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What makes a great tennis champion? – PART 1 – THE MEN

by admin. Average Reading Time: about 11 minutes.

February 2012 – Published by the International Journal of the Astrological Association of Great Britain 2012

Watching the 2012 Australian Open was fun, exciting and dramatic.  The semifinals featured the top ranked players in the world: Novak Djokovic (1)  beat  Andy Murray  (4) in a grueling  5 game semifinal, Rafael  Nadal (2) had to play his best to overcome Roger Federer  (3) and then  Djokovic defeated Nadal for the title in  the longest Grand Slam final in recent history, nearing  the six hour mark.

Grand Slam tournaments are the most important tennis events of the year.  They start with the Australian Open in Melbourne in January, move to Roland – Garros in Paris at the end of May, then on to Wimbledon at the end of June and the last one is played in September in New York.  This year top players will meet again in at the Olympics in August.

Who will win the rivalry between Nadal and Djokovic?  Who will succeed Federer, considered by many the best player ever?   And finally will Andy Murray ever win a top event although he is consistently winning important matches against other top players?  These are questions that make the field of men’s singles tennis very exciting.

What astrological characteristics make a great tennis champion?

As I have always felt that men and women deal very differently with competition, among other things,  I will look separately into men’s and women’s  champions. This exercise is an exploratory journey rather than a quantitative analysis:  a case study involving the best of the best.  My objective was to look into several astrological features and see what pops, what is unexpected, what defies or confirms common wisdom.  These findings might spur discussion which eventually would lead to further research and advance astrological knowledge.

Methodology

The game of tennis changed in 1968 when professional players were allowed to compete.  I have chosen the beginning of this “modern day era”  as my starting year.

Althought there is no standard definition of a great champion, the most common measure of success is the number of grand slam victories.  I considered players that had five or more grand slam victories during the course of their professional careers to be the greats of the game.  Only these 12 men made the list:

Grand Slam Victories      First and Last Grand Slam Victory

Jimmy Connors                    8                               1974 – 1983

Björ Borg                                11                              1974 – 1981

John McEnroe                       7                               1979 – 1984

Mats Wilander                       7                               1982 – 1988

Ivan Lendl                              8                               1984 – 1990

Stefan Edberg                        6                               1985 – 1992

Boris Becker                          6                                1985 – 1996

Pete Sampras                      14                               1990 – 2002

Andre Agassi                        8                                1992 – 2003

Roger Federer                    16                               2003 – 2010

Rafael Nadal                        10                                2005 – 2011

Novak Djokovic                   5                                 2008 – 2012

Birth data from www.astro.com and www.tennisfame.com

Top tennis players have a very strong will and sense of purpose and are extremely athletic. The development of modern day rackets has changed the game and the amount of sheer physicality has increased. Serves are ever more powerful, top spin is now standard in the game. This requires the players to be fitter and quicker than in past.  However, the need for strategy and mental clarity and control over their emotions has not changed.

It seemed reasonable to look first into the planetary energies more involved in the game: the Sun (will), Mars (competition, action, and physicality), Mercury (mind) and the Moon as the ruler of the emotional world. I looked into their signs, their strength and their aspects. Since birth time is unavailable for 33% of the players, I decided to forego the Ascendant, Mc, house positions and house rulers. When looking at aspects, I considered the conjunction, sextile, square, trine, quincunx and opposition.  I have also counted mutual reception as an aspect because planets in mutual reception behave as in aspect.  I have used the default orbs in the standard aspect of set of Solar Fire Gold.   Temperament patterns were considered but did not yield any significant results except when Mars was involved but planets that square the lunar nodes seemed important to report.

1. Element distribution

Element distr

Distribution by sign of the four planets considered:

 

The results are surprising:  none these 12 champions has any of the 4 planets in the Aries/ Libra axis.

Although there are no planets in Libra, Air is the most represented element suggesting that the mental component of game is important.

Fire  13%                Earth  27%                   Air  35%                    Water 25%

2. The Sun

Wilander, Sampras, Federer have the Sun in Leo.  McEnroe has the Sun in its detriment and since the Aries/Libra is void there are no exaltations or falls.  Of the 12 players only Federer, has a final dispositor and it is the Sun.

