A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

Before Johanna Konta's quarterfinal match v Barbora Strycova, I was listening to John McEnroe's comments and analysis along with Chanda Rubin and Sue Barker. A phrase John used grabbed my attention, he said that "Johanna was a manufactured player." I know talent is subjective in the eyes of whoever is watching.

Anyone who has been following tennis for a long time will know that back in the 1980s McEnroe made a lot of what can be seen as disparaging comments about Ivan Lendl, his greatest rival in major finals. At the time Ivan was seen as someone who didn't have major talent but worked incredibly hard to get to number 1 despite the disparaging remarks from the likes of McEnroe; and took fitness and professionalism to a new level, which a lot of players copied after him. So, when McEnroe said this about Konta I interpreted it as slightly disparaging. Of course, McEnroe is trying to be diplomatic on live television but the overtones to what he thought of Konta's game is quite serious.

And, as the match developed particularly in the second set, it was like watching a major computer malfunction, the computer became stuck displaying the same errors time and again, and there was not enough time to reprogramme the computer to get it back up and running smoothly. John's comments suddenly seem to have more resonance, especially as we saw exactly the same thing happen a month earlier in the French Open semifinal.

Konta's biggest problem besides her nerves has always been her footwork, it just isn't good enough. When nerves kick in, technique or more precisely dodgy technique is always the first to go in a player's game. Her footwork moving up to the short ball is diabolical, hence the amount of short balls she hits almost into the fence. I saw it last year in Eastbourne when I was down there, she did it in the Italian Open final, then Roland Garros and now here, basically when the pressure is on in big moments.

Strycova on the other hand played a mix of a tactical and instinctive game. tactical in that she constantly hit to Johanna's forehand waiting for the inevitable errors, and instintive with the drop shots and the short slices jerking Johanna all over the court.

We have waxed lyrical about the improvements Johanna has made, adding new elements to her game but the question is, if you do not have the natural affinity to do these things, how much better can you actually become to get to the pinnacle and goal of winning a major tournament?
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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:01 PM
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Jo Konta has been described as a computer multiple times. Starting with her serving routine and windup which is so ugly and robotic-like that it is literally unwatchable. And when a virus enters this computer, bye bye jo. Ugly ugly tin man robot looking tennis yuck
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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:04 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

Konta looks a little less coordinated than some players and that has people saying things like robotic.
Ultimately its a mental game and Konta should have played better against Vondrousova and Strycova. I've seen her at her best and she is a better player on her good days
Serena has incredible talent. She has movement a huge serve and can hit with power and placement. After her its so close that the differences are mental. Serena is older now so its more mental with her too.
A lot of it is to handle when your opponent gets hot. You cant fold because your opponent caught fire for a few minutes. If they can keep it up they're too good on the day, but so many times its like Zhang today. Halep is down 41, plays better and Zhang folds, trying to hit the lines and do too much

For Konta, being underdog vs Kvitova then favorite vs Strycova was a mental issue a lot of players have

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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:10 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

Let's not overrate the instinct, it's essentially a matter of experience most of the time. There's not one shot that Strycova made in this match that she hadn't made before. All the low volleys, she does that all the time, it wasn't improvised.

The most instinctive player I've seen in womens tennis remains Radwanska. She would always come with something new here and then, in the middle of routine shots and tactics.

Who cares of hypertrophic weapons when the player on the court moves like music?
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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:10 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

McEnroe is often an ass but he’s spot on about Konta being a manufactured player. It’s not necessary bad but it is what it is.

Everything about her game looks so mechanical and awkward. Not pleasant to the eye. You see that when she does something out of ordinary like a lob, a drop shot (they are always awful) or coming to the net (she’s bad). She doesn’t have and never will the finesse to be good at something different that her standard (and not nuanced) game.

However it’s very effective and she is a great player when she is on.
What she does, she executes it very well, most of the time. So credit to her.

He gameplan is very tidy and clear but also predictable for skillful players like Strycova or Vondrousova that have many tricks in her game to put her out of her comfort zone.
She has no incstinct to trust on or plan B.
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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:12 PM
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I think it has more to do with a lack of fluidity in her stroke production met with zero variety.
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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:15 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

He's interpreting variety as natural talent, when really it's just a learned skill (and a strategic choice) like anything else.

The way Konta always seems to be snatching at the ball a la Bouchard doesn't help the appearance of being mechanical. Somebody with as little variety but better looking strokes probably wouldn't get the same criticism.
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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:22 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

nothing beats talent but hard work, they say.


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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:23 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

OTOH Some players have many shots and variety and often have no idea about how to use it: are bad tactically, choose the wrong shots often (ex. Mlandenovic is a good example of a skilled player but often clueless about how to play next point and awful tactically).
Or Vondrousova on a bad day. She can be a hot mess.
This will never happen to Konta. She may have a bad day with many shots landing out but she knows exactly what she has to do.

It has ups and downs.
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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:24 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

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Originally Posted by Hugues Daniel View Post
The most instinctive player I've seen in womens tennis remains Radwanska. She would always come with something new here and then, in the middle of routine shots and tactics.

hardly ever agree with you, but that's on point for sure.


