" of Djoker and Murray. Therefore, you have to pull whatever you can out of your ass to make their failures look a little better.

I mean the number of excuses I hear from you to explain thiem's terrible FO semi performance is enough to span a book by now...When does the novella for why Thiem lost in the second round of Wimbledon come out?

Oh so 09 is a weak field now? That's what you are making up now to lend credence to your ridiculous argument? That is the strongest top 10 in recent memory. Nadal was dominant and in peak form for the first half of the year. Djokovic was solid on clay, Murray was solid in many parts of the year, and yes he lost at the HC slams but again that is because excellent performances from verdasco and cilic took him down. Delpo emerged as did Soderling and Roddick and Davydenko had their resurgences. Maybe not as heavy at the top as 2011-2012 but still sronger because of much more depth throughout the field. And if you have any knowledge at all of tennis history you know that a top heavy field can often not be that great because the name does not equal the performance. 2011 is a perfect example of this. 2009 is the strongest field in recent memory. Field strength is all about who plays how well at the time, not the names in it.
I'll lay off the stats and science since you'll have none of it.

I wanted to get your take on 2009 especially Murray.:D Thx. The French was weaker. Federer's return game was falling off a cliff that year in the stats. Yes Soderling was a strong player and his back to back finals prove it, but Nadal was off so the French was weaker and Djokovic was not near the clay player then as 2011 to current times. Murray made his first slam SF at Wimby and lost to that disgusting servebot Roddick. Federer almost lost to Roddick (that was revolting and another weak final). Delpo beat Federer at US Open 2009. I liked it and Delpo was great and passes the eye test, but a healthy Delpo has proven to be a matchup issue for Federer. Nadal winning Australia on hard courts (weak stuff and over his favorite pigeon.;)) 2009 was perhaps stronger than anything Fed has faced before, but you've not sold me on those being strong fields. If this is your example of the strongest field, I don't want to know why top heavy fields are weak. That's sounds like an excuse for having a bunch of weak players at the top of the game.;)

LOL. Let's talk Thiem since you seem to want put some salt in that wound.:confused: I'll explain Thiem's problem to sooth your bitterness over a couple of his recent wins.;) Thiem is trying to be a warhorse, heavy topspin grinder like Nadal (a one of a kind phenom in this department). His issue now is he doesn't have the stamina for this game. He's covering about 900 meters per set and is very much on par with a roadrunner like Murray (Thiem 3600 meters in Goffin 4 setter at French, Murray 3300 meters in the final over 4 sets. Thiem 2700 steps against Vesely on grass, Murray 2000 steps for Berdy SF). I'd compare with Nadal at the French, but earlier round stats no longer available. Thiem's problem is that his forehand is nearly as heavy as Nadal's and the one-hander is heavier, but luckily its a one hander for easier power. Thiem hits the ball through the air faster than Nadal, so he's putting in a similar amount of brute force to hit every shot and he's covering a similar amount of court. He's simply not strong enough to do this in slams. For most players its a couple 5 setters and they are toast. Thiem is probably back to back 4 setters. As an avid fan I can say his overall trend is he's getting stronger and stronger, but the problem is when does it stop. If it stops now Thiem will remain near or just in the top ten. I hope Thiem gets stronger for a few more years, but I expect it will stop sooner and he's going to be a top 5 player who might win a slam.

Of course, knowing this about Thiem's game, any dolt can see that he was gassed for the Djokovic SF, no novella necessary.:mad: I've complained about Thiem's serve for months (26 DFs in winning Stuttgart.:confused:) He needed to serve well to go deep at Wimbledon and unfortunatly despite a promising first round performance he fell back to the recent baseline of weaker serving. Vesely was in giant killer mode and Thiem could not get by in the three TBs. It was quite the shame as he had some great opportunities in that draw.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I'll lay off the stats and science since you'll have none of it.

