The Age of No Competition (2002-2006)
by Sean Randall | October 25th, 2006, 6:09 pm
  • 156 Comments

In a post few weeks ago, I basically took offense to those that hammered Pete Sampras’s rightful place in history. Part of my argument was that the game back then was just as strong when Pete played as it is now.

Well, after thinking a bit more on it, reading some comments, eating a few more nachos, I’ve changed my stance. And I actually think history will ultimately look upon the current, 2002-2006 ATP years as one of the weaker periods, if not the weakest, in terms of overall competition and strength in the modern era.

Let’s face it, the fact that Pete Sampras won the US Open in 2002 is quite remarkable and often overlooked. The dude could barely win a match all summer and then he somehow flipped the switched, hit the gas, and took that title. Amazing, really.

Along the way to that win he beat Rusedski, Haas, Roddick, Schalken and Agassi in his last career match. Schalken was a cup cake, but the other four wins were pretty impressive, and at that time, no one saw that Pete run coming. So how the hell did that happen. Well…

Just look what happened earlier in 2002. Thomas Johansson wins the Aussie, Albert Costa wins the French and we had that time capsule of a Wimbledon final between Hewitt and Nalbandian. The stage is set, anyone can win a Slam. And Pete just took what he could. Heck, Jiri Novak finished No. 7 that year!

A year later, Roddick wins the US Open and finishes the year No. 1. That’s right, in case you forgot, Andy finished No. 1, year-end. Quite an accomplishment. So much of one that you know how many different players have finished the year No. 1 since the start of the Ranks in 1973? By my count 15. Fifteen folks, that’s it.

Roddick finished No. 1 more than Becker ever did, more than Stich ever did, more than Muster, more than Rafter, more than Kafelnikov. Even more than Safin.

He finished No. 1 one less time than Borg did. One less time than one of the bonafied all-time greats. And who knows, maybe he’ll do it again?

And he’s equal to Wilander, Agassi, Kuerten and Courier in the history books on that page. That’s right, equal. Andy Roddick is in that conversation, like it or not. But is he a better player than those guys? Or, did he finish No. 1 that year because of weak-ass competition? You be the judge.

Over the next few years we’ve enjoyed such improbable eyebrow-raising Slas runs like Tim Henman getting to a French semifinal, Martin Verkerk reaching the French final, Rainer Schuettler advancing to the Australian Open final and Gaston Gaudio winning the French title.

But since Roger and Rafael hit their stride, they have quickly turned the tour into their own personal playground. But what has really changed since 2002? Roger and Rafa. That’s really it as far as the “stronger competition” goes.

And you can still see it in the results. Two veteran serve/volley players both pulled wins yesterday over top 20 players. The 35-year-old Wayne Arthurs beat world No. 8 and Shanghai contender Tommy Robredo, and Max Mirnyi, 29, beats Dmitry Tursunov. And today Tommy Haas needs three sets to beat a doubles specialist in Nenad Zimonjic.

Seriously, if you are going to make the argument that tennis is so much stronger now than say 10 years ago, and guys back then wouldn’t be able to compete now, then how the hell do those results happen?? I mean Nenad is 30 and he’s a doubles specialist. And Wayne Arthurs was strongly considering retiring what, like three years ago (maybe he did?).

And here’s a good one. Remember Dick Norman. The big guy turns 36 next March. Guess when he reached his highest career singles ranking? Just guess?? How about this week. That’s right, big Dick hit No. 90 this past Monday, a new career high for the Belgian. Well done.

Maybe all this guys really are peaking or in their prime. Or maybe not.

What also troubles me is that so many current players in the game today lack belief in big matches, be it at Slams or D-Cup or even late in a Masters tournament.

Just ask yourself, how many big matches has Nalbandian ever won? Robredo? Davydenko? Haas? Blake? Ljubicic (he came through in D-Cup, but little else since)? Gonzalez? Ancic? Stepanek? And on and on. Collectively, aside from Roddick/Safin/Hewitt, it’s very few. And it’s not just about beating Roger and Rafa, it’s about beating the lesser players in big moments.

I really think Andre Agassi kept playing as long as he did because he saw that the level of competition outside of Roger wasn’t very strong. He also knew that most players nowadays play the same strategy: hit it hard, if that doesn’t work hit it harder, and if that doesn’t work go to the gym more. (From my playing experience, I’ve always found it easier to return harder ground strokes than the groundies with lesser pace. But maybe that’s just me!)

And it almost paid off for Andre. At age 35, playing well past his prime and as the older Slam finalist in 31 years, he still reached the US Open final last year and gave Fed a heck of a fright. Amazing.

So was Andre just that good, or was everyone else just that bad? A little of both I think. Andre probably saw the draw and said okay, no Roger in my section and I got a bunch of guys that crush groundies but don’t really know how to win big matches. Sign me up. Pete did it a few years earlier, and if Roger gets upset, maybe I can get a bonus US Open title.

Andre didn’t get the fairy tale ending like Pete, but he sure was close.

But now with players like Gasquet, Murray, Monfils, Baghdatis, Djokovic, Del Potro, Koralev and others coming up, I think the game going forward will be played at a higher level than it has been. And thankfully some of these guys already have shown that they can close out big matches.

Murray of course is the last guy to beat Federer, and privately I’m sure he’s completely baffled a guy like Roddick ever finished No. 1. Baghdatis had good crack at Federer at the Aussie final this year, and has proven he can compete on the big stage. So too has the charismatic Monfils, who his heart and mental toughness with his three consecutive five set victories in front of his home crowd at the French this year.

Monfils’ countryman Gasquet is already more accomplished than Federer ever was at age 20, and he’s arguably just as talented as the Swiss. And Djokovic has an excellent chance at finishing among the Top 15 this year after winning a couple tough three setters over Gasquet and Murray just last week in Madrid.

So things really do look promising for the next few years. Let’s just hope these guys pan out, because tennis is gonna need them and the Fed man really needs some legit competition.


Also Check Out:
Roger Federer Is Now No. 7, His Lowest Ranking Since November 2002!
What Strings Does Roger Federer Use In His Racquet? He Explains
Roger Federer Stunned By Sergiy Stakhovksy In Second Round At Wimbledon Wednesday
Federer v Haas, Roddick v Murray in Wimbledon Semis
U.S. Fed Cup Team Takes on Clijsters, Belgium

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get Tennis-X news FREE in your inbox every day

156 Comments for The Age of No Competition (2002-2006)

Pete Sampras Says:

GASQUET JUST AS TALENTED AS THE SWISS??

WHAHAHA you tennis-X guys keep moving me on my chair,

yes he’s very talented but people said about Roger Federer when he was 12 he was the most talented player they have ever seen as such an age. When he was 18 they said he will win Grand Slams soon. Didn’t happen due to his mentality at that time, but he hit crazy shots even back then nobody could dream of.

Gasquet has got the game to match Federer in the near future when Federer has a slightly day off. But surely he isn’t as talented. He doesn’t hit the balls Federer hit when he was 18.

The Frenchman hits balls with power and precision, but not the out-of-the-world balls Federer hit when he was 19.

Difficult to go into arguments, personally, but as a pro trainer I can gaurantee you I know the difference between a ‘freak of nature’ and a special talented guy.

The first one is Fed, the last one is Richard.

Jean-Claude, Paris.


Carlos Says:

I agree with everything, except the Roddick part.
The dude finished nº 1 in 2003 and also won the US Open that year (against Ferrero!!) and 2003 fits in those years you know as “the weak years” in professional tennis.
That year Roddick won 6 tournaments: Sankt Polten, Queens Club, Indianápolis, Montreal, Cincinnat and the US Open. And despite winning Sankt Polten (Clay) he lost in firts round in Roland Garros.
And that year, his “big year”, he couldn’t win the TMC. Hell, even Lleyton Hewitt won the TMC, 2 years in a row! Boris Becker, inferior to Roddick by your account, won the TMC 3 times.

BTW, by no means I intend to diminish Roddick’s career. I think he is a very talented player and capable of much more. It’s just that I can’t see him in the same place as Agassi, Federer or Sampras. He still has much to prove.


m ng Says:

ATP needs some varied competition – agree. Roddick is a pretty good player – agree. Federer and Nadal have dominated the scene 2005-6 – agree. Gasquet, Murray, Baghadtis and co. are up and comers – agree. BUT – that does not mean that Federer is playing in an era of weak tennis. As some critic says, he is so good he is leaving scraps for others to pick up.

Would one say that because Edwin Moses dominated hurdling, or Michael Johnson dominated 200/400m, that there were no good athletes running out there?


true tennis fan Says:

I just posted this at the previous forum:

More people play tennis today than 10 years ago.

there’s more money in tennis today than 10 years ago.

There’s more access to coaches/coaching academies today than 10 years ago.

More technology is used in coaching today than 10 years ago (video replays, etc.)

There’s more attention to fitness today than 10 years ago (nutrition awareness, training, etc.).

There’s more powerful racket technology today than 10 years ago.

There are more tennis courts today than 10 years ago.

There are more tennis tournaments today than 10 years ago.

Then how the heck can anyone argue there is less competition today than 10 years ago? Its a joke. the most stupid statement anyone can make.


true tennis fan Says:

Sean Randall is completely wrong. The facts are totally against his stupid rants.

if player “A” beats player “B” consistently, then either “A” is too good, or “B” is weak. But if player “A” beats everyone, beats 200 atp players, day in and day out, then it is nonsense to say that “Oh, those 200 players are too weak”. The only logical conclusion is that “A” is too strong.

Players like sampras come and go, about once every ten years. Lendl was therein the 80s. Before that Borg. Before than laver. But players like Fed come once in a century. When all is said and done, Fed would have erased every single record, and that too PLAYING IN AN ERA OF INTENSE COMPETITION.

The truth and reality is just the opposite of Sean (Hannity?) says – 2003 onwards has been at least as competitive as any 3 year span in history.

Sean Randall’s rants sound like the Fox news talking about Bush administration (or is it the other way around?). Biased, no substance, factually incorrect, twisting the remaining facts. Sean Randall deserves to be on radio with Rush Limbaugh – both make about equal sense.


Tejuz Says:

Wow… Sean can actually read the minds of all these Tennis players… like Sampras and Agassi.

Agassi chose to play in this ‘no-competition’ era to get a bonus Grand-Slam… Pity that Sampras didnt think that way and CHIKENED out early. Probabaly he could have won a few more GS if he thought he could compete with ‘No competition’ or did his level of play drop below the level of these ‘non-competitors’..

Either way, he cannot be called Greatest then ;-) right Sean …??

Ha ha and Gasquet is as talented as Fed??? thats laughable …
He just has an excellent backhand.. rest of his game is so-so. His service actions isnt good, un reliable forehand(hez working on it), volleys not so well.. dunno what makes him as talented?? can agree, he more talented than rest of youngsters.. but nowhere near Fed.

Why dont we give credit to Andy Roddick for his year end No 1 ranking.. why do we think that he lacks the game. Hez a much better player than other one time GS winners during Sampras’s era.. yes, he lacks the game to beat Federer consistently, but so does all of them.. (Agassi included).

Anyway… seems like Sean should stick to one stance, rather than changing his stance everytime the debate rages on.
Early one he said.. ‘Sampras era is similar or a lil better than today’s era’ and now he says this era is an era of ‘no-competition’.

Comon mate.. take a stand.. and stick to it.


Giner Says:

“Let’s face it, the fact that Pete Sampras won the US Open in 2002 is quite remarkable and often overlooked. The dude could barely win a match all summer and then he somehow flipped the switched, hit the gas, and took that title. Amazing, really.

Along the way to that win he beat Rusedski, Haas, Roddick, Schalken and Agassi in his last career match. Schalken was a cup cake, but the other four wins were pretty impressive, and at that time, no one saw that Pete run coming. So how the hell did that happen. Well…”

Well he didn’t play Lleyton Hewitt during that run, who would have crushed him like he did a year earlier.

“Just ask yourself, how many big matches has Nalbandian ever won? Robredo? Davydenko? Haas? Blake? Ljubicic (he came through in D-Cup, but little else since)? Gonzalez? Ancic? Stepanek? And on and on. Collectively, aside from Roddick/Safin/Hewitt, it’s very few. And it’s not just about beating Roger and Rafa, it’s about beating the lesser players in big moments.”

What you’re forgetting is that there’s a lot more depth from the ‘lesser’ players in the top 100 than there was in Pete’s time. Pete himself admitted as much.

“And he’s equal to Wilander, Agassi, Kuerten and Courier in the history books on that page. That’s right, equal. Andy Roddick is in that conversation, like it or not. But is he a better player than those guys? Or, did he finish No. 1 that year because of weak-ass competition? You be the judge.”

Andy lost his #1 ranking 2 tournaments later. The reason he had more weeks #1 than Safin did is because the off-season counted as weeks for him in which he couldn’t lose the ranking. It doesn’t put him on the same level as the guys you mentioned like Agassi or Wilander though. There’s more to it than being #1 at the end of the year. He’s won far less slams than those guys have. Federer might have something to do with that.

Along the way to that win he beat Rusedski, Haas, Roddick, Schalken and Agassi in his last career match. Schalken was a cup cake, but the other four wins were pretty impressive, and at that time, no one saw that Pete run coming. So how the hell did that happen. Well…

Just look what happened earlier in 2002. Thomas Johansson wins the Aussie, Albert Costa wins the French and we had that time capsule of a Wimbledon final between Hewitt and Nalbandian. The stage is set, anyone can win a Slam. And Pete just took what he could. Heck, Jiri Novak finished No. 7 that year!”

The fact that these guys pulled what they did is reaffirmation that there is more depth in the game than when Pete was around.

“And you can still see it in the results. Two veteran serve/volley players both pulled wins yesterday over top 20 players. The 35-year-old Wayne Arthurs beat world No. 8 and Shanghai contender Tommy Robredo, and Max Mirnyi, 29, beats Dmitry Tursunov. And today Tommy Haas needs three sets to beat a doubles specialist in Nenad Zimonjic.”

Like I said, there’s more depth in the top 100 than there was back then. Anyone can pull off upsets now. Whereas before, there were a handful of players who never lost except to each other. Is that because they were too good, or because the rest of the competition sucked? This is the point of contention in the Pete vs Roger debates. My money is on the latter. My belief is that Roger isn’t losing to top 100 players because he’s too good for them, but Pete didn’t lose to top 100 players because they weren’t good enough. Both are good players. Depth was greater in the top 10 in Pete’s era, but greater in top 100 in Roger’s. Don’t discount top 100 just because they’re lower ranked than top 10. There’s a lot more of them.

The main thing is… would Pete have won 14 slams against a strong top 100 competition like there is today? Or would he have taken upsets from players ranked 90? I think he would have had more upsets. His serve volley game certainly would have been less effective with slower courts.


JDC Says:

Imagine if Fed and Nadal had never existed. Then there would be numerous players today w/ multiple Slam trophies … Nalbandian, Safin (3-5), Henman, Roddick, etc. Perhaps then these players and this era would look better to Sean.

I hope that history recognizes the dominance of Fed and does not forget these other great players b/c they lack Slam wins. Amidst such dominance, Slam finals and semifinals indicate greatness, too. Sean has missed this point, but hopefully history will not.


Tejuz Says:

Just a case of sour grapes …


luke Says:

if you wanna compare the quality of past to present all you need is a player like hewitt who connects both. it’s pretty simple.

old hewitt has a WINNING record against sampras. this is a guy who’s only strategy was hitting loopy half court backhands until the opponent made an error. and he won a lot. and he dominated sampras.

hewitt is a much better player these days then back then – better serve, volleys. still, his lack of weapons means that plenty of low ranked players cut him up now. he’s struggling big time. federer would have more trouble against his ex fed cup girlfriend, who probably hits it harder. it just shows how far the standard of tennis has come.


critic Says:

For all you guys who are interested in the young guns: the russian mentioned above, age 18 is called Korolev, Evgeny. Not Koralev, and no, it’s not a typo, the name appears here and there over the page, but never correctly spelled.

As for the rest: Like someone mentioned once before, we should compare not only 90′s and 2000-2006 but also 80′s and have an argument over all three eras.
During the 80′s the Big Ones (borg, lendl, mcenroe, connors) were troubled only by themselves; during the 90′s, Sampras was troubled much by lesser players, whereas there were no great players comparable to the 80′s during the sampras-reign (apart from agassi). Conclusion back then: Competition has grown significantly among top100 players. Look, Sampras lost to a guy outside the top50.
Both during the 80′s and 90′s there were enough GS-titles left by one player to let others have a go. During the 80′s many of the “leftovers” were taken by great players. During the 90′s many of the “leftoveres” were taken by not so great players. It is legitimate to compare these eras’ competition.
From 2002-2006 there simply weren’t enough “leftofers” left because Federer was too hungry. You can’t tell (maybe never will), how many great players have been around from 2002-2006 because they had no possibility to prove themselves apart from beating federer (which apparently didn’t happen that often). So it ISN’T legitimate to compare this era to the earlier ones as far as competition goes.

By the way: Why is the no-competition-era starting only in 2002? what happened between 2000-2002? was competition better then? Hewitt won a lot, Safin too, but see, they are still around. They are injured: So what? Injury sadly is part of the game; if the pro’s can’t stay healthy you just have to insert the injury-factor into the mix of qualities of a great player. You never had to do that in earlier eras. Injury is the result of the extremly physical demand of tennis nowadays. It is key to adjust one’s game to this challenge, get enough rest and so on. Does that tell you that competition has gone?


Tejuz Says:

SG : “my point is …great champions transcend time.”

and well.. we all know.. Federer has transcended sports(along with time). Hez being compared to likes of Woods, Schumi, Jordan apart from other Tennis greats. Hez winning Laureus awards 2 years in a row (beating the likes of Ronaldinho, Schumi, Alonso, Woods, Phelps, Armstrong) and difinitely a third one after such a successful year. He was also nominated in 2003. These awards are decided by world’s leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters from over 80
countries.

Well… seems like this competition is weak too… ;-) ha ha


Tejuz Says:

I guess what Sean means is that after Sampras retired(or chickened out):
1. Agassi became OLD all of a sudden and had recurring back-aches
2. Moya lost interest in his game.
3. Kuerten got injured (anyway he dint win much outside of clay)

who else do u remember from pre-2002 who were good players and also lost their touch???

yah.. Rafter.. had a gud 4 years(at USOpen and Wimbledon) from 1997 to 2001(thats it)

regarding run to Finals or semis .. check during Sampras’s reign..

Todd Woodbridge reaches semis in Wimbledon
Pioline reaches finals at wimby
Andre beats Medvedev when he won his only French Open(in 5 sets) – lucky fellow..
Philiphousis reached a US Open final..
Rusedski reached a US Open final
Korda wins a AU Open
Gomez beats Agassi at French
Lot many others in Semis …

and all of them are not better than the Martin Verkerk, Rainer Schuettler,Gaston Gaudio.

Regarding the statement:
“The 35-year-old Wayne Arthurs beat world No. 8 and Shanghai contender Tommy Robredo, and Max Mirnyi, 29, beats Dmitry Tursunov. And today Tommy Haas needs three sets to beat a doubles specialist in Nenad Zimonjic.”

Sampras himself has lost to Paes in straight sets, who is a doubles specialist. So that doesnt prove anything to me.

If u read Agassi’s interviewd during this years US Open, his opinion.. Wayne Arthurs had the best serve (not sampras) that he faced.

But one thing is agree… most players do lack self belief when they face Federer(more so than Sampras) .. and they dont win BIG macthes cuz they finally end up meeting Federer before the finals.


Funner Says:

THE PAGE OF NO SENSE:

The Age of No Competition (2002-2006)

THE BLOGGER OF NO WIT:

Sean Randall


TejuZ Says:

“I don’t like to be reminded of the time we played at Wimbledon — he beat me fair and square and though it hurt, I knew he was a real talent,” Sampras said.


TejuZ Says:

In Sunday’s Madrid Masters final, against Fernando Gonzales, who is world No.10 if you please, Roger Federer won his 17th 6-0 set of the year. In 1994, when Sampras won 10 titles, he had four 6-0 sets.


