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Pat Cash: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are boring

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Pictured: A snooze-fest of a tennis match, according to Pat Cash. (Antoine Couvercelle/Icon SMI)

Pictured: A snooze-fest of a tennis match, according to Pat Cash. (Antoine Couvercelle/Icon SMI)

Move over, Ernests Gulbis. Pat Cash thinks this generation of players is boring, too. But for entirely different reasons.

In a blog post for CNN.com, the Australian champion says the type of grinding baseline tennis that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic play lacks skill.

“It’s not boring to see two great players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic compete in a final,” Cash writes. “What is getting mundane is watching the same tactic in every single match of every single grand slam for the last five or six years. Nowadays they all settle down and say ‘OK, this is going to be two hours of baseline rallies.’ The guy who outlasts the other one wins. It’s taken a lot of the skill out of tennis.”

“They are not better all-round players than the likes of Boris Becker or Pete Sampras,” he continues. “Boris and Pete were baseline players, they were attacking players and they could do it against baseliners like Mats Wilander or Andre Agassi. Now that was entertainment. You never knew which way it was going to go.”

I’m going to have to assume that Cash meant Becker and Sampras weren’t baseline players and that he’s lauding the contrasting styles that the were more prevalent before racket and string technology made pure attacking serve-and-volley tennis a suicide mission. That style contrast is still the reason why Roger Federer’s rivalry with Nadal remains the supreme modern rivalry in many people’s minds. The irony though is that with Nadal-Federer you actually do  know which way the match is probably going to go (hint: Rafa will win), while nowadays baseliner vs. baseliner matchups, such as Nadal-Djokovic or Djokovic-Murray, are much harder to call.

Cash also doesn’t buy the argument that today’s players are better athletes than the players of his generation.

“Nadal and Djokovic are exceptional athletes, there’s no doubt about it, but to say they are better athletes than past greats like Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg is just nonsense. This is some crap drummed up by somebody and I think it’s an insult to past players. Modern players don’t dive around the net, they don’t deliver backhand smashes, they don’t have to twist and turn like past generations.”

“Could modern players do that? We don’t know. What we do know is that they are incredibly good at retrieving shots from the back of the court.”

I don’t know, Pat. I think we do know if today’s players can do all those things:








  • Published On Sep 18, 2013
  • 63 comments
    RichardChattman
    RichardChattman

    Play the cards you're dealt.  All current players have the best in racquet technology.  Old style serve and volley doesn't cut it against any player with acumen.  This doesn't mean players can't but they do know the player across the net has that racquet technology.  BTW, Pat Cash was right about Serena Williams too. 

    jess28
    jess28

    hmm. not too sure about all that Pat Cash has asserted here but I do find "greatest ever" statements to be silly. These modern guys are great in this era, the others were great for their era. I find Roger Federer's style much more interesting to watch than Nadal's. Federer's artistry speaks to me more - it's just a preference though, not better or worse. Same with the women's game. I appreciate the athleticism of retrieval tennis and the consistency of baseliners - I simply find it less engaging to watch.

    DavidHarte
    DavidHarte

    Pat Cash is sounding like an aging fool.  Nadal is simply a spectacular athlete, far better than the players of the past: faster, stronger, with more stamina and physical toughness.  Conners played at 150 (sopping wet), and Johnny Mac and Borg were not much bigger.  While Borg was the best athlete of the three (the story is the Swede could run a remarkably fast 440 time), he always lacked the dynamic power and speed of Nadal.  Watch the tape.  The Tennis Channel plays the best matches of the 70s and 80s often, and the contrast is striking.

    Pete Sampras at his very best must be in the conversation with Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal.

    Still, they rarely if ever play old Pat Cash matches.  For a reason.