I wanted to get your take on 2009 especially Murray.:D Thx. The French was weaker. Federer's return game was falling off a cliff that year in the stats. Yes Soderling was a strong player and his back to back finals prove it, but Nadal was off so the French was weaker and Djokovic was not near the clay player then as 2011 to current times. Murray made his first slam SF at Wimby and lost to that disgusting servebot Roddick. Federer almost lost to Roddick (that was revolting and another weak final). Delpo beat Federer at US Open 2009. I liked it and Delpo was great and passes the eye test, but a healthy Delpo has proven to be a matchup issue for Federer. Nadal winning Australia on hard courts (weak stuff and over his favorite pigeon.;)) 2009 was perhaps stronger than anything Fed has faced before, but you've not sold me on those being strong fields. If this is your example of the strongest field, I don't want to know why top heavy fields are weak. That's sounds like an excuse for having a bunch of weak players at the top of the game.;)

LOL. Let's talk Thiem since you seem to want put some salt in that wound.:confused: I'll explain Thiem's problem to sooth your bitterness over a couple of his recent wins.;) Thiem is trying to be a warhorse, heavy topspin grinder like Nadal (a one of a kind phenom in this department). His issue now is he doesn't have the stamina for this game. He's covering about 900 meters per set and is very much on par with a roadrunner like Murray (Thiem 3600 meters in Goffin 4 setter at French, Murray 3300 meters in the final over 4 sets. Thiem 2700 steps against Vesely on grass, Murray 2000 steps for Berdy SF). I'd compare with Nadal at the French, but earlier round stats no longer available. Thiem's problem is that his forehand is nearly as heavy as Nadal's and the one-hander is heavier, but luckily its a one hander for easier power. Thiem hits the ball through the air faster than Nadal, so he's putting in a similar amount of brute force to hit every shot and he's covering a similar amount of court. He's simply not strong enough to do this in slams. For most players its a couple 5 setters and they are toast. Thiem is probably back to back 4 setters. As an avid fan I can say his overall trend is he's getting stronger and stronger, but the problem is when does it stop. If it stops now Thiem will remain near or just in the top ten. I hope Thiem gets stronger for a few more years, but I expect it will stop sooner and he's going to be a top 5 player who might win a slam.

Of course, knowing this about Thiem's game, any dolt can see that he was gassed for the Djokovic SF, no novella necessary.:mad: I've complained about Thiem's serve for months (26 DFs in winning Stuttgart.:confused:) He needed to serve well to go deep at Wimbledon and unfortunatly despite a promising first round performance he fell back to the recent baseline of weaker serving. Vesely was in giant killer mode and Thiem could not get by in the three TBs. It was quite the shame as he had some great opportunities in that draw.
good lord the way you just brush aside roddick because of how he plays...I didn't even read the rest of the excuse making crap you wrote after that point. Maybe stick to reason instead of calling a guy a disgusting serve-bot and brushing aside everything he does. The guy is nearly 23 and you are making physical excuses for him LOL...look at the condition other ATG his age were in at the time. Just a clown statement..Roddick peak for peak might be a better grass courter than Murray and provided more challenge to peak Federer than Murray and Djoker did to near 31 year old Federer and he's a pushover and a weak opponent. Then again Federer at his peak feasted on weak eras so no wonder, right? After he adjusted his game to the "heavy baseline era" he truly reached his peak. You are a freakin joke.

Compare the 2011 slam final competition to 2009..that's your answer. But of course you will just look at the names instead of the matches and be clueless as usual.

And yeah I am an analytics driven guy but the way you look at them without any context or adjusting for the field at the time is garbage and an example of a guy who doesn't watch the matches, or can't properly analyze them, and tries to cover for that by poorly using numbers. I run into the same kinds of people when I post on baseball blogs, guys who just regurgitate numbers. You might think you are smart but in reality numbers without context and relative to times are nothing and people who look at them absolutely don't know anything. Now, I don't really have time to read your 250 word posts full of bs so let's just end it here. I try to give people a long leash before I ignore them but we're getting close here buddy...
 

ultradr

Legend
first, some context for this question

jim courier himself as to why pitting the best server vs the best returner is a big mismatch in strengths, referencing the sampras vs agassi matchup


keeping this in mind, why is it in today's game, the player with the better defense and return is always touted as the favorite over the power baseliner that has a massive serve and big shots?

examples: players like isner, karlovic, cilic, del potro, raonic etc losing and having negative H2Hs against players like djokovic, murray, nadal, nishikori etc.

generally pre-matches people always say something along the lines of "yea murray/djokovic/nadal have better defense and ROS so they're gonna win"

really? so the better server loses out against the better returner?

