By In Stuff

Sock it to me

On the day after the French Open began, I did a video about how you could already tell that there certainly would be no impact from American men. Predicting that no American man will  reach, say, the semifinal of a grand slam event is no prediction at all these days — it is like predicting that Sepp Blatter will win reelection as FIFA president. No American man has reached the semifinal of a Slam this decade — the last was Andy Roddick, when he reached the Wimbledon final in 2009.*

*I remain convinced, by the way, that Roddick should come out of retirement to play in Davis Cup. It seems to me that, on the right surface, he’s still a threat and along with John Isner and the Bryan Brothers, that could make the United States at least somewhat dangerous as a team (on the right surface). It’s not going to happen, of course, but I think it would be pretty cool … and would make the Davis Cup interesting in America again.

In any case, there are no Americans in the Top 10 again, only one (Isner) in the Top 25, and the ages of the Top ranked Americans does not suggest great things are on the horizon:

No. 16 John Isner: Just turned 30.
No. 37 Jack Sock: 23 in September.
No. 38 Sam Querrey: 38 in July
No. 52 Donald Young: 26 in July
No. 58 Steve Johnson: 26 in December
No. 73 Tim Smyczek: 28 in December
No. 118 Austin Krajicek: 25 in June
No. 126 Ryan Harrison: Just turned 23
No. 136 Denis Kudla: 23 in August
No. 147 Rajeev Ram: Just turned 31
No. 149 Bjorn Fratangelo: 22 in July

There’s a reason I put the birth months of these guys — tennis is a sport where, generally, tennis playes peak young and age quickly. The youngest player on this list, Frantangelo, is 21 years and 10 months old. By that age, Rafael Nadal had won four French Opens and reached two Wimbledon finals. Roger Federer had won Wimbledon. Novak Djokovic had won the Australian Open and reached the semi-finals of all four Grand Slams. Andy Murray had reached a U.S. Open final.

For that matter, Andy Roddick had won the U.S. Open, Pete Sampras had won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, Andre Agassi had reach two French Open finals and a U.S. Open final … it’s just very rare to find a great men’s tennis player in recent times who had not already flashed great talent and had great results by the time they turned 22 or so. There might be an American wave of juniors on the horizon, but logic suggested that — and this has been true for a long time — there was no American man who could even be a Cinderella Story at this year’s French Open.

Then came Jack Sock.

It’s too early to call him a Cinderella story, of course. Monday, he plays Rafael Nadal which means that by the time you read this he already might be a straight set loser in the Round of 16, hardly front page news. But it’s also true that Sock’s first round knockout of Dmitrov and destruction of Croatia’s 18-year-old phenom Borna Coric was impressive. The forehand is huge. The serve is big. And he has already stunned the tennis world by teaming with Canada’s Vasek Pospisil to beat the Bryans in the Wimbledon doubles final last year. No, he doesn’t seem to me to have the game to really contend with the greatest players but there’s something cool about him, including his name.

In my view, men’s tennis has never been better. You have Djokovic playing about as well as anyone has ever played, you have the old master Federer still playing at an absurdly high level, you have the mighty Nadal fighting off injury after injury, you have the mercurial Murray who limps around and looks half-beaten and then can play tennis that takes your breath away. Among the contenders are Kei Nishikori, who hits the most perfect groundstrokes I’ve ever seen, and Stan Wawrinka with that gorgeous backhand, and Marin Cilic, who sometimes looks invincible, and Raonic with his cannon serve and the beloved David Ferrer, who comes into the war with a straw and a few spitballs and just stays in there on sheer will.

It would be so great to have an American or two in that mix because, let’s face it, without an American in the mix, tennis can only matter so much to an American audience. This is true everywhere. Last year’s U.S. Open Final was the lowest rated ever, and last year’s Wimbledon final — despite the thrilling matchup of Djokovic and Federer — was down double digit percentages from the year before and was one of the lowest rated

In other words, it would be fantastic for American tennis if Jack Sock can keep going. I said in my video that there was no chance for an American man in Paris. I’d love to be wrong.

