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Simon on "Talent"

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Post by mthierry Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:56 am

What is "talent"? Gilles Simon talks about its nature in l'Équipe via Frédéric Bernès.

(In the piece, read talent as "talent" - me)

"Talent, no one knows what it is. They talked about it with me enormously until I was twenty-one, then when I got stronger I went over to the other side. When I qualified for the Australian Open and I'd beaten Berdych(2006), I was a genius. That's what Équipe wrote: 'Genius'. Me, I said: 'I'm 130th. in the world, I'm no genius.' In France, the word talent is associated with three things: having good hands - and as I have zero hands, I have no talent - technique - the impression of fluidity - and attacking. Basically, "flamboyance" is confused with talent. I often hear that Feliciano Lopez has talent and I urine on that. Ah Lopez the attacker ... No, Lopez is a defender. Everyone knows he's a baseliner who serves more than he volleys. He has the image of a gifted serve-and-volleyer. But I find the serve-and-volleyer is very often un-gifted. They guy hits a hard serve and moves up to volley because, for him, it's the easiest way to win a point.

"Me, I have zero hands but I have enormous talent. There are simply different talents, some more obvious than others. What's talent? When Richard (Gasquet) sends a backhand ten miles from the corner of the stands, they say talent. They're right. But when Rafa (Nadal) does the same with a forehand, they say it's strength, it's physical. Everyone agrees on Federer's talent, but Djokovic, pffft, they have trouble ... He has no great shot. Except you serve at him 275 kph and he takes it every time in the middle of the racquet. That's an incredible talent. If you ask Jan (De Witt, his coach) who has the most talent, Roger or Novak, he'll hesitate.

"Television distorts perceptions. People don't see what's so special about Kei Nishikori. He has the best two-handed backhand I've ever seen. He finds incredible angles but that doesn't make an impression. I often use the example of Mika (Llodra). He has an amazing volley and touch but he can't hit a correct forehand. Is he gifted? Safin had a patent on talent all his career, but when it came to hands, he was like me ... Ernests Gulbis, the same. He's talented, full stop. If he loses, it's because he doesn't feel like playing.

"In France, in the beginning, I had the impression that it was better to be less good, but with talent, that a Gulbis who's number 50 is more esteemed than a Ferrer who's 3. Now, I couldn't care less whether people see if I have talent or not ... I usually answer that my talent is my timing. It's weighing 70 kg. and hitting 50 winners against Rafa in Rome (last year). I hope he doesn't take this the wrong way, but when I see that they think that I have less talent than Jo (Tsonga), it's impressive. Jo hammers every shot. It's very forceful. Between us four, the one who has the most talent, it's Gaël (Monfils),"


Laugh The forthrightness and temperament of French players has always been amusing.
Don't agree with some of that, but Simon is one of few players whose interviews are worth reading. So, what is "talent"?

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Post by Josiah Maiestas Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:03 pm

Ahhh talent.

Did you know there are enough human bones in the body to make an entire skeleton?

See now that's talent
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Post by socal1976 Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:03 pm

I agree with Simon. In away attacking players who have big weapons are deemed talented yet guys like Simon or Ferrer aren't talented. But I mean speed is a talent, mental toughness is a talent. It depends really on what talents you value. Most tennis fans like the guy with the great hands (ala Mac) or the big weapons (ala Fed) yet you don't get to upper echelons of the game without talent.

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Post by HM Murdock Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:09 pm

Well said, Gilles!

I always think that Simon gives a good interview. Nice to hear someone say what they really think.

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Post by break_in_the_fifth Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:42 pm

Good stuff.

For me the talent of a player is the part of their game that's not physical so I couldn't call something like speed by itself a talent. A player like Federer who's game was all about hitting low percentage shots with a high success rate (in his prime) has obvious talent. A more physical player may also have a lot of talent that is separate from their physical game. For example Ferrer with his groundstrokes and return as he's actually at a physical disadvantage despite his physical game. Djokovic's return of serve is amazing and he has a huge talent in that area.

Perhaps for a lot of people it's only the talents they appreciate most that deems a player as more or less talented in their eyes.

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Post by kingraf Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:00 pm

Is mental strength a talent, though? I'm certainly not saying that it isn't... But I don't know honestly. Are you born with mental strength? Maybe, maybe it's just something instilled in you subliminally in your environment, and can thus be simulated. Pity sports wasn't the big business it is today when Skinner and Pavlov where around... they'd have a field day!!!

