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The Next Challenge

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Post by Guest Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:04 am

As a fan of tennis, I have always had a partisan streak in me. As much as I enjoyed the Slam success that followed McEnroe, Becker, Agassi, Sampras, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic I always yearned for British success. Greg came close. Henman even put me through the mill most times in his 6 semi finals at the Slams. Here we are though in 2012 and Britain has a male champion to toast about for the first time in donkeys years.

Despite Andy winning a Slam, the euphoria wore off a week later for me. I don't be-grudge a Murray victory because it is all I ever wanted to experience as a fan and it gives me great pride and pleasure to have experienced it. Also what I had in the back of my mind was knowing a Murray victory would drain the field of any hope or expectation.

I often find that after a Slam is a depressive period for fans as top level tennis goes away for a few weeks. I asked myself when Andy won did it come too late after a Federer last hurrah and also after a injury plagued Nadal who might not be at the high standards of yesteryear. You know what if Andy won the Australian Open in 2010 instead of the US Open in 2012? It is great for tennis that hopefully Djokovic and Murray can give the tennis world a much needed rivalry.

What depresses me is looking past the top 4. There is nothing. I am not asking for Djokovic or Murray to be usurped, I am merely seeking that talent looking over the shoulder of the top guys. The guys that lurk in the shadows who show the ability to beat the top guys and only know it is matter of time before they eclipse the top players. I like anyone like a Federer/Nadal match or a Murray/Nadal match or a Djokovic/Federer match. The rest of the field just don't excite me like I wish they would. That is the challenge for the ATP field. I want to watch say Tsonga and Nishikori or a Raonic and Del Potro put on a match that makes you say "these guys will be the future of this sport" make you feel like tennis will be in safe hands once the old guard sails off into the sunset.

Please ATP give me something to feel good about.

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Post by Mad for Chelsea Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:31 am

let's have a look at the younger guys around today then, in no particular order.

Raonic: a guy many see as being a regular fixture in the top 10, maybe even top 5, over the next few years. I'm not sure I see that with his current game. He's got a huge serve, and a decent FH, but his BH needs a helluva lot of work on it, as does his movement. Sadly, when I last watched him he seemed reluctant to hit BHs, instead running around it and hitting (defensive) FHs from ridiculous positions in the court. Needs to smarten up, a huge serve only gets you so far.

Dolgopolov: a bit of a maverick. His groundstrokes can be huge, and has a weird BH slice that seems to stick in the court. Nice touch player, but needs to work on his rallying shots. Great return of serve, but a weird service action (hits the ball on the rise almost) means his first serve percentage is generally too low (though very good when it goes in). Excellent return of serve. Mentally a bit questionable, tends to go in and out of matches. not sure he'll ever have the consistency, but he's great to watch.

Tomic: the man who should have it all, but seems intent on throwing it away. Good serve, can hammer his FH, and has the ability to hit what amounts to a top spin drop shot off that side (something I can't think of anyone else doing). BH slice second only to Murray amongst the two-handers. Return of serve not great (guesses too much) and his top spin BH more of a rallying shot. Excellent touch and feel for the ball, and moves very well. Problem is he still hasn't screwed his head on, in fact that aspect of the game seems to be getting worse if anything. Possibly a by-product of not having had to work all that hard to get to where he is now? Either way I hope he gets stuck in soon, or he's in danger of wasting his talent. A year ago I saw him as the next big thing, now I'm not so sure.

Nishikori: great fighter, moves nicely and has consistency off both wings. Lacks power unfortunately, big time. His shots don't have the necessary penetration, and his serve will get picked off big time against the better returners. I think his slight build hinders him, but it's not inconceivable he could develop enough power to challenge the big boys. Could do with a bit more variety in his game too.

Harrison: has improved quite a bit in the last year or so. His FH has become a real weapon, and his BH has more penetration too. Has a very good second serve. Tactically he's a bit naive, his movement isn't the best, and he's prone to going walkabout mentally big time which would be my main worry. Not sure he'll ever make it to the very top (top 20 or so maybe the limit).

