Are Big 4 Overrated?

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Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Sun 29 May 2016, 1:40 am

First topic message reminder :

The title is meant to be maybe more provocative than real, but here is an item that had been nagging on my mind the last few years:

MfC brought up the fact that 12 of top 16 seeds made their seeding - and it could well have been more had Nadal/Tsonga not been injured:
Mad for Chelsea wrote:Looking at the R4 players, there are only 4 top 16 seeds who haven't made it: two of those are Nadal and Tsonga of course, who had to withdraw.

This just continues the pattern I had noted during AO - seeds (and not only the very top few) are making their seeding more easily than they used to in the past.  Here are some numbers I listed during the AO:

summerblues wrote:Here are the numbers of top 16 seeds who made it into the round of 16 at the AO from 1990 onward, in chronological order:

1990-99: 9, 6, 6, 9, 10, 9, 7, 10, 4, 5 - average: 7.5
2000-09: 7, 10, 6, 7, 10, 9, 9, 14, 9, 12 - average: 9.3
2010-16: 11, 12, 9, 13, 10, 11, 13 - average: 11.3

The pattern is clear.  From 1990-99, there was not a single year where the number was above 10.  From 2010-16, in contrast, there has only been one year where the number was below 10.

I have now done the same thing for the FO - and the same thing happens there:

1990-99: 9, 7, 6, 10, 5, 8, 10, 6, 6, 7 - average: 7.4
2000-09: 10, 9, 8, 8, 5, 10, 9, 9, 5, 12 - average: 8.5
2010-16: 10, 10, 11, 12, 9, 12, 12 - average: 10.6

So, a similar pattern of seeds advancing more easily now.  The first time we see more than 10/16 is in 2009, but now it has happened in four out of last five years.

I quickly eyeballed Wimbledon and USO - it does not look like the pattern is quite as pronounced there, but even there I think it has gotten a little easier to advance for the seeds.

I do not have a firm theory as to why this is happening, but one possibility is that it has something to do with today's conditions.  It could be more homogeneous surfaces meaning the same 16 players are best on any surface, it could also mean that baseline game allows for less luck and makes it harder for weaker players to upset better ones.  Who knows.

But, if it does have anything to do with the current game, then it does beg the question as to whether current top players' dominance is propped to some extent through the conditions that make it easier for them to dominate.  Would Fed/Rafa/Djoko, and to a lesser extent Andy, have been as consistent in the old conditions?  Or, equivalently, if it is true that Sampras played in the conditions where it was more difficult to be consistent, does it not elevate his 14 slams a little bit relative to the current top players?

I cannot quite put my finger on it, and I am not really certain one way or another, but my hunch is that some portion of the current crop's dominance (though not all of it) is likely due to conditions that are more supportive of such dominance.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by bogbrush on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:13 pm

It's not speculative, and we don't have to wait. It's just logic, really simple.

It is, however, ridiculous to criticise Lydian because he can't offer proof of a timeline that never happened, as you just did. And irrelevant to cite the inferiority of some players as evidence that another would dominate heterogenous surfaces as much as they do homogenised.

Like I said, I don't have Lydians patience.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:18 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:
socal1976 wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:Of course. And lets remember homogenisation works both ways as in those that are coming through now have same homogenised courts so if that is the chief reason for domination then in 10 years time we should have Kyrgios on around 10 slam wins, Thiem on 8 and Zverev on 5.
I don't see that happening, by the way they slowed Wimbeldon down in 1999, USO in 2002. Why didn't we see a homogenization of winners in the early 2000s? Great players of that level often come in bunches. We had Rosewal, Laver, Emerson in the 60s and it happened again now.

Yes but those who feel that today's players benefit homogenisation by having slams that are easier to win then surely the youngsters of today and a few years down the line will just as easily become multiple slam winners (like you I don't think they will) so why is that? Plainly, not in the same class.
Exactly, Craig. If these homogizenation proponents are correct then once Fed, Rafa, and Novak are done we should have the next guys who come after them the teenagers now producing another batch of ten to fifteen slam winners. I mean isn't their thesis that homogenization makes it easier for a few players to win everything? Well they won't make that leap, but if they believed what they say that Djokovic is the product of homogenized conditions (note they never make this argument about Roger) then I'll be waiting for Kyrios and Zverev to win ten and 15 slams. Hell I will give them five to one odds that this won't happen and put ten grand, how many of the homogenization crowd would take that bet?

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:22 pm

Without homogenisation, and had the USO and Wimbledon being just a smidge faster, Federer would have had two slams last year. It benefitted him in the early part of his dominance against the likes of Safin and Roddick and randoms that potentially could have blasted him off court, but certainly it has hurt him massively against the running machines Djokovic and Nadal - It blunts his weapons.

It's absolutely ridiculous that Screech may end up with more W titles than Becker, Edberg and Mac. Those guys played real grass court tennis; Screech plays his same HC game and ends up with a truck load of W titles.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:24 pm

bogbrush wrote:It's not speculative, and we don't have to wait. It's just logic, really simple.

It is, however, ridiculous to criticise Lydian because he can't offer proof of a timeline that never happened, as you just did. And irrelevant to cite the inferiority of some players as evidence that another would dominate heterogenous surfaces as much as they do homogenised.

Like I said, I don't have Lydians patience.

