PDA

View Full Version : Defense Wins Championships


Volcana
Dec 19th, 2005, 12:16 PM
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?

lolas
Dec 19th, 2005, 12:27 PM
The slam winners are all-court players. They can be both - deffensive and offensive.

Wannabeknowitall
Dec 19th, 2005, 12:29 PM
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.

Shonami Slam
Dec 19th, 2005, 12:41 PM
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.

LostGlory
Dec 19th, 2005, 12:45 PM
Serena and Venus are considered Defensive players????

GoDominique
Dec 19th, 2005, 12:53 PM
Another nonsense thread.

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

Ryan
Dec 19th, 2005, 01:19 PM
Another nonsense thread.

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


:lol: :tape:


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.

Volcana
Dec 19th, 2005, 01:30 PM
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.
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.

*JR*
Dec 19th, 2005, 04:47 PM
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.

jfk
Dec 19th, 2005, 04:58 PM
The player who jumps to mind who shares all those qualities is Capriati.
:worship: :worship: 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.

Wannabeknowitall
Dec 19th, 2005, 05:16 PM
:worship: :worship: 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. :tape: 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.

GoDominique
Dec 19th, 2005, 05:41 PM
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.

Mightymirza
Dec 19th, 2005, 05:50 PM
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...

*JR*
Dec 19th, 2005, 06:52 PM
"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. :shrug:

Volcana
Dec 19th, 2005, 06:57 PM
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?

vwfan
Dec 19th, 2005, 07:28 PM
The Grand Slam winners are the ones who can turn a defensive shot into an offensive shot. In this regard, Venus and Serena and to a lesser extent Justine and Kim can do this. Maria is pretty good as well, if she gets into position. The same is true of Davenport and Mary. Standing still, they're hard to beat. Get them on the move and guess what: they are not the ones hoisting the trophy.

PreOp
Dec 19th, 2005, 07:51 PM
I think it is offense that wins championships again and again.

I would add that power and offense are not the same. Billy Jean King was a great offensive player, well short of power. Taking offensive positions (the net, crowding the lines etc.), and guts all add up to offense.

For instance granted that Venus with her great speed is a great defensive player. Nevertheless, it is clear she wins by playing defense as offense, or to phrase it differently hits offensive shots with regularity from defensive positions.

Wsisters45
Dec 19th, 2005, 07:59 PM
Serena,i thought was very defensive against sharapova until mp then she deinitely took over the match and went offensive. venus was by FAR offensive winning wimbledon.

in clijsters' case, i agree.

WorldWar24
Dec 19th, 2005, 08:04 PM
So defense wins championships?! I'm amazed :speakles:

Volcana please do tell us more! Enlighten us

alfonsojose
Dec 19th, 2005, 08:21 PM
:tape:

KimC&MariaSNo1's
Dec 19th, 2005, 10:52 PM
i wouldnt call any of them real defensive players they all crack winners and go for there shots but when there in trouble in a point they turn it round most times because of there great defense clijsters gets to a hell of alot of balls cause shes quick and anticipates where there going serena and venus always put something extra on a ball when they get there cause of there long strides and its always alot easier for them to keep a ball in a good position and as for JHH she uses her variety of shots to keep herself in points

switz
Dec 20th, 2005, 12:39 AM
yes i think you really need to clarify your definition of defence because i think most people view it as playing deep in the court and hitting defensive lobs etc.

You look at Venus in full flight and it's true that she gets a hell of a lot of balls back but IMO very few of the shots she plays are truely defensive because she always goes for it.

Schnyder is how i view a defensive player - at least against more elite opposition. She plays deeps in the court, uses varieties of spin to keep her in the point and really attacks when the ball is short.

switz
Dec 20th, 2005, 12:41 AM
Clijsters does play defense quit a bit i guess.

Geisha
Dec 20th, 2005, 12:47 AM
I wouldn't say "defense wins championships". It is true that, in today's game, you need to defend pretty well if you want to do any damage. But, if we look at pretty defining moments of the year for two top players, Venus and Serena, we'll see that offense was the key.

In the Australian Open SF, Serena saved two of her three matchpoints against Sharapova with forehand winners - one a return winner and one while moving Sharapova around the court, before hitting the winning shot. In the Wimbledon F, Venus saved her matchpoint against Davenport with a backhand winner.

In these moments, defense didn't win it, but offense did.

