Here is the recipe needed in order to create a dream tennis player.
Please note that the ingredients can be changed at the reader’s discretion, but that the instructions should be followed in exactly the same order.
Should you go wrong, please go back to the beginning and start again.
Should you choose to continue you may end up creating a player like David Nalbandian; hugely talented, full of promise and yet will not achieve all that they are capable of. You have been warned!
Now, let’s begin shall we?
Ok, so maybe this slide is one for the ladies.
(Don't worry boys, we will soon be moving on to the technicalities.)
This part of the recipe does not need to be stuck to rigidly and readers may choose their own favourite personality traits and...(clears throat)...body parts.
Here are my preferences.
1. The chocolate brown curls and sweet smile of Roger Federer.
2. The piercing blue eyes of Chris Eaton.
3. The big guns belonging to Rafael Nadal (might as well have the whole upper torso if I'm being honest).
4. Fernando Verdasco's hair free legs!!
1. The sweet nature of Rafael Nadal and gentlemanly manner of Roger Federer.
2. The fun side of Novak Djokovic.
3. The dry wit of Andy Roddick.
4. The charisma and endless charm of Marat Safin. (Including racquet smashing—always good to have a bit of the bad boy flaws as well.)
5. And most importantly...the determination and mental fortitude of Rafael Nadal.
6. It may also be wise to add in the calm on-court demeanour of Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer. (After all, Roger's little "incident" in Miami has been forgiven and forgotten.)
Ok, now that is out of the way, let's move on to the more serious part of this presentation...
Bear with me now, this is the most complicated part of the recipe! So make sure your scales are working properly.
1. Weigh out the formidable first serve of Goran Ivanisevic.
Good ol’ Goran was well-known for his powerful first serves. Here was a guy who could ace anyone off the court. With height on his side, his serves were a deadly combination of speed, power and deception. And he was a lefty to boot.
Goran also holds most of the records when it comes to aces. One particularly amazing statistic is that he served a record 212 aces on the way to his Wimbledon title in 2001. He also holds the records for the most aces in a year: 1477 in 1996.
Goran's fastest serve: 136mph
2. Pour in the sizzling second serve of Pete Sampras.
Pete Sampras could have easily been called Pete Server. As one of the most famous serve-and-volley players to have ever graced the good game of tennis, his serve was an important part of his artillery.
Pistol Pete had a fluid service motion which disguised the power that would then explode off his racquet to produce first serve speeds of around 120-140mph.
However, most impressive of all, was the power behind his second serve. Aces were just an everyday occurrence for the great man, including on his second serve.
Pete is often regarded as having the best second serve in tennis history. His second serves were often in the range of 100-120mph. Crazy. Many players probably wish that their first serve was as good as Pete’s second.
Pete's fastest serve: 139
3. Mix in the startling speed of Andy Roddick.
This is the guy with the fastest serve speed on record. 155mph. And yes, it was an ace!
Andy’s game is based around his powerful serve and strokes from the baseline. He frequently clocks in first serve speeds of 130-150mph. Andy also puts a great deal of topspin into his serves.
Please note that the kick serve he uses for his second serve isn’t bad either.
Andy's fastest serve: see all-time record.
4. Beat in the precise placement of Roger Federer.
Roger doesn’t have one of the most powerful serves in tennis history. However, what he lacks in speed and power, he makes up for in disguise and placement.
Roger makes life difficult for his opponents by cleverly masking which direction he is going to serve to. He does this by using the same service motion at all times (a tactic which was also employed by Pete Sampras).
Roger also mixes up the speed, angles and amount of spin to confuse his opponent further.
This part of the recipe is much easier to follow. (There's only one instruction!)
1. Add a dollop of Roger Federer’s fabulous forehand (before it started splaying errors, obviously):
Although Roger has an all-court game, his forehand is considered his most lethal weapon. In fact, it is considered one, if not the, most lethal forehands in tennis history. It may look beautifully fluid and elegant but behind its shiny facade lurks danger.
Do not be deceived; Roger’s forehand is both fast and powerful. John McEnroe has called it "the greatest shot in our sport".
But I think that Rafael Nadal, who beat Roger in the 2009 Australian Open final, summed it up nicely when he explained why he continually chose to serve to Roger’s backhand during that final.
“Because if Roger touch the ball with the forehand, the return with the second serve, he gonna kill me, no?"
Note that: Ivan Lendl, Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal were all considered for their powerful forehands pumped full of top-spin.
This part of the recipe needs 3 key ingredients. Make sure you find them and measure them out accurately before mixing together.
Mix-up the following ingredients.