    CarlosKeith
    CarlosKeith

    While generational bias is surely at play, Cash has a point as far as entertainment value.  At some point racquet technology (combined with the balls used at Wimbledon) turned grass court tennis into a serving contest.  You would have men's matches with no breaks of serve.  But now grass court tennis isn't as different to watch as other surfaces and they play a similar game so we end up with less variety due to surface.  Today, the game has tilted too far in punishing approaching the net which results in a loss of variety and entertainment value.    

    RD
    RD

    I agree that tennis now is boring.  I wish Tennis would make the rackets less powerful and put some fun back in the game.  I also wish Wimbledon would speed up the courts like they used to be instead of slowing them down for more rallies.

    fiord7
    fiord7

    a matter of opinion mr cash. noting was more boring to me than watching serve and volley tennis over and over again.   those pete sampras  pete (sampras) with no personality serving hard, rush net volley for winner...how mundane is that???

    SenorPlaid
    SenorPlaid

    He's right, due entirely to the powers that be deciding to not place any limits on the technology of the game; i.e., the racket. Regardless of how many (or few) video examples you post of people volleying, anyone who pays even the slightest attention to today's tennis knows that baseline power tennis dominates the game. If that's what you like, great. If you don't, sorry, tennis isn't for you anymore.

    uk
    uk

    I have been watching Tennis for over 30 years since the 70s. Each generation has its own level of play. Having said that if you compare the Borg McEnroe time to todays game and compare the styles, Tennis today is far more accomplished. Some of those players including ROd Laver and Ken Rosewall were just pushing the ball back and doing touch volleys. Borg came to the net net far more often than players of today. It actually got more exciting with Boris and Cash and Andre, Stefan Edberg. Even Ivan Lendly used to come to the net. But they certainly lost a fair share of their net points. Often times they won the game because of aces or good services and an occasionally winning volley. I don't know the ground stroke speed for those payers in the 90s but players today have ground strokes in the 80s and 90 mph. Borg hit a lot of passing shots but I think the skill at volleying then was not that great -see McEnroe and others at that time. Andre did not give you much time with his rapid response. he was a fantastic player to watch as was Boris. The Volley players of late 80's until 2005 were remarkable. Then Pistol Pete came along and because he was poorer at baseline could not handle the French Open.  Its easier to serve and volley on grass but not on Clay and Hard courts and with slower courts and balls, the opponent has much more time to pass you. But you cannot win on the French Clay and Wimbledon grass without having a good baseline game. The fact that only Borg, Andre, Nadal and Roger have done so corroborates that. And Novak will win it one day, perhaps next year. Having said that, these guys are amazing athletes not just at the back of the court , but all over. The amazing skill with which they get to the net for drop shots from way behind the line and then go back to recover from the point is amazing. There has not been a more flexible player than Novak or more graceful than Roger and more tenacious with a fiery elan than Rafa. There is absolute brilliance in their shot making. But there was never a better Tennis player with a second serve than Pete. Even Roger was a serve and volley player back in 2001 when he beat Pete but the ease with which he could pass Pete was quite obvious. Some of you who have not seen that match should watch it again because here is a player (RF)  that changed from a serve and volley style to a predominantly baseline game by 2004. And as World No 1, in 2004 (oe of his best years) he got beat in straight sets by Rafa.  I think Pat Cash needs to look at that match and see the speed with which Rafa's backhand strokes were being hit. I think most volley players would have had a tough time with that. he had a flat backhand then which he changed for the French Open to a more defensive top spin backhand. Even Andre showed that you could win without a serve and volley game and he was exhilarating to watch. Pete could get boring but todays matches - boring. Their shots skirt lines for winner, hitting angles you rarely saw previously. What has happened to our volley players, Cilic, Stachkovsky,Ivanesivic, Stepanek, etc. The best players today are those that volley well and play the baseline well  (and I would include Safin in them just unpredictable but very talented). Against today's players, I think most of them have made a decision to come to the net when the time appears right rather than a "pre-meditated" mechanical approach to the net after every serve. It was obvious that the thought process and coaching then was - go to the net and occupy the middle of the court there and make them pass you. Today's players stand farther back ala Borg and therefore get more returns in but with fewer return winners like you used to see in the past. Is the game boring?- there was more shot making in the Wimbledon 2008 finals than in so many previous finals. If you to ask me which 5 set match would I rather watch - Roger-Rafa (2008 Wimbledon), or Stan-Novak (12-10 fifth set), or Novak-Rafa (AO 2012) or del Potro-Novak  and compare that to Cash-Edberg or McEnroe-Borg of Pete-Agassi 5 set? You know my answer. A resounding yes to the current players. It does not mean that serve and volley does not require amazing skill sets.  Having said that I would love to have at least one outstanding serve and volley player with a great baseline game show up and have the balls to gut it out with these boys. Just one last question for Pat Cash - why did Roger switch styles?

