Posts Tagged ‘Connors’

Backhand

December 13, 2007

This time it’s backhand. The guys at Tennis.com end up with Ken Rosewall as the player with the best backhand.

For me, it is hard to even try to comment on that. I haven’t seen more than a few clips of him and cannot say anything specific. But from what I’ve seen I still say that it is hard to compare different eras. To comment on what you said Tim; If you watch the following clip maybe you will see what I mean. This is Ashe-Roswewall from 71. Back then, coming to the net was necessary on every point. There are a few baseline rallies, but all of them end up with one of them attacking at the net. Both of them hit backhands but most of them are the short kind that you get from a volley, meaning low bouncing and therefore hard to get a real shot. Towards the end Rosewall shows what he could do. A good shot from Ashe is returned with great ease (almost Federer like) cross court and with a very nice angle. He had the sweet touch and could do a lot with it compared to some of his opponents. So from what I’ve seen, maybe a total of 20mins, Rosewall did have a great backhand. My problem is still that the play back then was so different that today’s players have to deal with a lot of extra details and of course the added pace. But that last backhand pass cross court with the stupid wood thing is quite nice.

The list at Tennis Magazine is long on the backhand shot. I could easily agree with Laver and Agassi. Don’t know enough about Trabert, Budge and Tilden, but my pick is still the short but explosive Jimmy Connors. I think probably for the player in the 70s, this guy was annoying as an opponent. He could hit that backhand pass any guy at the net and usually did it so straight forward and also hard. Wasn’t as fast as today but that guy was sometimes like a fire cracker.

The Contemporary picks I have no problem with. Federer – great, Nalbandian – perhaps even better, Gasquet – wow!, Youzhny – great too, Pavel – so nice and clean, Kuerten  – yes please, Gaudio – yes, but I wouldn’t pick this one, same with Marat. Safin at his best has a great backhand, but that’s the problem. When you find great shots, you need to sort them in a way that the ones who could use them as a weapon and that was consistent throughout their whole career, comes first. Safin consistent? No way.

And the ladies? You know what… Justine Henin gets my frickin’ vote. Better than Rosewall, better than Federer and all of the above. Connors did not have the same feel and flexibility as Henin. She is what… 4ft tall? Well at least in comparison to women’s Karlovic, which of course is Sharapova (6ft 2). With that height she hits it as hard as any ATP player and it is like a shotgun. When Henin is on fire, which she usually is, the backhand stays consistent too.

My pick based on what I’ve seen. (meaning watching whole matches and not 20min clips) Jimmy Connors and Justine Henin

Greatest shots

December 11, 2007

Tennis.com are taking a look at the best shots in tennis. First was serve, and naturally followed by the return. They conclude that Jimbo is the ultimate pick for the best return.

I think it is harder to determine what a good return is compared to those that are not. With the serve, either you have it or don’t have it. In today’s game any player on the Pro tour has a good return. Getting 130mph+ back in play is NOT easy. Connors definitely had a return that was effective against any type of serve. Hitting it early is the only way you can make an attacking move on the return and that was what he did every single time. Maybe he didn’t have much of a choice, playing every shot with almost no spin. But bageling was definitely his thing and is one of the very best returners measured in efficiency.

Then I think Agassi would go on the same list. Agassi had some amazing ways of attacking the server when he was on fire. I’m surprised he had so much trouble against Roddick. It seems like Agassi’s only problem was that to make his great return, he needed the serve to be hit close to him. I think Agassi lacks what Federer has; which is ability to return an impending ace. But what Agassi would lose on serve, he would get it back on return, and it became his signature shot.

I think Federer has one of the best returns and should be on the list, but Hewitt? He had a great return. I don’t know where it went. Too much inconsistency for my taste.

Here’s a clip of mr. Connors winning Wimby in 82, defeating McEnroe. For his returning skills look at the earlier parts. (this is part 6) They should show up when clip is done.

Greatest player of all time?!

October 4, 2007

This discussion is very active due to the fact that we have Mr. Federer potentially high up on that list. I think it is no point in trying to determine this. There is not one stat or result or achievement in the time period 1900-2007 which can rank one above the other. Is Laver the best, is Sampras the best, is Tilden the best, is Federer actually better than all of the above?