was courier in the wrong with his statement or was he simply commentating on the game during a different time and era when tennis was a completely different game compared to today?
slow and bouncy surfaces. note that agassi generally prevailed on Australian Open which was slower and bouncier surface just like todays hard courts.

anyway, serve is still important.
key reason why Federer still around.
Federer is the best server of last 15 year or so, I think.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
  1. A good serve and an equally as good ROS effectively cancel each other out as neither player in this hypothetical scenario will be able to edge each other out on those two types of stroke alone.
  2. Instead, the match is won or lost on the merits of the rest of their game.
  3. A big server typically has no other weapons (possibly a middling to good net game at best), whilst a good returner tends to have a solid if not stellar ground game.
  4. Good baseline game > good net game in this day and age
  5. Big servers often do not have good return games, while good returners have at least a normal serve game (relative to everyone else)
  6. Great ROS game + average serve game > Poor ROS game + great serve game
  7. Therefore usually a good returner > good server
 

Flash O'Groove

Hall of Fame
  1. A good serve and an equally as good ROS effectively cancel each other out as neither player in this hypothetical scenario will be able to edge each other out on those two types of stroke alone.
  2. Instead, the match is won or lost on the merits of the rest of their game.
  3. A big server typically has no other weapons (possibly a middling to good net game at best), whilst a good returner tends to have a solid if not stellar ground game.
  4. Good baseline game > good net game in this day and age
  5. Big servers often do not have good return games, while good returners have at least a normal serve game (relative to everyone else)
  6. Great ROS game + average serve game > Poor ROS game + great serve game
  7. Therefore usually a good returner > good server
I disagree with the first points. In my opinion a good serve is a stronger asset than a good return, because the serve, even a weaker serve, remain the biggest weapon in the ATP (not in the WTA). Ferrer is not a great server at all but he can still command points with it. The big servers advantage is canceled not by the return of their opponents, but by their own particularly weak serve. As you said, good returners are not necessarily weak server (Djokovic, Murray), although it's often correlated (Hewitt, Coria, Davydenko, Ferre, Goffin)

The Raonic semi-final and final are rather good example. In both case, Raonic was extremely difficult to break. He was hard to break for Federer and for Murray. In the meantime, Raonic was as inefficient in return games against the great server Fed than against the ok server Murray. It's also true for his match against Goffin.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I don't have an agenda, but a lot of Fed fans on here seem deadset on degrading Djokovic's slam domination. As a group, I see little or no mention of improvements to his game and that's a shame.
I'm not convinced by Fed's play this year, and I'm also not convinced that this is not the beginning of the end of any kind of dominance.

But I do think his HC play in 2015 was impressive, for the most part. Grass? No. There is a huge decline in his return game on grass, and that was his best surface.

The one thing that stats such as games does not show is how something like return of serve changes in later part of big tournaments. My gut feeling is that Fed's return game fades even on HCs against the best players in the world now. If his level was so high over 2014 and 2015 it does not explain to me his losses. The fact remains that he lost 7 matches in three years on HCs, 2004-2006, and he lost 7 matches in only 2014, 6 in 2015. Some of that can be explained because of Novak. Fair is fair. But that's not the whole story.

If you are going to pay careful attention to stats, you also have to look at the Big Picture. As we study the careers of all players after the age of 30 we can't find anyone who at nearly 35 years of age plays on the same level as 25.

On the subject of Roddick: he was only about 1% lower in % of games won returning on grass in 2004 compared to Thiem this year, at about the same age. Later Roddick's return fell horribly, which is why you can't find him on the career list of 200 players who returned well.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/return-games-won/2002/hard/all/

Look for Roddick...

That's not servebot returning.