I honestly don't know what talent is in tennis. Its such a multi faceted game. It's sweet melons if you can hit an angled winner from the Melbourne lettering all day, but you need the belief to do so, then you need the leg strength and agility to get there in time, then you need the cognitive understanding that this is the best shot to play at that particular moment. Then you need a mental image of what happens next in the point - do you come to the net, or hang back?

After all that... you decide to rather hit the safer forehand and you're a rather limited player for doing so
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Post by LuvSports! Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:54 am

Djoko became a lot stronger mentally when his fitness and durability sky rocketed.

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Post by Guest Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:25 am

Not a chance LS.

2 things changed him for the better in 2010.

1) His operation on his deformed septum.
2) The Davis Cup victory.

The confidence that gives is tenfold. The fitness and durability was already there.

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Post by LuvSports! Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:55 am

No chance.
He was retiring from matches in 2010, losing early in slams.
He outlasted Nadal in 2011 and all of a sudden it was Nadal who was choking.

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Post by Guest Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:11 am

Being someone that has had a deformed septum and surgery, if you believe it was something you recover from immediately, you are very mistaken. It's of no coincidence in my mind he had the last surgery in 2010 and coupled with the DC victory which proved the launchpad for 2011.

Try playing any sport with a deformed septum and afterwards and tell me that 1) your performance improves and 2) so does your confidence.

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Post by LuvSports! Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:57 am

That doesn't answer the point about Nadal.

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Post by Guest Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:43 am

The point I was answering was the mentally thing in relation to the fitness of Djokovic.

Which had nothing to do with Nadal.

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Post by LuvSports! Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:54 am

When Nadal lost that fitness superiority he began to choke. The ability to know you can outlast your opponent is a huge mental advantage.

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Post by It Must Be Love Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:00 am

Apart from one shot in the AO2012, I never remember Nadal choking against Djokovic ?

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Post by Guest Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:44 pm

It's very naive to think that Djokovic's 2011 was down to enhanced fitness. Essentially Djokovic started taking the ball earlier against Nadal in 2011. However, it wasn't just Nadal he did that to.

Anything after 2011 is a mixture of form and legs.

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Post by LuvSports! Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:07 pm

So if you get tired before your opponent, meaning that you aren't at a ball as prepared as you like to be. Or you can't reach a ball you would have done earlier in the match. These aren't advantages.
If you cannot see Djoko's insane increase in fitness in 2011 then you are blind (i'll be naive then....).
US Open 2011. Watch Nadal in that 4th set.

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Post by kingraf Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:17 pm

Nadal didn't choke in that fourth set he was blown away by Superman after Clark Kent had gone into the phone booth (MTO).

Need to have chances to choke... getting duffed 6-1 doesn't qualify.
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Post by LuvSports! Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:22 pm

He could barely move. Re-watch that set.
That insane 3rd set buried him.
Also did I say Nadal choked during that set?
In 2011 Nadal didn't have the physical advantage over Nole as he does for everyone else. When he couldn't rely on this he had to go for it more and it led to more errors, loss in confidence and an inability to turn things around.

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Post by socal1976 Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:24 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:Being someone that has had a deformed septum and surgery, if you believe it was something you recover from immediately, you are very mistaken. It's of no coincidence in my mind he had the last surgery in 2010 and coupled with the DC victory which proved the launchpad for 2011.

Try playing any sport with a deformed septum and afterwards and tell me that 1) your performance improves and 2) so does your confidence.

This and the undiagnosed food allergy explains alot. As does the tinkering Djokovic did with the serve in 09 and 10. He went back to his old motion in prior to wimbeldon 2010. He gets to the semis of wimby 2010, final at the USO, wins the Davis Cup and then is on fire at the start of the following year. That is why it angers me sometimes when so much is made of the early withdrawals in his career when he has a very well diagnosed series of allergies and respiratory conditions that plagued him early on in his career.

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Post by Guest Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:33 pm

LuvSports! wrote:So if you get tired before your opponent, meaning that you aren't at a ball as prepared as you like to be. Or you can't reach a ball you would have done earlier in the match. These aren't advantages.
If you cannot see Djoko's insane increase in fitness in 2011 then you are blind (i'll be naive then....).
US Open 2011. Watch Nadal in that 4th set.

picard

Wow one set is all you have to back your case.

Like I say go and play sport with a deformed septum and we can have a sensible discussion instead of the old fitness bollox.

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Post by LuvSports! Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:42 pm

I seem to have hit a nerve.
I think i'll stick to my long term muscle injuries and wrist problems.


