Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid? - TennisForum.com

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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

There's been a lot of 'peak' this person vs 'peak' that person on this forum the past few months. My question, is, is that even a valid way of looking at sports. In a lot of ways, your success level when you are NOT your best defines you more that your success level when you are.

Which match tells us more about Serena Williams? The 2005 OZ semi, or the 2007 OZ final?

Anybody can win when they're playing well. For all Dinara Safina has been derided, nobody questions her level-of-effort. She tries. Half the time she fighting her opponent and herself, but she tries.

In today's WTA, how often does 'peak' face 'peak'. The third set of the 2005 Wimbledon final comes to mind. But just that set.

There's a good reason why we look at career achievements, not fan-edited highlight reels, to judge who is a better player. Martina Hingis' highlight reel is shorter than Steffi Graf's, but Hingis, in her highlights looks like a better tennis player. Every shot in the book, fabulous anticipation ... opponents were helpless.

Then we back up and look at careers, and, as brilliant as Hingis was from 1997 - 2000, this is no contest. An even more common comparison, Seles vs Graf. If, if, if .... but 'if' isn't reality. Graf's achievements say Graf was better. Are there moments in tme, even BLOCKS of time, where Seles was playing better? Sure. But at some point, the subjectivity of 'peak' is transcended by the record book.

A lot of players get their time as the best in the world. Not because the rankings say so, but because their play on the court says so. The totality of thier career however, is measured far more by what they do when they are NOT the best player in the world. Martina Hingis failed to add to her legacy when she wasn't the best player in the world any more. Venus Williams added three more Wimbledons, another Olympic gold medal, and that YEC that was missing from her resume, when she was long past the days of 'peak' Venus.

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Last edited by Volcana; Sep 11th, 2009 at 06:13 PM.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

ok

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 05:26 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Volcana View Post

There's a good reason why we look at career achievements, not fan-edited highlight reels, to judge who is a better player. Martina Hingis' highlight reel is shorter than Steffi Graf's, but Hingis, in her highlights lookslike a better tennis player. Every shot in the book, fabulous anticipation ... opponents were helpless.
To judge who is the better player, you would have to have an expert's technical knowledge of the game. You have denied having such knowledge in the past, most recently in the thread on Sharapova's shoulder injury. Here is exactly what you said: "I'm certainly no expert on serving, I spin EVERYTHING in. But she was the one who brought up being unable to decelerate as the source of the double-fault problem. Whatevr [sic] she was trying to do, she couldn't control it." The link to that post - Notes on Sharapova's Shoulder

So, let me get this right. You are no expert on serving, but somehow you think you are a good judge of every other shot in the book and who has those shots and who doesn't. For the record, you're not the only person who spins everything into the court, everyone, amateur or pro, does as well. Unless you are John Isner and serving on a direct line into the court, there is some component of spin on everyone's serve.

I guess only a non-expert on the serve would be able to claim that Martina was a better tennis player than Steffi. I'm guessing you are also not much of an expert on the forehand because Hingis didn't have a very versatile forehand either. Here's what John Lloyd (a verifiable tennis expert) had to say about Martina Hingis at Wimbledon in '96. Her opponent just happens to be Steffi Graf. The link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlXSq7-r8gg.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 05:29 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

^^ You are so funny
As soon as I read that part of Volcana's post I just knew you'd be in here before the day was out, indignant, with your youtube clips.

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(1)A lot is being made of the record Serena has vs Sharapova. It is being used as THE reason she will win again lol. Good thing we have players like Tomas Berdych (who had an even worse record vs Nadal) to remind us of the fallacy of this nonsense logic.
(2)You stans may as well sleep well tonight because tomorrow the a replay of Lucie's winning moment over and over again will haunt your dreams for weeks to come
(3)The stars have aligned perfectly for the upset of the 21st century. All the best Garbine
(4) There is no path to victory for Williams.Keys wins in straight easy sets.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 05:35 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

I don't know about "peak" but i know "trough" is a valid concept xD

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:24 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

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Originally Posted by LDVTennis View Post
To judge who is the better player, you would have to have an expert's technical knowledge of the game. You have denied having such knowledge in the past, most recently in the thread on Sharapova's shoulder injury. Here is exactly what you said: "I'm certainly no expert on serving, I spin EVERYTHING in. But she was the one who brought up being unable to decelerate as the source of the double-fault problem. Whatevr [sic] she was trying to do, she couldn't control it." The link to that post - Notes on Sharapova's Shoulder

So, let me get this right. You are no expert on serving, but somehow you think you are a good judge of every other shot in the book and who has those shots and who doesn't. For the record, you're not the only person who spins everything into the court, everyone, amateur or pro, does as well. Unless you are John Isner and serving on a direct line into the court, there is some component of spin on everyone's serve.

