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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Do doubles specialists even exist?

Today's match-ups at the Australian Open saw most alleged doubles specialists getting bombed out by singles players who don't take doubles very seriously.

Haase/Sijsling > Marray/Sa
Bellucci/Paire > Peya/Soares
Bolelli/Fognini > Bopanna/Ram
Benneteau/Roger-Vasselin > Lindstedt/Zimonjic
Baghdatis/Dimitrov > Mirnyi/Tecau

It seems that, in general, the definition of a doubles specialist is someone who is either too bad or too old for singles. Take two random top 100 players in singles, let them solely play doubles together for a year and they will eventually trash everyone.

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At the end of Federer's first round match at the Australian Open a fawning interviewer asked about his kids and if he had bought coach Stefan Edberg a birthday present - no, by the way, the privilege of knocking up with 'King Roger' was enough of a present apparently.
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 03:29 PM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

You were mistaken in selecting Benneteau/ERV as singles players who don't take doubles very seriously.

You're also mistaken in saying that any two Top 100 players in singles can trounce the competition if they played together for a year. Chardy/Simon played together for a long time two seasons ago and barely won a match. Even Lopez/Verdasco, who had some successes, were a pretty mediocre team.

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.

Moreover, your comment that doubles players are "either too bad or too old for singles" is both incomplete and misses the point. It is incomplete because there are top doubles players whose record of injuries prevents them from playing a full schedule in singles, even though they could be Top 100 players, but can handle the physically less demanding doubles tour. Marc López and Jonathan Marray come to mind. It misses the point because doubles tennis requires a different configuration of skills than the singles game. 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. These guys all tried (or still try) to balance singles and doubles. But if you find yourself in the Challenger Tour or qualifying competitions in singles but frequently make it to the final four in doubles, it might be advisable to make a choice. There aren't many doubles players who never made it to the Challenger Tour in singles (i.e. around #250).

I will say that this year's AO is exceptional in the number of seeded teams falling early though and that some of these losses have come to absolutely dreadful doubles players (e.g. Haase, Baghdatis).

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 03:36 PM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

FYI, career highs in singles for the current Top 20 doubles players:

8 Radek Stepanek
18 Max Mirnyi
19 Marcel Granollers
58 Daniel Nestor
73 Leander Paes
106 Marc Lopez
116 Bob Bryan
125 Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi
190 Frederik Nielsen
213 Rohan Bopanna
215 Jonathan Marray
217 Mahesh Bhupathi
218 Jean-Julien Rojer
221 Bruno Soares
246 Mike Bryan
273 Marcelo Melo
309 Robert Lindstedt
317 Mariusz Fyrstenberg
326 Horia Tecau
647 Marcin Matkowski

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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martijn. View Post
You were mistaken in selecting Benneteau/ERV as singles players who don't take doubles very seriously.
True, but they take their singles career a lot more seriously.
Quote:
You're also mistaken in saying that any two Top 100 players in singles can trounce the competition if they played together for a year. Chardy/Simon played together for a long time two seasons ago and barely won a match. Even Lopez/Verdasco, who had some successes, were a pretty mediocre team.
I mean if they would stop playing singles and play doubles full-time. Those two examples just clowned around while solely thinking about their singles career.

Quote:
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.
Lack of practice. Volleys play a relatively minor role in today's singles game, and therefore are treated in training sessions as such, while it is a huge aspect in doubles.

As far as your other points go I'm sure you are more knowledgeable about that subject than me and know more about the specific cases and reasons you are talking about. I only noticed that most doubles specialists never choose doubles as their main career, but only resort to it after maxing out their singles career while being ranked ~150-300 or after getting too old to continue their best singles efforts.

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Originally Posted by Shinoj View Post
Santaro was a better version of Ferrer
Quote:
At the end of Federer's first round match at the Australian Open a fawning interviewer asked about his kids and if he had bought coach Stefan Edberg a birthday present - no, by the way, the privilege of knocking up with 'King Roger' was enough of a present apparently.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post...nnis/65231157/

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 04:23 PM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

IMO, doubles specialist definitely do exist. There isn't much to say after Martijn.s post. This years AO is definitely an exception and should not be used to make a general comparison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustavo Kuerten View Post
Lack of practice. Volleys play a relatively minor role in today's singles game, and therefore are treated in training sessions as such, while it is a huge aspect in doubles.
Lack of practice does play some role, but that can not be used as an "excuse" for not having good volleying skills. What would your reaction be if someone said that Player X has a "weak" FH/BH/Serve beacuse he spend more time practicing the others?

The skillset required in singles and doubles is no longer the same. Singles players who are used to basline dominated play generally are uncomfortable at the net. Even those who do come to the net ocassionaly expect to stay there for one or two shots before the point is over. In doubles this is obviously not the case. Moreover, the pace of the game is a lot faster in doubles. Generally one of the players of the opposition is also at the net. Top doubles players (generally) have much better reflexes. Doubles involves more tactical shots, better shot placement, etc. "Brainless bashbashing" and "grinding" would not be a very good tactic in doubles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustavo Kuerten View Post
I only noticed that most doubles specialists never choose doubles as their main career, but only resort to it after maxing out their singles career while being ranked ~150-300 or after getting too old to continue their best singles efforts.

This is a very unfair statement. Most "singles specialists" do not start of with playing only singles. Till they reach a high enough ranking, many players play both singles and doubles when they are young, and even later on in their career for some players. Quite a few players outside the top 100 in singles play doubles every now and then. They may not have a stable partner and may focus on their singles career, but they have not given up on doubles. It is matter of making your breakthrough in one of formats. Once that happens, the playing of the other starts reducing.



