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How long could Federer play at the top for?

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Post by bogbrush Tue 26 Jan 2016, 11:20 am

First topic message reminder :

It was funny watching the quarter today. As one poster said, Berdych used to trouble Federer but on a court ideal for his play he was dismantled pretty emphatically by Federer. Where he seemed always to be short of time against the big Czech, he looked in control throughout.

The winners almost doubled the unforced errors (so it was attacking tennis) and Berdych looked further away from overcoming him than perhaps ever before. There was the usual drivel from Simon Reed about how Federers movement is "better than ever" but in my opinion he's confusing footspeed with the impact of court position.

What Federer seems to have done is made his court smaller, and in doing so he's made the other guys bigger. It's done simply by standing right up on every shot from return to mid rally and refusing to back off; in doing so he's rushing opponents and giving himself broader angles to play into, as well as cutting down the distance he needs to travel side to side. I thought it was noticeable how many killer forehands he hit - a part of his game that became a shadow of it's former self.

The only requirement for this tactic is insanely good reactions & the ability (which he's always had) to play half or near-half volleys like normal groundstrokes.

The question I'm thinking is; provided he keeps his hand-eye skill (and he'll probably have it in some form for decades), and he stays basically fit, what's to stop him staying in the top 5 for another 4 years or so? There's no sign of others coming through, I think the events are starting to realise they took the slow court thing too far and there are signs of a reversal, and he seems to want it. If he fails to win this Australian Open it's most likely to be because the current established #1 beats him; that's what it's taken to stop him winning the last two Grand Slams after all.

Exactly why will he stop, and when? We all keep predicting he'll fall away but while he's able to reinvent / rejuvinate his game where's the evidence?

As the man says today; “It's part of the reason why I guess I'm still playing. I feel like I'm competitive at the top. I can beat all the guys on tour. It's nice now that in the last three slams that I've been as consistent as I have been,” Federer said.

“I'm playing good tennis, fun tennis for me anyway. I really enjoy being able to come to the net more like back in the day. So I'm very pleased. It would mean a lot to me (to win another major), no doubt about it.”
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Post by greengoblin Mon 01 Feb 2016, 11:34 am

The achievements of today's players are overestimated. They get to play the same style of tennis on all surfaces with rackets with huge sweet spots. I'm sick of hearing Andrew Castle, Sue Barker etc eulogise over those whose real ability falls way short of past greats. The final was pathetic. Murray lost to Djokovic 3 times  but still can't come up with a coherent strategy. Just shows his tennis brain is awful. Djokovic hitting about 25 winners the whole match.


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Post by lags72 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 11:48 am

Well greengoblin, I guess the obvious, straightforward solution is for you to sort out Murray's 'awful tennis brain'. I'm sure he would be eternally grateful and can't imagine why he hasn't tried to get hold of you already.

While you're at it, you might like to offer some guidance to everyone else on the Tour - all of whom suffer repeated losses at the hands of Djokovic.

That said, I do agree that the Final wasn't a great sporting spectacle.

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Post by lydian Mon 01 Feb 2016, 12:22 pm

I think there is some truth in that SFP...almost that Mac's raison d'être was diminished after Borg left. I get the feeling that Borg was the only player that Mac truly looked up to.
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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 12:26 pm

gg is the Donald Trump of the forum; deliberate overstatement to make a more reasonable point!

Burrowing under to the message I think there's a lot there;

- we used to call these things "granny racquets", and there's no doubt they make it far easier to hit telling shots from stretched positions. You can see on the slow-mos how often a "great" shot turns out to have come off the lower or upper part of the racquet. Try that with an old wooden small head Donnay (Borg) or Slaz (McEnroe)!! I would love to see the top boys try to play with those (I remember Mark Philippoussis showing how he could hit just as big serves with them, by the way).

- echoing lydian, the specialists are gone; the guys who could take the winner of the French Open and roast him in week 1 of Wimbledon, or the guys who could take a grass great like Sampras and restrict him to one semi-final appearance at RG. They've gone of course because the differences have been substantially narrowed, or at least to the extent that the style of play needed is fairly similar.

Back to topic - Federer is extending his shelf-life by going so aggressive, but there's no doubt he pays a big price in that the option to stay back is much less available to him. We rightly laud the asset of the net game but might overlook the risks of how much he has commit to this style.
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Post by greengoblin Mon 01 Feb 2016, 12:40 pm

I watched Borg - Gerulitis Wimby 77 yesterday after the final. My oh my what a match.