I guess only a non-expert on the serve would be able to claim that Martina was a better tennis player than Steffi. I'm guessing you are also not much of an expert on the forehand because Hingis didn't have a very versatile forehand either. Here's what John Lloyd (a verifiable tennis expert) had to say about Martina Hingis at Wimbledon in '96. Her opponent just happens to be Steffi Graf. The link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlXSq7-r8gg.
And you're a pompous ass who thinks he knows everything because he can post links to youtube. Good Lord, my deranged rants about Lena's bangs show more knowledge of tennis than you ever have AND are far more entertaining--and 99% of the people on this board would have my back on this one.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LDVTennis View Post
To judge who is the better player, you would have to have an expert's technical knowledge of the game. You have denied having such knowledge in the past, most recently in the thread on Sharapova's shoulder injury. Here is exactly what you said: "I'm certainly no expert on serving, I spin EVERYTHING in. But she was the one who brought up being unable to decelerate as the source of the double-fault problem. Whatevr [sic] she was trying to do, she couldn't control it." The link to that post - Notes on Sharapova's Shoulder

So, let me get this right. You are no expert on serving, but somehow you think you are a good judge of every other shot in the book and who has those shots and who doesn't.
I can only assume you didn't read the initial post in this thread, AND you mis-read the one you quote from the other thread.

a) The fact that I am not an expert in EXECUTING a serve doesn't mean I don't know a good one when I see it.

b) I am a pretty good judge of tennis shots. I've been watching them for almost half a century.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDVTennis View Post
I guess only a non-expert on the serve would be able to claim that Martina was a better tennis player than Steffi.
Find me a 'non-expert', whatever you consider that, and I'll ask. You completely missed the point of the paragraph you're criticizing. What I wrote, go abck and look, is that Martina Hingis' HIGHLIGHT REEL, get it? HIGHLIGHTS, look, get it? LOOK like she's a better player.


You know, 'highlights'? Take only the best looking stuff and leave out the other 99%?

Then there's the next paragraph.
"Then we back up and look at careers, and, as brilliant as Hingis was from 1997 - 2000, this is no contest. An even more common comparison, Seles vs Graf. If, if, if .... but 'if' isn't reality. Graf's achievements say Graf was better. Are there moments in tme, even BLOCKS of time, where Seles was playing better? Sure. But at some point, the subjectivity of 'peak' is transcended by the record book."

If you only have the brains of a chipmunk, you could interpret that paragraph to mean I think Hingis was ACTUALLY better than Graf, but your brain really would have to be that small.


'highlight reel looks' vs 'reality' - get it now? Do you need it in one syllable words?


I honestly think you find me so personally objectionable, (in a virtual sense) that you actually start writing about how I'm wrong before you actually read what I write.

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:36 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

The reason your logical argument fails this time is what I like to call the Testud/Fernadez principle.

This rule holds that if a great player is only playing average tennis, even Sandrine Testud and Mary Jo Fernandez can beat them. That doesn't mean Testud or Mary Jo is the better player, does it?

A great player has to play good tennis to beat the players just below them.

Comparing average Henin, who could get smacked around the court by Bartoli (bagelled by Safina) to average Venus who can get pushed off the court by JJ (bagelled by Jersey Kim) doesn't really tell much of a tale when you're arguing who's the best player.

I don't look at Peak as playing their absolute best. Peak for me is when all their shots are working and they are playing what for them is "winning tennis". Peak Serena still commits errors of aggression, double faults, etc. but she's also hitting second serve aces and knocking her opponent's second serve off the court. With Peak Serena you don't get to win many points on your own second serve (you often double fault fearing her return of serve) and you really don't get many chances to break her serve. I think under these circumstances NO ONE beats Serena.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:46 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

Nice point to bring into discussion. I also think that 'peak periods' of players are often regarded as too absolute arguments than they in fact are. Eg Serena was obviously peaking in 2002 until midway trough 2003, but she did lose sometimes during that period too... Isn't it logical that a player sometimes has a day where they're a little off, even if they're having the best year of their lives? Generally, it's pretty valid to compare players during their peak periods, but it can never be an absolute argument to prove that player Y is better when they happen to have beaten player X during their peak...

