Rafael Nadal: Physicality In Tennis Isn’t Preventing Young Guys From Breaking Through, It’s Because They Are Not Good Enough
by Tom Gainey | April 16th, 2015, 11:31 am

On Wednesday in Monte Carlo, Rafael Nadal blasted youngster Lucas Pouille running his record to 27-3 against players born in the 1990s. So Nadal was asked what is holding back the younger generation and those before them from winning big titles.

Many of have said the reason is because tennis has become so much more physical over the years. But Nadal disagrees.

“I am not agree,” Nadal said. “When I arrived here, when I was younger than this generation, Coria, Nalbandian, Hewitt, Federer, Safin, Roddick, they have been young players when I arrived there. They have been 23, 24. They still young. So always seems like is very difficult when I arrived here. I thought is almost impossible be there because there is all these players that they are there, and they are young. Will be a big, big challenge to go there.

“At the end you are there, you have the level to be there. Is not tougher now or more difficult. Is a thing of level. If you have the level, you can be there,” he added. “Is not because the players are more physical today. Is more level of tennis than another thing.”

Nadal outlasted American big man John Isner to reach the quarterfinals today in Monte Carlo, a tournament he has won eight times.

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65 Comments for Rafael Nadal: Physicality In Tennis Isn’t Preventing Young Guys From Breaking Through, It’s Because They Are Not Good Enough

jane Says:

i think rafa is right that it’s not just about physicality. the young guns need to prove themselves and that’s it. when nadal won his first slam he was a teen, when novak won his first slam he was 20. fed, i think, was only 23?

the younger generation needs to step up and prove themselves. they need to show professionalism, hard work, game evolution and consistency.

fed raised the bar, rafa met it and on clay set his own, novak climbed over those guys after many struggles, and andy raised his level and won slams. and these guys STILL keep working to raise their games.

it’s up to the younger generation to meet that challenge.

some of them talk like they want to do so, that they try to do so, but so far they haven’t shown the consistency in either desire (seemingly) or game.

however, there are so many talented younger players out there right now: dimitrov, nishikori, raonic, coric, the 3 young aussies (triple k, nick and tomic), theim, and so forth. and some of them have stated outright that they want to be number 1.

so it’ll be interesting to see … who’s next?

Daniel Says:


Federer was 21 almost 22 in Wimbledon 2003. Yeah, the top 3 today won their first Slam before 21 so was DelPo. The lonely case was Murray (who had several finals) and Wawrinka, who most likely, will be a one of. Turning 30 yld pretty soon so can’t see him contestung Slams regularly, specially now that he gain a bit of weight again.

jane Says:

thanks for clarifying fed’s first slam age, daniel.

chris ford1 Says:

The two stories that interest me are how Nadal and Djokovic did indeed reach a higher level.

With Rafa, he was an incredibly good clay player that people thought would be mostly relegated to clay in his reputation. How did he elevate to become an all court threat? What mindset did that take, what prep?

With Djokovic, his talent rocketed him up from nowhere to #3 at 19. Where he stayed stuck for an Open Era record 4 years, because in front of him were 2 true all time greats. The clash with Nadal in Madrid 2009 broke both players, but it broke Djokovic worse because he did his utmost, had no more and didn’t see how he could ever get past Fed and Rafa.
In 2010, Djokovic was thinking of quitting the game, maybe going to university with the family debts paid off and enough money made to do what he wanted to do…and being a champion was looking unreachable. He mulled it, but was also thinking and talking to a lot of people on what it would take to beat them and get his confidence back. Because he really didn’t want to just quit. Then he rebuilt himself and did something only a few fans of his thought possible.
And the dominant player afterwards.
How was Nole 2.0 created?

