Defense Wins Championships - TennisForum.com

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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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Defense Wins Championships

2005 was, in a way, the year that proved that tennis wasn't any different than most sports. The four strongest defensive players on the tour each took a slam. In military terms, defense is stronger, but is seldom decisive.
Anna Smashnova is a great defender too, but she can't generate the timely offense needed to exploit.

But DOES defense truly rule?

Well, in an era when half the players in the top twenty can hit the ball like Thor's hammer, being able to catch up with the shot IS a premium. Still, there are other players who can run. Do these players have any other commonalities? They can all serve pretty well. Their groundies are pretty stiff. The player who jumps to mind who shares all those qualities is Capriati.

Sharapova, Pierce and Davenport are all varying degrees of slower. Not fatality, obviously.
Anastasia Myskina is ..... hmmm. I'll have to think about that.
Svetlana Kuznetsova would seem to have the entire package. One wonders why she slipped as she did this year. I'm familiar with the arguement that she wouldn't have won the 2004 US Open if Davenport hadn't been injured. To an extent, I subscribe to that arguement. AN injured Davenport in a semi and Dementieva in a final would mean a GS title for a good percentage of the top twenty. But you can only play who they put in front of you. And if you aren't IN a GS semi, you can't WIN a GS semi. So I"m minded to give Kuzzy her props. For that matter, if Dementieva would just use her legs, her serve would at least have enough pop on it so she wasn't on the defensive every service point.
I had more to say on this topic, but never mind. What say thee?

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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 12:27 PM
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The slam winners are all-court players. They can be both - deffensive and offensive.

Kim Clijsters
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 12:29 PM
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Defense does rule. Getting to be a step faster on tour makes you look like a smarter player in general. If you're already a top tier player on tour and you get better on defense, it really shows in consistency at the slams.
Mary Pierce is a step faster and she's in the top 5. Lindsay is moving better than she's ever moved (when she feels like it) and she's ranked number one.
The last 7 slams can be argued that the defensive minded player won.
Myskina created errors off of Venus and Capriati at the French by hitting the ball back with whatever variety she had and moving better than either of them. It created errors and that was enough for Myskina to win that slam.

Sharapova won mostly on her offense but at times during the final, she showed her quickness and showed that Serena was a step slower than the year before.

Kuznetsova won on a gamestyle similar to Kim but more explosive.

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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 12:41 PM
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I find it hard to agree with that one.
Schiavone is a good example for a devensive player that can still strike a winner when she get's the chance.
what i mean to say is that she ISN'T a counter-attacker a la Coetzer. she is clearly a defensive player, yet an easy ball will be punished - she doesn't produce winners out of no where like Myskina or ClIjsters can.
Jankovic is another player who hits hard, yet runs harder and that's her key in most matches.
I find no way of saying Williams, Henin, Williams and Clijsters (your four GS winners of the year which you say play defensivly) can be considered less than fine shotmakers.
Moreover, the lovely ball bashing Davenport and Pierce showed us that they lost because they were pressured back. It wasn't a case of smart defensive play that gave them victory - it was groundie-blow exchanges, with some extra speed.
Maybe petrova can be called defensive - but that's because her "POW!" shot isn't strong enough. likewise Mauresmo, in a way.
Smashnova at her great 2003 year was a wall of defensive shots, offering top20 players no easy way through.
but that is unique - She completly lacks power to her shot, hitting no more than 5 winners in most of her matches, including the 3-setters.
as you said, most top20 girls today smash the ball so hard, but clearly we can distinct Groenfeld as offensive rather than defensive, so why do the sisters and the belguims recieve special care?
all of this years SF, even Likhovtseva - aren't dashing retrieving devils. they are all girls who bash away - or just wait for the RIGHT bash. that don't mean they are defensive, or even counter-attacking. that's just what you need to win a slam in the past 3-4 seasons.

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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 12:45 PM
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Serena and Venus are considered Defensive players????

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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 12:53 PM
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Another nonsense thread.