1. For consistency and an ability to conjure up magical passing shots: A teaspoon of Murray.
Murray has one of the most solid backhands on the tour today. He is particularly good at using this shot as a method of defence. However, readers should note that many players are terrified of his ability to turn things around and start using this shot to attack.
Some fans wonder whether Andy has secretly been trained at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardly as lately he has been conjuring up what can only be described as magical passing shots.
2. For pure precision and power: A tablespoon of Marat Safin.
Although Marat is mostly known for his overwhelming potential and underwhelming use of it, his two-handed backhand is one of the best the game has to offer. Although it is not particularly graceful, that is part of its beauty; the shot mimics the player. It is powerful, precise and one of the best when in form; a bit like the player who owns it.
3. For a scintillating single-hander and superb slice: Half a tablespoon of Roger Federer.
You may have come to realise that I have a penchant for this player. In fact, I could just come out and admit that Roger is pretty much my dream player. His style of play comes as close to perfect as can be in my mind, particularly in his dominating period of 2004-2007. (We’ll just try to forget about these few little “hiccups” he is going through at the moment, shall we?)
I do understand that some cooks are now debating whether or not to add this ingredient following the recent increase in the regular targeting and disintegration of this shot. However, one must remember than when not "off," this is one of the most beautiful backhands in the game. Therefore, make sure the ingredient is fresh before adding it to the recipe.
One of the most beautiful shots to come from the backhand side of Roger’s racquet was produced in the Wimbledon final 2008. Yes, I’m referring to that famous backhand down the line to save match point.
This single-handed shot is well-known for its variety: slice, spin, drop-shot. You name it, it’s done it.
Note that: both the Richard Gasquet and David Nalbandian backhands were considered as possible ingredients in this recipe but abandoned due to the inconsistency of their owners. It was thought that it would be too risky to add them to this recipe.
Stir in some jolly Jimbo.
Perhaps best remembered for his off-court antics and on-court misdemeanours, Jimmy Connors could still read a serve like no other. This was, in part, due to his ability to hit the ball low and flat, taking away the pace from the shot and often producing a winner.
This ability helped Jimmy win his way to eight Slam titles.
Note that: pinches of Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi wouldn’t go amiss either. Both these players are/were esteemed returners and make/made it tricky for an opponent to hit an ace against them.
Add equal amounts of the vivacious volleys of Stefan Edberg and John McEnroe.
This part of the recipe was the most difficult to decide on. There are many well respected volleyers, past and present, in the wonderful world of racquets and balls.
Many ingredients were considered for this part of the recipe, including the volleys of: Pistol Pete, Boris Becker and even Tim Henman. (Ok, so I’ll admit I have a slight bias towards Tiger Tim, being a Brit.)
The winner of two calendar Grand-Slams, Rod Laver, was also a possibility here, but I decided to keep my recipe fresh. Having played so long ago, I was afraid Laver might be slightly "out of date."
Readers should feel free to substitute ingredients for this part of the recipe if they wish to. However, the combination of Stefan and John is highly recommended. Not only were both considered superb volleyers with bucket loads of talent, but the differences in their personality also creates an intriguing concoction for the dream player we are creating.
Stefan Edberg was a winner of the Sportsmanship Award five times and as a result, the award was named after him. John McEnroe, on the other hand, was better known for his on-court tantrums and his famous catch phrase, “You can not be serious!"
These final ingredients can be added at the reader’s discretion, although recommendations are provided.
1. Ability to rally from the baseline with powerful ground-strokes.
It is strongly recommended that a drop of Andre Agassi is considered here. Another possibility is to add a hint of Novak Djokovic, another aggressive baseliner.
Note that by adding the above ingredients, the dream player may have a few ups and downs during their career but will be more likely to become a determined and gritty fighter who will triumph in the end. They may also gain the ability to do a delightful backhand drop-shot.
It is highly recommended that the physical prowess of both Rafael Nadal and Bjorn Borg are sieved in with the rest of the ingredients. This will give your player the ability to keep on going no matter how exhausted they are. (Please see Australian Open final, 2009.)
By adding both Rafael and Bjorn, your dream player will have the athleticism which is a vital part of tennis today. Court-coverage will not be a problem and it is likely that your player will be able to win the all of the tournaments in the clay court season, including the French Open.
3) Add in a touch of drop-shots, lobs and the ability to smash at your own discretion.
Your dream tennis player is ready to be served (no pun intended).
If you have followed the instructions carefully, your player will be guarenteed a long and successful career.
They will most likely: get the number 1 world ranking for a record number of weeks (consecutive and total), win a record number of Grand Slams (including the calender Grand Slam...more than twice) and the Olympic Gold medal.
N.B. Sorry, I couldn't resist putting in the last picture. I was going to put in a picture of Rod Laver but this made me happier!