Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sports? - MensTennisForums.com

View Poll Results: Why is it so hard for a tennis player to play at their best post 30?
Tennis is the toughest sport, simple. 19 13.48%
It's because tennis is tougher on the body than the other sports. 43 30.50%
Because tennis has a lower doping rate than the other sports. 4 2.84%
Reaction time is what tennis players lose more than the other athletes 48 34.04%
Because tennis players make more money so lose motivation 2 1.42%
It's not true, tennis players last as long as any other sportsmam 19 13.48%
It remains a mystery 6 4.26%
Voters: 141. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 06:29 AM Thread Starter
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Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sports?

The thing I find most interesting about Tennis is that players seem to peak at a very early age and then their fall from grace is quite rapid and torrid to watch.

There are always exceptions to every rule of course, Tommy Farce for example is 31-32 and had probably his best season in 2009, at least where the grand slams were concerned and best of 5 set tennis is the hardest. Tommy Haas also did very well against Federer on clay, playing that well on clay is hard endurance wise for a 31 yearold like Tommy Haas.

But if you look at the best male players, they generally hit their peak about 24-25 and the fall from grace in terms of their playing style is quite apparent. Federer had probably his best 2 years of tennis in 2005/2006, he only lost 3 or 4 matches each year. He has been good enough to win grand slam titles since then, including playing better at 28 for a brief period during AO 2010, than he probably played when he was 27 in 2008. But movement wise hes very much slower, in AO 2009 for the first time I saw him not chasing down many shots he would have in the past, and against a retriever like Nadal it cost him dearly in the final.

Lets compare to some other sports stars from other sports, where endurance/strength/spped and fitness plays just a big or bigger part than Tennis. No point comparing Cricket or Golf or Fat/Old mans sports like Darts or 8 ball;

Lance Armstrong was 28 when he won his first of the 5 consecutive Tour De France titles, and 33 when he retired, but he retired very much on top, and as we have seen in 2009 Tour, at 38 or 39 he is, albeit not as good as he was, his peak could probably have extended into his mid 30's at least.

Haille Gebreselassie was in his mid 20's when he won his first Olympic Gold 10 000 metres, but at 35 years old he set the Marathon World Record of 2:03. Granted he is past his best at 5 000 and 10 000 meters, but he still finished 7th in the Olympic Final in 2008.

Rugby League has a host of players who, although starting to show their age, are still playing very strong at 33-36 years of age. Rugby League is a sport where you have to constantly sprint back and forth 10 meters after every tackle, and those guys don't seem to have lost too much speed. Although in Tennis we only see very short acceleration over 10-20 meters and 15-30 meters horizontially, so perhaps comparison is limited.

Peak age for body building seems to be early - mid thirties.

Swimming seems to have a low peak age, if we took Phelps as an example. But then again he is not going to compete beyond 30 largely by choice..could he still dominate most of the field at 30-35 even if he didn't win absolutely every medal under the sun? Quite probable I think. Much like Federer is not winning 3 slams a year anymore, Phelps wouldn't win 6-8 gold medals, but he might win 3 or so,as much as or more than anyone else anyway.

Triathlon, being a young sport, has many guys hitting their straps who are in their early 30's at the moment and still running very strong.

Boxers hit their peak at 32-37 and have strong showings into their early 40's.

Mixed Martial Artists are similar, but once they reach about 40 they are toast as far as being the best of the best. Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Kimbo Slice, numerous others prove this point.

All these sports are probably as demanding as Tennis. Yes tennis players play a lot of matches and tournaments, but the NRL season is very long, runners and cyclists run 100 miles a week and in excess of 1000 miles a week cycled, so they train day in day out for sure, there really is no break for them. I have seen some of the workouts that MMA guys do, and they are some of the fittest athletes in the world.

I am not by any means creating this topic to suggest tennis players are weak or pussy compared to other sports, quite the opposite, I am just wondering what it is about tennis that seems to make competing beyond early 30's at anything close to your best an impossible task. I mean look at Andre Agassi, yeah he was good, but he was an aging bald wreck before Bagdartis put him out of his misery at US Open 2006. Far from the kind of form Lance Armstrong showed at neally 40 in the Tour De France after 3 years sitting on the couch drinking beers.

"I did not play my best tennis, no? And..that is what enable him to win..to win this match no? "

- Rafael Nadal, ever so "humble", - press conference after shock 4 set loss to Robeen Soderling @ 2009 French Open 4th round.


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post #2 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 06:39 AM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

No, it was Benjamin Becker who ended Andre Agassi's career, not Marcos Baghdatis.
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post #3 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 07:30 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

True, but it was the shaggers back he got against Burgerdartis that stuffed him, that Becker match was only ever going one way.

"I did not play my best tennis, no? And..that is what enable him to win..to win this match no? "

- Rafael Nadal, ever so "humble", - press conference after shock 4 set loss to Robeen Soderling @ 2009 French Open 4th round.


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post #4 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 07:31 AM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2003 View Post
Lance Armstrong was 28 when he won his first of the 5 consecutive Tour De France titles, and 33 when he retired, but he retired very much on top, and as we have seen in 2009 Tour, at 38 or 39 he is, albeit not as good as he was, his peak could probably have extended into his mid 30's at least.
Lance Armstrong won 7 consecutive Tours, not 5. And he was 34 when he retired for the first time.