If that Roddick had played Federer in 2009, Federer would most likely have gone down.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
I disagree with the first points. In my opinion a good serve is a stronger asset than a good return, because the serve, even a weaker serve, remain the biggest weapon in the ATP (not in the WTA). Ferrer is not a great server at all but he can still command points with it. The big servers advantage is canceled not by the return of their opponents, but by their own particularly weak serve. As you said, good returners are not necessarily weak server (Djokovic, Murray), although it's often correlated (Hewitt, Coria, Davydenko, Ferre, Goffin)
Ferrer actually has a great serve for his height, and compared to everyone else has at least an above-average serve. Disagree that Hewitt had a weak serve. His serve was actually pretty damn good. Unlike the WTA, you rarely get poor servers on the ATP, especially at higher levels. The only elite player that comes to mind whose serve is considered easily attackable is Nadal's, and Rafa's serve is extremely underrated by most people. Literally the only player who can regularly punish Nadal's serve is Djokovic. I've found that many of these same people dabble quite a bit in hyperbole or don't actually play tennis (or both).

Anyway, what I meant by "a good serve is and a good ROS effectively cancel each other out" is that while the server is naturally expected to hit many aces, they also lose far more points than is normal on those balls that do come back, and a good returner gets loads of these balls back. A good example in this case is not Djokovic--who is better at punishing weak serves than getting big serves back--but rather Federer and Nadal, who are less prone to being served off the court in their primes. The tl;dr version of this is that basically, a quality ROS will lower the first and second serve points won percentages down to what most other people score on average on a normal day--say 70% on firsts, 30-40% on second. This effectively cancels out the advantage of having a beast serve, because the results are no different to having a normal serve against a normal returner.
The Raonic semi-final and final are rather good example. In both case, Raonic was extremely difficult to break. He was hard to break for Federer and for Murray. In the meantime, Raonic was as inefficient in return games against the great server Fed than against the ok server Murray. It's also true for his match against Goffin.
Some points on this:
  1. Raonic has a GOAT tier serve
  2. Federer has an ATG if not GOAT tier serve
  3. Only Murray's 2nd serve is poor, and that has improved to at least normal ATP levels. His first serve is actually very good, although patchy in terms of consistency. He's got at the very least a "good" serve, not an "ok" one. At any rate, Murray's flatter first serves are a nightmare to deal with on grass, especially when you combine that with Raonic's height and the fact that...
  4. Raonic is a poor returner
  5. Wimbledon is grass, which puts the server at an inherent advantage despite the slowed surface
So yes, I stand by what I said, although I will clarify further by saying that a GOAT ROS neutralises the additional advantages offered by a GOAT serve. This puts the GOAT serve v GOAT ROS relationship to be the same as that between a normal serve and return. I recognise that this statement comes across as meaningless, but the point being made is that just because someone has a great serve, doesn't mean that they will overpower someone with a great ROS, because at the end of the day, it's the same as saying "why do servers not win against the returner in today's game?". The answer is simple--if you increase the numbers of an existing dynamic by exactly the same amount, chances are that you won't actually change the dynamic. The only possible scenario where this would be different is that if the serve is so fast, it's not humanly possible to react to the serve in time no matter where it is placed, but that is rare, even amongst the very best servers.
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
good lord the way you just brush aside roddick because of how he plays...I didn't even read the rest of the excuse making crap you wrote after that point. Maybe stick to reason instead of calling a guy a disgusting serve-bot and brushing aside everything he does. The guy is nearly 23 and you are making physical excuses for him LOL...look at the condition other ATG his age were in at the time. Just a clown statement..Roddick peak for peak might be a better grass courter than Murray and provided more challenge to peak Federer than Murray and Djoker did to near 31 year old Federer and he's a pushover and a weak opponent. Then again Federer at his peak feasted on weak eras so no wonder, right? After he adjusted his game to the "heavy baseline era" he truly reached his peak. You are a freakin joke.

Compare the 2011 slam final competition to 2009..that's your answer. But of course you will just look at the names instead of the matches and be clueless as usual.

And yeah I am an analytics driven guy but the way you look at them without any context or adjusting for the field at the time is garbage and an example of a guy who doesn't watch the matches, or can't properly analyze them, and tries to cover for that by poorly using numbers. I run into the same kinds of people when I post on baseball blogs, guys who just regurgitate numbers. You might think you are smart but in reality numbers without context and relative to times are nothing and people who look at them absolutely don't know anything. Now, I don't really have time to read your 250 word posts full of bs so let's just end it here. I try to give people a long leash before I ignore them but we're getting close here buddy...
I freely admit my Roddick bias and yet at the same time acknowledge his one stats greatness which is his first serve point won. I greatly appreciate your responses and taking the time to respond. I have not spent a lot of time with grass because the data from year to year is less reliable and you really are prey to the draw at one tournament, Wimby. How do you adjust for the field? My perception is that the early 2000s is weak from the lack of ATGs in their prime. How do you adjust for a weak or strong field? How do you determine what is a weak or strong field?
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
I'm not convinced by Fed's play this year, and I'm also not convinced that this is not the beginning of the end of any kind of dominance.