Leo Says:

10 years on, the sport of tennis has only gotten worse, not better?

Obviously, Sean is a Sampras fan… but he needs to come up for some air once in while.


Leo Says:

Actually I am beginnign to think that Sean Randall is just trying to rile up people…. I say ignore him and his illogical rants and it will eventually die down.

Let’s just ignore him.


Sean Randall Says:

People…This is not a Fed v. Sampras thing. Get over it. I like Fed. I am a fan of his. He’s an incredible player. I don’t like Sampras. I almost throw up when he won the US Open in 2002. And as I’ve said before, if Fed were to have played in the period of Pete’s prime, Fed’s No. 1, and he still wins multiple Slams.

I will also add that when Pete was playing in the late 90s, the competition was crap then, too. But in my mind it was not as bad as it is now when you got so many players who simply don’t know how to win when it counts the most.

Now, to answer some of your questions…

True Tennis Fan, can you prove any of those statements you made? Didn’t think so. Okay, to make it easy for you just prove this one: “There are more tennis tournaments today than 10 years ago.” That should be easy, just count em and get back to me. Assuming you can count.

Tejuz, Pete “chickened out”. He just had enough. He was cooked even before the Open that year, we all saw it. Give him credit, he got the fairy tale ending. Look at the Fed’s 2006 US Open draw, does Pete lose to any of those guys? And before you say Roddick slams him in the final, Pete wasted Roddick en route to his 2002 title. Sure Roddick’s a better player now, but you still got to give Pete a good chance, especially in a Slam final.

You also say Roddick is just as good as the other “one time” Slam wonders during Pete’s era. Fair enough. If he plays Richard Krajicek 10 times, or Michael Chang 10 times, I could see him ahead in each of those match-ups.

And “sour grapes”? For what? I just think the majority of players today are crap. Fortunately, that’s going to change in the next year or two (I hope).

Giner, you are probably right, Pete was fortunate to have not played Lleyton that year. But he did play Roddick, he did play Haas. What’s their excuse? I was sick that neither of those two could take Pete out.

I don’t get your No. 1 argument, but as I said before Roddick’s just one of 15 to ever finish a season No. 1. Safin, sorry. You were close but it didn’t happen for you, and probably never will. And yes, he’s on that page in history right along side Borg, Agassi, Federer, Hewitt, Edberg, McEnroe, Lendl as guys who finished the year No. 1. There’s no denying that one.

You say there was little depth back in Pete’s days. True, but there was even less in Borg’s days, right? I agree that there is more depth now and if Pete were playing or Lendl were still in the game right now they would suffer a few more shock first round losses, which Fed has remarkably avoided. However, the guys at the top who you have to beat to reach latter stages of events, and to win titles, are pretty weak right now. So I get your point, I agree with you, but it’s a question that if you’re a top player would you rather play in an age of 4-7 pretty good players with a bunch of average guys, or a one or two really good ones and a bunch of above average guys.

And this whole notion that serve/volleyers would have so much trouble today is a bunch of garbage. Last week Tim Henman, a far from peak Tim Henman, beat Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer in front of their home fans on a slow indoor court in Madrid. Then he pushed another baseliner in David Nalbandian to three sets. In Miami this year he beats Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt. How the hell does that happen when the serve/volley is supposed to be an impossible strategy? The guy also reached the semifinals at the French in 2004? What hell was that all about, Giner?

JDC, okay let’s imagine if Fed/Nadal never existed. Without those two, Slam by Slam I got…
Federer:
2003 Wimbledon – Philippousis wins (you could argue Roddick)
2004 Aussie Open – Safin wins
2004 Wimbledon – Roddick wins
2004 US Open – Hewitt wins
2005 Wimbledon – Roddick wins
2005 US Open – Agassi wins (you could make a case for Hewitt)
2006 Australian Open – Bagdhatis (you could argue Haas I think)
2006 Wimbledon – Maybe Ancic? I don’t see Bagdhatis, not Bjorkman. Tough one
2006 US Open – Roddick

as for Nadal:
2005 French Open – Puerta
2006 French Open – I might go with Hewitt, but you could argue Ljubicic (Nalbandian was injured)

So without Rog/Rafa we give Hewitt a few more Slams, Roddick gets three maybe four more giving him around five Slams total. And perhaps Bag-man already bags one and maybe Ancic gets a sniff.

At the end of the day, Roddick though is probably the top player of this period, and going forward he would likely win a few more majors, ending his career six years from now with 7-9 Slams. Does that tell you, “Wow. With competition being as tough as it was back then Andy must have been a pretty good player to amass that many Slams” or does it tell you, “Wow. Things must have been pretty crappy back then if Andy could get that many Slams.” Luckily, we don’t have to deal with that outcome.

Luke, you say “hewitt is a much better player these days then back then”. Really? Are you completely insane?? His game is based on movement, and like Ferrero, he’s lost a step or two. I like your past/presents linkage, though. But take a look at Bjorkman, Santoro, Goldstein, Gimelstob, Dick Norman. Goldstein and Norman both hit career highs recently (the 35-year-old Norman this week) and Santoro and Gimelstob are not too far off. Explain that?

Critic, I started in 2002 because a bunch of guys like Thomas Johansson and Albert Costa won Slam titles that year. That why. Guys like Kuerten, Rafter, Sampras were past their prime. Hence you had Jiri Novak finishing Top 10 in 2002, you had Sjeng Schalken who had never advanced to a Slam 4th round in 26 prior tries suddenly reach a QF and SF that year (Schalken by with way finished his career reaching the 4th RD or better in six of his last nine Slams between 2002-2005). Competition must have been for that to happen!

And in 2004, you had Gustavo Kuerten rise up from the ashes to beat Federer in straights at the French. Kuerten was no where near his best at the time, but he still straight-setted No. 1 Fed who had won every Slam match that year except that one. Fed also had just won Hamburg so was in-form, but he couldn’t beat a banged-up Kuerten? What’s up with that? I’ll tell ya. Kuerten’s a champion, he’s a winner, he’s got heart. That’s what that is. He’s going to put up a fight, and he did it that day. Like Pete at the 2002 Open, these guys might not be at their best, might be banged up but when the chips are down it’s amazing how often they are able to rise up for big occasions. You saw Agassi do it the last few years at the Open.

Ask yourself, if you were in the US Open final and you could play an in-form Nikolay Davydenko, Tommy Robredo, Tommy Haas, James Blake or Ivan Ljubicic, would you rather play them or a past-his-prime Boris Becker. My answer, I’m taking the former, because you know Becker’s not going to go away easily. He’s gonna scrap, fight and claw and not be awed by the situation, and above all he knows how to win and he’s gonna play to win. These others guys, probably are going to come out playing not to lose. Big difference.

So how many players playing today really have that winning mentality? In my mind not many. Federer, Roddick, Nadal, Hewitt, Safin and maybe a few others. And it’s not about Fed beating these guys down. I mean, where was Fed when Ljubicic lost at the US Open? Where was he when Blake fell apart at Wimbledon, or when Nalbandian blew it at the Australian? How many games did the 5th-ranked Robredo win in his loss at the US Open last month? Was that Fed’s fault, too?

Thankfully with these new guys like Baghdatis, Murray, Djokovic, etc, we won’t have to deal with this much longer…


Jan Says:

The thing is: Andre brought a joy to the sport that seems to be sadly missing with his absence now. There is something to be said for “soul” and although Roger is an amazing player (no matter who his opponent is), he is “flat.” Not his fault and I don’t condemn him for it. But it felt as if the tennis “balloon” had poppped the day Andre retired. The energy had left, the passion, the joy, the love of the game. That is what Andre projected and it was impossible to take your eyes off of him. Roger is amazing, no question; Rafa is great fun to watch and does some incredible things, no question. But it’s not who will replace Sampras or Federer (when that day comes), but who will bring the joy of the game back to the level it was when Andre played.


Ben Says:

“JDC, okay let’s imagine if Fed/Nadal never existed. Without those two, Slam by Slam I got…
Federer:
2003 Wimbledon – Philippousis wins (you could argue Roddick)
2004 Aussie Open – Safin wins
2004 Wimbledon – Roddick wins
2004 US Open – Hewitt wins
2005 Wimbledon – Roddick wins
2005 US Open – Agassi wins (you could make a case for Hewitt)
2006 Australian Open – Bagdhatis (you could argue Haas I think)
2006 Wimbledon – Maybe Ancic? I don’t see Bagdhatis, not Bjorkman. Tough one
2006 US Open – Roddick

as for Nadal:
2005 French Open – Puerta
2006 French Open – I might go with Hewitt, but you could argue Ljubicic (Nalbandian was injured)”

I think you could revise things just a bit on there.
2004 US Open, Agassi Wins (Lost to Fed in Five)
2004 Aus Open, Safin Wins (Could Make a Case for Agassi, match up of previous year). All in all,
Agassi wins 11 slams rather than 8 and knocks on the door of best of all time.


TejuZ Says:

well Jan, that is your opinion, your view. Yes, Agassi did bring some charisma to the game.. but i wasnt a big fan of him anyway.

I felt like how you do when Becker retired.. then tennis wasnt fun.. but it all changed when Fed won his first Wimbledon(or rather his semis victory against Roddick).

Sean, you cant point to a few losses of these players to say that they lose early. I bet most of the top players from 80s and 90s have lost on 1st or 2nd round. Becker has made lots of 1st round exits. It happens… first few rounds are the trickiest of all. Nalbandian has reached many semifinals.. Ljubcic has reached 2 semis this yr, Devydenko also 2 semis. These are consistent performers. If you dont see anything great in them.. thats your opinion. I think Ljubcic has a better game than Ivanesevic. Their only problem is Federer.. Ljubicic has taken Fed to close matches in Masters series and Masters Cup. Nalbandian certainly is a choker(also Blake).. but he has a good alround game. Roddick isnt pretty to watch, but hez effective. Why under-rate his achievements. He beat players like Agassi,Nalbandian and Ferrero to win his US Open 2003.

And regarding Kuerten beating Federer. Roland garros has been his home for sometime..and clay wasnt Fed’s fav surface. Fed wasnt confident abt his chances back then. Fed had a bad day, and lost 6-4 6-4 6-4. But doesnt say anything abt Kuerten’s fighting spirit. he lost the next round to hewitt i guess. Fed certainly has improved on clay the last couple of years.

You are talking abt the new generation coming up… well, if they cant dent Federer in the future.. they will also look like a weak competition.


Fumus Says:

This isn’t an age of no competition, it’s an age of extreme competition dominated by one man. Tennis is a much larger sport than it was say 10 or 15 years ago. Tennis became an olympic sport and it’s more global now than ever. The depth of men’s tennis is crazy, that why the number 80 guy in the work can upset the number 20 guy in the world. Also the writer of this article is retarded, top seeds are losing to lower ranked players now more than ever because it’s the end of the season and the tennis season is far too long. Partly due to the fact that, tournements make more money now then ever, and the atp wants to have as many as possible.


Ryan Says:

Ugh…this article is so terrible I’m actually going to spend time responding to it. And, sadly enough, I haven’t even read all of it yet, but I am prompted to respond!

Re: Pete’s win at the ’02 US Open–”he could barely win a match”

Well, here’s where you yourself are “hammering” Mr. Sampras. Did you forget about the other 13 Slams he won? Was it REALLY that much of a shock? Sure, he was getting older, and not much was expected of him, but hindsight is always 20/20, and it’s not much of a shocker at all that the man who even at that time had the all-time Slam count record went ahead and won another one. Are you suggesting that he “got lucky” because of such “weak competition”?

Re: Thomas winning the AO and Albert winning the French…

Guess that must be a sign of the terrible weakness of the field (never mind that Agassi didn’t play that AO, Kuerten had sustained injury by the French, Juan Carlos–future Slam winner and no. 1–choked in the final)…Brian Teacher won the AO in 80–tennis was never weaker! Yannick Noah wins the French in 83–at a low point in tennis history! News flash–one-Slam wonders happen.

Re: “Jiri Novak finished the year at No. 7!!”

Karel Novacek finished 8th in 1991. Joakim Nystrom finished 7th in 1986. What the HELL is your point here.

Re: Andy Roddick finishing at 1 and his “equality” to the greats.

You point out that “on that page” he is equal, and that is the key. What a horrible logical mistake–do you really think in any other category people are comparing Roddick to Wilander, Agassi, Kuerten, or even people like Becker, Borg, McEnroe, etc.? And Roddick’s had a more successful career than Stich and you could argue he’ll have more success than Muster or Rafter. (By the by, none of these players has more than 2 Slams.)

Re: “weak-ass competition”

That year, Roddick went on the same summer hardcourt tear–beating all comers, including Ferrero and Federer–as Agassi did back in 95. Except Roddick actually won the US Open that year.

Re: your laundry list of surprise Slam performances

I’m not even going to bother responding to that, as I could fill an entire page of surprise semifinalists and finalists from the entire Open era. You write as if back in the “good ole days” it was the top 4 seeds in the semis at every Slam. Get real, and try learning about tennis or something.

Re: Wayne and Nenad

I’m not even sure you’re making a point here, but if you are, it’s the one contrary to the topic of your blog. Apparently it’s damned if you do or damned if you don’t–in the men’s game, even people outside of the top 100 are GOOD enough to beat top players, and according to Mr. Randall, that’s a problem. But I’m sure he’s just as busy complaining that there are only 5 women from Slam to Slam that can actually contend. So what exactly do you want out of tour competition?

Re: Dick Norman

Huh? Why did you mention this again? Achieving a CAREER-HIGH rank of 90 isn’t much to shout about, unless you illogically choose to make it so. Andre was 35 and in the top 10–must mean the tour is full of terrible players, not the singular nature of a single player and his ability!

Re: the “big matches” query

As in every era, there are players with high rankings that will reach a peak and be unable to go any further after that. That’s why, from any era, there’s only a handful of great, top players, and this “argument” you make wonderfully points that out. Thanks for noting that there are about 5 or 6 “greats” from this era, as there have been from any era (Borg/Connors/McEnroe, Lendl/Wilander/Becker/Edberg, Sampras/Agassi/Courier). Are you really trying to prove your own point here, or mine?

Re: Agassi’s reasons for sticking around

Couldn’t be because the guy is freakishly talented and in amazing shape. Must be because everyone else sucks and they folded when they played him. Yeah, must be that.

Re: The most foolish part of the article, the coronation of future greats such as Monfils, Djokovic, and Murray

Uh, really? Am I really reading this? Your position is that the sport will be saved by a bunch of youngers out of whom only ONE has been top 10 (Gasquet)??? Because you know, Monfils, with his hang-behind-the-baseline-and-hit-hard style is revolutionizing the game.

UGH then he makes the a-million-times-proven-wrong “X did more than Y at Z age” argument. Who cares when Federer started being good?? In 1993, would you say Agassi was a better player than Sampras because Agassi achieved more by 20 than Sampras did (pre his US win)?? How does that argument hold any weight?

Re: Fed needing “legit” competition

You’re paying him short shrift in the exact same way you say people are doing to Sampras. Way to come full circle. There’s just no way Federer is THAT good. Couldn’t be.

Well, this is by far the most terrible article I’ve read here so far. You guys should leave the tennis commentary (you know, the part that requires ideas and insight) to others and just stick with the “news and notes.” What a terrible, poorly-written, brainless article.


Ben Says:

I meant agassi winning 2005 aus open, not 2004.
He also would have won another 3 masters series crowns had it not been for FED (2004 pacific Life, 2003 Masters Cup, 2005 NasDaq)

So minus feder and agassi could have
11 grand slams and 20 master series crowns. Best ever??

But to be the best you got to beat the best, who is federer.


Jason Alfrey Says:

I’m not going to say that the competition is less than it was 10 years ago. I believe now the atheletes are quicker and obviously hit the ball harder. The sport is evolving and physically the player is to, but unfortunately mentally they’re not. You can give a player everything they need to succeed on the tennis court(equipment, training, coaching). However, if you can’t execute or think of ways to win the match all those other factors really don’t matter. At that point it’s a lifestyle and a hobby. It’s still the greatest way to make a living if you can.


Tennisfanman Says:

I agree with Sean.

Victory in tennis is not just about how hard you hit the ball. (otherwise Srichaphan & Gonzalez would be multiple slam winners.) It’s first and foremost about knowing how to win. Sampras knew how to win more than anyone but Federer is right up there.

The guys today have not show they know how to close the deal not just against Federer but even against each other. But I doubt anyone from Sampras’ era would have given Federer much trouble except Pete and Andre.


ben Says:

players nowadays are not weak. they’re good players, but i agree with sean randall that they don’t really have the heart to be champions. there are people who say that players come out beat by federer before picking up a racket. well its not just federer. blake has been bageled atleast twice that i know of in 5th sets. hes a great player, but he lacks the heart of a champion. federer, however, wants it more than anyone, i think, ever. he wants it so much that hes put himself so high above the rest of the field in the way he plays and how much he wins. nadal also wants it badly. he never goes away. agassi, even with his back problems and old age, knows that he must always play to win. when you’re a professional tennis player, its assumed u can be consistent so you dont have to be scared of missing in the net or out. look at the way federer hits his forehand. he runs around the corner of the baseline to hit a forehand when he could easily hit a backhand that would’ve been safer. so now hes hitting the forehand and hes not just aiming it inside out, hes aiming for the very line, the very corner of the court. and, most of the time, he hits an amazing shot. sometimes (Rome) he misses. hes not afraid to hit it though. and other players cant be afraid of winning. blake is afraid of winning. ljubicic is afraid of winning. nalbandian is inconsistent, sometimes he really wants it and it shows, but too often he lacks the heart. and as for gasquet being as talented as roger. definetly. no doubt in my mind. have you seen their monte carlo encounter? gasquet hits shots that federer hasnt even hit yet. just because he has the weirdest looking forehand ever and an ugly imitation of roddick’s service motion doesnt make him any less talented. hes growing, hes getting there. he has some great wins, beat federer, gives him a tough time when they play. but i do think the up and comers will bring desire back into the game. baghdatis, gasquet, djokovic, they see federer and his desire and they want it for themselves. they want to win, they no at the moment they have nothing to lose and everything to gain and theyr not gonna wait for it to come to them becuz they know that they have to go out their and claim those slams.


Sean Randall Says:

Tejuz, you are right in that some of the top guys do push Roger and Rafa, but they just don’t win, and then they can barely beat each other. Ljubicic, Davydenko and Nalbandian are all consistent players, I’ll give you that and I give them credit. But do they win big titles? Do they really come through in the clutch, like a champion??? If Roger and Rafael were to skip the Masters Cup next month would you really bet one of those three would take that title? I’d take Roddick or Gonzalez before those guys.

As for early losses, sure they happened back then in the 80s and 90s. Of course it did. That’s why I say what Fed’s done is amazing in that he’s avoided that early round upset bug. Incredible.

A thing to remember also that in the 80s, 90s the Slams seeded just 16. So the top seed could play No. 17 in the first round. Now with the 32 seeds the top guys are assured of not facing a top 35-ish player until the third round.

Fumus, can you elaborate on “tournements make more money now then ever”? Where do you get that from? Off the back of a cereal box?

Ryan, let me address your comments.

Regarding Sampras’ win at the 2002 Open, yes I was in shock when he won it. And I’m guessing there were a lot of other people who were also in some form of shock. Going into that event, who had Sampras winning that title? No one. As for him being lucky, sure there’s probably some of that, but more so that he just took advantage of the field. That’s all. Guys like Haas and Roddick should have taken him out but they couldn’t get the job done. After all, both Haas and Roddick beat Pete earlier in the year, why couldn’t they duplicate it when it mattered the most, at the Open?

News flash Ryan, one Slam wonders really do happen. I know. I agree. But I see Albert Costa/Tommy Jo as weaker one-Slam winners than others. Noah was a Top 5 player, and Teacher won the Australian when no one played it. You almost can’t count the Australian as a Slam back in the 70s.