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Post by greengoblin Mon 01 Feb 2016, 12:53 pm

bogbrush wrote:gg is the Donald Trump of the forum; deliberate overstatement to make a more reasonable point!

I will ban the entry of all Djokovic fans to this forum until we can figure out what the hell is going on.

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Post by Guest Mon 01 Feb 2016, 12:55 pm

summerblues wrote:Slightly off-topic, but I have a question for those of you who believe that the prime age in tennis has shifted over time from maybe early/mid 20s to maybe mid 20s/early 30s.

If you take that view, should you not also view the Big 4 as somewhat overrated?

The generations before them may have had maybe 5-7 years of available prime years, and so will the generations after them.  But they were lucky to start their careers at a time when one could dominate in teens/early 20s, but finish them at a time when one can still play well into their 30s.  If so, did Big 4 not effectively have more time at their disposal to collect the trophies, compared to other generations?

And does that not diminish their achievements at least a little bit?

Some interesting questions. My take on the 2 you asked in the bold:

I don't think the Big 4 concept was that vastly over-rated. What you had were 4 players who had a monopoly on the rankings and the vast majority of the titles on offer. Without doubt you have 3 exceptional players who had success across the Slams and a stint as WN1 whereas with the other was making inroads to that echelon and taking advantage when the opportunities presented themselves. For upmost consistency not over-rated, but in individual achievements yes.

Now diminishing achievements is a GOAT debate, and not turning this into it I did make a quip that in decades to come some serious questions will be asked about this generation. The tennis GOAT debate reminds me a lot of the golf GOAT debate. People look past the stats and look at the sport and the shape it was in. In the next 5 years without question you will have 3 players from this generation making the table in any GOAT debate. To thrive in the current climate in tennis requires a different set of skills. It's your pick as to which element in climates gone by where you say to yourself "was a BH volley at the net more skilful than a BH from the baseline?" and then from that construct a picture. Golf and tennis are a lot similar in the equipment stakes. For example when Borg and Nicklaus were racking up their titles, it was with old equipment whereas Woods and Federer with more up to date technology. Without a doubt equipment nowadays have a much more forgiving nature about them. Having played with a wooden faced driver and tennis racquet and a titanium faced driver and metal racquet I can tell you from that experience what I find more rewarding.

You will get those that say that bigger racquet heads equipped with more forgiving strings has taken some of the skill out of the game, which yes an argument could be made. You can win from sitting back. There is still high risk in some shots, but the racquet allows a degree of risk free play. Like with golf. Moons ago if you wanted to be further up the fairway, you plucked for a driver. There is still risk using one today, but with hybrid clubs and metal faced woods, you can equally hit with power and come up 20-30 yards short, but still have a similar opportunity to reach the green in 2.

I think now with Golf, you have Woods really who has the GOAT credentials in the modern game. Mickelson perhaps, but in the Tier 2 group. Now you have McIlroy and Spieth and one wonders how many Majors they will finish one. The competition seems healthy and anyone can win a Major. Tennis, as above you have 3 GOAT contenders. Question is, are the current conditions lending themselves to such lean and long spells of individual dominance? And with that are the conditions less challenging which has allowed this?

It's a compelling debate because we are now looking at everything and also encouraging fans to look into the past and past champions and conditions. For me any sport regardless of the science and technology that enhances is a skill in itself and one only an elite few can master over years of time.

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Post by lags72 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 12:58 pm

bogbrush - on the longevity topic .....I think somewhere earlier in this thread (or maybe elsewhere) that, despite all the chatter about 35 being the new 30, you pointed out that Federer in truth remains the only OAP doing 'anything interesting'. I agree with that perspective. Whilst I have every respect for all players who maintain a ranking within the top 100, I can't recall (??) any of Federer's current age making successive Slam Finals or semis. The others are more or less hanging around, although duracell Daveed F deserves credit for ongoing success in lesser events.

lydian - yep, Johnny Mac specifically talks in his autobiog ('Serious' ..... good read ) about the way his own motivation dropped so dramatically in the immediate wake of Bjorn's shock departure. He relished the challenge that Bjorn had brought, and missed him a lot (although he somehow omits to mention that I miss the amazing Borg even more ......)