    emma1
    emma1

    pat cash is the same idiot who said that serena williams was "washed up" back in 2007 and that she'd never win another grand slam - she was on #7 back then and now she's on #17 - so pat cash's opinion is of no value whatsoever!!

    arunachalam017
    arunachalam017

    Pat Cash by his comments degrading the epic match at New York & other such finals involving Nadal & Federer has insulted the millions of people who enjoyed such matches these years. Had these stars been boring guys, the stadiums would ve been empty with no vips including Hollywood stars, sports celebrities like Beckam, would ve wasted their time & money. Let Cash interview the vip viewers who watched such matches in the stadiums whether they enjoyed US open final & other such finals he reffered to involving such great tennis stars at least.Truth is one & utter lies arising out of , may be out of jealousy, can not hide this  for ever. The clouds can hide the SUN, the eternal Truth for some time, but  not always. Pat Cash can not be patted on his back for such comments that do not go well with the reality that can be seen from the faces of the enthusiastic spectators on & off the court all over the world.If these stars do not play, tournament organisers ll burn their fingers with no gate collections, Mr. Cash. Tennis too may perish slowly, we remind.Only ur period was boring as indicated in lesser popularity & lesser payments.

    serfan
    serfan

    I agree watching Nadal and Djokovic is boring. As I like neither player they do not elicit any emotion like Federer does.

    Even though Nadal has beaten Federer on numerous occasion as a Fed fan I always feel the day Federer lets go of his fear he can win. Pat cash sucked then and he still sucks.

    tennisrocks
    tennisrocks

    Let's see. Pat Cash won one (1) major and a grand total of six (6) tournaments. SIX TOURNAMENTS TOTAL! Djokovic has won that many majors; Nadal more than twice as many majors. It would seem Pat Cash is being paid to promote controversy, not to cover or promote the sport. I'd much rather hear from John McEnroe or Rod Laver who had tennis talent that was proven on multiple surfaces and are interested in why and how tennis has changed rather than short-changing past, present or future players.

    SarojaKantaSwain
    SarojaKantaSwain

    What cash is telling is rubbish , Today's players are more athlete , more agile , play long duration ,earlier players just to end the point as quick as possible. That was different era , Now this is different era . should not be compared .

    Bennet_D
    Bennet_D

    While I don't agree with everything Cash says, I concur with the "boring" part. A recent proof of it was the 54-stroke rally Nadal and Djokovic played at the US Open final that people raved about. They seldom went for the lines, and the point wasn't even decided by a winner but an error. Personally, I don't find that exciting; it's the sort of play seen on practice courts.

    Vinny Cordoba
    Vinny Cordoba

    Here was a typical Sampras/Becker match:

    Serve, return, volley put away. 15 love

    Ace. 30-love

    Double fault: 30-15

    Serve, return, volley put away: 40-15

    Ace: Game



    RosalieBernard
    RosalieBernard

    Lol, lol.......Pat who? Wait, isn't he the guy who got his butt whipped by a 14 year old Nadal? Still hurts like hell I see!!!

    deanobear
    deanobear

    pat cash just assured us he is still an idiot, if there was any doubt over the matter

