once again some good things, Latso, but you tend to be too schematic/simplified imo.
"all of them are able to" : yes but not as well, and it's not only a matter of shots, it's also a matter of mind attitude and a matter of movement. And the backhand side also matters.
Nadal can surely make spectacular shots, but the regularity with which you do it is also very important. As you know, Nadal has had a lot of success with crosscourt forehands poundering the opponent's backhand, and sometimes he has tended to be too systematic for that, he himself told it actually.
And once again look at the Nadal-Ferrer match-up to see who uses his mind most to create in the rallies. And look also at that thing : Nadal makes more points with his serve and puts much more Ferrer in the defensive with that shot than Ferrer does.
all true but once again at this level variety
is a huge key.
I will tell you something : when I was young, I watched players of a regional level play and I was very impressed, had the impression that they could play very long rallies without ever missing.
It looked like "perfection"
in my eyes. And I wondered "what must it be like for international level players ? what can they do better ?"
Then I went to see top-players play live ... and what did I realize ?
I didn't have the same impression of "perfection"
!! BUT ... the main difference was the variation
: contrary to the local players they didn't always play the same shots and they played shots which put their opponent in a difficult position.
That was the key-difference between them and a regional level player. It may enter the 5% difference which you consider as something "marginal" but these 5% are actually crucial
Nadal has a much more powerful forehand than both Djokovic and Ferrer but when Nadal plays against Djokovic or Ferrer, what I just see from my eyes is that most of the time, Djokovic or Ferrer is the attacking creating player and Nadal the defending one.
I don't know why, and I can tell you I'm someone who is very very impressed by Nadal's forehand, but in the end that's what I see
Djokovic has always been a very creative guy in my eyes (that's a big difference with Murray even though Murray has more "technical" variety), and Ferrer has always liked to play points on his terms, not on the opponent's term (that's why the notion of "defender" for him looks like a big misinterpretation in my eyes), probably it partly explains why.
Also Ferrer made great improvements in recent years on the backhand, including backhands down the line. Also on his attacking abilities he goes much more to the net than in the past : even though he's far from being a great volleyer (and clearly a worse one than Nadal) he likes to go there naturally and eventually even though he has less theoretical qualities for that (or maybe because of that : he knows his shots are not powerful enough to finish points) ... goes there more often than Nadal.
It's all mostly correct and most of the time, despite the overall sound of your post is like disagreeing with me, we're actually mostly saying the same.
With the few exceptions of course, like the match up Nadal-Ferrer you bring a couple of times, which i don't know why has left the feeling in you that Ferrer is attacking and Nadal defending.
Honestly i don't see where has this ever happened, except at the only win Ferru has over Rafa in the last 5 years, which is during the AO when Rafa was injured and just didn't want to retire.
Of course most of their matches have happened on cay, but still it's always been Nadal tearing Ferru apart and not by defending, i'm positive about this.
About the juniors and pros - the difference is not variety mate. It's speed and speed only.
Youngsters even tend to have more variety than the big guys, simply because they have more time and opportunities, also because they are still wild and take wrong decisions.
A younger Djokovic would do much more drop shots as we all remember and the younger they are - the more improv there is.
At the higher level the only difference is the speed with which those regular baseline shots travel, not even the finishing shots, but the standard ones.
And players trying to put the adversary in a tough position is my main argument for why i consider Djokovic less aggressive than most the top 8 guys, coz he just doesn't do that regularly.
Since his level rose a notch and he's among the best defenders out there (for me he's the best defender ever by a mile actually, but that's a whole other discussion) and he's among the most regular players, he's in the position to wait and play empty shots (empty compared to the other top players, not the juniors, for whom those would be equal to attack shots) and wait for the right moment. And he waits longer than most.
Have you seen lately Djokovic hit a FH winner behind the baseline? He probably has, but seriously think about it. I can't even remember him doing that once. He's probably had more BH winners behind the baseline than FHs.
Simply because he doesn't need to, as he can defend and he's endurant enough, and his strategy is to build the points up longer and play safer.
The final of the WTF is an example in which Djokovic just held long enough for Federer to lower his level of attack and got back in the match.
If an aggressor like Federer can keep the first few games tempo and precision long enough there's nothing much Djokovic can do, but atm there is no player who could do this constantly enough and win against Djokovic this way.
Murray is playing in a similar way, but Djokovic is just the better defender.
Anyhow, the difference between those players at the top is so small and so much in the details that it's just speculations to put them into a specific order based on any quality.
It's also a lot about match ups, conditions, strategy, etc., so you might have watched a few Nadal defensive matches that marked your mind (and i believe these are mostly his early performances, prior to his USO tittle f.e.) and me his offensive ones, same for Nole, etc.
What could be easily agreed is that Tsonga is a genuine aggressor (not necessarily a good thing) and Murray is less (also depends which Murray. At the OG and USO i saw a non defensive Muzza). Ppl tend to put Nole high just because he's #1 in the World, but my feeling about him is different, which doesn't make him a worse or better player, he's #1 and that's all.