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mimbari24
Feb 10th, 2004, 01:24 AM
I don't know if anyone has done this thread, but here's a chance to combine the best aspects of everyone's game to make the perfect player.

My picks:
Serena's serve (1st and 2nd)
Martina N.'s volley
Graf's forehand
Venus' backhand (I know alot of people will say Justine's)
Justine's variety
Kim's legs (and her great attitude)
Lindsey's ballstriking (maybe monica's ability to hit down the line)
Martina's on court brain
Venus' on court composure
Serena's/Justine's determination

The perfect player. No?

azza
Feb 10th, 2004, 01:27 AM
no

mimbari24
Feb 10th, 2004, 01:28 AM
and yours would be?

Bezz
Feb 10th, 2004, 01:33 AM
I don't know if anyone has done this thread, but here's a chance to combine the best aspects of everyone's game to make the perfect player.

My picks:
Serena's serve (1st and 2nd)
Martina N.'s volley
Graf's forehand
Venus' backhand (I know alot of people will say Justine's)
Justine's variety
Kim's legs (and her great attitude)
Lindsey's ballstriking (maybe monica's ability to hit down the line)
Martina's on court brain
Venus' on court composure
Serena's/Justine's determination

The perfect player. No?
I think that would be a pretty much inbeatable player :) . But i would like all the strokes to look like how hingis does them, natural and smooth, with minimal effort.

mimbari24
Feb 10th, 2004, 01:35 AM
can't argue with that, I think Roger on the men's side is potential the closest to all the things I listed above, and he has the ease like hingis

spencercarlos
Feb 10th, 2004, 03:21 AM
I agree on the mens side no one has been as complete as a player like Federer is..
My pick for the womens.
Serve: Serena, Davenport (indoors especially)
Forehand: Graf, Serena
Backhand: Seles (despite being lefty :p) or Davenport. Henin, Mauresmo or Sabatini for the one handed backhands.
Volley: Navratilova, Novotna, Sabatini
Aproach: Novotna
Variety: Hingis, Sabatini
Defense: Hingis, Arantxa

LiliaLee-Frazier
Feb 10th, 2004, 03:22 AM
Sorry..i was already created..hahah KIDDING! :p

Rothes
Feb 10th, 2004, 03:31 AM
Forehand-Lucic
Touch and Style-Schnyder
Anticipation-Hingis
Backhand- Henin Hardenne
Agility-Anna Pistolesi
Slice-Steffi Graf
Lob-Hingis
Volley-Kournikova
Drop Shot-Gagliardi
Speed-Coetzer
Mental-Serena
Angles-Hingis
Smile-Hingis
Serve-Schnyder

Now thats what you call a superior playe ;) :p Or close to it anyway jajaja

QUEENLINDSAY
Feb 10th, 2004, 03:31 AM
Strokes of Lindsay on both wings forehand and backhand
Angled shots of Monica Seles
First serve of Lindsay Davenport
Second serve of Serena Williams
Volleys of Navratilova
footwork of Venus Williams
quickness of Kim or Jeniffer
Determination of Henin no matter what it takes to win.
Martina hingis tactics.

No one can beat that.

bw2082
Feb 10th, 2004, 04:00 AM
Serve: Venus's 1st serve Serena's 2nd
Forehand: Graf
Backhand: Davenport
Tactics: Hingis
Mental: Evert
Volley: Navratilova
Speed: Graf

Jericho
Feb 10th, 2004, 04:06 AM
Superman's power
the Flash's footspeed
Spiderman's agility
and Wonder Woman's sex appeal

Fingon
Feb 10th, 2004, 04:55 AM
I will do it with active players only:

woman

Serve (first and second): Serena
return of serve: Serena
forehand: Serena
backhand: Justine
slice backhand: Tina Pisnik (if the rest of her game were as good she would be unbeatable).
speed: Serena
anticipation: Monica
footwork: Monica
stamina: Kim Clijsters
mental toughness: Venus
determination: Justine
intimidation: Venus
volleys: Justine
lobs: Justine
drop shots: Kim

man

serve: Goran Ivanisevic
return of serve: Agassi
forehand: Federer
backhand (all kinds): Federer
speed: Hewitt
footwork: Federer
stamina: Safin
mental toughness: hmm, Nalbandian
determination: hmm, Hewitt
volleys: Federer