    Shake
    Shake

    Cash is just way way off. Hitting a big serve, moving ot the net and hitting one or two volleys require a lot less skill than what the players of today do. The truth is today's players are great at all things whereas previous generations only had a few players that were great at everything. I will give you Borg but Becker ? Give me a break. The guy couldn't do anything on clay. Likewise with Sampras. Fed and Nadal can play with anyone on any surface from any time period. I don't think you can say that about previousgenerations. Hardcourts barely existed until the 80s and Borg quit when the USO was played on green clay.  Nadal is only beginning to scratch the surface on his career outside of clay. Cash's argument might have been correct about Nadal in the mid 2000s when all he had was clay titles. It is not longer true after two Wimbledons, an Australian Open and two US Open titles. Cash forgets what makes players great is that they ADJUST no matter what the conditions of the time are. Nadal is a throwback player in the mold of a Connors or Borg. Djokovic's idol was Sampras and that's how he patterned his game early on. Cash is simply looking at the symptoms of today's game and drawing the wrong conclusion. The surface speeds have slowed down a little but that was because the ITF and ATP wanted to bring more not less skill to the game. The medium is good right now because it doesn't completely neutralize the big server. We saw Nadal crash the net at the USO to finish BIG points. That in an of itself is telling.

    ArifMakhdzir
    ArifMakhdzir

    How many grand slams did this dude win? Oh 1, that makes sense..

    mwu
    mwu

    Pat Cash is right: Tennis today is an endurance sport masquerading as a skill sport. There's no need for precision with today's racquets and strings, leading to little flexibility to overcome an opponent with varied tactics.

    As far as who's the best tennis athlete, that probably depends on your personal criteria for what defines an athlete. (Endurance? Hypertrophic forearms and biceps? Fast-twitch muscles? Leaping ability? Precision in movement?)

    WOOO000HOOO000
    WOOO000HOOO000

    Strokes for folks - my opinion, today's era contains better trained athletes, not better athletes.  I would love to see today's training combined with the variety of the prior generations.  Today's physical style is the end result of a perfect confluence of events, i.e. slower courts, slower balls, better stamina, better strings, and a more 'factory' based approach in terms of teaching young talent.  I still think that an attacking game, while containing the lowest margin for error, is still the best method of success in the game - however it requires a much higher level of precision and skill (not necessarily athleticism) to master.  It's difficult to teach this - a much longer learning curve in today's instant gratification world.  Regardless, I find watching Nadal will his way to victory over Novak and Federer by relentlessly grinding every bit as entertaining as watching Sampras serve his way out of trouble, and constantly attack.

    MCB
    MCB

    I grew up during the era of Sampras, Cash, Becker, etc. I actually prefer watching baseline rallies because there are actual tactics involved in constructing a point. Not that watching serve/volley isn't fun in its own way. It would be interested to watch vintage Cash have to figure out a way to beat boring Nadal or Novak. I would imagine that he would be routinely dismissed.

    unifiedairway
    unifiedairway

    This is a fact: Pat Cash is deluded.  This is not news to anyone who has been watching tennis over the past 15-20years.  I knew he was a fool when he wrote Serena Williams off in 2007's Australian Open.  Granted, Serena is an anomaly of nature in a positive way but his distate for SW (and JMac) was blatantly obvious.  He was wrong and wrote an apology.

    Why am I bringing this up?  Well, that is the reputation he has.  Always negative.   He sounds like a bitter stepmother in a badly scripted disney movie in bad makeup.  Athletes today are stronger, and last longer.  They may also be bolder.  Just accept it.  How do you serve >125mph after 4hrs of running along the baseline?  Where do you get the mental courage of making a drop shot at matchpoint in a tiebreak?

    However, I have to agree with him that these baseline slugfests can be ridiculous at times.  But, I am not a fan of serve and volley for 2-3hrs.  When you do combine the fine touch with power (Federer, SW, ARadwanska and to some extent, Nadal), it is a fine product.  Plus, nothing pleases me more than contrasting styles.  