A lot of what I wrote involves generalisations which may be a bit unfair, but that is bound to happen when you are comparing sinlges and doubles players as a whole.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 06:40 PM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

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Originally Posted by Gustavo Kuerten View Post
True, but they take their singles career a lot more seriously. I mean if they would stop playing singles and play doubles full-time. Those two examples just clowned around while solely thinking about their singles career.
I don't think I would say Lopez/Verdasco clowned around. Chardy/Simon I'll grant you. And Edouard has always placed great emphasis on his doubles game, both now and in Challengers.

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Lack of practice. Volleys play a relatively minor role in today's singles game, and therefore are treated in training sessions as such, while it is a huge aspect in doubles.
I really don't think that's the full story. Tennis isn't all practice; some players simply have better reaction time, better volleying skills and a better ability to read the game. This in large part determines the way these players play in singles. If Davydenko had better volleys, he would play differently in singles. There are plenty of players who should rush to the net after certain groundstrokes yet remain stuck on the baseline not due to lack of practice, but because a) they don't feel they should approach the net or b) don't have the skills to finish off points at the net.

By the way I noticed that my first post suggests Marray could have been Top 100 in singles, which I honestly don't think he could. I meant that injuries forced him to quit singles altogether. López, though, is a different story.

Quote:
I only noticed that most doubles specialists never choose doubles as their main career, but only resort to it after maxing out their singles career while being ranked ~150-300 or after getting too old to continue their best singles efforts.
Sure, but that doesn't mean that true doubles specialists don't exist. People aren't born specialists; they come to the realization through experience.

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 08:53 PM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

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!

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Originally Posted by Martijn. View Post
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:

Quote:
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustavo Kuerten View Post
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.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 09:51 PM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

Ram is not such a good doubles player IMO. He's a bit overrated even though he can play some good volleys. And i watched Bopanna in Chennai and he struggled pretty bad especially on his serve

Peya/Soares choked it from a set and a break up and i think Lindstedt/Zimonjic just need some more time together in the tour. And Benneteau is a good and underrated double player. Him and Gasquet won the bronze at the Olympics and in the Davis Cup he also proved he can play doubles.

The biggest upset for me here is Mirnyi/Tecau losing to Baghdatis/Dimitrov. I don't know what happened to them after the good run in Sydney but could've very easily lost to Huey/Inglot in the 1st round. As in Lindstedt/Zimonjic's case, i think they need a few time to get some chemistry
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 10:04 PM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

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Originally Posted by Vinceremo View Post
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.
I am not underestimating the importance of team work, or even chemistry, but I take issue with the claim that all singles players, when paired for a long time and devoting their career solely to doubles tennis, would outperform all doubles specialists. I just don't think it's the case. In addition, team work is not something that comes from practice only; I am convinced that certain players lack the requisite interpersonal skills.

Metaphorically, I guess my point would be that comparing singles and doubles tennis isn't entirely like comparing apples and oranges, but like comparing satsumas and oranges.

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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 03:18 AM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustavo Kuerten View Post
Take two random top 100 players in singles, let them solely play doubles together for a year and they will eventually trash everyone.
LOL.
the variance in doubles is quite huge
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

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Originally Posted by Vinceremo View Post
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.
Maybe you know more about this, but I always see Fognini as the prime example of the points I've mentioned. He is nonchalant as hell in singles (which probably is even worse in doubles), doesn't have any footwork and his game doesn't seem to be suited for doubles at all. Yet he posts solid results in doubles.

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Originally Posted by Shinoj View Post
Santaro was a better version of Ferrer
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At the end of Federer's first round match at the Australian Open a fawning interviewer asked about his kids and if he had bought coach Stefan Edberg a birthday present - no, by the way, the privilege of knocking up with 'King Roger' was enough of a present apparently.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post...nnis/65231157/

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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 05:50 PM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

Singles players don't have a high opinion on doubles specialists. I've heard this from a singles player himself.
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

I have to admit, there is some truth in this. Some players just don't have a good singles game, but a lot do seem to just be not quite good enough or too old (Myrni, Stepanek soon to join him when he quits singles)

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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 08:54 PM
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

The biggest difference is in doubles you don't have to cover as much court. Some players don't have great movement because of age or because they never had it to begin with.


Problem in AO is the surface is slow. This is HORRIBLE for doubles specialists. More long rallies and more baseline rallies and that's good for singles players that will feel at home. Exception is teams that like to play on the baseline anyway, bit like Granollers/Lopez. Only 3 sets also adds more randomness on top of that. 5-sets would benefit the specialists, like in Wimbledon


But if there was no specialist edge in doubles why would Bryans be so dominant being like career high 200 in singles?

Why could Lindstedt/Tecau make the Wimbledon final 3 years in a row despite being like top 300 singles players?


You just can't explain such results without acknowledging doubles specialists.
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Re: Do doubles specialists even exist?

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Originally Posted by MaxPower View Post
But if there was no specialist edge in doubles why would Bryans be so dominant being like career high 200 in singles?

Why could Lindstedt/Tecau make the Wimbledon final 3 years in a row despite being like top 300 singles players?


You just can't explain such results without acknowledging doubles specialists.
Endless doubles practice for years on end versus little to no practice at all for the best players in the world. Singles players are better tennis players, but don't care about doubles, if they would they'd take the doubles rankings by storm. Obviously the Bryan brothers are something special, but there's no doubt in my mind that if, for example, Del Potro and Tsonga took a year off to only play doubles they would beat them 9 out of 10 times.

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Originally Posted by Shinoj View Post
Santaro was a better version of Ferrer
Quote:
At the end of Federer's first round match at the Australian Open a fawning interviewer asked about his kids and if he had bought coach Stefan Edberg a birthday present - no, by the way, the privilege of knocking up with 'King Roger' was enough of a present apparently.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post...nnis/65231157/

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