Stefwhit
Feb 10th, 2004, 07:30 AM
footwork: Monica ??? That's the only thing that sticks out as odd to me. I can see Coetzer, Clijsters, Steffi, Serena, Venus, or Araxnta all in the "footwork" category...but not Monica. She's got a lot of great attributes I'd take her angles or return of serve or her stubborness on the court, but not her footwork.

Fingon
Feb 10th, 2004, 02:49 PM
footwork: Monica ??? That's the only thing that sticks out as odd to me. I can see Coetzer, Clijsters, Steffi, Serena, Venus, or Araxnta all in the "footwork" category...but not Monica. She's got a lot of great attributes I'd take her angles or return of serve or her stubborness on the court, but not her footwork.
do you know what footwork is?

it's not speed, it's not movement, it's how you accomodate yourself to hit in the best possible position.

Because of she is double-handed on both sides, she needs it to get in a good position.

Venus does not have a good footwork, it's actually the worst part of her game, she often hit the ball from an awful position, and compensates with power, she is fast, that's a different thing.

DD
Feb 10th, 2004, 02:58 PM
Justin's backhand looks nice but not effective as Venus. if you have seen her play serena and venus you will know what i am talking about.

Stefwhit
Feb 10th, 2004, 03:00 PM
do you know what footwork is?

it's not speed, it's not movement, it's how you accomodate yourself to hit in the best possible position.

Because of she is double-handed on both sides, she needs it to get in a good position.

Venus does not have a good footwork, it's actually the worst part of her game, she often hit the ball from an awful position, and compensates with power, she is fast, that's a different thing.
I'm sorry no matter how you slice it both footwork and movement are related. Monica has a nice size strike zone and is able to hit winners when she's off balance so her footwork isn't a crucial component to what makes her so good. I'll gladly conceede that Monica's footwork is better than a lot of the girls on tour but I'll have to drawn the line at any of the others that I've mentioned (including Venus). You wanna see some good footwork then I'll send you some copies of my old Steffi matches...

but no harm- everyone's entitled to their opinions and the purpose of this thread was to create "your" own superhuman player... i just found it odd that of all players to chose you would select Seles for footwork, at least you didn't pick Hingis' serve...lol.

Fingon
Feb 10th, 2004, 06:13 PM
I'm sorry no matter how you slice it both footwork and movement are related. Monica has a nice size strike zone and is able to hit winners when she's off balance so her footwork isn't a crucial component to what makes her so good. I'll gladly conceede that Monica's footwork is better than a lot of the girls on tour but I'll have to drawn the line at any of the others that I've mentioned (including Venus). You wanna see some good footwork then I'll send you some copies of my old Steffi matches...

but no harm- everyone's entitled to their opinions and the purpose of this thread was to create "your" own superhuman player... i just found it odd that of all players to chose you would select Seles for footwork, at least you didn't pick Hingis' serve...lol.
actually, I don't recall Monica at her prime hitting many balls off balance, that's precisely her problem now, despite the good footwork she just doesn't get there in time.

I agree Steffi had an excellent footwork, no Venus. Arantxa was quick and good anticipation, that doesn't imply a particulary good footwork, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't special.

My favourite Justine used to have a terrible footwork, she has obviously worked on that, that's one of the areas where Kim needs to work on, the splits are not helping it at all, she gets to the balls, recovers quickly but doesn't hit a clean ball in that position, and she tends to use it too much, when she really should "walk" more to the ball. The best ocassions to see footwork is when a player round around the backhand, or when they position themselves for an overhead, those little steps to put the body in an optimal position, they don't even need to be moving too much..