And importantly, can the “young guns” look at what Rafa and Nole managed to do and see a path for themselves to elevate their level?? Because that is what they will need to do.

jane Says:

it’s a slow process chrisford1.

look at rafa and grass. did i read somewhere that the nadals had a grass court (or was it hard?) built at their home, wherever they train, so rafa could practice on it? maybe that’s myth, i am not sure. but it took rafa losing finals in 2006 and 2007 (a heartbreaker) before he finally won in 2008, and we all know how close that battle was. probably part of the win was down to rafa and toni working out a strategy to beat federer, which was beginning to work not just on clay but on all surfaces. and after a number of losses, rafa was in federer’s head. for many years he lost on hard court and couldn’t break through to finals at the slams. it took until 2009 to win his first hard court slam. and that did not come easily either, with epic semis and finals back to back. we all know fed’s reaction to that loss.

same for nole. it took a number of changes and years to get to his best. in 2007-8 he showed his all court ability by being the youngest player ever to reach semis or further at all the slams. but after his breakthrough win in 2008 he suffered some humiliations and difficulties with his health. therefore, first he hired muster’s old trainer in 2009 spring. then he tried todd martin late in 2009 after the madrid semi. that didn’t work and we all know his serve fell apart in 2010. that – in a weird way – forced him to perfect his return game since his serve was entirely unreliable. then he was diagnosed with gluten intolerance around wimbledon 2010. to my mind, the real breakthrough was beating fed at the us open in 2010. that restored nole’s confidence and we know he went on to win davis cup, which i think bolstered his belief even more. i believe he also saw a sports psychologist, started to do yoga and mediation too. finally, just as toni and rafa worked on a strategy to beat fed, vajda is on record saying that they worked on a strategy to beat rafa in the 2010-11 off-season. and of course we know rafa was nole’s main rival that year. so it took a while but he was always working toward 2011.

fed’s made many changes too, not the least of which has been trying different coaches and being willing to move on when his relationship with one of them is not working. andy has done that as well. for all of them it’s been fits and starts, struggles and changes. but through those they were always able to stay at or near the top, which may go back to rafa’s point about “level”.

green900 Says:

chris ford 1

is it true that djokovic thought of quitting tennis? where did you hear that from?

Patson Says:

Summarizing what Nadal said to the young guns: You are not at our level !

Like a boss.

jane Says:

green900, i was wondering the same. i haven’t read that before i don’t think. in fact, novak kept making changes repeatedly (as mentioned above) which suggests that stopping tennis was far from his mind. maybe he mentioned this somewhere though. chrisford1 can tell us hopefully.

Markus Says:

The more knowledgeable posters here should know and correct me if I am wrong, wasn’t that the case that when Federer was amassing his slams in all surfaces other than clay and Nadal was starting to collect his French Opens that Nadal was number 2 for many years? Then Djokovic came, beat everybody but Federer and Nadal and was number 3 for so many years?

I would not be surprised if Djokovic, in a moment of frustration, due to that formidable wall put up by the first two considered quitting. But that may have been fleeting because Djokovic looks to me like he always knew he was very good and that with perseverance and diligence, can make his way to the top also. And so he did.

Nadal is right, the “new” crop of players are just not good enough, definitely not at their level, otherwise, they would have been consistently jostling the players at the top.

After the top 3, Murray is the sole player in the second tier. del Potro could have joined him there but you know his story. Everybody else is in level 3 and lower.

It looks like the next Federer, next Nadal, next Djokovic have not been born yet.

Ben Pronin Says:

There was an interview a while ago where Djokovic said he considered retiring in like 2010 because he was really unhappy with how things were going. But then he didn’t and became a beast.

I think the next question is Why? Why aren’t the younger players good enough? The thing is Nadal winning a slam at 19 wasn’t even that special. It was expected. Federer at 21 going on 22 was considered a late bloomer! Hell even Djokovic winning at 20 was sorta late. I’m pretty sure almost every great champion in tennis won their first slam in their late teens. Or at least made some serious noise and won in their really early 20s (as in 20 years old, not even 21 or 22). Agassi was a super late bloomer winning his first slam at 22. But it was also after about 5 years of being in the top 10, top 5 in the world.

But these young guys? Dimitrov making a Wimbledon semi is a huge deal now. But then he stinks. It’s unfortunately a joke. But why?

