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Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
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calitennis127 Offline
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Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
Back on the Tennis Digital board, El Dude argued that I confuse aesthetics with talent. Moxie seconded him by telling me that "Tennis is sport, not an art exhibit". Many times I have been told that I confuse flare or aesthetics with actual talent, i.e. winning tournaments and championships.

But does the premise of my challengers completely hold up? Are aesthetics truly irrelevant to results and distinct from results?

I don't believe so.

Anyone who has played sports knows that the way in which a shot or maneuver is executed can have major psychological impact. Players with a decent amount of exposure to the game and experience with it know when they are dealing with someone really formidable, based on their style.

For instance, Del Potro's forehand will always make him respected by the top players. They will always see him as a threat and a force based on just seeing that shot executed.

When it comes to the great Nalbandian, do I really have to say anything? If you know tennis and you just watch him play for 5 minutes, you know that the man is ultra-talented, based on style alone.

All that said, results are of course significant. But I contend that they are heavily influenced by the nitty-gritty, the controllable, the product of hard work in practice and in conditioning workouts. These factors are all practical, and they weigh against the aesthetic factor in terms of determining results. The mundane and transcendent are often at loggerheads in determining the final outcome of matches.

However, if all is equal in the pragmatic domain (the "mundane domain" if you want to rhyme it) between two players, then I contend that the one with superior aesthetics will win out because of the psychological force and psychological power that comes with his shots being executed.

So, in conclusion, aesthetics are far from being the only determining factor in results (obviously), but they do play a role as well. They are not merely an icing-on-the-cake type of art exhibit.
(This post was last modified: 02-Jul-2013 12:48 PM by calitennis127.)
02-Jul-2013 12:46 PM
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AndrewWilliam Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
What does aesthetics have to do with winning? There have been plenty of players down the years whose shots could be termed 'grotesque' but were damn effective. Nalbandian has very good technique on his backhand. Whether or not someone finds it 'beautiful' is irrelevant.
(This post was last modified: 02-Jul-2013 01:33 PM by AndrewWilliam.)
02-Jul-2013 01:31 PM
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calitennis127 Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
(02-Jul-2013 01:31 PM)AndrewWilliam Wrote:  What the heck does aesthetics have to do with winning? There have been plenty of players down the years whose shots could be termed 'grotesque' but were damn effective. Nalbandian has very good technique on his backhand. Whether or not someone finds it 'beautiful' is irrelevant.



Ryan Harrison's forehand is one of the ugliest shots I have ever seen. Right up there with Querrey's.
02-Jul-2013 01:33 PM
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AndrewWilliam Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
(02-Jul-2013 01:33 PM)calitennis127 Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 01:31 PM)AndrewWilliam Wrote:  What the heck does aesthetics have to do with winning? There have been plenty of players down the years whose shots could be termed 'grotesque' but were damn effective. Nalbandian has very good technique on his backhand. Whether or not someone finds it 'beautiful' is irrelevant.



Ryan Harrison's forehand is one of the ugliest shots I have ever seen. Right up there with Querrey's.

Have you not witnessed Ernie's latest creation?

[Image: Ernests-Gulbis.jpg]

So please show a little respect for the world's ugliest forehand.
02-Jul-2013 01:43 PM
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calitennis127 Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
(02-Jul-2013 01:43 PM)AndrewWilliam Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 01:33 PM)calitennis127 Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 01:31 PM)AndrewWilliam Wrote:  What the heck does aesthetics have to do with winning? There have been plenty of players down the years whose shots could be termed 'grotesque' but were damn effective. Nalbandian has very good technique on his backhand. Whether or not someone finds it 'beautiful' is irrelevant.



Ryan Harrison's forehand is one of the ugliest shots I have ever seen. Right up there with Querrey's.

Have you not witnessed Ernie's latest creation?

[Image: Ernests-Gulbis.jpg]

So please show a little respect for the world's ugliest forehand.



I agree on what Gulbis and his team have concocted with the forehand. That idea needs to be put back on the shelf or in the attic or in the trash bin or wherever it must go to guarantee that it never re-appears again.
02-Jul-2013 01:45 PM
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shawnbm (07-02-2013)
El Dude Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
Cali, I'm afraid this is a non-argument. Of course aesthetics can be an aspect of a player's overall level of play, but as the saying goes, correlation doesn't equal causation. In fact, we know that this isn't true - otherwise Grigor Dimitrov would be a top 5 player right now and Bernard Tomic would have beaten Tomas Berdych. Tomic plays like a dancer with a wide variety of moves and styles, Berdych is just a powerhouse and, in the end, simply over-powered the Aussie. Dimitrov is also graceful and relaxed, but he has still yet to sniff the top 20. This is not to say that neither player will be elite, but that they are not there yet and it has nothing to do with how aesthetic their games are.

