When and why did speed become less important? - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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When and why did speed become less important?

When you look at the top players of the "previous generation," it seemed like being extraordinarily quick was a foundation of almost everyone's game. From Hingis and Capriati to Clijsters and Venus, these girls were relentless runners and could get to just about anything that's not struck perfectly. Obviously, Serena is still out there, and she's super fast, but players like Azarenka and Kvitova are not particularly fast players, and I can't imagine how much better their games would be if they were even half-a-step quicker. (And even Sharapova and Ivanovic don't have the same speed that "older" players had.) And it just seems like maybe it's not as important?

Thoughts? Am I totally off the mark here? There are players like Wozniacki and Radwanska who are quick, but they're like cheaper, corner-store versions of Clijsters and Hingis, etc.
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post #2 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:39 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

When players started to be able to win just by hitting the crap out of the ball I guess. Players like Davenport can win GS whilst barely moving, just by relying on their insane groundies.
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post #3 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:40 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

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Originally Posted by shap_half View Post
Thoughts? Am I totally off the mark here?
You're not totally off the mark, just somewhat.

Speed hasn't become irrelevant. Players who don't move well can win a slam here and there, but unless they excel at pretty much ALL the other aspects of the game, their results inevitably fall off. Still, the reality of today's game is that you have to be able to hit the ball hard. The last big time winner we had who didn't hit te ball hard was Hingis. (Which speaks to how unique a talent she was.)

NOTE: I disagree with you about about Azarenka. She's not super-fast, but she's WAY faster than Kvitova or Sharapova.

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post #4 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

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Originally Posted by Volcana View Post
1) Lindsay Davenport
She was the one top player who truly struggled with speed, and I reckon she's probably much worse at it than Azarenka and Sharapova. But I don't think she ushered in this slow-play movement. Her contemporaries were among the fastest in the history of tennis.
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post #5 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:51 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

It's not speed, it's the lack of athleticism IMHO.

There are no great athletes in women's tennis anymore.
For someone like Lindsay Davenport to compete, she had to have one of the greatest forehand-backhand-serve-return combinations in tennis history.

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post #6 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:53 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

Seles, even at her peak.

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post #7 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:53 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

Women's tennis doesn't seem to attract the best athletes anymore. I think that must be part of the reason. That and, as mentioned above, the fact that it suffices most of the time to just ballbash. If you can win like that, you don't need to be a good athlete and thus, you can make your way to the top of a rather lucrative sport while being athletically (very) mediocre or poor.
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post #8 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:54 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

There're no certain model of what top players should be like. Now the top 3 are either too tall or too heavy to run fast. Maybe next generation there could be 3 fast runners on top, someone's gonna complain about lack of power then.

ps: Vika's footwork isn't bad imo, at least not the same level with Petra.


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post #9 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

Yes, I was actually going to mention that what Lindsay lacked in speed she was able to make up for - at least when it came to like 95% of her competition - with the fact that her game had no other holes in it.
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post #10 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:55 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

I alluded to this in my own thread: Is this too much to ask for?

Where are all the youngsters with these kind of traits?

I'm just too lazy to go to the US Open.
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post #11 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:55 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

Weak era.
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post #12 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:57 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

Faster court services. Like my old soccer coach said, nobody is faster than the ball.

Some of the kids (Sloane, Keys, Dolonts) have decent speed, but with the balls moving so quickly off the faster surfaces, it's harder to run stuff down.

I'd argue that's even been a factor in Serena's continued success. She doesn't move anywhere near as well as she used to, but the fast surfaces make her big serve and return game even more effective (and as I have before, I give her full credit for improving both those aspects later in her career to take advantage of them and keep winning--real champions adapt).

I don't think today's women are necessarily poor athletes, they are simply developing a different set of athletic abilities. They are generally bigger and have stronger cores as opposed to being fleet of foot. That's a result of developing the tools they need to win in the modern game. Size, power and strength trump speed and endurance right now. Being bigger and stronger as the expense of speed and fitness does not make you less athletic, it makes you athletic in a different way.

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post #13 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:57 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

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Originally Posted by Drake Ramoray View Post
Maybe next generation there could be 3 fast runners on top, someone's gonna complain about lack of power then.
I want both . A players that hits like a freight train and runs like a gazelle.

I'm just too lazy to go to the US Open.
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post #14 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:57 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

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Originally Posted by nemurenai View Post
Women's tennis doesn't seem to attract the best athletes anymore.
This.
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post #15 of 109 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2013, 02:58 PM
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Re: When and why did speed become less important?

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Originally Posted by nemurenai View Post
Women's tennis doesn't seem to attract the best athletes anymore. I think that must be part of the reason. That and, as mentioned above, the fact that it suffices most of the time to just ballbash. If you can win like that, you don't need to be a good athlete and thus, you can make your way to the top of a rather lucrative sport while being athletically (very) mediocre or poor.
Kvitova anyone?

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