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View Poll Results: Are players peaking at older ages in tennis now than in the past?

Yes 72 71.29%
No 22 21.78%
Don't know / don't care 7 6.93%
Voters: 101. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-21-2010, 08:19 AM   #61
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

I don't have any figures to back this up, it's just a gut feeling, so please feel free to shoot me down.

I think it has something to do with the change in the distribution of ranking points. Established players get higher points from slams and MS so one or two good performances keep them in the top 100. More difficult for new (=younger)players to break through playing lower ranked ATP and challengers.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:26 AM   #62
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

Because the young players basically know three shots. Forehand, backhand and serve. They don't know hot to attack and they don't have the ability to change tactics during the match. It's only one gear from start to finish. Usually no plan B.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:35 AM   #63
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenoldie View Post
I don't have any figures to back this up, it's just a gut feeling, so please feel free to shoot me down.

I think it has something to do with the change in the distribution of ranking points. Established players get higher points from slams and MS so one or two good performances keep them in the top 100. More difficult for new (=younger)players to break through playing lower ranked ATP and challengers.
The ranking points distribution change certainly explains the big jump in the last year and a three months that you can clearly see in the graph. Before you could be knocking on the door of top 50 with playing nothing but challengers, but these days it would be virtually impossible to do.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:02 AM   #64
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenoldie View Post
I don't have any figures to back this up, it's just a gut feeling, so please feel free to shoot me down.

I think it has something to do with the change in the distribution of ranking points. Established players get higher points from slams and MS so one or two good performances keep them in the top 100. More difficult for new (=younger)players to break through playing lower ranked ATP and challengers.
not at all.

Look at Zeballos, Lorenzi and a few others : you will see that it's not easy at all to survive at the top when you always have to play top-tournaments rather tahn many challengers like previous year.

I disagree in the importance of last changes about that (challengers have not been really disadvantaged comparing to ATP250 tournaments) and I rather think that challengers are still advantaged in points comparing to main tour tournaments.

And anyway as far as the topic here is concerned, people have noticed here that one main problem is that very young generations (from 1988 apart from the best 4 of that generation to the later years) don't succeed at all.

And they don't even succeed in challengers and even futures ... except 1992 generation (Tomic, Harrison, Krajinovic, Bhambri, Basilashvili ...).

Anyway, for very young talented players, very often they are not regular and endurant and rather reach the top by a few big results (esp many young great talents revealed at slams).

They are not endurant and regular enough to accumulate many big results in challengers like Zeballos, Lorenzi, Devilder, Ventura, Ramirez-Hidalgo, Kim, previous years even Reynolds or Kendrick, Daniel.

Among youngsters, only Dolgopolov (21 years old already) has done it recently, but he couldn't improve his ranking like previous players because he played half less tournaments ! Pere Riba (same age) plays many tournaments but with little success.

Then I don't agree at all with this reason, and God knows that I do follow the rankings

From the generations point of view, the generations after 1981-1982 were already less good than the previous ones (except generation, 1987 which is quite good for the number of good players), but generations 1988 to 1991 look even worse

Contrary to what many people say I also think that generation 1981 (Fed-Hewitt-Nalbandian-Davydenko ...) was great : usually every generation has 10 players who reach the top-50, 1981 generation had around 20 of them !

And generations 1980-1982, even 1979 now (Blake-Ljubicic-Stepanek-Gaudio) are also still there.

As for the reasons, there are probably real technical reasons (the game esp is slower and more tactical) and also a generation gap for a few generations.

In the past, many big young generations emerged at the top when there was a change in the game, for instance the new rackets in the end of the 80s (many youngsters playing with a lot of spin like Carlsson, Perez-Roldan or Davin, later Bruguera or Berasategui, rather than attacking players in the beginning), beginning of the 90s (players hitting very hard like Courier-Agassi and players with a big serve like Sampras-Ivanisevic-Krajicek), the game maybe slowing down when Fed-Hewitt's generation emerged. In their time, Borg's generation had also brought a big physical dimension.

This time there's maybe too little change


Maybe it will change : from last year we have seen more players very tall and hitting very hard succeeding ... but still the game is so slow that it's not easy for them : see for instance Korolev and Gulbis, they have to add other tactical elements (as Del Potro, Söderling and Cilic did).

Tomic and Krajinovic are tall players, but you can see, even Tomic chose a more tactical game than hitting very hard.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:52 AM   #65
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

To say more, I think that the tactical reason is the main one : the failure of the "hitting very hard from the baseline" tactics in a context of a slowing and more tactical game.

As far as the composition of the circuit is concerned, as some have mentioned it, I think one point may be mentioned :

many talented youngsters come from Central/Eastern Europe, sometimes also Asia, where there are few tournaments (including on the challenger level) to get wild-cards (esp as there are many countries in this area and a player from Romania won't get a WC in a Czech tournament ).

there was a time until beginning of the 90s where many of the good youngsters came from the US, or South America where there are many challengers (I'm not sure whether there were as many challengers there in that time though), or Australia if you go still further in the past.

This can play a role.

If you want to give more points to challengers, the effect now would be that ... there would be more Zeballos or Lorenzi !