I think the question is what is more important? More defense or more offense? You look at the US Open QF between Venus and Kim. Venus played supreme offense against supreme defense in the first set and a half a won them. But, as soon as her defense game (obviously got tired), her offense game collapsed and Kim's got better.

I think, in the end, you need to have both, all the time. Serena was the superior defensive and offensive player during the Slam she won, as was Justine, Venus, and Kim - even Amelie in the YEC. You need to have both to dominate tennis.

Ntour
Dec 20th, 2005, 01:02 AM
i wouldn't really call it defense
williams sisters, clijsters and henin-hardenne
are all very good movers, which is what helps them win because they get to a shot earlier than most players which allows them to hit a better shot from it, whereas other players mught have to play a defensive shot because they didn't get the extra time to set up for the shot.

henin-hardenne really cant win matches without her superior movement, and because of her injury she hasn't been able to move properly since the french open, hence her season has gone downhill since

Volcana
Dec 20th, 2005, 03:35 AM
yes i think you really need to clarify your definition of defence because i think most people view it as playing deep in the court and hitting defensive lobs etc.You make a pretty good point there.

switz
Dec 20th, 2005, 04:03 AM
You make a pretty good point there.

thanks :)

K-Dog
Dec 20th, 2005, 04:05 AM
I feel that the players who go for their shots in the key moments are generally the players that come out on top. The way that you become a top player is by being brave and executing your game in the key moments. We often see players who choke because they become defensive when the are winning. Defense works to an extent, but to win slams one must has some sort of offense in which to win points off of. I think that your defense needs to compliment your offense. Look, Venus or Serena didn't win majors by not going for their shots and just running all day. Sure, they play great defense and turn most of their defensive points into offensive ones. Venus and Serena are primarily offensive players. Everything about them is offense. They have big serves, big groundies, their defense is offensive, and there mentality is to put balls out of the reach of their opponents. They want to win points, not have their opponents lose them.

With the Belgians, even Kim plays offense. She beat Pierce and Sharapova using offense at points. Against Venus, not so much. In that match she hung in long enough for Venus to self-destruct offensively. Justine is player that plays great defense, but prefers to be in control and use her all-court game to win her matches. Kim can rely on getting to a lot of balls and winning moreso than Justine. Justine is a terrific all-court player with power, spin, angles, volleys, variety shots (lob and drop shot), and good movement. She is the total package, but the way to beat her is to take it to her and hit through her. Justine plays good defense on clay and the clay helps her, but on the faster courts Justine doesn't play good defense.

Any player that can play good defense is going to go places in tennis. Players that only have power or are just attacking players often can't adjust to their opponents when different patterns arise. A good defense should compliment a terrific offense imho.

!!!--Duiz™--!!!
Dec 20th, 2005, 04:22 AM
The slam winners are all-court players. They can be both - deffensive and offensive.

Specially Justine... heh..

Ntour
Dec 20th, 2005, 05:32 AM
I feel that the players who go for their shots in the key moments are generally the players that come out on top. The way that you become a top player is by being brave and executing your game in the key moments. We often see players who choke because they become defensive when the are winning. Defense works to an extent, but to win slams one must has some sort of offense in which to win points off of. I think that your defense needs to compliment your offense. Look, Venus or Serena didn't win majors by not going for their shots and just running all day. Sure, they play great defense and turn most of their defensive points into offensive ones. Venus and Serena are primarily offensive players. Everything about them is offense. They have big serves, big groundies, their defense is offensive, and there mentality is to put balls out of the reach of their opponents. They want to win points, not have their opponents lose them.

With the Belgians, even Kim plays offense. She beat Pierce and Sharapova using offense at points. Against Venus, not so much. In that match she hung in long enough for Venus to self-destruct offensively. Justine is player that plays great defense, but prefers to be in control and use her all-court game to win her matches. Kim can rely on getting to a lot of balls and winning moreso than Justine. Justine is a terrific all-court player with power, spin, angles, volleys, variety shots (lob and drop shot), and good movement. She is the total package, but the way to beat her is to take it to her and hit through her. Justine plays good defense on clay and the clay helps her, but on the faster courts Justine doesn't play good defense.

Any player that can play good defense is going to go places in tennis. Players that only have power or are just attacking players often can't adjust to their opponents when different patterns arise. A good defense should compliment a terrific offense imho.

i agree!

Jakeev
Dec 20th, 2005, 10:14 AM
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?

Now that was excellent defense against one stupid, offensive poster....:worship: :lol: