Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

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Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Sat 28 May 2016, 7:37 pm

At present there is a lot of people saying how poor the youngsters breaking through today are. They want/expect to see them challenging for major titles and because they aren't then they are seen as of poor standard.

I have another theory here. People have perhaps been spoilt by the generation of youngsters of a decade ago that spawned Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Tsonga and a few others. Two on that list have gone on to rank as all-time greats in the sport so to expect today's generation to match up to them is both unfair and unrealistic. Is the generation coming through today any worse than youngsters breaking through about 15 years ago? I will let you decide.

And perhaps the reason the youngsters of today are not winning big titles is down to the fact that the top players in the world are just of better quality? No disgrace there as Novak continues to rip up the record books.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Guest on Sat 28 May 2016, 8:14 pm

Del Potro was the last breakthrough teenager but I guess his technique was wrong because it led effectively to a career ending injury.  It seems to me that Kyrgios should have been the next breakthrough teenager but his attitude seems to be all wrong.

Lydian was mentioning something about the ATP World Tour now demands more of its professionals - more compulsory tournaments to attend in the year.  Not sure if the same applies to the "youngsters".

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Sat 28 May 2016, 8:22 pm

A theory I purported a while back I still stand by. Today tennis is not just about talent you need physicality. Physicality at the top of the sport takes time to achieve and build. Talent alone today won't get the job done. It is now almost as if the up and comers have to serve an apprenticeship.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Guest on Sat 28 May 2016, 8:32 pm

I am not sure.  Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Marcus Rashford, Max Verstappen ... when you're good enough, you're good enough.  I am sure any clone of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray would be breaking through in this era.  I am sure a Lendl and a Pete Sampras would also be breaking through: winning 250 & 500 ATP tournaments, getting far into a Masters tournament.  The horizon just seems a little desolate at the moment.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Sat 28 May 2016, 8:39 pm

But that is my original point though. This generation of youngsters should not be expected to meet up to the standards of the previous youngsters (Djokovic and Nadal et al). I mean in British football nobody has come close to George Best for talent and he broke through more than 50 years ago. I bet no jump jockey will come close to emulating A P McCoy for decades and same goes for greats in other sports. Point is it doesn't make all footballers poor because they can't match up to pure legends.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Guest on Sat 28 May 2016, 8:54 pm

I am talking about someone breaking into the top ten and staying there.  Djokovic and Murray are examples of youngsters breaking through then reaching a level of 3 & 4 --> not being good enough to get to 1 and 2.  They bided there time and now they are 1 & 2 in the world.  There has been nothing remotely equivalent apart from Del Potro.  

So I don't think physicality is the main reason - I think talented individuals would be identifiable early - get into the top ten - then develop their physicality.  Djokovic was noted for his lack of physicality - Federer complained of him giving up in matches (retiring).  That was Djokovic Mk I - talented but lacking in physicality.  Gluten free Djokovic Mk II is another beast.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Sat 28 May 2016, 9:01 pm

Well Raonic has established himself in the top ten for some time now and others are on the brink of breaking into it such as Goffin and Thiem.

But like I said just because these youngsters cannot reach heights the previous youngsters did is that really such a surprise considering two of those will retire in a few years time recognized as being the very best players to play the game (Federer aside). Like I said do we call football players of today poor because they cannot emulate George Best? No of course not.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by socal1976 on Sun 29 May 2016, 8:03 am

Excellent thread Craig unfortunately there are people who can't acknowledge the quality or of the great class of recent players, they can't acknowledge anything special about hem because they have spent years claiming there is nothing special about today's champions.

I agree fully, I mean the fact that the current 27-31 year olds outperformed both the rollover generation and the crop of players who are now 22-26, shows the unprecedented quality of the golden generation

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Guest on Sun 29 May 2016, 10:31 am

Interesting Socal. You are agreeing with someone that says the crucial difference is physicality not talent. I am suggesting that it is talent not physicality. Interesting Socal. I never had you down as one of those.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by socal1976 on Sun 29 May 2016, 10:37 am

Nore Staat wrote:Interesting Socal.  You are agreeing with someone that says the crucial difference is physicality not talent.  I am suggesting that it is talent not physicality.  Interesting Socal.  I never had you down as one of those.
No I am not Nore please let me clarify. I was simply commenting my agreement of the OP on the fact that the youngsters are being judged too harshly when measured against a reasonable standard. I have always believed and still do that in tennis technical ability is king. But yes certainly the players today are physically better athletes. Great players of the level of fed/Djokovic/Nadal just don't come around quite often

