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View Full Version : baseline power tennis is losing its grip on the tour


Volcana
Apr 23rd, 2004, 11:57 PM
Look at the style that is played to win tournaments, not at who's playing it. Bear in mind I can only comment on what I've seen. I'm sure the early round mis-matches are still just that.

Here are the results of the GS, T1 and T2 tournaments so far this year.
Sydney.. - JH2 d Amelie
OZ...... - JH2 d Kim
TPP..... - Lindsay d Maggie
Paris... - Kim d MaryP
Antwerp. - Kim d SFE
Dubai... - JH2 d Kuznetsova
Doha.... - Myskina d Kuznetsova
IW...... - JH2 d Lindsay
Miami... - Serena d Elena D
AI...... - Lindsay d Amelie
FCC..... - Venus d Conchi

Two years ago, I'd have said all those players except Kim, stay on the baseline, hit the ball with as much pace as they can 90% of the time, and hope they win. Now though ...

* Lindsay is THE prototypical power baseliner. With Monica gone, she's the avatar.
* Serena is another prototypical power baseliner, though she learned to use some topspin off the forehand wing, and a vicious, but complete unhidden slice backhand.
* Justine uses a lot more finesse shots than she did two years ago. (She HAD them two years ago. She just didn't use them as well.) She's gotten really good at getting opponents running when way and drop shotting them the other.
* Kim is a baseliner defender, and more purely so than Jenn or Venus in previous years. She hits a lot of shots with no offensive intent. She's just making you hit another one. And another one. And another one.
* And Venus, at least on clay where the ball slows down, is actually going to net! (We'll see how long that lasts on faster surfaces where she has less time.)
Several distinct styles of play.

And if you saw those finals, there were very few that were just two players running along the baseline whacking a flat or slightly topspinning ball back and forth. Mind you I like those too. When the players are painting the lines. Every fourth final or so. But a steady diet of it becomes old.

The last couple years, the finals were too predictable. One of the Williams sisters playing someone who played like a pale imitation.:) When they played each other, there were always a couple of incredibly spectacular points. But for every one of those, there were ten baseline rallies. But now, a lot of the younger players (< 25) who have the ability to generate a lot of pace are all trying to expand and diversify their games. (Not all. Dementieva and Petrova might as well be Dokic and Hantuchova from two years ago.) And for the sub 20 year old, look at what they have to look forward to.

* Jen and Kim will try to return everything.
* Lindsay and Serena can bludgeon them to death without ever leaving the baseline.
* Amelie and Justine can feed them all manner of spins, height and pace.
* And Venus is attacking the net.

Worse, virtually all of them can do something OTHER than what they do best effectively. These are NOT one dimensional players. You can have the perfect game to beat one style, and there are still four or five other elite players with different styles. Players who only play one way are doomed to failure.

NOW what style do you train and train to play?
Do we still have a boatload of 'near-elite' power baseliners? Sure. But unless you're Serena or Lindsay, who only happen to be the two best servers on tour, AND two of the three biggest hitters off the ground (depends where you put Venus), it just doesn't work.

If Venus can't win from back there, Nadia Petrova isn't winning from back there either. Or Dokic, Hantuchova, Sharapova or any of the others. Tennis has become like the stock market. You have to diversify.

Volcana
Apr 23rd, 2004, 11:58 PM
Jeez. That's kind of a 'puff piece' isn't it?

tennisIlove09
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:02 AM
These things go in stages. It was a "power" game with Graf/Seles up until 97 when the finess/head smart Hingis took over.

By 99 it was power again with Davenport-Venus-Serena-Pierce. I think probably 2001 it went to another level of power with some of the Russians emerging (Dementieva) and Capriati's comeback.

Havok
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:04 AM
I'm sorry but Chrissy plays a power game, and thats how she wins matches:D

CanadianBoy21
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:06 AM
I don't lnow why in the world people characterize Serena as only a power player.
She has more finisse than Henin Hardenne!!!!!!!
She mixes it up really well. She uses the angle like no one. Yes, they are angles with power. But to get the extreme angles she goes for one needs power. Her serve is mixed up the best, and when she is confident, her volleys are unbelievable.
With her bag of tricks, power is only a part of the variety, and which not a lot of other players have. There are only 5 people that hit as hard as her; Venus, Monica, Lindsay, Mirjana, and Mary. 4 of them are only power hitters.

So what I am saying is that Serena is full of variety, power, angles, serve speed and placement, etc...

Gowza
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:12 AM
ok maybe a couple of years ago those players were all pure power players however they are young and there can be a lot of development in 2 years of tennis especially with the young players who are still trying to reach their potential.