About Hingis, I am including only active players, I would have put her in the anticipation category, may be volleys and drop shots, but she is retired.

R&J
Feb 10th, 2004, 07:33 PM
footwork: Monica ??? That's the only thing that sticks out as odd to me. I can see Coetzer, Clijsters, Steffi, Serena, Venus, or Araxnta all in the "footwork" category...but not Monica. She's got a lot of great attributes I'd take her angles or return of serve or her stubborness on the court, but not her footwork.
Monica has great footwork. She has always been known as a player that is always moving her feet around and into position. She does the baby steps better then anyone. I have heard many commentators even mention how great her footwork is.

alfajeffster
Feb 10th, 2004, 09:02 PM
All-Time (given the same equipment):
First Serve- (toss-up) Margaret Court or Althea Gibson
Second Serve- Serena Williams
Forehand- Steffi Graf
One-Handed Topspin Backhand- Evonne Goolagong
Two-Handed Topspin Backhand- Chris Evert
Slice Backhand- Steffi Graf and Evonne Goolagong
Volley- Billie Jean King (slight edge over Navratilova)
Forehand Overhead- Margaret Court
Backhand Overhead- Evonne Goolagong
Footwork- Steffi Graf
Tennis Mind- Billie Jean King and Martina Hingis
Improvisation- Evonne Goolagong, hands down!
Tenacity- Monica Seles
Fitness- Martina Navratilova

Fyndh0rnElf
Feb 10th, 2004, 09:10 PM
Serve - Jelena Dokic on a good day :D
Groundstrokes - Dokic
Lobs - Dokic
Dropshots - Dokic
Passing shots - Dokic
Moonballs - Conchita
Angles - Dokic
Movement - Clijsters
Mental Strength - Dokic
Tactics - Hingis
Footwork - Dokic
Volleys - Dokic
Stamina - Dokic
FATHER - ANY SANE PERSON WILL DO

Knizzle
Feb 10th, 2004, 09:12 PM
do you know what footwork is?

it's not speed, it's not movement, it's how you accomodate yourself to hit in the best possible position.

Because of she is double-handed on both sides, she needs it to get in a good position.

Venus does not have a good footwork, it's actually the worst part of her game, she often hit the ball from an awful position, and compensates with power, she is fast, that's a different thing.

Venus DOES have good footwork. You don't hit shots like hers without good footwork, think about it. She also has very early preparation having the racket back when the opponent makes contact with the ball.

alfajeffster
Feb 10th, 2004, 09:18 PM
I'd have to agree with Fingon on Venus, Knizzle. Venus is a terrific athlete, one of the best to ever play the game of tennis. Her explosive movement and long legs allow her to cover more court more quickly than any other player out there. A fair comparison on why she doesn't have great footwork would be Lindsay Davenport, who is nowhere near the athlete that Venus is, but actually has better footwork (small steps and better anticipation with them). Venus Williams is often-times caught hitting balls from awkward stances, behind her, and with her feet in bad position. She compensates with having learned to improvise, quite often with hitting a very hard-paced reply from these awkward positions, and putting her opponent immediately on the defensive from their own offensive shots. It's not because of her footwork, it's because of her athletic abilities that she can be so dominating.

Knizzle
Feb 10th, 2004, 09:24 PM
I'd have to agree with Fingon on Venus, Knizzle. Venus is a terrific athlete, one of the best to ever play the game of tennis. Her explosive movement and long legs allow her to cover more court more quickly than any other player out there. A fair comparison on why she doesn't have great footwork would be Lindsay Davenport, who is nowhere near the athlete that Venus is, but actually has better footwork (small steps and better anticipation with them). Venus Williams is often-times caught hitting balls from awkward stances, behind her, and with her feet in bad position. She compensates with having learned to improvise, quite often with hitting a very hard-paced reply from these awkward positions, and putting her opponent immediately on the defensive from their own offensive shots. It's not because of her footwork, it's because of her athletic abilities that she can be so dominating.