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Post by Born Slippy Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:30 pm

Pretty obvious Novak was a mental giant in 09-10. Guy was winning matches left right and centre whilst playing dreadful tennis. He could barely serve.

As soon as he sorted out his confidence and physical issues he was playing better tennis and that was why he was beating Nadal. I don't recall Nadal choking against him at all. Unfortunately, that type of argument is often made by fans of other players who like to believe Nadal (and to a lesser extent Novak) have been so successful purely because of their physical fitness.

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Post by socal1976 Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:02 pm

Born Slippy wrote:Pretty obvious Novak was a mental giant in 09-10. Guy was winning matches left right and centre whilst playing dreadful tennis. He could barely serve.

As soon as he sorted out his confidence and physical issues he was playing better tennis and that was why he was beating Nadal. I don't recall Nadal choking against him at all. Unfortunately, that type of argument is often made by fans of other players who like to believe Nadal (and to a lesser extent Novak) have been so successful purely because of their physical fitness.

Agree BS, if you know about the changes to his serve that occurred in 09 and 10 you can easily explain how once Novak returned to the old motion he would go on to win. I mean if you are finishing number 3 in the world with a WTA serve and then all of a sudden you have a good workable serve that you had at the start of your career there is no surprise that you will then move up in rankings. And you are especially correct, the posters who always focus on Djokovic's improved fitness as a cause of his improvement really are giving him a sideways compliment in order to not acknowledge improvements in ball striking that occurred.

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Post by socal1976 Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:10 pm

For example Djokovic was 23rd on the tour in percentage of service games held at 79 percent in 2010. This is including the marked improvement in serving he had after wimbeldon that year so that tells you how bad he was serving in the the first half of the season. Currently he is holding at a 91 percent clip and is 5th on tour. He was 36th in total aces at the end of 2010 with way more double faults than aces. Yet ignore the massive improvement over 09/10 in his serve and focus only on fitness. It works in nicely with their ongoing claim that these guys are not very talented ball strikers (nadal, Djoko) but they are just lung merchants.

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Post by Guest Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:29 pm

Right Richard. I'll be frank and honest with you. I read most of the tennis forums, this one being the one I contribute the most. I see you. Someone disagrees with you and instead of fronting up, you go to OTF and moan and seek validation of your views. Did the same thing when lydian schooled you last year on ball striking. It's actually pathetic. As a poster on here once said: feel free to grow a backbone any time you like.

In terms of the Djokovic argument. You said his confidence came from his fitness. No it wasn't. Watch IW, Miami and especially Madrid and Rome as Djokovic played the best attacking tennis against Nadal since Soderling 09. Beyond 2011 I agree that most of his matches have become a war of legs, but 2011 was phenomenal. No surprise that he has hasn't replicated it.

What did you think a of lack ill health and winning a big tournament does for confidence? How do you think Federer will play if he didn't have the famed dodgy back? Do you believe his confidence wouldn't rise just a little? Of course it would. Let me tell you what a deformed septum is like. Imagine a blocked nose that no amount of Vick or nose blowing will ever clear. Now imagine playing back to back matches with it. It's quite the challenge.

I am not disputing the impact of fitness in tennis. I acknowledge that other factors can make an extra 10% difference in confidence.

So please if you are going to debate, don't take your ball and go home and moan to mommy.

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Post by It Must Be Love Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:36 pm

I think the mental strength debate is more complex than it seems at first, and I think luvsports raises a fair point.

When you improve a specific attribute of your tennis game (Luvsports talked about fitness, but we can also talk about Djokovic's improvement in serve from 2009 etc.), then I think that can have knock-on affect of also improving your confidence in general.
And when you've got greater confidence, won't your performance be more likely to be associated with one of greater mental strength ?

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:39 pm

So, what happened to Novak after 2011? His fitness suffered again and so Nadal outlasted him again??

After that 2012 AO final, they hardly go five sets (only once at FO, in 2013) and none of their matches went five hours, and Rafa was winning all their slam matches since AO2012. So, it's not fitness that decided the outcome of their matches, but who played better on the day. After AO2012, Rafa was 7-6 vs Novak, so he somehow found a way to counter Novak.