Discussing which player is better than another one involves so many aspects: technical abilities, mental abilities, fitness, ranking, tournament wins... It's very difficult not to bring at least the tiniest feeling of subjectivity into the matter. A nice illustration of this: arguments could be made for Serena and Justine that they are the greatest player of the past decade. One could say that technically and tactically, Justine was better, as she could execute every shot in the book up to perfection. She also had a way of never surrendering. But Serena is such an agressive and strong shot-maker with some excellent technique too (eg serve) and mentally just as strong, if not stronger, with more objective achievements to back it up. At the end of the day, you have two discussions: one where you compare players based on their achievements (in this case, Serena would be the better player). The other discussion could be one where you discuss technicality, aesthetics and efficiency: who played the more complete tennis, constructed the points better, had a huge range of tennis shots to make everything possible on the court? In that discussion, you could make a pretty good case for Justine. In the second discussion, subjectivity obviously comes into play. Some people might find Serena's game more beautiful, or would think that it doesn't matter, and that's their good right.

Anyway, I don't think there's a real conclusion to this discussion. Peak periods are probably valid enough to be used in discussions, but not super-valid, not in an absolute way. But it's nice to be aware of the subjectivity of all the discussions we have as tennis fans. That can only lead to more profound and thorough analysis and arguments.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:54 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

no, it's not valid. but it's fun. at least to some people apparently.


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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 06:58 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

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no, it's not valid. but it's fun. at least to some people apparently.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

A peak period does not also mean a player plays perfect tennis in every match. People consider 02/03 serena's peak but she still struggled in earlier rounds too. Justine saved match points in the FO 06 in rd 4 against Kuzy on her way to the title. she was struggliing in many matches before she got it together.

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LDVTennis View Post
To judge who is the better player, you would have to have an expert's technical knowledge of the game. You have denied having such knowledge in the past, most recently in the thread on Sharapova's shoulder injury. Here is exactly what you said: "I'm certainly no expert on serving, I spin EVERYTHING in. But she was the one who brought up being unable to decelerate as the source of the double-fault problem. Whatevr [sic] she was trying to do, she couldn't control it." The link to that post - Notes on Sharapova's Shoulder

So, let me get this right. You are no expert on serving, but somehow you think you are a good judge of every other shot in the book and who has those shots and who doesn't. For the record, you're not the only person who spins everything into the court, everyone, amateur or pro, does as well. Unless you are John Isner and serving on a direct line into the court, there is some component of spin on everyone's serve.

I guess only a non-expert on the serve would be able to claim that Martina was a better tennis player than Steffi. I'm guessing you are also not much of an expert on the forehand because Hingis didn't have a very versatile forehand either. Here's what John Lloyd (a verifiable tennis expert) had to say about Martina Hingis at Wimbledon in '96. Her opponent just happens to be Steffi Graf. The link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlXSq7-r8gg.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2009, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?

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Originally Posted by kiwifan View Post
The reason your logical argument fails this time is what I like to call the Testud/Fernadez principle.

This rule holds that if a great player is only playing average tennis, even Sandrine Testud and Mary Jo Fernandez can beat them. That doesn't mean Testud or Mary Jo is the better player, does it?

A great player has to play good tennis to beat the players just below them.
The 'Testud/Fernandez' principle. I like that, even though it's completely unfair to Mary Jo, who did play three slam finals. She could beat great players who were playing well, but not 'great'. But it's a nice principle.


I think where I disagree with you is this. Great players can grind out matches against other top ten players when their playing BADLY. That was one reason I referenced Serena's perfomance in the 2005 OZ semi. (That's the match where the announcer said, in disbelief, that Sharapova was playing better, but somehow Serena was winning.) We also have to seperate great careers from great right now. Arguably, the only 'great' player on the tour right now is Serena. And you could argue their aren't ANY. Yes, Venus has had a great career but I would argue she's only one of many 'very good' players right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwifan View Post
I don't look at Peak as playing their absolute best. Peak for me is when all their shots are working and they are playing what for them is "winning tennis".
Interesting. When I think of peak, I pretty much think of the best they can play. Serena in the 2007 OZ final. Hingis in the 1997 OZ final. When I think 'peak', I think 'in the zone'.


In most cases, to me, you don't see 'peak' vs 'peak' matches because generally a great player, at their best, negates the other. The Wimbledon men's final this year was probably as good as both those guys can play. Memory may lend rose colored glasses, but Seles and Graf played a couple of times when they both really had it dialed in.


Ultimately though, that might be the biggest problem with words like 'peak', 'in-form', and 'A-game'. Their imprecision. Your definition would fine, if everyone understood and used the term that way. But reading the threads, I don't think they do.

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