On Roddick being “on that page”. “That page” refers to the page which lists the year-end champions. Listed on “that page” you will find Roddick’s name alongside Wilander, Borg, Lendl, Sampras, Agassi, McEnroe and the rest of the 15 year-end No. 1s. But overall, is he really among those elite players? Of course not, but thanks to – in my mind – some weak competition and a fortuitous hot streak during that summer he stole the 2003 year-end No. 1 ranking. Good for him! I give him a lot of credit for pulling that one.

As for Dick Norman, he started playing in the early 90s. And after turning pro in 1991 why is it that now is when he reaches a career high? Last I checked players don’t peak at age 35. An answer could be that maybe he simply wasn’t good enough back in the 90s to reach a ranking of say No. 90. Maybe the tour was tougher back then, but now in 2006 he is good enough and/or perhaps it’s not that tough. That’s what I’m saying.

Re: Big Matches. Sure, every era has guys that manage to get into the top 10 or win a Slam that might not be all that. Karel Novacek, Alberto Berasategui, Jonas Bjorkman, Jay Berger, Karol Kucera, etc. But in my mind this period simply has more. Look at 1986, you had Lendl, Becker, Connors, Wilander, Noah, Edberg all in the Top 5. Those cats could win big matches. Are you going to tell me that mentally Ljubicic and Davydenko and even Roddick are up there with those guys, or even anywhere close?

And yeah, Agassi is freakishly talented, a once-in-a-lifetime like Federer, but he also did the math. Andre talked about winning Slams, that’s why he kept playing. And Andre loves playing guys that simply hammer away from the baseline with little spin and slice and give him rhythm. Which is something just about everyone in today’s game does.

You bring up “folded” which is exactly what Bag-man did at the US Open. In the fifth, Marcos got tight, couldn’t handle it and started cramping. Benjamin Becker almost did the same thing, and probably would have had he dropped that fourth set. As I said, Andre is a freak but I also think he knows – and it showed at the Open – that there are just not that many players who can close these days. Look at Blake a year ago, punishes Agassi only to fall apart.

An no I’m not short changing Fed. This is not a Fed thing. Fed would still be dominant even if the other players were better, he’s that good. Again, if Fed played in the 90s he’s still No. 1 and still racking up Slams. Doesn’t matter who’s across the net.

As for me being foolish in saying that guys like Gasquet, Monfils, Djokovic, Murray, etc, are going to save the sport? Perhaps I am, only time will tell. But I’ll take them over the current guys like Robredo, Ljubicic, Nalbandian, etc. Obviously you see a lot of mental toughness and heart in the latter group that I just don’t see.

Forecasting future stars can be tricky, but when you look back at guys in their teens who crack the Top 20, they usually end up with pretty good careers. That’s why I make the Gasquet/Federer comparison. Even Federer said at Wimbledon this year that Gasquet ”reminds me a bit of me sometimes.” I guess Fed’s wrong, too…

And “true tennis fan”, I’m still waiting on your proof that there are more tournaments now then back in 1996. Thanks.


critic Says:

“Again, if Fed played in the 90s he’s still No. 1 and still racking up Slams. Doesn’t matter who’s across the net.”

Thank you, Sean Randall, didn’t expect to hear that from you.

What is there to add? Nothing, the statement says it all.
Whatever the opponent, eventually Federer will figure out a way to beat him. Let’s hope he will stay strong enough to handle the young guns.

Today i watched him play Garcia-Lopez; even though there was no tension/excitement whatsoever concerning the outcome, it was great watching. If Sampras has got the best running forehand, Fed for sure has the best running backhand. Full speed, down the line, crosscourt, whatever you need.
Enjoy!
I believe Fed’s defense is most underrated. Check youtube for some samples. e.g. vs. Roddick, his “defensive smash”, vs. Agassi: defensive lob, vs. Nalbandian: squash hit; several shots around the net post (forehand, backhand, whatever you can think of)
Never would you see Pete chase a short ball across the whole court. He’s got a nice jump-smash, though :-)


achilles190 Says:

to me the axis of this debate centers on Is Roger Federer too good or is the competition too weak…….

THe problem that I have with the assertion that

1) prev greats from the past including Sampras are confirming his technical abilities his strategy and his mental toghness and pure shotmaking………past greats would not be fooled if ROgers was a top dog in a weak field…..moreover past tennis greats are tipping him as one of the greatest talents

2) ROgers and Pete both have all round games….without glaring or gaping weaknesses….ROgers, I would say, game is more technically sound than Pete’s ,,,,,,It is not a coincidence that both of these players were heralded as mental giants and technical geniuses both dominated in their eras…….If Pete Sampras had a more complete clay court game he would have dominated even more Federesquely


10nnis xpert Says:

Sampras ain’t winning that 2002 us open if agassi didnt do him a fevor and beat hewitt.

I think sean you are so off base- what you cant see is that the players of the 90 were so bad returners and that is why sampras won so many slams.

Agassi isnt 1 class returner for me, that is just you amricans wanting to give him respect as pete was the beast server and agassi was his “revial” so he must be the gretest returner. No is not he is in the best 5 for me.

when those guys of the 90 started to face the great returners the started to lose. the s and v guys would lose so much this days right and left players will pass them.

fed, safin,nalbandian,muray hewitt are the best reurners.

I do agree that agssi won most of his slam only when peat form went down but it started in pete era not fed and agssi won his slams befor fed eara began in 2004.

Fed losing to guga in 2004 Frnach: fed didnt know that he is going to win 2 more slams that year. he was 22 years old all alone, did you forget that in the start of 2004 he wants choch less. and clay was he weakest slam, and guga best slam and he know how to play on it.

NoW dont comper players like nikoly and robredo to nalbandian, nalbndian is a great player he will be top 10 in evey ear is just need his head to get streat. he sould have won 2003 us open and 2002 wimbeldon. robredo is in the top 10 because he got luckey on tms on clay as fed and nadal werent there by that time next year he is out of the top 10 and he surly doesnt deserve to be there, but some players were injerd and some lack of from but he wont be there next year.

the real top 10 for me:

1.Fed
2.safin
3.nalbndian
4.roddick
5.nadal
6.gusqet
7.marray
8.tomas b
9.djoko
10.blake

Now the reason the other player cant beat fed, and remember this sean is Fed slice, is the best slice the game of tennis has ever seen, and they dont know how to dell with it. and that is the reason that fed would have won wimbeldon no mater what era he was playing in, and would have beating beat every time, the slice the bigest weapon on greass is also Fed best weapon.

The upsets this week: player are trierd that is it.

About gusqet, as fed fan I CAN can say as I call him baby fed, he has tennis skilles and he is close to fed then any other player, but as tennis talent all around skilles fed is the best.

I would say : fed, gusqet, nalbandian, bgdandis.

the problem with nalbandian and gusqet is that the nalbandian fitnce and 2 serve and gusqet fitnce and sometimes not ofancive enoght doesnt have the best retrne (althought it good).

gusqet dosnt have fed 1 serve, 2 serve, slice.

althought gusqet can hit more winners with his bh fed can do with the bk more things.

so gusqet if you want to be the next no1 when fed retires go and modale your game to fed game.

the next young guns are great but what would you say if fed keeps winning. I almost feel sorry for them because if he does only the 14,13 of this day will be able to have fun again.

I think that the new guns are just less or more a version of the top players of fed ear:

gusqet is less of a FED
nadal is more of a hewitt
tomas B IS A LESS OF A safin
bgdahdis is less or more of nalbandian
marruy is a lot of hewitt mix with nalbandian


Expert Analyst Says:

pathetic blog… I can’t believe a person this dense is being allowed a blog here.

You, like a lot of other people, are stuck in the Sampras era — it is understandable that you were awed by his brilliance.

And, it is also understandable that you are taking Federer’s wins personally as an attack against your favourite.

But… I have to say, learn to have an objective eye and judge each era by its own merits. Tennis, like many other sports, is constantly changing and one might even say improving as the physicality of the game is increasing.

I am sure that in a couple of decades a person with the medical conditions of Sampras cannot dominate like Sampras did.

However, you probably haven’t changed your opinion by my comment so go ahead and watch the Sampras v Pioline final, the Connors run and marvel at how the old guys are making runs and how the competition is so tough :)

IIRC Sampras himself said that the competition had improved by the tail end of his career — I will take his word over yours thank you.


Sasidharp Says:

I am just wondering how you think that people are going to win titles if Federer is winning all of them.

You accuse Davydenko, Ljubicic, Blake et al of not winning majors but how are they going to do it if the best player in the world, arguably ever, Federer, is at the other end of the net all the time.

Seems a bit circular to penalise Federer’s era for the brilliance of one man.

And you talk about the strength of Sampras’s era, that is laughable. Sampras was never dominant outside of slams and he didn’t even perform at the AO. People like Rusedski, Pioline, et al made finals of slams.

You ask how Wayne Arthurs beat Tommy Robredo — I ask you how 41 year old ‘no weapons’ Wilander was able to beat Sampras in the middle of his peak, on a hard court no less?


ben Says:

why cant we all just get along? i hate how those of you who defend sampras insult federer and those of you who defend federer insult sampras. whether its them directly or their competition. seriously, both of them are tremendously great out of their minds. if federer’s competition looks weak its because hes making it look weak, same goes for sampras. the only problem is federer is more dominant than sampras was so his competition looks weaker. that doesnt mean sampras wasnt dominant tho. its not like sampras never performed out of this world shots. and he did make it look easy a lot of the time. and he was great off the baseline, too, he wasnt just a pure serve and volleyer. he outplayed the great agassi off the ground plenty of times. the current top 10 does lack flare though. they lack the desire and ambition that players like becker, agassi, chang, and especially sampras had. but there are players who have that desire. roddick definetly has it. everyone knew going into the final there was no way roddick could win. but the middle two sets were really close and until that one bad game on his serve at the end of the third set, it was anyone’s match. blake going for a backhand winner down the line when hes down match point against roger? thats pretty ambitious right there. im not saying blake all of the sudden has the heart of a champion, but i think hes learning. nadal has the heart of a champion, no question. nalbandian has proved to have the heart of a champion, beating roger at the masters cup, but he doesnt have the desire to be number 1 or anything. robredo, ljubicic, davydenko, these guys dont have the ambition of the others, but they are good players without a doubt. ljubicic and davydenko have given roger a run for his money enough times to say that theyre threats to him when theyr playing well. baghdatis is young but he wants to win and hes a future champion no question. gonzalez, hes basically the stereotypical ball basher of today. but he wants to win, just lacks the skill to win big. gasquet is a future champion without a doubt, he is baby fed. but hes young, still mentally fragile, but im sure he’ll get there. hopefully berdych will, too. unfortunately berdych is baby safin and we all see safin’s not doing too great right now. nonetheless, safin has the heart of a champion. of course hes the biggest underachiever in the history of tennis and its a huge shame, but when hes playing his best, we get some of the greatest matches ever. had safin lived up to his talents, him and federer would have definetly created the greatest rivalry ever. too bad tho. hewitt has the heart of a champion too but hes getting rusty. too many distractions.


Sean Randall Says:

10s Expert, you say I am “so off base” because players in the 90s “were so bad returners and that is why sampras won so many slams.” And players return better now? Maybe you are right. Ya got any data to back that claim up? Maybe players hit fewer aces now than a few years back. Not really sure how to measure that one.

Expert Analyst/Sasidharp, I first have to ask you when/where did a 41-year-old Wilander beat Sampras? According to the ATP database that match never happened, but perhaps they along with everyone else simply missed that one. Guess that’s why you are an “Expert Analyst”.

As for Davdenko, Ljubicic, Blake not winning majors argument. Then take Federer and even Nadal out of the equation the last three years and tell me which majors those guys win in their absence. I couldn’t find one, neither could Ben. Just read above, then add your thoughts. If you think Blake would have won the US Open this year or that Ljubicic would have taken the Australian Open crown I’ll listen. But tell me.

And you’re right. Rusedski was a crap player, and Pioline was nothing great. But Martin Verkerk is no world beater, neither is Rainer Schuettler. Point is, there’s always going to be some flaky Slam finalists, that happens in every era. So what.

True, that Sampras never was that dominant outside of Slams like Fed is today. Pete simply didn’t care much for the lesser events back then. He was playing to wins Slams. That was his priority. Does that make him less a player? You could argue that, and I would probably agree. But that was his deal.

Rob/True Tennis Fan/Nick and the other 1,000 aliases you try to use. I am still waiting on your proof that there are more tournaments now than there were in 1996. Show me. Also, read below, print it out and staple it your forehead.

To you Federer fans, let me write again. I like Federer. I like Federer much more than I like Pete Sampras. I couldn’t stand watching Pete as I found him very boring. Whereas Federer is a joy to watch. Again, I am not a Pete fan, but I do respect what he accomplished. That’s my opinion. If Fed played in Pete’s time, Fed still is No. 1 and he wins multiple Slams. Please make note of that. Thanks.


Bo Says:

Why is Sean Randall writing for tennis-x??? He is hardly an expert, his integrity is shot, and the quality of his work is that of a struggling high school student. Seriously, I expect so much more from this site. The main page is good, but this collumn is just pathetic.


Not Your Father's Speedshaft Says:

I think it’s an issue of perception — the current crop is perceived as weak because too many of them play the same style (110+ mph serve, whack topspin from the baseline, done). The rally-heavy approach eventually burns them out too soon, so people forget about them quickly (Marcelo Rios, anyone?). Space age racket technology and sending children to tennis clinics as if they’ve been drafted into the army only worsens the problem.

(And why all the love for Gasquet? He moves like a refrigerator.)

Put a wood racket in everyone’s hand and Fed’s still #1. Sampras would have been successful too, but with occasional Colin Dibley moments.


Giner Says:

“I don’t get your No. 1 argument, but as I said before Roddick’s just one of 15 to ever finish a season No. 1. Safin, sorry. You were close but it didn’t happen for you, and probably never will. And yes, he’s on that page in history right along side Borg, Agassi, Federer, Hewitt, Edberg, McEnroe, Lendl as guys who finished the year No. 1. There’s no denying that one.”

Finishing the year #1 means nothing. It means for the past 52 weeks you held the most ranking points. It doesn’t matter if it happened in the middle of the season, or during the Master’s Cup. The effort and achievement is the same. This in no way puts Roddick in the same league as Agassi, Federer, McEnroe, et al. It takes more to be compared to them than to end a year as #1. How long you stay there is a more telling tale. Roddick only narrowly edged out Federer, and lost it two tournaments later. But I’m not sure why you’re trying to argue for Roddick’s case when your contention is that today’s competition is worse than it was back then.

“Giner, you are probably right, Pete was fortunate to have not played Lleyton that year. But he did play Roddick, he did play Haas. What’s their excuse? I was sick that neither of those two could take Pete out.”

True. They should have beaten him. But neither of those players had matured enough to prove themselves yet at that point. Roddick hadn’t won his USO or reached #1 yet.

“I agree that there is more depth now and if Pete were playing or Lendl were still in the game right now they would suffer a few more shock first round losses, which Fed has remarkably avoided. However, the guys at the top who you have to beat to reach latter stages of events, and to win titles, are pretty weak right now. So I get your point, I agree with you, but it’s a question that if you’re a top player would you rather play in an age of 4-7 pretty good players with a bunch of average guys, or a one or two really good ones and a bunch of above average guys.”

You could win a slam back then if you could avoid upsets from lesser players, and the stronger competition gets upset. In my opinion Hewitt had very lucky draws. Today, you can win doing the same, but it’s harder to avoid the upsets. That’s why these fairy tale runs keep popping up. Federer has done well to avoid these upsets, and he should have lost a lot more than he did, somehow. But I digress. In my opinion it’s harder to beat a field of 100 players who could on their day play the match of their life and beat anyone (than it is to beat a handful of ‘esteemed’ players who might have an off day and blow their tournament). That’s why you get players like Nalbandian reaching a Wimbledon final in his first ever grass tournament.

If you get extremely lucky like Hewitt does in your draw and string together a few opponents who suck or choke (or just plain avoid any noteworthy player because they get upset by unnoteworthy players), you could also reach unexpected depths in a slam like Henman or Bjorkman or Youzhny. The draw makes a big difference. Suppose Nadal had a tough draw and lost in Paris, Roger Federer might have been the first man to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver.

“Last week Tim Henman, a far from peak Tim Henman, beat Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer in front of their home fans on a slow indoor court in Madrid.”

Last I heard, Madrid was still one of the faster courts. Nadal himself admitted that it wasn’t his best surface. He won last year because many formiddable players skipped the event, and Ljubicic choked. It’s far from slow. And if the surface is a tough one for Nadal, it’s going to be a tough one for Verdasco and Ferrer also. I don’t blame you for not knowing the speed of the court since TV coverage probably sucks in the US.

As for Tim Henman’s fairy tale run at the French Open… let’s see who he beat. Saulnier, Burgsmuller, Blanco, Llodra (barely), Chela. With a draw like that, who wouldn’t? The only player there that should have beaten him was Chela. And while I do think that top 100 players are strong, that doesn’t mean they’re consistent. They can go deep and then have a meltdown. Does that make the competition worse than it was before, because we have a bunch of talented guys who can’t win when it counts? No. The reason the competition is still tougher is because there’s more players who can play well at any time. All they have to do is play their best and they can pull off an upset (a guy ranked 128 had no chance of beating Sampras). They don’t have a shot at winning the slams, but they can pull off early upsets (see: Ivo Karlovic). The sheer number of them means it’s hard for any player to negotiate their way through 7 consecutive matches.

Speaking of Karlovic, it would be interesting to see Sampras pitted against him.

I’ll definately concede to you that Pete had unbelievable runs this century and the players that lost to him should have beaten him (esp. in 2001 USO).


ben Says:

Sean never said Roddick is in the same league you fool. He said that if you look at the records of players to finish the year number 1 you will find Andy Roddick (2003) next to someone like John McEnroe (1981, 1982, 1984). Too difficult for you to understand? And finishing number 1 makes a big difference because at the end of the year despite what everyone else has lost or accomplished, you proved to be the most accomplished. Winning the most points means you won the matches worth the most points meaning you accomplished the most. And if you look at Roddick’s slam results in 2003 it is true. 2 semis and 1 win and 1 first round loss. More than Federer at the time, more than Ferrero, and more than Agassi. I think there are a lot more tremendously talented floaters in the top 100 that could create those upsets but that’s the thing. Let’s say there are 25 super talented players today and there were only 10 in 1993. In 1993, you knew who those super talented players were because they were all in the top 10 winning slams and everything. Nowadays you might have 3 super talented players in the top 10, a total of 8 in the top 20, and the rest are scattered throughout the top 100. Why? Are they bad or weak players? Physically, techincally, skillfully, no. But they’re weak mentally that creates this “age of weak competition”. I’m not saying Federer is lucky or anything, I think he would still be just as dominant if Blake and Ljubicic were CONSISTENTLY mentally tough. The difference would be that Federer would beat blake in a close 5 setter instead of winning 6-0 in the third set (this is referencing their Indian Wells encounter). It took Blake like 5 or 6 tries to get a set off of Federer. If he was mentally tough and knew how to really grind it out, he’d have atleast 6 sets off of Federer by now. I’m sure Federer would’ve still won their encounters, but they would’ve been much closer. You can’t say lucky draws are the key to success. I personally consider Hewitt an overachiever but I blame him for that. He’s the one who had the heart to fight for every point and it proved to be very benefitting for him. Nadal isn’t number 2 on the most talented list of players today, but he’s number 2 when it comes to heart. Number 1 when it comes to showing it, but we’ve all seen how much heart Federer really has.


Tennisfanman Says:

Good post Ben.

I agree that if Blake or the current crop was more “mentally tough” they would push Federer to more 5 setters or even beat him ocassionaly. Federer is the most complete player and on paper should beat everyone including Nadal.

But Nadal wins because he is mentally as tough as Federer or moreso. He breaks down and frustrates Federer mentally the way Federer breaks down everyone else. Both are extremely mentally tough but Federer is more complete.

Guys today concede victory to Federer before the match. Guys like McEnroe, Conners, Chang would have fought to the bitter end. Sampras did not fight as hard as these three but no one has ever performed under pressure like Pete. Break point against him means you could expect 2 aces coming your way.

