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Old 09-14-2010, 03:57 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
27,612 posts, read 24,802,203 times
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In tennis, the surfaces have all either been sped up or slowed down. The point of doing this was to level the playing field for all players and to also make the game more exciting.

But the point of having different surfaces in the first place was to make the Career Slam as difficult to achieve as possible. The slower clay of the French Open favored fit, patient and consistent players. The fast grass of Wimbledon favored powerful, big-serving and athletic players. Most players tailored their game to one surface or the other. Pete Sampras, for example, struggled in France because his game was best suited for the fast grass of the All England Club.

Fast forward to 2010 and all players export the same game to all three surfaces. Nadal can hit from the backcourt on clay and grass. Federer does the same. The surfaces don't challenge players to take risks and experiment with different playing styles, imo.

So, in some sense, I feel that both Nadal and Federer's Career Slams are worth less than Agassi's. After all, Agassi beat Goran Ivanisevich at Wimbledon, which was no easy feat for a baseliner on the fast grass during the modern-day power era. I think the surfaces should be restored to their speeds during the 1990s to make the Slam actually mean something.

Thoughts?
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Old 09-15-2010, 06:56 AM
 
Location: Cook County
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I guess I didn't realize they made such dramatic changes in how they had the grass at Wimbeldon, or the clay at Rolland Garros. However, I hope you hold the same standards to players that used smaller wooden racquets as oppose to the monstrous clubs players have used the last 20 years. The game evolves in more ways then just one, just like any other sport.
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:34 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orangeish View Post
I guess I didn't realize they made such dramatic changes in how they had the grass at Wimbeldon, or the clay at Rolland Garros. However, I hope you hold the same standards to players that used smaller wooden racquets as oppose to the monstrous clubs players have used the last 20 years. The game evolves in more ways then just one, just like any other sport.
The surfaces have changed dramatically. The grass at Wimbledon is longer and firmer, which slows the ball down and causes it to bounce higher. This favors players such as Nadal who have extreme forehand grips and need more time to take big cuts on the ball. Tim Henman was quoted as saying that the courts at Wimbledon are comparable to the courts in Australia. This is a far cry from the low-bouncing, quick grass of the 1990s that favored the Boris Beckers, Pete Samprases, and Richard Krajiceks of the tennis world. If Nadal were forced to play on the old grass, he would be a perennial first round/early round loser at Wimbledon just like Thomas Muster, Michael Chang, Ivan Lendl, Alberto Costa, Gustavo Kuerten, Carlos Moya, Alex Corretja, and many others.

The racquets don't make as great a difference as the surface in terms of difficulty of winning the Slam. Having a powerful racquet makes no difference if you have a full, half-second less to hit the ball. The racquet also makes no difference if the ball skids, takes an an unpredictable bounce, or fails to bounce at all. If that were the case at Wimbledon today, Nadal would not be able to stand at the baseline and engage in 35 shot rallies. The relative similarity of all the surfaces has made it possible for Federer and Nadal to win the Slam. Federer may have won it on the old surfaces, though he'd probably have fewer Slams overall, but Nadal would only be able to win the French.
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:25 AM
 
Location: Cook County
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I disagree greatly....Racquets/equipment change(s) makes a huge difference in tennis just like they do in golf. Before dirving the ball 8 bagillion miles became common there was a larger premium placed on that in between game that vexes many of todays players. When racquets were smaller, players sacraficed several inches of racquet head space, which meant they got to fewer and fewer balls. The game was more a precise shot making game, as oppose to now when it seems to just be about outlasting the opponents. Like you said yourself, Nadal has ridiculous baseline rallies that go on forever, because todays players can get to so many other balls that were ungetable 30 years ago. I am not saying the players of yesteryear were better persay, but the change of technology should not be understated when we are discussing the evolution of tennis, or the comparison of players across generations.
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orangeish View Post
I disagree greatly....Racquets/equipment change(s) makes a huge difference in tennis just like they do in golf. Before dirving the ball 8 bagillion miles became common there was a larger premium placed on that in between game that vexes many of todays players. When racquets were smaller, players sacraficed several inches of racquet head space, which meant they got to fewer and fewer balls. The game was more a precise shot making game, as oppose to now when it seems to just be about outlasting the opponents. Like you said yourself, Nadal has ridiculous baseline rallies that go on forever, because todays players can get to so many other balls that were ungetable 30 years ago. I am not saying the players of yesteryear were better persay, but the change of technology should not be understated when we are discussing the evolution of tennis, or the comparison of players across generations.
I said that the "racquets don't make as great a difference as the surface in terms of the difficulty of winning the Career Slam." I never said that the racquets don't make a difference...at all.

If the grass at Wimbledon were the way it was during Sampras' hey-day, Nadal would be forced to come into net more because the bounces would be so inconsisent. This would put him at a tremendous disadvantage against a player like Roddick or Isner, who could win many free points on serve.
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:41 AM
 
Location: N.W. Austin.
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Grass and hard court surfaces are more suited to power players.

Clay is more suited to finesse players.