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Post by Born Slippy Mon 01 Feb 2016, 1:30 pm

summerblues wrote:Slightly off-topic, but I have a question for those of you who believe that the prime age in tennis has shifted over time from maybe early/mid 20s to maybe mid 20s/early 30s.

If you take that view, should you not also view the Big 4 as somewhat overrated?

The generations before them may have had maybe 5-7 years of available prime years, and so will the generations after them.  But they were lucky to start their careers at a time when one could dominate in teens/early 20s, but finish them at a time when one can still play well into their 30s.  If so, did Big 4 not effectively have more time at their disposal to collect the trophies, compared to other generations?

And does that not diminish their achievements at least a little bit?

I'm not sure you will like my answer to this one...

I think the time probably passed a long time ago. Generally, this type of development tends to be due to changes in the game, where the older players find it harder to adjust. From the late 70s to late 90s, technology was developing swiftly and the kids coming through had something new. Since late 90s/early 2000s, technology and conditions have stayed virtually the same. Unsurprisingly, a 20 year old is generally not going to have the experience or probably quite the all-round game of an equivalent 28 year old (and probably also won't have the same fitness or speed endurance).

My view is therefore that it was probably harder for the Nadal/Novak generation to come through than the generations before. The reason they were able to do so was partially because they are exceptional and partially because the generation above them, for various reasons, was particularly poor. Nadal's competition on clay in his formative years was particularly woeful.

I struggle though to diminish their achievements. What they have done for nearly 7 years is astonishing. Bar the odd injury affected season, they have been able to dominate a fairly competitive tour below suffering very very few upsets at slam level.

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Post by Haddie-nuff Mon 01 Feb 2016, 4:33 pm

[quote="sirfredperry"]Haddie/BB. Johnny Mac has spoken of his despair at the news that Borg was retiring. I think he relished the rivalry. It could be that if Bjorn had not walked away both he AND Mac would have had better overall records.[/quot

Mac had the greatest respect for Borg and the one player he never played the bad boy with on court..
I know I can be quoted as having said this on many other occasion but John  could not be credited with the total reason as to why Bjorn retired.. To confess my sins, if not my age, I was a Bjorn Fan girl and I was devastated when he so suddenly retired after the loss against Mac... but what so many do not recall is that he was in the midst of a very acrimonious divorce from his first wife who was trying to take him to the  cleaners.... I do not think he could cope with what was going on and OFF court so he took the easier way out. Had the latter not been a distraction I think he would have changed his mind.  The loss to tennis, for me, was a tragedy and I have so often wondered what the turn of events would have been had Borg played another 5/6 yrs

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Post by JuliusHMarx Mon 01 Feb 2016, 4:52 pm

I'm not certain Borg intended to retire. I think he just said he was taking a break, then when he wanted to come back at a later date on a reduced schedule, the ATP wouldn't allow it (i.e. they said you have to play more tournaments or you can't play at all), so then he retired. We'd need some news reports from the time to research this, but I'm not sure that he just said "I'm retiring" and that was it.

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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 4:54 pm

I don't about Borg but I thought you had!
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Post by lydian Mon 01 Feb 2016, 5:08 pm

I wonder how much the Swedish psyche is different to other sporting nations around that time - whether they had a more holistic view of the game and their place in it given we also saw the dramatic retirement of Wilander at a youngish age too? Also, they werent managed/protected by their agencies as well back then - could you see Borg retiring these days at 26?
It is such a shame though - I've never seen a more gifted athlete on a tennis court, his sheer foot speed was out of this world, and I include Nadal, Federer and Djokovic in that! Can you imagine Borg with modern day training...?
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Post by lags72 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 5:38 pm

Bjorn Borg was not actually from Sweden. He belonged to another planet.

Nobody more impressive has appeared since he left tennis.

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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 5:48 pm

lags72 wrote:Bjorn Borg was not actually from Sweden. He belonged to another planet.

Nobody more impressive has appeared since he left tennis.
It cracked me up when Star Trek named their emotionless antagonists "The Borg", because that kind of relentless precision was him!