The reason why challengers are not given so many points is ... because there are so many of them ! Far many more than in the past (less since last year because of the crisis to be honest).

Maybe a situation with less challengers but with better fields / more points would be possible (please note that this year, there are more challengers which are given the maximum points - last year it was only Prostejov, this year for instance this week you have both Marrakech and Sunrise).

but I think you cannot decide that easily
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:57 PM   #66
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

I think there are several reasons.

First, and probably foremost in my mind, is that it’s easier for players to stay more fit...and stay on tour, on top longer...because of more advanced training, recovery and rehabilitation techniques. And I’m not talking about the banned/illegal substances. But let’s face it, modern medicine and therapy makes it easier to be/act young longer.

Second, the business of the game has changed...in favor of the incumbents, rather than the newcomers. The money the better players make allow them to (mostly) pick their tournaments as well as pay for better coaches, trainers and doctors. Back when you had to play every tournament just to get by, the bodies wore down quicker.

In that vein too, I think it takes even more “startup” money to develop a new player than ever before.

Third, talented and athletic kids have many more options now than they did 20 years ago. If you’re good enough, you can make money at almost any sport these days. In years gone by... there were just a few.

Fourth, I feel (and it’s definitely just my opinion) that tennis was particularly and unusually represented by youngsters (esp on the womens side). I’m a firm believer that mens athletic peaks are in their later 20s...not the earlier part of that decade. And it’s the total package: physical and mental strengths as well as actual skill sets and experience.

Lastly, and perhaps the saddest, I’ll have to agree with Bobby here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby View Post
Because the young players basically know three shots. Forehand, backhand and serve. They don't know hot to attack and they don't have the ability to change tactics during the match. It's only one gear from start to finish. Usually no plan B.
The game is changing...but the coaching, especially at the lower levels, hasn’t caught up yet. Baseline bashing is being replaced by a more thoughtful game. I see it at our Club all the time. Me and the lunching ladies will be on court next to some youngsters just pounding away at the ball. They have meaningless points, which invariably end on a go-for-broke mis-execution...and they’re exhausted after less than an hour of “play.”

A few years ago, I had the good fortune to play in the small, charity “open” tournament (no age or skill/rating requirements). My male partner and I (combined age of 70+) ended up in the finals against a pair of male teenagers (top players at a local HS, no less). As we walked off the courts, victorious, my partner laughingly explained to them that “age and treachery” will beat “youth and stupidity” most of the time. Once we got used to the “pace”of their game, adjusted ours...we had an easy time and made them look quite silly lunging for balls that were seeming just out of reach. They had no concept of mixing pace with placement and patience.

And to see some of the younger pros making those same kind of errors...just makes me shake my head. I much rather watch a match of “older” pros than one with the younger guys. Yeah, so the serves won’t be as “fast” nor the chase-downs as “spectacular” but I’m usually much more entertained by the whole product.

Nice thread, StatRacket...
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Old 03-21-2010, 01:57 PM   #67
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

Nice article and stats from the OP and good and interesting (and highly plausible) explanations from duong and Angle Queen. Thanks for those.
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:14 PM   #68
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

I don't see any teens making a breakthrough lately like for example Nadal in 2005. The newest generation doesn't seem that special.
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:39 PM   #69
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

I agree that more players these days are benefiting from progress in sports science and sports psychology. I noticed that when I was watching the Vancouver Olympics too. Many athletes---Alpine skiers, ski jumpers, speed skaters, and so on---were well into their 30s and were appearing in their fourth, fifth, or even sixth Olympics.
Sure tennis and winter sports are different but I think it's safe to say that in general athletes have greater longevity in their career (unless they are forced to retire due to injury/sickness).

As for younger players, I just hope Kei will be fitter and can fulfill the promise he showed in 2008...!
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:56 PM   #70
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

Because time goes by quicker. The today's 18 y'olds are like 16 y'olds in 90th, max.

And I am serious
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:27 PM   #71
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

old balls please.
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:40 PM   #72
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

Great reasons from most in this thread, interesting topic.

I think the two biggest reasons are because the game these days requires so much more physical endurance on court, something most if not all young players DO NOT have.

Add the ridiculous physical requirement to the mental aspect that you have to stay focused for long periods of time. You have to be a great technical player, you have to be able to play smart and physical whether the moment determines it. The game is so much more these days than just serve and forehand. Young players need time to develop their games.
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Old 03-21-2010, 04:09 PM   #73
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

simply because of the one dimensionality........you create an immediate impact and make your mark right away only when you are somewhat different from others........nadal had a massive breakthrough and won his debut french open itself because he brought variety with him to the tour, not just another routine ball smacker........his topspin was like never before and it added a new dimension to the atp tour on the whole........

even in the 80s and 90s, generally we had players with varied styles and hence it was easier for younger players to surprise the veterans with their variety and spring a surprise........for example chang sprung up in 89 and took everyone by surprise with his lightening speed, tricky low slices, slap forehands and clever passes........he had decent success for his height and whatever talent he possessed, the key was the variety that he brought to the game........

becker broke through in 85 and ran away with wimbledon........he brought that energy and vigor with him along with his tennis........something different to routine........

the possibility of a 'different' player creating an instantaneous impact is much higher than a one dimensional routine hitter........

the upcoming players now are bringing nothing new to the fore........hence the veterans are finding it easy to keep them at their places and the young guns are unable to scalp the big fishes right away........

it took del potro to develop some awesome firepower to his ball bashing and quite a few slam meetings with federer and nadal to finally beat them in slams and win a slam, he did not breakthrough all of a sudden like nadal, chang or becker........you take even djokovic........he took his own time before he finally won a slam........

bottomline: i don't think we will see a teenage slam winner anytime in the near future unless they bring something new to the game.........
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Old 03-22-2010, 05:38 AM   #74
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

Thanks for the many very good responses!