Homogenisation of courts is a decision brought about by the powers that be. Which players today do you suggest it benefits the most bearing in mind that the majority of them have either learnt their trade on homogenised surfaces or have had to adapt after learning their trade and having success at junior level on pre-homogenised surfaces.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:31 pm

I think that there are some cross purpose talking occurring.

But I can throw out a question:  How has homogenisation impacted on the women's game.  They play on the same courts.

To Lydian: so that sand they added to US Open would have caused the balls to bounce higher as well as preventing the ball from skidding off the courts at pace -- all this favours the returners.  Then the larger racket head also benefits the returners as does the grippier strings.

Overall the process favours the returners compared to the blitzers - and the top four are all noted for their ability to return.  Federer is well known for his ability to beat the blitzers (Andy Roddick et al). Of course Nadal and Djokovic were / are the par excellence for the returning game.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:35 pm

Ps It should be simple to get back to faster surfaces for US Open --> lay off the sand. Similarly Australian Open can be speeded up by laying off the sand.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:39 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:No I have to disagree with that. [...] His ability to slide in contorted positions and still hit a telling shot is talent. Rafa's revs he can put on shots is talent and Andy's ability to pull rabbit's out of hats when all looks lost with ridiculous shots is talent. Roger's talents? Well they are numerous.
I am not saying the guys are not talented.  I am saying that "talent" is relative to the task at hand.  A talented pianist may be a talentless chess player and vice versa.  I say that the same applies in tennis - talents required to succeed in 80s Wimbledon are not exactly the same as talents that work best for 2010s French Open.  They are not crazily different, so a player who is great in one set of conditions will likely do ok in the other set of conditions also.  But they are not identical either - and changes in conditions can nudge a player possessing one set of talents ahead a player who might have been better in another set of conditions.

In any event, this is somewhat off-topic, so I will not attempt to go any further in this direction.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:41 pm

Great tennis players are adaptable. John McEnroe was successful on all three surfaces (pre-homogenisation), Jimmy Connors was another as was Bjorn Borg. In the 80s there were Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander and Boris Becker who could play all surfaces and be dominant. So you see homogenisation is not the cause of domination.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:47 pm

CC, I do not agree with that.

Borg is really the only one who was genuinely successful on all three surfaces.  I would not rate McEnroe, Becker or Edberg as particularly successful on clay, nor Lendl (and perhaps also Wilander) on grass.  It then only got more extreme in the 1990s.

The current era definitely allows for far more cross-success between clay and grass than 1990s did.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:50 pm

socal1976 wrote:I doubt we will see another ten slam champion for at least a decade after these guys are gone.
Do you mean it will take another 10 years for anyone to show up who will ultimately get to 10 slams? I think they will come much quicker than that.

But if you mean that it will be another 10 years before someone else notches their 10th slam, that I am willing to believe - even if the new person started collecting slams within the next year or so, it would likely take them good part of the next 10 years to get there.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by Born Slippy on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:52 pm

Nore Staat wrote:Ps It should be simple to get back to faster surfaces for US Open --> lay off the sand.  Similarly Australian Open can be speeded up by laying off the sand.  

Why would we want to speed up the courts when we know that servers are holding more often now?

As my stats showed above, a top baseliner in the 90s (Andre) was able to make a similar percentage of grand slam SF on all three surfaces. Sampras was able to make similar numbers on hard/grass but failed to make any impact on clay.

If we look at a slightly later WN1 (Andy Roddick) with a serve based game, we see he had similar problems to Pete:

Hard - 6/24 SF reached (25%)
Grass - 4/12 SF reached (33%)
Clay - 0/10 SF reached (0%)

Im not seeing any evidence (bar the success of the big 4) to support this theory.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:53 pm

summerblues wrote:CC, I do not agree with that.

Borg is really the only one who was genuinely successful on all three surfaces.  I would not rate McEnroe, Borg or Edberg as particularly successful on clay, nor Lendl (and perhaps also Wilander) on grass.  It then only got more extreme in the 1990s.

The current era definitely allows for far more cross-success between clay and grass than 1990s did.

McEnroe reached a RG Final, Borg won RG six times, Edberg reached a RG Final, Lendl won two French Opens and reached two Wimbledon Final and four semis and Wilander won RG 3 times and won quick surface at US Open.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:57 pm

Nore Staat wrote:I think that there are some cross purpose talking occurring.

But I can throw out a question:  How has homogenisation impacted on the women's game.  They play on the same courts
Ding, ding, ding. You hit the nail on the head. I have made this argument a dozen times on this site. The women play on the same courts and we haven't seen homogenized results apart from Serena last year winning 3 slams. Go back to the early 2000s till now we haven't see a female big 4 and we have seen all kinds of odd results and players rising and falling. Two and three years ago it was impossible to predict the WTA. 

And you are right there is a cross purpose. And that cross purpose is to denigrate all the big four other than fed. Nadal and Novak can't be as great as Sampras or Fed or Borg, they benefitted from homogenization. Interestingly, the man who won 17 slams on homogenized conditions is never mentioned as a beneficiary. If you can find a Federer fan anywhere who claims fed's 17 slams inflated because of homogizenation I will produce for you a dodo bird sitting on a unicorn being chased by a fire breathing dragon


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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 8:58 pm

summerblues wrote:
socal1976 wrote:I doubt we will see another ten slam champion for at least a decade after these guys are gone.
Do you mean it will take another 10 years for anyone to show up who will ultimately get to 10 slams?  I think they will come much quicker than that.