So back to Nadal. Yeah, he started as a clay court player. No serve, moon ball galore, but covered the court like no other. Despite the uproar it caused when Federer said it, he wasn’t wrong when he pointed out that Nadal was one dimensional. He was. So was Murray. Hell so was Djokovic. These guys didn’t come out of the block complete players, but they didn’t have to. They were able to win with despite their limitations and weaknesses. And so did Federer, who’s backhand was a serious weakness for a long time, as was his fitness. He still won.

And then you have Hewitt and Roddick and Safin and the others that Nadal mentioned. These guys weren’t complete players, either. They all had weaknesses. And they still won. Coria, Ferrero, Nalbandian. As Nadal says, he’s coming up at 17, 18 and seeing these guys who are only 22, 23, 24 and yet they had been at the top of the game for half a decade when Nadal was making his breakthrough.

Just, why? Why aren’t these guys good enough?

madmax Says:

Could it be the insurmountable aura that surrounds these top guys now. Rafa? Roger? Novak? Murray? They have that aura, they have earnt it and no matter how great their game, they are not only dealing with the physical enormity of playing No.1,2,3 or 4, they are dealing with the mental enormity of it too. Also the press big them up, the titles each one of these players holds – olympic champion, grand slam champion, clay court champion – plays games with the mind.

It seems unlikely, but could be a part of the problem.

Then there are their individual coaches. Rafa is very unusual sticking with one coach all of his career, but then again, he is related. No other player has a related familial coach – it’s not as easy to get rid of his coach, would cause a family rift.
But the other guys, chop and change their coaches, to try out new things. So do they have the longevity, the sustainability, the trust and faith in their coaches, that the top four have/have had/. I don’t know that, I don’t think I am giving a convincing argument; I just think that there could be a lot of factors as to why, but aura and mindset I think could feature strongly.

The talent is certainly there, but the hunger? the belief? The confidence? Novak, Roger, Rafa and Murray do have that in drove. They believe in themselves, they don’t seem to get tired of the game, yeah, the odd niggle, the odd discontentment, but they rise up above it and get on with it overall.

Just a thought, because there really is no reason why the likes of Berd, Monfils, Ferrer, can’t win a slam, or haven’t won a slam so far.

Regarding clay though, that’s easy. RAFA. He is the reason.

Humble Rafa Says:

“I am not agree,”

That’s your English lesson for the day. Now go home and try to be the next Shakespeare.

aarontennis Says:

I think Rafa is correct in implying that some of the newbies on tour receive a lot of hype but will not be good enough to tap the top 10 or even top 20 someday despite the best tennis training in the world. After college, I played briefly on the Futures and Challenger circuits (with very little success) but had the opportunity to play practice sets and such with top 40 ranked players (while trying to qualify at bigger events). In my opinion, guys ranked that high have a special “tennis gene,” and see everything from the ball to the lines on the court differently. Lower ranked players sometimes think of a certain shot that they want to play but cannot translate it into reality. Guys like Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, etc. have that unique ability to connect what they are thinking to the physical in a split second. A lot of these “young guns” (with some exceptions) can do just about everything on court but are missing that one extra tennis gene. Trust me – it’s something that cannot be learned. Either you are born with the ability to be a top player or you will plateau where you are meant to.

jane Says:

i googled to see what i could find. there was an interview that novak did on a serbian talk show in 2014 in which he said things that support chrisford1’s account. here’s a quote:

“With tennis it was love at first sight, since I was 4 years old. I always enjoyed a lot of support from my family, my club and the government, but in 2010 my relationship with this sport was of both hate and love. I was losing a lot when facing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and I seriously thought about retiring. Then I told myself that I had to survive these feelings and I had to win Wimbledon, which has always been the main goal of my whole life” revealed Djokovic.”

so it sounds like it was fleeting thoughts, but he was clearly suffering doubts. i think the low point was the loss at the FO in 2010 when he was up 2 sets and a break versus melzer and then totally unravelled.

i read so much nole-related that i am surprised i didn’t recall this. but perhaps just blocked it out of my mind…ha ha. ;)

Ben Pronin Says:

Did Sampras not have an aura? Or Lendl and McEnroe before him? Or Borg and Connors? The list goes on.

