Federer wins in five, but Nadal brings No.1 race alive
by Abe Kuijl | July 9th, 2007, 11:40 pm
  • 204 Comments

The Federer — Nadal rivalry has been hyped for the past year-and-a-half or so, but unfortunately their recent matches never lived up to the high standards. Nadal owned Federer in Monte Carlo, Federer overpowered an exhausted Rafa in Hamburg, and at Roland Garros last month, Nadal defeated his rival in four, not so high-quality sets.

In Sunday’s Wimbledon final, both tennis greats brought their A-game, which resulted in possibly the best match Federer and Nadal have ever played against each other. The Rome final in 2006 was excellent, but due to the big occasion, and the fact that Nadal was so close to beating the Swiss No.1 on his favorite court, this ranks just a little higher to me.

Federer had not played a single five set match on grass after his legendary win over Pete Sampras in the 2001 Championships. He has definitely not been on the verge of losing at Wimbledon after his exit to Mario Ancic in 2002.

Rafael Nadal might have missed the opportunity of a lifetime to grab a Wimbledon trophy, when he failed to convert one of four break points in the fifth set against Federer. Still, judging from the Spaniard’s performance, he’ll definitely get another look at the title in the future.

Nadal’s grass court game almost doesn’t compare to the way he reached the final at SW19 in 2006. He has changed his service motion a little and added a tad more spice to it, but what has been instrumental in his progress, is how Rafa has improved his service returns. Nadal now stands on the baseline to receive, but more importantly, he moves forward when hitting the return. He cuts of the angles and doesn’t take a huge backswing when facing a 130 mph bomb. Throughout the tournament, it impressed me how well the Spaniard made this huge transition, especially coming off the clay courts, where Rafa averages on standing three to four metres behind the baseline for the return.

The reason Federer won on Sunday was not because he was playing better than Nadal, it was merely because of the effectiveness of his serve. When Nadal got himself into a point, he was the dominant player. Rafa did a great job in not giving Federer the opportunity to take the initiative in the rally, by hitting every ball aggressively and deep into the back court. I actually felt Nadal was more dominant in the rallies in Sunday’s final, than at Roland Garros, when he would give Federer lots of soft, short balls, on which the Swiss No.1 failed to pounce.

The outcome of the match in Paris depended a lot on how Federer dealt with the initiative he was given. He controlled the match up until the fourth set, and could have overpowered his rival to a similar fashion as in Hamburg. Still, it was Rafa who led 2-1 in sets, but it wasn’t until this point that the Spaniard began to take control and dominate play. He had definitely not been the dominant player before, but merely benefited from his opponent’s missed opportunities.

Nadal would not get away with hitting short on grass and he knew it. To execute the way he did though, was an astonishing accomplishment. If his forehand down the line at 1-1, 30-40 in the final set would have stayed inside, Federer’s reign at Wimbledon could very well have come to an end. From the Swiss’ point of view, it was an excellent performance to overcome four breakpoints early in that final set and strike one blow to Nadal to ensure his fifth consecutive title. There was an amazing amount of pressure on Federer not to lose that decisive set, not just due to the fact there was a fifth Wimbledon title to be won, but even more so because his supremacy in the men’s game was at stake.

With three Masters Series titles, a French Open crown and a title at Wimbledon, Nadal surely had to be considered the new No.1 player. The Spaniard still leads the 2007 Race after his loss, but with his wins at Wimbledon and in Melbourne, Federer remains tennis’ top dog.

Once again, we are entering the US Open series full of excitement in anticipation of how Federer and Nadal will fare in their quest for the No.1 ranking. Where the Spaniard was perhaps not genuinely considered to be a threat to Federer’s position in 2006, it is unquestionable that Rafa is now closer than ever to his main rival. Federer still has a comfortable lead in the rankings, but with Nadal having not many points to defend over the summer, there is no doubt that the raging bull has his eyes set on becoming the game’s best player. The race is on.


