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View Full Version : How much better are the players now than a decade ago?


Doraemon
Nov 11th, 2003, 04:55 PM
People always say the depth and level of the competition of the tour are so much better than in the past. But admitting it's true but is it that much better? To what extent do you think the game of the women's game has gotten better in the past decade? I started following the game exactly 10 years ago and that's the very time when Jen stopped playing due to burn-out. Jennifer won her first major more than ten years after she made her sensational debut as a child prodigy with the media hyping her more than anyone has ever been. Steffi won her final GS title more than 10 years after her very first one. Does that mean they got so much better or just the game didn't change as much as we though it did? I know the style of game players play changed a lot. Now we have few serve and volleyers and the girls play more from the backcourt with more power and accuracy but finess wise I feel like there were better players in the past. And we gotta look at the improvement in the technology of the equipment especially in racquets.
Since I used to follow the tour more, I may be biased in favor of retired players but how much better the current players are than the past players?

Doraemon
Nov 11th, 2003, 06:43 PM
Any thoughts?

alfajeffster
Nov 11th, 2003, 07:28 PM
Any thoughts?

Yes, I totally agree with your assessment of players in the past using more of the game of tennis. As with every sport, tennis has evolved, however, what is different with the evolution of tennis is the change in the equipment- namely the size of the racquet. This is the single most important change in how the game evolved. It took a few years after the introduction of the first oversized racquets to the pro tour in the late 1970s for the academies and pros and clubs to adjust to the increased power play that results from a sweetspot that is in some cases 3 times larger, and almost always closer to the player's hand. The power tennis that we know today didn't catch on until Nick Bollettieri's academy begain training a new crop of players in earnest back in the early 1980s, and we got Agassi, Courier, Martin, Chang and any number of two-fisted backhands and western forehand winners from the baseline, but no complete games (with the notable exception of Sampras- who wisely changed his game and training regimen).

The women of today in comparison to the women of pre-1985 (When Graf herself began blasting her power game to the forefront), don't hold a candle. It's possible to say if they had been brought up with small racquets and all the conditions of a Margaret Court or Billie Jean King, they too would have excelled, however, this argument pales when you take into consideration the mental toughness required to be able to construct points and use the ENTIRE game of tennis, instead of relying on reactionary winners from the baseline. In my opinion, the only player in the past 5 years (Graf excluded) who is capable of playing the complete game of tennis like it used to be played is Martina Hingis.

Heathcliff
Nov 11th, 2003, 07:41 PM
Bill Tilden woulda whipped any of the young whippersnappers today.

alfajeffster
Nov 11th, 2003, 07:44 PM
Bill Tilden woulda whipped any of the young whippersnappers today.

You're bad! :lol:

alfajeffster
Nov 11th, 2003, 07:48 PM
Consider this- the game of tennis has evolved very slowly, and pretty much unchanged except for a few minor rules, for 60 years or so. The changes that have accelerated the game to the sad state it is in now have only occurred in the past 15 years.

Can you imagine anyone besides Sammy Sosa using anything but a wooden bat in the major leagues?

bandabou
Nov 11th, 2003, 07:54 PM
Sad state?! what sad state?! The old folks sure keep dwelling and harping about how everything was better in the past and blah blah.

Andreīs considered the most talented player maybe ever, but would he have been that successful without the new racquets?! īCause he is ABSOLUTELY clueless at the net.

There ainīt a proper way to play tennis. Not everybody has to play serve and volley. You can play from the baseline as well.

Dava
Nov 11th, 2003, 07:57 PM
A lot I say, they have both power, and skill, which you seemed to have either, but not both of in the early 90's.

bandabou
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:01 PM
Exactly....people act like having power is a bad thing. Whatīs so fun of playing moon-balls for three hours?!

alfajeffster
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:03 PM
Sad state?! what sad state?! The old folks sure keep dwelling and harping about how everything was better in the past and blah blah.

Andreīs considered the most talented player maybe ever, but would he have been that successful without the new racquets?! īCause he is ABSOLUTELY clueless at the net.

There ainīt a proper way to play tennis. Not everybody has to play serve and volley. You can play from the baseline as well.

Old folks? I'll wax your tail on the court any day buddy! Agassi is not considered the most talented player ever- he's considered to have (arguably) the best hand-eye coordination ever. There is a huge difference. He could have picked up nearly any stick-ball game and been outstanding. There is a complete game, to this day it's what all the top players say they are working on perfecting, but very few have the balls to execute, for fear of getting passed, which equates to a fear of winning. What we have today are knee-jerk reactionary winner machines, but not complete tennis players. It's coming though- all it's going to take is one girl to break through the mold, and BANG! Like a clear blue shot in the darkness- everyone's head will turn and they will see that the game is bigger that what it has temporarily become.