Dimitrov: people raved about him when he first came onto the scene, but I'm not sure why other than a nice-looking BH. Has a big first serve, and a powerful if inconsistent FH, but not a huge amount more (his BH isn't actually all that good).

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Post by bogbrush Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:40 pm

I couldn't agree more lk, it's depressing.

I can't remember a time in the game when there was nothing whatsoever coming through, and it has a progressively damaging impact as people start to actually forget what it's like to have a surprise appearance in finals and on the big stage of a 19 year old with a new game or way. We're starting to forget what has always been the norm; McEnroe, Wilander, Becker, Sampras all blasting onto the scene and shaking up the top order.

I keep hearing about how this is all because the new game requires players to mature a bit more but it's nonsense really, the problem is that there's nobody who even looks capable of upsetting anyone (bar perhaps Raonic on a great serving day).

The game is headed to a bad place, and no amoutn of scrabbling around for rating numbers on this or that event can paper over what's headed down the line; same faces, same tennis, nothing new. Not good.
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Post by Guest Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:51 pm

If the likes of who MFC listed posted consistent results over the top 10, I would feel at least there is the potential. When you had McEnroe beating Borg at the US Open 1980 or Lendl beating McEnroe at the French Open 1984 or Sampras beating Lendl at Cincinnati 1992 or Federer beating Sampras Wimbledon 2001 you felt at their next encounter that they would still prevail over the top players.

Raonic, Tomic, Harrison just don't give me that same belief.

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Post by bogbrush Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:57 pm

True, I watched Tomic play Federer at Cincinnatti and will confidently predict that Tomic will never beat Federer, not if he plays on for another 5 years.
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Post by hawkeye Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:10 pm

Sadly this so called golden age is just gold plate...

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Post by Guest Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:19 pm

This isn't about gold or age.

This is about whether the current young players can get close enough to transcend a slow change of guard.

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Post by hawkeye Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:46 pm

legendkillarV2

What we need is an expert in alchemy. Someone who has the ability to turn ordinary everyday base metals into the noble metal gold. Failing that (and some do lack faith in this old traditional practice) sadly we will just have to wait for some of the real stuff to turn up...

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Post by Josiah Maiestas Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:41 pm

Nishikori does not lack power MfC. Not sure why people assume smaller players always lack power. Don't compare him to Delpo.
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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:26 pm

We've discussed this a few times now haven't we but the empty feeling for the future of men's tennis still gnaws away. I looked yesterday and the highest ranked player under 19 is at #406. This tells you all you need to know.

- Is there a lack of fundamental talent? No.
- Is there a lack of talent making its way through? Yes.
- Are slower playing conditions to blame? Partly, yes.
- Are the standards of coaching to blame? Partly, yes.
- Are increasing technology standards stifling talent? Yes, in my opinion.
- Are fewer people playing tennis now? Perhaps, and certainly in the US.
- Is the global downturn having an impact? Maybe - tennis is a costly game to learn.

The ATP have the power to increase variety by increasing playing speeds in some events. This changes the whole dynamic of how the game is played. It creates differences in playing styles. It gives us the great rivalries built on contrast.
They also have the power to limit technology allowance.
They also have the power to drive and improve global coaching standards...this constantly amazes me how there isn't consensual guidelines on coaching from 5 to 16 years old. Coaches are able to coach as they please pretty much...and in my opinion coaching is lazy and non-varied based around baseline play and DHBHs which as a stroke limits creativity straight away...sure allow the shot but encourage the SHBH for those flair-type players.

Until something radical gives from the ATP I don't see the future of the game in any great light. Given the top 4 aren't exactly youngsters anymore the next wave should be starting to come through. It always did before. But Not now. The up and comers are all reaching glass ceilings.

One key player omitted from above who I think could be Federer like (albeit with a DHBH) is not Dimitrov but David Goffin. However, his slight build (like Federer's once upon a time) is holding him back. For me he's the most talented guy 21 and under by far, including over-hyped Tomic and injury-prone Nishikori. But he's going to have to muscle up in these current playing conditions...as Federer did. Goffin, read how Paganini put Federer through the physical mill and changed his success rate overnight!!