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24 Responses to Sock it to me

  1. Andy says:

    This doesn’t change the overall point, but Sam Querry is not 38. I looked it up and he is 27.

    I do think tennis has changed just a bit and that we haven’t seen the really young guys dominate the way we did in the past.

  2. project18 says:

    Men’s tennis has never been better?

    Joe, that’s one big “lol”. Federer is ranked 2 in the world despite being 6-7 years past his peak. Nadal has won 1 of his last 13 tournaments and is ELEVENTH in the points race in 2005, and is just about to turn 29. Before this years Australian Open, Murray had a 1 and a half year streak where he didnt beat a top 10 opponent, and even dropped out of the top 10 once. Djokovic is the only one of the top 4 that is still in his prime, and hes 28, so don’t be surprised if his decline commences soon.

    Moreover, the average age of a top 100 player is higher than its ever been — BY FAR. and there doesn’t seem to be any wunderkinds on the horizon. So, tennis is now OLDER than its ever been, the players on top aren’t as good as they used to be, and the two most hyped-up prospects, Kyrgios and Coric, have not won a tournament yet. If i wanna pile on, I could also say that the conditions are more homogenized than they’ve ever been and all-court and especially serve-and-volley tennis is dead. But, let’s just focus on the quality of the tour: it stinks right now. It disappoints me that you, not usually one to churn out platitudes, would lazily come to the conclusion that tennis is better now than ever, just because we’re in the present moment and thus it HAD TO have improved. In a sport lacking parity, the stark decline of 3 of its 4 most dominant players is hard to compensate for.

    • Byrne says:

      the only way to conclude that “tennis has never been better” is that PEDs aside, you’re going to have 3 of the top 6 or 7 men’s players of all-time playing during this era…perhaps 3 of the top 5 when Nadal and Djoker retire.

      A simple cursory glance at the current top 25 on the ATP Tour would negate the rest of Joe’s post. Freaking Ivo Karlovic, who is 36 and only possesses a huge serve and little else, is in the top 25. 16 of the current top 25 players on tour are 27 or older with those 16 players averaging 31 years of age.

      And 5 or so years from now thanks to Nadal, Djoker, Soderling and Ferrer, among others, this era of men’s tennis will be known as the PED era.

      IMO opinion, men’s tennis has never been more boring. There are basically only 3 types of players.

      1- Nadal, Djoker, Murray, Ferrer, Gilles Simon all essentially play a very similar style with a near impenetrable defensive game through fantastic speed, court coverage, and the ability to feed balls back into court from seemingly impossible positions. And they can do it indefinitely, without apparently tiring. It destroys most opponents through sheer attrition and backcourt power, and exposes the prevalent weakness in the transition and attacking game of modern players. Few today can volley successfully. Most are afraid to approach the net. Everyone today is effectively a baseliner or full-on moonballer, but some are clearly much better at it than others. Thanks to HGH & EPO this has become the norm.

      2- The Seppi types who are lacking big weapons or superior consistency or athleticism, and driven seemingly mad trying to find a part of the court than the first group can’t get to. Also, when the Seppi types do have a chance to finish the point near the net or off a short ball, like so many players today, he butchers the shot.

      3- The Isner/Raonic/Kevin Anderson group – big 6 foot 5+ guys with poor movement who possess only a huge serve and (usually erratic) forehand. They only chance they have to win a big tourney is if they’re serving 85% in each set.

      You know what this era is? A combination of baseball’s PED era mixed with trap/dead-puck era hockey. How anyone could find this era the best is beyond me…unless of course they’re barely even casual fans and by this post, I’m not even sure Joe qualifies as a casual tennis fan. The funny thing is Joe’s taken down some baseball writers for writing garbage like this, but I guess since it’s a fringe sport in the US, it’s ok.

    • Ed says:

      I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but Federer being 2nd in the world in his mid-30s is more a statement on how absolutely unbelievable Federer is than an indictment on the rest of tennis. He’s still able to beat Djokovic… he’s definitely the underdog, but he’s capable of winning without it being a shock.