Federer greatness is unquestionable, but I wish more guys would fight, spit, crawl their way to give him a match instead of standing around marveling at Roger’s brilliance.


ben Says:

Haas has grit. He knows how to fight, but hes also very fragile most of the time. But he deserves credit for coming back from 2 sets to love down against Federer even though he lost. I know someone’s gonna say something about this so I’m gonna clear it up before anyone has the chance to insult him. Regarding Sampras serving two aces, maybe even 3, when hes down break point. Some Federer freak who hates Sampras would say that if Sampras didn’t have such a great serve he would’ve lost so much more. Well, how did he get that serve? Magic, right? He was born with a huge serve, right? No, he was born with talent and worked extremely hard, perhaps harder than any other player, to perfect his serves. Even if his percentages weren’t as great as maybe Federer’s, no one had a serve like Sampras. As far as I’m concerned, he had the greatest serve the world has ever seen. Placement was amazing, speed on both serves was always high, and he knew how to use his serve so well. Having a huge serve, like Roddick, is one thing, but he knew exactly how to use it. I think Federer’s serve is right up there in terms of placement and knowing how to use it, but he doesn’t GO for as much as Sampras did. Most likely because he doesn’t need to as much. He likes to wear down his opponents. Tennisfanman, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you said something bad, I just know that to Federer freaks they’ll find a way to interpret that as a fault of Sampras. I’m just making sure the statement isn’t too vague since we have so many strict interpreters.


Jon Says:

Federer is dominating in one of the weakest eras of mens tennis yet. Sampras was 100% right- his generation had deeper talent (many knew how to serve and volley) whereas this generation knows nothing about how to play except bash the ball from the baseline. Weak-ass competition indeed.


Jon Says:

Giner wrote:
“Finishing the year #1 means nothing. It means for the past 52 weeks you held the most ranking points.”

Dumbest post I’ve read yet.


ben Says:

jon, what the hell are you talking about? wow i cant believe u ppl call urselves tennis fans. players only know how to bash the balls? what about berdych? what about tomas berdych? this guy is huge, has a lot of raw power, but the main reason he beats nadal so consistently is becuz, as all the freaking articles state, he closes in on nadal at the net that puts too much pressure on nadal. ancic is like 22 and hes an actual serve and volleyer with a good baseline game to back him up. weak era… who are u kidding. federer would be dominating in any era, maybe not as badly cuz players from other eras wouldve tried more cuz they didnt lack heart, but it wouldnt have stopped federer from dominating.


TejuZ Says:

well.. players from any era wud have lost it had they played Federer and lost so often.

Saying that Blake wud have taken 6 sets of Fed in 7 matches .. means that he is not very far from Fed had he played with heart. Rather why cant you see that When Fed is up a set or 2 he just ups another gear and closes them all out.
You talk abt Agassi.. he has lost quite a few 6-0 or 6-1 sets (final sets.. mind you). Did he give up??? i thought you said he plays with heart.. never gives up.

You just take couple of instances and base your logic on it.. Quite a few of Blake – Fed matches have gone to tibreakers, even Ljubicic vs Fed as well… now Fed comes up trumps in those tie-breakers because hez more strong mentally. Which doesnt mean that other players in previous era would have given him more fight.

You can see how Courier has lost to Sampras so cheaply, very often.. n u call him fighter.

If these current crop of players dont perform in big stages(apart from Fed and Nadal) how the hell do they get all those many points from?? rather they are missing out on the bulk of points only cuz they are not able to play in finals or win the tournaments cuz of these 2 players.

Now dont give SHIT by pointing out a couple of early round losses….

Blake has won 5 tournaments this year(or 6), second only to fed. whats it abt lacking heart??? He just knows he just couple of levels below Fed.. so are most of the old-timers. Regardless of whether they have heart or not.. they would eventually bite the dust.


Bonitto Says:

Oh man you crazy Roger fans are at it again, beating up on Sean because you dont like what hw has to say, shame on you.

I agree with Sean 100%, this is the weakest era in tennis, sorry Roger.


ben Says:

first of all, agassi played for like 21 years, losing like 4 times out of a million 6-0 in the final set isnt that big a deal. second of all, yes blake has won 5 titles this year. and he beat some good players (hewitt, ljubicic, roddick come to mind). BUT. will he be remembered for these 5 titles? do u even remember what the tournaments were? the majority of his early round losses were in masters and slams. he can fight, but he cant bring out his best when it counts most, not often.


Not Your Father's Speedshaft Says:

Some quick takes on the above:

1. Sampras’s take on his era is a bit of revisionist history. Kafelnikov, for example, was probably the worst player in the history of the game to reach No. 1.

2. Has anyone ever done a comparison of the eras re: how often the top guys lost to players below the top 20? In the Connors-McEnroe-Borg era it was pretty rare, then became a little more common over time, and my impression is that it happens quite a bit now.

3. Where is Martin Verkerk these days anyway?


Tejuz Says:

so if a top 10 player loses in early rounds very often?? This can only mean
1.None of them play with heart(or less heart than earlier era)
OR
2.Competition is top 100 is tough, tougher than earlier eras.

If the world No 1 doesnt lose to a top 10, let alone a topn 100, this can mean that
1. No 1 is very very Dominant, out of this world
or
2. No 1 is average, rest of ‘em are just a bunch of losers, no competition.

Well.. everything is relative here..

rather we can best say that.. Relative to Federer, this is a no-competition era (guess rest of the eras wud have fared the same)

But leave out Federer.. and it wud have been a very competitive era. I dont think Nadal wud have won other GS apart from French, so am stil including him in the competition.


Sean Randall Says:

Bo, thanks for the complement. I didn’t even think I was worthy of high school grammar, but ya know what? I’ll take it!

Not Your Father’s Speedshaft, love the username. The current crop is weak because they rarely win big matches. Winning Stockholm is nice, but why does James Blake fold in fifth sets?

And that fridge you speak will be No. 1 someday. At least I think so.

Giner, you write “Finishing the year #1 means nothing.” Wow. I am going to give you a pass on that one and just assume before you wrote that you banged you head on the monitor or tripped over the computer wires. If you still really believe that let me know, and I’m sure we can help you out.

Lleyton Hewitt getting lucky draws? Yeah, ask him that. I’m sure having to play Fed in something like eight of the last 11 Slams has been easy.

You also write that back then “a guy ranked 128 had no chance of beating Sampras”. Well, go look that up on the record books. You’ll be surprised to learn a guy ranked outside the Top 200 did beat Pete Sampras.

Tejuz, are you really saying Agassi doesn’t play with his heart? And I don’t care that the matches are close, that’s irrelevant. You have to WIN. That’s the bottom line. And in my mind the top guys outside of a few cannot do that at crunch time with any regularity. Sure, they win a lot of smaller events like St. Pete, Stockholm, etc., but in the Majors they lose and they often lose miserably. Just look at the past US Open. Ljubicic out in the first round to Lopez. Robredo wins what, three games in losing to Youhzny. Blake at Wimbledon. Not impressive for guys in the Top Five.

Now look this up, how many different players won titles last year, and how many different players won titles in 1994. If it was so much easier in 1994 than now it would stand to reason that fewer different players won titles that year than just a year ago. Well, in 2005 31 different players won the 67 titles (44%). In 1994 you had 37 different winners for 89 events (41%). Not a big difference is it, for whatever it may be worth. By the way in 1994, Pete won 10 titles, Berasategui won 7.


Tejuz Says:

Thats what i am saying too.. I never accused Agassi for not playing with heart. Its just that sometimes, its just not enough to win it.. infact you might lose miserably. Agassi has lost miserably to Fed, that doesnt mean he gave up.. its just that what he gave is just not enuf to beat Fed. So is the case with rest of tour. Just becase Nadal has beaten Fed doesnt mean he plays with more heart than others. Why does Blake beat Nadal so often… whats happens to Nadal then??? Suddenly loses heart to play???? and also we cant look at 1 or 2 losses of these players throughout… Ljubicic reached Semis of 2 GS.. Nalbandian reached semis n quarters of most of the GS. Becker has suffered quite a few 1st round losses during his career, so have edberg, agassi etc.. Does that prove anything??

You cant say they dont perform during crunch stages, just becase they are not able to beat Fed or Nadal.. Thats their limit.. and their maximum limit is less than an average Federer. I guess most of the ex-greats would have come short against Fed. Sampras lost to Fed in fifth set…didnt mean he gave up.. Fed played brilliantly in that last game.

Grand-Slam is a tournament where most top players play. So are the Masters Series tournaments. Anybody who has won the Masters Series or Masters Cup or reached finals of these events are for me not chokers.


GopiB Says:

Federer has a 87-5 record this season with 11 wins. So you say the competition is weak.

McEnroe had a 82-3 record with 13 wins in 1984. Per your logic, the competition was weaker in 1984.

But let’s see who played in 1984 – Connors, Borg, Lendl, among others. That is no weak competition(not so far anyway). So your logic holds as much water as a broken glass would.

How did McEnroe secure a 82-3 record?

He played better than the best at that time. He dominated them. As simple as that.

That’s exactly what Federer has done to his opponents.

Had Federer not existed, some would be crowing about how strong tennis is these days – with 4 grandslams from Roddick, 3 from Nadal, 1 from Baghdatis, multiple different master’s series winners, etc.

There is a pattern here to protect Sampras’s records. First it was the # of grandslams. Federer is getting closer. Then it is the #1 ranking. Federer has already beaten that. So now they are on to the mother of all reasons – none of Federer’s records hold any merit, because in their delusional framework they are fast rolling out, there is no competition at all these days. Wonder if anyone is even playing tennis….

Rathar than celebrating the gift to witness two of the greatest champions that played the game so close to each other, it is sorry to see
Sampras camp in the press desperately trying to throw everyting and anything to undermine Federer’s domination, just to deny to themselves that there can be a player far superior to Sampras.


Sean Randall Says:

Tejuz, my point is that the players today, especially those at the top, lack the killer instinct that the guys of other eras had. Tell me how many big matches Ljubicic, Robredo, Blake, Ancic, Nalbandian, Dadvydenko, Gonzalez, Ferrer, Stepanek, Haas, etc.

When I look at that group, who all are within the Top 15, I see some decent players who are fit, strong, can hit really nice groundstrokes but when push to comes to shove in a big Grand Slam match I wouldn’t bet the house that these guys come through.

And no, it’s not about them running into Federer or Nadal in every Slam because they don’t. Blake didn’t lose to Federer at Wimbledon, the French or the Australian Open did he? Who did Davydenko lose to at Wimbledon? Look at who David Ferrer lost to at the Australian Open and the French.

Sure, the top guys in the 90s and those in the 80s also lost early rounds in Slams every now and then, so why are they excluded? Because in my mind those guys were still mentally stronger at the end of the day then our current players.

Becker, Edberg, Lendl, Chang, McEnroe, Agassi, Krickstien and Wilander all of whom were part of the Top 10 in the late 80s and all are tougher mentally than our guys.

In the 90s, Rafter, Kafelnikov, Krajicek, Rios, Ivanisevic, Chang, Becker, Edberg, Courier, Bruguera. Again, tougher players mentally in my mind than the current top crop.

Those did have some poor, early round losses along the way, no doubt. But they also had a some pretty big match wins.

But you say the current guys have to unfairly deal with Rafa and Roger, so they cannot win Slams. Fine, take out Rafa and Roger from the last few years and tell which Slams Davydenko, Blake, Ljubicic, Robredo, Haas, etc., win. Guess what? When those Slams are redistributed Hewitt, Safin, Roddick and Agassi will get them. But maybe you can tell me otherwise.

Now as I said before, when I see the new group of guys coming up I see a lot of mental toughness. Monfils proved that at the French. Murray showed some of that at Wimbledon, and Cincinnati. Gasquet. Baghdatis, who had no business beating Nalbandian at the Aussie but sucked it up and pulled through. Djokovic is coming on strong, so is Del Potro of late. And you can see that Gasquet, Baghdatis, Murray, Djokovic are not scared of the Roger and Rafael.

Again, this is not a Pete v. Roger thing. If fact, the latter stages of the 90s was nearly as bad as this one. So don’t come at me with that argument.

Bottom line for me is, again when I look through the modern eras I see this one (2002-2006) as the weakest among them. Why? Because I think this era has most number of guys at the top who don’t know how to win big matches. Even though these guys may be fitter, stronger, hit the ball harder, they just can’t seem to pull out that big match win. Hopefully with our new crop, things are to going to change for the better.


Sean Randall Says:

GopiB, Mac did play a lot of cupcakes during that 82-3 year. No question. But he also posted wins over Lendl, Wilander and Connors. Are you telling me in terms of mental toughness that the guys Fed’s beaten this year to win titles are right up there in the conversation with those three? Nadal’s tough. Roddick’s proven it. Who else?

Just because you dominate doesn’t mean you are part of a weak era. Mac did dominate some very weak players back in 1984, but the guys at the top weren’t weak like they are now.


ben Says:

i guess if you look at it like that then yeah this era is the weakest. like you said sean, not that they’re bad players but right now we do have the least amount of players who can pull through at crunch time. it’s a shame but it’s something we should face. and of course this doesn’t really take away from roger’s dominance or anything. he did beat nadal at wimbledon which was like crunch time for his career because no one wants to think of what would have happened if rafa won.


Sean Randall Says:

Ben,

You are right about the Roger/Rafa Wimbledon match. Indeed it would have been scary if Rafa had won that match. In my mind, things would have changed big time for Roger if that would have happened. I wrote about it back in July: For Federer One Match Could Change Everything.


Tejuz Says:

well Sean.. i do agree to an extent that these guys u mentioned do need one big win to boost their confidence. One Grand-slam(leave out some FO winners) can do wonders to ur confidence because u would think u certainly belong there with the other GS winners. That is what these players havent managed as of yet.. apart from Nalbandian who won the MC.
Federer was a choker(lost many finals) til the time he won his 1st Wimbledon.. then on there was no stopping him cuz he started to believe in himself.

The players u mentioned from 80s and 90s did get that one big win and then on started to win some big matches. No one had heard of Rafter before he won his 1st US Open at the age of 26 or 27. Same with Kafelnikov, Krajicek, Rios.. they were on par with the current crop of chokers til they won their 1st GS.

Why do u talk abt Safin, Hewitt, Roddick winning GS has Roger not been there… cuz they have already been there before, had that big elusive win(s) on GS stage.


Expert Analyst Says:

Well, I see your point about mentally weak players at the top — but this is true in every era.

In 1998, you had Rios, Corretja, Kucera, and Rusedski in the top 10. In 1997, you had Rusedski, Rios, and Bjorkman. Going a bit further back, in 1989, you had giants like Brad Gilbert, Aaron Krickstein, Alberto Mancini, and Jay Berger.

If you go further back, you will see that this is true of almost all eras — where you have a string of not-so-great players in the top 10.

If you have dominance like Federer’s then you won’t even recognise half of the names in there since those half-decent players don’t even win slams.

Check out the years when Borg and Connors were dominating, it is close to Federer/Nadal domination of today — you won’t recognise half of the names on most lists.

Now the players may be good or even the caliber of a Krajicek or a Moya, but the domination of Federer and Nadal is so absolute in the past three years that only one person got a slam besides to dynamic duo.

For instance, let us look at Ljubicic — he is ridiculed today, but at the end of his career, he will seem much like another Henman or an Enqvist, not bad for a #3 in a dominated era. Maybe he will get lucky and become a Stich or a Krajicek, or even a Kafelnikov.

What my point is that, these players who look so pathetic now won’t look as pathetic when their careers have ended, which is how we are viewing past top 10 players.

Besides, some of the good top 10 players like Safin and Hewitt are suffering from injuries and just recently rebounding. Add all these factors up and you get the dominant top 5 and the weak field.


Tejuz Says:

true expert analyst.. its true with every era where one or two domiante the proceedings.

When McEnroe had that dominant 82-3 season.. probabaly same must have been said abt the field.. that Borg and connors were past their best. Lendl, wilander had not made their mark…

Its just in retrospect that we say they were great players.

what abt last years AUOpen field… top 4 seeds reached the Semis in Fed, Safin, Rod n Hwitt
Same with this year’s French Open.

This year we have seen quite a few new faces cuz of injuries to some players… but 2004 and early 2005 saw very good top 10 field.


nextcentury Says:

“True, that Sampras never was that dominant outside of Slams like Fed is today. Pete simply didn’t care much for the lesser events back then. He was playing to wins Slams. That was his priority. Does that make him less a player? You could argue that, and I would probably agree. But that was his deal.”

This is such a load of crap that it’s almost not worth responding to. So you are saying Sampras didn’t win that many Masters events etc. because he was too focused on Slams? He didn’t do nearly as well as Fed does today outside of Slams because he treated Slams as his first priority?

Please note that Federer won 3 out of 4 Slams in 2004 and 2006 and 2 Slams in 2005, which is way better a Slams record than Sampras ever achieved in any 3-year span. AND Federer has already won more Masters titles than Sampras did in his entire career. So to add these up, Federer is more successful than Sampras both in and outside of Slams. I’m sure Pete would have loved to win those “lesser events” if he could have. He didn’t because he couldn’t. So stop making up this “deal” for him. Just admit it, Federer is a far more dominant player than Sampras ever was.


Ukrfan Says:

Now that’s pathetic. When Haas loses a set to Zimonjic at St.Petersburg, it means that this era is weak. But when Sampras loses TWO sets to the very Cedric Kaufman (the person who never in his life made main draw at any slam) AT ROLAND GARROS – it means strong competition. Let alone MATCHES he lost to Schaller, Champion, Blanco, Yzaga – and we’re still talking slams, not second-range tournaments…


Jaroslav Says:

Funny how most of these negative comments on tennis are coming out of the US. I bet if Roddick or Blake had the awesome record, not Federer, things would be just fine.

Pure sour grapes.


Jaroslav Says:

In 1984:

1. Lendl was known as a guy who couldn’t win the big ones.

2. Wilander was a 3-slam winner, 2 of them at smaller AO. Burst on to the scene similar to Nadal.

3. Connors was a bit past it, just like Agassi had been circa 2004-05.

It took some more time for Wilander & Lendl to build their credentials. Perhaps Fed is beating future Lendls and Wilanders right now, just like Mac was beating some future champs in ’84.

Or maybe Fed is too good to let as many future champs develop. Similar to what Tiger is doing.


Expert Analyst Says:

Every one would call Ivanisevic a flake and a choker until he won Wimb 2001. Maybe Ljubicic, Blake, et al arent’ that different.


Sean Randall Says:

If this is such a strong era, how the hell does Andy Roddick finish 2003 ranked No. 1?
In doing so, Roddick is probably the weakest year-end No. 1 in the modern era and arguably in the history of the ranking. I’m not going to bash Roddick, in fact, I respect him for how much he’s accomplished. In 2003 guys like Ferrero, Federer and Nalbandian gave it to him and he just took yet. He got on that hot streak and then took care of business at the Open. Back then all Andy had a monster serve, monster forehand. Zero backhand, zero volleys. And he was tough mentally. But was he better than Goran? Or was he any better than Krajicek? I’m not so sure. In 2003 Andy may have had a stronger serve and a heavier forehand than those guys but that’s it.

If this era is so strong how the hell does a far-from-peak 31-year-old Pete Sampras rack up a 2002 US Open win?
Pete was all but washed up, but he somehow rose to the occasion and took out New Era studs like Roddick and Haas en route to his improbable title. Guys like Ljubicic, Blake, Robredo and many others in the game right now were playing back then. Where were they?? And just how much has the sport changed since 2002? In my mind the lone difference is the addition of guys like Federer and Nadal.

Speaking of the older guys, if this era is so strong how the hell are all these 30+ players still around and still doing well?
At 34 Jonas Bjorkman reaches his first Wimbledon semifinals. At 35 Dick Norman reaches a career high No. 90 this week. Now 30-year-old Paul Goldstein reached a career high earlier this year. 33-year-old Fabrice Santoro is still kicking it. And of course Andre Agassi at 35 reaches the US Open final. If the argument is – which many of you put forward – that players of today would kill the guys back in the mid 90s then how do you explain those results??

