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Discussion Starter #1
Brilliancy Prize

If you watch Internet discussions, you'll notice an interesting debate over tennis: Just what is it that makes it great? Some people want to watch power, others watch style. The two don't always have much respect for the other (the author, who prefers watching players win with their heads rather than their muscles, has been told to go watch chess instead, and has felt the strong temptation to tell the power-lovers to go watch boxing, or weight-lifting, or something equally unworthy of a civilized being).

But, sometimes, they do agree on some things -- like great matches. Which brings us to an idea from chess: The Brilliancy Prize.

Many chess tournaments award this prize for the best game. In some ways, it's like "Miss Congeniality" at a beauty pageant: it doesn't pay anything, and you don't get any TV contracts for winning it. But a "brilliancy" may well get you in the chess anthologies.

Just as a brilliant tennis match may get you on the highlight films. (At least if you play singles; we don't recall many mixed doubles highlights....)

Indeed, tennis can offer an even better brilliancy prize. A great chess game often occurs when one player is far better than the other and wins by masterfully outmaneuvering an opponent. But while it's occasionally possible to enjoy a blowout in tennis, if one player is truly great and using everything in his or her arsenal (e.g. when Marcelo Rios or Martina Hingis well and truly dissects an opponent), the best matches involve two players giving their all.

So we're going to start awarding Brilliancy Prizes. Not for every event, but for every Slam, and occasionally at other events.

We'll try to give awards in every discipline (well, except mixed doubles, where it's just too hard to know what happened -- and which are messed up by match tiebreaks anyway), with the First Brilliancy Prize given to the best of them all in any of the disciplines.

First Brilliancy Prize
Men's Singles -- Australian Open Quarterfinal
Andy Roddick (9) def. Younes El Aynaoui (18) 4-6 7-6(7-5) 4-6 6-4 21-19

People debate the merits of final-set tiebreaks, and it's true that this ended with El Aynaoui cramping. But even when he was in pain, he was giving Roddick plenty to think about. In this five hour marathon, the two played 83 games and about 450 points -- and there were only a half dozen breaks of serve. Both players had over 100 winners. Both had winner/error ratios around 2:1 (Roddick's was 3:1, and El Aynaoui's approached that until he started trying to shorten the points at the end). Roddick saved match points several times in the final set. So did El Aynaoui, and also broke back after being broken in the middle of the set. We don't know, but we suspect this will be the match of the year. Maybe the decade.

Brilliancy Prize -- Women's Singles
Australian Open Round of Sixteen
Justine Henin-Hardenne (5) Lindsay Davenport (9) 7-5 5-7 9-7

This hadn't the brilliance of the Roddick/El Aynaoui match; both players faded in and out and had streaks of good and bad play. Davenport, for instance, came back from down 4-1 in the second to win ten of twelve games -- only to have Henin win four of the next five. But, overall, the quality was high, and the drama level was pretty good, too.

Brilliancy Prize -- Women's Doubles
Australian Open Quarterfinal
Virginia Ruano Pascual/Paola Suarez (2) def.
Conchita Martinez/Nadia Petrova (8) 2-6 7-5 7-6(7-3)


Ruano Pascual and Suarez were the obvious Doubles Team of the Year in 2002, winning two Slams and having one other Slam final and winning five smaller titles as well. In fact, they've now reached four straight Slam finals. Martinez and Petrova were a pickup team; Petrova played mostly with Jelena Dokic last year (managing to reach the Top 20 despite playing only a few months), while Martinez kept trying out partners. But Martinez/Petrova beat very tough opponents -- including Kournikova/Rubin, and also Martinez's old partner Patricia Tarabini -- to get to this match. The result was all anyone could ask for.

