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post #1 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-07-2006, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

Ok, so I've been around these forums for a couple of years now and I haven't posted a ton. This is mostly due to the endless inane crap around here such as tard fan base #1 vs. tard fan base #2, or how many times did player A pick his ass today, or why does player so and so date such and such a girl.

Now, this may or may not catch on but I say it's worth a shot... What we have here is an attempt at intelligent discussion on MTF. Am I aiming too high? Will I simply face ridicule at trying to stand out with a different type of discussions? Let's find out.

Question #1 of the new intellectual thought series:

Why has serve and volley play all but disappeared from mens tennis as an artform? What's led to this? And beyond that... Could a truly talented serve and volley player be successful in today's mens game of power and topspin? Sampras and other old players talk about how players like Fed have it easy since there's no variety in the game these days. Could a player like Sampras or Edberg play their game today as they did at their peak? Why or why not?

Discuss.

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post #2 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-07-2006, 11:21 PM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

Question #2
Do you think Sampras could beat Federer?
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post #3 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-07-2006, 11:22 PM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

Interesting topic I hope you're not aiming too high

I think there are many reasons for the decline of serve-volley players.

I think one is because some of the faster surfaces have been slowed down a bit (see: wimbledon).

I think another is sort of a combination between racquet technology and increased player fitness and speed - they are better returners, it is harder to serve-volley because you are more likely to have a great return struck low at your feet or even down the line right at you. That wasn't possible before.

However, I do think that a truly talented serve-volley player could definitely succeed. Look at a guy like Taylor Dent who is really truly a serve-volley player, he was capable of beating lots and lots of really really good players (his problems were mentally and physically stringing together lots of wins in a row). You also have Tim Henman, who, when healthy, is still capable of going deep in tournaments. I think players like Sampras and Edberg were talented enough such that they would still be successful today.

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post #4 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-07-2006, 11:28 PM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

Henman as well as being serve-volley also had some guile in there, I mean his shotmaking was very good too. When you have weapons besides serve volley like Ancic can serve volley but also can hit big groundies, it's an advantage.

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post #5 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-07-2006, 11:28 PM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

What about Nadal, do you think Sampras could beat Nadal?
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post #6 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-07-2006, 11:32 PM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

Could you be so kind as to include a definition of "intellectual discussion" first? Thanks, you're a doll.

It's just you don't want to have a lot of expectations, because when you start to have a lot of expectations you just end up losing in the third round to God knows who. ~Marat Safin, summarizing his career

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post #7 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-07-2006, 11:32 PM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

Am I aiming too high? Yes. No matter how hard you try, the morons will come on. But I'm willing to try here.

Why has serve and volley play all but disappeared from mens tennis as an artform? What's led to this? Racquet technology - as soon as the power came in, serve and volley went out. Obviously, we're still going to see some serve and volley used to add variety to a player's game. But unless racquet technology changes again, we won't see it as The Strategy as in the past. I'm mixed on whether I'm sad about this change. I enjoy seeing some serve and volley. I love the touch players in the past had - the feel for the racquet. Also the strategy that went into serve and volley. But I enjoy today's game. I like the power, I like the player's going deep and painting the back line, I enjoy the topspin and the ability to go for the big winner. I think the only time I didn't enjoy tennis was when players with just big serves dominated (no names mentioned). That was boring. Ace, ace, ace. It was like watching a no hitter in baseball every game....you want some offense too.

Could a truly talented serve and volley player be successful in today's mens game of power and topspin? Maybe on grass - but not on other surfaces.

Sampras and other old players talk about how players like Fed have it easy since there's no variety in the game these days. Could a player like Sampras or Edberg play their game today as they did at their peak? Why or why not? No variety? I think there's variety - but its different than in the past. Serves are more important - you can't always power it in, you have to be able to go down the T, but also go wide...and know when to use which - kind of reminds me of a pitcher knowing which pitch to throw - and his opponent trying to figure out where he's going to place it. You have to be able to hit cross court winner as well as down the line, move the opponent around, etc. etc. Be able to hit that drop shot on clay. Not that guys couldn't do that in the past - but you have the added power dimension now.

I don't believe Pete would be as successful today as he was in the 90s. The guys know how to return the big serve now. My humble opinion - I think the return of serve is the most important aspect of a guy's game today.

Last edited by NicoFan; 11-07-2006 at 11:44 PM.
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post #8 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 12:03 AM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

The magical formula that retired players and commentators talk of is the contrast of styles, the netrusher v the baseliner, but I wonder how many times in past decades that actually happened and how many times it was outright serve-volley from both sides, in the same way it's usually outright baseline tennis today. I'm not sure how much I would enjoy the predictability of such a contest, but one thing I do feel strongly about is that surfaces should display the kind of playing characteristics that distinguish them from other surfaces. What's the point of having a grass-court Grand Slam if you play on it like you do on hard and clay? I think even Wilander said they should speed up the courts and balls again at Wimbledon, although it's possible his attitude was, "And then people will see how dull grass really is...."

Now the points on grass still have a certain unique quality to them, powerful shots stay hit, the slice is effective and so are occasional well-timed forays to the net, but it's not the blanket attack that was seen in former years. Federer said his ambition is to go to Wimbledon one year and win it by serve-volleying all the time, I'm glad he thinks that way but I really doubt he would attempt it or that he'd be successful at it. The way he played there the first year he won it in 03 was almost perfect for me, serve-volleying almost exclusively on the first ball but usually staying back on the second and mixing it up. To be perfectly honest though, I'm not sure he'd have got away with that tactic and remained unbroken if he'd been playing better returners than Roddick and Philippoussis in the last two rounds. The most impressive thing at the time was how he simply rattled through his service games in a couple of minutes, but it's worth questioning how many tough volleys he had to hit behind the serve and indeed how many volleys he had to play at all; the fact that he faced two break points in six sets of tennis, both in one game against Roddick, is surely significant.