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204 Comments for Federer wins in five, but Nadal brings No.1 race alive

funches Says:

I keep hearing how Nadal’s serve was better this year than last year at Wimbledon, but the statement doesn’t fit the facts or my eyes. He was broken only twice in six matches before getting to the final last year. That’s an incredible stat, and I’m tired of hearing how easy his draw was. He played Baghdatis in the semis, and Baghdatis was coming off back to back wins over Murray (straight sets) and Hewitt (four sets). Nadal beat him in straights without going to a tiebreak.

By the way, I read somewhere that Fed won exactly half of the points that had 10 shots or more this time. The idea that Nadal dominated the longer rallies (I had that impression, too) does stand up to the stats.


Tom Says:

I totally agree with you there, Sir Abe.
It was Federer’s serve that saved him, bad luck for Nadal, I thought he was going to do it when he had those break points in the fifth, but he wasted them, and then Federer’s confidence after holding serve those two times showed when he broke Nadal with ease and never looked back. But still, it was the best match I’ve seen with these two so far for sure!

May Federer’s dominance decline!


funches Says:

I meant doesn’t stand up to the facts in my last line.


zola Says:

Abe,
Thanks for great analysis. Federer was the one with the better serve and Rafa the one with the better game. Federer’s reaction and comments after winning the match just showed hoe relieved he was. He knew the match could have gone either way.

I love Rafa’s game and I think he lost a great opportiunity by not converting those break points. But all in all it was a great match. With the rate Rafa is improving, if he stays healthy, next year he can have a good chance.

I don’t expect a lot from Rafa in USOpen. I think he should take it easy on his body and reduce his tournaments. But kbnowing him, he will go to NY with the intention to give his best.

He is a true champion and his modesty, determination and work ethics has to be admired.


andrea Says:

Great match. amazing from both players. i can see why roger was getting rattled. so often he would hit a shot that would have been a winner against anyone else and rafa was getting them back.

but to say that roger won based on his serve is not giving him justice. he played some amazing points in the last two breaks of nadal’s serve in the fifth – precision shots – and that backwards cross court slam???? crazy.

it was weird to see roger so rattled but then again, the situtation was enormous as mentioned and despite him telling everyone he doesn’t think about these things…clearly he does. how could he not want this win?

anyway, it’s funny because roger has played at such a high level for the past 4 years that anything less than always winning is the norm. and now we expect him to always finish everyone in straight sets – just losing a set is headline news.

the last set could have gone both ways – as fifth sets tend to do…typicaly the first person who breaks cleans it up. and with either player it would have been a steamroll once they got the break.

i was surprised at how well nadal’s grass game had become – just means more competitive matches down the road. let’s see what the second half of the year brings.


karthikeyan Says:

It was really a close match.I agree…
But you cant say that federer’s supermacy in the last six odd years in the tennis era can be easily broken by Rafa. Basically Nadal’s strength is power and stamina which purely depends on his age.As he gets older he his speed and stamina will be questioned.But federer is not relying on his stamina or power

He is player of class with strong serves(24 ace in wimbledon) and amazing backhand and volley.So he will continue to dominate for next four years atleast. Even four more Nadals come into picture they cannot overtake classy feddy with their stamina.It needs shear class to take over the crown from Feddy as he did in 2001 from the classy Pete.


Says Says:

i still find it hard to understand why fed waited until the last game of the match to attack nadals 2nd serve with his forehand.

i hope he’ll remember this play in their next encounter.


johnnhoj Says:

It was a close match, not only because Nadal played aggressively, but also because Fed pissed away good opportunities with all those unforced errors. Obviously there was tremendous pressure to perform well in Sunday’s final (Borg, Becker, McEnroe, Connors, all watching), and surely some level of nervousness with so much at stake.

Federer was playing mediocre tennis until the fifth set where he really picked things up and left Nadal in the dust after the 3-2 break of serve. He should have played that way earlier in the match.

All in all a good match and a great effort on the part of Nadal for taking the match as far as it went. Still, Federer did what he needed to do in the end and he definitely earned this title. I expect Fed will win Wimbledon again next year.


mel Says:

abe,
i guess it’s obvious which player you’re rooting for…to say that the serve is what saved federer is such a backhanded comment on the guy’s performance. yes, he served better than nadal that day, but that’s not the only reason he won it. a little balanced perspective please.