Brilliancy Prize -- Men's Doubles
Australian Open Final
Michael Llodra/Fabrice Santoro (8) def.
Mark Knowles/Daniel Nestor (1) 6-4 3-6 6-3


All right, we'll be honest, we didn't see enough men's doubles to know what the best match was. This wasn't the closest match, but it was the final, featuring players who just love this court. Close enough. Particularly since Knowles/Nestor had a 2-0 head-to-head lead over the Frenchmen, and Santoro hurt himself in the second set. Talk about a quick recovery! Knowles said after the match, "At the end of the day I guess the only thing you got to do is take your hat off to those guys.... I guess it's good timing on their part that they played... the best tennis I've seen in a long time. We didn't do anything really wrong. They just raised their level."

source: bob larson

wow :eek: not a single prize to the Sisters! or Andre! in fact, except for the men's doubles, not a single prize to any eventual champion!
 

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I didnt think Younes was cramping in that match. He looked tired, but otherwise didnt appear hindered by anything like cramp. There were no mentions of the sisters or Andre because they mostly blew away their opponents and he said in the article the best matches are two players evenly matched.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
you're right of course but for the same reason i would not have included the Henin-Davey match. to me that was just an awful match in which both women showed sporadic bursts of good tennis only to be followed up by some seriously lame stuff. same for Younes vs Andy -- two big servers who dragged things out. not my definition of brilliant.

Serena vs Emelie Loit in the first round would have scored my Brilliancy Prize for the women, and Andre vs Escude would have won for the men. two evenly matched opponents, with completely different styles of play, lotsa tension and drama, and the results could have gone either way.
 

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The Serena-Loit match was awful. Serena was spraying errors everywhere, i think she had over 50 unforced errors. The younes-Andy match was very high quality, and i think both had less unforced errors than serena in 5 sets. Best match i've seen for a while so i definietely agree with that.
The one from that article that i would not have picked would be the womens doubles match. I thought the standard of that match was very ordinary, and it was only Vivi/Paola coming back from 5-2 down in the 2nd that gave it any drama. I didnt see enough of the Henin-Davenport match to comment, but from what i saw Lindsay was playing really bad and making lots of errors so that probbaly wouldnt cut it either. I think he only picked those matches because they were the closest.
 

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I would give at least a mention to that match of Monica Seles against Klara Koukalova. Klara played with guts, and Monica wasnt playing bad either.
From the matches I got to see, that was the best.
 

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How Can the Dick-younes match be brilliance. Younes was on his knees at the end and it wasn't the highest quality. Are they gonna incluce Poo-Shalken from W as well??
 

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Well, are we talking about the most enthralling and closely-fought contest or the highest quality match here? Because if it's the latter, then the Escude-Agassi clash gets my vote simply for the sheer pace and crispness of Escude's returns and winners. Just think, he'll probably never play as well again in a match, yet he'll probably still manage to win it unlike he did here.
 

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I don't know too much about the doubles matches, because I didn't watch any match.

About Men's Singles one, well, it may be a good match, dramatic, etc, but it wasn't THAT great. Although it's worty to say they made lesser than 50 or 60 unforced errors, so the most part of their won points were winners.

About Women's Singles one, definitely, that was the best match so far. It was power vs. style(or however you wanna call it), so it was different from the final or 1 of the semifinals, in which all was power....(so awful)!
 

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The Andy-Younes match was GREAT!
I nearly had an orgasm from it. Everyone who says that only their serves kept it going obviously didnt watch the 5th set live.
 

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Well, I always knew tennis was dramatic but I never knew it had that effect on people...
 

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It did :eek:

There was that one amazing rally, both players at their absolute best, Roddick blasts a huge forehand, & Younes somehow takes it with a dry volley, lands it on the line & makes it a winner.

My jaw dropped.
 

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I've always preferred wet volleys, personally (sorry, cheap shot).

On the subject of styles of game, I think I appreciate most types of players and the way they play, but there has to be a good element of tactical thinking on the court otherwise it becomes dull.

I'm thinking specifically of the Lyon semi last year between Mathieu and Pless which was billed as a clash of two 20-year-olds - and as I watched the match, I thought to myself, if this is the future of men's tennis then I really fear for it. It was a terrifically hard-fought encounter, with Mathieu saving a match point to win in three, but the commentators noted several times that both men were basically intent on hammering the ball as hard as they could without much thought about how to work the point, and whoever got the first big strike in during the rally ended up winning it.