Think about his expression - or absence of - when he lost that tie break to Mac!!! Resistance was futile.
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Post by Haddie-nuff Mon 01 Feb 2016, 5:50 pm

I believe he doubted himself on all fronts after the defeat by Johnny Mac his wife Mariana Simionescu was an absolute nobody really albeit a Rumanian tennis player of no great renown her claim to fame was being married to Bjorn decided she would take him for what she could get.
He was unbelievable.. he took the tennis world by storm.. so different from whatever went before him .. he had everything going for him, talent, looks, athleticism.. he was indeed the Iceborg.. and the tennis player of the day... he was, it has to be said, a womaniser and he and Guerilaitis were the pin up boys of tennis. No one before or since imo  ever made such an impact on the tennis world as Bjorn Borg

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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 6:56 pm

In my experience, eventually a man needs a great woman if he's going to truly achieve stuff.

Federer is lucky with Mirka; she's no classic 'wag' but it's obvious how close they are, and from the limited amount I seeof them, she looks 'right' for him. He's not really the sort of guy who would look at ease with a bimbo. Maybe her role in his longevity is bigger than we usually imagine.
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Post by Haddie-nuff Mon 01 Feb 2016, 7:13 pm

I think you are absolutely right..she is his anchor, his stability and a great support to him ; these women have to be something pretty special to live within the hectic world they do. That is why I felt for Andy.. Kim and he have been together since their school days and she has been by his side through thick and ....a great deal of thin.Im glad he has got home in time for the big event .

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Post by Henman Bill Mon 01 Feb 2016, 9:24 pm

SB, your argument, logically, does have something in it so I can't refute it entirely, although I think when we consider that the longevity of players may have been partly caused by the impact of the big 4 on the game as well as them having benefited it, and the fact that the change of peak age probably took place to a smaller extent before they came along as well, is probably not a big point and wouldn't impact greatly on our consideration of the achievements of the big 4.

gg, nice Trump satire there.

Borg, as I said on the GOAT thread, to estimate how many he would have won in a modern era, I said: "Missed the 1977 French Open, and 7 AOs, 8 total between first and last slam win. Resonable to think he could have won 3 of those based on the rate he won slams he entered during those peak years. Causing a boost of his slam total from 11 to 14." However my methodology was to calculate slam wins based on slams missed between first and last win. Had he not retired, and played for another say 5 years, I think he could have won an estimated 3 slams more, perhaps the FOs being the main chance. I'd guess he could have got to somewhere on a par with what Roger Federer achieved (so far), around 17, assuming he played the AO and retired later.

Really the only difference between Borg and Federer in greatness is:
Borg failing to sneak one US Open
AND
Federer reacting more positively to no longer being the top dog. If Fed had retired as soon as he was clearly the no 2 (that would be after the Australian Open 2009) he would have ended up with 13 slams, no French Open, and definately not the GOAT.

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Post by Guest Mon 01 Feb 2016, 9:44 pm

The what if of Borg is quite the unknown. 

Annoying frustrating, like an ending to a book or film that leaves you wanting some other outcome.

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Post by summerblues Tue 02 Feb 2016, 3:01 am

socal1976 wrote:Not really because that is counterbalanced by the strength that comes from globilazitation, ....
Yeah, but that is a different topic.  I realize there are gazillions of variables that complicate comparisons across time.

My question really was:  everything else being equal, does the fact they were starting out when youngsters were able to do well, but ended up playing in times when oldies are able to do well, not inflate their numbers.

I recognize there can be counterbalancing factors that - at the bottom line - can make the comparison swing the other way.  Your very choice of the word "counterbalanced" seems to suggest that you essentially agree with me, no?

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Post by summerblues Tue 02 Feb 2016, 3:04 am

greengoblin wrote:I watched Borg - Gerulitis Wimby 77 yesterday after the final. My oh my what a match.
I recently watched bits of the 1980 USO final between McEnroe and Borg.  Loved it.

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Post by summerblues Tue 02 Feb 2016, 3:09 am

legendkillarV2 wrote:Some interesting questions. My take on the 2 you asked in the bold:
[...]
Oh yes, I agree with a lot of what you said. My post was much less ambitious.

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Post by summerblues Tue 02 Feb 2016, 3:33 am

Born Slippy wrote:I'm not sure you will like my answer to this one...
Oh, but why would I not like it?

I have my opinions, but I would like to believe I have no agenda.  Overall, I prefer hearing the opinions of posters who disagree with me.  Those who have similar views to mine are more likely to have gone through similar thought process, and are thus less likely to provide an angle that is new to me.