But I do think his HC play in 2015 was impressive, for the most part. Grass? No. There is a huge decline in his return game on grass, and that was his best surface.

The one thing that stats such as games does not show is how something like return of serve changes in later part of big tournaments. My gut feeling is that Fed's return game fades even on HCs against the best players in the world now. If his level was so high over 2014 and 2015 it does not explain to me his losses. The fact remains that he lost 7 matches in three years on HCs, 2004-2006, and he lost 7 matches in only 2014, 6 in 2015. Some of that can be explained because of Novak. Fair is fair. But that's not the whole story.

If you are going to pay careful attention to stats, you also have to look at the Big Picture. As we study the careers of all players after the age of 30 we can't find anyone who at nearly 35 years of age plays on the same level as 25.

On the subject of Roddick: he was only about 1% lower in % of games won returning on grass in 2004 compared to Thiem this year, at about the same age. Later Roddick's return fell horribly, which is why you can't find him on the career list of 200 players who returned well.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/return-games-won/2002/hard/all/

Look for Roddick...

That's not servebot returning.

If that Roddick had played Federer in 2009, Federer would most likely have gone down.
You are having Roddick fantasies I see.;) I've never really understood what happened to Roddick's game. 2009 should have been his best year in relation to his age and experience, yet the young Roddick is the one that was impressive. Ditto Hewitt, but injuries account for his fall. I suspect phenoms like Hewitt, a shorter player, would be impossible due to the nature of the game; higher bouncing poly power game. Tennis may even favor the late bloomer these days. Roddick,is younger than Fed lol, yet he seems from a previous era.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
You are having Roddick fantasies I see.;)
No fantasies. I'm stating for a fact that Roddick did not start out as a servebot. But you could argue that he turned into one, and I would not argue.

For a true servebot winning a slam my #1 vote would go to Ivanisevic in 2001, IIRC. He won 10% of his return games on grass in 10 matches. His return on grass was so bad that he is another who is not listed here:

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/return-games-won/all/grass/all/

But if you go here:

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/players/goran-ivanisevic/i034/player-stats?year=0&surfaceType=grass

You see that he won around 15% of his games on grass in his career. The year he won Wimbledon he won fewer games by % than any other slam winner in the Open era, on any surface.

Roddick in comparison was at a lofty 17% for his career on grass.

Raonic is currently at 13%.
I've never really understood what happened to Roddick's game. 2009 should have been his best year in relation to his age and experience, yet the young Roddick is the one that was impressive. Ditto Hewitt, but injuries account for his fall. I suspect phenoms like Hewitt, a shorter player, would be impossible due to the nature of the game; higher bouncing poly power game. Tennis may even favor the late bloomer these days. Roddick,is younger than Fed lol, yet he seems from a previous era.
Well, I read the link about strings being responsible for younger players not breaking through. But Nadal's breakthrough happened around 2005. Have strings changed so much since Rafa, Novak and Murray came on the scene?

If anything I would say that higher bouncing topspin might make it harder and harder for shorter players to dominate.

But we should wait another 5 years or so to see how this changes.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Ferrer actually has a great serve for his height, and compared to everyone else has at least an above-average serve. Disagree that Hewitt had a weak serve. His serve was actually pretty damn good. Unlike the WTA, you rarely get poor servers on the ATP, especially at higher levels. The only elite player that comes to mind whose serve is considered easily attackable is Nadal's, and Rafa's serve is extremely underrated by most people. Literally the only player who can regularly punish Nadal's serve is Djokovic. I've found that many of these same people dabble quite a bit in hyperbole or don't actually play tennis (or both).
Then how do you explain his lack of success serving? With one of the best return games ever on grass he had way more weapons than most players to back up the serve.

