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Tennis: Game of Champions (French Open starts May 26th)

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Posts

  • HewnHewn Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    In regards to Roddick's ranking, it is an unbiased reflection of the points he has won. He still wins tournaments and goes deep into the draw at majors a couple times a year. Which is more than most people, but you have to remember that Federer and Nadal have been gobbling up so many points that the gap between them and the rest of the field is significant. For example, you could double Roddick's points and he'd still be behind Federer, and just barely ahead of Nadal.

    In regards to Roddick's diminishing power, it is very likely that it is partly trying new strategy and partly in our heads. Quite frankly, Roddick still rips the ball on his forehand with more conviction than most of the tour. However, the emergence of Federer really put a damper on that. If you watch early Roddick vs. Federer matches, it becomes clear that the power does not affect Federer in the slightest, as Roddick would bang away at the ball as Federer chipped it back. Hitting with such authority only for the point to remain at neutral leads to significant unforced errors and causes one to overhit and go for shots that aren't required at the moment, but FEEL required. In a sense, bashing the ball so hard against Federer all the time is giving him too much respect.

    Roddick still wins the majority of his matches and his play has been excellent. It is only a handful of players, but namely Federer, that have kept him from cleaning up a few more majors. It is no surprise that his recent game transformation revolves significantly around playing to strengths that can attack Federer. Specifically, net play.

    Hitting a ball with too much pace and trying to follow the ball in is actually counter productive, in a way. You'd think it would be helpful, putting your opponent on defense, but the reality is that often the opponent can return the shot by blocking it back and force you to hit a volley as far back as the service line. Not ideal, and this places you in poor position for the next shot coming unless you can crack a volley winner from the service line. Roddick simply doesn't have volleys like that, and even the greats would struggle against returners like Nadal and Federer. For this reason, approach shots often have the pace taken off them to allow time to get to the net and set up a 1-2 volley punch. The first volley is made inside the service line, and intended to put the opponent on the run, setting up a winner on the 2nd.

    A great reference to this was Patrick Rafter, one of the top net players during the late 90s. He was capable of serving much harder and faster than he did, but instead opted to hit kick serves that would travel slower but jump significantly higher on the returner. This allowed him time to run to the net and hit the first volley from a comfortable position.

    But the fact is these days that most court surfaces and the balls have been slowed down. Federer, for example, commented how he'd like to serve and volley more but the grass of Wimbledon and the balls are simply too slow. What this means is that even shots that cross the net with significant pace will slow down upon bounce, and allow the returner to rip passing shots. This sort of court goes against Roddick quite a bit, as even if he hits a very hard approach shot the bounce will slow up, and the returner can pass.

    Basically, there's less time to get to the net and more time to return the ball. Thus why a clay court specialist like Nadal can get to the Wimbledon finals 2 years in a row. And why a true serve and volleyer hasn't won Wimbledon since 2001.

    So to answer the question as to why Roddick isn't gripping and ripping the forehand?
    He's tried to add more versatility to beat Federer. By adding more shot variety, he can hopefully play from the area of the court he wants to, as exchanging forehands with Federer is foolish. Furthermore, court speeds like at Wimbledon are not as favorable to run and gun tennis as they once were, so he has to play more conservative tennis. Hard to argue against that given Federer wins Wimbledon 5 years straight from the baseline. Hewitt, the definition of conservative baseliner, won in 2002 before the Federer streak.

    Personally, I think he needs to run and gun more. This touch tennis that Connors is trying to teach him is not his style. It's a great style, but not his. He'll never volley as good as Connors and he'll never hit the same angles he did either.

    Hewn on
    Steam: hewn
    Warframe: TheBaconDwarf
  • FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I think Hewn brings up a pretty valid point. The perceived death of net play is mainly a result of the increasing difficulty to hit an approach shot that both gives you time to come up to the net and doesn't allow your opponent to make a solid passing shot. Guys are just getting way too good at their baseline play.

    Anyway, now that Wimbledon is done with, it's about time we start talking about the US Open. Expectations, hopes, etc.

    FirstComradeStalin on
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  • HewnHewn Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I think Hewn brings up a pretty valid point. The perceived death of net play is mainly a result of the increasing difficulty to hit an approach shot that both gives you time to come up to the net and doesn't allow your opponent to make a solid passing shot. Guys are just getting way too good at their baseline play.

    Anyway, now that Wimbledon is done with, it's about time we start talking about the US Open. Expectations, hopes, etc.

    In hindsight to my explanation, I'm not sure I covered enough of, "Oh yeah, and baseliners are just way better than 10 years ago." People will always argue this, but the game has never been faster, especially outside of the top 10. Everybody hits like giants now. A 120 serve used to be impressive. Feels standard at this point, with Roddick ripping them near 140 consistantly.

    As for the rest of the year...
    Can we expect anything but Federer to do well on the hardcourt season and clean up at the US Open? He's just so far ahead of the field and Nadal won't challenge him as much at Flushing Meadows. Roddick is the greater threat there, but is that enough? Likely not. Seems foolish to pick anybody but Federer these days, boring as it is.

    I'd like to see Blake elevate his game, and make a run, but that's just wishful thinking. Djokovic really impressed at Wimbledon and it's not hard to imagine his game doing well during the hardcourt season. He'll be a threat. And Bhagdatis continues to get favorable results, so he'll be in the mix.

    The women's game is far more wide open. Assuming everybody is healthy, the US Open is entirely up for grabs. Henin, Venus, Serena, Sharapova, and even a handful of others all have a legit shot. My gut tells me not to bet against Serena in New York this year. She'll be hungry and played better than I expected at Wimbledon.

    Hewn on
    Steam: hewn
    Warframe: TheBaconDwarf
  • FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I think it's time we resurrect this thread ahead of the French Open.

    As we head to Roland Garros, we are beginning to see a much more even playing field than we've seen in a long time. Nadal was dropped on clay by Ferrer. Apparently Spanish people are just born with the ability to rape face on clay. Federer has had some relative struggles in the beginning of the year, but appears to be slowly coming back to his old form.

    What do you guys think are the most interesting storylines as we approach the best part of the tennis season?

    FirstComradeStalin on
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  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I haven't been following tennis much lately, but I'm getting that feeling that a new talent will arise in the coming months. A tingling feeling, even.

    And I haven't played a game in months. Someone move to my neck of the woods so we can play together. I usually play relatively frequent with my parents but both of them are either sick, in pain or both lately. Damn them old people. I don't have any friends who play tennis living near me, so that doesn't help. I should have joined a competition team, but damn it that costs me a whole day.

    busy+lazy+lot's of things to be distracted by=not playing tennis

    Aldo on
    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Eh, I've got to actually get back to paying attention to tennis. Haven't watched a whole match since the US Open. My big question this year is whether Federer can win the French. I want to call him the greatest of all time at some point, but I can't do that if he's going to be the new millenium's Pete Sampras.

    wwtMask on
    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
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