I didn't say Venus was the best, but she does have good footwork. When Venus hits those balls from awkward positions those are shots that her opponents(besides Serena) wouldn't even be able to hit so you can't fault her for those. Kim Clijsters might just stab or slice the ball back, but Venus will take a full swing and look awkward, but others wouldn't get a crack at that type of shot.

croat123
Feb 10th, 2004, 09:51 PM
women's (only using each player once)

serve: davenport
forehand: venus
backhand: serena
vollies: suarez (just trust me on this one)
speed: coetzer
variety: martinez
experience: navratilova
stamina: sprem (trust me again, the girl just keeps going)
mental strenght: seles
tactics: hingis
desire: henin-hardenne
really cool split move: clijsters
press conference diva: capriati

men's

serve: GORAN (he served 25 aces today in his first match back :thumbup: )
ok, i'm too lazy to do the rest, just wanted to include goran :D

alfajeffster
Feb 10th, 2004, 09:54 PM
I didn't say Venus was the best, but she does have good footwork. When Venus hits those balls from awkward positions those are shots that her opponents(besides Serena) wouldn't even be able to hit so you can't fault her for those. Kim Clijsters might just stab or slice the ball back, but Venus will take a full swing and look awkward, but others wouldn't get a crack at that type of shot.
True.

P.S.- Stevie Wonder is my favorite pop male vocalist of all time- not that you needed to know that, but your sig is great!

faboozadoo15
Feb 10th, 2004, 11:21 PM
Serve (first and second): Serena
return of serve: Seles
forehand: Davenport/Capriati
backhand: Seles/Venus
speed: Venus
anticipation: Seles
footwork: Seles
stamina: Clijsters
mental toughness: Seles
determination: Seles/ Serena
intimidation: Venus/ Serena
volleys: Henin
lobs: Clijsters
drop shots: Clijsters/ Henin

Stefwhit
Feb 11th, 2004, 09:06 AM
Here's an interesting article that fits nicely with this particular topic:
Source: http://www.tennis.com/Progame/fullstory.sps?iNewsid=24500&itype=1296&iCategoryID=290
THE HOT SHOTS

Shotmaking has always been the essence of the game

What makes a stroke immortal? Some might say it's the ability to use that shot to dominate an era. Others will argue that it's textbook technique. Those with an eye on history will make the case that a great stroke is one that changes the way the game is played for future generations. We considered all these criteria when we decided to select the all-time best strokes. Particular attention was paid to players who built their games around one shot and ruled the court with it--a shot that opponents feared and fans loved. You'll notice the absence of a few Hall of Famers, such as Fred Perry, Roy Emerson, Helen Wills Moody, and Maureen Connolly. Before you fire off that angry e-mail, though, remember that for many all-timers, their strengths were not in any one shot but in the sum totals of their games. In addition to dusting off the history books and studying archival video footage of stars as far back as Bill Tilden, we invited seasoned tennis journalists Bud Collins, Steve Flink, L. Jon Wertheim, Allen St. John, and Joel Drucker to weigh in. We hope that our selections--like the strokes themselves--will stand the test of time. That is, until the next gunslinger comes along and shows us how it's done.

From Pancho Gonzalez's serve to Steffi Graf's forehand, here are our picks for the best strokes of all time. --The Editors

Serve

Pancho Gonzalez
There had been monster serves before (Bill Tilden's and Ellsworth Vines', to name two), but Ricardo Alonso Gonzalez's was the complete package and the foundation of a ruthless attacking game that made him the dominant force in pro tennis throughout the 1950s. Jack Kramer pioneered the serve-and-volley "Big Game," but the 6-foot-2 "Lone Wolf" from East Los Angeles turned it into a brutal art; Lew Hoad, a frequent foe, said he "swatted at the ball with a fierce, almost mean air." Gonzalez's delivery was compact, explosive, and seemingly effortless; his serves, both first and second, combined power, versatility, and consistency under pressure and kept him in the game's upper echelon well beyond his prime. In 1969, at age 41, he finished No. 6 in the world. Take that, Jimmy Connors.

