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The panther and the boxer
Some technical views:
Patrice Beust: He had just been reviewing the final of 1983 Roland Garros Noah- Wilander for a coaching seminar. He said that Yannick’s forehand was not very aggressive and he had a “chipped” backhand. He thinks that Jo has a more solid all-round game on all surfaces.
Henri Leconte: Although Yannick had limited technique, what he achieved was exceptional. His strengths were his serve, his physique, his mental state, his backhand slice and…. he’s a panther at the net. Jo is nothing like him.
Patrice Hagelauer (expert of experts of Noah’s game): Noah was very attack-oriented at the net. Jo can go to the net, but he attacks better from the baseline. Both possess a huge serve, with power and variation. Jo has a huge forehand, which Yannick did not possess. Jo has a two-handed backhand; Yannick used his sliced backhand to allow him to approach the net. Finally, Yannick was a great volleyer, almost impassable, and lured the ball to him. Jo makes volley approaches to finish the points. Jo is however a better returner than Noah, especially on the backhand side.
Hagelauer: They’re both strong defensively, with a very good vision of the game, great mobility. Physically, they have speed in common. The way Jo moves on the court, his drop shots, reminds me of Yannick. Yann expended a lot of physical energy, no ball was impossible to reach. Jo is similar in that regard. So much physical effort cost Yannick dearly in terms of injuries, and like Jo, often played only 6 months in a year. I hope that I don’t bring Jo bad luck by saying that.
Not just the physical qualities, but the way they exploit them:
Thierry Tulasne: Both have this ability to generate confidence in their work. Yannick built up his confidence in pain and effort, by preparing himself better than the others. Jo is also like that. Perhaps that’s what has cost him: he sometimes over-stresses the engine.
Cédric Pioline: They are players who communicate a lot with the public. They have the presence, and solicit so much energy from the crowd. All this has an undeniable effect on the opponent. When Jo plays well, when he has the mind of a boxer, he has the ability to impose his will on the opponent, just like Yannick did.
Guy Forget: The main similarity lies in their mix of gentleness and force of character. What’s most striking is the softness and calmness of tone of voice, at odds with their extrovert qualities on the court.
Off the court, Jo is much calmer. Noah always wanted to party, surrounded by his group of people. Jo wants a quieter life, Yannick was much more extravagant.
Is the different era to blame?
Henri Leconte: It’s hard to compare, for what we saw of Yannick was when he was already at the top. Jo, he’s just starting. Yannick, he was the first mixed-race French sportsman to be so much in the media spotlight. He was the first to go out with top models. To drive a Ferrari. To appear on a variety of shows. The first time that he appeared on TV, that he sang, he wore dreadlocks; that was unheard of at that time! The external pressures spoilt his life. Because at that time, tennis had more prominence. He was a star. I have the impression that Jo is going through emotional experiences of lesser impact. Yannick had more excesses in the way he trained, in his personal life. But he opened many doors.
Does Tsonga, methodical and wise, resemble Llendl more than Noah deep within?
Winogradsky: He’s somewhere in the middle. But he also has his rebellious side, for he doesn’t want to do like the others. Even if he doesn’t go on wild sprees, a big party from time to time does him a lot of good. But he knows his limits.
Hagelauer: Although they have an aggressive nature, they have this real joy of sharing, of sincerity. Also, they have this way of communicating with a smile. Yannick always told me: “Victory is important, but the most important, it’s what we do with it.” The joy of sharing with others, with family, coach, team, that was more important than the victory and especially the cheque. What I like about Jo is that he also shares.
Winogradsky: It’s Jo’s desire to be of use to his father’s country or elsewhere through charitable acts, similar to what Noah has done (Noah create “Les Enfants de la Terre” and “Fête de Mur”). Jo still has years ahead of him to achieve that.
When Noah emigrated, he went to United States.
Jos needs tranquillity, says Winogradsky. He needs calm, he needs to be surrounded by green scenery. His appartment is in Switzerland, it faces a field of cows, and that’s not by accident.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power ~ Abraham Lincoln
Last edited by Turquoise; 03-05-2009 at 06:22 AM.