Until someone breaks from the 21 and under pack I don't see any of the current top 20 challenging the current top 4 no matter how much older they get. But maybe it's too late for the current 18-21 yr old pack. The ATP has killed off a generation. Perhaps we have to await change and those who can be affected by it in their development...the future true multi-slammers of the game may still be at school. A worrying thought...come on ATP, wake up!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ06zHcNThE

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Post by Guest Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:36 pm

I don't want to sound like a broken record lydian, but I think there is a lack of talent amongst the players. Just imagine for a second we take the top 4 out of the equation. If I said predict the next 8 Slam winners, I reckon you could end up with 8 different names. I can't see any of them dominating a Slam or winning back to back Slams. In a way you could say it makes the rest of the field an even playing ground. You won't have a dominant 3-4 players, but a very sporadic top 30. Does a wider playing field appeal to masses, probably not.

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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:50 pm

We're all broken records on here in that I think we all agree that's what we're headed for. But the question is why?

Lack of talent can mean different things. I don't believe there is a fundamental paucity per se...worse playing and then coaching standards through the 2000s have resulted in a lack of converted talent...in effect stifling what could have been the next Federer or Nadal, etc. I can't believe that out of all the millions of juniors who have been playing the game the past 10 years there isn't a potential multi-slammer amongst them. I just don't think they can get through. The modern game has left us with a group of emergent 1-dimensional players who can't compete with the older guys who have more variety because they were fundamentally coached back in the 90s when playing and coaching was more varied. Or rather, damningly, the ATP has allowed a generation of 1-dimensional players to emerge who simply can't cut it against the wily old foxes. In creating, and allowing, progressively slower and longer ralley conditions that they thought audiences would like they've effectively killed the fertile ground that used to produce golden geese.
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Post by CaledonianCraig Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:14 pm

Is it really a lack of talent though or more to the point of us having been spoilt for around seven or eight years now?
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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:20 pm

But it's not just 7-8 years...before Nadal there was Federer, before him Agassi and Sampras...then Edberg, Becker, Lendl, Wilander, McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Newcombe, Lave...etc.

We've always had greats in the game going back 40 years...now we're to believe its suddenly dried up and the top 4 is all we have? I don't believe it's due to a sudden dearth of available talent. I believe the game has changed to an extent where it's harming the development and realisation of talent. What we're seeing are conditions that stifle evolution of the game, it's coaching and its playing. We're going backwards and that's why the current top4 are not being surpassed...as they always have been for the past 40 years. Well done ATP, you've stopped the game moving forwards.
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Post by hawkeye Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:24 pm

lydian

Maybe we have become spoilt? When Federer emerged he didn't become a multi slam winning all time great immediately. He had to battle to get there without getting any free respect points. That was fun to watch. But when Nadal emerged quickly afterwards spectators were treated to a rare spectacle. Nadal battling to establish himself and at the same time threatening Federer. How often do we get to see two of the greatest players ever competing in the same era? The contrast in styles was guaranteed to provide some epic matches... and it has delivered.

But it must be hard for other players to compete with these two. Did you read the Djokovic article describing his approach. Other players are perhaps not made of such steel. Players from the same era have sort of been beaten into submission.

I don't see this as a problem created by conditions. For me personally the only conditions that would kill my interest would be super fast. New talents will emerge because in the future trophies will still need to be won but there is no guarantee that they will be able to generate even a fraction of the interest generated by Nadal and Federer. The women's game has been suffering from this too recently.

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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:33 pm

When both the women's and men's game are suffering from a lack of talent don't you think it points to an issue with the game itself?

Yes we've been spoilt with guys like Sampras, Federer and Nadal since 1990 but there used to be guys who at the very least could challenge the top players under varying conditions. Current conditions are getting too similar making it too easy for the same players to dominate everything. This what we are seeing, and why the current top 4 has been able to be so consistently dominant for the first time in ATP history. The contrast of styles you refer to wont happen again because guys who played like Sampras then Federer will become relics of a bygone era. No-one is asking for ultra-fast conditions everywhere....but we need more variety. This breeds more variety in coaching, more contrast and also allows talent of different types to emerge, not just a matter of who is the best prolonged ralleyer which is where it's going.