I don't remember Venus and Serena being defensive when they were match-point down during their runs to the title.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoDominique
Another nonsense thread.

I don't remember Venus and Serena being defensive when they were match-point down during their runs to the title.




Although I tend to agree with Volcana on this one. Obviously the top 10 all hit the ball plenty hard, with slight differences in pace, spin etc. but the ones who have the best chance of winning IMO are those who are able to make their opponents hit one more shot. Obviously this doesn't apply to those with no power (Schiavone, Smashnova etc.) but to a certain extent "defense" is one of the intangibles in the top 10. Even though everyone likes to hype up a certain 4 or 5 players, they aren't seperated from the field by a huge gap in talent etc., it's the finer details like footwork, speed, and defense that help. That being said, All of the 4 GS winners in '05 can stink up the joint pretty mightily on a bad day.
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Being one of the 'four strongest defensive players' doesn't mean you ARE a defensive player. I'd say Serena and Henin-Hardenne are primarily offensive, Venus and Clijsters primarily defensive. That said, Serena and Justine Henin-Hardenne STILL are better on defense than almost anyone on tour. They reach more balls, and do more with the balls they reach.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoDominique
Another nonsense thread.

I don't remember Venus and Serena being defensive when they were match-point down during their runs to the title.
The only 'nonsense' in the thread showed up with you. Try going back and actually looking at the Wimbledon final.

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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 04:47 PM
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Its an old sports cliche, that means very little. Magic Johnson's LA Lakers (5 NBA titles in the 80's) revolved around their offense, for example. In other words, winning a game 121-113 counts just as much as winning 91-83.

In the NFL, a 31-27 win counts the same as 13-10. In baseball, 8-6 as much as 3-1. Etc. etc. A "positive differential" (in sets, games, runs, points, goals, wickets, whatever the "unit of scoring" in a sport) wins, whether generated more by offense or defense.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 04:58 PM
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The player who jumps to mind who shares all those qualities is Capriati.
Another reason why it's hilarious how some people think Capriati is a one-dimensional player.

I don't consider Venus a "primarily defensive player." She still plays first strike tennis for the most part. It depends on the surface though. JHH is more defensive than Venus. All four play great defense though.
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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfk
Another reason why it's hilarious how some people think Capriati is a one-dimensional player.

I don't consider Venus a "primarily defensive player." She still plays first strike tennis for the most part. It depends on the surface though. JHH is more defensive than Venus. All four play great defense though.
It depends on Jennifer's play. She isn't naturally a defensive player.
When she gets tight though she can be extremely defensive.
She was pretty defensive for all of the 2004 US Open. Most of it not because she wanted to but because she got tight. She got some good calls in that match. She was then again pretty tight in her match against Dementieva. The balls in that third set were so tight and lacked so much power that both players are use to, that I thought I was watching a match from 15 years ago.
She was primarily offensive in her three slam victories though.

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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 05:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Volcana
That said, Serena and Justine Henin-Hardenne STILL are better on defense than almost anyone on tour. They reach more balls, and do more with the balls they reach.
Hmmm maybe that's just because they are great players and have been ranked no.1?
Obviously they will have better defense than most other players simply because they are better than them AT EVERYTHING. Defense is not the deciding factor, quality is.

Oh, and stop making threads about nothing. Six years of doing this is enough. Idiot.
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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 05:50 PM
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Yeah JHH,Serena and venus are not just defensive they r also great on offence...In fact Serena and venus just go for lines and corners all the time...
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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 06:52 PM
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"Martina the Aggressor" compiled a 43-37 career edge vs. "Chrissie the Counterpuncher". (And after Lefty caught up in "big match experience" and got in good shape, her edge in the h2h was much bigger). So much for catchphrases.
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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old Dec 19th, 2005, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoDominique
Oh, and stop making threads about nothing. Six years of doing this is enough. Idiot.
The true beauty of this format is that there is absolutely nothing you can do about me posting. Bitch all you want. It won't have any affect on what or the amount I post. I'm marginally amused my threads annoy you enough that you feel a need to comment. Beyond that, who cares?

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