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Hi

What do you think of these articles? I would have liked more evidence to back up but they are an interesting read.

Tennis Blog Unparalleled

Tennis Blog Unparalleled

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PART 1

In the present day realm of men’s tennis there are the BIG three who not only have double digit slams but have also won all four of them at least once, and then there is Andy Murray who has threatened to dismantle the power structure by daring to reach number one without carrying the resume of the “BIGS.” Does Murray even belong in the hallowed hall housing the wax statues of the BIG three? Probably NOT. However, Murray happens to be one of my favorites, he is also the current world number one and has multiple wins over the big three, and I’d personally go as far as to rank him just below Roger and above the other two on the talent scale. However, he does lack the achievements necessary to qualify him as “BIG” and I have therefore pandered to the Brits but not included him in that “BIG” count!

A potent mix of talent, mental fortitude, powerful weapons, swift movement and Usain Bolt like speed, and certain earth shattering intangibles and quite a bit of luck is a prerequisite to reign at the very highest level of tennis today. And, all of those ingredients when appropriately applied result in consistency, and consistency dear friends is the holy grail of tennis. I thought it’d be fun to analyze how our top tennis gladiators ranked or fared in each of those essential categories. So here we go ……

http://www.138mph.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ComparisonChartBig3.png
(chart)

In this part I’ll analyze only the talent, mental strength, and weapons aspects of their games and the remaining aspects in the following parts over the next few days.

Talent
Federer – Djokovic, Nadal and Murray are exceptionally talented but Federer is truly the Maestro in this department. He is perhaps the only player who makes the game look easy enough to inspire many non-athletic, couch potatoes to pick up a racket for the very first time. He brazenly deceives them into believing that they’d be able to execute those shots too. After all how difficult could it be when this dude just executed them so easily and effortlessly. This ability to make the not so easy look easy enough to inspire others is truly remarkable and unparalleled. Federer can do anything with his racket and make it look effortless too.

Murray – When it comes to pure talent, Murray is second only to the Maestro himself. He has exceptionally good tennis hands and is as comfortable at the net as at baseline. If only he made more trips to the net and became more aggressive.

Nadal – Anyone who can switch to being a left hander from right and then develop that zillion revolutions per minute of a forehand has got to be talented and also bloody strong to pull off that feat. The bull also has soft touch at the net but he rarely makes a trip there.

Djokovic – The player who could best Nadal at hitting more balls in has got to have enough juice in all categories. If the name of the game is consistency then no one has been more consistent than Djokovic at prolonging rallies and sending practically every ball back into the court over the last 5 years.

The Mental Edge
Federer – Roger is a mental giant and his ability to bounce back from heart rending losses is exemplary. He sports an optimistic life view which has probably helped him survive the grind and extended periods with lackluster results. Even though his mental fortitude has wilted against Nadal’s onslaught in the past, he still has managed to continue on and take those beatings as best as he could.

Murray – His tendency to go down upon himself to a point that it begins to affect the outcome of the match makes Murray the weakest here. Lendl has kept him in line off late and that has helped Murray become the number one. However, this one shortcoming I believe has prevented Murray from truly exploiting his talent and winning more slams than he already has.

Nadal – He is the man when it comes to mental strength. Nadal plays every point with his heart and soul and that makes the opponent’s job so bloody tough. Nadal must always be beaten because there is no chance ever that he’ll beat himself like Murray does ever so often.
Djokovic – Comes close to Nadal in the mental strength category but once in a while has been known to pack it in without giving his very best in the battle.

Weapons
Weapons in my “book of tennis” are point ending shots. Shots which depend more on the player for execution and allow the player to dictate terms. I do not consider return of serve as a weapon because the return of serve is dependent predominantly on the quality of serve and is therefore as dependent on the server as it is on returner. Similarly, amazing movement and speed aid in effective use of weapons but cannot by themselves be considered weapons.

Federer – Roger’s mindset is to employ his serve and forehand to finish points and he has been quite successful at achieving that for nearly a decade and a half now. His forehand is much feared and highly effective and his serve has become even more of a weapon than it was in the early part of his dominance. Moreover, I was quite inclined to adding his 2017 backhand as a weapon but decided to contain the urge in favor of a “let’s wait and watch until Wimbledon” attitude.

Nadal – His retrieving abilities, speed and movement have allowed him to reach unreachable balls and his lefty, top-spin forehand has then created enough winners to win him 14 slams. His forehand is indeed a deadly weapon when firing on all cylinders and with good length.

