Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stat For The Day

In the middle of the first set of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final, the players went 16 consecutive points without striking an unforced error. Nine of those points were clean winners. That passage was followed by four consecutive unforced errors. Rafael Nadal struck a forehand wide and then Novak Djokovic committed three backcourt errors to drop serve.

10 comments:

Reem said...

Wow that was an interesting piece of info. Awesome match today. I realize you're not a clay fan but still, there were some incredible rallies in that match am sure anyone would have enjoyed.

I didn't think it would turn out that way when I saw Djokovic call a trainer. I was like nooooo not again. But he came back on court and made some damage. Of course it was never enough!!

Helen W said...

One of the things that bother me about that call to the trainer is that with Nole, it seems like it's something different every time. How credible is that?

Savannah said...

We'll convert you yet Hickman. :)

Craig Hickman said...

Great tennis can be played on clay. I've never said otherwise. But it must be because players are taking the surface out of it, for lack of a better phrase, and playing aggressive tennis.

Djoke would have never won a set had he not been hitting the cover off the ball and forcing the action. When Rafa's passive twin took to the court, he was virtually useless.

So much of clay court tennis is played by "specialists" who couldn't hit a flat shot and follow it into the net if someone held a gun to their heads.

I know technology has changed and all of that. Players are more speedy and more powerful and hit with so much more spin. But Yannick Noah won Roland Garros at the net even when the clayy was much slower than it is today.

Wars of attrition bore me to tears.

During the passage of play described here, both players were being aggressive at the same time. Thus the stats.

This is far too rare on this surface, but it doesn't have to be this way.

Beth said...

This match was a mess to me. Yes there were some amazing games....true. But Rafa did not really get it together and only because Djokovic got tired, (or somewhat demoralized going down 2-0 to Rafa in the 3rd set) did Rafa have a chance at this. Just my opinion. Djokovic was on fire and doing extremely well up until that point. As you said, Craig, it was like Rafa had some 'passive twin'. Djokovic was definitely hitting the cover off the ball for the better part of the match....it wasn't great tennis but Rafa got the job done.

loltennis said...

Just for the record, the scoreboard on the blog is wrong. It's 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.

Craig Hickman said...

To be good on clay, you certainly must be comfortable with your movement, you must be fit, because the rallies are going to go on forever, but you don't have to be able to slide. That's a myth perpetuated by clay court purists. Andre Agassi didn't slide much at all and he won Roland Garros and contested two finals, not to mention a few semis and a slew of quarters. He won much the way Djoke won the second set today without the sliding. Martin Verkerk served and volleyed his way to the final in the era of modern racquets and heavy topspin. Sure, you have to have good retrieval skills, unless you're Lindsay Davenport who managed to make a semifinal in Paris, but at the top of the game on either tour, you've got to be able to play some defense to win big anywhere.

The passive Rafa pushed behind the baseline who got beat up by an opponent bashing the ball around the way Djoke was in the second set today would have gotten beat up about the same on hard courts and grass, since no surface is really all that fast these days. The games would've been shorter, to be sure, but I doubt the 6-2 score would have been different. The aggressive Rafa won the final set.

Controlling the center of the court with aggressive tennis wins Slams, no matter the surface. Nothing else will do.

Graf_sampras said...

BRILLIANT explanation by Craighickman. as he did in another thread on clay tennis.


forget how the sport and players supposedly are different and "improved" now....

tennis of ANY era shows (check the old films or youtube) --

great tennis is ALWAYS cahracterized by SKILLFUL SHOTMAKING aiming for winners and positive playing rather than "waiting for the other to make mistakes"....

and the POOREST kind of tennis is when TWO PLAYERS "oppose" each other by playing negative tennis:

each waiting OUT the other to make mistakes.

that is why nothing is more electrifying than when you see TWO AGGRESSIVE players try to outmatch each other with wits, endurance, athleticism and DARING each other to come up with even better shots....

as in FAST grass court playing.

hehe.

as Rafael Nadal - the Wimbledon Champion and 2 time finalist said:

"i have to improve, a lot a lot a lot , if i am to WIN on grass. i must become more complete..."........

"i like to play on grass because on grass you can play ALL the styles, no?"


regardless of how the sport or competing has evolved (largely depending on what the knowledge is of coaches - who can only pass on what they know and can not pass on what they DON'T know -- and THAT ought to tell you about tennis today as a result)


the KING of TENNIS is GRASS COURT PLAYING tennis. it is THE definition of tennis, however one wants to slice or dice it , talking about "building and constructing points".

if anything when people define or describe CLAY players that "construct points" they are ALWAYS aiming to be AGGRESSIVE...


whether it was Alex Corretja - or Thomas Muster or Kuerten or wilander or borg in their days or -- today - Djokovic or Nadal.

Graf_sampras said...

people also should check the borg and laver plays...very SELDOM did they really "slide" .

if anything laver and his generation "won on clay" playing nothing more than the SAME tennis they played on grass..always aiming to volley and hit winners and go all over the court with very little or almost nonexisten :sliding......

it's really a question of the specialization by a certain type of player -- the sliding one -- that also trains very hard to prolong matches and points so as to negate what are more commonly the better shotmaking skills of fast court players.

UNLIKE of course the style played by nadal which always aims to be aggressive and go forward (and LIKE a grass court player aims to PIN the opponent back to get an opening to come forward) --

most today on clay simply just stay back even if having opportunities to come forward...

mainoy because they simply don't know what to do at the net..NOT because their fellow baseliners are "too good".

that's just nonsense.

Graf_sampras said...

Please don't forget to read the beautiful, romantic


"The TALE OF FEDRINKA"....

it's a fascinating story of love, jealousy, unquenchable joy, loyalty, betrayal.....


ok?