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I really fail to see the point of these pessimistic threads prophesying the doom of the new generation in terms of Grand Slams and achievement in tennis. If the triumphs of Johansson and Costa last year and the surprise runner-up achievement of Schuettler this year taught us nothing else, it's that people who were considered to have great promise will sometimes take time to mature and develop into Slam winners. Note the above three were/are 26 at the time of their success.

It seems to me that Hewitt looks a heavy favourite for quite a few years at Wimbledon, not that I think that's a good thing, and Ferrero is surely going to claim RG this year or the next - he can sweep through the early rounds so comfortably most of the time. Safin and Federer both have some mental inconsistencies, but I'm sure they have a couple of Slams in them.

At the moment Agassi is still the most consistently successful at the top level, but it's not like he's suddenly going to get the Grand Slam this year or completely dominate tennis, he'll be gone in a couple of years' time, touchwood, and a handful of people will step up to take his place. There will be no completely dominating player in tennis as in the Sampras/Agassi era, and I think that's a good thing. Anyone who wins too much and shuts out everyone else becomes insufferable after a while - look at the endless all-Williams finals on the WTA Tour.

In a perfect world every young, potential Grand Slam winner and every established contender who deserved to win a Slam would do so; we know that's not going to be the case, but I for one am confident there will be an effective balance and blend of winners at the top of the game. I like the fact that people from the Top 100 can cause upsets to the top-ranked players in minor and major tournaments, since it means that those who do win these big events know they have truly earned it. We talk of how incredibly dominant McEnroe, Connors, Borg etc. were in their day, but to be honest most of their early rounds were virtual walkovers.
 

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I really hate the suggestion that Johansson and Costa should be called journeymen just because they're not Top 10 and don't have a flurry of media attention around them - they've been established Top 30 players for years, Johansson was the former winner of a Super 9 event in Montreal and Costa is one of the leading players in clay-court titles won. Both of them had reached Grand Slam quarter-finals before.

Frankly, in the kind of competitive and changing environment on the men's tour, it's arrogant to expect that the new crop of young Slam favourites should instantly snap into action and start asserting their dominance, because they're in a very competitive field. I can only hope that my favourites win a Slam in the future, not expect them to start dominating everyone in sight.

And please lay off criticising them for their performances at this year's AO. Hewitt lost to a man who would have beaten anyone in the world with a serving day like he had, Federer lost in five sets to a man who's he never beaten who has beaten him in his home tournament, Safin was hampered with a wrist injury from the start that forced his withdrawal, and Roddick... well, how on earth can you complain about him losing his semi after a five-hour match won 21-19 in the fifth? Almost anyone out there would be tired, and as he pointed out afterwards Schuettler's the last guy you'd want to face when you're not 100%. The only one who could be criticised for his performance is Ferrero, and even he lost to a 'journeyman' who is a tour veteran and an established threat at the Aussie Open.

And as for Tennis fool's admittance of being a Williams fan - please! :rolleyes: You richly deserve your own username. The only thing interesting about their endless Grand Slam contests is who can shriek the louder, a battle that Serena's now winning. And don't try and point out that their latest squabble lasted over an hour longer than the men's final, because for my money the result was just as predictable in both matches.
 

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Yes, Nalbandian is extremely prone to bouts of racket-throwing and petulance and go walkabout for long periods as he did towards the end of last year, which makes his repeated beating of Federer and Henman all the more irritating... I just think that their attacking games match up well to his in the way that, in the next round, Schuettler's didn't, hence the one-sided score.

As for Kuerten, well, I still think experience at the top level and having won Roland Garros twice, and drawing on the support of the French crowd, gave him an advantage over Roddick in terms of mental and physical recovery. In some cases, being older actually means being fitter, as some young bodies have yet to fully develop, and I think this is still the case with Roddick - he's somewhat physically immature and he does put a lot of intensity and passion into his matches, too much for my liking.

I've forgotten, who was it Guga played in the RG quarters after Russell?
 