A player's ability is a complex soup - how it all comes together completely depends upon the individual. I think perhaps a better way to look at it is that there are a variety of styles of play; one style is not inherently better than another style. How good a player is is independent from style. In other words, a good power player will defeat an average finesse player, while a good finesse player will defeat an average power player. And, in the end, each player is a unique bend of power and finesse, and numerous other factors.

What I hear you saying is that, all things being equal, a good finesse player will beat a good power player. The problem is that all things are never equal - there are always factors: the state of the court, how fast or slow it is; the mind-state of the players; how their games match up; etc. A great match occurs when the two complex systems that are the two players match up just right. Like Rafa and Novak at Roland Garros this year. I'd love to see Ferrer and Federer play now as I think they'd be a close match. Roger and Rafa at Wimbledon '07 and '08 are classic examples, or Borg and McEnroe at Wimbledon '80. Etc.
02-Jul-2013 02:48 PM
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Moxie629 (07-02-2013), tented (07-02-2013)
tented Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
(02-Jul-2013 01:33 PM)calitennis127 Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 01:31 PM)AndrewWilliam Wrote:  What the heck does aesthetics have to do with winning? There have been plenty of players down the years whose shots could be termed 'grotesque' but were damn effective. Nalbandian has very good technique on his backhand. Whether or not someone finds it 'beautiful' is irrelevant.



Ryan Harrison's forehand is one of the ugliest shots I have ever seen. Right up there with Querrey's.

AndrewWilliam disagrees with you, therefore you attack the guy in his avatar. Nice.
02-Jul-2013 05:34 PM
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Moxie629 Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
(02-Jul-2013 12:46 PM)calitennis127 Wrote:  Anyone who has played sports knows that the way in which a shot or maneuver is executed can have major psychological impact. Players with a decent amount of exposure to the game and experience with it know when they are dealing with someone really formidable, based on their style.

For instance, Del Potro's forehand will always make him respected by the top players. They will always see him as a threat and a force based on just seeing that shot executed.

When it comes to the great Nalbandian, do I really have to say anything? If you know tennis and you just watch him play for 5 minutes, you know that the man is ultra-talented, based on style alone.

I appreciate the part of your thesis that says that certain shots can give a player a psychological advantage over opponents, if they are perceived as formidable. But what makes a shot intimidating is its effectiveness, not how pretty it is, I would say. I bolded the word "style" in your quote above, because I think you confuse "style" with "stylishness."

I like El Dude's quote: "I think perhaps a better way to look at it is that there are a variety of styles of play; one style is not inherently better than another style." This is where you are always stubborn, and where you also muddy your argument. You bring in Nalbandian, and your narrow definition of "talent." If Nalbandian's "aesthetically pleasing" shots were so formidable to opponents, why didn't he win more?

Certainly, Del Potro's big FHs that come hard and flat and low over the net MUST be as intimidating as they are effective. And we know that the heavy spin and weight of shot that Nadal brings precedes him onto the court. These are different styles, but both are often deadly, and have been career-making.
02-Jul-2013 05:38 PM
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calitennis127 Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
(02-Jul-2013 05:38 PM)Moxie629 Wrote:  I appreciate the part of your thesis that says that certain shots can give a player a psychological advantage over opponents, if they are perceived as formidable. But what makes a shot intimidating is its effectiveness, not how pretty it is, I would say.

I would say "both". The shot needs to be effective, of course, but the psychological effect of it is that much greater if it is done with fluidity, flashiness, etc.

(02-Jul-2013 05:38 PM)Moxie629 Wrote:  If Nalbandian's "aesthetically pleasing" shots were so formidable to opponents, why didn't he win more?

My initial post made this as crystal-clear as can be. Like I said, aesthetics plays a role in winning matches, but they are far from the only factor. However, all of the nitty-gritty practical details being equal between two players, the aesthetically superior one has a distinct advantage (as I stated in my original post).