We’ve seen Dimitrov choke a few times playing Murray and Djokovic and Nadal. But he gets whooped badly by Federer. So does Raonic. These young guys have horrible head to head results against the top guys. And not just against the slam champs but guys like Ferrer and the other geezers.

There is a reason Ferrer doesn’t have a slam. He’s not that good. He would not have a slam in any era. That he made a final late in his career was the result of a fortunate draw and an insane Tsonga.

Monfils and Berdych? They’re in the Djokovic-Murray-Nadal generation. And they’re not as good or dedicated as these 3. So there’s the reason.

But where are the teenagers threatening to become the next Federer or Nadal? Not just play flashy and be dubbed baby Fed, but actually produce results. Does anyone remember Murray’s record against top 10 players before he actually became a top 10 player? It was fantastic. The criticism early on was that he was that he needed to be more consistent and actually become a top 10 player instead of just beating them all the time.

But these young bucks don’t beat the top 10. They’re not good enough. Aura? No. Physicality? I never found that valid since younger guys can actually get away with putting in less work and still appear fit. I’m sure Djokovic didn’t train nearly as hard as he does now when he played Stepanek in that insanely long 5 setter at the 07 US Open. He was simply young.

Honestly this is why I respect Raonic. He has serious limitations in his game. In this era of all court players it’s really hard to succeed when you can’t move well. But Raonic works damn hard to improve and it’s showing. I really think he can win a slam at some point. If the chips fall his way and he catches fire.

But the other youngsters? And the even younger ones? I don’t know. I just don’t get what the deal is.

El_Flaco Says:

Nadal just through the ‘weak era’ crowd under the bus.

RZ Says:

I think both theories are correct. The young guys are not good enough, and one reason that they are not good enough is because tennis has become more physical.

jalep Says:

Delpo, Cilic, late bloomer Wawrinka have had success.

I admire Raonic too. He’ll get there.

Not sure about Dimitrov and anyone 20-23

We have to look at those born later in the mid-nineties. Coric, Kokkinakis, A.Zverev…other ones born a decade after Rafa, Nole, & Andy.

chris ford1 Says:

I agree with Ben Pronin. I think Raonic will be contending for Slams in short order.
The Montenegrin Serb transplant to Canada not only has the serve and perfect hair, he has a lot of things showing that he is out at all costs not to become another Servebot like Isner, Dr Ivo, or Kevin Anderson. He has very high intelligence, a great attitude about improvement and hard work. His forehand is a smoker and getting better and he has made stead progress on his backhand. Got a great coach in Ljubicic, and a pal and quasi-mentor of sorts who happens to be Novak Djokovic – and Milos is trying to build the whole package..fitness, mobility, tactics to fight more mobile opponents.
My prediction last year was Milos would contend for and had a serious chance at a Slam in the next 3 years. I said Wimbledon was most likely if they speed it up a bit as Fed has urged his fellow Club members,,And also that Raonic will get a Masters win soon.

jalep Says:

And he meditates on changeovers. Raonic is a cut above the rest in his age range.Nishikori too but a GS win…I don’t know.

Markus Says:

Raonic seems to be the most motivated of the upcoming players. He has the right mind and attitude and possesses a great weapon, his serve. Nishikori is right there with him but is hindered by his size and will always be at the mercy of powerful players.

jalep Says:

Agreed @Markus.

As for tomorrow’s match, I hope whatever was bothering Milos’ foot was minor. Really hope he can beat Berdych!

Tennis Fan Says:

Wow, Love for Raonic. I don’t think I have ever seen that before on this site.

I’ll take this as a good omen. I too believe Raonic is close to making some real waves… and not only with his hair :)

Patson Says:

Somebody needs to answer Ben Pronin. He’s got like twenty question marks in his 2 posts. We need to get hold of a Dolgopolov or a Kyrgios to satisfy Ben.

django Says:

Recently Fed said something like: I wonder why others cant’ improve the way that Novak has?