And if the tour is that much deeper now, how come virtually the same number of different players win titles as in the past? Last year 31 different players won titles, in 1994, 37 did. To which I know you will argue that players are stronger, fitter now, hit harder which may be true but does being stronger, being fitter and hitting it harder automatically make you a better player and make you mentally tougher? And do you think they are mentally tougher now? Do you think they compete better? Do they have game plans? Current players may be physically tough, but far too many are not mentally tough.

If this era is so strong how the hell does Rafael Nadal reach the Wimbledon final?
Seriously, the dirtballer hasn’t reached a final since that Wimbledon final. Amazing. And like Roddick I give Nadal credit for taking advantage because very few players no what to do on grass except crush groundstrokes. Becker, Edberg and Lendl were probably screaming when they heard Nadal got to the final. Oh, the argument is the court is slower now. Well, does that make Jonas Bjorkman a clay courter now. And didn’t Nadal hold serve like 80 straight times? Is his serve like Goran’s now? Unreal.

And if this era is so strong, if you remove Roger and Rafael from the mix the last few years guys like Ljubicic, Robredo, Blake, Davydenko, etc., should win Slams in their absence?
Well, we did this exercise which you can read above and Ljubicic, Robredo, Blake, Davydenko didn’t win any Slams. Without Roger and Rafa, those Slams titles get distributed among Hewitt, Roddick, Safin and maybe Agassi. And honestly, would you be comfortable with Ljubicic being a world No. 1? Without Roger/Rafa he would be!

Ya know what, maybe these guys like Nalbandian, Blake, Ljubicic, Robredo, Haas, etc., will prove me wrong and come through in a big match on a big stage. Maybe these guys will be in the Top 10, Top 15 for the next 3-4 years, proving to me their worth. Ljubicic showed signs at Davis Cup last year and with his two Slam SFs this year, but he’s been MIA since June. Blake I think has the best chance. But unfortunately for them the crop of young guys – Murray, Gasquet, Djokovic, Baghdatis, etc. – are poised to take over.

So if you are going to tell me I’m wrong, I’m full of crap. Fine. But tell my why this Era is so great, or at least not the weakest in recent times. If you really think guys right now are mentally tough, that they know how to win, that guys like Robredo, Nalbandian etc., are really great players and worthy of multiple Slams then state your case. Make your argument. I’ll listen.

And again – for like the millionth time – don’t came at me with your Fed > Pete or I’m biased because I’m American garbage. I’m not into that.


GopiB Says:

Even tiger woods has never won 8 slams in 3 years. The best in tennis (or even in golf) is 6 slams in 3 years. Sampras could never do that, even with the favors he got at his “home” slam.

Fed has done it with no slam on his home ground. Even Tiger has 3 out of 4 slams on home turf.

Think about it. Its a monumental achievement that cuts through all of sports. Its a one in a century achievement in tennis, and you see just a few of these across all sports, ever.

Some of you guys just can’t take it that a non-american could be that good. Ya, it IS sour grapes. So you are concocting all kinds of nonsense, with incorrect facts, or twisted stuff.

I bet if Fed was American, and Sampras swiss, Sampras would by now have been relegated as a second grade player.

So give it up, and accept the fact. Fed is the best of all time in tennis. People who know tennis agree (like Agassi).


Sean Randall Says:

Nextcentury, Pete was clear in that his motivation was to win Slams. If he could win Indian Wells, Miami, Hamburg, etc., great. But he was after that Slam record. As I said, that doesn’t make him a better player when compared to Fed who likes winning these TSM events more than Pete did. Also, back when Pete played there wasn’t quite the prestige on the TMS events as there is now. And I must say, I am a Fed fan, I don’t like Pete. You would have learned that if you had taken the time to read before you responded.

Jaroslav/UKRfan, get over it. This is not an American thing. Sorry to disappoint you. My point about Zimonjic was that he was a 30-year-old doubles specialist when he took a set off of Haas last week. Show me a 30-year-old doubles specialist who took a set off a Pete and I’ll buy your argument.

As for your point that maybe Fed is beating future Lendl’s and Wilander’s. Fair enough. Who are they? In 10 years do you really think you’ll be talking about Ljubicic and Nalbandian in the same breath as Lendl and Wilander? Apparently you think there’s a chance of that.


ben Says:

what does federer being the best have to do with this era being weak. i said it before and ill say it again, i dont think that the weakness of this era is the reason for federer’s success. i think that federer would still be just as dominant. but it is kinda weird that so many old players r winning. what about connors in 1991? well, although he was old, he still knew how to fight his guts out which blake and ljubicic dont really seem to be able to do.


Jaroslav Says:

You are so full of it. There would be NO complaints about “weak era” if an American was dominating…PERIOD. If this was Roddick, the articles would be about how well he has been carrying Pete’s torch – the pride, the continuation of U.S. dominance. He’s beating all comers, all opponents, from all over the world.

I don’t see many complaints about Tiger Woods in golf? Why is that? If a non-American (say a guy from Croatia) was dominating golf, things would be considered “BORING” to myopic U.S. fans. You’d be running your mouth saying how this guy is dominating a weak field, how Jack’s competition was so much better. He’d be beating up mentally weak guys like Mickelson (btw, this is the guy Tiger has been beating up on? A guy that chokes a major away at the final hole vs. who?? Tiger was no where to be seen…)

So what if a 30-year old doubles player took a set off Haas? And I don’t expect to find a 30-year doubles player that took a set off Pete, but could he take a set off a player similar to Haas’ stature that played in Pete’s era? Why would that be so weird? A Wayne Ferreira lost a set to a 30-year old doubles player. So? Or do you believe a 30-year old doubles player from the stronger Pete era to take a set vs. Federer?

Did you look at Nadal’s Wimbledon draw? I suppose Washington making the Wimbledon final makes Pete’s era much stronger, correct? The use of Chang to bolster’s Pete’s era – yea, he’s way mentally tougher than Hewitt. He defeated Pete & Andre so many times in big matches, won so many slams. Chang = poor man’s Hewitt. Chang was american, a fan favorite, so he was automatically better than Davydenko or Baghdatis.

What about this: if Becker was playing today, he’d be nothing more than a Ljubicic (Federer’s toy). Ljubicic, if he played in the 80s, would have had Becker’s results. At least Ljubicic never lost to…PATRICK MCENROE.


ben Says:

becker’s not american, why are you insulting him? wtf does being american have to do with ANYTHING???? is BLAKE not included in the list of MENTALLY WEAK PLAYERS?? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??? TENNIS GREATNESS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT COUNTRY YOU’RE FROM!! DID SEAN NOT SAY LIKE 5 MILLION TIMES HE DOESN’T, DIDN’T, NEVER WILL LIKE PETE??? IF ANYONE’S BIASED IT’S YOU!!! JERK!! DEFEND THESE PLAYERS THEY SHOULD BE DEFENDED! MAKING GOOD POINTS NOT “YOU’RE BIASED, I’M BIASED, WE’RE ALL BIASED!!!” It is pretty weird that old players are playing this “well”. I’m not saying these players are bad, I’m saying they’re mentally weak. Same thing Sean is saying. Maybe if Ljubicic was born 20 years before and played in the 80s he would have been mentally tougher, but the current Ljubicic would NEVER have Becker’s results. Not to mention Ljubo is old so he won’t win 6 slams by the time he retires. To prove I’m not biased, Blake and Roddick wouldn’t be as good as Connors and McEnroe no matter what time period they played in. Roddick lacks the game and Blake lacks the mental edge. Then again the attitude and atmosphere was different in the 80s so it’s actually really hard to compare. I don’t think tennis right now is boring, I LOOOVE watching Federer break all the records and win all the matches. The more he plays the more we all can watch his sick forehand, crazy backhand, unbelievable slice, and the most fluid footwork EVER!!


Expert Analyst Says:

Sigh, now its age huh?

Well, fine two can play that game.

Connors reached one SF in ’91 at the age of THIRTY NINE. He was only the 6th oldest Semi Finalist in the Open Era. He also made two SFs ’87 – he was 34 1/2 then. In fact, Connors reached a huge number of SF’s after reaching 30 — and this was in the golden era of the 80′s.

Mac reached an SF in 1992 — 33 yrs.

My point isn’t to ridicule the eras but to show that Agassi wasn’t that much of an anomaly. He was just more fit, and better than Connors was at that age. Think of Connors beating someone in one of those umpteen SF’s — that is basically what happened to Agassi a couple of times, which rewarded him with a chance at the trophies.

Its not even as though Agassi was playing at a low level of tennis, and players weren’t able to beat him.

Last year’s USO SF and F were some of his best tennis — did you watch the Blake SF? it was amazing hitting.

In fact, the oft-quoted Connors run falls much short — I remember those matches, they were barely pushing the ball over the net. Very poor quality relative to today.

And you bring up Bjorkman, an outlier.

This year all of the good grass courters had the misfortune of meeting Federer early — Ancic, Henman, Gasquet, Berdych, and Mahut (some of the only serve and volleyers left in today’s game were sent out early in quick fashion by Federer).

Bjorkman barely scraped through a couple of lucky 5 set wins over a lack-lustre Mirnyi and Stepanek that propelled him to the Semis, where he got destroyed in routine fashion.

And, don’t even bring up Nadal’s draw — giants like Bogdanovic, the dreaded Kendrick, Agassi :), Labadze, and finally, (two decent players), Nieminen and Baghdatis.

Nadal dispatched Nieminen very effectively. And, the Baghdatis match was high quality and Nadal deserved to win that match.

All in all, Nadal deserved his Final place, he beat Baghdatis and Nieminen, fair and square.

Now… Would he have lost to any one of Federer’s matches (except Bjorkman) — absolutely. But then again this is life, lucky draws happen, deal with it.

And, Rafa is sure heck of a lot better than finalists like Pioline and Rusedski — so Sampras’s era actually falls short in that particular comparison.

And, BTW, as an ending note, it seems as though you are desperate to hold on to your theory that this era is weak unlike previous eras in face insurmounable evidence. You have now resorted to using outliers to prove the strength of the era.

Come up with a better argument — I responded to your comparisons of era with an answer, instead of acknowledging the point that weak players were always present in the top 10, you chose to switch tracks.

Also, you are ignoring the fact that young players like Baghdatis, Ancic, Berdych et al haven’t had the time to make a mark for themselves.

Players like Blake and Gonzalez are just now starting to put their games together — give them time, it’ll happen.


Sean Randall Says:

Jaroslav, get over it. I’m not pushing an American argument. In fact if you read between the lines I’m ripping Andy Roddick and James Blake, who are Americans. Got it? This isn’t a Pete > Roger thing, either. So do me a favor, tell me why this era is so tough. That’s what I’m asking. You told me Ivan Ljubicic is just as good as Boris Becker. I’m listening. Tell me more…

Tennis Analyst, I appreciate your dialogue. Recall, I didn’t suddenly spring into an age argument, I used that in my original article. That should not have been judged as a “Oh, now he’s going to age…” as I think you have done.

You are 100% correct in JC’s run to the US Open SFs. Simply astounding. So I’m with you on that. But do you think 1991 had better player than now, or lesser players? Looking at the field, I’d take 1991.

My age argument really centers around how so many people – Fedphiles especially – believe that the current guys would simply blast anyone who played 10 years ago or so. Using guys like Agassi, Bjorkman, etc. to link the two groups you can see that argument is largely false. If it were to be true guys like Santoro, Goldstein, Bjorkman, Arthurs and others would have fallen by the wayside long ago. Dick Norman is 35 and is at a career-high this week!

Indeed, Andre played brilliant tennis the last few years. But so many guys nowadays just played right into his strikezone like Blake, Ginepri, etc. Just pounding mindless groundstrokes at Andre isn’t going to get it done in most cases, and for the majority of players playing right now that’s all they do. They give them rhythm and guys like Agassi and Federer just feast on it. (If you play tennis, when a guy hits a hard shot and a soft shot, more often the harder shot is easier to get back. That true for me in most cases.)

I did watch Agassi-Blake. Lousy match for 2.5 sets, then it was shocking to see Blake blow yet another big match. Blake played well, Agassi showed his toughess, but James blew it at the end of the day.

So are you of the opinion Agassi was a better player in 2005 than in 1995? I’m not.

You bring up Pioline and Rusedski in comparison to Nadal. Those guys were never No. 2 in the world. Pioline to his credit reached two Slam finals, and Rusedski that one at the Open. Horrible, you are right, but I still slightly rank the late 90s slightly ahead of current day. Do you also think Rafa would have beaten Pioline or Rusedski of their best day at Wimbledon? If I were a betting man I’d probably just keep my money in my pocket on that one. But give Rafa full credit, he got to the final. I even wrote about such a result in my Why Rafael can win Wimbledon before Roger wins the French blog.

And you are right, guys like Baghdatis, Berdych, Gasquet, etc., are coming into their own and they will become Top 10 stalwarts. So I’m not ignoring them, in as I said in my original post they are the ones who are going to takes up to a higher level. That’s why I say this weak age which began in 2002 comes to an end this year.

For you guys to say this is not a weak era then make that argument. Tell me that you think Roddick was a worthy year-end No. 1. That back in 2003 Roddick was just as good a player, if not better, than guys who played similar games to him like Krajicek or Ivanisevic. Tell me that Blake, Ljubicic, Robredo, Nalbandian, Haas, Stepanek, Davydenko, etc., would win Slams in a Fed-less tour. Tell me why I should believe guys are so mentally tough and not just physically though. So far, as you can read above, no one has really sang that tune.

It is a 100% fact that weak players exist in every era. I just think there are more of them now than ever.


Expert Analyst Says:

Do I think Agassi was a better player in 2005 than in 1995? No. But I do think some aspects are better — the Agassi of 95 was streaky and wasn’t as sound as Agassi ’05 in the groundstrokes department.

In many ways, Agassi had two peaks one in 1995-96 and another in 2001-03. Agassi was almost a different being by the end of his career. Also, I feel that the latter peak was better than the former simply because of the experience factor.

The only problem with Agassi ’05 was that he was a step too slow – he compensated by going for a lot on the groundstrokes, and for that one tournament all of the shots seemed to fall in – thus the run.

I also think you bring a good point about Blake, he does tend to play into the strikezone of the other player. Even Tursunov does the same thing.

Goes to show that pure power isn’t everything. I also agree that not everyone today is going to blow past the players of ’91. But do I think Krickstein would have been in the top 10 or even the top 20? — hell no.

I do think Rafa can beat Pioline at his best, although I think he will fall to Rusedski (he doesn’t seem to handle big servers well).

All, I am asserting is that the average player is better than before. Mind you, the differential at the top is a different story. Its obvious that Federer operates on a different level to everyone else.

And, IMO Federer’s brilliance is highlighting the faults in the styles of the other players. And, I think this is true for any player playing against Federer.

When we see Tursunov play Henman, we are astounded by the power and ponder about how anyone can weather such a storm. When I see such matches, that’s when I think that the game has improved since the ’90s.

But, when I see Federer dismantle Tursunov, Tursunov looks like he doesn’t even deserve to be in the top 20. Now, whose fault is that?

Furthermore, you ask whether Ljubicic, Blake, Nalbandian, and Davydenko would win slams in the stead of Federer and Nadal? I think that Blake, Nalbandian, and Ljubicic have a good chance since they seem to be consistent semi-final performers, but the others probably won’t have a chance at winning slams.

However, if you look at previous top 10s, you would notice the same thing. Did I ever think Rios (once as high as #2), Ferreira, Enqvist, Bersategui would win a slam? no!

I do think that if Federer and Nadal weren’t playing, then there are some players capable of taking the slams – Roddick, Hewitt, Gasquet, Berdych, Ancic, et al.

I see what you are saying in your argument — I think that the problem lies in your taking the top 10 at face value. I do think that the top 10 are representative of the top 10 people most likely to win a title NOT a slam.

It may have been the case before, in the 90s, but not today.

Davydenko will probably never win a slam but he is a consistent performer and beats all the little players for tune up titles, that is why he is in the top 10.

The ATP rankings system doesn’t only reward brilliance, it also rewards consistency. And, Davydenko is a great, consistent, top performer. He doesn’t lack in mental toughness IMO, he lacks in talent.

I think that the 90s had a lot of talented people at the top — they may lose to Davydenko types in 7 out of 10 matches in today’s world, but I think they were more likely to win slams.


Jaroslav Says:

So if Roddick (or some other American player) was winning instead of Federer, you would be criticising the competition? Please tell me you would be so I can have good laugh.

I don’t see many articles criticising Tiger Woods’ competition or Lance Armstrong’s. When they win, it is because they are so great & tough. But there must be another reason when it’s Roger Federer.

One of Tiger’s main rivals (Phil) can’t even complete a major on the final hole. He was not mentally tough enough even when Tiger wasn’t there. BIG CHOKE. So where are same articles that claim Tiger’s competition is weak?

If Ljubicic swapped eras with Becker, I think he finishes with similar results as Becker in 1980s. Or maybe Andy Roddick does too. If/when either guy runs into Pete, they’d still lose. But between 1984-1992, they could win as much as Becker. And if Becker started in same era as Federer, he might be as frustrated as Ivan & Andy are right now.


Sean Randall Says:

Tennis Analyst, you make good points. And I agree that the average player may be better than before but unfortunately I feel the guys at the top – namely those in The 20 who compete in latter stages of events – are not better in the mental department as those of the past.

For a guy like Federer it’s irrelevant. As I’ve said before he dominates in any era. And even with the new crop coming up, that still won’t end his domination. As you say his footwork is simply the best in the game, and his most underrated strength.

And while I could see Blake or Ljubicic winning a Slam, the problem is that in my mind their “window of opportunity” is slowly closing. Obviously with Federer around it’s tough for everyone, but take him out of the equation and I still see those guys having trouble next year and beyond dealing with new faces like Gasquet, Murray, Djokovic, etc. And the rise of the new crop will likely mean trouble for a guy like Roddick, who’s already lost to Murray and Baghdatis. Hard to say if we’ve seen the best from Roddick or if he has another gear. But bottom line is those young guys at 19, 20 are only going to improve, and make tennis a whole lot tougher in terms of competition going forward.

Jaroslav, if Roddick was still No. 1, then yes, I would absolutely be criticizing the competition. If fact, I probably wouldn’t be the only one. The fact that Roddick version 2003 finished the year No.1 is pretty good evidence of a weak period. In 2003 he had arguably the worst backhand in the history of the No. 1 ranking. But he was mentally tough and came up with big serves when he needed them. Credit to him.

No who else in the current day is worthy of greatness?? You tell me Ljubicic, fine. Anyone else in your mind??


TejuZ Says:

Great players today are few – Fed, Nadal, Safin, Hewitt

Good all-round gamer and Potentially great – Nalbandian, Blake, Ljubcic, Gonzo, Berdych, Gasquet, Baghdatis .. most of these have won titles, Davis cup victories .. need to do well in slams. U cant say they choke in Grand-slams… cuz they have been consistent barring a few hiccups. You cant point only to those hiccups and prove ur point.


cc Says:

guga just said sampras is better than federer. is guga an american? last time i looked he sure wasn’t.


cc Says:

how could agassi know who the best of all time is? he’s just a stupid american.


Jaroslav Says:

“guga just said sampras is better than federer.”

Everyone has right to choice. Sergei said the other way.

Sean, maybe I believe you. But trend & history says otherwise. Popular americans that dominate usually don’t get criticised for lack of competition. Jordan is best ever, Tiger is invincible, Lance is superman, etc. They get treated like emperors for success.

Roddick – he might get a few negative articles for dirty mouth and attitude if he was winning. But most would talk about another great era of tennis, after Pete. 9 grand slam titles in 3 years? At least one athlete of year award. And he is not even that bad. At worse, he is 5th best in the world! How many people think 5th best player in basketball is no good? So in a way, I feel bad for him.


SG Says:

Jaroslav Says:
So if Roddick (or some other American player) was winning instead of Federer, you would be criticising the competition? Please tell me you would be so I can have good laugh.