There seems to be many contributing factors:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibracadabra View Post
Could be a number on reasons but i suggest great[er] knowledge of how the body works and how it is fueled leads to longer game span of players.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Action Jackson View Post
Tennis is a speed endurance sport and with the physical part taking over to a greater extent than previously, it takes longer to get the balance right in that particular field.
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Originally Posted by Arkulari View Post
the younger players in the top 50 are Cilic and Juan, right? and they both will be 22 this year, so it's a matter of the fact that most old guns are hanging in there and the youngsters cannot keep up with them

see Murray's example at the AO, he's one of the guys who has one of the most extensive physical training of all the young guns and yet he looked exhausted at the third set TB in the final against Roger, I know it's also about their type of game, but shouldn't he be able to keep up with him for as long as it takes?
Yep, they're the youngest in the top 50, followed by Gulbis (21 years old), Bellucci (22) and Querrey (22).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenoldie View Post
I don't have any figures to back this up, it's just a gut feeling, so please feel free to shoot me down.

I think it has something to do with the change in the distribution of ranking points. Established players get higher points from slams and MS so one or two good performances keep them in the top 100. More difficult for new (=younger)players to break through playing lower ranked ATP and challengers.
This is an interesting point and very difficult to put numbers to (trust me, I've tried!). The reason being that it is dependant on what Challenger finish (e.g. Winner, finalist or semi-finalist) players get and the number of Challengers. For example, Challenger winners can quickly accumulate points, but frequent Challengers semi-finalists and quarter-finalists are finding it harder.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby View Post
Because the young players basically know three shots. Forehand, backhand and serve. They don't know hot to attack and they don't have the ability to change tactics during the match. It's only one gear from start to finish. Usually no plan B.
Quote:
Originally Posted by duong View Post
In the past, many big young generations emerged at the top when there was a change in the game,
Yep. It's more difficult to adjust your game to new equipment/courts etc when you're older.

Quote:
Originally Posted by duong View Post
To say more, I think that the tactical reason is the main one : the failure of the "hitting very hard from the baseline" tactics in a context of a slowing and more tactical game.

As far as the composition of the circuit is concerned, as some have mentioned it, I think one point may be mentioned :

many talenetd youngsters come from Central/Eastern Europe, sometimes also Asia, where there are few tournaments (including on the challenger level) to get wild-cards.
Excellent point. I often how many more top players these areas would have if they had more tournaments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angle Queen View Post
Second, the business of the game has changed...in favor of the incumbents, rather than the newcomers. The money the better players make allow them to (mostly) pick their tournaments as well as pay for better coaches, trainers and doctors. Back when you had to play every tournament just to get by, the bodies wore down quicker.

In that vein too, I think it takes even more “startup” money to develop a new player than ever before.

Third, talented and athletic kids have many more options now than they did 20 years ago. If you’re good enough, you can make money at almost any sport these days. In years gone by... there were just a few.
Money would be a factor too. Once you get near the top of the rankings, it is getting easier to stay there because you can now afford to play less (and prepare better) and pay for better coaching/management teams.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groove Dude View Post
I think the two biggest reasons are because the game these days requires so much more physical endurance on court, something most if not all young players DO NOT have.

Add the ridiculous physical requirement to the mental aspect that you have to stay focused for long periods of time. You have to be a great technical player, you have to be able to play smart and physical whether the moment determines it. The game is so much more these days than just serve and forehand. Young players need time to develop their games.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Start da Game View Post
simply because of the one dimensionality........you create an immediate impact and make your mark right away only when you are somewhat different from others.

bottomline: i don't think we will see a teenage slam winner anytime in the near future unless they bring something new to the game.........
Another good reason. I think this is why Tomic has been so successful so young. His game is very different and even very good players (e.g. Cilic at the Australian Open) have a hard time with it.

Thanks again everyone for the excellent responses and the 'm' word was hardly mentioned (thus far)!
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:23 AM   #75
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Default Re: Age and Ranking - Why is the top 100 getting older?

I think it has something to do with the changes made in Masters tournaments. The younger players are only used to playing best of 5 set matches in slams and best of 3 everywhere else. Before, players had to win best of 5 set matches in Masters tournaments.... seems to make them hardier. Look at the winners of slams these days( and those who progress to later rounds), mostly they are players who have had to play the best of 5 set matches more frequently ( Juan and Novak excluded).
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