Regardless of surface, the winner of any given match or tournament, is the one that, on any given day wants it more...
I still can't believe the outcome of Chang Vs Lendl in the French Open, way back when. If Chang had been a few inches taller and a few pounds heavier, Sampras, Courier and Agassi wouldn't ever have had a chance against him!
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spookmeister View Post
Grass and hard court surfaces are more suited to power players.

Clay is more suited to finesse players.

Regardless of surface, the winner of any given match or tournament, is the one that, on any given day wants it more...
I still can't believe the outcome of Chang Vs Lendl in the French Open, way back when. If Chang had been a few inches taller and a few pounds heavier, Sampras, Courier and Agassi wouldn't ever have had a chance against him!
I agree with your first statement. It used to be that way, anyway. Now the surfaces are more or less uniform.

Not so much with your second statement. Clay favors the patient, consistent, and well-conditioned player. I would not say that it favors "finesse" players. Nadal is not a finesse player and he's already won Roland Garros five times; Stefan Edberg was a finesse player and he never won there.

Who knows what Chang would have done with different physical attributes, but that doesn't matter. Who knows what type of pro I would have been with John Isner's serve?
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Old 09-16-2010, 03:55 PM
 
Location: N.W. Austin.
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Conditioning is a given for players at that level, and the attributes you describe, patience and consistency, are finesse players' strengths. They aren't going to overpower, but force errors, with their precise shot making. They're not looking to make winners on every stroke, they're looking to force their opponent into impatiently going for it.
Edberg was more of a tweener, he had the height but not the strength to overpower and his 'weak' backhand always a liability. Most of the players back then hardly did weight training. You look at the physiques now and some could easily be defensive backs or receivers! We know they've got the speed, cutting and agility down pat. Let me not even mention Serena!
In terms of strategy, players like Becker and Ivanisevic tended to try and overpower their opponents. Later in his career, Becker became a master of the finesse game, and with his power, pretty successful. Goran on the other hand couldn't quite harness that.
Nadal grew up on clay and it is his preferred surface, but he's also been blessed with the power, speed and conditioning to transition his game to hard surfaces and grass as well.
Playing surfaces, equipment and balls have changed with the available technology but the object of the game still remains just like in Baseball, soccer and football. Even apparel now plays a part, the colors and fashion sense, not withstanding!
The players are bigger, stronger, faster and extremely well conditioned. No slouches allowed.
If I had Becker's serve, Chang's heart and Agassi's reflexes....
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Old 09-16-2010, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
27,612 posts, read 24,802,203 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spookmeister View Post
Conditioning is a given for players at that level, and the attributes you describe, patience and consistency, are finesse players' strengths. They aren't going to overpower, but force errors, with their precise shot making. They're not looking to make winners on every stroke, they're looking to force their opponent into impatiently going for it.
Edberg was more of a tweener, he had the height but not the strength to overpower and his 'weak' backhand always a liability. Most of the players back then hardly did weight training. You look at the physiques now and some could easily be defensive backs or receivers! We know they've got the speed, cutting and agility down pat. Let me not even mention Serena!
In terms of strategy, players like Becker and Ivanisevic tended to try and overpower their opponents. Later in his career, Becker became a master of the finesse game, and with his power, pretty successful. Goran on the other hand couldn't quite harness that.
Nadal grew up on clay and it is his preferred surface, but he's also been blessed with the power, speed and conditioning to transition his game to hard surfaces and grass as well.
Playing surfaces, equipment and balls have changed with the available technology but the object of the game still remains just like in Baseball, soccer and football. Even apparel now plays a part, the colors and fashion sense, not withstanding!
The players are bigger, stronger, faster and extremely well conditioned. No slouches allowed.
If I had Becker's serve, Chang's heart and Agassi's reflexes....
No...conditioning is not a given for player's at that level. Some players are simply more fit than others. David Ferrer, for example, could run around the court for weeks without getting tired. Pete Sampras, on the other hand, would wear down within hours. And there is no "finesse" to Rafa Nadal's game, but yet he's the most successful clay court player EVER. He's a bull and he muscles guys off the court with brute strength and power.

I don't know what you mean by a "tweener," but Stefan Edberg was not very tall...6' or 6'1 perhaps. And he did not have a weak backhand. In fact, that was his best shot! His forehand was the side that consistently failed him throughout his career. And Boris Becker was not a finesse player, wth?!? He essentially ushered in the power era of men's tennis. You obviously don't know very much about the sport or at least the history of its players.
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Old 09-16-2010, 04:58 PM
 
Location: N.W. Austin.
792 posts, read 2,554,344 times
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Conditioning NOW is a given, not so much back then...Just like weight training.

Becker definitely was pure raw power when he won Wimbledon at 17, but in his mid 20's had a pretty good finesse game to go with it.

Edberg..Hence my terming him a tweener. Had the height but NOT the strength. I'll concede my fault on his backhand/forehand. He had a solid backhand and most avoided playing to that side.
Again, Nadal grew up on clay, like most Spanish players, and his game has evolved for him to take advantage of his natural speed, power and conditioning. By his own admission, he's unbeatable on clay. Just like some players prefer natural grass to turf, that's his surface.

Yes, I obviously don't know much about the sport because you make that assertion. Your differing opinion on the players and style are welcome any time, your assumption of my knowledge isn't.
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