      I think there’s a legitimate argument that Federer right now is a better player than Federer in his prime except for one (important) aspect — his speed/agility/whatever you want to call it. He’s older and a step slower than he was in his prime, which is a HUGE thing in tennis… but everything else about his game is at least comparable, if not improved (I think his current backhand is better than it was in his prime).

      It also seems like he loses focus more often than he did in his prime, but I’m not sure that’s his age as much as his family, etc.

      Regardless, he’s a marvel and I’m glad he’s still out there playing. Otherwise, yes… the technology, court homogenization, etc. has sucked some of the life out of the sport.

  3. project18 says:

    Not to mention, the “best of the rest” isn’t quite as good as they’re cracked out to be, or are on the north side of their prime. Ferrer is 33. Wawrinka is 30. Nishikori is 25 and has never won a big tournament. Not a slam, a Year end championship or a masters tournament,(of which there are 9 in a calendar year, so plenty of opportunities to).

    Raonic has also never won anything better than an ATP 500, Cilic is plagued by injuries and is turning 27 soon, Berdych is 30 and has only won one masters tournament in, what, 70 or 80 tries? That one tournament being 10 years ago.

    Del Potro was destined to be a mainstay in the top 5 but now it looks like his wrist will never fully heal and he can’t even finish a match. Tsonga is 30, and out of the top 15.

  4. project18 says:

    Correction, Nadal is eleventh in the points race in 2015** :p

  5. PaulS says:

    Advantage Project18? Your serve, Joe.

  6. project18 says:

    Ed, you make some fine points about Federer. His ranking IS more a testament to his greatness as a player. Hell, im a Fed fanatic so I couldnt possibly bring myself to disagree with that 😛

    However, I think you underestimate how much Federers game has declined. Movement and endurance are two parts of his game that you acknowledged have plummeted, but you missed the most obvious one: his forehand. Federers forehand at its zenith was arguably the greatest shot in the history of the sport. Now its a shell of what it used to be. A lot spinnier and nowhere near as destructive, particularly the I/O forehand.

    And the backhand? Well, I’ll wholeheartedly agree that its better now than from 2010-2013 but…..Federers backhand from 2003-2007 was great in its own right, and could handle anything hit its way, sans shoulder-high balls on clay.

    Regardless, Federers game isn’t predicated on otherwordly athleticism, so many foresaw that he would age gracefully. But being a deserving number 2 at the age of 33-going-on-34….I just….that’s too much.

  7. Marco says:

    Every time someone mentions Roddick, I feel compelled to mention that he could beat you with a frying pan.

  8. The highest level of tennis play ever was roughly 2007-2009 era Nadal/Federer, though Djokovic was close to or at that level in 2011 as well; but didn’t have as good of competition. Women’s Tennis is perhaps at it’s worst level ever by contrast, which is rather amusing considering on of the all time greats is playing, but it is hard to imagine any other excellent female tennis player not doing extremely well (likely better than Serena) in this era. I think Men’s Tennis has the potential to supercede Nadal/Federer at some point in the next few decades but not immediately, Nishikori is the best bet right now to reach the highest level.

    • Serena’s going to be 35 in a couple of months. Isn’t she crazy old to still be dominating? Her sister stopped being a factor years ago. Is Serena just awesome, or is she using something…. like some of the commenters said Nadal, Federer, et all are doing.

      • I have no idea whether Serena is using anything, shoving balls up asses comments aside. But she does have a huge physical advantage over the competition, 20-25 lbs of muscle; could very well be entirely natural but I think the physical gap is one of her largest advantages and only someone like younger Henin could really compete with it due to better overall fitness/mobility.

        • A few clarifications: The first sentence is a reference to the US Open a few years ago after her infamous clash with a referee/ball person, got me thinking at the time but it was mostly just amusing.

          20-25 lbs is a lot to begin with but considering the average Women’s Tennis player is anywhere between 100-110 lbs the advantage is even larger, a 25% mass advantage is ridiculous in something like Boxing or even Baseball/Football; particularly if you can maintain the same level of fitness. Now I think the Women’s game could benefit from having 5 sets instead of 3 sets and this would probably lessen Serena’s advantage (though it certainly wouldn’t negate it). There’s no reason these athletes can’t do 5 sets, especially given the more volatile/blowout nature of the Women’s game. We seldom get matches that go to 7-5/7-6, and even when we do they take 1 hour and 45 minutes tops as opposed to the 5-6 hour matches which can happen in Men’s Tennis.