I don’t see many articles criticising Tiger Woods’ competition or Lance Armstrong’s. When they win, it is because they are so great & tough. But there must be another reason when it’s Roger Federer.

One of Tiger’s main rivals (Phil) can’t even complete a major on the final hole. He was not mentally tough enough even when Tiger wasn’t there. BIG CHOKE. So where are same articles that claim Tiger’s competition is weak?

If Ljubicic swapped eras with Becker, I think he finishes with similar results as Becker in 1980s. Or maybe Andy Roddick does too. If/when either guy runs into Pete, they’d still lose. But between 1984-1992, they could win as much as Becker. And if Becker started in same era as Federer, he might be as frustrated as Ivan & Andy are right now.

———-

I think everyone’s gotta’ let go of the yankee bias angle here OK. I’m not American and I see some weaknesses in today’s crop of players. Specfically within the top 15 players.

As for Ljubcic or Roddick being today’s Becker? Well, that’s just ludicrous. I consider Becker the pre-cursor to Sampras. A big strong hitter without a clear weakness to pick on. In fact, it was the brilliance and strength of Becker’ return of serve (…not just his serve) that drove Lendl nuts. Becker was one of the few players who could handle Lendl’s big serve and could hit big enough from the ground to attack Lendl and push him out of his comfort zone.
Both Roddick (…the backhand) and Ljuby (…the forehand) have clear and evident weaknesses that can be exploited by someone as talented and brilliant as Federer. Even Becker’s movement was at least as good as Andy’s when Becker was in his early 20′s.

As for the Tiger comparison, it’s invalid. Mr. Woods holds just about every record low score for each and every major. The lowest cumulative score at the Masters. The cumulative lowest score in the US Open and the only player to reach double digit negative numbers at the US Open. No one in the history of the sport had ever done that. Nicklaus, Player, Faldo, Olazabal, Norman, Els….none of them have dominated the scorecards of majors the way Tiger has.

Golf is an individual sport of execution against an object…namely the golf course. Tennis is not. In tennis, you face an adapting opponent with will. While the drive within in Tiger and Federer to be the best may be similar in nature, truth is, if Federer with skill level faces players that a considerably lesser than they should be, he will win a little more than he perhaps should.


SG Says:

Jaroslav Says:
“guga just said sampras is better than federer.”

Everyone has right to choice. Sergei said the other way.

Sean, maybe I believe you. But trend & history says otherwise. Popular americans that dominate usually don’t get criticised for lack of competition. Jordan is best ever, Tiger is invincible, Lance is superman, etc. They get treated like emperors for success.

Roddick – he might get a few negative articles for dirty mouth and attitude if he was winning. But most would talk about another great era of tennis, after Pete. 9 grand slam titles in 3 years? At least one athlete of year award. And he is not even that bad. At worse, he is 5th best in the world! How many people think 5th best player in basketball is no good? So in a way, I feel bad for him.

——

I think you have to take player quotes with a grain of salt. Sampras is not “much better” than Federer and I think it’s safe to say that Federer is not “10 times better” than Sampras. Both Sergi’s statements and Guga’s statements are completely subjective and arbitrary.

I’ve heard people argue that because Andre said that Fed is the best ever, he must be because he played both Fed and Sampras at their best. Well, Andre’s been all over the map on this one.
Andre had always said, “Sampras was the only guy against whom, if I played my best tennis, I could still lose”. Then, after the 05 match at the US Open he says, “There was a place you could go with Pete and if you got there the match could be on your terms”. Well, if you apply some basic logic to those two quotes it’s clear that they completely contradict each other. And Agassi has also stated the best 5 players in the history of the sport are “Sampras, Sampras, Sampras, Sampras & Sampras”. Well, how could this be true if Andre knew how to get to Pete’s “special place”? Agassi has been quite egocentric his whole career. Truth is, the 2005 Agassi was not nearly as mobile as the one in 95, 99 or even 02. And you can’t afford to be giving up steps when you’re tangling with Mr. Federer from the backcourt. I think Andre was impressed with Fed because Andre was hitting the ball well and Fed still beat him from the baseline at his own game. With Sampras, the points were generally cut shorter which was to Sampras’ advantage and Samoras forced the matches into that tone. The tone of Fed-Agassi & Sampras-Agassi matches were different so how could Andre truly compare the players any better than either Brugera or Kuerten?


SG Says:

Expert Analyst Says:
Every one would call Ivanisevic a flake and a choker until he won Wimb 2001. Maybe Ljubicic, Blake, et al arent’ that different.

——

This is one of the arguments I dislike. Ivanisevic played in 3 Wimby finals (maybe 4, I don’t remember, before he won). Ljuby and Blake haven’t played in any. In fact, they haven’t reached the final of any major.

Now, last I checked, you can only play Federer once in a tournament right? So, this crop of guys should have at least some Finals appearances…even if they lose to Fed…or Nadal for that matter. Roddick, Nalbandian and Baghdhatis have had some major final experience. But of the three, only Bagdhatis stands out as someone without a weakness. Roddick has a horrid backhand and Nalbandian’s wekaness is a lack of a big weapon. If Chang is the 90′s equivalent to Nalbandian, and Chang won only 1 major (…very luckily I might add), than I think it’s reasonable the Nalbandian will never be a consistent major threat either. Now, Bagdhatis with some added variety to his game, could take Fed out here and there. But, he seems content with falling into the trap of staying back and rallying which falls into Fed’s hands. This tactic has to be altered by not just Bagdhatis but his peers as well.


wheeler Says:

during the sampras era, i was his biggest fan. he rocked then, the epitome of sublime power. now, someone is as entertaining as the old Sampras, Fed, the super-rare court genius. i salute both for their exceptional abilities.

you may use the most adroit adjectives or adverbs to describe their skill, bicker over it to no end. but i hope you don’t fail to realize how much these great sportsmen have inspired you, how they make you play the beautiful game, how they send you crazy brain signals you think you are them, that you can play like them.

i’ve played tennis for over half of my life now. i saw Pistol Pete dominate, and now i’m seeing the Mighty Fed. and yeah, i still keep the best seat in the house for 14 years running.=)


Agassi fan Says:

The article’s written by the same joker who thought Sampras had a better record on clay than Federer did. How do these characters get their stuff published? =)


Sean Randall Says:

Agassi fan, when did I think that? Care to elaborate?


Tejuz Says:

Seems like Devydenko is slowly comin out on his own..winning the Paris title. This should give him some confidence to a consistent threat to the top 2.


SG Says:

What’s wrong with Tommy Haas? The guy looked liked he’d rather be cutting onions than playing tennnis. Pretty talented guy coming up with another less than inspiring performance.


Tejuz Says:

I thought he had some stomach ailment during the Semis. He was not sure of even comin on court.


wadasiwa Says:

most reviled blog of this century.


Agassi fan Says:

Sean Randall,

read your posts, and your stupid article, and you will find mistakes, exaggerations, and fact-twisting in plenty.

Its shocking that there are editors who let morons like you write ANYTHING.

Stop undermining Federer. Be a bloody sport and accept it – Fed is superior to Sampras. If their nationalities were switched, morons like you would be singing the opposite tune.


SG Says:

Sean,

Don’t take “Agassi fan” and his smoke personally. He’s still licking his wounds from the 02 Open loss Sampras pegged on his boy. It happened over 4 years ago!!!! Let it go!

I know that neither of you have any affinity for Sampras so in this context, I don’t see the reason for AF to react this way. I mean, if Federer’s dominance can’t stand up to a little scrutiny, how great can he be?


Agassi fan Says:

The US open is the only grand slam that has the stupid tradition of best of five semi and final on consecutive days. so the luck of the draw makes a BIG difference. sampras had to play schalken in the semi, while agassi had to play hewitt (who was world no 1 then). if the semis had been switched, sampras would have just lost in the semi.

sampras was lucky. never be so stupid as to confuse luck with ability, SG.

And throughout sampras’s career, you will find such extraordinary lucky breaks. what can you say, the guy was just born lucky.

But as a tennis player, once to adjust for luck, he was no greater than a becker or an edberg.

Certainly nowhere near Federer.

So lick it.


Agassi fan Says:

Federer’s dominance not standing up to scrutiny?

Talk to me when someone else wins 8 majors in 3 years, or 33 (maybe 34) titles in 3 years, or no1 for 3 consecutive years (all weeks in the years), or goes 244-15 (maybe 247-15) in 3 years, …

OR, better still, talk to me when someone does ALL of the above simultaenously.

Sampras, you kidding me? he didn’t even come CLOSE to any ONE of those things. Ever. So get some perspective glasses on.


SG Says:

Agassi fan Says:
The US open is the only grand slam that has the stupid tradition of best of five semi and final on consecutive days. so the luck of the draw makes a BIG difference. sampras had to play schalken in the semi, while agassi had to play hewitt (who was world no 1 then). if the semis had been switched, sampras would have just lost in the semi.

sampras was lucky. never be so stupid as to confuse luck with ability, SG.

And throughout sampras’s career, you will find such extraordinary lucky breaks. what can you say, the guy was just born lucky.

But as a tennis player, once to adjust for luck, he was no greater than a becker or an edberg.

Certainly nowhere near Federer.

So lick it.

——————-

Lick yourself AF. Most great players get lucky breaks at certain points. But, they put themselves in positions where they can benefit from a lucky break. Just a few examples of truly great players getting a good bounce that could have gone the other way:

1) Becker netcord against Rostagno in the 1989 US Open. Tht ball doesn’t fall over and he does not win that major. But, he was in a critical position to benefit from some luck and he did.

2) Michael Jordan’s last shot against the Utah Jazz to win the Bull’s sixth championship. He pushed off and the ref didn’t call it. But, good breaks follow great players.

3) Roger Federer is playing in perhaps the weakest era in a long time. Not his fault at all. And like a great player, he has capitalized on it and dominated. He has taken advantage of his situation which is what great players do.

4) Just previous to the play where Joe Montana threw a touchdown to John Taylor to win the 1989 SuperBowl, he threw a pass that was in and out of the hands of a Bengal defensive back (…can’t remember the name). Good bounces just follow great players.

And by the way you tennis neanderthal, when Sampras was playing well, neither Becker or Edberg or most anyone in the history of the sport could get to the level he was at. This was confirmed by guys like ohhhh…Becker, Kuerten, Agassi, Ivanisevic, Rafter. Yes, even Agassi you nimrod.

Not once have I ever said that Federer is not a great player so chill the hell out you insecure Fed freak. He may in fact be better than Sampras. That is yet to be seen. But he plays in a dead era. If he was taking out proven, battle-hardened champions, or guys who were more than 1 dimensional, this whole argument would have been put to sleep a long time ago.


SG Says:

Federer plays Jonas Bjorkman in the semis of Wimbledon and then Nadal in the final. And Sampras was lucky? Sounds like Fed put himself in a positon to get lucky just like Sampras in 02.

AF, stop spouting your fanatical rhetoric. Fed played a worn out doubles player and claycourter to rack up his 4th Wimby title. And he was pushed in the final by Rafa at that. I think that if you told Fed he’d have to have those matches win the tournament he would have thought you were kidding.

Fed didn’t win diddly ’till Sampras was gone and Agassi was very old. Lick that!


Agassi fan Says:

Fed wins the masters cup, again.

247-15 in 3 years. 34 titles in 3 years. 8 grand slams in 3 years. the consecutive no 1 weeks record is gone too (160 weeks by connors). most consecutive finals won. 17 consecutive finals. consecutive titles on 3 surfaces. 6 consecutive slam finals. 10 consecutive slam semis. all four grand slam finals in one year. most consecutive wins again top 10 players. 6 streaks of over 20 matches won in a row (sampras had 2). etc. etc. etc.

So lick it you apeman freaks. And shut your gag up until sampras does ANY ONE of those feats, let alone all of them. Oh wait, he retired! so that means you shut up forever.

Don’t feel so jealous of federer. have the balls to accept it that there can be someone better than sampras.


ben Says:

federer not winning anything until sampras and agassi were gone isnt saying sh*t. thats a stupid statement that doesnt help anyone’s arguement. yes federer is quite amazing and even if his competition is “weak”, the way he plays is unbelievable. blake smacks the sh*t out of the ball for as a return of serve and federer just flicks it down the line. his game is so amazing no matter who hes playing. its sublime. as for sampras, his game wasnt as amazing as federer’s but he was still amazing and is one of the greatest players who ever played and deserves tons of respect for what he accomplished.


cool dude Says:

Fed’s competition being weak is a fallacy. when someone THAT good shows up, OBVIOUSLY his competition will look weaker than ever. That’s basic logic. Some people have a tough time getting that!

his accomplishments are too many to be attributed to weak competition. That’s just lame.


SG Says:

ben Says:
federer not winning anything until sampras and agassi were gone isnt saying sh*t. thats a stupid statement that doesnt help anyone’s arguement. yes federer is quite amazing and even if his competition is “weak”, the way he plays is unbelievable. blake smacks the sh*t out of the ball for as a return of serve and federer just flicks it down the line. his game is so amazing no matter who hes playing. its sublime. as for sampras, his game wasnt as amazing as federer’s but he was still amazing and is one of the greatest players who ever played and deserves tons of respect for what he accomplished.

—–

I had only made the comment because Andre Fan was acting so uppety about Fed. I will re-iterate what I’ve said. Fed is a great player and he is dominating. He has no control of who’s placed in front of him. He can only control his own fate and he does it brilliantly.


SG Says:

cool dude Says:
Fed’s competition being weak is a fallacy. when someone THAT good shows up, OBVIOUSLY his competition will look weaker than ever. That’s basic logic. Some people have a tough time getting that!

his accomplishments are too many to be attributed to weak competition. That’s just lame.

—————–

So, Fed is that good. That’s it right? Where’s the McEnroe to his Borg, the Agassi to his Sampras? Where? Nowehere. Most of the guys in the top 10 have a clear and apparent weakness. Did Agassi? No. Did McEnroe? No. Did Lendl? No. Did Connors? No. Each era had its great rivalries. Not this one. It’s not merely a case of one guy being that good. You can brainwash yourself into believing that Fed is that kind of guy. It is in fact, a combination of circumstances that have led to the present state of tennis. But, if you want to live in your bubble, so be it. But, like all bubbles, it will eventually burst.


ben Says:

SG what planet are u living on where all these players are perfect? The reason everyone talks about Federer’s game so much is because it is perfect and there’s never been a player so near perefection with such an all around game. Apparent weaknesses?
Agassi: almost as bad as davydenko at net. not the greatest mover. if someone was able to hit enough angles they could break him down.
McEnroe: he was a serve and volleyer so he could be passed at net or outplayed at the baseline.
Lendl: he was mainly a baseliner but he didnt have too many easy weaknesses.
Connors: not the greatest volleyer either, great returns but he was break-downable.
Why do you say there are no great rivalries? Hewitt and Federer had some great matches and have a pretty long rivalry. Sure it’s one sided now but there was a time when McEnroe completely owned Connors and that’s still considered a great rivalry. What about Federer-Nalbandian? Pretty good rivalry there with potential of being even better. And the most important one of course is Federer-Nadal. Every player in history has had apparent weaknesses, even Roger’s backhand used to be a weakness. Nadal and Federer always play great tennis which is the whole idea of a rivalry, bring out the very best in each other. Nadal is leading pretty badly right now but Federer has proved he can take out Nadal so there’s a chance he’ll turn it around. But then again Nadal is the clay king so he’s bound to win a few more against Roger. As much as I hate Nadal for beating Federer, now that I know Federer can win some too it makes their rivalry really interesting and it’s something to look foward to.


Matt Says:

It seems this argument is going nowhere. The only useful thing to come out of the debate is the mention of mental toughness. I have to agree that most of the current top 20 or so players lack mental toughness, which is what keeps them out of the running for the big wins. I also think that this factor is more prevalent in the current era than it was before.

With all the advantages available to players today – all the money allows them access to the best coaches, technological game analysis, stroke analysis, trainers, medical facilities and equipment… the list goes on and on – why is there this mental block? Is it not possible that all this assistance is ultimately counter-productive?

You need to start by looking at the nature of the game itself. Tennis is different from most other sports in that the player has to go out and WIN the match. You can’t build up a lead and defend until the clock runs down; the scoring system ensures that no matter how many points you win, if you can’t win the important ones, the high-pressure points, you won’t win many matches. Even if set points are fine, you still need to win match points… and then you can get all the way to match point in the final, but if you can’t close that out, you’re unlikely to win a title. The game is about handling pressure, and that means wanting to win. In particular that means taking responsibility for winning.

So how much does the reliance on others in so many supporting roles carry over into the actual matches? Self-reliance in areas such as coaching, strategy planning, management, training etc has to improve a player’s self-confidence in a match. Instead of separating roles and employing specialists, I believe that players should take responsibility for more of their lives and they will find that the confidence they gain in their extended experience will carry over onto the court.

Further on the same line, modern living tends to try to separate a person’s profession from the rest of their lives… they say you shouldn’t take your work home with you; but it has always been the case that those whose work is their life are best at what they do. If a tennis match is just a “day at the office”, winning is not going to be that important as long as you get a cheque at the end of the month; and in the modern professional era, even the losers get a decent cheque… and just as in a corporate environment you can always blame someone else for bad results and fire them :-)


ben Says:

thats what makes federer so good, he took responsibility into his own hands. in 2004 he had no coach and won 3 slams. he did it this year again and how much coaching does roche really do? hes more like a hitting partner who helps him volley better.


SG Says:

ben Says:
SG what planet are u living on where all these players are perfect? The reason everyone talks about Federer’s game so much is because it is perfect and there’s never been a player so near perefection with such an all around game. Apparent weaknesses?
Agassi: almost as bad as davydenko at net. not the greatest mover. if someone was able to hit enough angles they could break him down.
McEnroe: he was a serve and volleyer so he could be passed at net or outplayed at the baseline.
Lendl: he was mainly a baseliner but he didnt have too many easy weaknesses.
Connors: not the greatest volleyer either, great returns but he was break-downable.
Why do you say there are no great rivalries? Hewitt and Federer had some great matches and have a pretty long rivalry. Sure it’s one sided now but there was a time when McEnroe completely owned Connors and that’s still considered a great rivalry. What about Federer-Nalbandian? Pretty good rivalry there with potential of being even better. And the most important one of course is Federer-Nadal. Every player in history has had apparent weaknesses, even Roger’s backhand used to be a weakness. Nadal and Federer always play great tennis which is the whole idea of a rivalry, bring out the very best in each other. Nadal is leading pretty badly right now but Federer has proved he can take out Nadal so there’s a chance he’ll turn it around. But then again Nadal is the clay king so he’s bound to win a few more against Roger. As much as I hate Nadal for beating Federer, now that I know Federer can win some too it makes their rivalry really interesting and it’s something to look foward to.

———–

Once again, for the umpteenth time, Fed is a truly great player. Cetainly one of the best ever. But, I believe Fed has no rivals because in general, the competition is pitifully bad. Look at Wimbledon. You’d be hard pressed to find one big serving guy with strong volleys. At some point, someone in this forum was comparing Safin to Edberg on grass. Prime Edberg would eat Safin alive on grass. Fed has 4 Wimbledon trophies on his shelf and has yet to play a really talented, big serving player with a game tailored to grass. You can bring out the “Fed beat sampras in 2001″ argument and it’s reasonably valid. But, Fed was then beaten in the next round and was bounced in the first round in 02. He kind of captured lightning in a bottle against a Sampras that was slower and less confident than the one of the mid 90′s. There is no Krajicek, no Ivanisevic, no Becker, no Rafter, no Edberg and definitely no Sampras out there. So he beats people on grass in pretty much the same way he beats those same players on any other surface. He’s not even forced to make an adjustment. If a giy like Henman had a serve like Sampras, the matches might be interesting, but in the end, Henman is just to underpowered.


Tejuz Says:

well.. Big servers, regardless of which era they are in, should atleast rake up aces on grass for free points. But how many of these big servers(certainly bigger than Edberg, becker and on par with Ivanisevic n Sampras) out-ace federer on grass??? Fed is very quick enough to return most of their serves.