One thing that strikes me about players trying to rush the net in the modern game: I think you can still beat a lot of opponents by doing it on your own serve, provided it's powerful enough, but nowadays you simply cannot be successful without a solid, baseline-orientated return game. On courts this slow against passers this good, the bluff-and-charge tactics adopted by people like Mirnyi won't get the job done on a regular basis, you need to be able to construct points, move people around with groundstrokes and then if necessary take to the net to finish things off. I'd like to see a player succeed with these tactics, of attacking relentlessly on their serve but playing patiently and then attacking smartly on their returns. Ironically the closest player on tour right now to that model is Sexual Radek, horrible forehand and all.

Lots of people say that they enjoy watching all-court tennis, including me, but don't always define that term clearly. My favourite kind of points are the ones where someone builds a rally from the back with effective strokes off both sides, getting their opponent off balance through variations of pace and placement, before closing into the net and ending the point decisively. That surely is the definition of all-court tennis, and I particularly enjoy it when Federer puts this combination together because it's one of the few times he really demonstrates the "complete player" tag that has always been attached to him. The final point of the first set in this year's Madrid final was a perfect example.

The Wit and Wisdom of the Tennis Journalist, Indian Wells 2004

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I remember this one time when I went on a vacation on the Maldives. That was in the year 2001, I think. I went to this spa. I went to walk around with my girlfriend. I walk in, and we want to book a spa. This guy goes, "AHH, I remember you. You beat Sampras. I saw you on TV." That was like, really, how can you remember me? This guy has probably never been off his island and still knows me. I was a little bit shocked. Then I went to play tennis with him because he was actually the tennis teacher. It was nice.

Q. Were you naked at the time in the spa?

ROGER FEDERER: No. It was at the front desk. I didn't walk in naked.

Last edited by Sjengster; 11-08-2006 at 12:09 AM.
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post #9 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 12:10 AM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

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Lots of people say that they enjoy watching all-court tennis, including me, but don't always define that term clearly. My favourite kind of points are the ones where someone builds a rally from the back with effective strokes off both sides, getting their opponent off balance through variations of pace and placement, before closing into the net and ending the point decisively. That surely is the definition of all-court tennis, and I particularly enjoy it when Federer puts this combination together because it's one of the few times he really demonstrates the "complete player" tag that has always been attached to him. The final point of the first set in this year's Madrid final was a perfect example.
Me too Sjengster....totally agree.

Lovely post...
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post #10 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 12:13 AM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

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Me too Sjengster....totally agree.

Lovely post...
Well it's nice that you agree, but if your username is any indication it doesn't seem to be reflected in your choice of players.

Mind you, going by my username it wouldn't be reflected in my player preference either.

The Wit and Wisdom of the Tennis Journalist, Indian Wells 2004

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I remember this one time when I went on a vacation on the Maldives. That was in the year 2001, I think. I went to this spa. I went to walk around with my girlfriend. I walk in, and we want to book a spa. This guy goes, "AHH, I remember you. You beat Sampras. I saw you on TV." That was like, really, how can you remember me? This guy has probably never been off his island and still knows me. I was a little bit shocked. Then I went to play tennis with him because he was actually the tennis teacher. It was nice.

Q. Were you naked at the time in the spa?

ROGER FEDERER: No. It was at the front desk. I didn't walk in naked.
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post #11 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 12:16 AM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

I would stop watching tennis if serve and volleying came back as was. I watched a Sampras vs Martin match on grass ( one of those old classics on the tennis channel) a few months ago. It was a serve fest and very boring.

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post #12 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

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Could you be so kind as to include a definition of "intellectual discussion" first? Thanks, you're a doll.
Definitions of intellectual on the Web:

1. appealing to or using the intellect;
2. of or associated with or requiring the use of the mind;
3. cerebral: involving intelligence rather than emotions or instinct;
4. a person who uses the mind creatively

That's the actual definition but I suppose I'd settle for discussion not involving flame wars or blatant, intentional stupidity.

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post #13 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 12:23 AM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

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Originally Posted by Roger The Great View Post
Definitions of intellectual on the Web:

1. appealing to or using the intellect;
2. of or associated with or requiring the use of the mind;
3. cerebral: involving intelligence rather than emotions or instinct;
4. a person who uses the mind creatively

That's the actual definition but I suppose I'd settle for discussion not involving flame wars or blatant, intentional stupidity.
then you're definitely in the wrong place, mate.

It's just you don't want to have a lot of expectations, because when you start to have a lot of expectations you just end up losing in the third round to God knows who. ~Marat Safin, summarizing his career

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post #14 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 12:25 AM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

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Well it's nice that you agree, but if your username is any indication it doesn't seem to be reflected in your choice of players.

Mind you, going by my username it wouldn't be reflected in my player preference either.


Well Nico has a cute game...and that's all I'm saying.

I've liked players throughout the years with all sorts of games - I loved Johnny Mac, I loved Becker, I loved Agassi, and now I love Nico. And Rafa too.
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post #15 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-08-2006, 12:26 AM
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Re: MTF Intellectual Thought Series: Question #1

Shortening things, ATP made an incredible effort to extinct S&V. They changed the balls' size and slowed the courts to boredom. Add to that the development of rackets and return of serve during and after the 90's.

The problem is that today tennis is dominated by baseliners (a great percentage moonballers) that dragged the game to complete boredom.

About the "talented player" question, as things are today, not even if Borg, Sampras and Federer combined themselves it could happen.
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