I agree it's hard for others to compete against Federer and Nadal...that's why we get periods of domination. But every time in the past when you get 6+ slammers dominating they are usually caught up eventually by a new breed of player. After this current batch I don't see where the next "new breed" is coming from...I don't see the basis of progression, only conditions that are leading to a narrowed way of play the game leading to 1-dimensional players who can't compete against the current guys who learnt the game under more varied conditions...do you not see my point?
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Post by socal1976 Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:13 pm

Blah, Blah same repetive thread that we have to wade through about how the tour stinks and how only 3 or 4 guys in the world are worth watching. I remember back in the 80s how I could not sleep at night because Aaron Krickstein wasn't a little bit better of a player. How much more of this do we have to take?

All of you who think nobody other than Murray or Fed are worth watching just watch them, see how easy that was. Meanwhile the rest of us are actually enjoying the tennis on display. I love watch Richie G hit the greatest one hander I have ever seen. I love watch Tsonga's feathery touch at net or watching him get his 210 pound frame moving like a sprinter. And don't get me started on the qualities of the top 4.


By all means if it excites you to continually talk down the tour you follow and millions of fans enjoy by all means have at it. But maybe next time when others want to talk up their preference for today's game you can at least show some grace and let them say their piece?

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Post by CaledonianCraig Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:17 pm

lydian wrote:But it's not just 7-8 years...before Nadal there was Federer, before him Agassi and Sampras...then Edberg, Becker, Lendl, Wilander, McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Newcombe, Lave...etc.


Yes but for all you know the next three or four years could be Djokovic and Murray's time taking Djokovic close to or passing Nadal's slam total in which case he'll have become another all-time great and Murray could win a few more slams (I'm hoping). Three or four years down the line then who knows who will be waiting to take their place? Raonic may have worked on various aspects of his game and be a real monster by then and you may even have a new kid or two on the blocks by then so I say wait and see what happens.

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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:05 pm

Lets hope so CC OK
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Post by CaledonianCraig Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:10 pm

Yes Lydian. I really do think it is far too soon to be writing epitaphs or being super gloomy about the future.
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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:08 pm

Maybe, but I base my opinions not on being merely gloomy for the sake of it but on what I see and the rankings/progress of young players. My thoughts are driven by the fact that the highest ranked player under 19 is in the 400s. It's never been that bad before. There is also about to be no player under 20 in the top 100. Tell me when that's happened before in the Open Era? When I look at these aspects it doesn't paint a positive picture of whats coming down the road vs. what we expect future multi-slam players to do...which is break into the top 75 by age 19. Maybe they're all just late bloomers...or maybe we're headed into WTA territory with its identikit tennis, every slam won by a different player and a lack of intriguing rivalries.
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Post by CaledonianCraig Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:30 pm

I do think there are reason for that though. As has been pointed out before the game is far more physical now and players in their teens just have not reached a level of sheer physicality needed to really push up the rankings to any great extent. Lets remember if we want to look deeper that the last teenager to breakthrough and reach to the top was Del Potro, Murray and Djokovic who broke into the professional ranks around seven years ago (roughly). The lack of youngsters coming through have been there virtually since that batch so it isn't a new problem. I do feel that players now are peaking at an older age so give the likes of Raonic another two or three years and the same goes for the likes of Tomic and Harrison for example.
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Post by bogbrush Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:35 pm

I think anyone who has watched the game, and thought hard about it, for a long time knows there's trouble brewing.

I cannot think of a time when there was no young gun pushing himself into centre stage. Socal talks about Gasquet (been around for ages, done nothing, makes up the numbers - and has a flashy but ineffective game) or Tsonga (nearly man) but what have they got to do with the issue? The concern is who is showing they are going to keep us watching in 2018?