Of course, as much as I like to hear different views, I may at the end still come out convinced they are really all wrong and I was right all along Wink

Born Slippy wrote:My view is therefore that it was probably harder for the Nadal/Novak generation to come through than the generations before. The reason they were able to do so was partially because they are exceptional and partially because the generation above them, for various reasons, was particularly poor.  Nadal's competition on clay in his formative years was particularly woeful.
I have a couple of counterpoints:

First, while obviously Rafa/Nole/Andy were progressing faster than other players, at that time it was not really just them moving up at young age.  Other youngsters were also moving up at a pace faster than what we see now - Gasquet was close to top 10 before 20th birthday, Monfils was top 50 before 19th birthday, Baghdatis was top 10 at 21....  So I do not think one can just chalk it up to the exceptionality of the three.  I just do not see any evidence that it was more difficult for the youngsters to move up already back then.

Second, how deep do you say the generation before them was poor?  I do not want to go into the arguments about the very top players (I am sure we would disagree), but are you suggesting it was particularly poor all the way to top 50 and beyond?  Because that is really what matters when you are looking at progress of youngsters and comparing against more recent years.  That is a strong claim to make, and it is unclear to me what you would be basing it on.

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Post by summerblues Tue 02 Feb 2016, 3:36 am

Henman Bill wrote:SB, your argument, logically, does have something in it so I can't refute it entirely, although I think when we consider that the longevity of players may have been partly caused by the impact of the big 4 on the game as well as them having benefited it, and the fact that the change of peak age probably took place to a smaller extent before they came along as well, is probably not a big point and wouldn't impact greatly on our consideration of the achievements of the big 4.
HB, my argument is somewhat hypothetical.  I myself am far from convinced that it is more difficult for younger players to break through nowadays (as opposed to just having had a couple of years with less new talent coming through).

But I wanted to know the opinion of those who do think that prime age for tennis has shifted over the last 10 years.

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Post by Born Slippy Tue 02 Feb 2016, 12:00 pm

SB - I think the change has been emphasised by a weak cohort. I'm perhaps thinking a top youngster might be 5-10 places lower than previously. Kyrgios for example might have made lower top 10 rather than c. 20 a few years ago. An exceptional youngster should still be able to progress.

I think it actually probably has more effect on the youngsters who could become 50-100 level players as it seems that even guys ranked c. 80-100 are playing longer. If they are having to wait longer to get out of the 200-300 ranking then there must be a lot who just give up.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Tue 02 Feb 2016, 2:54 pm

summerblues wrote:
Henman Bill wrote:SB, your argument, logically, does have something in it so I can't refute it entirely, although I think when we consider that the longevity of players may have been partly caused by the impact of the big 4 on the game as well as them having benefited it, and the fact that the change of peak age probably took place to a smaller extent before they came along as well, is probably not a big point and wouldn't impact greatly on our consideration of the achievements of the big 4.
HB, my argument is somewhat hypothetical.  I myself am far from convinced that it is more difficult for younger players to break through nowadays (as opposed to just having had a couple of years with less new talent coming through).

But I wanted to know the opinion of those who do think that prime age for tennis has shifted over the last 10 years.

I've already said before on other posts but been ridiculed for it. I stand by my assertion that over the last ten years or so since the breakthrough of Rafa and Novak the sport has become much more physical. Obviously, the slower court conditions have meant longer rallies and the likes of Rafa set new levels of fitness. Novak and Andy noticed this and followed suit enhancing their fitness to match. Obviously, this coupled with their obvious tennis talent (all junior slam winners before they became super fit) has raised the bar which older pros and the younger ones can't match. Older pros talent levels coupled with fitness levels doesn't match the very best hence they very rarely beat the very best. As for the younger pros a question remains about their talent levels and it takes time to get the body accustomed to the physicality of the game and bring their supreme fitness levels up to the level now required. Unless youngsters with great talent today work on their fitness in unison in their teens with their talent then it will take a few years to reach that standard held by Novak and Rafa whilst playing on the tennis circuit as the close season is the only real time a heavy fitness regime can be put into place to greatly improve fitness levels.
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Post by socal1976 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 6:46 pm

summerblues wrote:
socal1976 wrote:Not really because that is counterbalanced by the strength that comes from globilazitation, ....
Yeah, but that is a different topic.  I realize there are gazillions of variables that complicate comparisons across time.

My question really was:  everything else being equal, does the fact they were starting out when youngsters were able to do well, but ended up playing in times when oldies are able to do well, not inflate their numbers.