I watched the 1995 Advanta Championships final between Graf and Lori McNeil again last night and those girls were hitting the ball just as hard as any of the girls today, a mere 8 years later, except the tennis was MUCH more exhilerating, because they used the whole court and all the shots for all 3 sets.

Rollo
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:10 PM
Dava-the power difference is noticable, but it's almost all due to the change in racquet technology. If you ever get a chance watch Navratilova-Evert in the late 70s, early 80s and late 80s. They hit much harder at the end of the 80s, yet Martina and Chris peaked earlier than that.

If Steffi, Monica, Venus, etc hadn't come along some other power hitter would have-metal (and much wider frames) made it possible.

IMO. With rare exceptions a champion in one era would be a champ in another.

bandabou
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:16 PM
Old folks? I'll wax your tail on the court any day buddy! Agassi is not considered the most talented player ever- he's considered to have (arguably) the best hand-eye coordination ever. There is a huge difference. He could have picked up nearly any stick-ball game and been outstanding. There is a complete game, to this day it's what all the top players say they are working on perfecting, but very few have the balls to execute, for fear of getting passed, which equates to a fear of winning. What we have today are knee-jerk reactionary winner machines, but not complete tennis players. It's coming though- all it's going to take is one girl to break through the mold, and BANG! Like a clear blue shot in the darkness- everyone's head will turn and they will see that the game is bigger that what it has temporarily become.

I watched the 1995 Advanta Championships final between Graf and Lori McNeil again last night and those girls were hitting the ball just as hard as any of the girls today, a mere 8 years later, except the tennis was MUCH more exhilerating, because they used the whole court and all the shots for all 3 sets.

What complete game does Andre play?! Besides...what is a complete game in your eyes?!

bandabou
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:17 PM
IMO. With rare exceptions a champion in one era would be a champ in another.

Thatīs my view really too....if someone is good enough to win today, he/ she would have won in the past and vice versa.

alfajeffster
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:22 PM
IMO. With rare exceptions a champion in one era would be a champ in another.

I agree with this with one exception- today's champions. Today's players were identified by their reactionary skills, developed, trained, and nurtured to become the baseline bashing winner machines that we see. These probably are not the same players who would have been picked even 30 years ago to be developed into world-class tennis players. Prior to the change in racquet size, players were scouted and identified with mental capacities as well as physical talents. The current crop, almost without exception, does not have it mentally to play the complete game. Quite a few champions from other eras did have the capacity to excel in today's game- Margaret Court and Althea Gibson are perfect examples.

alfajeffster
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:24 PM
What complete game does Andre play?! Besides...what is a complete game in your eyes?!

Andre doesn't play a complete game. A complete game example is Martina Navratilova. She started out developing her groundstrokes on clay in the mid-70s, and always had a natural volleying skill, and it took her a few years, but by 1983 when all the shots came together and she mastered using all of them on court against any opponent- BINGO the complete game. Pete Sampras had a complete game. Andre to this day does not- you are right- he is terrible at the net.

irma
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:27 PM
and that's why Nav could still compete with the best a decade ago. It's weird that so few followed her example.

alfajeffster
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:33 PM
and that's why Nav could still compete with the best a decade ago. It's weird that so few followed her example.

You know, quite a few did, with some success (Mandlikova, Sukova, etc.), but I blame the Czech decline in tennis in the late 80s to the fall of the Iron Curtain. The state no longer had the money to play an active role in bringing up new athletes. This coupled with the racquet size increase pretty much killed it. I remember Ilie Nastase remarking one year at the Agassi/Courier French Semi "this is not tennis, it's ping-pong!" He was so right.

bandabou
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:45 PM
So basically serve and volley is the complete game. So how come you say that no one since GRAF had the complete game?!

bandabou
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:48 PM
I agree with this with one exception- today's champions. Today's players were identified by their reactionary skills, developed, trained, and nurtured to become the baseline bashing winner machines that we see. These probably are not the same players who would have been picked even 30 years ago to be developed into world-class tennis players. Prior to the change in racquet size, players were scouted and identified with mental capacities as well as physical talents. The current crop, almost without exception, does not have it mentally to play the complete game. Quite a few champions from other eras did have the capacity to excel in today's game- Margaret Court and Althea Gibson are perfect examples.

