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Old 02-07-2009, 10:40 PM   #1
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Default Total tennis

This concept kind of crossed my mind while watching players like Marat Safin or Lleyton Hewitt trying to get back to the top without much success in past years..

Somehow I tend to believe that there was a big qualitative change in tennis that happened about 5 years ago and was pretty much brought in by players like Agassi and ultimately Federer. You can not any longer be successful by being an ultimate defender, like Chang or Hewitt used to be. You have to have excellent offense with a set of potent and feared weapons. You can no longer be successful by being aggressive only. You have to be an excellent defender too, with almost infinite fitness, and able to win crucial points by outdefending a skillful aggressor. You can no longer be one dimensional. Every mistake counts. If you play a bit short, you are dead. If you can not efficiently kill the short balls, you are equally hopeless.. It indeed became a kind of a total tennis where you can not afford a slightest liability in your technical arsenal or physical part.

Every player now tries to be in that pattern. I watch quite average players ( in terms of those, significant players ) like Wawrinka or Kohlshreiber and even they are totally in that pattern. They attack at every opportunity, they are so good at taking out anything that can be connected with over the court. They can run forever and win points in desperate defense. They are so good, yet they are still . GS-wise, totally insignificant..
Marat Safin can not defend. Lleyton Hewitt can not attack. They don't have much of a chance even against those two..

But now it looks like a bit more than that.. It looks like tennis becomes an elite sport, but an elite in physical sense, like basketball where you have to be around 2m ( 6f 7 ) tall to have a chance, or ski jumping where you have to be very little, or gymnasitcs or figure skating, where you hav to be very little too.. It looks like tennis becomes "185" sport ( 6f1 ). If you are below 180 ( 5'11' ) , chances are , you won't have enough power and strength. If you are above 188 ( 6'2' ), chances are you are not going to be fast enough. And if you "live" in either of two outliers, chances are, that you are going to be pushed by those "185" players outside of the the zone of your physical comfort and you will get injured again and again.

All GS winners in Top 10 right now are within an inch from 185. The only two other GS winners who are still trying are Safin and Hewitt, and they have no chance. Their tennis lives in yesterday. It's obsolete.

Last edited by ys : 02-07-2009 at 10:47 PM.
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:51 PM   #2
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Post Re: Total tennis

Very interesting I think you have something there. The only exceptions are Olivier Rochus, Arnaud Clement and Ivo Karlovic who did very well with their careers, Karlovic still going. If you were talking about grand slam winners you're right on the dot
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: Total tennis

the dutch call it totaaltenis...
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: Total tennis

Wrong.

Nadull is 99% defensive and still is, somehow, winning matches.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: Total tennis

Both Safin and Hewitt suffered some major injuries (and ones that affect movement) so I don't think you can use them as an example that tennis has become the domain of guys up to 185 cm or that attacking is the way of today. I'm guessing you consider Nadal an attacker, I don't. Hewitt could also counterpunch and he was much better at the net, he was just playing to his strengths most of the time just as Nadal. As for height, del Potro is on the verge of top 5, Cilic is going strong, both are almost 2 meters. Nothing has changed much IMO, variety is preferable, but not all at the top have it to the same extent If anything, strong defenders have gained ground outside of clay with the homogenization of surfaces, but that goes back more than 5 years.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: Total tennis

Mugboar doesn't play offensively very much. Mostly moonballing and waiting for errors.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: Total tennis

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Originally Posted by oranges View Post
Both Safin and Hewitt suffered some major injuries (and ones that affect movement) so I don't think you can use them as an example that tennis has become the domain of guys up to 185 cm or that attacking is the way of today.
Why do you think they had their injuries? Were they self-inflicted or what?

Quote:
I'm guessing you consider Nadal an attacker, I don't. Hewitt could also counterpunch and he was much better at the net, he was just playing to his strengths most of the time just as Nadal. As for height, del Potro is on the verge of top 5, Cilic is going strong, both are almost 2 meters.
Lets wait for them to go a couple of years without major injuries and win some Slams. Then we talk.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Total tennis

I agree and it's very challenging yet very rewarding quality wise, the level of tennis at the top is just surreal these days.