(02-Jul-2013 05:38 PM)Moxie629 Wrote:  Certainly, Del Potro's big FHs that come hard and flat and low over the net MUST be as intimidating as they are effective.

And, my point is that opponents' awareness of this impact of Delpo's forehand wins him a couple extra points per match that another player without that forehand wouldn't get. Why? The other player feels that he needs to do more to avoid letting Delpo unleash his forehand and also may feel more restricted and/or hesitant out of fear of what could happen if he casually hits the ball to Delpo's forehand wing. Hence, aesthetics are NOT irrelevant to the outcome of matches - far from it, actually.
(This post was last modified: 02-Jul-2013 05:50 PM by calitennis127.)
02-Jul-2013 05:47 PM
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Moxie629 Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
(02-Jul-2013 05:47 PM)calitennis127 Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 05:38 PM)Moxie629 Wrote:  I appreciate the part of your thesis that says that certain shots can give a player a psychological advantage over opponents, if they are perceived as formidable. But what makes a shot intimidating is its effectiveness, not how pretty it is, I would say.

I would say "both". The shot needs to be effective, of course, but the psychological effect of it is that much greater if it is done with fluidity, flashiness, etc.
___________________________
"Fluidity" would describe your Nalby, and Fed, and maybe Dimitrov, but "flashiness" is more Nadal, Djokovic, and maybe someone like Dolgopolov. As you see, these kinds of adjectives can be completely subjective.


(02-Jul-2013 05:38 PM)Moxie629 Wrote:  If Nalbandian's "aesthetically pleasing" shots were so formidable to opponents, why didn't he win more?

My initial post made this as crystal-clear as can be. Like I said, aesthetics plays a role in winning matches, but they are far from the only factor. However, all of the nitty-gritty practical details being equal between two players, the aesthetically superior one has a distinct advantage (as I stated in my original post).
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"Nitty-gritty details?" This is where you complain that some players just "work harder" and have a superior "mental attitude," right? (As if those are attributes to be denigrated.) But so, then, what is the 'distinct advantage' of the aesthetically superior one, who can't cobble together the rest of the package?

___________________________

(02-Jul-2013 05:38 PM)Moxie629 Wrote:  Certainly, Del Potro's big FHs that come hard and flat and low over the net MUST be as intimidating as they are effective.

And, my point is that opponents' awareness of this impact of Delpo's forehand wins him a couple extra points per match that another player without that forehand wouldn't get. Why? The other player feels that he needs to do more to avoid letting Delpo unleash his forehand and also may feel more restricted and/or hesitant out of fear of what could happen if he casually hits the ball to Delpo's forehand wing. Hence, aesthetics are NOT irrelevant to the outcome of matches - far from it, actually.
________________________
That presumes you think that Del Potro's FH is aesthetically pleasing. While impressive, it is just a cudgel. But to your actual point, that an intimidating shot wins the psychological game, you neglected to reference my point about Nadal. If you find value in a player's shots intimidating his opponents, you can't discount the Nadal affect.

_________________________

In terms of what style and talent mean, in general, and what they have to say about over-all effect, think of it like this:

Federer is a Frank Lloyd Wright house and Nadal is a Mies Van der Rohe building, both built on a granite foundation; Nalbandian is a Richard Meier, built on a swamp, with a basement, and no sump pump.
(This post was last modified: 03-Jul-2013 02:04 AM by Moxie629.)
02-Jul-2013 09:24 PM
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
alright, i found this an interesting approach, but tbh, i'd expected a slightly more balanced approach from the first look than a thorough reading still gives.


if i understand correctly, you argue in a nutshell that if all the non-aesthetic points ("the pragmatic domain) were equal, then the aestheticism would be the deciding factor, mostly for the psychological factor - it'd be kind of hard to argue with that, since that'd mean we have equal robots facing one another who're identical in all but one field - so of course superiority in the one remaining field would make a difference, how could it not? however, it's also a completely moot point if driven to that extreme.

so let's look at the more basic idea: can aesthetics be a factor in determining results, mostly for the psychological "intimidation" factor? i think yes, of course, they can be - apart from the "heritage" thing, aesthetics are surely something that used to put doubts in so many of Fed's challengers for instance - even more so for aesthetically-oriented guys themselves who might have grown up idolizing the guy (see: Tomic, Bernard).