Wog Boy Says:

I agree with people that you can learn as much but you have to be born with something extra to be the champion, somenthing that no coach can teach you. Hard work and dedication can lift you high and even give you GS title but to continually win GS titles and stay on top you have to be born with X-factor, but not without hard work and dedication, that goes together. I remember Nole’s USO 2007 final with Federer, he was 19 years old playing with the greatest of all at his peak with no fear, it was 7:6, 7:6, 6:4 with Nole having something like 3-4 set points in the first 2-3 set point in the second set, commentators said then that he is the next big thing and that he actually only luck of experience stoped him in beating Federer, he returned favour to Roger at very next GS final, AO2008. I still haven’t seen player with such a promise at that age since Nole. I believe 4K (Kokkinakis) will be next big thing but I have to see more of him. The middle generation can sneak GS here and there and that is about it, as somebody pointed out we have to look at generetion born from mid 90’s onwards for the next big thing.
It is true that quitting the game Nole crossed Nole’s mind he had a huge pressure on his back on and off the court.
jane, in this famous reunion with his first coach and mentor Jelena Gencic, after winning Wimbledon, while sitting on the couch together, he is telling her that he was having doubts about his tennis, she is telling him “no, no you couldn’t have the” and he repeats “yes,yes I had the”, there is no translation but you will pick the moment when they are talking about his doubts, he was really blessed to have people like Jelena and Vajda as coaches/mentors:


I always go back to this video and watch with a goosebumps. What a great human being Jelena Gencic was!

peter Says:

I think raonic, with all his hard work, has already reached his peak. He is just too tall and immobile to be a top tier player. He is the new version of roddick, big serves and forehand, and not much else. This age of tennis is all about defense, raonics defense is always going to be a problem.

Kyrgios looks better, not only he has big serves and forehand, his movement is good as well. Compare videos of raonic to kyrgios when they were at 19, 20 and the difference is clear. Same goes with kokkinakis.

The biggest up and comer is Coric. He has a complete, all round game. Hes 19 and already as good as a top 50 player.hes actually outpacing djokovic and murray in terms of rankings when they were 19 (while raonic, dimitrov and nishikori did not) So hes got potential and if he put in the hard yards like raonic he can be a top player soon.

jane Says:

peter: “.hes actually outpacing djokovic and murray in terms of rankings when they were 19 ”

no, you’re wrong about coric outpacing novak.

novak was ranked 16 at the start of 2007 and reached number 7 in the world when he was just 19. he won his first masters title – miami – when he was 19. in other words, all before he turned 20, on May 22nd 2007. he reached his first slam final later that same year at 20. after reaching number 3 later that year, he has never dropped out of the top 5 and has only been outside the top 3 for a little bit of time – in 8 years.

you’re also wrong about andy. he was already in the top 20 when he was 19 years old and even reached the top 10 within his 19-20 year on tour. he also had wins over federer by then, as did novak.

coric has had some big wins, but he’s not close to eclipsing what those 2 had achieved at the same age. we’ll have to see where he goes from here.

jane Says:

^ wait a second peter… you said coric is 19, in which case he wouldn’t be outpacing them. but if he is 18, then maybe he is. so that changes my perspective. according to the ATP he doesn’t turn 19 until much later this year.

novak cracked the top 50 just after he turned 19. and then the top 20 later that year. so yes, a little later than coric. nole spent most of his 18th year in the 60s and 70s. murray cracked the top 50 before novak, when he was 18, and then he moved into and stayed in the top 20s not long after turning 19. novak cracked the top 10 first.

so i guess coric is on track. we’d want to see him in the top 20 by the end of this year or beginning of next, if he’s to follow a similar trajectory.

jalep Says:

Coric is 18. He doesn’t turn 19 until November! Agree with you about Coric

@ peter. Been following Born a since he beat Rafa in Basel. He was 17 then!

jalep Says:

Thanks for that post and the link @ 7:37pm.

peter Says:


I don’t look at months but just the year, so coric is turning 19 this year, and at the moment i believe is outpacing the big 4 except Rafa.