I recognize there can be counterbalancing factors that - at the bottom line - can make the comparison swing the other way.  Your very choice of the word "counterbalanced" seems to suggest that you essentially agree with me, no?

To an extent I agree with your assumptions about players today having advantages in training, technology, medicine, and knowledge over the old guys that has increased the age of the prime. But my answer would be so? What is exactly earth shaking about that or different to what we have seen across the board in other sports. In the old days lets say 50s and 60s in baseball you had rotary cuff surgery as a pitcher you were done. Now guys are pitching in their late 30s and 40s and having that surgery done every couple of off seasons like an oil change. In football you tore your ACL in the 40-50s there goes your career, and I am talking both NFL and what the rest of the world calls football.

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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 7:38 pm

summerblues wrote:Slightly off-topic, but I have a question for those of you who believe that the prime age in tennis has shifted over time from maybe early/mid 20s to maybe mid 20s/early 30s.

If you take that view, should you not also view the Big 4 as somewhat overrated?

The generations before them may have had maybe 5-7 years of available prime years, and so will the generations after them.  But they were lucky to start their careers at a time when one could dominate in teens/early 20s, but finish them at a time when one can still play well into their 30s.  If so, did Big 4 not effectively have more time at their disposal to collect the trophies, compared to other generations?

And does that not diminish their achievements at least a little bit?

Why should future players have shorter careers than those now?
My feeling is the big 3/4 are uber talented for any generation but are able to extend their careers because the playing conditions have made them fitter and the style of play is not as taxing, even though more lung busting, than the more rapid conditions 15+ years ago.
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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 7:50 pm

The other problem here is the constant talk of the top4 - who are an outlier vs rest of tour. We see the rest of tour getting older and not much changing, making it harder for newer entrants to break into the top 100. I have always said there were 3 eras recently...
A) those who learnt and plied fast tennis underpinnings - they generally had shorter careers due to faster courts placing tougher challenges on tennis bodies
B) those who learnt fast tennis underpinnings but had to transition to the new style courts (Hewitt, Ferrero, Roddick, Nalby, Safin, etc) - they couldn't adapt that well, and retired more for issues of struggling with the modern game as much as anything else. Only Federer did really. But Fed is Fed and he learnt his tennis crucially on clay.
C) those who learnt slower court tennis and ply it in the modern era...they are comfortable and adept in current conditions.

There are excretions to the above but if you dig into the transitional court/conditions era period (2000-2004) you'll see vast changes before and after that period.
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Post by socal1976 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 7:56 pm

lydian wrote:The other problem here is the constant talk of the top4 - who are an outlier vs rest of tour. We see the rest of tour getting older and not much changing, making it harder for newer entrants to break into the top 100. I have always said there were 3 eras recently...
A) those who learnt and plied fast tennis underpinnings - they verbally had shorter careers due to faster courts placing tougher challenges on tennis bodies
B) those who learnt fast tennis underpinnings but had to transition to the new style courts (Hewitt, Ferrero, Roddick, Nalby, Safin, etc) - they couldn't adapt that well, and retired more for issues of struggling with the modern game as much as anything else. Only Federer did really. But Fed is Fed and he learnt his tennis crucially on clay.
C) those who learnt slower court tennis and ply it in the modern era...they are comfortable and adept in current conditions.

There are excretions to the above but if you dig into the transitional court/conditions era period (2000-2004) you'll see vast changes before and after that period.

Can't disagree with any of that really. Except that I don't see players having longer careers as being a bad thing. It doesn't mean the young guys won't be able to ever come up, just means they will do longer apprenticeships. And in the long run they then will have the benefits of sticking around longer. I mean people count this as a big negative of the slowed and homogenized conditions in fact it is one of the biggest benefits. Also people see the death of the surface specialists as such a disaster, I for one am happily dancing on their graves. I remember how crappy it was in the first week of RG watching like every good fast court player get beat by players you had no idea who the hell they were. Then you would see third and 4th round matches at RG between two guys who could have been playing each other in some hell hole challenger on clay a month ago. Sorry, I don't have much respect for guys who sell out their style, technique, and train year round practically on one surface to ambush better players for two months of the season.

In short, most of the things you guys point to as criticisms of the current slow conditions I actually see as positives. Wow, my favorite stars being credible into their thirties how awful someone should alert Congress.

