While I was reading this thread I was thinking of Daniele 'the italian grass GOAT' Bracciali. Taking a quick look at the current doubles ranking, I would say his case is a bit similar to some of the top 50 players. Like stated by Guga and complemented by Martijn, age+fitness+results lead him to take the decision of focusing solely on doubles and, at this stage, he would of course fit the definition of 'doubles specialist' even if he used to be a top 50 (!!) singles player some years ago!
The average singles player (in the Top 100) outperforms the average doubles player (in the Top 20) on certain important fronts: fitness, returns, groundstrokes, power and serve. It is therefore not surprising that they will take out some seeded teams on occasion. But they lack the net skills and the ability to read the doubles game well, which prevents them from beating top teams on a consistent basis. Loads of singles players enter the big tournaments, often with the same partner, but few make it deep into such events.
^ Fully agree with this, for the most part but:
So to say that many doubles players are too bad to be the absolute top in singles - though undeniably true - does not mean they are similarly inferior to the same players in the doubles competition. Just because serve-and-volley tennis is counterproductive in singles due to powerhitting/ball-bashing does not mean that players such as Peya, Bopanna, Qureshi, Zimonjic, Nielsen, Nestor, Ram etc. are inferior players.
Do you mean that the players you listed aren't inferior to the top singles players in doubles competition or not inferior as just 'tennis players' as a whole? If you refer to the first part, then I partly agree. Of course they couldn't be inferior players for doubles, considering their rankings and results, but a lot of the times they pull some matches off against singles players in doubles thanks to their experience in these competitions+better team communication and net play. Most of these things do come with time and practice considering they need a different approach in training and don't necessarily have a lot to do with actual better talent+skills. There is a bit of it, but I think you are underestimating the training aspect a little and it's massively important!
Because of this, I would have to disagree with your example of Lopez/Verdasco (and many other singles players that pair or paired up regularly) and how they could apply for this argument since their actual hard work+training with their respective coaches were not aimed for doubles competition at all. Of course they wanted to do well, be a reliable option for DC, etc. but it's crystal clear that not even a 15% of their time in training were dedicated for actual doubles competition unlike doubles specialists who dedicate probably 80% to full doubles training with their actual regular partners.
Originally Posted by Gustavo Kuerten
Bolelli/Fognini > Bopanna/Ram
Watched some of this. The difference in level was massive, while the second was close it was pretty amazing to see how easily Bolelli and Fognini would clown both Bopanna and Ram in the baseline exchanges but that is to be expected.