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Well, what applies to Safin doesn't I think apply to the other young players. It's true that Safin has said he has other interests outside tennis, enjoys the partying lifestyle he gets to lead and wants a wider life with friends outside the sport; he's never going to have the same single-minded focus as Sampras, for instance. I can't say whether that's a good or bad thing, since it's something about his character that you really can't change, but it means he is never going to be the all-conquering multiple Grand Slam winner he was once heralded as.

As far as the others are concerned, I don't think you can say that they're only interested in money, sponsors and publicity one bit. It's true that they're more image-conscious than their forebears, but that hasn't dulled their passion for the game. In particular, Ferrero always strikes me as the most straight-ahead, determined player on court; with him what you see is what you get, and I feel that the times he didn't live up to expectations last year he was almost trying too hard. Equally someone like Federer, although he has been criticised for being too casual and showy and not having enough steel, is growing into the role.

Unlike talent, mental toughness isn't something you're necessarily born with, it's something you can pick up through experience. Hewitt is of course a special case, and that toughness is what enhances his relatively simple retrieving game, but in their own way the other leading contenders are equally committed. It's not that they don't want to succeed, it's that they're finding it hard in a deeply competitive men's field.
 

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Oh of course, the Y-Man again; him and Ferrero are Guga's two lucky charms at Roland Garros, but considering that the year before in 2000 they both had him down two sets to one and a break they really should be kicking themselves...
 

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I don't deny your point - indeed, the very fact that Kuerten reached a Slam final at age 20, won it and has since repeated the feat twice shows why he will probably be regarded in history as a greater player than Roddick in many departments.

However, it is just possible that in that semi-final Schuettler simply played better against his opponent than Dewulf did against his back in 97 - after all, they were both first-time semi-finalists in a Grand Slam. Also, bear in mind Roddick wasn't just tired, he had actually sustained a legitimate wrist injury which may have a lot to do with the energy he uses up in matches, but also with the demanding nature of the surface - clay is after all much easier on the body, and Kuerten is built for muscular endurance where Roddick is built for explosive strength.

I don't deny that Roddick missed an opportunity, but no matter how great your initial success there is always the next opponent to consider - and I don't think his particular failing should extend to any of the other New Balls, practically all of whom seem to be on the list of people you would exempt from the 'failed generation' of young players.
 

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Yes, this thread has inevitably degenerated into a slanging match, although when you see some of the bizarre semantic arguments that people get bogged down in you realise why...

As regards this whole "journeyman" issue, I don't care whether it is a commonly used term in tennis and not just your own description Tennis Fool, it's still a stupid label to apply to people who are regular Top 30 players who compete at the highest level and are able to challenge for the Grand Slams. It's nearly always used as a derogatory term, and of course one of the most famous examples was when Agassi referred to Vince Spadea at the 99 Aus Open as "the ultimate journeyman", to which Spadea responded by beating him in their fourth-round match for only the third time in seven AO campaigns.

And as for the Williams sisters... I really get sick of this argument about them taking tennis to a whole new level when I have to sit through countless early-round matches where they both, and Venus in particular, get away with playing like the No. 40 player in the world simply because their opponent isn't as good an athlete as them. God forbid this should ever happen to the men's tour. Venus' 4th round against Nicole Pratt this year was a classic example - in the first few games she goes for ridiculously ambitious shots, makes fundamental errors and plays sloppy tennis but still ends up winning.

And does anyone else think it's a good thing to have the game controlled by a World No. 1 and 2 who are more interested in off-court interests than in their love of the sport? Serena jokingly calls tennis "the main obstacle to my acting career", Venus plans to open an interior design business, and both of them treat the process of playing Grand Slams as a mechanical exercise to get to the finals - there's no joy in their play whatsoever.

And don't give me that rubbish about Serena's incredible comeback against Clijsters in the semis - anyone who serves two consecutive double faults when they're serving for a match the second time is obviously choking, not getting out-played by an injured opponent. The bottom line is, rivalries work when the two players have contrasting styles and personalities, not when they're two shrieking, gangly-limbed clones of one another whose so-called "rivalry" consists of long five-match winning streaks against each other that become inevitable to predict. Does anyone think Venus is going to buck the trend in the near future, instead of repeatedly losing Slam finals to her sister? I think not.
 

