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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 06:26 AM Thread Starter
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Article: Left handers in the modern game

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/26/sp...tner=TOPIXNEWS

Nadal Leads Movement to the Left in Tennis



By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY
Published: May 26, 2005
PARIS, May 25 - It was becoming difficult to be even-handed about the game of tennis. Left-handers, once prime movers and racket shakers in the sport, were becoming as hard to find at the top as sliced forehands, checkered headbands and short men's shorts - until Rafael Nadal made his move.

Where there used to be Rod Laver, Guillermo Vilas, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles (the ground strokes were two-handed, but the serve was not), there was suddenly a glut of forehand crosscourt rallies from right-handed baseliners intent on grinding the flashy minority into the clay.

Schoolchildren in Victorian England sometimes had their left hands tied behind their backs so they would not write with them, and future tennis stars have been forced to play against instinct, too. Greats like Ken Rosewall and Margaret Court were natural left-handers who were made to use their right hands, as was Kimiko Date, the finest Japanese women's player of the past 20 years.

But after years of drought, it has finally been a verdant spring for the sinister, the Latin word for those on the unlucky left, and not because the left-handed Finnish qualifier Jarkko Nieminen bounced the ailing Andre Agassi out of the French Open in the first round on Tuesday.

The primary reason is Nadal, the Spanish 18-year-old whose whipping forehand and scrambling footwork have propelled him to No. 5 in the rankings and, after Wednesday's 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Xavier Malisse, into the third round at Roland Garros, where he will face Richard Gasquet of France. Gasquet, a fellow 18-year-old but not a fellow left-hander, defeated Peter Wessels, 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-1.

Until Nadal roared into the big picture, the last left-hander in the top 10 was the surly, spectacular Chilean Marcelo Rios, who dropped out of that elite group in April 2000. Although Nadal means business and trouble for his right-handed rivals, some of them, including the world's No. 1 player, Roger Federer, are actually delighted to see something different across the net. As someone who appreciates an artful winner more than a winner, Federer is all for variety, even if it costs him a title or two, or three.

"I think it's good he's a lefty," Federer said after his 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 victory over Nicolas Almagro, "because it also changes the dimensions of the rallies, the way you play. The spins come the other way, so that's going to be interesting, because we haven't seen Marat Safin or Lleyton Hewitt or Andy Roddick or Guillermo Coria play those lefties anymore. We've only really seen them playing righties, so that puts a totally different game plan in place."

Nadal is a natural right-hander who makes his millions with his left. His mentor and fellow Majorcan Carlos Moya, who won the French Open in 1998, is a natural left-hander who plays with his right.

"Nobody forced me; it was just the hand I used when I started out at 3 or 4," Moya said. "Maybe somebody just handed me the racket that way."

Nadal is not the only left-handed player on the way up. His slightly older Spanish compatriots Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco, who both lost in the first round here, are in the top 50. Donald Young of the United States, a 15-year-old with big feet and soft hands, became the youngest male to win a Grand Slam junior title when he prevailed at this year's Australian Open. And Patty Schnyder, the curly-haired Swiss player with the languid serve and maddening blend of spins, is working her way back into the top 10 for the first time in six years.

"I'm trying to use her as inspiration," said the Frenchwoman Emilie Loit, another left-hander who reached the third round on Wednesday, by defeating Amy Frazier, 6-4, 6-4. "She has a really sensational style. It's a great change from the boom-boom of the women who, if you don't mind me saying so, just swat the ball and hit it left, then right, without thinking."

Schnyder advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Sandra Kloesel on Wednesday. Schnyder's game, in particular, plays neatly into the idea of the left-handed player as the right-brained, unpredictable artist - much like McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic, the Croat who won Wimbledon in 2001, and was prone to chasing pigeons and his own demons. Schnyder's spin-heavy game features another left-handers' trait: they know their spin bothers the opposition, so they learn to pile it on.

But the traditional advantages don't stop there. It might be hard to find a practice partner. "If they're playing a righty next round, forget it," Loit said. But tennis is all about muscle memory: honing strokes and patterns of play. Facing a left-hander means breaking hard-earned habits, particularly if there are fewer left-handers than usual in the mix. Players who have spent the bulk of their competitive lives trying to get the ball to their opponent's backhand suddenly find themselves hitting the ball under pressure to their opponent's forehand.

"So many of the guys are programmed to play a certain way, and of course that's going right into Nadal's strength," said Federer's coach, Tony Roche, the second-best left-hander of his era after Laver.

But what makes Nadal particularly effective is not just the element of surprise. His forehand down the line is perhaps his best shot, meaning that he can rip open the court in a consistent hurry, leaving him plenty of room for his follow-up punch.

So why aren't there more tennis players on the left? One theory is that other sports, like golf, which were once hostile to left-handers by failing to provide them with proper equipment, have become more accommodating. And an athlete can have a longer career and earn more as a decent left-handed pitcher than as a decent left-handed tennis player.

