Blueprint for the Perfect Tennis Player
There are many incredible tennis players in the world, and still, none of them are perfect.
However, some can be the best in the sport at certain times of the year and can also possess the greatest particular shot as a weapon.
The men in the Big Four (or five) are certainly among the best in terms of fitness, while some players can be the best in other regards, such as Jerzy Janowicz and his drop shot.
In order to create the perfect player, certain shots and their anatomies would have to be combined so that one could have the best of all worlds.
Here is the blueprint to create such a tennis player.
Inside-Out Forehand: Roger Federer
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Roger Federer's forehand as a whole is probably the greatest the sport has ever seen, but there are many components to it that must be broken down.
Surely a player like Tomas Berdych can sometimes outmatch the Maestro's forehand in a controlling position, so let's just discuss his inside-out technique.
He gets around his backhand so well, likely a technique he taught himself since day one to avoid hitting that not-as-good stroke.
His inside-out forehand finds opponents' backhands (for the most part) so efficiently and helps set up the rest of the point.
Because he takes many forehands inside-in as well, it is tough to get a read or feel on this dominating shot.
Cross-Court Forehand: Rafael Nadal
For anyone who has ever seen a Rafa Nadal match, you might be familiar with his forehand.
And it's not just that—they are almost always cross-court until maybe there is an opening in the point.
His high-looping and very "spinny" groundstroke is especially effective since he plays left-handed.
He puts all right-handers in a position of danger and inferiority with just one strike of the forehand.
The Spaniard has been successful on all surfaces due to his mentality, fitness, agility and other things, but it is his forehand that allows him to stand out.
Serve: Ivo Karlovic
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It can be argued that Janowicz, John Isner and Milos Raonic all have serves just as good as Ivo Karlovic's.
However, these guys (with the exception of John Isner) are not as tall as Dr. Ivo, so the angle at which the ball takes off off the ground is in a completely different ballpark.
Isner may have a greater second serve, but in terms of a first serve by itself, I think Karlovic takes the cake.
His motion is terrific, the ball flies off the court and his percentage is high due to his contact point.
So, even if this "perfect player" we are creating had just Karlovic's serve and the variations of Federer's and Nadal's forehands (though they play with opposite hands), he would probably be the best player out there.
Still, we look to improve this already god-like athlete!
Cross-Court Backhand: Richard Gasquet
Many athletes have phenomenal cross-court backhands. I point out Richard Gasquet's because it is incredibly consistent, has a lot of top spin that pushes the ball away from the opponent and can even be struck from several feet beyond the baseline (where Gasquet prefers to play from).
The Frenchman does not mind standing out there and hitting this shot all day long.
It does not usually break down and has considerable height over the net, making this shot one of the most feared ones to go up against.
His down-the-line backhand is also very good and deceptive, but that spot is saved for somebody who can hit it more consistently with a bit more margin of error.
Down-the-Line Backhand: Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic's cross-court backhand is just as good as his down-the-line pattern (though I personally think his best shot is the backhand down-the-line drop shot), but the latter shot is much tougher to pull off. He executes exceptionally.
It is amazing just how consistent this Serb's shot is because it is only hit with top spin about half of the time.
He does not go too close to the lines during a rally unless it is for a winner, and he can break down many people's strengths by utilizing this weapon of his.
Surely, he is an all-around player, but this shot is definitely noteworthy and has won him many matches in crucial moments.
Volley: Michael Llodra
Federer, Andy Murray and others have very impressive volleys, but there is something about Michael Llodra's technique and instincts that give him the edge in this department.
In fact, it is amazing in its own right that Llodra is able to compete at such a high level considering the state of where his groundies are and the fact that he serves-and-volleys almost exclusively.
Llodra is able to pick off tricky passing shots and deceive his opponents from the net position.
His presence is also very threatening, as target practice for some athletes is not their favorite thing in the world.
So far, this player has all the amazing shots, but he also needs two more important factors to add that strut to his step.
Mental Toughness: David Ferrer
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Many of the top players are mentally tough. If they weren't, they would not be there.
But when it comes to doggedness and fighting until the very end, David Ferrer is definitely one of the best. Of course, Rafael Nadal does not always make his grinding look as impressive, but he is a tremendous fighter with a huge heart.
Ferrer puts so much effort and energy into all points, and he hustles and bustles to make up for his sometimes inadequate serve.
He lacks the firepower that many of the Top-10ers have in their weaponry, and so he tries to break down his opponent's weapons over time with his scrappy style of play.
Now, he was in contention with Federer to be on the best inside-out forehand slide, but since it takes him more shots to that side of the court to hit an outright winner, I left the prize to the Swiss man.
Cat-and-Mouse Play: Andy Murray
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Andy Murray has a very good return of serve, backhand slice, down-the-line backhand, court coverage and mental toughness. Essentially, he is the blueprint for the best tennis player without the outright weapons.
However, where he stumps most of the competition, even the Big Four players (though Rafa puts him to work in all of their meetings), is his ability to toy with opponents.
He hits drop shots, lobs, approaches the net and slices his opponents to death all day long. This is all meant to back up his already solid groundstrokes.
Murray outfoxes his opponents in so many encounters and always seems to have a cool head when chasing down a tricky shot or being faced with numerous possibilities of ending the point.
If a player had all of these characteristics, he would not need anywhere near 20 majors to his name to be labeled the greatest that ever played the sport early on in his career.