Rafa lost that 2011 USO not because of fitness, but because of Novak's unbelievable ROS on that day, and Novak easily won the first two sets 6-2, 6-4. The USO 2011 final wasn't as physically brutal as that AO2012 final, also, the FO2014 final was physically more taxing due to humidity and heat. I said, Rafa was not prepared to face Novak on a HC slam at that time during 2011 and was not having the right strategy. In 2013 USO, he came out all guns blazing and won the first set, so even though he lost the second set, theyre level unlike in 2011 when he was 0-2 in sets. Of the seven slam matches they played each other from 2011 onwards, Rafa lost both matches when he was 0-2 sets down (Wimbledon 2011 and USO2011). Novak wasn't outlasting Rafa both times, he simply outplayed him. Likewise for Rafa when he beat Nvoak at the slams,, he was simply better on those days.

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Post by kingraf Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:43 pm

Also worth noting that the Rafa Nole lost to in 2013 wasn't too shabby himself. 75-6 for the season or something? 22-0 on American soil. 2013 Nadal vs 2011 Djokovic would have been an interesting affair.
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Post by JuliusHMarx Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:45 pm

I remember John Lloyd saying that the problem playing Borg was that you knew you couldn't outlast him for fitness, so you had to change your game to keep the match shorter.

And Lendl once said that he didn't worry if he went 2 sets to one down in a 5-settr because he knew that he was fitter than the other player and could win the final 2 sets.

So better fitness not only gives you extra mental strength, it can also reduce the mental strength of your opponent.

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Post by kingraf Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:47 pm

To be fair though... this place can be quite cruel when you do stand up for your convictions. I remember writing a thread in 2013 grading Nadal's season to date (just after MC, where he lost to Nole) and added that the weather conditions of the day may play a role in determining the winner. I got laughed out of town basically.... Only for the main storyline over here during Garros to be "What is the weather forecast for Sunday?"...
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Post by It Must Be Love Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:48 pm

JuliusHMarx wrote:I remember John Lloyd saying that the problem playing Borg was that you knew you couldn't outlast him for fitness, so you had to change your game to keep the match shorter.

And Lendl once said that he didn't worry if he went 2 sets to one down in a 5-settr because he knew that he was fitter than the other player and could win the final 2 sets.

So better fitness not only gives you extra mental strength, it can also reduce the mental strength of your opponent.
True, good point, but this can also be applied to other important attributes of the game.
For example if someone is brilliant at hitting return winners off people's second serves; it means the returner is at peace of mind because he knows he can put pressure on his opponent's service games very often, while the server is worried on whether he should take some pace off the first serve and get a higher percentage, and thus loses confidence in his normal service patterns.

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Post by Guest Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:49 pm

But then John Lloyd wasn't a giant of the game in fairness.

How do you know that your fitter than your opponent?

PEDs anyone!

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Post by It Must Be Love Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:50 pm

Belovedluckyboy wrote:So, what happened to Novak after 2011?  His fitness suffered again and so Nadal outlasted him again??

After that 2012 AO final, they hardly go five sets (only once at FO, in 2013) and none of their matches went five hours, and Rafa was winning all their slam matches since AO2012.  So, it's not fitness that decided the outcome of their matches, but who played better on the day.  After AO2012, Rafa was 7-6 vs Novak, so he somehow found a way to counter Novak.

Rafa lost that 2011 USO not because of fitness, but because of Novak's unbelievable ROS on that day, and Novak easily won the first two sets 6-2, 6-4. The USO 2011 final wasn't as physically brutal as that AO2012 final, also, the FO2014 final was physically more taxing due to humidity and heat.  I said, Rafa was not prepared to face Novak on a HC slam at that time during 2011 and was not having the right strategy.  In 2013 USO, he came out all guns blazing and won the first set, so even though he lost the second set, theyre level unlike in 2011 when he was 0-2 in sets. Of the seven slam matches they played each other from 2011 onwards, Rafa lost both matches when he was 0-2 sets down (Wimbledon 2011 and USO2011).  Novak wasn't outlasting Rafa both times, he simply outplayed him. Likewise for Rafa when he beat Nvoak at the slams,, he was simply better on those days.
Good post, the battle between Nadal and Djokovic is more tactical and mental than one would think.

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Post by socal1976 Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:52 pm

Belovedluckyboy wrote:So, what happened to Novak after 2011?  His fitness suffered again and so Nadal outlasted him again??

After that 2012 AO final, they hardly go five sets (only once at FO, in 2013) and none of their matches went five hours, and Rafa was winning all their slam matches since AO2012.  So, it's not fitness that decided the outcome of their matches, but who played better on the day.  After AO2012, Rafa was 7-6 vs Novak, so he somehow found a way to counter Novak.