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post #11 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

Quote:
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He's interpreting variety as natural talent, when really it's just a learned skill (and a strategic choice) like anything else.

The way Konta always seems to be snatching at the ball a la Bouchard doesn't help the appearance of being mechanical. Somebody with as little variety but better looking strokes probably wouldn't get the same criticism.
I can't speak for McEnroe obviously but I intepret his viewpoint on a player's feel. Sure, any player can have variety, anyone and learn of course, agree with you there. However, it becomes much more apparent when it comes to the feel off the racquet off difficult shots, like low volleys, high bakhand volleys etc, that's when you know whether a player has good feel or not.

On Bouchard, I have always been critical about her lack of footwork. I think you can see footwork is a big deal as far as I am concerned. Bouchard was (is?) often flatfooted and just does not move into position to strike the ball properly. Her game was always going to unravel pretty quickly if she didn't implement improvements in that department, which she clearly didn't.

I think it often goes hand in hand, the better the footwork one has, the better their strokes usually look.

I observed the commentators often, they would describe Johanna's footwork as busy but I look much more closely, Johanna is just not light on her feet, I think that's why hardcourts suits her best, where she does not have to worry about making adjustments to bad bounces etc at the last moment.
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post #12 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 08:04 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

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Originally Posted by BurnsTennis View Post
Before Johanna Konta's quarterfinal match v Barbora Strycova, I was listening to John McEnroe's comments and analysis along with Chanda Rubin and Sue Barker. A phrase John used grabbed my attention, he said that "Johanna was a manufactured player." I know talent is subjective in the eyes of whoever is watching.

Anyone who has been following tennis for a long time will know that back in the 1980s McEnroe made a lot of what can be seen as disparaging comments about Ivan Lendl, his greatest rival in major finals. At the time Ivan was seen as someone who didn't have major talent but worked incredibly hard to get to number 1 despite the disparaging remarks from the likes of McEnroe; and took fitness and professionalism to a new level, which a lot of players copied after him. So, when McEnroe said this about Konta I interpreted it as slightly disparaging. Of course, McEnroe is trying to be diplomatic on live television but the overtones to what he thought of Konta's game is quite serious.

And, as the match developed particularly in the second set, it was like watching a major computer malfunction, the computer became stuck displaying the same errors time and again, and there was not enough time to reprogramme the computer to get it back up and running smoothly. John's comments suddenly seem to have more resonance, especially as we saw exactly the same thing happen a month earlier in the French Open semifinal.

Konta's biggest problem besides her nerves has always been her footwork, it just isn't good enough. When nerves kick in, technique or more precisely dodgy technique is always the first to go in a player's game. Her footwork moving up to the short ball is diabolical, hence the amount of short balls she hits almost into the fence. I saw it last year in Eastbourne when I was down there, she did it in the Italian Open final, then Roland Garros and now here, basically when the pressure is on in big moments.

Strycova on the other hand played a mix of a tactical and instinctive game. tactical in that she constantly hit to Johanna's forehand waiting for the inevitable errors, and instintive with the drop shots and the short slices jerking Johanna all over the court.

We have waxed lyrical about the improvements Johanna has made, adding new elements to her game but the question is, if you do not have the natural affinity to do these things, how much better can you actually become to get to the pinnacle and goal of winning a major tournament?

So, you're saying Konta is a bot???

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post #13 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 08:36 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

I mean there are so many examples of this on the tour besides the obvious one being Serena.

For instance,

Sharapova --> While she was younger (drugs or no drugs) she definitely trained lot more and constantly developed her skills but to me she seems to be fairly one dimensional and she had talent but not nearly as much as some other players for instance Ivanovic.

Ivanovic --> She never seemed to take tennis too too seriously like yes she trained and she did what everyone did but she was never the most diligent when it came to fitness and all that, and even with that, she managed to have a really good career in the end, she just lacked mental game which was a whole other problem.

So for Konta, yeah she is manufactured but it also depends how long can u keep it up, if she is almost 30 now i believe, how much longer can her body keep up with intense training and practice before she simply cannot do it to the level she can at now.
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post #14 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 08:48 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

I'd take that as a compliment. All the more power to her for overcoming her shortcomings. It speaks volumes about her work ethic and character; it's not her fault that she's not talented. Similarly with Bouchard, who overachieved through sheer force of will and hardwork.

Shame on the talented players who are underachieving, tbh. They are the ones who should be embarrassed and criticized. I'm looking at you Kyrgios, Kasatkina etc.
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post #15 of 45 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2019, 09:08 PM
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Re: A "Manufactured" vs "Naturally Talented" Player

It takes both training (manufacturing) and talent.
-
Look at the sisters who both had the same tennis manufacturing --- Osakas, Pliskovas, Radwanskas, Everts, Bouchards
One sister becomes a big tennis star and the other sister is a top 200 player.
One sister has tennis talent and the other sister has much less tennis talent ( although they may be a better photo modeling tallent)
-
No matter how much training or manufacturing a player has, without tallent, they will never be a star.
-
There is more than one way to be successful at tennis -- McEnroe had his way, and Lendl had a different way, but both had great talent. It was just two different types of talent, and Mad Mac is too stupid to understand that.
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