But if you mean that it will be another 10 years before someone else notches their 10th slam, that I am willing to believe - even if the new person started collecting slams within the next year or so, it would likely take them good part of the next 10 years to get there.
Before said person wins their first slam

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:02 pm

CC:

In my line where I say "McEnroe, Borg, Edberg", I was trying to say "McEnroe, Becker, Edberg".

I would say that what you call McEnroe's and Edberg's "success" on clay (and Lendl's on grass) is exactly what I am talking about.  They were competitive, but their level of success on their less favorite surface was far below what they did on their best surfaces.  Both in terms of slams, as well as Final, SF appearances and smaller titles.

And it only got more extreme in the 1990s.

Borg was really the only exception.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by bogbrush on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:02 pm

socal1976 wrote:
Nore Staat wrote:I think that there are some cross purpose talking occurring.

But I can throw out a question:  How has homogenisation impacted on the women's game.  They play on the same courts
Ding, ding, ding. You hit the nail on the head. I have made this argument a dozen times on this site. The women play on the same courts and we haven't seen homogenized results apart from Serena last year winning 3 slams. Go back to the early 2000s till now we haven't see a female big 4 and we have seen all kinds of odd results and players rising and falling. Two and three years ago it was impossible to predict the WTA. 

And you are right there is a cross purpose. And that cross purpose is to denigrate all the big four other than fed. Nadal and Novak can't be as great as Sampras or Fed or Borg, they benefitted from homogenization. Interestingly, the man who won 17 slams on homogenized conditions is never mentioned as a beneficiary. If you can find a Federer fan anywhere who claims fed's 17 slams inflated because of homogizenation I will produce for you a dodo bird sitting on a unicorn being chased by a fire breathing dragon
Because they're women and they play a fundamentally different game?

Not hard was it?

Oh, and Lydian us suddenly a rabid Fed fan twisting the agenda to favour him over Nadal?

Dong dong dong, looks like you took another hit to the head.


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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by bogbrush on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:05 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:It's not speculative, and we don't have to wait. It's just logic, really simple.

It is, however, ridiculous to criticise Lydian because he can't offer proof of a timeline that never happened, as you just did. And irrelevant to cite the inferiority of some players as evidence that another would dominate heterogenous surfaces as much as they do homogenised.

Like I said, I don't have Lydians patience.

Homogenisation of courts is a decision brought about by the powers that be. Which players today do you suggest it benefits the most bearing in mind that the majority of them have either learnt their trade on homogenised surfaces or have had to adapt after learning their trade and having success at junior level on pre-homogenised surfaces.
Oh well if the powers did it...... what?

Your question is irrelevant, you seem to think up this is a player debate. It isn't, it's a simple logical fact - homogenisation encourages single player domination, divergent surfaces fine.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:06 pm

socal1976 wrote:Before said person wins their first slam
Wow.  I see it differently.  Five years at the very most - and that is a stretch I think.  I would not be surprised if one of the current kids ultimately got to 10.  I certainly do not expect to wait 10 years before someone like that is just starting to collect titles.

Unfortunately, even if I am right, it will still be a long time before we get there so we may no longer be here together to discuss by then - and you will not be able to admit you were wrong Wink

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:07 pm

All of those though had reached either finals or won slams on varying surfaces so they were adaptable. Now those that have been most successful since homogenisation are the most adaptable as well.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:09 pm

bogbrush wrote:
socal1976 wrote:
Nore Staat wrote:I think that there are some cross purpose talking occurring.

But I can throw out a question:  How has homogenisation impacted on the women's game.  They play on the same courts
Ding, ding, ding. You hit the nail on the head. I have made this argument a dozen times on this site. The women play on the same courts and we haven't seen homogenized results apart from Serena last year winning 3 slams. Go back to the early 2000s till now we haven't see a female big 4 and we have seen all kinds of odd results and players rising and falling. Two and three years ago it was impossible to predict the WTA. 

And you are right there is a cross purpose. And that cross purpose is to denigrate all the big four other than fed. Nadal and Novak can't be as great as Sampras or Fed or Borg, they benefitted from homogenization. Interestingly, the man who won 17 slams on homogenized conditions is never mentioned as a beneficiary. If you can find a Federer fan anywhere who claims fed's 17 slams inflated because of homogizenation I will produce for you a dodo bird sitting on a unicorn being chased by a fire breathing dragon
Because they're women and they play a fundamentally different game?

Not hard was it?

Dong dong dong, you took another hot to the head.
So when women play tennis homogenzed conditions doesn't create homogenized results, but for men it does? Why? Just saying different game sound good but what about their different would create wilder results where the best players lose more simply because they have breasts, a vagina, and higher estrogen levels. Does tennis technique  on shots or tactics change because of gender? 


If anyone benefitted from homogenized conditions it's the guy who won 17 slams in those conditions.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by bogbrush on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:11 pm

I think you love Federer, you talk about him way more than the rest of us put together.

Seriously, you have really GOT to get the partisan glasses off and try to understand other people have opinions beyond fandom.


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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:13 pm

socal1976 wrote:If you can find a Federer fan anywhere who claims fed's 17 slams inflated because of homogizenation I will produce for you a dodo bird sitting on a unicorn being chased by a fire breathing dragon
I do think he also benefited from homogenization; yes.