My initial thought is that it is impossible to compare two players from different eras. I claim that it is harder to achieve a 1st spot on the ranking today than it was 20-30 years ago. It is harder to win slams, and it’s harder to reach the ATP level. If you rank players from achievements one needs to consider this. If Federer wins all four slams in one calendar year, it is a greater achievement than Laver’s. In this pro environment, tennis is not a hobby anymore, it’s one of the toughest sports to succeed in. I am not saying that Laver gets to much credit, but it is important to separate different eras. In my opinion, the stat that should weigh the most is W-L ratio, % of tournaments won of those entered, Grand Slam W-L ration (as we now this is a priority in any time age)….

It’s hard to compare Laver and Federer for one more reason. Ranking is a necessary evil to separate the best from the 2nd best. Laver did not have to focus too much on every single tournament. Like I’ve said, even though people would disagree a lot, tennis was more hobby-like than it is today.(Which is true of many other sports as well).
I am going to try to compare those who have had a significant impact on tennis from 1968.
I will use the list on http://www.atptennis.com/5/en/legends/default.asp called legends.

Agassi: Won 76% of matches, won 60 titles between 86-06, 8 slams and all four
Ashe: won 76.83%, 33 titles last one in 78, 3 slams not in FO
Becker: 76.91%, 49 titles (1984-1999), 6 slams not in FO
Borg: 82.6%, 96 titles (61 ATP) (1973-1981), 11 slams not in AO & USO (uso final 4 times!!!)
Connors: 81.8%, 138 titles (109 ATP)(1975-1995), 8 slams, no FO
Edberg: 74.9%, 42 titles (83-96), 6 slams, not in FO(1 final)
Laver: 79.8%, 39 titles, 11 slams, won all four in 62 and 69
Lendl: 81.8%, 94 titles, 8 slams, not in Wimbledon (twice in final)
McEnroe: 81.8%, 98 titles (76 ATP), 7 slams, not in AO and Wimbledon
Nastase: 72.6%, 88 titles (53ATP), 2 slams, no record in AO, no Wimbledon (2 finals)
Newcombe: 75.9%, 68 titles (32 ATP), 5 slams, not in FO
Rafter: 65.2%!!, 11 titles!, 2 slams, only USO
Roche: 67.33%, 7 titles!, 1 slam in France
Rosewall, 74.7%, 121 titles, 8 slams, not in Wimbledon but 4 finals there!
Sampras: 77.4%, 64 titles (only ATP), 14 slams, not in France
Stan Smith: no % found, 35 titles, 2 slams
Bill Tilden: won a lot!
Vilas: 76.5%, 62 titles, 4 slams, not in Wimbledon
Wilander: 72%, 33 titles, 7 titles, no Wimbledon

Roger Federer: 80.4% (this will rise!), 51 titles (also up), 12 slams (up, up and up)

OK! I think there are a few who stand out in terms of dominating a period of time and winning a lot. The play on the court is also considered.
Bjorn Borg (was unbeatable in W and FO the few years he played, won a lot elsewhere too)
Jimmy Connors (incredible stats and won very very much! long career still over 80% ratio!)
Rod Laver (very dominant, especially in the slams)
Ivan Lendl (long career, a lot of wins)
McEnroe (over 80%, touch competition with Lendl, Connors, Edberg, Wilander+++)
Sampras (dominated the 90s. Would have been even more dominant without Agassi around)
Federer (has dominated the 00s so far, more so than Sampras did in the 90s, will probablt continue to dominate till 2010 and maybe even after that.)

There you have it! All of these could in one way or the other be claimed as the Greatest of all time. I think that Impressive stats from ATP era 1968- should be rewarded slightly more. The conclusion in 2015 I think will be that Federer could well be the Greatest Ever.

 And I forgot! The stats on winning streaks are just as important. Federer got to 41 or something before Canas took him down in California. Villas has 46! Lendl has 44, Borg 43, McEnroe 42, Muster! 35, Sampras 29, Agassi 26, Rafael Nadal 26.
Laver and the old guys are certainly not included here as this is only open era.