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Experimentee, I'd hardly call that a ridiculously long post - and don't worry, at least you can console yourself with the thought that you only said one stupid thing in your reply as opposed to my many stupid things.

Serena and Venus may well be different off-court, but on court they have very similar games - big serves, crunching backhands, interminable yelling (which admittedly we have to thank Seles for, it's not their fault) and frequent sloppy errors. When they match up together it's as dull as ditchwater, especially when you know that Serena's eventually going to gain the upper hand.

Actually, it's not the controversy and recrimination on wtaworld that discourages me, rather that bizarre grey colour scheme they seem to think goes well with women's tennis. And the fact that you have to put up with more pro-Williams drivel as well. At least in their most dominating years, Navratilova, Evert, Graf, Seles etc. gave credit to their opponents whenever they had tough matches or heaven forbid lost once in a while, but then the chances are that most of the Williams sisters' opponents have no bearing on the outcome of the match at all - and that tells you all that is wrong with the women's tour today.
 

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Fair enough, and I can see the reasons why they're obviously dominating the major tournaments and the Grand Slam finals - as someone told me once, "It's not their fault that they're so much better than everybody else, it's just a pity it doesn't lead to great competition."

My point is, however, do we really want to see men's tennis go down the same route and have a couple of dominating players who can comfortably ease through to Grand Slam finals time and time again? The whole reason for the Williams sisters' success is that, as African-Americans who have been taught the game in an extremely unorthodox but effective style (heck, Richard Williams has said in interviews that his main motive in creating tennis daughters was to use them as a cash cow, not because he had any love for the game), they have achieved a level of athleticism and power that is clearly not going to be equalled by other women on the tour for the foreseeable future, and certainly not by Caucasian players.

This couldn't happen on the men's side because the standard of athleticism and ability is roughly the same throughout the Top 100, which is why we get so many intensely competitive match-ups. Obviously there are qualities that mark some players out from others in terms of talent and mental strength, but the fact that these oft-mentioned New Balls were heralded as potential Slam winners in their younger days does not mean they should be expected to start asserting their authority regularly in the Grand Slams. As someone by the name of Pat Rafter once noted, everyone has a 1 in 128 chance at the start of a Slam, and it's how you perform on the day, not the form book, that earns you the win.
 

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Well, I do actually realise that I was putting myself down, but then the whole tone of my post was somewhat ironic in response to Experimentee's insightful and well-judged comments (see, there it is again, notice?)

So, you mean you DON'T think I'm one of the most intelligent posters on here? :eek:

Don't worry, don't worry, I see and understand that we simply have differing opinions, so let's just agree to disagree. Peace out.

Whenever I get too involved in one of these arguments, I just remind myself that this is a message board populated by what I call "Internet people", and there's a limit to how seriously you can take people, myself included, who use emoticons with smily faces and rolling eyes to communicate their ideas.

Wouldn't you agree? ;)
 

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Racist Monster? How so, Tennis Fool?

I was just saying that being black is obviously an extra athletic advantage to the Williams sisters in particular, but of course that's only part of the reason why they dominate - if ethnicity was used solely as a basis for achievement, Chanda Rubin would be no. 3 in the world while James Blake would have a 4-0 record against Hewitt rather than the other way round.

And as for Richard Williams - well, the colour of his skin has absolutely nothing to do with his shameless opportunism in wanting his daughters to earn money for the family, or his arrogance in suggesting that the WTA be renamed "Williams Take All". I can assure you that my dislike for Williams/Williams has no racial motive whatsoever behind it.
 

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Sorry, maybe I'm missing something blindingly obvious here, but it's been known for decades that black people are naturally better athletes than white people. It's a scientific fact, not a racist statement. And again, let me say I'm not suggesting that that's the only reason why the Williams sisters dominate - it's a combination of that plus the remarkable way they were taught by their father, and the natural talents they were born with. But I don't believe that two white sisters could have achieved the same level of athleticism and power as the Williamses have.

