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At the start of the 2001 year in tennis, it is obvious that the men's circuit ATP is dominated by the baseline players - e.g. Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin. This may seem strange, since only a couple of  years ago, it was players with killer serves that dominated - e.g. Yevgeny Kafelnikov*. 

How come ?

The thing is this: There are three different styles, and they correspond to each other like rock, paper, scissors

  • Baseline players with good returns and ball placement can withstand a Killer Server, but have difficulties against the offensive variation of...
  • Serve and volley players, who will beat Baseline players, but does not have the the skills needed to manage a...
  • Killer serve player, whose hard serves pay off against Serve and volley players, but not against...
    etc etc

This is evident when studying the evolution of the dominant players of the last 20 years or so:

Base liners Björn Borg, Jimmy Connors dominated until offensive player John McEnroe came around. After McEnroe came Boris Becker and Pat Cash, had killer serves. Those were followed by base line players like Ivan Lendl and Mats Wilander, who in turn stood no chance against Stefan Edberg, who in turn couldn't handle Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Stich. Goran was taken care of by Andre Agassi, who were neutralized by Pete Sampras serve and volley play...and after that came the killer serves again.

This does not seem to apply to the women's circuit, where baseline players have ruled for 20 years now. But with the Williams sisters, power has become a very important factor.

Anyhow, keep your eyes open for a skilled young player with a good serve and volley game...


* 2001.10.09@11:20 Jennifer says kafelnikov has not a killer serve-- he is a baseline guy too, judging form dominance at Roland Garros that started his career. he's nearly a clay specialist!
Inspired by an article in the newspaper DN.

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