          • Marc Schneider says:

            The real question is whether the men’s matches at the slams need to be five sets. It’s a bid odd that most of the tournaments for both men and women are best-of-three but the grand slams are five sets for men. It would be like lengthening baseball games to 11 innings only in the playoffs. But the five setters do provide compelling tennis; at the same time they increase the advantage for the top players. I enjoy the long rallies and the drama, but I wonder about having matches that go 5 or 6 hours like the Djokovich/Nadal final at the Australian Open a few years ago. That cannot be good for their health and longevity in the game.

            IIRC, a few years ago, there was an experiment to have the women play 5 setters. Obviously, it didn’t take hold.

  9. I’m a very casual tennis fan. But I find this interesting. So, as long as Nadal, Federer, Murray and Djokovic are in the mix, the tournament has the feel of an excellent and competitive tournament. And probably the matches will also be great.

    I do understand that the next wave of young guns is not apparent. But, isn’t that often the case? We never know who the next “guy” is going to be. Maybe we “think” we see some promising guys, but we never know. That guy could pop on the scene like Boris Becker at Wimbledon. Right?

    I think there have been a lot of inarguable excellent points made about the dearth of apparent young talent. But the thing with young talent is that sometimes, maybe often, it comes when some 20 year old, who has done nothing, finds his way into the semis. Then, there it is.

  10. MikeN says:

    Well Sock managed to take a set from Nadal before losing.

    If Nadal doesn’t have injuries, he would be the all time leader in slams right now, with Fed back at 14.

    • project18 says:

      MikeN: Nads is an all-time great so don’t think im hating on him when I say that he should thank his lucky stars for playing in the homogenized era that he does. Slowed down hard courts, slowed down grass, carpet abolished, etc etc. There’s a reason why Nadal has gone 10 years without winning an indoor tournament and is 13-11 at the world tour finals — fast surfaces where imparting spin isn’t as important, KILLS Nadals game. As far as the injury thing is concerned: remember that his injuries are a byproduct of his playing style. He HATES hard courts because his style of play is not conducive to them. When was the last time you saw him languishing on clay, injured? It doesn’t happen, because the soft clay surface helps mitigate the effects of his grinding style. Hell, Nadal has actually suggested that we get rid of ALL hard courts; a little self-serving, no? Oh well. At least its not as bad as his uncle Toni saying it would be better if tennis players were only allowed one serve and the height of the net was raised. Yes, he did say that. You can’t make this stuff up lol. Mind you…..Nadal has the highest net clearance on his shots and his first serve percentage is usually in the high 60’s (which is very good). So….yeah.

      But i went off on a tangent. Anyways, even with the slowed down courts, his single-surface dominance is both a blessing and a curse; the man is better at clay court tennis than just about anyone is at anything, EVER, but has ALWAYS been a mere mortal on every other surface. I hesitate to call him greater than Federer when Federer is CLEARLY better on 3 surfaces, and Nadal clearly only better on 1.

      Look at a comparison of titles won on each surface

      all hard courts:

      Federer 58-20 in finals, 9 hard court slams
      Nadal 18-20, 3 hc slams


      Federer 14-5, 7 Wimbledons
      Nadal 3-3, 2 Wimbledons


      Federer 21-12, 6 world tour finals victories
      Nadal 1-3, 0 WTFS (other than the majors this is the most prestigious tournament)


      Federer 11-15, 1 RG
      Nadal 46-8, 9 RG’s

      So, on outdoor HC, indoor hc, grass, and carpet if it was still around, Federer is better by overwhelming margins. Nadal’s saving grace is clay. With that said I don’t see how its possible that Nadal is greater than Federer, especially since he lags behind in accomplishments despite the fact that Federers style of play is inherently suboptimal in today’s slow-as-molasses courts.

