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View Full Version : Is the whole concept of 'peak' even valid?


Volcana
Sep 11th, 2009, 04:40 PM
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.

spiritedenergy
Sep 11th, 2009, 04:50 PM
ok

LDVTennis
Sep 11th, 2009, 05:26 PM
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 - http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=16437165&postcount=21

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.

Olórin
Sep 11th, 2009, 05:29 PM
^^ You are so funny :rolls:
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.

fufuqifuqishahah
Sep 11th, 2009, 05:35 PM
I don't know about "peak" but i know "trough" is a valid concept xD

miffedmax
Sep 11th, 2009, 06:24 PM
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 - http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=16437165&postcount=21

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.

Volcana
Sep 11th, 2009, 06:28 PM
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 - http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=16437165&postcount=21

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.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.

kiwifan
Sep 11th, 2009, 06:36 PM
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.

BuTtErFrEnA
Sep 11th, 2009, 06:46 PM
lvd is stalking volcana :scared:

manu
Sep 11th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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.

Beat
Sep 11th, 2009, 06:54 PM
no, it's not valid. but it's fun. at least to some people apparently.

kiwifan
Sep 11th, 2009, 06:58 PM
no, it's not valid. but it's fun. at least to some people apparently.

my steelo, yo! :cool:

tennnisfannn
Sep 11th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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.

darrinbaker00
Sep 11th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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 - http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=16437165&postcount=21

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.
Dude, you need to get laid. NOW.

Volcana
Sep 11th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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.

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.

Sir Stefwhit
Sep 11th, 2009, 10:48 PM
-Nobody can beat player “X” when player “X” is at 100 or their peak%.
That very well may be true, but who cares if you only play your best twice a year!

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. The goal is to play the best you possibly can to win the very last point before you shake your opponents hand. Whether you're having an off day or in the zone playing at 100% it doesn't change the goal of winning- Or at the very least playing the best you can on any given day- which is different than playing at 100%.

Truly GREAT players are able to take advantage of the big occasions. 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 players grit, talent, and determination than the player winning because they played a once in lifetime personal best.

So the question goes, "If you’re a player who plays your best tennis only 2% of the time you step onto the court BUT never lose when your at your best, 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 more 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 you're at your personal best- physically, mentally, or otherwise.

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 person that loses is hardly ever the player that that played their personal best ( on rare occasion it happens but not often). If you’re a player who can’t produce your best tennis for some reason then better luck next year. On that specific day of competition you weren’t able to bring the game necessary to be the winner.

What I admire most in players like Steffi and Serena 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 occasions.

The “STUFF” that champs are made of...RESULTS, not excuses...it's NOTabout who is the best when at their best, its about who is best when it counts most.

terjw
Sep 11th, 2009, 11:13 PM
-Nobody can beat player “X” when player “X” is at 100 or their peak%.
That very well may be true, but who cares if you only play your best twice a year!

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. The goal is to play the best you possibly can to win the very last point before you shake your opponents hand. Whether you're having an off day or in the zone playing at 100% it doesn't change the goal of winning- Or at the very least playing the best you can on any given day- which is different than playing at 100%.

Truly GREAT players are able to take advantage of the big occasions. 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 players grit, talent, and determination than the player winning because they played a once in lifetime personal best.

So the question goes, "If you’re a player who plays your best tennis only 2% of the time you step onto the court BUT never lose when your at your best, 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 more 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 you're at your personal best- physically, mentally, or otherwise.

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 person that loses is hardly ever the player that that played their personal best ( on rare occasion it happens but not often). If you’re a player who can’t produce your best tennis for some reason then better luck next year. On that specific day of competition you weren’t able to bring the game necessary to be the winner.

What I admire most in players like Steffi and Serena 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 occasions.

The “STUFF” that champs are made of...RESULTS, not excuses...it's NOTabout who is the best when at their best, its about who is best when it counts most.