    I do like the ridiculousness of spinning the balls though.  If you've ever handled that Mr.Cash, you would respect these players more.

    Scott Johnson
    Scott Johnson

     @TennisJedi007 There are many things you are no putting in this equation of yours. 

    String technology has very much improved over the last decade, leading to more spin and baseline rallying tactics. If Sampras tried serving and volleying against Nadal on any surface today other than grass he would have little success. The reason? Is Nadal better than those of the past? No. He is one of the greatest and may even end up being the greatest, but top level sport is always fine margins. The reason is string technology allows someone like Nadal, or djokovic to simply making passing shots past an opponent at the net a lot easier. In the past they had to come up with an incredible shot, now, they can actually play a passing shot with control. This means that they can do it time and time again. Players of the past had to gamble more with passing shots.

    I agree though that a serve and volley game, or at least the tactic could certainly be implemented in today's game effectively. For example, Nadal and djokovic win a lot more points against each other when they come to the net at the right time, as opposed to waiting for the ball to come back to them to continue to the rally. Just, it would require greater variation in tactics than a serve and volley of the past, meaning, they would inevitably have to slug it out on the baseline still. Its a shame that nobody is really using a serve and volley game anymore, it would add even greater depth to style contrasts. But, i personally will take todays heavyweight game of trading stamina sapping blows over quick rallies that end with one big serve then a volley to finish it off. Im a Nadal fan, and watching the Djokovic-Nadal US Open final this year had me on the edge of my seat. The long rallies create suspense, who will blink first, its simply epic. I feel exhausted after watching it due to the emotions of even just watching such a match. I feel nothing on par with that with the past generation. Also, anybody that thinks guys like djokovic and Nadal arent playing tactically against each other, instead just trying to out muscle or outlast one another is living in fantasy land, whether youre Pat Cash or not. Nadal and Djokovic have had many swings in momentum over the years, purely due to tactical changes, be it Djokovics fitness, the two handed backhand down the line to Nadals weaker wing, or Nadals recent switch to pummelling Djokovics forehand, Nadal being more aggressive to shorten rallies etc. 

     I personally think the game is better now than it ever has been, mostly due to having 3 all time greats in one era, true all time greats. We have perhaps the best two players of all time playing in this era as well, Federer and Nadal. Tennis might not be any more exciting for years to come as we watch Nadal try to catch Federer's slam record. 

    Weve got to take into consideration as well that the top 3 players in the world right now are defensive minded, so inevitably there are going to be long rallies since each player would be out of character to go for broke, say, like Federer would, who is much more offensive. Are we saying that guys like Tsonga and Del Potro are boring? If anyone says they are boring then i think they are watching the wrong sport, tennis isnt for them. Its just that right now, the defensive guys are on top, maybe the next generation of top dogs will be more offensive minded and we will all be having the same conversation in reverse. 'Oh, tennis inst what it used to be, i miss the days when Nadal and Djokovic would make 50 shot rallies from the back of the court, these guys today can only make 15 shot rallies...' lol. Its how we are. We never truly appreciate what we have till we no longer have it.

    If i watch a match in the early stages of a grand slam between two guys ive never seen before that dont light the audience on fire, it does indeed get rather boring, back and forth swings from the baseline without any real sting, without that killer instinct to finish the rally. It just feels endless, even when they are short matches. Perhaps once this era's big four retire, tennis will indeed be boring. Perhaps it is only exciting to many out there due to whos doing it, as opposed to what they are doing. But only time will answer that.

    Dont bring in guys like Haas and Hewitt in order to compare and take digs at todays generation. Bottom line is this, Hewitt would ride between number 8-15 in the world if he was in his peak today. Yes, even now hes capable of some good wins, but in truth the generation between Sampras and Nadal-Djokovic was a weak one. And for Haas, well, he is playing how he should have done if it wasnt for injuries and so on back when he was in his prime years. And lets not forget he is a former world number 2, way back in 2002! And for Moya, as good as he was, dont go comparing him to this generations best. Regardless of technological advances.