The only other guy who outpaced them at 19 in recent years is Tomic, who didnt put in the hard yards and fell behind. We’ll see whether Coric continues to climb, he needs to make it to top 20 by next year if he is to keep pace.

Sean Randall Says:

There is some truth to what Nadal is saying. Since the Big 3/4 have emerged, no one has really been good enough to challenge them. That simple. It’s not about being physical, as he says, it’s just about being a good tennis player.

If Federer was part of this new generation, he would rocket right up the ranking just as he did before. Nothing physical about it.

I think Coric will do the same. Kyrgios and Kokkinakis along with Zverev (or Rublev) could become the next “Big 4” with guys like Raonic, Dimitrov, Thiem, Tomic and Sock on the outside.

jane Says:

got it peter. i was just confused because your post sad he is 19. but then i checked the ATP and as jalep says, he’s just 18, not 19 until november.

but yep, if he cracks the top 20 by the end of this year / beginning of next, then he’s on track with murray and nole’s trajectories, more or less. he’ll need to win a masters and then reach top 10 while 19 years old to match nole’s in his 19th year. let’s see if he can do it. he’s got the hunger and the game!

what do people think of theim?

jane Says:

oh, and yes wog boy; thanks for that, and for clarifying the context too.

jalep Says:

@ Sean Randall
Rublev. I like him too. Looks feisty.

Markus Says:

The top guys, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray are very likable from a very young age. They have the game and a certain “je ne sais quoi” that make you notice, follow and root for them…and they delivered. I don’t seem to get that sense from any of these guys that are coming after them.

jalep Says:

Jane. I was enthused about Thiem when he was younger but now I think more like a top 20 or so. Sock is maybe top 20 too but he is so hyped in the US media that I can’t tell! Lol

Tennis Fan Says:

Not impressed by Sock or Tomic. Dimitrov has also been a big disappointment lately in spite of today’s match. Thiem might have some potential and so might Krygios.

Raonic and Nishikori are definitely the closest to the next younger player winning a Slam.

jane Says:

sock seems like he should stick with popsicle and they should try to replace the bryans at the top.

thanks jalep; i haven’t seen enough of thiem to know but he was getting a lot of hype for a while. tomic and dimitrov have a lot of talent but neither have been able to take it to the next level.

as daniel said elsewhere, dimitrov has an opening on his side of the draw. let’s see if he can make a masters final here. or maybe raonic will. but it’ll be interesting to see if a younger guy comes through on that side as opposed to berdych or la monf.

peter Says:

In my view baby fed has more potential than raonic or nishikori, given his optimal height, his all round game and flair. However he is playing below his potential at the moment, if he works hard then he should really be in top 8. He needs to get right up there this year otherwise he could end up hovering in top 20 forever.

Nadal is correct in saying the young players are simply not good enough. The big 4 as they get older although may not dominate as they used to, will continue to win most of the titles and lead the rankings. THeir level will drop ever so slowly, and a young player will have to be very talented and work extremely hard to get to where they are.

Okiegal Says:

Interesting comment from Sean Randall……”There is some truth to what Rafa is saying”……I’m shocked……..I’m glad there’s one staffer who thinks he can speak some truths, other than myself!

Margot Says:

From a very young age Judy used to play ball games with Andy and Jamie. Their whole house seems to have been transformed into a games area! Well Scottish weather is unreliable! As a consequence they developed their hand, foot, eye co-ordination very early on. Andy being slightly younger than Jamie, was always highly competitive too.
Theirs was a real sporting family. That seems a common denominator with successful athletes. They also seem to have sporting ability that transcends their chosen sport. Andy could’ve been a pro footballer, as could Rafa I believe. I’m sure Nole could’ve been a pro skier.
What I’m trying to say is that top players have that something which is beyond simple hard work, which is what Aaron was saying, I guess. Now whether it’s nature or nurture, who knows?
Agree about Raonic getting a slam. He’s been born at just the right time too, which helps, as has Dimi.
Agree about Coric and Special 4K too, having gr8 potential.
There are in fact, quite a few young players worth watching. Only time will tell how successful they turn out to be.