In fact, I think this debate would probably be better if we focused only on maybe Fed vs Sampras (if we have to focus on any specific players at all) because otherwise it tends to get emotional with people setting up barricades along usual lines (I am seeing people building barricades on this thread even in the areas where the battlefront is not even likely to be passing by - presumably just for good measure).

In my mind, from among all all-time greats, Sampras's total slam count is the one which was most negatively impacted by the conditions relative to the others - more so than those before him or after him.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by temporary21 on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:14 pm

Oh dear... I really hope there's play to distract everybody tomorrow...

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:15 pm

summerblues wrote:
socal1976 wrote:Before said person wins their first slam
Wow.  I see it differently.  Five years at the very most - and that is a stretch I think.  I would not be surprised if one of the current kids ultimately got to 10.  I certainly do not expect to wait 10 years before someone like that is just starting to collect titles.

Unfortunately, even if I am right, it will still be a long time before we get there so we may no longer be here together to discuss by then - and you will not be able to admit you were wrong Wink
I hope in ten years to still be able to say to you "I told you so". I have been wrong before and admitted it. I thought Janowicz would be a star alas it hasn't come to pass. I thought Julius was funny and a good moderator, big disappointment there. I am not a machine just a genius/visionary who has become known across the tennis landscape as nostrafreakingdamus.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:17 pm

bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:It's not speculative, and we don't have to wait. It's just logic, really simple.

It is, however, ridiculous to criticise Lydian because he can't offer proof of a timeline that never happened, as you just did. And irrelevant to cite the inferiority of some players as evidence that another would dominate heterogenous surfaces as much as they do homogenised.

Like I said, I don't have Lydians patience.

Homogenisation of courts is a decision brought about by the powers that be. Which players today do you suggest it benefits the most bearing in mind that the majority of them have either learnt their trade on homogenised surfaces or have had to adapt after learning their trade and having success at junior level on pre-homogenised surfaces.
Oh well if the powers did it...... what?

Your question is irrelevant, you seem to think up this is a player debate. It isn't, it's a simple logical fact - homogenisation encourages single player domination, divergent surfaces fine.

Does that explain Roger's domination at Wimbledon then? After all it was slowed in 2001. It can't explain Rafa's dominance at RG as that surface is one that has remained constant. As for Novak's dominant slam (Australia) that was slowed down around 2005 and speebed up again 2014 (apparently) so he has won despite the variation in court speed. If a player today has a wide variation of shots in their repertoire then for me they would be able to adapt and adjust to varying court speeds a la the best players of the 70s and 80s. I say that as in my opinion.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by Born Slippy on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:18 pm

bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:It's not speculative, and we don't have to wait. It's just logic, really simple.

It is, however, ridiculous to criticise Lydian because he can't offer proof of a timeline that never happened, as you just did. And irrelevant to cite the inferiority of some players as evidence that another would dominate heterogenous surfaces as much as they do homogenised.

Like I said, I don't have Lydians patience.

Homogenisation of courts is a decision brought about by the powers that be. Which players today do you suggest it benefits the most bearing in mind that the majority of them have either learnt their trade on homogenised surfaces or have had to adapt after learning their trade and having success at junior level on pre-homogenised surfaces.
Oh well if the powers did it...... what?

Your question is irrelevant, you seem to think up this is a player debate. It isn't, it's a simple logical fact - homogenisation encourages single player domination, divergent surfaces fine.

I see it as follows:

Sampras won 12 of his 14 slams on surfaces I would term fast to very fast. He won 2 slams on medium fast courts and 0 on slow.

Rafa won 9 of his 14 slams on slow courts, 1 on medium slow, 2 on medium and 2 on fast.

My impression seems to be backed up by the stats I posted above. If correct, it would be harder to win all 4 as the gap between clay and the rest was substantially but the best fast court player could clean up on the other three surfaces, as Pete did at Wimbledon and the US.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:20 pm

Born Slippy wrote:
Nore Staat wrote:Ps It should be simple to get back to faster surfaces for US Open --> lay off the sand.  Similarly Australian Open can be speeded up by laying off the sand.  

Why would we want to speed up the courts when we know that servers are holding more often now?

As my stats showed above ...  Im not seeing any evidence (bar the success of the big 4) to support this theory.
You are adding things to my statement that aren't there.  There was no theory in my statement apart from saying it should be easy to return the hard courts to a skiddier, less bouncy, and consequently faster surface.  Less sand - less bounce - more skid - faster through the court.  That was all I was saying.  The conclusion one can draw is that the tournament directors of the US Open and Australian Open don't want to do this.

So your comment is a non-sequitar to my comment.  However, your comment is interesting and I'll check what you have written.  There are a number of parallel conversations occurring.


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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by bogbrush on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:22 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:It's not speculative, and we don't have to wait. It's just logic, really simple.

It is, however, ridiculous to criticise Lydian because he can't offer proof of a timeline that never happened, as you just did. And irrelevant to cite the inferiority of some players as evidence that another would dominate heterogenous surfaces as much as they do homogenised.

Like I said, I don't have Lydians patience.

Homogenisation of courts is a decision brought about by the powers that be. Which players today do you suggest it benefits the most bearing in mind that the majority of them have either learnt their trade on homogenised surfaces or have had to adapt after learning their trade and having success at junior level on pre-homogenised surfaces.
Oh well if the powers did it...... what?

Your question is irrelevant, you seem to think up this is a player debate. It isn't, it's a simple logical fact - homogenisation encourages single player domination, divergent surfaces fine.