Martina Navratilova
The numbers are stunning: 1,438 match wins, 18 majors (plus 38 more in doubles), nine Wimbledons, an 86-1 record in 1983, a 74-match winning streak. How could any woman have been so dominant? Sheer athleticism, first of all, embodied most gracefully and powerfully in her big lefty serve. The technique--back bent deeply and arms raised high, a combination that yielded maximum upward extension and launched her into the court--was flawless, the delivery natural, and the hook into the ad-court alley downright vicious. But Navratilova didn't rely just on her slice. She mixed up placement and pace so her opponents never knew what to expect. Except, of course, that if they were fortunate enough to get the return back, they knew Navratilova would be waiting, ready to put away a volley.

Special Mention
FIRST SERVE Ellsworth Vines: An elegant, risk-taking player from California, Vines was most famous for his howitzer-like serve--he hit 30 aces in 12 service games en route to winning the 1932 Wimbledon final. Bunny Austin, his opponent that day, said that on the final ace he didn't even see the ball go by. Margaret Smith Court: This lean, muscular pioneer of cross-training hit heavy, flat, serves at a time (the 1960s) when women simply weren't expected to crack aces.
SECOND SERVE Pete Sampras: Many players would be happy to have Sampras' second serve as their first, and for good reason: He hits it harder and disguises the location better than anyone in the business. Serena Williams: While her sister Venus recorded the fastest women's serve ever, Serena's second delivery, which like her first begins with a stately toss and ends with a shriek, is consistently deep and accurate. It's also as lethal as many women's first serves.
KICK SERVE Stefan Edberg: The form--he tossed the ball well behind him and arched his back into a crescent--looked painful, but the way Edberg kicked the ball high, rushed the net, and hit his first volley from well inside the service line was elegance in motion.



Forehand Steffi Graf
She didn't have textbook technique. Indeed, trying to copy her forehand would probably ruin your game or, worse, cause bodily harm. She had unconventionally late racquet preparation, which caused her to rush the stroke and hit off her back hip. But for Graf, those technical flaws meant nothing in the face of all the explosive winners she hit and the 22 Grand Slam singles titles she won as a result. She did have one technique worth emulating, though--outstanding footwork. Bouncing on her toes as if on hot coals, Graf was always ready to run around her backhand and finish off the point with one swing.

Ivan Lendl
He created the blueprint for today's power forehand: a versatile stroke designed to control the point and dominate the opponent. Like the man himself, Lendl's forehand wasn't graceful. It was deliberate and brutal, generated with a big backswing and pronounced shoulder turn. Although he could hit winners from anywhere on the court, he often took pleasure in pounding the ball corner to corner and running his opponent ragged before putting him out of his misery. Lendl could hit his forehand flat or with topspin, and thanks to precise footwork he was deadly on the run. It's no exaggeration to say that Lendl spent 157 consecutive weeks at No. 1 largely because of this stroke.

Special Mention
INSIDE-OUT FOREHAND Jim Courier: With an open stance, full Western grip, and extreme wrist snap, Courier pummeled the ball past opponents even when they knew the shot was coming.
TOPSPIN FOREHAND Rod Laver: When you think of the historic topspin forehands, you think of 1970s longhairs like Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas. The pioneer of heavy topspin, though, was a clean-cut Aussie. Laver's stroke wasn't as extreme--he used a Continental rather than a Western grip--but it was a shot that the players of his day had trouble matching.
TWO-HANDED FOREHAND Pancho Segura: The diminutive Ecuadorian held his own against the pro-tour giants of the 1940s and '50s with this killer stroke. He often ran all the way into the doubles alley on his backhand side to get a crack at it.

