If you were to put together the ultimate tennis player from today’s group of pros, a la Dr. Frankenstein, which players would you pick and for which shots? Great question, I know. So I started racking my brain, thinking about the categories I’d need and which players would fit where. I gave myself one parameter, though: I couldn’t pick a player to fill more than two categories. I needed to do this so I couldn’t just pick Nadal, Federer and Djokovic for every category. After some careful consideration, this is the monster I created. (Cue evil villain laugh and lightning).
Serve: Milos Raonic
Don’t be fooled by what Verdasco called “the body of a 12 year old boy.” The 6’5″ Canuck can bring the heat! And the amazing thing is that he makes it looks almost effortless to hit 140+ MPH missiles.
Forehand: Rafael Nadal
Call it whatever you want: the buggy whip, the helicopter, whatever it is, it works. Nadal hits his forehand at an average of 3,300 RPMs. Compare that to Roger Federer who hits an average of 2,700 RPMs. His inside-out forehand is the best in the game. Hands down.
Backhand: Novak Djokovic
Brad Gilbert calls Djokovic’s backhand “the best since Andre Agassi.” And he’s right. Down the line, cross court, on the rise, it doesn’t matter. His backhand is probably the main reason why he’s been so successful against Rafa in their past few meetings.
Slice: Roger Federer
His forehand could be misfiring, the topspin backhand could be going long, but the slice is tried and true. For those of us who’ve tried to hit a driving slice above our shoulders, we know just how hard of a shot it is to hit. But he does it with ease. Playing against Nadal 28 times probably had something to do with it.
Volley: Bryan Brothers
11 Grand Slam doubles titles can’t be wrong. Need more convincing? Check out the video below.
Drop shot: Andy Murray
He uses it often and sometimes even at the displeasure of the crowd like what happened with his match against Giles Simon at the 2011 Monte Carlo Masters.
Tweener: Roger Federer
Anyone remember the ‘tweener he hit against Djokovic at the US Open? Thought so.
Return: Novak Djokovic
His return game isn’t just one of the best in his era, but one of the best of all time. Djokovic stands right at the baseline and is able to hit winners from both wings. Down two match points against a 16 time Grand Slam champion at the semifinals of the US Open? Doesn’t matter, he’s like the honey badger.
Speed: Gael Monfils
There are a lot of fast players on the ATP World Tour, but there are few faster than the speedy Frenchman. Full disclosure: I would’ve put either Djokovic or Nadal here, but by my own rules, I couldn’t because they’re already in two categories. So save your angry emails!
Heart/Mental Toughness: Rafael Nadal
Quick story: It was 2008 and a group of us from Tennis Warehouse were watching Nadal vs Nalbandian at the BNP Paribas Open (formerly known as the Pacific Life Open). Nadal lost the first set 6-3 and was down a couple breaks in the second set. We thought it was over and decided to go home. The next morning, we come into work to find out that Nadal saved five match points, taking the second set to a tie-break, winning the tie break and then handed out a bagel in the third set. No one is more mentally tough and fights harder than Nadal.
- Charisma: Mansour Bahrami
Yes, yes, I know he isn’t necessarily considered to be part of “todays pro” but he he gets paid to play exhibitions matches. So technically, he’s a professional. I had to make an exception! He’s an entertainer in every sense of the word and you’ve probably never even heard of him. Go ahead and watch the video below. I guarantee you’ll find yourself smiling or laughing within 2 minutes. Or your money back.
So that’s my ultimate tennis player. What’s yours? Comment below with your own monster.
Up next, the ultimate female tennis player.