I really don't see what's racist about this - surely racism is defined as assuming another race is inferior to yours? (And just because I suggest that black people are naturally better athletes, doesn't mean I suggest that they're a superior or inferior race.)
 

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Point taken, Walee - I just thought I'd try and put the case for the defence.
 

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Yes, I can see it doesn't apply equally to all sports, and I know that the Williamses don't just depend on any kind of racial advantage to win their matches - they also have incredible mental strength and talent as well. I suppose I was guilty of generalising about it, but I definitely feel that in tennis that extra athleticism does help them to track down more balls and hit that bit harder than their opponent.

Someone once pointed out that it wasn't the power of the Williams sisters that made them almost invincible, it was their speed and mobility - even when you get them on the defensive, it's still nearly impossible to get the ball past them.
 

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Well, exactly - Graf could match them in power, Coetzer and Sanchez Vicario in speed and retrieving ability, but none had the overall package as effectively as the Williamses do now.

I always think it's interesting hearing about those times when Graf in her twilight days played the young, up-and-coming Williams sisters, in particular a hard-fought 3-setter against Venus en route to the 99 Wimbledon final (where of course, irony of ironies, she lost heavily to Lindsay Davenport and everyone assumed that Davenport personified the new generation of hard-hitting players who would take the game to a new level, little realising she would be swept away herself the next year by Venus).

I wonder how Graf in her heyday would fare against them at their best now?
 

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Ignorance flocks together and I wouldn't want to be a part of anything you three agree on
Then don't be. And don't post any more insulting and ludicrous suggestions that just because someone dares criticise people who happen to be African-American that automatically categorises them as a racist.
 

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I keep saying, race isn't the only determining factor in the Williamses' success. I just think it helps to enhance the superb athletic qualities they already possess. Obviously you have to be a professional athlete who works hard and is fit to reach that kind of level, I'm not suggesting that black people who have never so much as looked at a sporting venue have the same ability as them, but it does provide an extra edge.
 

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Hmm, interesting thoughts about Graf fading from the scene as the Williamses took over. Of course, in 97 it was Hingis getting the three-quarter Slam and becoming the youngest world no. 1 that was the big story - indeed it was she who arrogantly declared that "the Graf era is over", then lost to her in the 99 Roland Garros final, preventing her from getting all four Slams.

When Hingis was in her prime, she too managed to beat the Williamses with some regularity, but there are now too many players who can take advantage of the lack of power in her game. It just shows how quickly dominance can change hands at the top of the women's game as new people come along and topple the old order - although somehow I don't think that's happening with the Williams sisters unless they choose to quit tennis soon...
 

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Well actually, when I referred to the idea of rivalries I talked about them having different styles and personalities in the sense of being different on court, not in their private lives; e.g. Sampras-Agassi the classic match-up of serve-volleyer vs. aggressive baseliner, the calmness of Sampras vs the intensity of Agassi.

I don't care if they're chalk and cheese off-court, but when they're playing in matches the difference in personality between Serena and Venus is negligible. And although I have actually stated repeatedly that there are other factors besides power that help them dominate everyone else, such as their movement and athleticism, it's ultimately this power aspect of their game that is most noticeable to anyone who watches them play.

No one sees a Williams on court and thinks "Ah, there is a master tactician at work"; they are awed by their strength, speed and ferocity, but they do not admire them for their repertoire of shots and their skillful construction of rallies, no matter how much these factors may be used under the surface. Apart from anything else, all the subtleties in their game get swamped by their aggressive and intimidating aura on court.

I don't deny that the Williams sisters use clever tactics, although in Venus' case this is debatable, but they are not immediately evident to the spectator - and crucially, to ordinary tennis watchers they are not the reason why the Williamses dominate the WTA Tour.
 

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Metaphorically Nan Cu, metaphorically... you know what I mean. Anyone can see players hitting shots in succession to win a rally, but strategically working out opponent's weaknesses, varying strokes and seeing evidence of mental calculation is not something that springs to mind when most people see the Williams sisters play.

Occasionally you get those surprising moments when Serena sneaks in a good drop shot or pulls her opponent out of court with an amazingly sharp angle, but they're few and far between.
 
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