Backhand

Chris Evert
Her two-handed backhand was an example of form following function. Evert got the ball from point A to a precise point B with efficiency. To do that, she used a compact backswing taken with her arms comfortably extended, which allowed her to produce a long, smooth, low-to-high swing.



The stroke transformed the way women's tennis was played. A decade after Evert made her debut in 1971, young stars emerged who copied her backhand as well as her style (they were called Chrissie Clones). Thus began the shift away from the net-rushing tactics of Evert's contemporaries (Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, and Martina Navratilova) to the baseline bashing of today. Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, the Williams sisters--they all trace their playing styles to Evert.

Don Budge
His first sport was baseball, where he learned to bat left-handed despite being a righty. So when Budge took up tennis as a right-hander, the backhand came quickly and naturally to him. Holding the racquet with a full Eastern grip, his thumb up the handle for extra support, he took a sweeping stroke and generated just enough topspin to keep the ball in the court. Budge, the first person to win the Grand Slam, used his powerful and accurate backhand to thwart baseliner and net-rusher alike. Jack Kramer, one of the most relentless attackers of all time, found it nearly invulnerable. Special Mention
SLICE BACKHAND Evonne Goolagong Cawley: The graceful Goolagong Cawley hit the slice backhand like a skater gliding on ice. But it wasn't just another pretty shot: The ball dug into the court and skidded, giving opponents fits. Ken Rosewall: Nicknamed "Muscles" because he was such a scrawny youth, his backhand is considered second only to Budge's. Rosewall's timing, preparation, and accuracy allowed him to hit even short-angled passing shots without ever applying topspin.
TWO-HANDED BACKHAND Jimmy Connors: He wasn't the first to hit a two-handed backhand, but he was the first to build a ground game around it. Connors swung so hard, so flat, throwing his entire body into the shot, that it was a wonder he could keep the ball in play.
TOPSPIN BACKHAND Guillermo Vilas: The one-handed topspin backhand takes strength, and no one had more than Vilas. His left arm was a tree trunk, and Vilas was a bull of a man. So he made a tactical decision early in his career to develop a topspin backhand that would wear down all comers even if it meant he would hit fewer winners. It worked to the tune of four major titles. Gabriela Sabatini: Flowing and artistic, Sabatini's game was best represented by her one-handed backhand. You remember the spectacular windup, but what mattered most was her timing, which produced stinging shots with a wicked topspin bite.

Volley

Martina Navratilova
She learned to play in Revnice, just outside Prague, on slow red clay, a surface fit for a baseliner. But Navratilova's home was at the net, where she ruled for almost two decades. She had perfect balance and a great split-step, which gave her the ability to move in any direction quickly. With enough time, she got down to the ball in textbook fashion, but at her most inspired she was a racquet-wielding acrobat, hitting touch volleys off her shoe tops or spinning nearly halfway around to make an unlikely stab volley when she appeared already beaten.

John McEnroe
His volley, like almost everything else about his game, was eccentric. McEnroe beat stronger, bigger opponents with an instinctive net game built around soft hands and a feathery touch. McEnroe's anticipation allowed him to dispense with conventions like the knee bend and punch follow-through and to blanket the net, where he hit volleys at seemingly impossible angles. Yes, he lashed out with his tongue, but McEnroe mocked opponents best with his racquet. Time and again he lunged for an opponent's blast, tilted the racquet face ever so slightly, and sent the ball almost parallel to the net before it died with some voodoo backspin.

Special Mention
FOREHAND VOLLEY John Newcombe: He bludgeoned the ball on his forehand volley, a textbook shot that he expertly used to follow up his cannonball and twist serves. Margaret Smith Court: She played a physical brand of tennis that relied heavily on her net skills and, in particular, her forehand volley. Court could hit decisive winners or deep underspin volleys with equal panache.
BACKHAND VOLLEY Billie Jean King: She's only 5-foot-4 1/2, but at net she loomed like a giant. For that you can credit her backhand volley, which was a study in disciplined technique. She used an exaggerated split-step, emphasized the punch at contact, and always followed through. Tony Roche: Injuries kept him from scaling the same heights as his fellow Aussies of the 1960s, but Roche's backhand volley is still the gold standard. A lefty, he used his powerful forearm to hit with great control, alternating firm, deep volleys with wristy touch shots.
DROP VOLLEY Maria Bueno: This three-time Wimbledon champion, nicknamed the "São Paulo Swallow" by Bud Collins for her graceful movement, used superior touch and footwork to conjure winning drop volleys.