Nadal won 95% of his service games in 2008, and that was for a full 12 matches. He won 22% of his return games. He was in no way a top returner on grass.

Hewitt made it to 91% in 2008 in a year when his return game had hugely declined.

In 2002 he only won 87% of his service games. That is VERY low for a Wimbledon winner. He won with a spectacular 35% of return games. With those magnificent defensive skills he still could not back up his serve to get into even the low 90s on service.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I'm not convinced by Fed's play this year, and I'm also not convinced that this is not the beginning of the end of any kind of dominance.

But I do think his HC play in 2015 was impressive, for the most part. Grass? No. There is a huge decline in his return game on grass, and that was his best surface.

The one thing that stats such as games does not show is how something like return of serve changes in later part of big tournaments. My gut feeling is that Fed's return game fades even on HCs against the best players in the world now. If his level was so high over 2014 and 2015 it does not explain to me his losses. The fact remains that he lost 7 matches in three years on HCs, 2004-2006, and he lost 7 matches in only 2014, 6 in 2015. Some of that can be explained because of Novak. Fair is fair. But that's not the whole story.

If you are going to pay careful attention to stats, you also have to look at the Big Picture. As we study the careers of all players after the age of 30 we can't find anyone who at nearly 35 years of age plays on the same level as 25.

On the subject of Roddick: he was only about 1% lower in % of games won returning on grass in 2004 compared to Thiem this year, at about the same age. Later Roddick's return fell horribly, which is why you can't find him on the career list of 200 players who returned well.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/return-games-won/2002/hard/all/

Look for Roddick...

That's not servebot returning.

If that Roddick had played Federer in 2009, Federer would most likely have gone down.
roddick's returning was quite solid for a guy with his serve from 03-05 or so. Much better than traditional servebots at 20-25%. Same with Sampras, he was winning 25-30% at his peak which is amazing for a guy with his serve.

But people who never watched them play will stick to the bs narratives...
 
Roddick is one of the most under rated players of all time .

He would have a few wimbledons if not for Federer .

In other era he would have been an all time great .
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Then how do you explain his lack of success serving? With one of the best return games ever on grass he had way more weapons than most players to back up the serve.

Nadal won 95% of his service games in 2008, and that was for a full 12 matches. He won 22% of his return games. He was in no way a top returner on grass.

Hewitt made it to 91% in 2008 in a year when his return game had hugely declined.

In 2002 he only won 87% of his service games. That is VERY low for a Wimbledon winner. He won with a spectacular 35% of return games. With those magnificent defensive skills he still could not back up his serve to get into even the low 90s on service.
but grass is a small sample size...in 04 he was at 87%, in 05 he was at 90%. That's decent. Was at 87 and 84 in 04 and 05 on hard which is decent too.

Hewitt's serve was a little weaker earlier in his career but when he beefed up in 04-05 his serve and the rest of his game gained power. His problem was always a low first serve %
 

Meles

Bionic Poster
No fantasies. I'm stating for a fact that Roddick did not start out as a servebot. But you could argue that he turned into one, and I would not argue.

For a true servebot winning a slam my #1 vote would go to Ivanisevic in 2001, IIRC. He won 10% of his return games on grass in 10 matches. His return on grass was so bad that he is another who is not listed here:

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/stats/return-games-won/all/grass/all/

But if you go here:

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/players/goran-ivanisevic/i034/player-stats?year=0&surfaceType=grass

You see that he won around 15% of his games on grass in his career. The year he won Wimbledon he won fewer games by % than any other slam winner in the Open era, on any surface.

Roddick in comparison was at a lofty 17% for his career on grass.

Raonic is currently at 13%.

Well, I read the link about strings being responsible for younger players not breaking through. But Nadal's breakthrough happened around 2005. Have strings changed so much since Rafa, Novak and Murray came on the scene?

If anything I would say that higher bouncing topspin might make it harder and harder for shorter players to dominate.

But we should wait another 5 years or so to see how this changes.
Clearly Roddick had a serviceable return game too. Thiem won 92% of his serve games on grass this year. He sure didn't do with his serve, but with the punches that followed at the net and from the ground. That number was through the roof from last year and is very strong. Zverev also gets a star for the grass season. He had one of the top first return games which was certainly not the case on hard courts earlier this year. If he brings that return back to the hard courts he's going to be a much better player.