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Wrong.

Nadull is 99% defensive and still is, somehow, winning matches.
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Mugboar doesn't play offensively very much. Mostly moonballing and waiting for errors.
true on clay only, recently his winners are hitting the 45+ as we saw in AO, in the final his W/UE was 50/41, u can call that anything but pure defensive.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:32 PM   #9
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Default Re: Total tennis

It's interesting, but to me when people call Nadal a defensive player, it pretty much sounds that they can't watch tennis, really. Are you calling him defensive only because he really excels in defense and his defense can get back that fifth shot when his opponent would be already killed by the first one? He always attacks on his first serve. He sometimes attacks, sometimes defends on second serves of opponent and himself. He mostly defends on opponents first serve. Watch his matches. It is so. I am not his fan by any means, but I fail to see how is it different from what anyone else is doing. Or maybe he is defensive because he generates just enough power and spin to force the error, while his opponents shots proudly go into the winners category, right?

To me he is not a 99% defensive player. He is 100% percentage player, his brain is the most perfect tennis computer that gives him the plan to win the most possible percentage of points. And what else matters in tennis?
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Total tennis

Quote:
Originally Posted by ys View Post
Why do you think they had their injuries? Were they self-inflicted or what?
What does it matter, you can't infer there will be no new players like those two. BTW, people have knee and hip problems without being tall or playing a taxing game. Conversely, Goran was as high as Safin and never suffered knee problems, just the shoulder, so the implication that you know the reason behind those injuries is also faulty.

Quote:
Lets wait for them to go a couple of years without major injuries and win some Slams. Then we talk.
Winning slams is a tall task, you can't expect every top player to do it. Being in top 10 and making slam semis, for instance, should be more than enough to say they can obviously compete.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:49 PM   #11
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Default Re: Total tennis

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Conversely, Goran was as high as Safin and never suffered knee problems
That's because he never really tried to run and could still get away with that in 90s game..
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: Total tennis

I call Nadal defensive because that's what he plays, he defends and counterpunches as a rule. You see something different? He was an attacker in Wimbledon final or AO semi with Verdasco? Murray USO semi? Any other examples? Call it a percentage player if you like, but that's nitpicking given that your argument was players need to play as strong on defense and offense to win slams. Obviously they don't, being extremely good at one, while not being too one dimensional will do and he's not the only example at the top. I'd say there is more or less equal ratio of strong defenders, strong attackers and mixed ones at the top.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:56 PM   #13
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Default Re: Total tennis

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Originally Posted by ys View Post
That's because he never really tried to run and could still get away with that in 90s game..
What can I say, you have an answer to everything. S/V game is not taxing on the knees at all and you make RG QFs from the bench, you don't even have to stand up.
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Old 02-08-2009, 02:12 AM   #14
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Default Re: Total tennis

Quote:
Originally Posted by ys View Post
It's interesting, but to me when people call Nadal a defensive player, it pretty much sounds that they can't watch tennis, really. Are you calling him defensive only because he really excels in defense and his defense can get back that fifth shot when his opponent would be already killed by the first one? He always attacks on his first serve. He sometimes attacks, sometimes defends on second serves of opponent and himself. He mostly defends on opponents first serve. Watch his matches. It is so. I am not his fan by any means, but I fail to see how is it different from what anyone else is doing. Or maybe he is defensive because he generates just enough power and spin to force the error, while his opponents shots proudly go into the winners category, right?

To me he is not a 99% defensive player. He is 100% percentage player, his brain is the most perfect tennis computer that gives him the plan to win the most possible percentage of points. And what else matters in tennis?
Give me one close match Nadull won being offensive? One match he lost being offensive?

Being offensive against a mug like Rochus is easy. Most players would be, even futures players.

Being offensive against a better player than you is different, and Nadull always goes back to moonballing against decent players.
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Old 02-08-2009, 02:15 AM   #15
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Default Re: Total tennis

give me a banana
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