      Also, the Federer fans that scoffed at the early “by age” comparison (like myself) can maybe start to feel a little vindicated. For the past few years, since Djokovic’s emergence, that was what Nadal fans could hang their hat on. Nadal having more slams than Federer at the same age was Nadal fans trump card, failing to acknowledge that Nadal got a leg up on Federer as a teenager and that Feds mid-to-late 20’s slam tallies would be hard for Nadal to keep pace with. It was only natural that Nadal would probably fail to keep up in a race reminiscent of the tortoise v the hare.

      And what do you know, Nadal is 29 and is stuck at 14 majors. Federer hauled in 16 before he was even halfway past 28. Additionally, he had twice the weeks at number 1, 5 more WTF’s and 2 more year-ending number 1’s at that age. Tennis is a cruel sport.

      Remember, too, that Federer has also aged GRACEFULLY since then — hes tacked on 20 more titles, a Wimbledon, a World Tour Finals, an Olympic silver, two year-end finishes at number 2 and an extra 15 weeks at number one. And hes STILL not done. And Nadals game is CLEARLY more dependent on athleticism than Federers, an attribute of his which is in a steeper decline than most realize. So, Nadal is now actually well BEHIND in the age-by-age comparison, and looks to be ten-fold worse at 29 than Federer was at 29. Hmm.

      Even the head-to-head argument is rearing its ugly head at Nadal fans: Djokovic has utterly DOMINATED him since hes hit his stride in 2011. Its been 18-9 since their Madrid match in May of 2009, and 14-7 since 2011.

      11-4 on hardcourts, 1-0 on grass and even 6-5 on clay (though to be fair, hes 1-3 at the French). Mind you, these guys are only a year apart whereas there’s a 5 year gap between Federer and Nadal. By the time their careers finish, if Nadal doesn’t avoid him, Djokovic will have an absolutely commanding lead in the h2h. But seeing as Rafa seems to be in a state of irrevocable decline, who knows if they’ll even meet enough times. All of this makes it silly for anybody to declare him better than Fed when hes behind both in peak play, accomplishments, and longevity. And, of course, all-surface play.

  11. Marc Schneider says:

    I’m a tennis fan-more a fan of playing than watching. When I watch a match, I generally wish I was out playing. But I don’t really understand the griping about the level of tennis. I think the game itself is far more compelling than in days of yore where you hit a couple of balls, came to the net and the point was over. Now, the issue of whether the athleticism is artificially enhanced is a different issue, but I really enjoy the longer matches that incredible shots that I see. Of course, a significant part of this is technologically-based; the new rackets create more power and spin and allow shots that weren’t possible before. Maybe the players aren’t as good as in the days of yore, but I think the game is at least as much fun to watch. Yes, I do regret the loss of variety in the game, but I think that only purists are worrying about whether so-and-so is really able to attack the net correctly. And I admit that I don’t have the technical knowledge to evaluate the play like other commenters apparently do.

    On another note, I’ve never understood why tennis is such a niche sport in the US while golf, requiring almost no athleticism, is so big. I’m old enough to remember the tennis boom in the 70s, when I picked up the sport. Tennis is a much better sport for staying in shape and maybe that’s why American’s don’t like it-it requires actually effort to play. At least it makes it easier to get a court.

  12. MikeN says:

    Sock is from KC!

  13. project18 says:

    One more thing: the “Federers era was weak” argument is looking more and more silly by the day. If you have the patience, please read my post :p

    For those that think tennis has improved exponentially since 2008….yeeeaahhhh no. If it is, why are there so few new faces that are ascending up the ranks? There are, you say? Well, the average age of a top 100 player is higher now than it has ever been, by an alarming margin. How has tennis improved THAT much since Federers apex when the same faces that were around then are around now? And many of these players are succeeding or dare I say, hitting their stride at ages where it is customary for tennis players to decline and retire. How do you explain that? Berdych is 30 and better than ever. Ferrer seems to have reached his prime at age 31. He was much WORSE from 22-30. Wawrinka is peaking at 29-30. Karlovic is 36 and playing some of his best tennis. The average age of the top 5 in this years points race is 30. It doesn’t add up. The most hyped up prospects today, Coric and Kyrgios, dont even have a title to their name yet. 