Poly strings have been on tour a while. Kuerten probably road early Luxillon to his 1997 French Open victory. Looks like Agassi and Fed first tried the strings in 2002. Nadal did not switch until 2010 and once he adapted to the strings swept the major clay events and the last three slams. Those strings are a game changer. I think Fed was lucky that his game benefitted from such a late change to these strings. Nadal is very conservative, so I expect he was one of the last players not using poly strings. I suspect these strings have had a huge affect on the tour and their impact may start to be felt more as the players born and bred on this string are getting to the age where they have the strength necessary to compete in the poly world. I've got a suspicion that only tall players can break through at a young age these days, but for most its moved their first big years to around 21 or 22. 23 may be the age where a player really can take off. Even a beast reincarnation of Nadal might find the tour a bit more challenging now.:eek:
 

donquijote

Legend
Simple. You can return (defense) consistently but you have to be on a good day to serve your first 70% in. Still you can lose if you blink in a game or a tie-breaker OR if you can't return nearly as good as your opponent (to break his service game).
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
nadal switched to rpm in 2010 but he has used poly pretty much his whole career. He used to use duralast. Unlike Djokovic and Federer he does not use gut in the mains

LOL I can't even fathom how someone could think Nadal started using poly in 2010 given his game style...
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Roddick is one of the most under rated players of all time .

He would have a few wimbledons if not for Federer .

In other era he would have been an all time great .
I like Roddick, but that's debatable. For instance, assume we shift Roddick's prime -- 2003-2009 -- 10 years earlier, making it 1993-1999. Sampras won 6 of those Wimbledons, with redlining Krajicek winning in 1996. In addition, you had guys like Ivanišević and Becker playing many of those years.

What if we shift Roddick's prime 20 years earlier, making it 1983-1989? Then, you get McEnroe, Becker, Edberg, and redlining Cash, plus a very competent Lendl.

The bottom line is that there aren't very many easy Wimbledon victories. Most years, Roddick would have faced 2 or 3 very tough battles on the grass courts. Pick a year, any year, and imagine what his draw might have been.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I like Roddick, but that's debatable. For instance, assume we shift Roddick's prime -- 2003-2009 -- 10 years earlier, making it 1993-1999. Sampras won 6 of those Wimbledons, with redlining Krajicek winning in 1996. In addition, you had guys like Ivanišević and Becker playing many of those years.

What if we shift Roddick's prime 20 years earlier, making it 1983-1989? Then, you get McEnroe, Becker, Edberg, and redlining Cash, plus a very competent Lendl.

The bottom line is that there aren't very many easy Wimbledon victories. Most years, Roddick would have faced 2 or 3 very tough battles on the grass courts. Pick a year, any year, and imagine what his draw might have been.
Yeah but you consider the fact that he faced the grass co-GOAT or GOAT who also happens to be the absolute perfect matchup against him. Yet he still came close to the finish line against him 2 seperate occassions.

I realize the danger of saying "If Fed wasn't there Roddick would have won" but in this case I think he would be good enough to win 1 in other eras and probably multiple in this one. If he can come that close to beating prime/peak Federer then he can beat other ATG on an off day or take advantage when the draw opens up. Remember besides Sampras and Borg no one has came close to matching Federer's consistency on grass at peak and even then the other 2 were a little more vulnerable to getting pushed. I mean Federer got taken 5 sets 0 times in his grass peak. Roddick came closest.

I don't think it is out of the question that Roddick could maybe take out the weaker versions of Sampras at Wimbledon (98 and 00) if if Pete had an off day. Of course peak Roddick would be making hay in 01-02 at Wimby as well. Sampras was quite shaky in a fair number of those matches. Same goes for the 85-92 period where there was no 1 figure clearly dominating wimbledon. Roddick would have his chances to sneak one through against Edberg/Becker. I think he would get his 1 wimbledon in pretty much any era. I think he could cash in multiple in this era.
 
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90's Clay

Banned
Most of the guys with big serves are completely useless in other aspects of the game (Isner, Karlovic, Raonic etc). These guys can't return, their net games and approach shots are suspect as well


What good is a serve when you suck at everything else?
 
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