I actually wanted the squeaky-voiced Pless to win simply because I can't stand the eternally posturing Paul-Henri (hell, Hewitt could give this guy lessons in on-court humility), but thankfully that was all rectified a few weeks later in Paris...
 

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I remember that match, i didn't think it was really good.

But Andy & Younes are not like that (especially Younes). They both hit as many forehands as they can, & both of them like the net, but Younes is the one who is actually a good vollyer. I hate the way Mathieu & Pless play, that's really mindless play. Btw, all of those who say Andy has 0 game are just going the bandwagon, Andy is guite great to watch, although i don't like him at all.
 

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Btw, all of those who say Andy has 0 game are just going the bandwagon, Andy is guite great to watch, although i don't like him at all.
My take on this..

When Andy is having a good day, he's good to watch. Often when he's having a bad day, and his serve isn't working - well you can see that there isn't a lot of "thinking" involved in his game.

I don't particularly like to watch him for this reason... he sets up his points with a big serve, then smacks a forehand.

Sure he has some game, but give me Fabrice anyday ;)
 

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It was interesting, actually - on Eurosport, the commies observed during the last couple of sets that Roddick's volleying, especially his backhand volley, suddenly came alive under the pressure of the match and his net play was the best it's ever been. At one stage he was coming in on almost every point on his serve.

I thought it was quite telling, and very brave, that matchpoint down he simply told himself "I don't want to get into a long rally" and smacked a huge forehand winner to end the point. I've got nothing against Roddick personally, but I think I'll like him more once he finds out how to win easy matches regularly - every match he plays seems such a physical and mental ordeal and turns into such a huge drama because he plays full out, when often he doesn't need to.
 

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"I don't particularly like to watch him for this reason... he sets up his points with a big serve, then smacks a forehand"

True, it's pretty one-dimensional, but this pattern of play is fairly common in virtually all the Top 10/20 players around - including a couple of top-ranked Spaniards I could mention...

Ultimately someone like Fabrice Santoro has a unique style of game, and while it's entertaining to watch it's never going to win him major titles or get taken up by scores of other players (not that I mind it, understand - I'm all for more diversity of style amongst players, which is why the French are such a breath of fresh air).
 

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"I don't particularly like to watch him for this reason... he sets up his points with a big serve, then smacks a forehand"

True, it's pretty one-dimensional, but this pattern of play is fairly common in virtually all the Top 10/20 players around - including a couple of top-ranked Spaniards I could mention...
I was actually waiting for somebody to point out that Ferrero's game isn't exactly multidimensional either ;)

Frankly, a lot of the players I like have one dimensional games...Andy just isn't one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
most of the top players know how to go for the one-two punch. however, tennis is more interesting when a player has other options IMO -- like for when the one-two punch simply fails (bec the ball gets returned in an unexpected way). that's why i tend more to admire players with more complete games (like Guga and Safin for examples). players who have ALL the shots and can set them up and pull them out as needed.

i love Santoro. he represents a sying breed of junk artists ;)

Experimentee: i liked the Serena-Loit match less bec of Serena and more bec of Loit. i found it an enjoyable match bec of the contrast in styles and bec of Loit's utter fearlessness. she had a positive effect IMO on every other opponent who faced the Sisters for the rest of the tourny.

the only doubles match i saw was the Sisters vs Paola and Viv. the better "team" lost to the more powerful players. oh well...
 

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TC brought up a good point about how the Roddick - El Aynoui match was more exciting than it was brilliant. I think people get exciting and brilliant confused and think it's the same thing. But it's not. I think the very well played Roddick - El Aynoui match which had alot of fantastic points was thrilling but not brilliant. And there is a difference. But with all of the power in men's and women's tennis these days, don't look to see alot of brilliant matches in the future! :(

The Bjorn Borg - John McEnroe 1980 Wimbledon final was brilliantly played! :bounce: I recommend getting a tape of that match and enjoy tennis at its purist form! :)
 
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