Does that explain Roger's domination at Wimbledon then? After all it was slowed in 2001. It can't explain Rafa's dominance at RG as that surface is one that has remained constant. As for Novak's dominant slam (Australia) that was slowed down around 2005 and speebed up again 2014 (apparently) so he has won despite the variation in court speed. If a player today has a wide variation of shots in their repertoire then for me they would be able to adapt and adjust to varying court speeds a la the best players of the 70s and 80s. I say that as in my opinion.
Oh boy. Deep breath.

Homogenisation. Not slowing. Not speeding. Making them more THE SAME. Makes it more likely that a single method of play wins on all surfaces.

Nothing to do with Roger. Or Rafa. Can we be clear on this? Not fandom. Not player allegiance. Just logic. Just really, really, simple obvious logic.

Ok?
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:23 pm

socal1976 wrote:If you can find a Federer fan anywhere who claims fed's 17 slams inflated because of homogizenation I will produce for you a dodo bird sitting on a unicorn being chased by a fire breathing dragon
Just to expound further.  One of my wilder personal theories is that, in fact, conditions were initially being homogenized for Federer.

The theory goes as follows:  Around the time when Federer came along, Tiger Woods was in his prime and he single-handedly and massively increased Golf's popularity.  So, with Federer, tennis authorities (and maybe Nike also?) saw an opportunity to try to do the same.  In order to get as many titles as possible, consistent conditions were desirable - hence homogeneity.

Do I really believe this theory?  Maybe not.  But would I be absolutely shocked if it turned out to be true?  I would not either.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:24 pm

bogbrush wrote:I think you love Federer, you talk about him way more than the rest of us put together.

Seriously, you have really GOT to get the partisan glasses off and try to understand other people have opinions beyond fandom.
I am telling you Bb when he retires I will go into mourning. There just isn't anyone worth disliking this flamboyantly anymore. I feel like one of the Vietnam marines in Kubrick's full metal jacket lamenting on how he will miss the honorable and hard as nails VC he is fighting because in his words when he ships back stateside, "there won't be anyone worth shooting anymore". I tried to dislike Dimitrov but he doesn't win anything.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by bogbrush on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:25 pm

socal1976 wrote:
bogbrush wrote:I think you love Federer, you talk about him way more than the rest of us put together.

Seriously, you have really GOT to get the partisan glasses off and try to understand other people have opinions beyond fandom.
I am telling you Bb when he retires I will go into mourning. There just isn't anyone worth disliking this flamboyantly anymore. I feel like one of the Vietnam marines in Kubrick's full metal jacket lamenting on how he will miss the honorable and hard as nails VC he is fighting because in his words when he ships back stateside, "there won't be anyone worth shooting anymore". I tried to dislike Dimitrov but he doesn't win anything.
Great, but any chance you could keep from soiling the tennis debates with it? It's a silly distraction.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by Born Slippy on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:25 pm

Nore Staat wrote:
Born Slippy wrote:
Nore Staat wrote:Ps It should be simple to get back to faster surfaces for US Open --> lay off the sand.  Similarly Australian Open can be speeded up by laying off the sand.  

Why would we want to speed up the courts when we know that servers are holding more often now?

As my stats showed above ...  Im not seeing any evidence (bar the success of the big 4) to support this theory.
You are adding things to my statement that aren't there.  There was no theory in my statement apart from saying it should be easy to return the hard courts to a skiddier, less bouncy, and consequently faster surface.  Less sand - less bounce - more skid - faster through the court.  That was all I was saying.  The conclusion one can draw is that the tournament directors of the US Open and Australian Open don't want to do this.

So you're comment is a non-sequitar to my comment.  However, you're comment is interesting and I'll check what you have written.  There are a number of parallel conversations occurring.

The theory I was referring to was SB's theory that it's easier for the big 4 than those in the 90s.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:33 pm

summerblues wrote:
socal1976 wrote:If you can find a Federer fan anywhere who claims fed's 17 slams inflated because of homogizenation I will produce for you a dodo bird sitting on a unicorn being chased by a fire breathing dragon
Just to expound further.  One of my wilder personal theories is that, in fact, conditions were initially being homogenized for Federer.

The theory goes as follows:  Around the time when Federer came along, Tiger Woods was in his prime and he single-handedly and massively increased Golf's popularity.  So, with Federer, tennis authorities (and maybe Nike also?) saw an opportunity to try to do the same.  In order to get as many titles as possible, consistent conditions were desirable - hence homogeneity.

Do I really believe this theory?  Maybe not.  But would I be absolutely shocked if it turned out to be true?  I would not either.
That isn't the reason, I remember that period people got tired of boring serve fest at Wimbeldon and got tired of Juan Whothefckisthat beating the world number 1, in the third round of RG and setting up his  4th round match with another specialist you never heard of, which could have been a replay of a clay court challenger played in Bratislava the month before.


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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:34 pm

bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:It's not speculative, and we don't have to wait. It's just logic, really simple.

It is, however, ridiculous to criticise Lydian because he can't offer proof of a timeline that never happened, as you just did. And irrelevant to cite the inferiority of some players as evidence that another would dominate heterogenous surfaces as much as they do homogenised.

Like I said, I don't have Lydians patience.