JJ Says:

It was really an awesome match.
Everybody is talking about how Nadal didn’t convert his break points in the fifth. In the first set from the RO Final Federer missed 11 or more chances, even with 0-40 (twice). That kind of stuff really gets to you. Had Federer made 1 of these Break Points, it would have been a different match. Same thing applies to the Wimby Final.

Nadal surprised me this year. Players who move like he does, tend to get mentally tired after a few good runs. But he doesn’t, he is always explosive on court. I don’t think being a baseline player (clay court specialist) is going to stop Nadal from winning other Grand Slams, but his schedule could. He has already proven he can beat federer on hard court, and he’s very close on grass. But he should play less tournaments and focus on the big ones like Federer.

Federer, is he for real. He plays as if the ball was only allowed to bounce on the white lines around the court. To me he was GOAT last year. Sorry Pete. I call it as I see it. If only Federer could slam dunk.


Ecublens Says:

Federer makes history and 90% of the comment is about the Great Nadal, I’m done with this site…


HJL Says:

Dankjewel, Abe. I always look forward to reading your contributions to this site.

I agree that the difference was Federer’s serve. Now, to all those defensive Federer fans: of course Federer has a complete game and his serve wasn’t the only major weapong BUT the major difference between win or lose on Sunday was Federer’s serve.

It’s been fun watching Nadal make so much progress in Wimbledon in two years, though and I hope this final motivates him to continue in that line.

Congratulations to Federer!
Rafael Nadal, as John McEnroe said on Sunday: be proud!


penise Says:

Another factor that puts Fed under pressure is that Rafa gets to dominate the tour for the three months clay court season prior to Wimbledon, so when Wimbledon comes Rafa is in awesome form with a Slam and a win over Fed under his belt. This puts extreme pressure on Fed to turn the tide at Wimbledon, while Rafa has zero pressure. Viewed this way the hardcourt season is the “fair” test for both players.


JCF Says:

Jon Wertheim’s seed report pre-wimbledon:

“2. Rafael Nadal: The hot pick is another Nadal – Federer final, but we don’t see it. The Spaniard is coming off a grasscourt loss to a player ranked outside the top 100. And he needs to go through a lot of strong players — including Youzhny and Berdych — just to reach the semis. First match is against Mardy (Vinatieri) Fish.”

“Rafael Nadal’s form has been less than stellar of late and that doesn’t bode well.”

After so many ‘professionals’ picked a first round upset to Fish, can anyone say ‘Doh!’ ?


samps Says:

These Fed fanboys! Fed played mediocre throughout? Then clearly you were watching a different match. So how did That match go fellas? Do tell me all about it ok?

Talking sense, I agree with JJ that its meaningless to say “Oh if he’d converted but One of those breakpoints”. Hell, Davydenko had 16 breakpoints in the RG semi-final. What of that? The serve is as integral a part of one’s reportaire as anything else. To say that he served better is not an insult. And talking about Fed playing awesome in the fifth set, he was doing so the entire match. But he did Not win because he started playing ‘his’ game in the fifth, as opposed to having played ‘mediocre’ before. Oh wait…it was some other game you were watching right?
Btw, Have you heard of the term ‘momentum’? Thats what got him through. Nadal had fluffed one great chance in the last set at 2-1(Fed aced the other one) and that was it. I could always, in a reasoning similar to the Fed fanboys claim that it was Nadal’s level which dropped. His knee injury you see. Thats why Fed managed to win in the end.
How well does that argument grab you? And yes its not hard for me to pretend being an idiot as the previous argument shows.


Giner Says:

“I actually felt Nadal was more dominant in the rallies in Sunday’s final, than at Roland Garros, when he would give Federer lots of soft, short balls, on which the Swiss No.1 failed to pounce.”

Every time the point got into a rally, Rafa was winning 2/3 of the points.

And you’re right about that fifth set. Twice, Rafa had 15/40 and failed to convert. Federer simply has a better serve. He puts in big first serves consecutively when he’s down break points and that’s how he saves a sticky situation. When Rafa faced break points, he didn’t have that weapon. He served one Ace in 5 sets. But he still got closer to beating Federer in 2 matches at Wimbledon than Roddick in 3 matches, and Roddick has the serve weapon that Rafa so desperately needs. You’d have to think: If either Roddick could learn to work a point like Rafa, or if Rafa could serve half as good as Roddick, Federer’s reign would be long over.

