Saqib Ali elicited this line of commentary from Andrew Burton on various tiers of tennis players:
You don’t get to be in the top 100 in the world without an immense amount of training, an immense amount of conditioning, an immense amount of dedication. All of these players are putting a lot into the sport, but it’s hard to get the consistency and to find your way through that. I think we can tie the two parts of this podcast together in terms of the way that Federer, after the win in Dubai, actually was asked about getting to 100 titles and what was hard about it. What Federer talked about was being able to integrate all the different aspects of playing tennis:
He said, “Winning five matches in six days or five days, it takes a different type of fitness. You can play a great tournament, play a brutal semis, you can get unlucky sometimes with the schedule. You have to be fit on many fronts – mentally, physically, your game has to translate. You have to be able to beat different types of players, not just the grinders, not just the big servers, not just the attacking players. You have to be able to beat them all in successive days.”
And then he said, “Only a few players can do that every year, five, six, seven times or more during a single year. For that you need to be able to adapt your game to conditions. You need to be able to play through pain. So, you have to figure it out. It’s hard.”
That’s Federer speaking. We have been incredibly lucky over the decades to see players like Connors, McEnroe, Sampras, and then more recently, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, and then on the women’s side, we mustn’t forget Navratilova, Evert, Graf, the two Williams sisters, players who have learned how to do that. Sometimes, I think people ask the question, “Why can’t YOU, Nick Kyrgios, figure it out?”
“Caroline Wozniacki, why can’t you figure it out, how to bring this week-in and week-out?”
It’s really, really hard, and only a very few players, the Connorses, the Federers, the Nadals, the Williamses, the Djokovices, ever figure out how to do that.