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Well, I'm not sure Federer is exactly unstoppable. Yes, Federer has beaten both Agassi and Sampras, but all those times were towards the end of their careers. It would be interesting to see whether Federer could beat Sampras at his prime stages of his career (1997-1999) and Agassi at his prime stages of his career (1995, second half of 1999).
Almost forgot...Federer doesn't use the Wilson nCode Six-One Tour. He uses a paint job.
Tennis and the Revenge of Technological Revolution
And Edward Tenner (Part 1):
Originally Posted by Mpol
Tennis and the Revenge of Technological Revolution
(an excerpt from Tenner's When Things Bite Back: Technology and the
Revenge of Unintended Consequences)
By the standards of professional sports, tennis officials once were casual about
equipment. They strictly policed the dimensions and conditions of courts and
nets and the specifications of balls, but well into the 1970s they left racket
design and dimensions to the imagination of athletes and manufacturers. As late
as 1977, the president of the U.S. Tennis Association could declare, 'You can
play with a tomato can on a broomstick, if you think you can win with it." This
freedom, far from encouraging a profusion of fanciful designs, was permitting a
slowly evolving uniformity. Equipment was not so important as skill--tennis
professionals with frying pans can achieve excellent results against lesser
players with rackets--but this was not the whole reason for conservatism. A
similar advantage for skill as opposed to equipment exists in most sports and
has not necessarily stopped invention.
What seemed to set the tennis racket apart was the properties of the materials
that went into it. Cutting ash and beech into strips, laminating them, and more
recently reinforcing them with a variety of plastics improves racket strength,
but these techniques could not overcome an apparent natural size limit of about
seventy square inches. A larger wooden or even aluminum racket face would
tend to break with the force of the hardest shots, or reduce the speed of play
because of weight. (Heavier rackets add little speed to balls, because a slower
swing cancels out most of the advantage of the added mass, while lighter and
faster-moving rackets do add speed significantly.) Steel rackets had been tried
as early as the 1920s--a Birmingham manufacturer introduced a model using
piano wire--but it was Jimmy Connors, who won in the late 1960s with the
steel Wilson T2000, and Pancho Gonzalez, who used an aluminum Spalding
Smasher at Wimbledon in 1969, who signaled the approach of an age of more
rapid evolution of rackets.21
The real revolution in materials, however, did not begin until nearly ten years
later, and it started at the bottom: with rackets designed to make the game
easier for less skilled players. Howard Head, an engineer who made millions
developing and producing laminated skis, saw that many amateur tennis players
were frustrated by their inability to hit the ball consistently with conventional
rackets. The early Wilson and Spalding metal rackets were of little help to the
majority of players. Head realized that the absence of official specifications
created a unique opportunity. A patent issued in 1974 for his aluminum model
(marketed as the Prince in 1976) gave him a legal monopoly on oversized
rackets. The original Prince has a surface of 130 square inches, nearly twice
the area of conventional models. While sports physicists and engineers
recognize three different plausible definitions of a "sweet spot," a zone of
maximum efficiency in hitting a ball with any object, there was no doubt that
the Prince had a significantly larger one than conventional models. (Because
fewer shots twisted or vibrated players' arms, some believe larger rackets have
reduced the incidence of tennis elbow, though this is hard to determine. In the
early 1990s, half of all amateur frequent players still were reporting symptoms
eventually. Midsized racket heads do reduce vibration and twisting, but the
largest ones may twist more, and stiffer rackets are poor absorbers of shock.
Equipment that will forgive errors has never mattered much to professionals in
any sport; nobody reaches top-level play without consistency. Those who first
adopted the Prince racket were well-off, middle-aged, competitive but ordinary
players--like Head himself. In fact, if the larger sweet spot had been its only
benefit, bigger rackets might have suffered from a kind of prosthetic stigma in
the face of traditional macho designs. But oversize construction has another,
unexpected benefit that appeals to professionals. The new rackets--both the
Prince and later models made of fiberglass, boron, graphite, and Kevlar in
various combinations of materials--are both lighter and stiffer than traditional
models. They permit velocities up to 30 percent greater than the old designs.
And this improvement in performance had serious consequences for the sport.
(The market for more forgiving equipment can be anything but gentle. A
slightly oversized, slower-moving tennis ball, the Wilson Rally, flopped among
its intended market of older and less skilled amateurs in the early 1980s. Its
weight conformed to regulations, but it felt heavier than standard balls when it
hit the strings. Wilson soon had to withdraw it.)
Within only five years of the Prince's introduction, larger rackets had taken
over tournament play. The move began with Pam Shriver and helped make
women's tennis one of the few female sports that could compete in media
attention and cash with their male counterparts. But the effect on the men's
game was much more complex. For individual stars, there was no alternative.
Some leading male professionals were determined to show that they could win
tournaments with wood-but they failed. John McEnroe was the last to use a
wooden racket at Wimbledon in 1982; when Bjorn Borg tried one at the Monte
Carlo Open in 1991, he lost twelve of seventeen games to a Spanish player
ranked fifty-second but playing with a graphite fiber model. By the early
1990s, wooden rackets had become a niche product, available mainly from a
single manufacturer in Cambridge, England.23
Tennis and the Revenge of Technological Revolution
The triumph of metal and composite rackets, combined with the entry of
stronger and better-conditioned young players, transformed the men's
professional game. By the 1990s the sometimes monotonous serve-and-volley
game was a thing of the past, with only a few of its specialists left on the tour.