I give props to Federer though. In the end he said “I was the lucky one.”

I didn’t expect him to give that kind of credit, and I respect him all the more for it. He earnt it fair and square. When Rafa had opportunities, he couldn’t take them. When Fed had them, he did. But he tipped his hat off to his opponent, and showed again why he’s all class. I hope they meet at the US Open, or at Wimbledon again next year.


Giner Says:

“By the way, I read somewhere that Fed won exactly half of the points that had 10 shots or more this time. The idea that Nadal dominated the longer rallies (I had that impression, too) does stand up to the stats.”

Your stats are faulty. Nadal won about 66% of rallies in the real stats. That’s 2 out of 3. I don’t know where you read about yours.


JCF Says:

“and I’m tired of hearing how easy his draw was”

Yeah well he drew the great man himself, and came closer to beating him than any man in the last 5 years, which includes Roddick 3 times. He could have won that in 3 or 4. I suppose if he won the match (and the title), Federer himself would be included in that ‘easy draw’ of his?


Skorocel Says:

Fed won this one only thanks to his serve? Dear author, you forgot what the grass surface is all about… On grass, the serve still plays the most instrumental part (though it’s no longer what it once was), so it’s only logical Fed would use this to his advantage – the same as Nadal used the slow red clay in Paris or Rome to his advantage (where he can run every single ball down and make Fed miss)… And as funches said, it wasn’t as if Nadal had DOMINATED the longer rallies! Of course, the longer the rallies went, the better was his chance to win them, but it’s not as if had DOMINATED them! I agree with samps – Fed WASN’T AT ALL PLAYING POORLY in this match… It went to 5 sets because NADAL WAS PLAYING GREAT!


Samprazzz Says:

First off, I was cheering for Nadal- and I’m not a Fed fan by any stretch. But, Federer was simply better in the clutch. How many times did he serve aces on break-points against his serve? Quite a few times. Two tie-breakers he played impeccable. Many seem to think that had Nadal broken him at 1-1 in the 5th, that Nadal was on his way to victory. I’m not of that opinion. Federer was starting to have success attacking Nadal’s second serve with big forehand bombs. I’m convinced Fed would have broken Nadal right back. Fed came up with the big shots when it was really needed. Oh, and the serve is part of the game. Just because a player has a better serve, doesn’t make him less of a player. He deserved to win.


Dave Says:

Federer’s serve saved his ass, on big points. Amazing. Nadal’s serve should’ve been better. 1 ace is too poor. Nadal was the better player imo yet Fed won in the end, taking every chances.


Moburke Says:

I noticed a few things in the match that no one seems to be bringing up:

1) Normally when Nadal hits that hooking lefty forehand deep to Federer’s backhand corner it almost always forces an error from Federer(or from just about any player for that matter). But on Sunday, especially in the 5th set, Federer countered that shot beautifully by really snapping his wrist on that high backhand slice, guiding it deep into the court, much to the surprise of Nadal.

2) Nadal came to net fairly frequently, hitting several low backhand volleys for short angle winners. I dont remember him coming to net more than 5 times in last years final, but this year he seemed almost willing to come to net(I even saw him serve and volley once or twice, when he saw that federer was going to float the slice return back).

3) For almost the entire tournament, Nadal has been trying to hit out on his returns, missing a lot of them but making some, showing that once again he’s willing to work on weak areas of his game even during a grand slam. Although I thought his return looked pretty good in that masters cup semi last year, for most of the Hardcourt season(Youzhny at the Open, anyone?) it was rather ineffective, so hopefully this year things will be different.

4) Brad Gilbert(I know, the tennis crackpot) made a comment I thought was interesting, which was that he thought that faster surfaces complement Nadal’s game faster, which is why he does better at Roland Garros(a faster clay court) than Hamburg(the slowest of the slow clay courts). John Mcenroe(I know…) also said that he thought the US Open court was almost faster than wimbledon now, which I didnt really see evidence of until I watched the women’s final where it seemed bartoli’s flat, monica seles esque ball just wasn’t flying like it used to. Watch any grass match before say 2002, when a player hits it to the open court it is almost always a winner, no matter how fast the person is on the other side. Sometimes it seemed as though the ball just stopped dead like a clay court. Although I will say the ball still bounces very low for the most part(unless it hits a mud patch which is kind of like ghetto clay), so grass still maintains its individuality.