Rafa lost that 2011 USO not because of fitness, but because of Novak's unbelievable ROS on that day, and Novak easily won the first two sets 6-2, 6-4. The USO 2011 final wasn't as physically brutal as that AO2012 final, also, the FO2014 final was physically more taxing due to humidity and heat.  I said, Rafa was not prepared to face Novak on a HC slam at that time during 2011 and was not having the right strategy.  In 2013 USO, he came out all guns blazing and won the first set, so even though he lost the second set, theyre level unlike in 2011 when he was 0-2 in sets. Of the seven slam matches they played each other from 2011 onwards, Rafa lost both matches when he was 0-2 sets down (Wimbledon 2011 and USO2011).  Novak wasn't outlasting Rafa both times, he simply outplayed him. Likewise for Rafa when he beat Nvoak at the slams,, he was simply better on those days.

Fully agree, Nadal played Djokovic differently in 2013 than he did in 2011 and the results paid dividends for him hugely. Both guys are super fit and wonderful ball strikers. The guy who plays better on that day both tactically and in terms of execution will win. I think Nadal in my mind when healthy is still fitter than Novak. But it rarely comes into play because both guys are fit enough to fight a five or six hour war over 5 sets. I think they both realized after the AO final of 2012 that they have to change tactics and play another way because the costs are too high, and that other guy will not breakdown physically or technically. Rafa has been more aggressive with the serve and has changed his serve up going more to Novak's body and forehand where he goes to the backhand against everyone else. He uses the down the line FH more as well. Novak also goes after Nadal more in the rallies and moves in more often.

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Post by socal1976 Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:53 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:But then John Lloyd wasn't a giant of the game in fairness.

How do you know that your fitter than your opponent?

PEDs anyone!

If your opponent is Fat Dave Nalbandian and you have less than a 40 inch waist you are pretty safe in making that assumption.

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Post by kingraf Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:54 pm

Of course fitness plays a role in mental acuity. If you know you've only got three good sets in the tank, and you're playing Rafa or Nole, you adjust accordingly and redline yourself to hell.

An interesting quote on Borg... A little amusing that it seems the rest of the tour just decided that Borg will outlast them, and that's that... but there you go.
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Post by Guest Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:55 pm

socal1976 wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:But then John Lloyd wasn't a giant of the game in fairness.

How do you know that your fitter than your opponent?

PEDs anyone!

If your opponent is Fat Dave Nalbandian and you have less than a 40 inch waist you are pretty safe in making that assumption.

How would Djokovic "know" he was fitter than Nadal?

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Post by kingraf Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:57 pm

He slept in an egg chamber the night before obviously. Nothing like goddamn Placebos
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Post by Guest Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:58 pm

Laugh Laugh

Despite Nadal PRP?

See how endless and tiresome this debate will become....

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Post by It Must Be Love Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:03 am

That's a very good point actually, how would Djokovic ever know that he has better stamina than Nadal ?

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Post by kingraf Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:03 am

That's how Nadal "knew" he was fitter than Djokovic Very Happy
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Post by Guest Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:07 am

So did Federer know he was fitter than the rest?

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Post by kingraf Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:18 am

On a serious note, I don't think players plan on being "fitter" than the next guy. That seems a rather risky strategy by design. What happens when the guy isn't as unfit as you thought? Look for example at Djokovic-Wawrinka I. If all Djokovic has done is put all his eggs on being fitter than Wawrinka, what happens at 9-9 in the fifth nearly five hours in, and Wawrinka is still hitting rasping winners? I do think players work on their fitness to allow themselves to play at their best for as long as is necessary to win. For all the moaning about how much "fitter" tennis has become, it still wouldn't register on "most taxing sports" list. Witness how the previously frail Kei Nishikori went through a five setter, and then bossed the resident Iron Man, Novak Djokovic around. More than trying to reduce the achievements of Nadal and Djokovic to mere achievements in modern science, I do think there's an element of Federer fans trying to make sure it's understood that Federer is almighty, there is none more talented, just a few more fit
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Post by kingraf Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:19 am

No LK - He was just damn better!
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Post by Guest Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:30 am

clap

Someone that actually understands the belief of being better than fitter helps a players confidence!

Now how about the rest of you.

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Post by LuvSports! Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:15 am

legendkillarV2 wrote:Right Richard. I'll be frank and honest with you. I read most of the tennis forums, this one being the one I contribute the most. I see you. Someone disagrees with you and instead of fronting up, you go to OTF and moan and seek validation of your views. Did the same thing when lydian schooled you last year on ball striking. It's actually pathetic. As a poster on here once said: feel free to grow a backbone any time you like.