If you take Sampras vs Fed .. Sampras was never short on confidence on grass cuz he was unbeaten for 4 years prior to that. They were pretty equal on their Ace tally and Sampras was serving as well as anybody. But Fed was hitting return winners or low returns which Sampras couldnt even attempt to volley. Watch the tape if you get a chance. And Fed has only got better and better since that meeting.

Even if Fed plays a talented big-server of grass who would put up a fight, Assume he loses in wimbledon every alternate year. Thats just one trophy less every alternate year.. which would stil count to 10 or 11 titles every year.

Krajicek just did it in one year when he beat Sampras in straight sets.. Ivanisevic was just serve, nothing else. Rafter and Becker were the ones who could have given a fight to Federer. But Fed would have figured them out eventually. Becker had a 25 – 10 head 2 head against Edberg.. no reason why Fed would have problem with him.
Sampras shudnt be brought into the context here… because just like there is no Sampras for Federer now… there wasnt any Federer during Sampras era.. else.. Sampras would have just 4 Grand Slams and not 14.


Tejuz Says:

Maradona says “Federer ‘best in history by long way’”

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/007200611221121.htm


SG Says:

Tejuz Says:
well.. Big servers, regardless of which era they are in, should atleast rake up aces on grass for free points. But how many of these big servers(certainly bigger than Edberg, becker and on par with Ivanisevic n Sampras) out-ace federer on grass??? Fed is very quick enough to return most of their serves.

If you take Sampras vs Fed .. Sampras was never short on confidence on grass cuz he was unbeaten for 4 years prior to that. They were pretty equal on their Ace tally and Sampras was serving as well as anybody. But Fed was hitting return winners or low returns which Sampras couldnt even attempt to volley. Watch the tape if you get a chance. And Fed has only got better and better since that meeting.

Even if Fed plays a talented big-server of grass who would put up a fight, Assume he loses in wimbledon every alternate year. Thats just one trophy less every alternate year.. which would stil count to 10 or 11 titles every year.

Krajicek just did it in one year when he beat Sampras in straight sets.. Ivanisevic was just serve, nothing else. Rafter and Becker were the ones who could have given a fight to Federer. But Fed would have figured them out eventually. Becker had a 25 – 10 head 2 head against Edberg.. no reason why Fed would have problem with him.
Sampras shudnt be brought into the context here… because just like there is no Sampras for Federer now… there wasnt any Federer during Sampras era.. else.. Sampras would have just 4 Grand Slams and not 14.

——

First off, a big serve on grass is like a big serve nowhere else. Grass really rewards a guy who can thud the ball. Roddick is proof however that a serve alone won’t guarantee you much at Wimbledon. You need to back up that serve with strong groundstrokes or penetrating volleys (…preferably both).

Ivanisevic, while a head case, was more than a serve. I believe he won a couple of claycourt events. You don’t do that with a big serve and nothing else. And by the way, Ivanisevic’s backhand was nothing less than lethal. It was a fantastic shot. If his forehand was less erratic, he probably would have won a lot more.

As for Fed figuring out Becker and Rafter, perhaps. But, while he was figuring them out, he may not be winning majors.

Anyway, this is a tiring cyclical argument. Suddenly, even Maradona’s opinion matters? What the hell does he know about tennis? While he’s the best soccer play I’ve seen play, he certainly has no credibility when he says Fed is the best ever. His knowledge of Laver and even Sampras is likely suspect. Maybe he’ll show up on this forum and we can test him out.


ben Says:

i still say safin would beat edberg. as for federer playing rafter and becker. he would beat them too. he would have needed time to figure them out maybe 3 years ago, but not now. at this very point federer is untouchable. its his peak, and in his peak no one can stop him. roddick came close with his big serve and volleys, but he still won that one didnt he? lets say it was sampras instead of roddick. maybe sampras would have had 5 match points instead of 3, but federer would still beat him. federer is just so good right now that hes making the competition look absolutely pathetic. there was a time sampras went away from everyone else but it wasnt as much of an extreme gap as it is with federer becuz when u start out with an all around game ur gonna continue to improve ur all around game and hes nearly perfected it.


SG Says:

ben Says:
i still say safin would beat edberg. as for federer playing rafter and becker. he would beat them too. he would have needed time to figure them out maybe 3 years ago, but not now. at this very point federer is untouchable. its his peak, and in his peak no one can stop him. roddick came close with his big serve and volleys, but he still won that one didnt he? lets say it was sampras instead of roddick. maybe sampras would have had 5 match points instead of 3, but federer would still beat him. federer is just so good right now that hes making the competition look absolutely pathetic. there was a time sampras went away from everyone else but it wasnt as much of an extreme gap as it is with federer becuz when u start out with an all around game ur gonna continue to improve ur all around game and hes nearly perfected it.

—–

So the difference between Roddick and Sampras is a couple of match points against Fed? That’s it. The statement is so ridiculous I don’t even know where to start. If Fed struggles with Roddick, there’s no doubt in mind that on grass, a guy like Edberg or Rafter or Krajicek or Ivanisevic or Stich or Becker would tag Fed for a few losses. Their games were custom built to dominate on grass. While Fed is brilliant, he doesn’t face guys anywhere close to the ones I listed grass. His opponents give him too much time to create that brilliance.

It’s easy to say “Fed is too good!”. That’s a bit of a cop out. How do you know he’s that good when the competition is so ill equipped to play him on his best surface. There is only one player today, including Fed, who volleys as well as the list of players I mentioned. his name is Henman and his game is tiny compared to Sampras or the other I guys I listed. Hence his nickname “Baby Pete”.


Tejuz Says:

SG,

If Ivanisevic wins claycourt titles, means competetion was so weak in clay during that time… even then Sampras couldnt get many clay titles. Fed has beaten Kuerten, Moya, Ferrero,Gaudio, Kafelnikov(All FO champions) on Clay. Most of them are from Sampras’s era but then

Grass – Ancic is more or less like Ivanesevic, infact he has better all round game. If serve alone doesnt win matches, why do u think roddick wins US Open n other Masters Series titles?? by ur argument he shudnt have something more than a just serve to win those. Regarding him not winning Wimbledon is just purely becuz he has met Fed everytime. Dont take one match where he had match points to say Roddick is close to Fed.

If you say the guys like Ivan’vic, Becker, Rafter, edberg wud have tagged losses to Fed on grass, why the hell cudnt they do the same to Sampras on grass?? Fed has a pretty effective serve on grass and wudnt have won hisn service games easily. Infact he has a much better return game than Sampras. These players wud have to be at their serve-volleying best to have defeated Fed when he was off-peak. And Fed rarely has off-peak days(so it seems) .. just a tribute to his greatness.

Rafter and Ivanesevic were chokers. They have 11 n 22 titles respectively. They reached few finals and choked. Roddick n Hewitt already have 21 titles to their name. Does Rafter have a grass court title to his name?? Roddick has three at Queens. Serve-volley heck .. you cant always put away volleys consistently even though however gud u are. Evrything depends on how well u serve on that day, if u are a serve-volleyer. Serve-volleyin on second serves against Fed is just suicide. If Fed isnt serving well.. he has other options which many dont have. Thats the adavantage of being as talented as him.

Pity that you dont recognise it.. or dont choose to.


SG Says:

Since when was Rafter ever a choker? The guy was touch as nails from the late 90′s to eary 00′s. His game was a little limited as his groundies weren’t as effective as say a Becker. But, in a match for all the marbles, he would be gritty. I’ll say this for sure:

1) Rafter was a better athlete than Federer is.
2) Rafter was a better volleyer than Federer is.
3) Rafter moved around the court as well as Federer.

Name a guy today who has Rafter’s attacking skills. The answer is an emphatic NOBODY! Does anyone really think that Safin could beat prime Edberg on grass? It’s just absurd. Safin has had no success on grass. If Edberg could beat prime massive hitting Becker, he would beat Safin on grass.

By the way, anyone look at Becker’s return of serve. I think it’s among the most underrated of all time. He gave big servers fits. Amd Sampras beat Becker on his best surface in the finals at Wimbledon.


SG Says:

And save this Ancic stuff. The guy has never even been to major final. Comparing Ancic to Ivanisevic is also absurd. Ivanisevic had the ability to play patches of surreal tennis. Ancic is not even close to the athlete that Ivo was.


Tejuz Says:

well.. explain this for Rafter ’11 titles in 6 of his best years from 1997-2002′ if he wasnt a CHOKER. I have been a fan of Rafter, he had a great game but he never won many Big matches (the tag that you so readily give to Ljubicic, Nalbandian etc) except the 2 US Opens where we was facing a 1st time finalist both the time..

Dont tell me he was a better Athelete than Federer. I agree he was a better volleyer.. but not a better athelete.. nor was Sampras or Becker for that matter. I have been a big fan of Becker too, but then as i see it.. he wud have caused some problems to Federer.. but Fed wud have got him 7 or 8 out of 10 times.

As i see it Ancic is on par with Ivanesevic.. volley better than Ivan, Serves as well and returns better. Thats my opinion..yours might be different. And i never liked wimbledon finals between Sampras and Ivan.. it was just All-Serve, occassional volley nothing else. Edberg vs Becker finals were more pleasing.

And now.. Fed vs Any damn player is all the more pleasing just becuz of his shotmaking.

Another of my opinion.. Safin beating Edberg on grass is more probable than any of the above mentioned players beating Federer on grass.

But anywhere else, Safin wud have routed Edberg. He has routed Sampras already.


SG Says:

Sampras was a far better athlete than Federer is. It’s not even a close comparison. Federer is a brilliant ball striker. But in terms of sheer athletic ability, Sampras was leaps and bounds ahead of Mr. Fed.


SG Says:

And, Rafter had only 11 titles because he played in Sampras’ prime and Agassi’s prime. And the guy was never a threat for the first half of the season ’cause he couldn’t play on anything other than fast surfaces.

They guy was not a choker. He just didn’t have the weapons to stay on baseline and trade with some of the better backcourters. This limited the places where he could win.


Tejuz Says:

wooooaaaah …. SG says Sampras is a better Athelete than Fed (Leaps and bounds). Guess u must the one of the select few who has that opinion. Define.. what do u mean by Athelete???
If Sampras was really such a good athelete why dint he win on clay so often. Either he lacked the skill or technique or atletic ability or his luck always ran out.

Everybody.. including his peers and ex-champions keep saying about how good Fed moves on court and what a great athelete he is.. Never did they say the same things about Sampras in the same breath.

As far as tennis is concerned, Federer is Far Far superior to Sampras.. so is his dominance and ‘n’ number of records that hez accumulating.

Rafter is not a choker.. its just that he loses many finals.. most of which werent against Sampras or Agassi. Anyway.. SG atleast conceded that Rafter wasnt a threat for the 1st half of the season.
He got 11 titles when he played Sampras and Agassi at their prime. well.. Kafelnikov has 20+ titles in the same era. 11 titles in 6 of his prime years is 2 per year in total… which players like Ljubicic, Haas, Gasquet have accumulated this year .. not to mention Blake, Devydenko n Nadal with 5 each… and this is with Federer taking 11 or 12 titles for last 3 years. So.. take out the tournaments that Sampras and Agassi have won.. That still leaves quite a handful of tournaments which Rafter could have won. So i dont really buy your argument.

rafter had a great game.. played well til the semis and choked miserably in finals..

the same can be said of some of today’s players.


Tejuz Says:

Serve-volley is a part of tennis, which certainly looks beautiful when one is making some stunning volleys.. But its not all thats there to Tennis. Its just a part of it. Most of the times they are left defenceless at the net watching the passing shots go by. Well.. since there are less serve-volleyers and more all-court players these days .. thats the only argument that persons like SG can make that Fed might struggle against


SG Says:

Sampras was the Michael Jordan of tennis. A frightening combination of athleticism and will. He could fly around the court and leap like an NBA player. Not sure what you’re looking at?

I mean, clay is a test of endurance moreso than athleticism. You don’t compare a high jumper to a marathon runner. The high jumper is more purely athletic. The marathon runner has more endurance.

Andres Gomez won the French. But look at the guys who dominate Wimbledon. They are athletic, Becker, Sampras, Edberg…


ben Says:

Federer… arguing athleticism is just ridiculous. Both Sampras and Federer are 2 of the greatest athletes to play sports, it’s hard to say which one is the better athlete. Serving and volleying like it was in the late 80s and early 90s is mad boring. It’s serve, volley, end of point. Wow what a terrific match. I think we all have Agassi to thank for bringing in the era of baseliners. The variety in the top 10 in the 90s was probably the most its ever been because you had the old serve and volleyers with the new baseliners. Nowadays you have more baseliners and in the 80s you had more serve and volleyers. But the top 100 nowadays I’d say is much more diverse in terms of style of play. It’s not fun to see everyone do the exact same thing over and over and over again. Atleast with baseliners you can get great rallies from the number 98 and 99 ranked players. Look at some of the best players of the last 6 years: Roddick, Hewitt, Safin, Federer, Nadal, Agassi, Sampras, Nalbandian, and Davydenko are a few that come to mind. All of these players have their own unique styles that make them great players. And it’s more fun to watch a big serving-forehand player like Roddick along with a huge all around game like Safin. They’re both raw power players but they play very differently. Safin of course the greatest two handed backhand and Roddick the worst. Makes tennis more interesting.


SG Says:

Yes Ben. Fed is the best ever:

1) The best forehand ever
2) The best backhand ever
3) The best serve ever
4) The best volleys ever
5) The best movement ever
6) The best return of serve ever
7) The bes tennis athlete ever.

You win!!!!

Hey! Wait a minute. How many times did he win the Grand Slam? Uh..I think that number is a big fat 0! Laver did it twice. How many times has he won the French? Another big fat 0! Think Borg won that one 6 times.

All of you Fed fanatics should just chill the hell out. Why don’t you wait for your guy to win 15 majors or the slam before you coronate him? This is ridiculous. The guy plays in a era or cream puffs, he hasn’t won the French and he hasn’t won the Slam and he’s the best ever? I’d tell you to stop blowing smoke up my ass but the truth is, all you fanatics are still too busy blowing smoke up your own asses.

Let the guy finish up his career. Until then, it’s all a bunch of speculative hogwash. How do you know he’d beat Sampras or Laver if he was playing with a wood raquet in his hand? How do you know Laver wouldn’t have been even better than Fed had he benefitted from todays training and technology? Since none of you know the answer to those questions, why don’t you just wait a bit before spewing the rhetoric.


ben Says:

my bad about that last post, my comp did something weird. anyways… how many times did sampras win 3 slams in one year? make 6 major finals in a row? beat connors number 1 streak? won the french? made a french final? all 0’s. i still say sampras is the greatest player ever… for now.
1) The best forehand ever: Roger Federer
2) The best backhand ever: Marat Safin
3) The best serve ever: Pete Sampras
4) The best volleys ever: Stefan Edberg
5) The best movement ever: Roger Federer
6) The best return of serve ever: Marat Safin
7) The bes tennis athlete ever.: Too many great ones to pick one


SG Says:

ben Says:
my bad about that last post, my comp did something weird. anyways… how many times did sampras win 3 slams in one year? make 6 major finals in a row? beat connors number 1 streak? won the french? made a french final? all 0’s. i still say sampras is the greatest player ever… for now.
1) The best forehand ever: Roger Federer
-I say Sampras had the best forehand I’ve ever seen. I don’t know about ever ’cause I haven’t been around that long.

2) The best backhand ever: Marat Safin
-I don’t know how you could say this. best b-hands I’ve seen are Agassi’s and Edberg’s.

3) The best serve ever: Pete Sampras
-Of the guys I’e seen, Sampras has the best serve when you look at 1st and 2nd serve together.

4) The best volleys ever: Stefan Edberg
-Of the people I’ve seen, Edberg is the best volleyer I know of.

5) The best movement ever: Roger Federer
-I really question this choice. Nadal moves better than Federer. Even Hewitt moved better. Chna moved better. Sampras moved at least as well as Fed.

6) The best return of serve ever: Marat Safin
-Safin? You’re serious? How about Agassi, Becker and Connors to start. Fed is a better returner than Safin.

7) The bes tennis athlete ever.: Too many great ones to pick one
-Perhaps. But I’ve seen Sampras play person. In fact, I was about 10 feet from for close to an hour. I have never seen anyone as athletic as him on a tennis court. And I’ve seen a lot of players close up.


SG Says:

You guys ever really watch those Sampras matches. The mid 90′s ones. I mean, his opponents were terrified of his forehand. Watch the matches with Agassi. I’d say between 80 and 90% of the shots were directed at the Sampras backhand. And the guy still won 14 majors. Hitting from his weaker side. Even that is a relative statement ’cause when Sampras was younger, his backahnd was damned good.

Fed kind of wins the same way. His opponents try to play to the backhand. At least the reasonably intelligent ones do. But, he usually manages to manipulate the rally to where he can hit a forehand and blow open the point.


ben Says:

nadal always hits to fed’s backhand, it gets really annoying too cuz i like watching fed’s forehand.
1) The best forehand ever: Roger Federer
-I say Sampras had the best forehand I’ve ever seen. I don’t know about ever ’cause I haven’t been around that long.
—Everyone says Federer has the best forehand, but thats not y i say that. look at it technique wise, consistency wise, everything. he hits crazy angles, hes always balanced, and ask any young tennis player who’s forehand technique they try to imitate more than anyone and they’ll say roger federer.

2) The best backhand ever: Marat Safin
-I don’t know how you could say this. best b-hands I’ve seen are Agassi’s and Edberg’s.
—I say this because from what I’ve seen Agassi’s backhand is always the same. (Edberg had a one-handed, thats a different story) Safin can do ANYTHING with his backhand, more than Agassi.

3) The best serve ever: Pete Sampras
-Of the guys I’e seen, Sampras has the best serve when you look at 1st and 2nd serve together.

4) The best volleys ever: Stefan Edberg
-Of the people I’ve seen, Edberg is the best volleyer I know of.

5) The best movement ever: Roger Federer
-I really question this choice. Nadal moves better than Federer. Even Hewitt moved better. Chna moved better. Sampras moved at least as well as Fed.
—You’re a f*cking dunce. Movement? Nadal? Hewitt? Movement? Movement means footwork, and there is not tennis player EVER who’s had better footwork. What is the best part of Federer’s game? His footwork. He’s ALWAAAAAYYS balanced, ALWAAAAYS in position. Plus his speed is underrated because he is usually attacking instead of defending.

6) The best return of serve ever: Marat Safin
-Safin? You’re serious? How about Agassi, Becker and Connors to start. Fed is a better returner than Safin.
—Dead serious. Connors had a funky technique plus he didn’t play during the time of 140 mph serves. Becker and Agassi were also great obviously but supposedly Agassi is the greatest ever. Why though? Safin punishes the ball just as well, the difference between Safin and Agassi though is that Agassi gets aced 10 times more than Safin. Safin’s huge and when he’s on he returns like a f*cking monster. 2000 US Open final where he returned Sampras’s 130mph serves as clean winners at presumably faster speeds.

7) The bes tennis athlete ever.: Too many great ones to pick one
-Perhaps. But I’ve seen Sampras play person. In fact, I was about 10 feet from for close to an hour. I have never seen anyone as athletic as him on a tennis court. And I’ve seen a lot of players close up.
—Have you ever seen Federer up close? Nadal? Lendl?


TejuZ Says:

Nadal and Hewitt can be termed as scramblers and great retrievers.. but not movement. Fed is harldy out of position and always balanced on the court.

Safin has a great return. Fed and Agassi are close.. Sampras is too far down the line in this department.

Safin has a great backhand. Fed is catching up on that if u have watched the Masters Cup this year. He was hitting winners with those one-handed backhand.

Sampras is not even close on the best Forehand department.. and Fed rules that department. He can just do abount anything with that. People targetted Pete’s backhand more is becuz his backhand was even worse. I give it that Sampras had good volleying skills but never a threat when playing from back of the court.


TejuZ Says:

Not much to argue on the ‘Best Athlete Ever’ since we have our different opinions. You think if a person jumps high and slam dunks a volley he is the greatest athelete.. good on you.