I like both players a lot, and would love to see them duke it out for the number 1 spot, because I think it would make every tournament count, because sometimes you get the impression when Federer or Nadal are playing poorly that the weight of the tournament just doesn’t seem to have any effect on them whatsoever because they’ll keep their ranking no matter what.


John Says:

At the US open federer will lose. His reign over the tennis world is over. Rafael Nadal will win. He is playing great tennis, he would have won the match at Wimbledon if his knee was normal. Federer is over his prime. He has maybe a couple more grandslams to go. Mark my words.


Kash Says:

Giner:

Maybe you should read what funches said carefully before you jump the gun and say his stats are faulty. He was talking about LONGER rallies (rallies which had 10+ shots) and you are talking about rallies. (which maybe anything more than 2 shots).

You might be true about the 2/3 thing, though I am not sure, but I saw the 10+ shot rally stat mentioned in the nbc coverage and on one of the articles online too. So take it easy…..

As for the match, the 1st 3 sets were of the highest quality. Perhaps the best tennis I have seen in my 15yrs of tennis-watching. The 4th set was nonsense, with fed taking his frustration out on the hawk-eye and nadal getting injured in the middle of the set. I have no idea why this injury thing is getting underplayed in all the news items, coz I think nadal started playing a game very unlike his after the injury. He was playing a far more agressive game from 4-1 in the 4th set. There were couple of times nadal did not run for shots which he was running down insanely in the 1s t 3sets. Ofcourse this is not to diminish fedz victory, coz I believe the physical component is very much part of the game and a huge part of rafa’s game especially. It could be very well that rafa’s ultra-super running in the 1st 3 sets got to him.

In the match I saw, rafa wilted first physically and then mentally in the 5th set when he had those 4 break points. Strange, because at the the beginning of the match, I would have given rafa the edge in both.


Russ Says:

Nadal win at the US Open? Federer with only a couple of Grand Slams left in him??

Are we watching the same players? ;-)


Kash Says:

And to those who are saying federer’s serve saved him on the big points. Did all the big points in the match end up when fed was serving, by some weird miracle? Did he serve all through out the two tie-breakers? Did he serve in that game where he broke rafa for a 4-2 lead in the 5th? Federer, like any true champion, played the big points better. Sometimes on his serve and sometimes on his return. That in a way is what is unique about federer. He has the serve and return mojo, unlike a lot of great players who you can classify as having a serve mojo (sampras, et al) or return mojo (agassi et al).

Also, another point is, at this moment rafa’s return/serve are nowhere near champion grade. His heart, desire and movement most definitely are. I am not sure rafa ranks in the top 5 all time on either serve or return, maybe not even top 10. That is why most of his matches to a large extent are on federer’s raquet. If fed serves beautifully like he did yesterday, it will be hard for him to lose against rafa. It is another matter that federer just doesnt bring his A+ serving game too often against rafa. (meaning 70+ 1st serve%) That evens out the ground when these two play, in my opinion.

Would appreciate opinions from mature adults and not 12yr old rafa/fed fan boys/girls or insecure sampras/borg fans. Have seen lot of good discussions get ruined by that bunch of people!


Kash Says:

John:

Come US open, you could look either like a total genius or a complete moron. Goodluck on that gamble. Very courageous of you. What are the odds you can give me on that? Think before you speak, though.

I had one such friend who predicted sampras would not reach the final at the 2000 US open. I asked him for odds and he was stupid/arrogant/dumb to give me 1000-1 odds. I pitched in my buck and dude never gave me the 1000 he should have.


Eelco Says:

What’s the problem with Federer having a good serve? It IS part of the game as far as I know. If Federer’s serve is taken away I propose to take away Nadal’s fighting spirit.


johnnhoj Says:

Indeed, I expected Nadal to be chasing down balls more frequently than he did, but Fed hit the necessary angles and did just enough to get by. Federer has mastered the hard courts and grass courts. I’m wondering if he’ll ever make the transition to clay-courter, maybe bulk up a bit more, build up more stamina.