But Thomas Muster, the Austrian left-hander who was effective enough to win the 1995 French Open, also said that the left-handed advantage in tennis is diminishing. He said that racket technology has improved returns to the point that the sliced left-handed serve in the ad-court is no longer as routinely effective. He also said that the rise in the number of quality backhands in the men's game has made it harder for left-handers to do consistent damage with their crosscourt forehands.

"In my days, there was a lot of slice on the backhands, so there was less speed coming back," Muster said. "But now, the top guys are so balanced off both sides that I don't think being a lefty is the same advantage."

Moya, for one, would disagree.

"If I had it to do over again," he said, "I'd be a lefty."
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 07:32 AM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

That´s a great article and I had just finished reading the same one on the International Herald Tribune site and wanted to post it. You´re fast

Interesting read.
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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 08:26 AM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

i didnt read it. hehe. but hooray for lefties like me.
i read somewhere that in sports like tennis lefties has an advantage of some sort. (that i read really)

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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

I wonder if the great scientist ys will show up in this thread.

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 11:11 AM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

The article says exactly the sentiment that I was talking about.. They only suggest that the tendency changes again, which I don't agree with. I see Nadal as a phenom that could be just an exception.. It is not that we have a group comparable to Connors, McEnroe and Vilas active right now.
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 11:36 AM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

Left hander should have the own tour, but that is what all the commentator say they should have.

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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 02:35 PM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

Lefties are

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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 02:39 PM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

terrific article. i like the accolades for Patty Schnyder. it's so nice to see her back.

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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 02:50 PM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

Quote:
Originally Posted by ys
The article says exactly the sentiment that I was talking about.. They only suggest that the tendency changes again, which I don't agree with. I see Nadal as a phenom that could be just an exception.. It is not that we have a group comparable to Connors, McEnroe and Vilas active right now.
Your theory would be correct if talented mentally strong players were not having success simply because they were left handed.
Nadal is not a exception, just someone who came along after a drought of exceptional left handed players. If guys like Mcenroe were in their prime during this generation they would be succesful.
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

Things are cyclical and we were fortunate that there were plenty of great lefthanders in proportion to the population of lefties in society, things go in cycles and this is no different.

The game hasn't changed that much that lefthanders are disadvantaged if good enough then they will do well.

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
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post #11 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 03:20 PM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

Quote:
Originally Posted by WyveN
Your theory would be correct if talented mentally strong players were not having success simply because they were left handed.
Nadal is not a exception, just someone who came along after a drought of exceptional left handed players. If guys like Mcenroe were in their prime during this generation they would be succesful.
That you have no proof for.

Article emphasises exactly the points that I was making.. 15-20% of people are lefthanded. Being lefthanded has its advantages and disadvantages.

The wooden type of game exposed advantages. Hence , the percentage of successful lefties consistently exceeded the statistical average in those days.

The modern type of game exposed major disadvantage - that lefthanders averagely are less powerful than righthanders, and modern racket technologies compensated for some other advantage they had - with modern rackets having huge heads and huge sweetspots made righthander's doublehanders competitive against lefthander's forehands and made lefthander's tricky spins much less effective. More than that, having to handle that increased power from their uncomfortable wing all the time made lefthanders much mroe statistically injury-prone.Therefore the percentage of successful lefties is consistently falling and for more than a decade already is below the statistical average.

That's all points that I tried to make. That the chance of becoming successful on Tour now are now much less than they were 30 years ago. Of course, you know, someone like GWH would always try to move any point that anyone is making to extremity. I've never been talking seriously about lefthandr's extinction in absolute terms. But I was and am serious when talking about statistics. Because they are something only a fool can deny.
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post #12 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 03:27 PM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

Quote:
Originally Posted by tennischick
terrific article. i like the accolades for Patty Schnyder. it's so nice to see her back.
as soon as she stays far away from Conchita

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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeWHitler
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/26/sp...tner=TOPIXNEWS

Nadal Leads Movement to the Left in Tennis



By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY
Published: May 26, 2005
PARIS, May 25 - It was becoming difficult to be even-handed about the game of tennis. Left-handers, once prime movers and racket shakers in the sport, were becoming as hard to find at the top as sliced forehands, checkered headbands and short men's shorts - until Rafael Nadal made his move.

Where there used to be Rod Laver, Guillermo Vilas, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles (the ground strokes were two-handed, but the serve was not), there was suddenly a glut of forehand crosscourt rallies from right-handed baseliners intent on grinding the flashy minority into the clay.

Schoolchildren in Victorian England sometimes had their left hands tied behind their backs so they would not write with them, and future tennis stars have been forced to play against instinct, too. Greats like Ken Rosewall and Margaret Court were natural left-handers who were made to use their right hands, as was Kimiko Date, the finest Japanese women's player of the past 20 years.

But after years of drought, it has finally been a verdant spring for the sinister, the Latin word for those on the unlucky left, and not because the left-handed Finnish qualifier Jarkko Nieminen bounced the ailing Andre Agassi out of the French Open in the first round on Tuesday.