SG Says:

Tejuz said….

Sampras is not even close on the best Forehand department.. and Fed rules that department. He can just do abount anything with that. People targetted Pete’s backhand more is becuz his backhand was even worse. I give it that Sampras had good volleying skills but never a threat when playing from back of the court.

———-

I try not to get pissed off when I see things like this. Watch Sampras 93-98! Virtually no one messed with his forehand wing and lived to fight another round. The guy had an Eastern grip which made his forehand extremely flat and penetrating. Fed can flatten it out, but his ball generally has more spin due to his S.W. grip.

So am I to assume you also think Fed’s running forehand is better than Sampras’? Come on folks! A little balance would be nice.


SG Says:

Ben said…

5) The best movement ever: Roger Federer
-I really question this choice. Nadal moves better than Federer. Even Hewitt moved better. Chna moved better. Sampras moved at least as well as Fed.
—You’re a f*cking dunce. Movement? Nadal? Hewitt? Movement? Movement means footwork, and there is not tennis player EVER who’s had better footwork. What is the best part of Federer’s game? His footwork. He’s ALWAAAAAYYS balanced, ALWAAAAYS in position. Plus his speed is underrated because he is usually attacking instead of defending.

———-

I’m not the dunce here Benny boy. Fed has the bigger shots in comparison to Nadal i.e., Fed’s forehand, backhand & serve are all superior to Rafa’s. Rafa manages to make the matches close throught his grit and his ability to move. Fed may be a ballerina out there, but Rafa moves better. If he didn’t, he’d be 0-9 against Federer.


SG Says:

And there’s a difference between footwork and movement….


SG Says:

You can have good footwork and still be a little bit lumbering. Todd Martin is an excellent example. But blinding footspeed is far more intimidating because at the pro level, most guys already have good to excellent footwork. It’s hard to hit good groundies without strong footwork.


Tejuz Says:

Movement and footwork are related… how many times do u see Federer out of position to hit a ball.. compared to say Hewitt or Nadal. Movement is dependent on foot-speed, anticipation and covering the court well. Fed has a great defence, which is highly under-rated to his offensive play. Please dont say that the player who runs 100m the fastest is the best mover on the court. You dont see too many winners being hit against Fed… same cant be said for Hewitt.

You make a hell out of Sampras’ running forehand.. ok i give that he had a great running forehand.. but how many times in a match does he get to hit that shot???? We are talking abt Forehand in general.. what all can you do with that forehand.. Hit heavy top spin, Flatten it out when required, inside-out .. gosh.. i never saw Sampras hit all those with his forehand.. and never was his forehand been talked about so highly as say federer’s. Nadal has a great forehand.. but it lacks variety.


SG Says:

You actually have to have better footwork to hit big shots on the run than if you merely stand and hit. I have to say that hitting a big running forehand requires tremendous mechnical synchronicity so as to generate power and accuracy. A huge part of that synchronicity is footwork. Hewitt has footwork every bit as good as Fed. He just doesn’t have the weapons that Fed does.


ben Says:

wow, you just lost this arguement SG. clearly you don’t play tennis and if you do it’s probably recreationaly like once a month or so and have never had a real coach teach you technique and the fundamentals of tennis. footwork is the positioning of your feet in every shot. it’s true you need good footwork to hit shots on the run, but by the time you’re a pro you already have that necessary footwork, speed allows you to get to those shots. but if you ever took the time to listen to, oh, say even senile old pat mcenroe or perhaps former world number 1 john mcenroe when they, 2 former top tennis players, say that as great as nadal’s running forehand and backhand are, a lot of his shots are hit while leaning on his BACK foot, which, if you knew anything about tennis at ALL, you would know that THAT is a CLEAR demonstration of nadal’s POOR footwork, which, in effect, means he has poor movement/footwork but vast speed. hewitt’s footwork is just as good as federer’s? are you serious? i’ll ask you again, what is the best part of federer’s game? what is the best part of hewitt’s game? according to you, hewitt doesn’t have the great weapons federer does, and the best part of hewitt’s game is his footwork, and so is federer’s. the best part of both their games’ is their footwork but to call federer’s footwork the BEST part of his game versus, say, his forehand, backhand, serve, and volleys? that sounds pretty out there but that’s the truth. seriously, i don’t feel like explaining all of this to you over and over again so just admit defeat because there is nothing you could say that would make you UNLOSE this arguement. (you already lost so you can’t win)


SG Says:

Ben….you are a fanatic. The real McCoy. Any argument I would make about anything pertaining to Federer, you would refute. Your argument is basically as follows:

1) Federer has the best groundstrokes in the sport.
2) Federer has the best footwork in the game.

Seems like a prime recipe for dominating in Paris. And yet, he has 9 majors and no French titles. None. And you can’t pony that up to him running into Nadal. Nadal has only been around a couple of years. Clearly, there must be a reson why he doesn’t dominate the tournament when his game is so suited for it. I feel the reasons are as follows:

1) Fed is great but he’s not as mentally tough as all of you think. He plays in an era where he is rarely pressed. In Paris, where his weapons are diminished, he comes up short because he doesn’t have the mental tenacity to grind out over 7 matches. That being said, I do think he will win in Paris (…probably this year). But for a guy who has every tool to win there, he hasn’t done it ’till now. And that says something.

2) There are a lot of good claycourters. In fact, pretty much everyone on tour plays like they were raised on clay, even if they weren’t. So, in Paris, where his weapons are not quite as potent, the field comes back to him.


SG Says:

I’d love to hear Ben’s rationalization for why Fed, with all his perfection, has failed to do once what Borg did 6 times.

Many people believe that Borg’s 6 FO’s and 5 Wimbledons is an accomplishment that is just below a slam. Borg was an iceman, no nerves at all and a will of iron. And he played some tough competition. Connors, McEnroe, Vilas, Lendl…just to name a few. Mac and Borg were legends playing each other in their prime. The same is true for Connors.


SG Says:

And Ben, if Nadal hits from his backfoot and still beat Fed, what does that say about Fed.

The truth is, shot mechanics have changed quite a bit in the last 20 years. There was a time when an open stance forehand was looked at as incorrect. Now, pretty much every guy with a S.W. or W. grip hits the forehand with an open stance.

Nadal has grooved his game in a certain way. That being said, if he could hit from his front foot, he’d be able to drive the ball better. But, the game he has does drive Fed up a wall, so why should he change it?


ben Says:

who has better ground strokes than federer? who has ever glided as smoothly on the court as federer? no one. so yeah i am saying federer has the best strokes and footwork in the game. nadal isn’t at all legendary? federer isn’t at all legendary? playing each other at their peaks? i agree, federer isn’t AS mentally tough as people think. he choked against nadal atleast 3 times this year and nadal WAS in fact a demon in federer’s head. what does that say about federer? tell me, what does it say? look, nadal hits off his back foot, graff also hit off her back foot. i’m not saying that nadal’s a bad player, because he’s far from it. he still makes it over the net, BUT, like you said, if he leaned in more he’d have more drive on the ball which he most certainly needs considering all his shots land on the f*cking service line. he got to the final of wimbledon due to weak competition. he’s amazing on clay because his short forehand kicks up like crazy and is effective on clay. federer’s losses to nadal are due more to choking and mental weakness than nadal being a better player or clay courter. technical mechanics don’t automatically make someone win. i have pretty good technique and i’ve lost to plenty of players with what’s considered “ugly” technique. since when does footwork make someone a great clay courter. all you have to do on the clay is slide around a lot for a while. federer didn’t really find his game until 2004 anyway (why he lost to kuerten that year still boggles my mind). but the last 2 years he had pretty great results. there are mostly clay court tournaments played in the ATP but definetly not all players play like they were raised on a clay court. federer’s game is not perfectly suited for clay. he’s an aggressive player who likes to play at the baseline and hit winners, that’s why he loses to nadal often, because nadal runs every single ball down on clay, EVERY SINGLE GOD DAMN BALL. federer’s technical perfection is kind of bad against nadal, too, because nadal’s high kicking forehand is really what kills federer on his backhand side and to return such a shot you need a two handed backhand or you need to slice or you need to do something really funky (i still say federer is retarded for not having sliced as often as possible against rafa). why should nadal change hitting his forehand and backhand off his back foot? not really that it makes his ground strokes look ugly but because it’s unhealthy. ever notice how many injuries nadal has had with his ankles? his left ankle that kept him sidelined from the australian open? because he’s always leaning back on it when hitting his forehand. common sense. hitting open stance with a semiwestern grip vs closed stance with an eastern grip is a sensible progression. hitting off the back foot will never be accepted. so far you haven’t said anything to unlose this arguement, you’re just giving me more points to prove you wrong on.


Tejuz Says:

Agree with Ben.. Nadal runs down every single ball.. buts its more to do with his high kicking ball to Fed’s backhand that has been Fed’s undoing on clay. But Fed is only improving on Clay .. cuz he has reached finals of all the clay tournaments he entered this year. As i had mentioned in one of my earlier posts Fed has beaten Kuerten, Moya, Ferrero,Gaudio, Kafelnikov(All FO champions and clay specialists) on Clay.. when he wasnt in his prime. That says something about him. Nadal has been his nemesis til now.

Nadal is a grinder. So Fed gets frustrated and goes for too much, resulting in unforced errors. That certainly doesnt been he lacks in footwork or movement. Federer is so swift and smooth in his movement and anticipation that people never him running after the ball. But you can always see Nadal or Hewitt scrambling after every ball and their effort is visible to the onlookers.

Regarding Nadal’s technique.. he certainly has a weird techn’que.. even Fed once said that. And am sure thats the cause of his injuries thats occurring so frequently at such a young age. Hez played 30 less matches that Fed this year … Thats like 5-6 full tournaments.

And regarding Fed’s forehand.. everybody wants to imitate it, along with the rest of his game.. so that speaks for itself


SG Says:

God, forget Nadal which is what I said in my post! Nadal’s only been around 2 years! Fed is 25. 9 majors, no FO’s! So why didn’t he win before Nadal was around if he’s “The Best Ever”. And if he was the best baseliner “EVER”, he would have found a way to win a French by now. Roland Garros is a baseliners paradise.

And I love Ben’s rationalization for why Nadal got to the final at Wimbledon…”WEAK COMPETITION”. Yet, when I make the same argument against Fed, I’m full of shit. So, when it’s convenient for Ben, the competition is weak. But if I say that Fed might be winning more than he should becuase the competition is weak, I’m crazy. Just as I suspected. Fed Fanatics here. Just blind Fed fanatics.


SG Says:

And Tejuz, I’m not even convinced you’re not Ben. “I agree with Ben…”, “I agree with Ben…”. You wanna agree…fine. But call your buddy out when you uses the excuse of weak competition for Nadal getting to the Wimby final. You can’t have it both ways. Either the competition is crap or it’s not. You already know how I feel about today’s lot of players. They are sucky, sorry lot of 1 dimensional chokers.


TejuZ Says:

mate.. Nadal reached the finals of the wimbledon cuz of a very lucky draw. He dint have any grass-court experts on his side of the draw.. they were all on Federer’s half. Am sure Gasquet or Henman or Ancic or Berdych wud have nailed him long before the finals had they been on his darw. SG.. i guess its u who is a fanatic.. Sampras fanatic. A case of sour grapes.

We were having argument about movement and footwork and u are talking about French Open. Mate.. hard courts are more tough to move than clay cuz you cant slide on them. We are talking about movement in general here… not just on clay. Sampras wudnt even stand a chance as per ur argument cuz he hasnt had much success on clay. Let Nadal win any GS other than FO…


SG Says:

Tejuz…who are exactly were the grasscourt experts Federer played at Wimbledon? A 36 yr old doubles player in the semis? A claycourter in the final? Please define “grasscourt expert”? Becker, Sampras and Edberg were grasscourt experts. Perhaps even Ivanisevic.


SG Says:

And we were having a disucssion about footwork until Mr. Ben the Brain started using the “WEAK COMPETITION” argument that I’ve been shot at for using the last 6 weeks. You can’t see the hypocrisy of this statement? You really can’t right?


SG Says:

It’s amazing…only Nadal faces weak competition. Not Fed. An interesting magic trick. Go suck lemons Ben.


ben Says:

when i say weak competition i didnt say all around that the players in general are weak. i said nadal got to the wimbledon final because he played no major grass courter. as for federer at wimbledon, of course you mention only bjorkman and nadal. what about ancic? you claim federer has never faced a huge server before who could really blow him away. what about ancic? did gasquet not win a convincing grass court title right before wimbledon? did henman not make 50 million wimbledon semis? even mahut was good. it is amazing that nadal constantly gets weak draws opposed to federer’s death traps. im not a fed fanatic, im a tennis fanatic. right now im defending federer becuz ur insulting him. insult sampras and ill defend him just as much. but according to u sampras mustve had the shittiest footwork ever becuz he was close to complete crap on clay. but he didnt have the shittiest footwork by far. no one was as amazing as sampras at getting to net and covering it like a mad man. yet no major success on clay except for the 1995 davis cup. btw, regarding sampras’s loss to krajicek becuz his serve just blew him away. same thing happened when karlovic beat hewitt. but federer also faced karlovic and wimbledon and beat him and won the tournament. so he passed that test. i like my nickname, ben the brain. i already told u why federer didnt win the french before. he needed clearly a lot of time to figure out his whole game. honestly i dont think federer’s made for clay. i have his loss to his gasquet at monte carlo in 2005 and the whole sliding thing doesnt look right for federer. he likes to go for winners but u cant really do that on clay. im not tejuz, its just that we both understand tennis a hell of a lot better than u. what makes tennis so 1-dimensional? i watched a nice clip of becker talking about federer (i think it was the middle of 2005 or so) where he himself said that there have always been serve and volleyers and baseliners in every era, just that during the 80s it was mostly serve and volleyers while now its mostly baseliners. the 90s was pretty even cuz there were still serve and volleyers but the baseliners were gaining ground becuz of, yes thats right, the one, the only, the LEGENDARY, andre agassi. what makes baseliners 1-dimensional versus serve and volleyers. as far as im concerned, both styles of play generally need only 2 things. as a serve and volleyer u need a good serve (good placement and/or good speed) and quick hands with good footwork at the net. as a baseliner u need a good serve (generally more speed) and a big forehand with good footwork at the baseline to run side to side. and dont start saying im a hypocrit becuz ill put it in caps for u: WEAK COMPETITION AS IN NO MAJOR GRASS COURT PLAYER THAT NADAL PLAYED DURING HIS RUN EXCEPT FOR ROGER, NOT WEAK COMPETITION IN GENERAL. nadal didnt have really weak competition at the french and u could see that by his 4 and a half hour match against mathieu.


SG Says:

Ben, in comparison to you I’m a vertiable tennis Einstein. Of course, that’s not even a compliment to me because it appears most anyone who’s seen tennis in passing will be more knowledgeable than you.


SG Says:

Ben, take your Fed persecution complex stick it.


ben Says:

ouch. that really hurt. NOT! tennis einstein? u? u dont know shit about tennis. in comparison to me there r players who have been playing a while who know less than me. i no open era history like i no my cell phone number. i no every style of tennis u can play and how to play it. i no how tennis has evolved over the years and i no the things that have primarily stayed the same. tennis einstein my ass. thats y u no what it means to have good footwork and i dont, right? oh wait, its the other way around. u dont play tennis and u obviously dont no tennis. u already lost so just stop arguing.


ben Says:

btw, u just through in the towel when u didnt counter argue all the TENNIS information i said. u resorted to petty insults becuz u no its over. i win, u lose, haha.


TejuZ Says:

SG, Grass-court expertise is not just about serve-volleying. Not everyone can play well on grass, cuz the ball stays very low, skids through so u have very less time for your shots. Whoever Fed faced in his draw were pretty much well-equipped for grass… but luckily for Nadal he dint have any of them in his draw. We were talking about Nadal’s draw here.. and all of a sudded u started talking about Becker and Edberg. Well.. even though both of them were champions and great players during their time.. i guess they wud have been making up the numbers just like the rest of top-10 had they been playing in this era just cuz Fed wudnt have given them a chance to win that many Grand Slams. Lucky that they were born close to Sampras’ era..
Talking abt Bjorkman reachin semis.. well Todd Woodbridge has reached a semi during Sampras’ time.


SG Says:

ben Says:
btw, u just through in the towel when u didnt counter argue all the TENNIS information i said. u resorted to petty insults becuz u no its over. i win, u lose, haha.

——

Actually, it was you that lost when you argued that Rafa got to the Wimby final because of “WEAK COMPETITION”. Suddnely, you get to decide when the competition is weak and when it’s not. You’re a damned hypocrite. Take your medicine like a man and shut the hell up.


SG Says:

And I didn’t throw in the towel. I just decided to stop arguing with a fool.


SG Says:

ben Says:
ouch. that really hurt. NOT! tennis einstein? u? u dont know shit about tennis. in comparison to me there r players who have been playing a while who know less than me. i no open era history like i no my cell phone number. i no every style of tennis u can play and how to play it. i no how tennis has evolved over the years and i no the things that have primarily stayed the same. tennis einstein my ass. thats y u no what it means to have good footwork and i dont, right? oh wait, its the other way around. u dont play tennis and u obviously dont no tennis. u already lost so just stop arguing.

——

The above blog is the most pompous one I’ve seen in a while. You do love to toot your own horn don’t ya’ Ben. You must be one insecure dude. I actually pity you. You have to learn to take things less personally and actually look at things with some modicum of balance. You are a true fanatic. As far as I’m concerned, you and Tejuz can have a love in…and never come out.


Kara L. Says:

Man, I just stumbled on this and this is a pretty funny article. Let’s get some things straight: first off, prior to Rajah coming along and winning Wimbledon and the US Open it had been 18 slams since anyone had won consecutive slams. So if we didn’t have Rajah, it’s pretty safe to assume we’d still be living in an era of extreme parity because everybody would be so good.

Next, you cite Costa and Tomas Johansson are reasons to denigrate the 2002 Slam results but you’re forgetting one thing: ToJo won because Safin was out with a couple of blonde bimbettes instead of practising for the Final and Juan Carlos Ferrero choked that French Open away. Maybe it’s safer to say that we’re living in an age of Mental Frailty?

In my opinion, I don’t think that 2002-2006 is weaker than any period in the tennis era, it’s just that the average life span of the elite players gets shortened so abruptly in the era of baselining power tennis (i.e. Kuerten, Rafter, Kafelnikov, Rios, Korda, Coria, Courier) so we don’t have multiple Grand Slam winners hanging around causing problems for the new breed because their bodies have given out on them. Like Safin: he missed out on half of his career due to injury and he’s still got multiple slams, finals and semifinals plus to Davis cups to boot.

Sad really, but the fact is the window of time for a player to play at peak performance gets shorter and shorter each passing year because of how the game has gotten so physical and taken its toll on the player’s bodies. I would pay dearly to see a Nadal and Guga match at RG or a Rafter and Federer Wimbledon showdown, or maybe even a Baghdatis Rios hardcourt battle but sadly, it’s just not possible given that the game just puts these players’ bodies through the grinder.

Andre lasted a long time but he was also doped to the gills with cortisone shots, painkillers and all kinds of things until the very end and he was very selective about his schedule–I seriously doubt we’re going to see Rajah or Marat try to play into their thirties, their bodies won’t let them.

Top story: 2015 Davis Cup Draw: USA Draws Britain Again; France, Canada The Early Favorites?
  • Recent Comments
Rankings
ATP - Sep 15 WTA - Sep 15
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Simona Halep
3 Roger Federer3 Petra Kvitova
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Maria Sharapova
5 David Ferrer5 Agnieszka Radwanska
6 Milos Raonic6 Na Li
7 Tomas Berdych7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Kei Nishikori8 Angelique Kerber
9 Marin Cilic9 Caroline Wozniacki
10 Grigor Dimitrov10 Ana Ivanovic
More: Tennis T-Shirts | Tennis Shop | Live Tennis Scores | Headlines

Copyright © 2003-2014 Tennis-X.com. All rights reserved.
This website is an independently operated source of news and information and is not affiliated with any professional organizations.