Homogenisation of courts is a decision brought about by the powers that be. Which players today do you suggest it benefits the most bearing in mind that the majority of them have either learnt their trade on homogenised surfaces or have had to adapt after learning their trade and having success at junior level on pre-homogenised surfaces.
Oh well if the powers did it...... what?

Your question is irrelevant, you seem to think up this is a player debate. It isn't, it's a simple logical fact - homogenisation encourages single player domination, divergent surfaces fine.

Does that explain Roger's domination at Wimbledon then? After all it was slowed in 2001. It can't explain Rafa's dominance at RG as that surface is one that has remained constant. As for Novak's dominant slam (Australia) that was slowed down around 2005 and speebed up again 2014 (apparently) so he has won despite the variation in court speed. If a player today has a wide variation of shots in their repertoire then for me they would be able to adapt and adjust to varying court speeds a la the best players of the 70s and 80s. I say that as in my opinion.
Oh boy. Deep breath.

Homogenisation. Not slowing. Not speeding. Making them more THE SAME. Makes it more likely that a single method of play wins on all surfaces.

Nothing to do with Roger. Or Rafa. Can we be clear on this? Not fandom. Not player allegiance. Just logic. Just really, really, simple obvious logic.

Ok?

Sorry but I just don't buy your opinion that homogenisation encourages domination. But lets just say you are spot on then can you explain why the players that have dominated since the US Open was also slowed down in 2006 are the dominant ones? After all a whole raft of players have come through in the sport at the same time such as Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Gasquet, Tsonga,Monfils, Cilic, Wawrinka and Del Potro so why not Monfils or Tsonga for example.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:34 pm

bogbrush wrote:
socal1976 wrote:
bogbrush wrote:I think you love Federer, you talk about him way more than the rest of us put together.

Seriously, you have really GOT to get the partisan glasses off and try to understand other people have opinions beyond fandom.
I am telling you Bb when he retires I will go into mourning. There just isn't anyone worth disliking this flamboyantly anymore. I feel like one of the Vietnam marines in Kubrick's full metal jacket lamenting on how he will miss the honorable and hard as nails VC he is fighting because in his words when he ships back stateside, "there won't be anyone worth shooting anymore". I tried to dislike Dimitrov but he doesn't win anything.
Great, but any chance you could keep from soiling the tennis debates with it? It's a silly distraction.
No no chance at all. Ever since I was a baby I have loved soiling

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:35 pm

summerblues wrote:
socal1976 wrote:If you can find a Federer fan anywhere who claims fed's 17 slams inflated because of homogizenation I will produce for you a dodo bird sitting on a unicorn being chased by a fire breathing dragon
I do think he also benefited from homogenization; yes.

In fact, I think this debate would probably be better if we focused only on maybe Fed vs Sampras (if we have to focus on any specific players at all) because otherwise it tends to get emotional with people setting up barricades along usual lines (I am seeing people building barricades on this thread even in the areas where the battlefront is not even likely to be passing by - presumably just for good measure).

In my mind, from among all all-time greats, Sampras's total slam count is the one which was most negatively impacted by the conditions relative to the others - more so than those before him or after him.
So are you saying Sampras is Goat or equal to Federer?

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:38 pm

Born Slippy wrote:I see it as follows:

Sampras won 12 of his 14 slams on surfaces I would term fast to very fast. He won 2 slams on medium fast courts and 0 on slow.

Rafa won 9 of his 14 slams on slow courts, 1 on medium slow, 2 on medium and 2 on fast.

My impression seems to be backed up by the stats I posted above. If correct, it would be harder to win all 4 as the gap between clay and the rest was substantially but the best fast court player could clean up on the other three surfaces, as Pete did at Wimbledon and the US.
Yes, this is one of the things on my mind too.

If the conditions were split into "slower" and "faster" with 50/50 split between tournaments and players, with little ability for cross-condition success, then I would be just about certain that those would make it harder for top players to collect many slams compared to uniform conditions across all surfaces.

However, the 1990s split was not quite 50/50, which makes it much harder to assess whether or not current conditions make it easier to collect many slams.

That is why I am not really feeling certain one way or another.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:40 pm

socal1976 wrote:a clay court challenger played in Bratislava the month before.
You hater! Making fun of my hometown.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:41 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:It's not speculative, and we don't have to wait. It's just logic, really simple.

It is, however, ridiculous to criticise Lydian because he can't offer proof of a timeline that never happened, as you just did. And irrelevant to cite the inferiority of some players as evidence that another would dominate heterogenous surfaces as much as they do homogenised.

Like I said, I don't have Lydians patience.

Homogenisation of courts is a decision brought about by the powers that be. Which players today do you suggest it benefits the most bearing in mind that the majority of them have either learnt their trade on homogenised surfaces or have had to adapt after learning their trade and having success at junior level on pre-homogenised surfaces.
Oh well if the powers did it...... what?

Your question is irrelevant, you seem to think up this is a player debate. It isn't, it's a simple logical fact - homogenisation encourages single player domination, divergent surfaces fine.

Does that explain Roger's domination at Wimbledon then? After all it was slowed in 2001. It can't explain Rafa's dominance at RG as that surface is one that has remained constant. As for Novak's dominant slam (Australia) that was slowed down around 2005 and speebed up again 2014 (apparently) so he has won despite the variation in court speed. If a player today has a wide variation of shots in their repertoire then for me they would be able to adapt and adjust to varying court speeds a la the best players of the 70s and 80s. I say that as in my opinion.
Oh boy. Deep breath.