The primary reason is Nadal, the Spanish 18-year-old whose whipping forehand and scrambling footwork have propelled him to No. 5 in the rankings and, after Wednesday's 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Xavier Malisse, into the third round at Roland Garros, where he will face Richard Gasquet of France. Gasquet, a fellow 18-year-old but not a fellow left-hander, defeated Peter Wessels, 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-1.

Until Nadal roared into the big picture, the last left-hander in the top 10 was the surly, spectacular Chilean Marcelo Rios, who dropped out of that elite group in April 2000. Although Nadal means business and trouble for his right-handed rivals, some of them, including the world's No. 1 player, Roger Federer, are actually delighted to see something different across the net. As someone who appreciates an artful winner more than a winner, Federer is all for variety, even if it costs him a title or two, or three.

"I think it's good he's a lefty," Federer said after his 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 victory over Nicolas Almagro, "because it also changes the dimensions of the rallies, the way you play. The spins come the other way, so that's going to be interesting, because we haven't seen Marat Safin or Lleyton Hewitt or Andy Roddick or Guillermo Coria play those lefties anymore. We've only really seen them playing righties, so that puts a totally different game plan in place."

Nadal is a natural right-hander who makes his millions with his left. His mentor and fellow Majorcan Carlos Moya, who won the French Open in 1998, is a natural left-hander who plays with his right.

"Nobody forced me; it was just the hand I used when I started out at 3 or 4," Moya said. "Maybe somebody just handed me the racket that way."

Nadal is not the only left-handed player on the way up. His slightly older Spanish compatriots Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco, who both lost in the first round here, are in the top 50. Donald Young of the United States, a 15-year-old with big feet and soft hands, became the youngest male to win a Grand Slam junior title when he prevailed at this year's Australian Open. And Patty Schnyder, the curly-haired Swiss player with the languid serve and maddening blend of spins, is working her way back into the top 10 for the first time in six years.

"I'm trying to use her as inspiration," said the Frenchwoman Emilie Loit, another left-hander who reached the third round on Wednesday, by defeating Amy Frazier, 6-4, 6-4. "She has a really sensational style. It's a great change from the boom-boom of the women who, if you don't mind me saying so, just swat the ball and hit it left, then right, without thinking."

Schnyder advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Sandra Kloesel on Wednesday. Schnyder's game, in particular, plays neatly into the idea of the left-handed player as the right-brained, unpredictable artist - much like McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic, the Croat who won Wimbledon in 2001, and was prone to chasing pigeons and his own demons. Schnyder's spin-heavy game features another left-handers' trait: they know their spin bothers the opposition, so they learn to pile it on.

But the traditional advantages don't stop there. It might be hard to find a practice partner. "If they're playing a righty next round, forget it," Loit said. But tennis is all about muscle memory: honing strokes and patterns of play. Facing a left-hander means breaking hard-earned habits, particularly if there are fewer left-handers than usual in the mix. Players who have spent the bulk of their competitive lives trying to get the ball to their opponent's backhand suddenly find themselves hitting the ball under pressure to their opponent's forehand.

"So many of the guys are programmed to play a certain way, and of course that's going right into Nadal's strength," said Federer's coach, Tony Roche, the second-best left-hander of his era after Laver.

But what makes Nadal particularly effective is not just the element of surprise. His forehand down the line is perhaps his best shot, meaning that he can rip open the court in a consistent hurry, leaving him plenty of room for his follow-up punch.

So why aren't there more tennis players on the left? One theory is that other sports, like golf, which were once hostile to left-handers by failing to provide them with proper equipment, have become more accommodating. And an athlete can have a longer career and earn more as a decent left-handed pitcher than as a decent left-handed tennis player.

But Thomas Muster, the Austrian left-hander who was effective enough to win the 1995 French Open, also said that the left-handed advantage in tennis is diminishing. He said that racket technology has improved returns to the point that the sliced left-handed serve in the ad-court is no longer as routinely effective. He also said that the rise in the number of quality backhands in the men's game has made it harder for left-handers to do consistent damage with their crosscourt forehands.

"In my days, there was a lot of slice on the backhands, so there was less speed coming back," Muster said. "But now, the top guys are so balanced off both sides that I don't think being a lefty is the same advantage."

Moya, for one, would disagree.

"If I had it to do over again," he said, "I'd be a lefty.
"
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post #14 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 05:13 PM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

Moya naturally left-handed and Nadal naturally right-handed? Bulls**t. They both have great forehands and crap backhands (the difference is especially obvious with Moya). Players don't develop the world's best forehands playing with their opposite hands.

The number of left-handers on the tennis tour is way below the statistical occurence of left-handers in the general population. There is exactly ONE left-hander in the Top 50 of the WTA right now.

Last edited by vogus; 05-26-2005 at 05:27 PM.
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post #15 of 42 (permalink) Old 05-26-2005, 05:18 PM
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Re: Article: Left handers in the modern game

People who use their left-hand as the dominant hand tend to be more creative than right-handers, so that might be why we have the advantage on the court. We're not out there just slugging away, we want to make the point artistic.
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