Remember when McEnroe appeared in the Wimbledon semi-final as a brash 19 year old qualifier? Or Wilander out grinding Vilas at the French at 17? Or Boris, or Chang? Or Pete beating Lendl at the USO? Or Fed at 19 beating the multi-champ at Wimbledon? Just where is that coming from now?
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Post by bogbrush Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:41 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:
lydian wrote:But it's not just 7-8 years...before Nadal there was Federer, before him Agassi and Sampras...then Edberg, Becker, Lendl, Wilander, McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Newcombe, Lave...etc.


Yes but for all you know the next three or four years could be Djokovic and Murray's time taking Djokovic close to or passing Nadal's slam total in which case he'll have become another all-time great and Murray could win a few more slams (I'm hoping). Three or four years down the line then who knows who will be waiting to take their place? Raonic may have worked on various aspects of his game and be a real monster by then and you may even have a new kid or two on the blocks by then so I say wait and see what happens.

Djokovic and Murray are the Establishment. We can't look forward to their time, this IS their time.

They should already be looking over their shoulders, feeling the young guys shaking the tree. It's got so bad I even heard Murray described as a young player on this forum recently. That just shows no knowledge of the sport.
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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:47 pm

Exactly BB.

CC, the sheer level of physicality you mention didn't stop the much less conditioned Djokovic breaking into top 75 by 18.5 years old. Or is the game so much different now to then? Who is, or where is the next Djokovic-level player, even an inkling of someone like him....never mind Nadal or Federer?

We're not talking about guys beating all the top4 by 18-19yo, just making an impact, some deep runs...something to make you think wow, this guy could be great in a couple of years time. We're seeing nothing from anyone under 22, never mind under 19. If we're relying on Raonic, Tomic or Harrison to be the leading lights in 5 years time then someone please help the game of tennis!
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Post by CaledonianCraig Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:05 pm

lydian wrote:Exactly BB.

CC, the sheer level of physicality you mention didn't stop the much less conditioned Djokovic breaking into top 75 by 18.5 years old. Or is the game so much different now to then? Who is, or where is the next Djokovic-level player, even an inkling of someone like him....never mind Nadal or Federer?

We're not talking about guys beating all the top4 by 18-19yo, just making an impact, some deep runs...something to make you think wow, this guy could be great in a couple of years time. We're seeing nothing from anyone under 22, never mind under 19. If we're relying on Raonic, Tomic or Harrison to be the leading lights in 5 years time then someone please help the game of tennis!
BB,

Well this year could be the transitional one so wouldn't call it Djoko and Murray time yet.

Lydian,

Again you may not like the prospect of Raonic or possibly Tomic and Harrison being the leading lights but surely the same could have been said when Federer first came on the scene in the late 1990's as he never looked like a world beater but he got there in the end. That may be the same of any of the young players around at the moment. Who knows? Remember that Raonic has already beaten Murray and pushed Federer an do believe Nadal very close this year so lets just wait and see.
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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:50 pm

That's not true CC, I remember watching Federer as an 18 year old and all the commentators were saying he had immense talent and could see him as a potential future #1. You could see it even then that he had something special. Don't forget he was top 50 well before his 19th birthday and top 25 by 19y 2m.

Raonic has "something" but I don't see him in the same light as Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, etc. Similarly Harrison or Tomic, they're decent players but you don't watch them and go "wow, this kid has got something special". I admire your optimism but I don't share it with respect to these guys. There's only been Goffin so far for me where I've thought he had something special.
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Post by User 774433 Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:55 pm

LK, as a complement to this article, I have created a thread with news on the progress of the main youngsters, with week by week updates:

https://www.606v2.com/t35312-v2-youngster-watch

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Post by CaledonianCraig Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:03 pm

lydian wrote:That's not true CC, I remember watching Federer as an 18 year old and all the commentators were saying he had immense talent and could see him as a potential future #1. You could see it even then that he had something special. Don't forget he was top 50 well before his 19th birthday and top 25 by 19y 2m.

Raonic has "something" but I don't see him in the same light as Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, etc. Similarly Harrison or Tomic, they're decent players but you don't watch them and go "wow, this kid has got something special". I admire your optimism but I don't share it with respect to these guys. There's only been Goffin so far for me where I've thought he had something special.

