Nobody can beat player “X” when player “X” is at 100%.
Who cares! The bottom line is that the truly GREAT players are able to take advantage of the big occasions, mental and physical problems be damned, and get the win more often than not. I’m actually more impressed with a player who's having an off day and whose weapons aren’t working, yet that player still finds a way to win the match. That says a lot more about a player, than a player simply being in the zone and playing at their (respective) bests. I think it's almost a given that if any of the top players are in the zone they're likely going to win no matter who they're playing.
The truth of the matter is that most players don’t step on court and play at 100% up to their capabilities each time they play. There’s always a lot of ‘X’ factors at play, time of day, confidence, injuries, endurance, pressure, the list goes on and on. And NO, injuries are NOT excluded from this debate.
Whether you're having an off day or in the zone, it doesn't change the goal. The goal is always
to come up with the win, which translates to competing the best you can- which is different than playing at 100%.
If you’re a player who never loses when you play your best, but only play your best 2% of the time that you step onto the court, are you considered the better player
I would say no. The best player isn’t the player that when at 100% can beat everybody else, the best player is the player, that no matter what level their playing at, can find a ways to get the win more often than not. It’s about tapping into your skills and being mentally strong enough to come up with the goods regardless of the occasion, regardless of who you’re playing, and regardless of whether or not your at your personal best (physical, mental, or otherwise.)
After two players play each other, when it’s all said and done the only thing that should matter is the score and who came out victorious. Anytime a player losses we can all say it was because they weren’t at their best and for the most part that statement will always be true. The loser seldom plays their personal best and still loses. It happens but not too often, and when it does those are the matches we look back on as classics, partly because it's rare.
If you’re a player who can’t produce your best tennis for some reason or another that’s too bad- better luck next year. On that day of competition you weren’t able to bring the game necessary to be the winner. Some people like to color things in a light where the player they like most is the player that determined the outcome of the match. Venus lost, as opposed to Serena won. Color it however you must, again the bottom line is on that day of competition the best player is the one that came up with the win!
What I admire most in players like Steffi, Serena, Justine, Sharapova, Venus, and the other greats, is that on a consistent basis they're able to tap into their own "greatness" and do what it takes to get the job done on the big occassions.
The “STUFF” that champs are made of:
RESULTS, not excuses!