Return of Serve

Andre Agassi
No one ever thought they'd see a more devastating return of serve than Jimmy Connors'. Then a dyed-blond, neon-covered teenager showed up with a bigger one. Like Connors, Agassi has turned what was once a defensive shot into an implement of war, and he's done it against bigger servers. Blessed with outstanding hand-eye coordination, Agassi can punish the serve off both wings. His technique is as simple as it is effective, based on a short, sharp backswing that allows him to take the ball on the rise and put a guy who just hit a 130-m.p.h. serve on his heels.

Monica Seles
She has a return of serve that John Madden would love. Seles squints, squishes her face, then . . . boom! She lets out a trademark grunt and shoots the ball back. It's tennis as contact sport. But what makes Seles' return the finest ever is that even though she goes for broke she rarely misses. No matter how hard it's hit or where it's placed, the serve comes back, often as a winner. Seles' style is unorthodox: She hits with two hands off both sides for more power and consistency. She also plants herself inside the baseline--think of her racquet tapping the ground, hungry for the ball--to cut off angles and rob the server of time to recover. As Nick Bollettieri has written, "Her return made you think that you needed lessons on your serve."

Special Mention
CHIP RETURN Jack Kramer: Opponents who hit short second serves never stood a chance against Kramer. His forehand return was especially effective: He attacked down the line, taking the ball early and hitting with withering sidespin that made the ball bounce low and away from the server. Billie Jean King: Never one to linger on the baseline, King loved to pounce on short second serves with an underspin chip that set up an easy volley into the open court.
BACKHAND RETURN Venus Williams: For her, no shot comes more naturally than the return, especially when she has two hands on it. This shot has never been used so offensively.

Drop Shot

Manuel Santana
Adept on both clay and grass (he won Roland Garros and Wimbledon), Santana was a master improviser who could do anything with the ball. He moved opponents out of position with sharply angled strokes and killed them softly with his drop.

Chris Evert
The drop shots that Evert employed were created with a blend of simplicity and guile. At the end of a standard backswing, she would raise the racquet head slightly and then drive it forward and down with a brisk chop. The combination of light contact and underspin caused the ball to float just over the net and die after one bounce, catching opponents flat-footed and out of position.

Overhead

Pete Sampras
His signature shot, the jump overhead, isn't just an outrageous display of athleticism. It's also a not-so-veiled message to his opponent: I'm going to wipe the court with you and enjoy doing it. Sampras, who has said he doesn't like to get "analytical and stuff," once broke down the Air Sampras thusly: "When I hit a big serve and see the return floating, I just take off, jump as high as I can, and boom!" Yet it's his everyday overhead that really makes him a menace. When a lob goes up, he backpedals, turns sideways, keeps his head up, and cocks his wrist as he starts to swing up at the ball. He doesn't go for Mach I power--he knows where his opponent is, and he hits the ball in the other direction. Not as much fun to watch as the jump, but just as effective.

Martina Navratilova
With cat-like quickness, Navratilova could backpedal, leap, and get in position to hit just about any ball, a rarity among today's baseline bashers. She had an uncanny ability to anticipate when her opponent was about to throw up a lob, but if she did get caught off guard, she had enough strength in her forearm and wrist to muscle the overhead. Because she was so confident hitting smashes, Navratilova had the luxury of getting on top of the net, closing off openings for passing shots, and daring opponents to get the ball over her.