Saturn and Uranus are the planets that are more often in aspect the Sun of the 12 players, with 5 occurrences each.  Sun- Uranus speaks to a sense of individuality required for singles game and the Sun – Saturn refers to the self-discipline necessary to train very hard but also to solitude and dealing with defeat and the pressure of winning. Veteran journalist at the New York Times, Gerald Marzorati wrote an excellent description of a Sun –Saturn aspect: “To read through the many biographies and autobiographies of renowned tennis players — the only real window we have on the intimacy of tennis rivalries — is to immerse yourself in a literature of not only competition and achievement but also of, most absorbingly, solitude and the self-doubt and lonesomeness it can beget. The lonesomeness, and then the struggle to overcome it in a relationship with the player who is your on-court rival: that, in essence, is the history, or the subconscious history, of high-level tennis.[1]

3. Mars

                                               Mars Sign            Mars special characteristics

Jimmy Connors                 Sag                         Unaspected

Björ Borg                              Pis                          Handle of a bucket, square Nodes

John McEnroe                   Gem                      Grand Cross

Mats Wilander                   Can                         –

Ivan Lendl                           Aqu                      –

Stefan Edberg                    Aqu                        –

Boris Becker                       Cap                        T-square,square Nodes

Pete Sampras                     Aqu                        Rx, T- square

Andre Agassi                     Gem                      Square Nodes

Roger Federer                   Can                        Bowl with Mars as lead

Rafael Nadal                       Cap                        OOB -24º 29’, square Nodes

Novak Djokovic                Can                       OOB -24º 30’, T- square

 

 Surprisingly no player has Mars in either Aries or Scorpio; Becker and Nadal in exaltation but Djokovic, Federer and Nadal in its fall.  This distribution confirms my feeling that dignities are important for matters of horary astrology but have little interest to the present analysis.   However, all but three players have a feature that makes Mars energy stronger, whether by being an essential part of a temperament pattern, out-of bounds, part of an energizing feature such as a T-square or Grand Cross, squaring  the Nodes or unaspected.

Half of the players’ charts have Mars in aspects to Neptune.  The very wise Sue Tompkins has written that “this combination can be found in all sports situations especially those that appear glamorous or raise the physical use of the body to something of an art form”[2]Was she thinking of tennis?

In those 12 charts Mars is in aspect with Venus 5 times representing the love for competition, also 5 times to Uranus representing the decisive action and the risk taking necessary in the game of tennis. 

Mars squares the Nodes of 4 of the players.  In fact the square to the nodes is the single most repeated aspect which has led me to look more closely into squares to the lunar nodes with other planets.

4. Mercury

                                                Mercury Sign                     Characteristics

Jimmy Connors                                 Leo                         T-square

Björ Borg                                             Gem                      Sd, T-square

John McEnroe                                   Aqu                        Grand Cross

Mats Wilander                                  Vir                          Rx

Ivan Lendl                                           Pis                           –

Stefan Edberg                                   Cap                          OOB at -23º 37’

Boris Becker                                       Sco                         Unaspected

Pete Sampras                                    Vir                          SRx

Andre Agassi                                      Tau                         Rx, T-square

Roger Federer                                   Leo                         –

Rafael Nadal                                       Gem                      OOB +25º 17’

Novak Djokovic                                 Gem                     OOB +24º 52’

5 players have Mercury in rulership signs, all but 2 have a special characteristic that might makes it stronger.  The prevailing Mercury aspect is to Pluto (7 out of 12) speaking of the intense focus and concentration necessary for this game.

5. Moon

                                                            Moon Sign                          Characteristics

Jimmy Connors                                 Aqu                        T-square

Björ Borg                                             Tau                         –

John McEnroe                                   Gem                      Grand Cross

Mats Wilander                                  Aqu                        T-square

Ivan Lendl                                           Can                        –

Stefan Edberg                                   Cap                        OOB -26º 00’, unaspected

Boris Becker                                       Can                        OOB  +25º 54’, square Nodes

Pete Sampras                                    Tau                         T-square, square Nodes

Andre Agassi                                      Aqu                        –

Roger Federer                                   Sco                         –

Rafael Nadal                                       Tau                         –

Novak Djokovic                                 Pis                          T-square

 

There no fire signs present which was somewhat surprising. In my mind I had thought that the “fire” might come from within.  I was wrong!  The other elements are equally represented.   Moon aspects Neptune in half their charts possibly signifying idealizing the notion of home as their training and tour obligations turns professional tennis players into nomads.  Uranus is the second most frequently aspected planet by the Moon (5 out of 12) which might indicate how they deal with being on road so much.

6. Squares to Lunar Nodes 

The number of occurrences of Mars and Moon, squaring the lunar nodes triggered my curiosity into looking if other planets were in this crucial position in the charts of players.

