As part of their Instagram Live discussion, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic went on to build their ultimate tennis player. Do you agree with their choices?
Djokovic: John Isner or Nick Kyrgios.
Murray: I’d say exactly the same. If you gave Kyrgios Isner’s height. I’ve practised with him and seen him warming up.
Djokovic: He warms up?!
Murray: Yeah, he’s done absolutely nothing on his shoulder and he serves unbelievable, no problem. He’s got such easy power. I love that you said that as well because a lot of the guys that I chat to about tennis are always ‘no way’ it’s not Nick. I’m in agreement with you there.
Djokovic: I’d go with you. Playing against you on any surface was always a challenge but out of the three biggest rivalries that I had, Rafa, Roger and yourself, I found it the hardest to serve against you because it just felt like everything was coming back.
If I win a free point on the first serve against you, I’m celebrating like I won the set. You could read it so well, position, anticipation, you could block it, you could hit it.
Murray: I appreciate that and I’m taking you on the return for the same reasons. Rarely missing returns. If you look at the stats of returns in play, it’s probably over 93-94 per cent – that’s rough!
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Djokovic: The Thor from Tandil – Del Potro. I love the forehand of Fernando Gonzales, but I would go Roger or Del Potro, it’s hard to pick one. I’ll go Delpo.
Murray: I’m going Rafa (Nadal). I just feel like the leftyness has helped him. There may be a small period in his career where it let him down in a couple of matches, but very rarely would that have been the shot that contributed to him losing matches.
Murray: I’m taking you… very few mistakes, able to change direction on both wings. The one shot that you hit that no one else is able to on hard courts is the sliding backhand defensive shot. It means the court becomes a lot smaller for your opponent and you’re able to recover quicker and you can move into the court.
Djokovic: I would take you. Consistency, the same things that you said but the fact that you don’t miss much and you make the life of your opponent very difficult because I feel when I played against you I just couldn’t penetrate through that side.
I would also like to mention Stan Wawrinka’s backhand which I think is amazing on clay and higher bouncing surfaces. When he has time on the ball, he positions himself very well – it’s probably the best backhand out there. His cross-court is like Rafa’s forehand.
From the younger guys, Daniil Medvedev. His backhand reminds me of yours.
Murray: It’s a tricky backhand, I’ve practised with him a few times.
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Djokovic: Roger (Federer) is one of the most complete players ever to play the game. We all know how great he is. I don’t think people talk so much about his ability to come up with a serve and volley accurate play at the most challenging times in a match. He was not so much intimidated by the return.
We both have great returns, but we prefer when a player would stay back and we would get into the rally. He takes away your time. The quality of his first volley and positioning at the net is probably underrated.
Murray: I’d agree with that. There might be some guys that hit certain volleys better, but all round, because he has the touch and feel as well, he’s able to hit more volleys better than any of the other guys. He’s one of the few guys that has come up with that shot under pressure.
Djokovic: It’s obvious Nadal has the champion’s mentality. What he’s managed to produce over the years on all surfaces, the way he was bouncing back after numerous injuries that he had. I think he was the most injured out of any of us four. Every second season, he has got something for several months and he managed to come back and kind of build his game.
The resilience he has on the court, the intensity he brings – when you see him jumping around before you walk onto court, it already intimidates you. You think, ‘oh my god, I’m going in with a gladiator’. A mental giant and a physical giant.
Murray: I would say if I was looking at an entire career and everyone’s matches, consistently, Rafa has been the strongest. There’s times where you would have been ahead of him in the mental department, but over an entire career, even from when he was very young, he’s always been unbelievably mentally strong.
Even when he was 18, 19 years old, which is so rare for the young guys coming through. It’s the mental part that normally takes the longest.
Djokovic: I would say Dominic Thiem of David Ferrer. I love Ferrer’s fighting spirit. He’s always physically so fit and he hasn’t been injured so much. He’s always been a warrior on the court.
I would give Ferrer an edge over Thiem because he’s been on the Tour longer. Dominic is going to last for hopefully many more years.
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