In terms of the Djokovic argument. You said his confidence came from his fitness. No it wasn't. Watch IW, Miami and especially Madrid and Rome as Djokovic played the best attacking tennis against Nadal since Soderling 09. Beyond 2011 I agree that most of his matches have become a war of legs, but 2011 was phenomenal. No surprise that he has hasn't replicated it.

What did you think a of lack ill health and winning a big tournament does for confidence? How do you think Federer will play if he didn't have the famed dodgy back? Do you believe his confidence wouldn't rise just a little? Of course it would. Let me tell you what a deformed septum is like. Imagine a blocked nose that no amount of Vick or nose blowing will ever clear. Now imagine playing back to back matches with it. It's quite the challenge.

I am not disputing the impact of fitness in tennis. I acknowledge that other factors can make an extra 10% difference in confidence.

So please if you are going to debate, don't take your ball and go home and moan to mommy.

It's Richie thanks.
Can you bring that ball striking topic up please?
I remember asking Lydian in a PM about ball striking and what it boiled down to. It was a good and enlightening chat. I don't remember arguing with him on that.
I said his confidence and mental strength grew a great deal with his fitness improving exponentially.
You started with the 'naive' thing. I then responded. I like to hear the views of people who know a lot more about tennis than me (there are many obviously).
Keep on disparaging me if you like. I will talk later when I am back from work.

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Post by Guest Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:21 am

The fitness was always there.

The conditioning and health wasn't.


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Post by socal1976 Mon Feb 09, 2015 4:45 pm

kingraf wrote:On a serious note, I don't think players plan on being "fitter" than the next guy. That seems a rather risky strategy by design. What happens when the guy isn't as unfit as you thought? Look for example at Djokovic-Wawrinka I. If all Djokovic has done is put all his eggs on being fitter than Wawrinka, what happens at 9-9 in the fifth nearly five hours in, and Wawrinka is still hitting rasping winners? I do think players work on their fitness to allow themselves to play at their best for as long as is necessary to win. For all the moaning about how much "fitter" tennis has become, it still wouldn't register on "most taxing sports" list. Witness how the previously frail Kei Nishikori went through a five setter, and then bossed the resident Iron Man, Novak Djokovic around. More than trying to reduce the achievements of Nadal and Djokovic to mere achievements in modern science, I do think there's an element of Federer fans trying to make sure it's understood that Federer is almighty, there is none more talented, just a few more fit

Very smart post Rafa. I mean it is very risky to just try and outlast an opponent. What if he gets in a groove wins a couple of big points because you are being too passive? In fact I think that was exactly what happened to Djokovic against Nish at the US open. And of course tennis is not the most physically taxing of sports. There is no physical barrier that an average athletic person in their youth who puts in the work won't be able to attain. I particularly like your last line, that is the real reason behind all this obsession with fitness. The federer fans can't admit Nadal might just be as good or better than Fed they have to pretend that poor Roger gets tired after hitting balls for 3 hours and loses to a lesser man.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:17 pm

Why does Djoko spend so long stretching - I heard he does it at every available opportunity - to give him an edge. Of course the top players try to be fitter than their opponent - that's a basic part and parcel of most sports. They don't solely rely on it, obviously, but it's certainly something they'd like to rely on. And clearly some people, and thus some tennis players, can reach better levels of fitness than others.
Some people like to dismiss fitness because it doesn't suit their agenda.
Rafa, in his book, writes about seeing Federer being tired after the fourth set (the first time Rafa won Wimby) and knowing he could outlast him - and being confident in the fifth because of that. Some people seem to now almost be denying fitness plays a part in tennis!!

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Post by Guest Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:30 pm

Yes but take the Lloyd quote. Does he honestly believe with an enhanced set of pipes he could match Borg stroke for stroke? Produce the shots Borg could? Not a chance in hell!

No-one is denying fitness is a factor. It's not the only one that is the issue. Do people really expect to believe that Djokovic woke up on 01/01/2011 and thought "I know I am fitter than Nadal" the number 1 player in the world who won 3 out of the 4 slams the previous year? If it were the case that Nadal loses to "fitter" players only, wouldn't the likes of Murray and Ferrer have a closer H2H with Nadal? Did Soderling think to himself "I am fitter than Nadal" when he blasted him off the court at RG? Or Del Potro at Flushing Meadows that year?

Fitness gets you so far before you realise actually you have to swing that thing in your hands called a racquet.

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