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Sun 29 May 2016, 10:51 am

And what is wrong with physicality anyway? It is a form of supreme fitness that comes about from dedicated gitness regimes and professionalism. Sooner have phycicality than a set of pkayers that have a glassvof beer on the eve of a big match or jave the wrong diet to succeed.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Guest on Sun 29 May 2016, 11:02 am

CaledonianCraig wrote:And what is wrong with physicality anyway? It is a form of supreme fitness that comes about from dedicated gitness regimes and professionalism. Sooner have phycicality than a set of pkayers that have a glassvof beer on the eve of a big match or jave the wrong diet to succeed.
I am not saying there is anything wrong in "physicality" - I just don't believe it is the main reason why we haven't seen a young talent breaking through as in the past (except Del Potro, and the jury is out on Kyrgios).  I think the main reason is natural talent.  The way I think it works is: natural talent will see a youngster "breaking through" and challenging - knocking out highly ranked seeds in early rounds of a tournament, causing upsets, creating a stir.  This is then followed by a long period of physical maturing.  I think Djokivic MkI & Murray are models for this.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Sun 29 May 2016, 11:11 am

I am not downplaying talent side of things but evidently now the sport requires a greater degree of physicality to succeed in the sport. Del Potro's greatest moment came in the US Open Final he won and physicality wasn't an issue in that match as he was playing Federer. In matches when he came up against players who played a more physical game he nearly always lost. Kyrgios' time will vome I reckon but it may be after the current top players have fallen from power so to speak.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by laverfan on Mon 30 May 2016, 3:16 am

The difference between Borg, Lendl and McEnroe was the physicality.

I find it interesting that with better available training methods, diets and exercise regimens, todays youngsters take even longer to reach their physical prime.

There may be a third differentiator - Work ethic. The difference between Gulbis and Federer is work ethic. The difference between Federer and Gasquet is the same - work ethic. Ferrer, Lopez and many have better such attitude. Stepanek is another example.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 11:36 am

laverfan wrote:The difference between Borg, Lendl and McEnroe was the physicality. ...
Yet all three broke through at an early age.  Clearly then physicality cannot be a reason for their initial breakthrough.  There must be another factor common to all three.

laverfan wrote: ... I find it interesting that with better available training methods, diets and exercise regimens, todays youngsters take even longer to reach their physical prime.  ...
Indeed human physiology given a well nourished and exercised childhood would suggest peak physicality 17 to 26 followed by a gradual diminution, given that the physical growth stage of human development is over by the late teens / early twenties.  Of course growth can be augmented later if one takes into the body growth hormones and other active biochemicals.

laverfan wrote: ... There may be a third differentiator - Work ethic. The difference between Gulbis and Federer is work ethic. The difference between Federer and Gasquet is the same - work ethic. Ferrer, Lopez and many have better such attitude. Stepanek is another example.
Perhaps true for all the ages.  Tennis players tend to come from a privileged stock.  Interesting how many active tennis players had parents or grandparents that were elite tennis players or tennis coaches or professionals in other sports.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 12:04 pm

The physicality I am talking of though (not such an issue in the 70's and 80's and maybe only became important in the 00's) is that which means sustained power hitting and ability to remain physically competitive through long rallies and long matches. These traits were not really needed in the 70s and 80s to succeed or at least were nowhere near as important as they are now.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by banbrotam on Mon 30 May 2016, 12:48 pm

socal1976 wrote:Excellent thread Craig unfortunately there are people who can't acknowledge the quality or of the great class of recent players, they can't acknowledge anything special about hem because they have spent years claiming there is nothing special about today's champions.


clap clap clap clap There's an argument from a poster that Nole and Andy got to the top on pure talent, when the reality is that their talent was only realised when they grew up a bit and became physically tougher

Both players didn't even start to become serial contenders until they were nearly 24, proving the point that it's talent, physicality and (just as important but under-rated) mental maturity

The latter (mental maturity) is shown frequently by these two, but it's arguably the one thing that is the hardest to in this world of 24hr news. Goodness knows how Connors, Nasty and Mac would have coped if they had grown in this media era

All of which means, as Jim Courier right said recently, 25 is the new 21 (paraphrasing!!)