    Granted, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic had a meteoric rise to the top since 2008 so that’s a thorn in this arguments side. But tennis has not improved by great lengths — it is simply more top-heavy, while it was DEEPER during Federers era. Its a tradeoff. At best tennis from 2008-present is slightly stronger, purely on the basis of Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray. If you were to compare players 5-100, it would be a different story. Agassi (yes, old man Agassi. Federer is 33 now so I *can* use Agassi), Hewitt who was a Murray-caliber player in his prime and i dare you guys to challenge me on this one, Coria, Gaudio, Roddick who is CLEARLY a rich-mans Raonic (and Raonic reached a top 6 ranking), Nalbandian, Davydenko (6-1 record over Nadal on hardcourts, including 4-0 from 2009-2010, which is during Nadals prime), Gonzalez, Ferrero who is a rich mans Ferrer, Ljubicic Henman, Safin, Blake, are a much better “best of the rest” than any post 2008 non-top 4. 

    To expand on Hewitt: the man was a monster in his prime, for those too young to know what im talking about. He KILLED Sampras at the US Open final to win his first of two majors, 7-6 6-1 6-1. Here is a list of things he was among the best at on tour: backhand, lobs, return, passing shots, movement. His % of return games won is top 10 in tennis history. He was about as good as Murray is now, and the accomplishments attest to that; same number of slams, less masters titles, BUT, two year end titles and a stint at number 1. 

    And he is exhibit A in the argument that Federer in his prime MADE players look “weak”: 2004-2005 was actually arguably his peak, yet he won his big majors/titles from 2001-2003. We can ascertain that it was his peak by comparing his performance against the rest of the field, barring Federer, in those two time periods. Im not including Federer, of course, because Federers game took a quantum leap in 2004 and he wasn’t really around to challenge Hewitt in 01/02. Basically, the man made deep runs at major tournaments on a more consistent basis in 2004/2005, and his winning percentage was at its highest, but get this: every single time he made a deep run at a slam save for a few, Federer foiled him. Almost every single time, it was Federer. That means that Hewitt was pretty much ONLY losing to Federer at majors from 2004-2005. That’s how good he was. 

    2004 Australian Open: makes the fourth round, loses to Federer
    2004 Wimbledon: quarterfinals, loses to Federer 
    2004 US Open: makes the final without dropping a set (either that or only lost one set) and was on a 20+ match win streak, his best ever. Some people pegged him to challenge Fed. Result? Loses 6-0 7-6 6-0. First man to eat a double bagel at the US Open final in over 100 years. 
    2005 Wimbledon: makes the semis, loses to Federer
    2005 US Open, makes the semis, loses to Federer. 

    Now, keep in mind Federer ALSO faced an early-bloomer Nadal while he was at his peak. People underestimate how daunting a challenge that is because they assume Nadal was green, but Nadals CLAY COURT peak was clearly from 2005-2008 — of that there can really be no debate. He was MUCH better on grass and hard courts after then, but 2005-2008 was his clay peak. He lost twice in 4 years for Christ sake, and his 2007-08 French Opens were the most dominant two year run at a single slam, ever. He lost one of 43 sets. And this is the guy Federer had to contend with. He was unfortunate to play 60% of their matches in that time period on his worst surface and Nadals best, a surface that makes up only 30% of the tour. From 2004-2007, Federers peak, he was 6-2 vs Nadal on non-clay surfaces. It seems unfair to draw grand conclusions from the head-to-head based on this. We’re essentially penalizing Federer for being good enough to make it to the final on his worst surface, a surface that doesn’t define his greatness ANYWAY: indeed, if you scratch Federers entire clay court resume, hes still a GOAT candidate. So why is him getting shellacked on a surface where he made the least of his bones *that* important? 