Imo, the toughest sport is cyclism (peak age is around 30-31-32) hence the problem with doping. The harder the sport is, the higher peak age is.

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post #5 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 11:27 AM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

Tough on the body, neverending season... the sport has been evolving rather rapidly since the 80's... you lose reaction time and quickness before you lose strength and endurance... in fact, endurance athletes tend to peak late.
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post #6 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 11:28 AM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

This could be a really interesting thread. Shame about the OP.

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post #7 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 11:28 AM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

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Lance Armstrong won 7 consecutive Tours, not 5. And he was 34 when he retired for the first time.

Imo, the toughest sport is cyclism (peak age is around 30-31-32) hence the problem with doping. The harder the sport is, the higher peak age is.
But not in a way that hampers longevity.
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post #8 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 12:26 PM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

"Boxers hit their peak at 32-37 and have strong showings into their early 40's."

Not really...boxers hit their peak around 27-30 after that they slowly start losing a step. It is VERY rare to see a boxer at the elite level in their 40's (Hopkins/Foreman)
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post #9 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 12:36 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

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"It is VERY rare to see a boxer at the elite level in their 40's (Hopkins/Foreman)
The Elder Klitschko brother is pushing 38 or 39, still holds a heavyweight belt and looks rather unbeatable, David Tua is resurecting his career age 37 and looking much better than he did on his comeback 5 years ago where he was only just beating cans. Mayweather looking formidable as ever into his early - mid thirties. I agree the strong showing into their 40's was somewhat an exageration. But I think if they trained hard enough possibly..heavyweight boxers are known to go into their shells/have long lay offs and not train day in day out between fights.

David Becham in soccer, is pushing 36 now and, although past his best, I saw him play a couple of years ago with the LA Galaxy team when they came to New Zealand, and he was running rings around guys in their early 20's.

"I did not play my best tennis, no? And..that is what enable him to win..to win this match no? "

- Rafael Nadal, ever so "humble", - press conference after shock 4 set loss to Robeen Soderling @ 2009 French Open 4th round.


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post #10 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 12:43 PM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

Jimmy Connors did some amazing results when he was in his 40s, I dont even need to mention Rosewall. I think the modern approach to the game with alot of hardcourts and a long season can really take its toil on players. If you schedule in a smart way and put your priorities right I see no reason why you can not play great tennis well into your late 30s. That is if you also have the right style to play tennis (not Nadal, Murray, Hewitt).

Remember that boxing requires alot of strength, marathon requires endurance while tennis is all reflexes and speed, you cant lose a step when your job is to get fast to the ball or the other opponent will be blasting winners and aces past you. In football a player can adapt to positions that dont require speed but in tennis he is all alone with the set of skills and physical condition that he got. In today's game Federer has lost half a step and he really cant afford to lose another half step if he wants to keep beeing nr1, but I think he can still win Wimbledon and maybe USOPEN if age gets to him, he can really go playing more aggressive and relying on his serve, some other players like Nadal cant afford to not be physically 100%, even Djokovic and Murray would really fall hard from showing since of aging.

Then there are alot of genetics involved, there are those strange cases like Davydenko who has been running left and right week in and out for years and years and only peaked at 28-29 years old.

Last edited by marcRD; 05-20-2010 at 12:51 PM.
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post #11 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 03:27 PM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

Professional tennis players play on 6 continents throughout the year. They live in hotels (or villas), but they are rarely home. Tennis players basically have to put their lives on hold when it comes to raising a family. And once they do, the traveling is curtailed, practice is reduced, and that combined with the natural aging process leads to a sharp decline.

Take American basketball player, LeBron James as an example. He's considered by most to be the best on the planet. He grew up in Ohio, he plays half of his games in Ohio, he had two kids by age 23.
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post #12 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 03:32 PM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

Because the game of tennis is so damn grinding. What other sport requires the players to fly and play all over the world 11 months of the year basically non-stop?

Hardcourts are the biggest reason, though. Split step on the return, explode one way or the other, recover to neutral rally position quickly, explode one way or the other again, etc. etc. etc. Knees take a pounding.

Not to mention the mental aspect of it all. Other sports, guys sign contracts and make millions before they step on the field. In tennis, if you don't win, you don't get paid.

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post #13 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 04:11 PM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

Nothing can compare to gymnastics. They are old at 16
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post #14 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 05:15 PM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

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Originally Posted by 2003 View Post
David Becham in soccer, is pushing 36 now and, although past his best, I saw him play a couple of years ago with the LA Galaxy team when they came to New Zealand, and he was running rings around guys in their early 20's.
Becks is well past it to be fair, doing that to players in New Zealand is very much different to doing it week in week out in the Premier League/Champions League. He's good for a 20 minute cameo but not good enough otherwise really and hasn't been for some time.

Ryan Giggs on the other hand...
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post #15 of 76 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 05:25 PM
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Re: Poll: Why is the peak age for a male tennis player so low compared to other sport

It's because tennis is tougher on the body than the other sports.

Certainly more than baseball, no? There are 40-somethings playing baseball for example.
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