Volcana
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:18 AM
I don't lnow why in the world people characterize Serena as only a power player.
She has more finisse than Henin Hardenne!!!!!!!Well, I don't know about THAT, but neither of them are pure power players. JH2, IMO, relies a LITTLE bit more on getting players out of position. But against weaker opposition, Serena can and even at Miami still did occasionally just stay on the baseline and overpower people. Sure she CAN do more than that. But against a non-top twenty player, how often does she have to?

ok maybe a couple of years ago those players were all pure power players however they are young and there can be a lot of development in 2 years of tennis especially with the young players who are still trying to reach their potential.
The players ahead of them are clearly still trying to diversify and improve. Vera Zvonareva found herself facing a very different Venus last week than she did at RG last year.

Leo_DFP
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:21 AM
I disagree. All those players listed are baseline power players, first and foremost. Sure, they can mix it up occassionally with some variety, but they still win most of their points in any match with the "big babe" stuff. To say the baseline power game is losing its grip on women's tennis is ridiculous. That's how Justine, Serena, Lindsay, Venus, Kim, and Anastasia earn their living. The best finesse player in the top ten is definitely Mauresmo, and even she has a considerable amount of power from the baseline. I especially find it interesting that you say Justine has become more of a finesse player in two years? :eek:

Leo_DFP
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:23 AM
Well, I don't know about THAT, but neither of them are pure power players.
But you could say that about anyone. Nadia Petrova, for example, goes to net at times and has topspin on her forehand, but that doesn't change the fact that she's a baseline power player.

Gowza
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:24 AM
who said they werent still trying to improve?

charmedRic
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:28 AM
Very interesting, I think Roland Garros will show how much finesse they have.

Volcana
Apr 24th, 2004, 12:47 AM
I disagree. All those players listed are baseline power players, first and foremost. Sure, they can mix it up occassionally with some variety, but they still win most of their points in any match with the "big babe" stuff. To say the baseline power game is losing its grip on women's tennis is ridiculous.If Venus Williams goes from attacking net 5 times a match on clay to 30 times a match, that's a HUGE difference.

Serena used to hit every ball as flat as Lindsay. Now she actual SPINS things, and more often than not on the forehand side.

Justine couldn't get off her drop shot against the elite players two years ago the way she does now, and she varies height and pace, not just spin.

Lindsay vs Nadia Petrova is a baseline power match. You can't conceivably argue Kim vs Justine is the same style of tennis.

The points are more complex. The matches are more complex.

Do you think the average person tuning in is going to be more entralled by a match like Venus vs Vera Z last week, or Petrova vs Capriati? Why are you even watching if that all seems the same to you?


I especially find it interesting that you say Justine has become more of a finesse player in two years?

Read it again. I said she became a BETTER finesse player. Specifically that she had the shots two years ago, but used them better now.

CanadianBoy21
Apr 24th, 2004, 02:58 AM
Well, I don't know about THAT, but neither of them are pure power players. JH2, IMO, relies a LITTLE bit more on getting players out of position. But against weaker opposition, Serena can and even at Miami still did occasionally just stay on the baseline and overpower people. Sure she CAN do more than that. But against a non-top twenty player, how often does she have to?

She doesn't. And that's what makes it so great for her. She can overpower one player one day and than outsmart them the next day.
That shows to me variety.
Who says that Justine Henin-Hardenne relies a 'little' bit more on getting players out of position than Serena, is obviously wrong???????
Are you saying Serena just pound the ball in the same spot in the middle of the court??????? When she plays a Lindsay or Monica, or anyone, you can clearly see her attempt to make players move. That attempt fails though, because they never get to her shots. :tape: Is it her fault?????
If you watch the Wimbledon semis you can clearly see why Serena won against Justine. She overpowered her. Who the hell uses variety on grass, :lol: :tape: (Justine) :tape: You cannot say that that's even variety, more like stupid.
Serena adapts to player's games, and if she can overpower them than she will.
If players actually won Grand Slams these days by dinking balls over the net, that would be regress.
And Justine overpowers opponents she can, too.
Unfortunately for her, she will never be able to overpower a Williams, and thus won't win a lot more slams.

Volcana
Apr 24th, 2004, 03:27 AM
Who says that Justine Henin-Hardenne relies a 'little' bit more on getting players out of position than Serena, is obviously wrong???????

I'd like to think you just mis-interpreted what I wrote, but I have a feeling you were so caught up the urge to argue, you didn't bother to read it.

Are you saying Serena just pound the ball in the same spot in the middle of the court???????
No. Is English you seventh language or something?

I said a LITTLE bit more and i meant exactly that. Serena hits with a bit more pace than Justine. Not much more, but a little more. Thus, Justine has to pull a player a foot or two more to one side to hit a winner the other way.

Factually, Justine relies a little bit more on getting players out of position. I wrote what I literally meant.

In fact, through all you're ranting, I can't even see what you're getting upset about. I'm the person who wrote Serena WASN'T a pure power player! I'm the person who wrote Serena uses spin now. I'm the person who wrote Serena uses topspin on her forehand and has a backhand slice.

YOU'RE the person saying Serena just 'overpowers' people.

Get a grip. Then get a clue.