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by banbrotam on Mon 30 May 2016, 1:12 pm

Nore Staat wrote:I am not saying there is anything wrong in "physicality" - I just don't believe it is the main reason why we haven't seen a young talent breaking through as in the past (except Del Potro, and the jury is out on Kyrgios).  I think the main reason is natural talent.  The way I think it works is: natural talent will see a youngster "breaking through" and challenging - knocking out highly ranked seeds in early rounds of a tournament, causing upsets, creating a stir.  This is then followed by a long period of physical maturing.  I think Djokivic MkI & Murray are models for this.


But the reason why the youngsters with 'natural talent' are not breaking through, is that the Top 4 don't get beaten by them or so rarely, it's almost meaningless.

So they don't get the boost or adrenalin rush of a big win, which is vital to mentally feel that you belong in this group. I'm convinced that without his early wins against Roger, Hewitt and Andy Roddick, Murray could have been just another Tsonga, Gasquet etc, i.e. he'd have developed a mental inferiority

Due to these big wins, both Murray and Djokovic strutted around like young cockerels, which is one of the reasons they became so disliked on these boards. Their body language told everyone who watched properly that they were here to beat Roger and the other top players, not be part of their fan club. Remarkably, Murray managed to get under Federer's skin, when the Swiss great decided to moan about Andy's tactics after a Dubai defeat. Could you imagine any of the four been that bothered by any of the current youngsters?

Fact is that Top 4 are seen as more or less impregnable, with even Rafa's indifferent form of the last 18 months (for him) resulting in no great difference in terms of beatings from youngsters.

Let's imagine you are a young whipper-snapper. You burst on to the scene making a name for yourself having some good wins to those outside the Top 4. Suddenly you play the Top 4, but constantly lose or only win one out of each six played. Your mental confidence takes a knock, which is then bound to affect your motivation for the now crucial physical side of the game. The fact you have talent becomes irrelevant

Classic example of this is Dimi, who has four wins against Murray and Djoko. Problem is he has 23 defeats against the Top 4. No amount of talent is going to help you convince yourself you belong with that record. Unless of course, you are very mentally tough and like the Top 2 have the ability to not only get over the bad defeats, but learn from them.

So plenty of youngsters could have been the new slam winners, but have had their paths blocked by a remarkable quartet of players

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 1:41 pm

banbrotam wrote: clap clap clap clap There's an argument from a poster that Nole and Andy got to the top on pure talent, when the reality is that their talent was only realised when they grew up a bit and became physically tougher

Both players didn't even start to become serial contenders until they were nearly 24, proving the point that it's talent, physicality and (just as important but under-rated) mental maturity ...
So you only heard of Djokovic and Murray as serious challengers in the world of men's professional tennis when they were only nearly 24 - which would have been in 2011. I beg to differ. I think they broke through earlier than that - back in their late teens.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by banbrotam on Mon 30 May 2016, 2:24 pm

[quote="Nore Staat"]
banbrotam wrote: So you only heard of Djokovic and Murray as serious challengers in the world of men's professional tennis when they were only nearly 24 - which would have been in 2011.  I beg to differ. I think they broke through earlier than that - back in their late teens.  

Never said or implied that. I said that it was only when they were nearly 24, i.e. 2011, that both started to consistently be contenders. And of course Novak was far more than that

Novak was probably the last player to truly make it at a young age

They both had very good early careers, but significantly Murray's only took off when he got himself fitter, i.e. his first Masters at Cincy 2008 coincided with his new fitness

Murray was able to get himself fitter, because he was mentally motivated by his early successes against a then (2006/7) weaker Top 4. In other words, he knew that effort which would make a small percentage difference, would actually take him to the next step,i.e. Masters winner / Slam contender

So Murray took advantage of a fairly inconsistent Top 4 to get himself sufficiently confident to believe that he could win the big ones

It's interesting that Federer (who after a R16 defeat at the Aus03' to Nalby, was described as Switzerland's answer to Tim Henman!!) was another flaky youngster - remarkably similar to Dimi in some ways (i.e. big QF Wimby win, followed by some severe mental flaws) was another who took the opportunity that a weaker Top 4 presented him. His Wimbledon victory then gave a 180 degree turn of such speed, from lightweight to heavyweight, that it has to be one of the most remarkable tales in sport. However, we can all rightly wonder what would have happened if he'd had four players at the top of the game, who'd won everything for the past seven years. (Incidentally, I was (and still am) a big Fed fan and rejoiced when he won as the game was become so boring, due to the retirement of Sampras and decline of Agassi)