KatH Says:

Yes, it does rather seem that it goes beyond simple hard work – one of you mentioned the X factor and I think that is what it is. However, maybe hard work and the X factor needs to be combined e.g. I think Raonic works hard but is missing the X factor; I think Grigor has the X factor but is missing the hard work. (Maybe a good example is that Gael Monfils has huge X factor but the fitness/determination/hard work is not quite at the same level – although appreciate he is not in the “Young” group under discussion).

madmax Says:

Ben Pronin Says:
Did Sampras not have an aura? Or Lendl and McEnroe before him? Or Borg and Connors? The list goes on.


I know. I agree. I said in the same post, it could be part of the reason, but not the whole reason.

However, Aura has something to do with it in some cases.

The stronger the player, doesn’t necessarily mean the better player. Then it comes down to movement. Dr. Ivo, is a strong player, Isner is a strong player (and he has evolved over the last 2 years – I have watched some of his matches, and he plays, for a tall guy now, with much more variety to his shots, which brings more confidence). Berdych, a strong player, but movement, though good, is NOT as good as it could be. He needs more variety to his game, (he has improved, but still I don’t think he is on a par with Murray et al).

Talent? Well, to even be a pro, you have to have talent. I guess it is what you do with that talent and whether you are willing to evolve as a player and put the hours in, the practise on the court; are they prepared to do that?

Look at how long Ferrer has been a top player, he has never won a slam, but we respect the fact that he gets on that court and plays as if his life depends on it – a spanish rottweiller. He is a great player, has he evolved? I don’t see any difference to his game over the years, at all. He is a grinder and always has been.

Grigor has physicality; he has talent and he IS willing to evolve. He is coming through the ranks, but slower than Rafa/Novak/Roger/Murray did.

Kei doesn’t have the physicality, but he has the drive and the technique, and he IS evolving, he is just taking longer than the big four. But I see him coming through.

It really is a connundrum.

Then you have the late bloomers, like Cilic and Wawa. Cilic is as lean and tall as they come, with hardly a BMI, but his power comes through his serving, he HAS evolved, but later than the big four, though he has been around for not much less than they have. Cilic has also won a slam, but a long time coming. Why? It’s really hard to say, isn’t it?

Can it just be to do with talent? DNA? Born with it? Work at it? It’s really, really interesting WHY the “old guys” on the circuit, and I include Rafa, Roger, Novak and Murray, still seem to be head and shoulders above the rest.

Wawa, been around a long time, when he lost that weight and changed his coach, AO in the bag, but he was on tour 10 years before that happened. But he was willing to evolve, change his coach, his body mass, his self-belief I think came, when he lost that weight, he was much more nimble around the court, could run faster, but his back hand has always been the best on the circuit. Always. It’s beautiful to watch.

So may be we are just living in the glory age, the golden age, the likes of which we will NEVER see again; a bit like love at first sight.

Does that ever happen twice? Like the big four.

I don’t think it does.

jane Says:

okay well raonic is hurt. but what is dimitrov’s reason? ideal chance to fight and get to a masters final, and he loses easily. i am surprised at the scoreline. did anyone see the match?

jalep Says:

Haven’t looked at the stats, jane. But one thing, Gregor played nervous tennis serving first, served poorly got down a break. Monfils attacked grigor’s backhand and the errors mounted – he couldn’t find his range. Monfils playing with tons of confidence couldn’t miss. Even grigor’s forehand wasn’t finding the court. Monfils 2nd serve kick serve to grigor’s backhand got grigor every time. 1st set 6’1 Monfils.
2nd set grigor tried to play more attacking tennis was getting more 1st serves in but Monfils defense kept grigor pushed back. Monfils was able to put on a display of deep shots mixed with short cross court angles, full on French flair and charm magnifique!! 6-3 Lamonf

Daniel Says:

I saw the match Jane and Dimitrov was missing too much. But Monfils wasn’t missing at all. That were times Dimitrov hit a nice FH cross court and Monfils was able to return on the run deep counter attacking. One of those days everything was going Monfils way.

jane Says:

thanks for the details daniel and jalep. i hope monfils can make the finals.