I don’t know why people are pissing all over Federer’s win. He had a tough opponent in Nadal, and he conquered a formidable threat. So because it was a close five-setter it means Federer no longer deserves no. 1 status? Not all matches are gonna be straight-set wins. Fed triumphed under pressure over one of the toughest, most physical sluggers in tennis history (in my opinion), and he’s all washed up??? Gimme a break! He came through when he had to. Bottom line: he won it.
Borg had to play a tense five-setter to win his fifth Wimbledon. I guess he wasn’t so great either.


Leo Says:

So what if Federer’s serve helped him win? I feel it compensated for his forehand. The forehand has been quite shaky this spring and Rog seems to have lost some timing or confidence on it. Even when watching his previous matches (vs Ferrero), I noticed how he was playing it much safer. I used to feel that any half-way decent play that he had on a forehand was a point ender in his favor. But that hasn’t been the case these last few months.

So basically when 1 weapon failed, another one bailed!

A win is a win.

Great effort by Nadal. He should be very proud.

Whether Fed wins anothe slam or not, nothing can change the past.


Kash Says:

Johnnhoj:

I dont know if you include me in those people who are, ahem, passing bodily fluids on federer’s victory, but did you expect the match to be such a dog fight, 2hrs before the match? I thought federer will win this in straights before the match, because rafa was thoroughly outplayed for 2sets by youzhny (and federer does everything that youzhny does only a lot better) and lost 1set to a player who retired in a wimbledon semifinal. I was going insane, when it looked like fed had no chance of breaking nadal for the better part of 4sets. I mean this is a guy who routinely breaks guys serving bombs at 140mph, yet his return game was giving nadal zilch trouble for the better part of 4sets. Obviously, the guy had another gear, but could not understand what in nadal’s game was preventing fed from reaching that gear.

Anyways, when the match is so close, especially on a surface where roger has ruled like a king, it is fair to give credit to rafa and maybe even question why it got so close.


Kash Says:

Leo:

Nice point about the forehand. I agree with you. Nadal at one point had 24 fh winners to fedz 12. That just would not have been possible atleast until 6months ago. Fedz fh has lost its sting. Too bad, coz it is the single most deadliest shot in tennis history (overtaking the sampras 2nd serve by a mile). Hope for fed’s sake it is a temporary blip. Also his 1st% during the mini slump he had in spring was wavering a lot. In this final though, he put in 71% 1st serves. His backhand which was rock solid through out the clay court season didn’t look that solid yesterday. He actually hit the bh top spin better in the RG final.

It will be interesting how these 3 shape up in the US open. Obviously if 2 of those 3 fire, fed will win 3majors in a yr for the 3rd time in his career and seal the goat debate.


addicted Says:

@Moburke

Your last point, comparing grass courts to hard courts is spot on. Firstly, the courts themselves have slowed. I remember Navratilove lamenting that the slow courts have pretty much killed the serve and volley game at Wimbledon. (I believe it was when she came back to play mixed doubles).

Since Sampras, the ATF has been trying hard to slow the game. Including the bigger ball gimmick. The other thing I believe is that Wimbledon has depressurized the balls. I am not certain if this is a Wimbledon thing, or a tennis thing. So


addicted Says:

Basically, Federer was unable to figure out how to handle Nadal’s wide serve on the ad side. That was the one difference. There were a ton of games where he would win all but one point on the deuce side, but lose all the points on the ad side. The NBC commentators pointed this out repeatedly.

That was the reason he could hardly break Nadal, but when it came to tiebreakers was in far better shape than Nadal. I dont really remember the 5th set too well, but it seemed to me that Federer developed an effective counter for that serve by that point. At least that is what the 2 breaks would indicate.

Does anyone have any stats on how the points went down based on what side the service was from?


samps Says:

Regarding the wide serve, Fed was handling it rather poorly. His strategy seemed to be to move away wide and, get it on his forehand and attempt to hammer it back cross court. And the first (and only from what I remember) winner he managed with this tactic was in the 5th set! Most of the time he wasn’t able to hit it well enough and he would be in trouble in the subsequent rally because he was way too wide out. He seemed to be having an equal number of problems with the serve down the T which Fed was forced to take on his backhand and managed to shank quite a few.