Homogenisation. Not slowing. Not speeding. Making them more THE SAME. Makes it more likely that a single method of play wins on all surfaces.

Nothing to do with Roger. Or Rafa. Can we be clear on this? Not fandom. Not player allegiance. Just logic. Just really, really, simple obvious logic.

Ok?

Sorry but I just don't buy your opinion that homogenisation encourages domination. But lets just say you are spot on then can you explain why the players that have dominated since the US Open was also slowed down in 2006 are the dominant ones? After all a whole raft of players have come through in the sport at the same time such as Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Gasquet, Tsonga,Monfils, Cilic, Wawrinka and Del Potro so why not Monfils or Tsonga for example.


Bloody hell, is that a real question?

Because they're the best under those conditions. Perhaps if the conditions had been different they may not have dominated - but we'll never know.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:44 pm

summerblues wrote:
socal1976 wrote:a clay court challenger played in Bratislava the month before.
You hater!  Making fun of my hometown.
Really, I am going to Venna tomorrow then Prague, and then home as a vacation after my business in Milan. How funny, I am sure Bratislava is wonderful

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:47 pm

socal1976 wrote:So are you saying Sampras is Goat or equal to Federer?
I do not really do GOAT debates much.  I like reading them when others get into a brawl, but the number of variables involved forces any arguments made to be very arbitrary.

It is not so much that I think that GOAT discussions make no sense at all in principle; just that it is hopeless to come up with a solid conclusion.

But I do think Sampras was among the best ones ever; if someone says best ever, that is fine with me.

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:49 pm

socal1976 wrote:I am sure Bratislava is wonderful
I would not say so, one of the ugliest towns I have ever been to.  I think it may have been a nice little town before WWII, but during communism the government tried to build it into a bigger city and in the process they built rather ugly place.

Prague is fantastic though, enjoy!

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:52 pm

emancipator wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
bogbrush wrote:It's not speculative, and we don't have to wait. It's just logic, really simple.

It is, however, ridiculous to criticise Lydian because he can't offer proof of a timeline that never happened, as you just did. And irrelevant to cite the inferiority of some players as evidence that another would dominate heterogenous surfaces as much as they do homogenised.

Like I said, I don't have Lydians patience.

Homogenisation of courts is a decision brought about by the powers that be. Which players today do you suggest it benefits the most bearing in mind that the majority of them have either learnt their trade on homogenised surfaces or have had to adapt after learning their trade and having success at junior level on pre-homogenised surfaces.
Oh well if the powers did it...... what?

Your question is irrelevant, you seem to think up this is a player debate. It isn't, it's a simple logical fact - homogenisation encourages single player domination, divergent surfaces fine.

Does that explain Roger's domination at Wimbledon then? After all it was slowed in 2001. It can't explain Rafa's dominance at RG as that surface is one that has remained constant. As for Novak's dominant slam (Australia) that was slowed down around 2005 and speebed up again 2014 (apparently) so he has won despite the variation in court speed. If a player today has a wide variation of shots in their repertoire then for me they would be able to adapt and adjust to varying court speeds a la the best players of the 70s and 80s. I say that as in my opinion.
Oh boy. Deep breath.

Homogenisation. Not slowing. Not speeding. Making them more THE SAME. Makes it more likely that a single method of play wins on all surfaces.

Nothing to do with Roger. Or Rafa. Can we be clear on this? Not fandom. Not player allegiance. Just logic. Just really, really, simple obvious logic.

Ok?

Sorry but I just don't buy your opinion that homogenisation encourages domination. But lets just say you are spot on then can you explain why the players that have dominated since the US Open was also slowed down in 2006 are the dominant ones? After all a whole raft of players have come through in the sport at the same time such as Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Gasquet, Tsonga,Monfils, Cilic, Wawrinka and Del Potro so why not Monfils or Tsonga for example.


Bloody hell, is that a real question?

Because they're the best under those conditions. Perhaps if the conditions had been different they may not have dominated - but we'll never know.

So despite homogenisation the best players of that time end up winning the slams.

The way I see it whatever the court speeds the champions will always be the ones with the best suited game. Sampras thrived in the 90s with his serve that decimated everyone. Borg had a great baseline game that saw him thrive on grass and clay. Today I would say the pkayers have to have a solid all-round game to succeed.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by summerblues on Mon 30 May 2016, 9:59 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:The way I see it whatever the court speeds the champions will always be the ones with the best suited game. Sampras thrived in the 90s with his serve that decimated everyone. Borg had a great baseline game that saw him thrive on grass and clay. Today I would say the pkayers have to have a solid all-round game to succeed.
CC:  I agree.

But who disagrees?

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by socal1976 on Mon 30 May 2016, 10:00 pm

summerblues wrote:
socal1976 wrote:I am sure Bratislava is wonderful
I would not say so, one of the ugliest towns I have ever been to.  I think it may have been a nice little town before WWII, but during communism the government tried to build it into a bigger city and in the process they built rather ugly place.

Prague is fantastic though, enjoy!
I love Prague it will be my third time. So SB is a Slovak?  Yeah I only passed Bratislava on e train to Budapest and I had the same reaction as you but I was trying to be nice. I love the cheap pivo in Prague and the bechorovka that weird kind of Jagermeister foul tasting liquor they drink. The most ornate little city Prague also Kafka is one of my favorite writers

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by banbrotam on Mon 30 May 2016, 10:12 pm

bogbrush wrote:A four year old would realise that if the courts are very different it becomes much harder to win all four and to amass very large numbers, but somehow this baffles some posters. His example of Muster & Sampras then (when each would dominate the other depending on surface) to what would happen now (one having the edge across) was clear and correct.