    Vinny Cordoba
    Vinny Cordoba

    @uk , Borg-McEnroe 1980 Wimby and US Open finals were both classics of contrasting styles, tension, amazing shotmaking and courage. I'd easily put those up with the modern epics.

    SiddharthHaribhai
    SiddharthHaribhai

    @arunachalam017 i think he meant the tennis has been boring as a whole not rafa djokovic cos nowadays the game has become too baseliney for my liking. its depressing

    pat.davis148
    pat.davis148

    @tennisrocks  I kind of agree with Pat, the rivalry is getting a tad boring, would much rather watch Rafa and Fed provided Fed is up to it.  And before we trash Pat Cash completely on this board, please remember what Peter Bodo said, that when the chips are down and the match is on the line, the player he would pick would be Cash.  I was surprised when I read that back when, but then I am remembering he could be a bit tenacious.  Always liked his jewelery!:0)

    SiddharthHaribhai
    SiddharthHaribhai

    @SarojaKantaSwain but saroj u got to acknowledge the courts were faster in those days so u cud end the point faster nowadays the courts are slow hence u have to hit 20+ shots to get 1 point its gone overboard. courts should be fast for hard and grass and clay is fine to be slow.

    Anindita
    Anindita

    @Vinny Cordobanot quite. watch the indoor matches between becker agassi davis cup 1989 and becker sampras 1996 at stuttgart/ hannover. the surfaces were fast hard or indoor carpet but there were many baseline rallies over 15 strokes and terrific all court play from all 3 players. yes the courts were faster but they were playing superb all court tennis.  

    RD
    RD

    @Vinny Cordoba Now days I'd like to see that instead of the same old boring, hitting the hell out of the ball over and over and over and over and over and over again.  IT'S BORING!!!

    mpm
    mpm

    Yeah, it hurt him so bad that he is still crying out loud. Pat must be an idiot!!!!!!

    SiddharthHaribhai
    SiddharthHaribhai

    @Shake but shake u got to admit with due respect to nadal if he had played in the olden days do u really think he would have wimbledon let alone the usa open cos the courts were fast then and favoured attacking players he would have been lucky with the amount of slams hes got now probably the clay court master. 

    CdotPdotM
    CdotPdotM

    @PaulHewson Who, outside of the most incestuous corners of pro-Federer websites, calls Nadal "Nadull"?  I mean, look, you don't like the guy -- fine.  Your business; no one has any particular reason to care one way or the other whom you find exciting and who you don't.  

    But acting like "Nadull" is a thing?  Sorry, chief.  Not a thing.  And, given its utter lack of wit, never gonna be a thing.

    unifiedairway
    unifiedairway

    @mwu Not sure I am so passionate about this.  Maybe it's because I used to be an athlete.  Or maybe it is just rude for you to assume there is limited skill in Tennis.

    Tennis is a skill sport.  Maybe you don't see it because the balls are moving so fast.  I urge you to visit a slam or masters in person.  Or even a WTA premier.  You will appreciate the skill of placing a 125mph serve outwide and running straight to the net to drop it into the open court.  It takes skill to return that serve as well and keep it from going into the stands.  You do realize these guys are returning (returning) faster than some baseball pitchers?  Have you seen a car speed at 100mph?

    unifiedairway
    unifiedairway

    @mwu You are right: tennis IS an endurance sport.  But you can't run around forever-you also have to hit winners which takes a lot of strength these days.  However, I still maintain Cash is wrong to just dismiss these guys because of their ability to sustain heavy slugfests.  Yes, it can get monotonous out there but can you point out a sport (with the exception of basketball, soccer and cycling) with better athletes who combine cardiovascular fitness with strength training?  Plus, aside from boxing, you are mentally your own captain.  


    With respect to your "lack of precision" statement, I am going to assume you didn't watch the French Open or US Open this year?  There was a lot of line painting and angled drop shots kissing lines this year.