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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 3:37 pm

banbrotam wrote:
socal1976 wrote:Excellent thread Craig unfortunately there are people who can't acknowledge the quality or of the great class of recent players, they can't acknowledge anything special about hem because they have spent years claiming there is nothing special about today's champions.


clap clap clap clap There's an argument from a poster that Nole and Andy got to the top on pure talent, when the reality is that their talent was only realised when they grew up a bit and became physically tougher

Both players didn't even start to become serial contenders until they were nearly 24, proving the point that it's talent, physicality and (just as important but under-rated) mental maturity

The latter (mental maturity) is shown frequently by these two, but it's arguably the one thing that is the hardest to in this world of 24hr news. Goodness knows how Connors, Nasty and Mac would have coped if they had grown in this media era

All of which means, as Jim Courier right said recently, 25 is the new 21 (paraphrasing!!)
Thanks banbro, I appreciate it greatly because of the derision and mocking I have taken for refusing to take the party line that fed is bigger than the game and that the other big 4 guys are greatly deficient because they don't play a pretty style like fed. It makes sense that players are staying fitter for longer. It's better nutrition, better training p, and yes modern medicine. And I find it a little head scratching when people are surprised by this. Was it Wilde that said "life imitates art". Well the tour is in some ways a reflection of the changes we have seen in the population as a whole. My dad is in mid 70s, and he still works 50-60 hours a week not because he or his kids need him to but because that is what he loves. He tells me when he was a child growing up in third world poverty that most people in their 50s when he was a boy looked like people in their seventies today. And the same exact reasons that people are not just living longer but can extend their professional primes and living better is the same reason it is happening in tennis. In tennis it is happening faster because these guys are super entuned and on the cutting edge of fitness, nutrition, and sports medicine.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 3:44 pm

And I'd hazard a guess that 10 years down the line players will have evolved even more with even greater advancements in training and keeping healthy and eating healthy. Evolution it is called and it happens in tennis as well. The players today are just the latest phase of that evolution.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 3:53 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:And I'd hazard a guess that 10 years down the line players will have evolved even more with even greater advancements in training and keeping healthy and eating healthy. Evolution it is called and it happens in tennis as well. The players today are just the latest phase of that evolution.
Evolution I agree, but it isn't quite the same. Although a great deal evidence does exist that human beings, mainly down to nutrition and better knowledge are taking an active role in the process unlike every other animal who goes off sheer instinct. In the last 50 years the mean height is skyrocketing by evolutionary standard as is life expectancy. Evolution is a slow and haphazard process human knowledge base is now actively getting involved to juice the process on our own favor.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by lydian on Mon 30 May 2016, 4:29 pm

This thread links to the other one in terms of slowed uniform conditions make it much harder for young players to muscle into the act. The level of conditioning present on tour to compete in slowed conditions takes years to build by and large. So no matter how talented the players are they need a longer time to become effective against top 50 tour guys.

Added to this I also think there is a talent gap presently because even if it takes longer to get up to peak performance there are still hardly any new players breaking through at 23-26 either. So for me it's a weaker era coming, exacerbated by slowed homogeneity/extra conditioning needed.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 7:10 pm

Rafael Nadal turned pro when he was 15.   At the age of 19 he won the French open. He won it again aged 20, 21 and 22.

Maybe one could hazard a guess where clones of Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray would be today aged 19 to 21, with everything else being the same including the existence of a 34 year old Federer and 29 year old Murray, Djokovic & Nadal (who turns 30 on Friday).

Would they be inside the top 5, outside the top 5, inside or outside the top 10 ...

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 7:21 pm

lydian wrote:This thread links to the other one in terms of slowed uniform conditions make it much harder for young players to muscle into the act. The level of conditioning present on tour to compete in slowed conditions takes years to build by and large. So no matter how talented the players are they need a longer time to become effective against top 50 tour guys.

Added to this I also think there is a talent gap presently because even if it takes longer to get up to peak performance there are still hardly any new players breaking through at 23-26 either. So for me it's a weaker era coming, exacerbated by slowed homogeneity/extra conditioning needed.