that said, i think one might run the risk of over-estimating that factor. because when it comes to psychological intimidation, witnessing flair on the other side is just one thing. think of the Ferru beatdowns of most everyone ranked below him - they don't fear his flair or appearance, but knowing his grit, stamina, willpower will definitely plant a seed of doubt in their mind as soon as they start losing the first couple of tight points in the second set.

and i'll even go to the contrary: imagine two players of similar calibre effective-wise, one with very workman-like shots, the other an artisan. sure, if the artist carves in a couple of beautiful stop volleys that curl right back into the net, it might be a blow to the worker's self-esteem. but isn't the effect just as great, if not greater, if the artist, aware of his technical superiority, still sees the worker raking in point after point? got to be quite frustrating - and tbh, i've seen plenty of such frustration, very visibly, in a lot of greatly talented players. in the end, though, any effect, positive or negative, is much bigger on your own side anyway - the biggest factor will always be the execution of your own shots, be they brushstrokes or hammerstrikes, and your faith in them.


so in the end - i think you're not wrong in saying that aesthetics should not be ignored as a factor regarding the actual dynamics of a match. but they're but one, and there are many more.
(This post was last modified: 03-Jul-2013 02:37 AM by johnsteinbeck.)
03-Jul-2013 02:36 AM
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1972Murat Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
The answer is , yes, aesthetics are their own domain. No point on a tennis court has ever been won because it was pleasing to the eye. On the other hand, millions of points have been won by ugly-ass, fundamentally wrong shots because of their effectiveness... Yes, even Nalby's amazing DTL backhand won him points because it is so effective, not because the opponents found it sexy.

Aesthetics are important to me, as a fan...Players could not care less.

(This post was last modified: 03-Jul-2013 10:44 AM by 1972Murat.)
03-Jul-2013 10:33 AM
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Mog Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
Ow
(03-Jul-2013 10:33 AM)1972Murat Wrote:  Aesthetics are important to me, as a fan...Players could not care less.

That is exactly how I see it.
It is always nice to watch beautiful, smooth tennis .
But aesthetics don't win matches.
03-Jul-2013 11:28 AM
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calitennis127 Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
(02-Jul-2013 05:34 PM)tented Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 01:33 PM)calitennis127 Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 01:31 PM)AndrewWilliam Wrote:  What the heck does aesthetics have to do with winning? There have been plenty of players down the years whose shots could be termed 'grotesque' but were damn effective. Nalbandian has very good technique on his backhand. Whether or not someone finds it 'beautiful' is irrelevant.



Ryan Harrison's forehand is one of the ugliest shots I have ever seen. Right up there with Querrey's.

AndrewWilliam disagrees with you, therefore you attack the guy in his avatar. Nice.



Funny how you don't address the reality that AndrewWilliam completely neglected the central argument of my original post. He asked a question right at the start of his initial reply that my original post was dedicated to answering. But, of course, you say nothing about AndrewWilliam's failure to register or acknowledge my explanation.

Isn't it good etiquette to pay attention to what someone else is saying?
07-Jul-2013 12:06 AM
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tented Offline
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RE: Are aesthetics their own domain, or do they actually impact results?
(07-Jul-2013 12:06 AM)calitennis127 Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 05:34 PM)tented Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 01:33 PM)calitennis127 Wrote:  
(02-Jul-2013 01:31 PM)AndrewWilliam Wrote:  What the heck does aesthetics have to do with winning? There have been plenty of players down the years whose shots could be termed 'grotesque' but were damn effective. Nalbandian has very good technique on his backhand. Whether or not someone finds it 'beautiful' is irrelevant.



Ryan Harrison's forehand is one of the ugliest shots I have ever seen. Right up there with Querrey's.

AndrewWilliam disagrees with you, therefore you attack the guy in his avatar. Nice.



Funny how you don't address the reality that AndrewWilliam completely neglected the central argument of my original post. He asked a question right at the start of his initial reply that my original post was dedicated to answering. But, of course, you say nothing about AndrewWilliam's failure to register or acknowledge my explanation.

Isn't it good etiquette to pay attention to what someone else is saying?

Oh, OK. Thanks for the clarification. You see, I thought it was because AndrewWilliam disagreed with you, but it was because he didn't respond the way you wanted, therefore you criticized Ryan Harrison. How could I have possibly forgotten that when someone displays bad etiquette the proper response is to throw insults in return? My bad!
07-Jul-2013 02:13 AM
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