Now howīs this for being disrespectful?! Everybody plays to their equipments. No one is gonna serve and volley today because the ball is being hit too hard for that. That doesnīt mean they arenīt mentally strong. What kind of nonsense is that?!

Think Margaret or Althea would have played serve and volley if they were being passed at will?!

MLF
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:51 PM
The players from #10 - #500 these days are far better than those ranked the same 10 years ago.

However, I definitely think a top 5 player from 1987-93 would definitely be in with a shout of being a top 5 player in 2003.

bandabou
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:53 PM
Top players are top players, regardless of era.

alfajeffster
Nov 11th, 2003, 08:59 PM
Now howīs this for being disrespectful?! Everybody plays to their equipments. No one is gonna serve and volley today because the ball is being hit too hard for that. That doesnīt mean they arenīt mentally strong. What kind of nonsense is that?!

Think Margaret or Althea would have played serve and volley if they were being passed at will?!

I think you'll be hard-pressed to find where I said serve-and-volley is the complete game. They are two different animals. Yes, Margaret and Althea would have played serve-and-volley, but they wouldn't have been passed at will- quite the opposite imo. Margaret and Althea had two of the best first serves of all time- even by today's standards. The complete game is an organized player who has mastered all the shots, and uses them all over the court. This includes volleys, but not always. It gives the complete player a decided advantage against one-dimensional players like Agassi. The Federer match was a classic example of how a complete player (Federer) can give someone without all the shots (Agassi) trouble, no matter how talented the baseline basher's hands are.

bandabou
Nov 11th, 2003, 09:24 PM
I think you'll be hard-pressed to find where I said serve-and-volley is the complete game. They are two different animals. Yes, Margaret and Althea would have played serve-and-volley, but they wouldn't have been passed at will- quite the opposite imo. Margaret and Althea had two of the best first serves of all time- even by today's standards. The complete game is an organized player who has mastered all the shots, and uses them all over the court. This includes volleys, but not always. It gives the complete player a decided advantage against one-dimensional players like Agassi. The Federer match was a classic example of how a complete player (Federer) can give someone without all the shots (Agassi) trouble, no matter how talented the baseline basher's hands are.

Your "complete" game theory sounds more like an effort to make the past players better than todayīs. Sorry.

Everybody works with what works best for them. Isnīt that theory: Play to your strengths?!

Why belittle the otherīs game because he/ she doesnīt have the "complete" game?! Besides how can one know what player has a complete game or not?!

alfajeffster
Nov 11th, 2003, 09:29 PM
Your "complete" game theory sounds more like an effort to make the past players better than todayīs. Sorry.

Everybody works with what works best for them. Isnīt that theory: Play to your strengths?!

Why belittle the otherīs game because he/ she doesnīt have the "complete" game?! Besides how can one know what player has a complete game or not?!

Serena Williams is my favorite active player for the women. Tim Henman (with Roger Federer a close second) is my favorite active player for the men. I'm not trying to belittle the current crop of girls. But can you see the difference in styles of play between my women's fav and my men's? I hope Serena (and God help us if Venus ever listens to this advice) does develop her net game. Both Williams sisters have alot more game to develop than either Federer or Henman- surely you can see that.

bandabou
Nov 11th, 2003, 09:36 PM
Serena Williams is my favorite active player for the women. Tim Henman (with Roger Federer a close second) is my favorite active player for the men. I'm not trying to belittle the current crop of girls. But can you see the difference in styles of play between my women's fav and my men's? I hope Serena (and God help us if Venus ever listens to this advice) does develop her net game. Both Williams sisters have alot more game to develop than either Federer or Henman- surely you can see that.

Of course...Serena and Venus sure can keep evolving their games. Scary as it may sound. No one is perfect.

Either sister with better net games....that would be close to a complete game, I guess.

faboozadoo15
Nov 11th, 2003, 09:54 PM
i don't think tennis has changed much in the last decade, personally. there's more depth and a lot less easy matches, but the top players are about the same, but the lower ranked players seem to be more confident.

jenglisbe
Nov 11th, 2003, 09:59 PM
I think the top players - like Serena, Kim, Justine, Venus - are better players than the top players from 10 and 20 years ago. They would beat Graf, Seles, Navratiliova, etc.

The lower top 10-20 players - like Myskina, Dementieva, Dokic, etc, - aren't any better than (and may be a level below) - the likes of Huber, Majoli, Marty Joe Fernandez, etc.