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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 7:58 pm

I don't see long careers as bad either.
Just wish there was more variety of surface speeds on tour.
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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:01 pm

The problem with your argument Socal is that this current homogenised speed is killing the game in future - coaching methods have converged and is producing identikit players in 5-10 years time...just you watch.
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Post by socal1976 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:06 pm

lydian wrote:I don't see long careers as bad either.
Just wish there was more variety of surface speeds on tour.

No but I do wish that all the critics of today's tour at least address that we have seen quite a few positive developments as a result of slowing down conditions in the 2000s. 1. The death of surface specialist bumholes, they are like knuckleballers in baseball they can be very effective on their day but their style is about as close to cheating as one can get without cheating
2. Longer careers 3. More very close and competitive 5 setters with big matchups against big well known stars. 4. The whole tour having a fair chance on all the majors

These positives are never addressed by those who often talk of wanting big changes, they never address the qualities of what we have and what we might endanger by radical tinkering.

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Post by Guest Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:11 pm

lydian wrote:The other problem here is the constant talk of the top4 - who are an outlier vs rest of tour. We see the rest of tour getting older and not much changing, making it harder for newer entrants to break into the top 100. I have always said there were 3 eras recently...
A) those who learnt and plied fast tennis underpinnings - they generally had shorter careers due to faster courts placing tougher challenges on tennis bodies
B) those who learnt fast tennis underpinnings but had to transition to the new style courts (Hewitt, Ferrero, Roddick, Nalby, Safin, etc) - they couldn't adapt that well, and retired more for issues of struggling with the modern game as much as anything else. Only Federer did really. But Fed is Fed and he learnt his tennis crucially on clay.
C) those who learnt slower court tennis and ply it in the modern era...they are comfortable and adept in current conditions.

There are excretions to the above but if you dig into the transitional court/conditions era period (2000-2004) you'll see vast changes before and after that period.

I don't believe that the faster conditions taxed the bodies to the extent as you say. Look at the career ending cases of mono. Players are killing themselves to be the fittest man out there. Eventually that is going to wear your immune system down especially with the lack of recovery on tour. Out of those players you mentioned it was only really Roddick who retired without any long standing or recurring injury. 

The point you made earlier about surface specialists I totally agree the lack of in some ways has killed the sport. Clay specialists trying to figure out how to win on Grass and vice verse was always compelling to see if they could crack it. Like Lendl trying to win Wimbledon and Sampras equally trying to succeed at RG.

You have a simple template for the modern game which isn't as you say lending itself to the coaching element.

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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:15 pm

How many players have retired to mono in this era compared to those who burnt out in the late 90s?
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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:18 pm

Guys like Rafter, Sampras, Ferreira, Martin, Goran, Kafelnikov, Krajicek...all burnt out pretty much by 2001-3/30ish years old. That's spring chicken age in this era.
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Post by Born Slippy Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:23 pm

Yeah, there's just no chance that faster conditions were harder on the body.

Disagree totally on the clay specialists point though. Having a bunch of seeds who were flat out awful on particularly surfaces always led to unbalanced draws and some dreadful matches. Much better nowadays where most players have decent games on most surfaces and the best players ultimately prevail. It's also total nonsense that it's killed the sport - saved it is probably closer (particularly at Wimbledon).

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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:28 pm

Faster courts and faster reflexes needed put the body under more strain, everything becomes more speed max'ed out including the players brains. It's no coincidence that hardly any of the top 90s guys extended their careers far into the 00s. They were a busted flush. Only Agassi is the exception but he had long periods of relative wilderness in the game during the 90s.
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Post by Guest Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:28 pm

Ancic and Soderling to name two.

Sampras still won a Slam seemingly burnt out and Goran won Wimbledon a couple of months shy of his 30th birthday. Agassi was winning Slams in his 30's. 

If anything it's becoming a slower death because youngsters are not accelerating the decline.

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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:29 pm

I'm not after surface specialists per se, just more variety in the game which more speed variation would bring. I mean, even Federer has stated this!
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Post by Guest Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:30 pm

Saved it?

I am intrigued to hear how that's happened.

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Post by Guest Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:34 pm

lydian wrote:Faster courts and faster reflexes needed put the body under more strain, everything becomes more speed max'ed out including the players brains. It's no coincidence that hardly any of the top 90s guys extended their careers far into the 00s. They were a busted flush. Only Agassi is the exception but he had long periods of relative wilderness in the game during the 90s.