I'm not certain that three of the four (assuming Djoko does it) doing the slam, is the only argument for those of who defend their talents

Let's not get too misty eyed about the 90's, although I do remember fondly watching the great entertainment we had in the Wimby's of the early 90's Stich's win of 1991 was of course the best illustration of all court tennis ever Rolling Eyes

Problem was there were only about six contenders at SW19 and about the same number at the French. A four year old, would also realise that if you have less contenders it doesn't exactly make these events harder to win though, does it?

The romanticising of the 90's is just as laughable as anyone denying homogenisation exists now. It was a boring era, with players unwilling to adapt (i.e. Sampras) to the clay simply because 80% of the main events were on fast surfaces. It just meant there was more of 'them v us' going on. I'm all for a bit of variety, but when I get too obsessed with the idea - I simply watch the 91, 93, 94, 95 or 96 Wimby's. It used to make me almost weep at the paucity of the quality in comparison to the Borg/Connors/Mac era's

If Agassi had possessed Pistol Pete's mental maturity, he'd have done the slam years before he did. Also, let's remember that this same era allowed Courier to reach all four major finals. Significantly, he was the player with the best attitude, i.e. it was again more about attitude than ability

Fact is, the 90's was an era where electing not to like a surface, was seen as a badge of honour. It then got so bad for Wimbledon, with players pulling out that it heralded the 32 seed era. It was only with this protection that all players started to think that winning all four slams might not be a bad idea.

Now, with the exception of Monfils, who freely admits that he doesn't like Wimby, we have all the players completing at all the surfaces. That surely makes surviving through to the QF's as the top four do 99% of the time, even more remarkable

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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by Guest on Mon 30 May 2016, 10:15 pm

One can tackle this issue from another perspective.  

For example Djokovic.  One of his unique talents is his ability to slide on the edges of his feet on all surfaces.  He has the most difficulty doing this on grass because the surface is less predictable and can get slippery.  But this allows him to be effective on slow to fast courts.  Less sand on the surface at the US Open?  Okay he just slides further.  Less bounce, he just slides lower.  So Djokovic unique movement and his ability to hit the ball almost while doing the splits makes his technique transferable to different surfaces.  If one looks at his success at the Masters, that is quite a range of surfaces he has won on.

With Nadal it was his control of the ball and his top spin that were unique plus he was also a quick mover.  For big hitters he just goes further back beyond the base line.  He was becoming successful on other surfaces - he has the career slam, and he has also been successful on a range of Masters surfaces.  Injuries have limited his variability - plus Djokovic came up with a better model of play than Nadal in non-clay events.

And so on.  So although there does seem to be some homogenisation and levelling due to surface changes and racket technology - it could be argued that even if there was less homogenisation (as in the Masters events?) they would be able to transfer their skill sets to reach the latter end of the tournaments etc.  Players can only demonstrate their abilities on the courts of their time period.  It is difficult to speculate how they would transfer their skill sets to surfaces they don't compete on.


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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by banbrotam on Mon 30 May 2016, 10:20 pm

bogbrush wrote:Homogenisation. Not slowing. Not speeding. Making them more THE SAME. Makes it more likely that a single method of play wins on all surfaces.

Nothing to do with Roger. Or Rafa. Can we be clear on this? Not fandom. Not player allegiance. Just logic. Just really, really, simple obvious logic.

Ok?


An argument, that would be valid if we'd had thirty different winners of slams in the last 10 years, as opposed to half a dozen


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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 30 May 2016, 10:24 pm

Exactly Nore Staat.
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Re: Are Big 4 Overrated?

Post by banbrotam on Mon 30 May 2016, 10:25 pm

Nore Staat wrote:One can tackle this issue from another perspective.  

For example Djokovic.  One of his unique talents is his ability to slide on the edges of his feet on all surfaces.  He has the most difficulty doing this on grass because the surface is less predictable and can get slippery.  But this allows him to be effective on slow to fast courts.  Less sand on the surface at the US Open?  Okay he just slides further.  Less bounce, he just slides lower.  So Djokovic unique movement and his ability to hit the ball almost while doing the splits makes his technique transferable to different surfaces.  If one looks at his success at the Masters, that is quite a range of surfaces he has won on.

With Nadal it was his control of the ball and his top spin that were unique plus he was also a quick mover.  For big hitters he just goes further back beyond the base line.  He was becoming successful on other surfaces - he has the career slam, and he has also been successful on a range of Masters surfaces.  Injuries have limited his variability - plus Djokovic came up with a better model of play than Nadal in non-clay events.

And so on.  So although there does seem to be some homogenisation and levelling due to surface changes and racket technology - it could be argued that even if there was less homogenisation (as in the Masters events?) they would be able to transfer their skill sets to reach the latter end of the tournaments etc.  Players can only demonstrate their abilities on the courts of their time period.  It is difficult to speculate how they would transfer to surfaces they don't compete on.


Exactly. Murray often moans when the conditions are faster, but simply adapts his game. His moans are misunderstood, it's not that he can't cope with the change, it's more to do with him been used to the conditions always been the same and been surprised to the point of initially letting it get to him that it has changed

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