On the other hand, the new rackets multiplied the advantage of a powerful
serve, especially on a fast surface like grass. Serves clocked at over 100 miles
an hour became routine, and a number of top players have even been able to
surpass 120 miles an hour. These results are all the more impressive because
most top professionals are not yet using the most radical designs, exceptionally
stiff wide-bodied rackets that they feel don't allow enough topspin. A growing
number of serves are aces that no player could return, and more and more
games have become serving contests. In the 1994 men's Wimbledon
tournament, Pete Sampras defeated Goran Ivanisevic with a magnificent
display of technique, but his 125-mile-per-hour serves bored many fans. The
longest rally was just eight strokes, and the correspondent for the Guardian,
David Irvine, appealed for action 'to save the grass-court game from self
destructing.' As of the mid-1990s, every proposed solution to the revenge
effects of larger rackets in men's professional play appears to have unintended
consequences. Higher nets or less lively balls in tournament play would affect
not only the service but all other shots. Different court dimensions for
professionals and amateurs would confuse training and make thousands of
courts unusable at least part of the time. Requiring players to have both feet on
the ground while serving would rob professionals of the benefits of countless
hours of practice-possibly giving an advantage to some competitors better
adapted physically to the new rules. New restrictions on rackets would not only
raise questions about the usability of older models but invite U.S. antitrust
action by manufacturers who might consider themselves penalized. And
converting Wimbledon from grass to clay might affront tennis traditionalists
more than any new racket design ever could.
The irony of the new rackets goes even further: they are not as profitable for
the manufacturers as they once were. The large racket, for all the benefits it
may give the average player, did not do very much for the tennis boom of the
1970s. According to the records of the Tennis Industry Association (TIA). the
number of tennis players had already peaked in 1974, two years before
introduction of the Prince in 1976. Participation remained stagnant, then began
a sharp drop through the early eighties, bottoming out at ten to eleven million
adults by the middle of the decade. This is not entirely surprising; a
higher-performance product often needs a broad base of consumers eager to
upgrade. What is unexpected is that participation continued to decline so
sharply despite greater ease of learning and play. The TIA attributes the slump
of the 1980s to the rise of aerobics and health clubs, but it still is not clear why
these should have competed so successfully to the detriment of tennis but not
of other outdoor sports. Could one reason be the higher price of the new
rackets? Less affluent players might simply have rejected the prospect of a
new $150 investment just to remain competitive. This cost would not, of
course, deter a serious player but might give casual ones second thoughts. And
some otherwise satisfied with their old rackets might have found the sweet spot
unacceptably small, especially once their opponents began to play with
Just as the first boom in tennis ended before technological innovation, a
recovery of participation began around 1985, three years before the
introduction of wide-bodied rackets in 1988, with thinner but deeper frames
that added stiffness--once more at a higher price point of $200 to $250. There
was no doubt that these rackets made learning easier for beginners and gave
serious players stronger shots. Compared with wood they had fully twice the
hitting area and were often twice as stiff, yet weighed 35 to 40 percent less. In
the early 1990s the industry was expecting to regain something of the
popularity it had reached at its peak.
Once again, though, technology failed to save tennis. Instead of continuing to
rebound, the sport was foundering by the mid-1990s, despite but also partly
because of its success in innovation. The number of players continued its slow
recovery from the trough of 1985, reaching 25 million by 1993, yet the sale of
tennis balls--a measure of activity--dropped significantly between 1990 and
1993. Manufacturers and retailers were quick to blame inadequate marketing,
but the game's explosion in the 1970s appeared to owe little to marketing
campaigns, and even companies as adept as Nike have not been consistently
successful. Whatever the reason, racket manufacturers began to slash prices in
the mid-1990s and stores cut back on their space for tennis equipment.
Meanwhile the higher quality of the new equipment seemed to work against the
industry. The New York Times reported that the new metal rackets were lasting
far longer than wooden models and needed less frequent restringing. This has
not stopped the introduction of still more powerful rackets, but these show little
prospect of bringing back the boom of the 1970s.
Tennis shows how unpredictable technological change can be in any sport. For
two decades, equipment improved for the average player as for the
professional, yet participation never approached the peak of the wood-racket
era at the end of the 1970s. The added power of male professionals did not
seem to increase the game's appeal to spectators; if anything, the intensification
of the game began to bore them.
I defenitely agree with this. Federer is very good, but Agassi and Sampras at their prime are defenitely at the same level as Federer. But, there's not doubt in my mind that these three players are probably the most talented tennis players in the past 25 years.
Originally Posted by Unregistered
Actually, Agassi and Federer both use racquets of about the same weight: around 13 ounces each. In fact, it would probably be more difficult to generate racquet head spead with Agassi's racquet than Federer's racquet because Federer's racquet head size is 88 square inches and Agassi's racquet head size is appr. 104 square inches. Both of them use racquets that are heavier than stated on racquet retailers because both of them use paint jobs.
Originally Posted by Unregistered
Originally Posted by TJohansson
I agree that Pete Sampras is the better of the two, but in the next 5 years we will all be speaking of another who will be the greatest male player Roger Federer.
Best Mens' Player Ever
This is a big statement. I think you have to look at each player for the time they played.
If you look in another way - has the player used his talent to his maximum?
Pete - yes, very close. He won most of the stuff he "should" have based on his talent.
Andre - no, not in my opinion. His mental side was too shaky. I think if Andre used his talent (natural) with the mental side of Pete than Andre would have won 4 or 5 more majors and at least 15 more tournaments. And at least 3 or 4 of those should be the end years Masters cups.
greatest player of all time: Pistol Pete...
Most talented player of all time: Marcelo Rios (damm injuries)
Future greatest player of all time... Roger...
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