Granted lydian but since Roger Federer is seen as the GOAT to expect the current day crop of youngsters to match up to him is expecting a bit much.
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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:13 pm

Yes of course. But my point is that all the multi-slammers are making similar progress by 18-19. We don't expect to see too many Federer's in a lifetime but there's been quite a number of 4+ slammers. We're talking about where the next Courier or above level is coming from...and again by looking at Courier we see he was top 50 by 18y 3m, top 25 by just turned 19. It's been the same pattern for all the guys above 4 slams. Talent finds the way through...so there are 2 separate concerns...1) lack of 'true great' talent....2) lower talent can't find it's way into top 100 by 20 yo.
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Post by Mad for Chelsea Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:19 pm

I actually see something special in Tomic, but apparently I'm very much in the minority on here. Unfortunately at the moment he's wasting it.

I'm not sure blaming the conditions or technology is fair, as to my knowledge these haven't really changed much since 2005, and in that time we've seen Nadal, Murray and Djokovic break through at very young ages.

Coaching may have something to do with it, maybe players are all coached too similarly these days?

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Post by Mad for Chelsea Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:20 pm

then again might just be a phase, maybe in two years time there will be 19 or 20 year olds back inside the top 100.

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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:21 pm

That's my view MfC, poor coaching which is driven by converging conditions. The kids coming through simply don't have the breadth of skills the older guys have.
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Post by CaledonianCraig Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:32 pm

I do feel the physicality factor is there as well. Yes lydian I know you said that didn't stop Djoko and Andy breaking through but I feel they broke through just when physicality was becoming more of an issue. Remember Andy cramping up badly in his early Wimbledon days? He had to go away and work at the fitness side of things and fitness was a problem for Djoko in his early years. Perhaps the youngsters of today aren't so clued up on the physicality required? Like I say though lets just wait and see what transpires in the next three or four years.


Last edited by CaledonianCraig on Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by carrieg4 Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:34 pm

Mad for Chelsea wrote:I actually see something special in Tomic, but apparently I'm very much in the minority on here. Unfortunately at the moment he's wasting it.

So do I MFC. I think he has all the tools but it may take time for it all to come together, I see him as peaking in 4 - 5 years. Hopefully he will wake up soon and put the work in to realise his potential.

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Post by hawkeye Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:59 pm

IMO if a player has something special it is usually obvious from the beginning.

I can still remember seeing Federer for the first time at Wimbledon in 2003. I was late maybe but considering I hadn't watched much mens tennis throughout the nineties it took something special to make me take note. I thought "mmm maybe there is hope". I also remember seeing Nadal for the first time at Wimbledon in 2006 in a first round match against a British player. I knew he had beaten Federer at RG but the commentators were saying that he couldn't play on grass. That wasn't the way I saw it! In fact I thought it would be fun to watch them play the final at Wimbledon so cheered for them both to get there. I wasn't disappointed... In fact I was hooked.

They of course will be a difficult act to follow. But I do think when a new potential star emerges they will be recognisable.

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Post by bogbrush Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:18 pm

Indeed, in fact virtually every really top player is obvious very young. This idea that ordinary looking players will flower later on is almost unheard of.
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Post by lydian Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:26 pm

Yep, almost without fail they've broke top 50 between 18-19yo. Top talent finds the way. Considering the highest current 18-19yo player is ranked #406 I'd say that's a cause for deep concern about another "great" breaking through anytime soon.
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Post by time please Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:11 am

bogbrush wrote:Indeed, in fact virtually every really top player is obvious very young. This idea that ordinary looking players will flower later on is almost unheard of.

Exactly! All of the top four were talked about as potential champions before their break through and they were a threat to the, then, status quo. The last guys to consistently challenge the generation before are the Nos 2,3, and 4, and as you say, these players are now the establishment.

It's not that it is boring now, but tennis threatens to become very predictable and will lose some audience interest in a year or so unless a young gun emerges to threaten, even if they can't yet vanquish, the older guard. It is literally unprecedented in the Open Era to have this kind of stagnation after the top 4 guys and I agree with lydian that it is beginning to look as if the ATP tour could begin to look like the WTA tour in a few years when these top 4 guys have faded or retire, with no shining star.

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