Special Mention
BACKHAND OVERHEAD Stan Smith: While nearly everything about him was traditional, from his orthodox strokes to his neatly parted hair, Smith's backhand overhead was stylish and daring. Maybe it was his way of telling us that he had a wild side after all. Evonne Goolagong Cawley: Often tempted to go for the spectacular when the ordinary would suffice, Goolagong Cawley delighted crowds by striking impossibly angled winners with this stroke.
SKY HOOK Jimmy Connors: He developed this unusual stiff-armed overhead because he crowded the net so closely that he often couldn't get back in time to hit a standard smash.

Lob

Bobby Riggs
While this famous hustler and gamesman is best remembered for competing against Billie Jean King in the 1973 Battle of the Sexes, Riggs was the world's No. 1 player in 1939, when he won Wimbledon (singles, doubles, and mixed) and the U.S. Nationals. A cagey player, he knew how and when to hit every shot, and he used the lob to devastating effect. Whether he was lofting a defensive shot to buy time, sending it high as an alternative to a passing shot, or changing the pace of a baseline rally, Riggs struck lobs with pinpoint placement, last-second disguise, and superb depth. The shot, which Riggs could hit flat or with a little underspin, often helped him aggravate and ultimately defeat his bigger and stronger rivals, Don Budge and Jack Kramer.

Tracy Austin
When she appeared on the tour as a 14-year-old in pigtails and pinafores, Austin wasn't yet 5 feet tall. But already she was augmenting her clean, deep ground strokes with perfectly placed lobs whenever she was pulled off the court or when pressed by a net-rusher. Often employing the much maligned moonball, a ground stroke that was more of a semi-lob than a drive, she would test the patience of any player. In 1981, Austin won her second U.S. Open by using deftly struck lobs to drive Martina Navratilova away from the net.

Special Mention
DEFENSIVE LOB Jimmy Connors: His ability to scramble and send the ball sky-high and deep was unrivaled. Just ask Paul Haarhuis, who's probably still trying to recover from losing an amazing (and much replayed) point to Connors at the '91 U.S. Open. Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario: With her speed, tenacity, and racquet-head control, Sanchez-Vicario made opponents feel as if they were playing against a demonic ball machine that just kept spitting balls over their heads.

Passing Shot

Bjorn Borg
Just how amazing was Bjorn Borg's passing shot? A baseliner, he won five consecutive Wimbledon titles on the fastest of surfaces, and one notorious for producing bad bounces, while using a Western forehand grip best suited to slow clay. But it wasn't until John McEnroe crashed the party that fans got to see Borg's passing shot in all its glory. His speed enabled him to track down Mac's approach shots and volleys, and his powers of concentration helped him rip topspin passes off either side to within inches of the lines.

Chris Evert
Her strong suit was precision under pressure--just what you need to hit an effective passing shot. Evert didn't rely on heavy topspin to get the ball at her opponent's feet; rather, she kept serve-and-volley rivals like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova at bay by hitting line drives right past them. Evert wasn't the fastest player, and she didn't hit the pass the hardest. She simply found a way to get the ball by her opponent.

One-of-a-Kind

There are great strokes, and then there are the one-of-a-kinds

Boris Becker The big man, at 6-foot-3, had an animal's instinct, recklessly diving for many volleys. His knees were often a bloody mess, but it was a price he was willing to pay.

Alberto Berasategui His Western forehand grip was so extreme that it could double as an Eastern backhand, allowing him to hit forehands and backhands with the same side of the racquet face.

Françoise Durr The 1967 Roland Garros champion and a Top 10 player nine times, Durr hit all of her strokes, including her serve and backhand, with a bizarre forehand grip in which her index finger pointed toward the head of the racquet.

Gabriela Sabatini The "Sabatweeny," popularized by Gabriela Sabatini and, on the men's side, by flashy Frenchman Yannick Noah, required tremendous coordination, perfect timing, and a willingness to risk bodily injury.

SpikeyAidanm
Feb 11th, 2004, 09:09 AM
add Koulikovskaya into one-of-a-kind :p