    Additionally, he *did* have to deal with a young Djokovic and Murray, like it or not. They were green but they were still threats, and from 2007-2010 (Djokovic became an elite player in 2007, remember) his slam h2h against them was 7-1, his overall h2h against Djokovic was 13-5, and, even at his advanced age, is laying a can of whoop ass on Murray whenever they play now. Even with Djokovic’s rise and Federers fall, he STILL leads the h2h 20-19…comparable to Nadal leading Djokovic 23-21, only Djokovic and Nadal are CONTEMPORARIES while Djokovic is 6 years younger than Federer. 

    Lastly, the guy who was destined to be the “fifth horseman”, Del Potro, is a part of Nadals era yet a past-prime Federer has destroyed him so many times en route to big titles. This man is now marred by injuries and can’t even finish a match. Soderling, who was a constant pest and better than Berdych/Tsonga/any other big hitter today, was 1-16 against Federer, but hasn’t played in 4 years due to a debilitating case of mono.

    Really, without spewing out platitudes, or poking fun at how long my post is, can anybody REALLY say, with all the points I’ve made, that this era is as strong as its cracked out to be? 

    From a socioeconomic status, it SIMPLY DOESNT MAKE SENSE THAT IT IS. why? Because the gap in wealth between the top 5 and the rest is higher in tennis than in any other major sport, I’d reckon. If you’re not top 200 in the world, you can barely break even financially. How INSANE is that? A top 2000 soccer/basketball/cricket player in the world is set for life, let alone top 200. A top 200 basketball player in the world is fighting for a spot in an NBA starting line-up and soaking in Jacuzzis and drinking Grey goose in the off season. 

    Now, this is important because since there is such a disparity in tournament prize money and sponsorship money, that means that lesser players in tennis (or even borderline top 20-30 players) simply CANNOT afford the training methods/physios/doctors that the top players can. This means they DONT have the luxury to, say, blow almost 100k on a hyperbaric chamber meant to improve your endurance — AHEM, *Djokovic and Murray*. 

    This is particularly damning in THIS epoch, because tennis is BY FAR a more physical sport now than it has ever been. The slower the courts = the longer the rallies, the more endurance and athleticism plays a part. Less of a premium is put on skill, and more on defense and grinding. So that aforementioned gap in wealth, which is bigger than ever mind you, is more crucial in the present day than ever. No teenager has won a slam since 2005. And the top 4, at one point, won 38 of 39 slams, in a period spanning almost 10 years. Is that parity? Is that depth? If Federer dominated a weak era, so be it. But the era that followed it doesn’t seem to be much stronger. Tennis is extraordinarily lucky that once-in-a-generation talents like Djokovic, Nadal and Murray (okay, MAYBE Murray doesn’t belong there :p) came along, because they masked how thin the remaining crop of talent was becoming post-2006/7. 

    Just so I don’t seem like a COMPLETE Fed fanatic, I can’t say Federer has a stranglehold on the GOAT argument — I’d say Laver is probably the most accomplished player in the history of the game. Him and Fed to me are co-GOATs, and Gonzales, Rosewall, Sampras, Nadal, Borg, Lendl, Djokovic, Connors, Agassi, Kramer and others are on a similar plane, w/the first 5 or 6 belonging in their own tier. 

    It merely bothers me when people lazily crap on Federers competition — no, its a lot more nuanced than you think.

    PS sorry for the spam, Joe.

    • project18 says:

      Also, apologies to anybody that did read that for all the times i repeated myself and the god awful syntax, this was a c + p of a rushed post I made on another forum, with a few alterations 😛

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Those are really interesting points. One thing I always wondered was how far down the rankings could a player be and still be making a living. It makes sense that the disparity in wealth is leading to a disparity in results; the top guys have a huge advantage. Does this simply mean that people are not going into tennis because of how difficult it is to make a living? Does that explain why US tennis is so weak?

  14. 銉濄兗銈裤兗 鍚夌敯銈儛銉?porter 銈广儮銉笺偔銉?銉儱銉冦偗銈点儍銈?2015鏂颁綔 SMOKY 銉濄兗銈裤兗 銉儱銉冦偗 銆愭ソ銈儠_銆戙€愩亗銇欐ソ瀵惧繙_銆戙€愩儩銈ゃ兂銉?0鍊嶃€戙€愨€︺€?m s l 592-07576

    Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would enjoy your work. If…

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