Michael Says:

Very candid comments from one of the Greats of the Game. The young guys are not breaking through, its because they are not good enough. Nobody can keep it so straight and simple. From whatever I can see, I do not see any of the young guns has a future prospect to take the place of Roger, Rafa and Novak. They are simply not consistent enough and also lack that something extra (killer instinct) which you need to become a Great player. Never know for sure, these guys can improve going forward. Looking at the late blooming of Isner who is now playing some great back court Tennis (which you never saw when he was young) and still mysteriously not able to win tournaments despite possessing one of the best serves in the game, I think sky is the limit when it comes to honing and improving your game especially when you are young. But the question is whether that is enough taking Isner’s example ?? Great players are born and made. Right now after the trio, we have only Andy who can compete with them and another player (Del Potro) who could have been a sensation tragically has become a victim of intense physical issues.

jalep Says:

One of the young talents I’m following just made it through Barcelona qualifying. Andrey Rublev.

He’s the reigning FO junior champ and did it at age 16. Turned 17 in Oct.

Hope he has enough support around him and financial backing. I know nothing else about him.

jane Says:

i heard him mentioned elsewhere recently jalep. maybe it was by you? anyhow, nice to hear he’s made the main draw.

courbon Says:

Jalep, he is very promising;And if I can remember his mum was a tennis coach of Kurnikova and dad is a boxer.So good sport background.promissing talent

jalep Says:

That’s good news about his background. Also I just read that he’s had a hitting session in Mallorca. With Nadal, his idol.

Rublev said he got “some good advices”

He is on YouTube @jane and Courbon.

jalep Says:

Coric talked about his hitting session in Mallorca as well. Probably a lot more have been there to hit with Rafa. Is Rafa referring to these players?

courbon Says:

Thanx Jalep

jane Says:

will check it out jalep. i like how the top guys are willing to mentor the younger ones. rafa hitting with this kid, fed having theim in switzerland and nole’s hits with young players in monte carlo or at tournaments. good stuff.

jalep Says:

My pleasure @ courbon.

Jane, it’s nice the greats hit with the young players. But I’m curious if this is what Rafa means: they just aren’t good enough. Doesn’t bode well for tennis if it is.

jane Says:

time will tell jalep. some of them are very young and yet quite promising. so we’ll have to wait and see!

jalep Says:

Rafa was so good at such a young age I imagine he’s tough to impress.

I think of Boris.Becker Becker winning Wimbledon at Rublev’s age…lol…
And just happy he made the main draw!

jalep Says:

…main draw in Barcelona that is

Annie Says:

I think the younger players coming up play hot & cold…they can’t seem to be consistent & that is the key…yah one plays out of his mind and beats one of the biggies…but then loses in the next round. I don’t think they take it as seriously as the top 3…consistency is the key…for sure!
They don’t have the dedication the top guys have…Of any of them…I think Raonic is the closest. They play well & then get injured…oh well. So I agree w/RAFAEL. VAMOS RAFA!!!

MIa0007 Says:

What tennis needs : standards for basic equipment,
standardized courts, openess in seedings,and careful and regular monotoring of ALL players for the use of drugs. I honestly believe if the people testing for drugs in tennis were in charge of the Tour de France Lance Armstrong would still have all his medals and $$$$. Tennis has become so skewed to “creating drams to attract fans” that I think the CEO.s or the President Of ATP, Christ Kermode, since 2014 are all blind to the fact that any thinking fan can see through the hype.

MIa0007 Says:

What tennis needs : standards for basic equipment,
standardized courts, openess in seedings,and careful and regular monotoring of ALL players for the use of drugs. I honestly believe if the people testing for drugs in tennis were in charge of the Tour de France Lance Armstrong would still have all his medals and $$$$. Tennis has become so skewed to “creating drams to attract fans” that I think the CEO.s or the President Of ATP, Christ Kermode, since 2014 are all blind to the fact that any thinking fan can see through the hype.

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