Jimmy Connors                 JU square

Björ Borg                             MA square

John McEnroe                   –

Mats Wilander                  –

Ivan Lendl                           –

Stefan Edberg                   –

Boris Becker                       MO, MA square

Pete Sampras                    MO square

Andre Agassi                      MA square

Roger Federer                   –

Rafael Nadal                       MA square

Novak Djokovic                 NE square

The percentage of  a planet  squaring the Nodes runs approximately from 6% – 8% in the general population; therefore th a Jupiter and one Neptune square the Nodes is to be expected, 2 moon squares deviate from the norm and certainly  4 Mars squares, that is 33% of the cases, is striking.

7. Conclusions

  • I found no explanation to the absence of planets in the cardinal axis  of Aries – Libra.
  • The total number air signs occurrences and the strength and focus of Mercury fully confirm that tennis is a mental game.
  • Competitiveness is  an vital part of what makes a great tennis champion. Fire being the least represented element and the total absence of Aries defies expectations.   Mars becames even more important in representing the action and  battle aspect of the tennis.  The several ways in which Mars is strong is illuminating,  including Mars squaring the lunar nodes. The lunar axis has a past and future dimension and both are involved in energizing the planet at the apex. It becomes a sort of T-square.   In classical astrology this square to the nodes is defined as being in the “bendings” and was given great importance.  Dr. Lee Lehman, an authority in Classical Astrology, says “Planets at the bendings represent critical issues which can change the flow of life.”[3]  For these champions mastering the energy of Mars was a challenge that they solved and applied successfully.
  • Roger Federer has been called the “king” of tennis, best player ever, has the greatest number of Grand Slam victories and a number of other records.  His distinctive feature in this case study is having a final dispositor which happens to be the Sun, the archetype of the King, of the Hero. The final dispositor is a planet obviously in its ruling sign.  “The final dispositor has added strength, dignity and importance” [4] , it has potential to function very well because it is at the end of a motivational sequence.  In Federer’s case this sequence is initiated by Mars, the drive to compete.  Since every planet in the sequence triggers its dispositor, when it reaches his Sun, his sense of purpose, his will, has integrated all other aspects of his psyche.Here is his dispositorship flowchart.Dispositors
  • I hope these findings will encourage astrologers to look  at OOB declinations, at determining the strength of a planet in other ways than by sign or dignity, at planets square the nodes and at dispositorships.  These are factors that enrich and deepen astrological analysis.

8. What about Andy Murray ?

What about Andy Murray’s chances of entering this prestigious list or at least winning a major.  The athleticism and talent are certainly there because he has reached the semifinals or the finals of the last five major’s tournaments.  In minor tournaments he has no problem winning against the giants Nadal, Djokovic and Federer.  Actually against the latter Andy has an advantage of 8 wins against 6 losses[5].

Andy Murray[6] was born a week before Novak Djokovic but of a different Sun sign.  He has Sun in Taurus but a good amount of Air with Mercury in the rulership sign of Gemini, conjunct and ruling the MC and also ruling his Virgo ascendant.

His Mars is out-of-bounds at  +24º 26’ similar to Nadal’s and Djokovic’s; Mars is in aspect to Uranus and Venus placing him within the sphere of aspects that make a great champion.  Since he was born so close to Djokovic his Neptune also squares the nodes.

However his Sun has no aspects other than a quincunx to the Moon and another to Uranus.  The quincunx is a very uncomfortable aspect as the planets involved have neither element  or mode in common.  His intent in winning represented by his Sun may let him down, may waiver because it is not positively supported by other energies.

His Moon is in a fire sign, an exception to all other players, but it is an exceptional difficult one. OOB at -28º 01’ very close to its maximum possible declination endows him with extreme sensitivity but also the mood swings and emotional instability that are apparent in his matches.  Adding to the pressure are the expectations of a nation that has not seen a champion in the game it invented in decades.  Other great champions, Edberg and Becker, have  an OOB Moon at 26º which they were able to integrate successfully.   Andy’s  extreme declination might make this task a bit more more difficult.

If Andy Murray works on strengthening his will and desire to win coupled with control of his fiery emotional side he will win a major tournament.

In Part II, I will look into great women tennis champions and I can promise you surprising results.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/magazine/the-fierce-intimacy-of-tennis-rivalries.html?pagewanted=all

[2] Sue Tompkins, “Aspects in Astrology”, Element Books, 1989, pag 209

[3] Lee Lehman, “Classical Astrology for Modern Living”, pag 207

[4] Glenn Perry, “An Introduction to Astropsychology”,  pag 129

[5] As of Feb 29, 2012  http://www.tennis.com/players/players_all.aspx

[6] Born May 15, 1987 at 2:10 pm, glagow, UK, source – http://www.londonschoolofastrology.co.uk/node/62

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