That for me then leads onto the 'longevity' and the science behind it which is a more sinister and speculative discussion Wink

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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:34 pm

But that's only 2 names LK in a tour of 1000s players over the years.
I even have my doubts about Soderling vs mono but that's another discussion!
Sampras' 2002 win was on the fastest court left on tour, US and he was in visible hardcore decline. He self admits his serve won him that last slam...av. 2nd serve speed of 115mph for that champs! But as I said...they didn't do anything after 30/31...just left the tour. These days 30/31 is still getting warmed up. The differences to me are stark when you compare what happens to guys playing I n fast vs slower conditions. Anyway, my point is that we need more variety - not all fast as we had then or all slow as we have now.
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Post by lydian Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:36 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:

That for me then leads onto the 'longevity' and the science behind it which is a more sinister and speculative discussion Wink
Quite!! Wink
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Post by Born Slippy Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:36 pm

lydian wrote:Guys like Rafter, Sampras, Ferreira, Martin, Goran, Kafelnikov, Krajicek...all burnt out pretty much by 2001-3/30ish years old. That's spring chicken age in this era.

Rafter, Krajicek and Goran suffered injuries throughout their careers. They were the Nadal/Del Potro of that generation. Martin reached his career high ranking aged 29 and Ferreira was still ranked top 20 at 32. Sampras had his health issues as well and, I suspect, lost motivation once he passed Emerson. I can't recall what happened to Kafelnikov but he was a baseliner anyway, who played very similarly to the modern guys.

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Post by Guest Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:37 pm

The current crop are not at 30 and beyond yet so anything can happen from now until then. I think motivation was also key. Becker himself said he lost his enthusiasm when Sampras handed him beatings at Wimbledon. I'd be interested to see the average retirement age in the 90's compared to 00's. 

I agree the tour needs variation.

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Post by socal1976 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 9:06 pm

lydian wrote:But that's only 2 names LK in a tour of 1000s players over the years.
I even have my doubts about Soderling vs mono but that's another discussion!
Sampras' 2002 win was on the fastest court left on tour, US and he was in visible hardcore decline. He self admits his serve won him that last slam...av. 2nd serve speed of 115mph for that champs! But as I said...they didn't do anything after 30/31...just left the tour. These days 30/31 is still getting warmed up. The differences to me are stark when you compare what happens to guys playing I n fast vs slower conditions. Anyway, my point is that we need more variety - not all fast as we had then or all slow as we have now.
Fast conditions and more volleying bring more injuries and can be just as exhausting if not more so a style of play than playing from the baseline. The problem is the hard jarring moves and changes of direction required to play at net, your reaction time is cut in half. Major joints like hips, backs, and knees take real pounding. To this day the drill I hate the most and which after 5 minutes has me gasping for air is when my coach feeds me FH volley, Bh volley, then overhead over and over again training your coverage and reactions. You feel that drill even the next day.

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Post by socal1976 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 9:11 pm

Born Slippy wrote:Yeah, there's just no chance that faster conditions were harder on the body.

Disagree totally on the clay specialists point though. Having a bunch of seeds who were flat out awful on particularly surfaces always led to unbalanced draws and some dreadful matches. Much better nowadays where most players have decent games on most surfaces and the best players ultimately prevail. It's also total nonsense that it's killed the sport - saved it is probably closer (particularly at Wimbledon).
While I disagree that fast conditions are harder on the body, I completely agree on the negative impact of the surface specialist who were prevalent in the 90s. A player who trains all year on one surface and sells out his entire technique, training, and tactics so he could ambush top seeds in one part of the season. I remember watching many mid round contest at RG and scratching my head when I had no idea either protagonist in this 4th round matchup had ever existed and why would I possibly watch it.

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Post by summerblues Wed 03 Feb 2016, 2:42 am

lydian wrote:Why should future players have shorter careers than those now?
Not shorter careers per se.  But a lot of people seem to think that it is all but impossible to rise to the top while very young anymore - so that future stars may wait until mid 20s before getting to #1 or so.

If that is the case, arguably the Big 4 lucked out compared to those before and after them - starting their careers during an era when it was still possible to get to the top in teens/early twenties, and ending them at a time when it is possible to remain at the top until the 30s.

Anyway, I myself do not hold the view that it is harder to reach the top for today's youngsters - I just think none of the recent ones have been quite good enough - so for me the question is ultimately more hypothetical than anything else.

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