On your first point that is what I have said before - physicality/muscling up takes time to achieve. Also if youngsters side-track building up physicality then they are being ill-advised by those in their team (in my opinion). As for your point on talent then yes I'd say the talent of the youngsters breaking through now is not of the quality of the class of 2004/2005 say but that is nothing to be ashamed of. Rashford is a great talent but he'll never surpass George Best - it happens.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Born Slippy on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:42 pm

lydian wrote:This thread links to the other one in terms of slowed uniform conditions make it much harder for young players to muscle into the act. The level of conditioning present on tour to compete in slowed conditions takes years to build by and large. So no matter how talented the players are they need a longer time to become effective against top 50 tour guys.

Added to this I also think there is a talent gap presently because even if it takes longer to get up to peak performance there are still hardly any new players breaking through at 23-26 either. So for me it's a weaker era coming, exacerbated by slowed homogeneity/extra conditioning needed.

I don't buy this. Bekele set the WR for 10,000m when he was 22 but tennis players who have been training their entire lives can't be fit enough to compete by a similar age? That strikes me as hugely unlikely. Did any of the 21 and under players at the French lose due to fitness?

I suspect the real reason is that conditions remaining fairly constant (racquets strings etc) means that the youngsters don't have any advantage coming through. They are playing against players with 5+ years of experience on the tour and there needs to be a substantial talent gap to overcome that. Consequently, the best youngsters now might get to 10-20 by age 21 whereas they would have been right at the top a few years back.

Agree about the talent gap though. I dont think the current crop of 22-26 year olds is much good.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by banbrotam on Mon 30 May 2016, 10:35 pm

Born Slippy wrote:Agree about the talent gap though. I dont think the current crop of 22-26 year olds is much good.

But isn't that because they don't win anything? Is it actual fact

The Dimi of a year ago mirrored Federer so much is was uncanny. Big win, against a reigning slam champion, followed by struggles to live up to the billing

In the Aus of 2003, Fed got accused of been the Swiss answer to Henman and then proved it a the French, by getting knocked out in the first round. He then took advantage of one of the weakest Wimby events in years to win his first slam

Just because Dimi's never had such good fortune doesn't mean he's not any good. Maybe, he and others feel they've no chance. Poor attitude yes, but is this worse than Roger's was before his first title?

I agree it's a very simplistic take, but life is often about believing you have the opportunity and getting motivated or de-motivated, depending whether you have


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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by lydian on Tue 31 May 2016, 12:25 am

So why BS do many track and field athletes post their best records in their late 20s and early 30s? Eg. Michael Johnson.
It take many years to reach peak physical conditioning. Which is different to losing from fitness as you put it. It's a combination of STRENGTH & FITNESS. Many of the under 21s can't sustain the power the top guys can. We have seen it's taken years for Goffin to build up the necessary conditioning to start to fulfil his talent. Federer had to train like a Trojan to succeed and only started doing so from 22-23. Sampras won USO at 19 but took another 3 years to bulk up further and start winning more. Murray was cramping etc all the time so he decided to turn himself into a "tank". Even Djokovic at 23 decided he had to build his conditioning. Nadal was a one-off, genetics played their part there...as his family of stockily built guys shows.

Conditioning takes years...most athletes will confirm that.
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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by Born Slippy on Tue 31 May 2016, 12:59 am

Bolt was 22 when he set his records. Most top footballers will be playing full seasons by 22 - which is far tougher in my view than tennis.

I'm not saying that there is not further conditioning work that can be done and, of course, there will be some players who are noticeably slow physical developers. However, I simply don't believe that it's the prime reason for youngsters struggling.

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Re: Weak Youngsters or Unfair Comparison?

Post by banbrotam on Tue 31 May 2016, 10:33 am

Born Slippy wrote:Bolt was 22 when he set his records. Most top footballers will be playing full seasons by 22 - which is far tougher in my view than tennis.

I'm not saying that there is not further conditioning work that can be done and, of course, there will be some players who are noticeably slow physical developers. However, I simply don't believe that it's the prime reason for youngsters struggling.


Most sports people peak at around 28. Tennis bucked the trend for years, until Lendl upped the physicality side of the game - of course in then took the next generation to embrace this, hence 28 is probably the peak for a tennis player now

There will always be exceptions like Bolt or Michael Owen. The former is a freak (nice one) of nature and the latter relied 100% on others doing the physical stuff

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