Both Murray and Djokovic have exceptional forehands, backhands and first serves but in my humble opinion they cannot be classified as weapons of destruction.

There are many compelling reasons why the BIG three have been able to achieve such amazing results which will be further explored over the next few days. In the meantime enjoy your Tennis.

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PART 2

Talent, mental fortitude and weapons are only as good as a player’s movement in today’s modern game of tennis. The battle on the court is not only about hitting amazing shots but also about being able to reach amazing shots hit by the opponent. The modern day racket frame with its magical strings takes over as soon as soon the player is close enough to make contact with the ball.

http://www.138mph.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ComparisonChartBig3.png

Movement & Speed

Federer: He would probably be the only one of this lot who would have thrived even in the era of wooden frames and super fast courts. He may not be as fast as Novak or Murray but his aggressive mindset infuses purpose to his movement and rarely do you see him out of balance while executing his strokes. Roger is a picture of poise, and grace which stem from perfect balance and a relaxed body while executing shots. I believe one of the most underrated aspect of Federer’s game is balance. His balance has allowed him to win Wimbledon titles in the era when the grass there was fast enough to be called grass. Balance in his case is as much a product of good movement and speed as it is of aggressive mindset. Federer always tries to dictate play which in turn requires him to plan the point at least three shots ahead and therefore his on court movement seems so purposeful and measured. Back in the days of smaller rackets and faster courts the winning strategy demanded aggressive play with a trip to the net and Roger would have been quite happy doing that.

Nadal: Nadal’s movement is based so much on moving sideways at the base line that he rarely gets the opportunity to exploit his soft touch at the net. Nadal has always claimed that his style of play is to run and hit aggressively. It seems his definition of aggressive doesn’t quite match mine. I believe aggressive means to take the ball early to take time away from the opponent and constantly move forward to apply pressure, cut angles and finish the point as soon as possible. Yes Nadal can hit winners even when he is all stretched out of balance in a corner about 10 feet behind the baseline, but being able to accomplish such amazing feats is purely a function of superior speed and retrieving abilities and NOT aggressive movement or play. The combination of slower courts and modern day string technology I believe has benefited Nadal the most and if it wasn’t for injuries, Nadal would have had more slams that Roger by now. However, there is a price to pay for every style of play and movement. Federer pays that price with more unforced errors and Nadal with injuries.

Djokovic: Novak is an exceptional mover and is willing to do whatever it takes to reach the ball. He knows that as long as he can even barely reach it, he can most certainly put it back into play. He doesn’t compromise reach for balance and poise and out of the four being discussed here Novak tends to be most out of balance when executing shots. Novak’s amazing stretches, lunges and gymnast like dynamic splits are legendary and help him reach just about any unreachable ball and then execute that perfect shot for a jaw dropping winner. This kind of shot execution from position of perfect imbalance was impossible in the past on much faster courts, and with 85 sq inch wooden frames strung with cow’s guts.

Novak may have the ability to pull off an aggressive play but his mindset, and therefore his movement, compels him to prolong points and not end them. He even attempts to serve and volley and make net approaches but lacks the soft touch of Nadal and Murray at the net and doesn’t really commits to that tactic substantially enough. Those shots that Novak has hit from positions of gross imbalance while lunging, stretching and executing perfect splits and contortions have all had their cumulative impact on his body and now bother him as niggling and even some serious injuries. Now that he is 29, he will get to enjoy more of that happy zone where he can binge watch Game Of Thrones, and spend quality time with family.

Murray: This man is so fast that he can probably qualify to run alongside Usain Bolt in the 100 meters finals at the Olympics. However, his movement is perhaps the most purposeless of the four being dissected here. Murray, in my opinion happens to be as comfortable moving forward as he is sideways and can play quite aggressively when he absolutely makes up his mind to do so. However, so far he has used his amazing athleticism mostly to display his astounding speed rather than dictate points. If Murray could bring some purpose to his movement he could surely win a few more slams but father time is catching up fast and after 29 the best known way to tackle time is by taking it away from opponents. I believe Murray can reinvent his game but will his mindset allow him to reshape his movement?

In part III I’ll try to tackle the future of our gladiators after 30 and their mindsets, and thereafter the intangibles category which I believe could bring about the most tangible changes in their games.

This post was continuation of “Decoding the BIG three & Murray” at Tennis Blog Unparalleled
 
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