    Scott Johnson
    Scott Johnson

    @mwu If youre trying to say that Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray have little skill, then i urge you to reconsider whatever you think is skill. Being a defensive master is every bit as skilful as being an offensive one. If anything, todays game requires even greater precision than in past generations due to the extended rallies, meaning you have to hit more shots to win a point. 

    Players today are far better at defending, meaning, its harder to hit winners, winners have to be 'more precise'. Nadal has no problems hitting winners against say, Del Potro. But against djokovic, Nadals game is pushed to the limit, as is Novaks, as they both have supreme defence which is 'skill'. If you dont believe me, i ask that you go on a tennis court and try and absorb heavy shots from the back of the court, while not giving your opponent a loose ball, and then counter to finish the rally with a winner. 

    unifiedairway
    unifiedairway

    @WOOO000HOOO000 ...I don't know--I think the modern game is more interesting.  The players are nicer but the game is brutal.  There have been Sampras matches that lasted 3-4hours and it was obvious that there was no back up plan.  I respect Pete (I don't respect Cash) but the days of serve and volley point-after-point are over.  I feel like you are forced to construct a point and develop a strategy based on the modern game.  If he feels it is all power, there are many, many players on the ATP and WTA that should be winning.  But they don't...because they cannot construct points.

    Buzios
    Buzios

    @pat.davis148 @tennisrocks  Really! in that case Peter Bodo is talking humbug. Face it, Pat Cash lost to a 14 year old Nadal and never got over it. Besides if this Bodo guy was right then perhaps Pat's record should at least be 50% of Nadal's but its less than 10% if that.

    SiddharthHaribhai
    SiddharthHaribhai

    @Scott Johnson @mwu i agree with u but if roger nadal djokovic played in the era where the courts were fast and clay is the same as before who would u say would have the most slams and i cn guarantee u federer would the most versatile player of all time

    WOOO000HOOO000
    WOOO000HOOO000

    @unifiedairway @WOOO000HOOO000 I definitely agree that point construction is a huge facet of today's game.  Subtle changes in tactics have hugely changed the dynamic of the Nadal-Djokovic rivalry, and it's been incredibly fun to watch.  I do understand what you are saying about Pete...there was a certain facet of his game that said I'm going to attack, and on my best day I am going to beat you because my weapons are bigger.  However, I do feel that point construction was equally as strong 15-40 years ago as well, just different.  Serve and volleyers have to master the art of geometry...ie where to hit approach shots and volleys to minimize risk of passing shots, and where to cut off angles.  There is a reason why Sampras won 14 majors and philippoussis won 0, despite similar skills on paper.  Pete knew how to move at net and where to put volleys to keep him in a high percentage position (Rafter even more-so).  Mark often lost patience and went for low percentage locations (both from back-court and from baseline).  In addition, because there were players like Agassi, Kafelnikov, or Courier who broke guys down from the backcourt, I believe that the subtle adjustments were less obvious to the audience, as a baseliner still remained at the baseline, and the net player still rushed the net, whereas today both players are already back so our brains focus more on the minute adjustments.

    gr8sou
    gr8sou

    @WOOO000HOOO000 @unifiedairway agree with all u said...n thats why when Sampras was up 40-0  or 40-15 the game was as good as over...but today even when rafa is down 0-40 he has the brains to change the tactic, vary his serve and can still fight out the game...see this is where tennis of today scores over yesterday...players just dont play, they construct points and that is done by using ur strengths and analyzing your opponents weaknesses...imagine sampras without his big serve...how much slam would you give him? n look at rafa...with arguably the weakest serve (in terms of power which robs him off free points on aces), he has raked up 13 slams in a era of federer and nole...seriously, just tenacity and perseverance wont take u to these levels of glory...u need talent and u need the brain to use the talent in the right way...not sure if Pat cash knows what he is talking abt...he wud have got torn apart by a rafa or a nole if he were to face them today!!!