:worship::worship::worship:

Calvin M.
Sep 11th, 2009, 11:28 PM
To me peak means at their best. The great players have more than one peak in their careers. For the rest it's that nice run of 1-2 yrs (or less in a lot of cases) where they score a few big wins, move up the rankings, get to the round of 16 or better at the majors, etc. Shaugnessey and Sugiyama are examples of the latter.

Sir Stefwhit
Sep 12th, 2009, 12:41 AM
(RE:) 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.What IFS only count in fanboys heads- in the real world the only thing that matters is what was and what is. There's an element of luck at play, look at FedTard he's never injured just think of all the slams others were deprived of because of injuries. Too many What IFS in the world- it might seem harsh, but there's no place in sports for What IFS.

Volcana
Sep 12th, 2009, 04:44 AM
it's NOTabout who is the best when at their best, its about who is best when it counts most.I'm not sure I agree with that, but it's an inteesting way of looking at it.

I would agree that that's true when players these days get north of 25. Or north of the kind of injury that has to be managed for the rest of their career. For the Safinas and Wozniackis and Azarenkas, Antwerp IS just as important as OZ, in terms of development. They have so much to learn about winning, and about what IS important. And they still have the recuperative abilities to play every match all out.

Hmmmmm.. not good enough. I need to think about this somemore.

Volcana
Sep 12th, 2009, 05:10 AM
it might seem harsh, but there's no place in sports for What IFS.Fuck 'seem'. It IS harsh.

Chris Evert comes up in threads more than Monica Seles. It is literally like, when Serena won the US Open last year, there was a very brief retrospective on Seles' career. A retrospective which ended when Serena won OZ. When Serena won WB this year, it became 'no point in even having re-runs at 3am'.

Seles won eight slams in thee years. Go have a look at how often that's been done, and who did it. It's freakin' Mount Rushmore of women's tennis.

So yes, 'what if' is harsh. Because, by all the focus the last few years on 'what if', we've completely lost sight of the true luster of 'what really was'. 'What if' is a tar pit that drags down and degrades reality.
HOw good was Seles? Ask yourself the unaskable. Would you take a stab wound in the back that was completely physically healed in three months for Seles' career 1989-1992? What would you be willing to endure to be that transcendly good for thee short years? Knowing it would then be taken away forever.

Monica Seles got the athlete gold ring. She, for a short time, played tennis better than any woman EVER, had EVER played it. Is that better than what Steffi Graf endured? She was the best ever. And then somebody better came along. Not 'she got old'. Somebody better came along. When that happened to Chirs Evert, she fought back. Graf didn't get to fight back. Serena, Miami '08 not withstanding, didn't get to fight back. It's one thing to prove you can outlast someone who's gotten the better of you. It's another to get the better of them.

A lot of players get to be 'the best right now'. The 2000 US Open was the Bataan Death March. Venus rolled over the tour from Wimbledon on, and pre-match inteviews with opposing players were scenes from 'Witness to An Execution'.

But far fewer, Lenglen, Wills Moody, Court, Evert, Navratilova, Graf, Seles, Serena in the Open era, really, sincerely get to think 'I am playing tennis better than any woman has ever played it.'

Some players do their achieving in nice neat blocks. Venus Williams and Justine Hein have the same number of tour titles, and the same number of slam titles. But Henin's caee followed a tradition arc. Venus might as well have been two different players, one of who won four slams, and 25 singles titles, and dominated thte tou, and one who won 16 titles, three slams, but was never the best player out there.

What if Venus didn't tear that ab muscle?
What if Martina Hingis hadn't had foot injuries?
What if Henin hadn't retired, and had found her game from 2007 again?
What if Lindsay Davenport had gotten down to her 2005 weight in 1995?
What if Lleyton Hewitt wasn't such a fucking loser?
What if Jennifer Capriati's parents hadn't made her the family meal ticket at 14 years old?

'What if' is bitch.