Talking about Fed’s forehand, what about Rafa’s? I dont think I ve seen anyone using the crazily top spun forehand so effectively on grass. Rafa frequently used it to keep the ball in play and often put it away on the corners when the chance of errors playing flat would have been much higher. I think people have hardly been talking about this since the top spun forehand doesent bounce as much as clay. And he used it superbly against Berdych to keep the ball in play when the wind was playing havoc.

And Kash…
You say that Fed not being to wallop Nadal in the first four sets was driving you nuts. I presume you did watch the earlier matches? I mentioned earlier that Rafa even though a more complete player this year was actually struggling with his game and was having a poor start to his games and what not. And that was true till the final. He was playing way better against Fed than any of his earlier matches. My perspective is that with the level at which he was playing Fed in the final, he would have beaten Youhzny with much greater ease.


johnnhoj Says:

Nadal played a great match, no question about it. He was kicking ass throughout. Just when I’m thinking Federer’s finished and the match is Nadal’s, Federer pulls off one of those “Holy sh*t, he did it!” moments in the fifth when he broke Nadal. It was about damn time, too. Both Federer and Nadal have often squandered opportunities. Coming through when it matters is pretty important, but then I’m reminded of the fact that nobody here likes Federer, so nobody’s gonna give him props for that. Certainly Federer wished things had been going his way throughout the first three sets, but nobody’s ever been perfect, not even Federer at Wimbledon. I’m just hoping Nadal doesn’t end his season here like he did last year. I wanna see these two play more (especially on hard courts).


funches Says:

The point about Fed’s forehand is dead-on accurate. It has not been as good all spring and summer as it used to be.

Someone said Fed does everything Youzhny does, only better, but that’s not true. Fed has a horrible time with his one-handed backhand return against Nadal. Nadal cannot take control of the point in the ad court against two-handers like Youzhny and Djokovic. That factor alone is why Fed always will struggle with Nadal. He might go on a big winning streak against Nadal on faster surfaces, but it never will be easy.


Seraphim Says:

I knew it!

I knew this is was how the article was going to turn out.

Good laugh though.


Seraphim Says:

Please excuse my illiterate typing. I was laughing while typing.


samps Says:

funches? I wonder if we are talking about the same player…Youzhny has a rather superb One Handed backhand and the shot is stylistically just like Fed’s.

Johnnhoj:

“Borg had to play a tense five-setter to win his fifth Wimbledon. I guess he wasn’t so great either.”

What are you on about? Fed’s qualities are praised ad-nauseum and deservedly. He is perhaps the GOAT and will settle the issue with the next three slams, which he should get. But saying that Nadal was close to beating Fed is hardly reducing Fed’s achievement is it? It makes no sense.

It seems that unless people accept your notion that Fed wasn’t playing his ‘A’ game and still managed to win (and also the reason due to which he was stretched apparently), you decide that people aren’t appreciative enough.


Big Don Says:

I think that what really needs to be addressed is to how high the level of play was throughout the entire match, from both sides of the court.
Look at the winners to errors ratio, if I recall it was 2:1 for both Rafa and Raj. Enough said.


Daniel Says:

I agree with you funches, but Youzhny has a one-hand backhand! The difference is the quality of his return.


Will Says:

Each time Nadal returns a serve successfully, I felt good about his chances. That was how I felt watching the match and reading all the posts on this site seems to confirm that. Nadal’s comments about holding his own from the baseline confirms that. By the same token, the man himself indicated that Federer’s serve was the difference. By the way, Nadal held service 22 times consequtively. That bodes well for him. Add a few more mph and variety to his serve and I think he will be the new #1.


Kash Says:

Good points guys!I think I see the point regarding fedz backhand return. Doesnt the more variety on his backhand give him something to work with? I have seen fed hit the slice returns varying the length appreciably. shouldn’t that help him especially on grass where the slice generally stays low?

Another thing about federer’s return, doesnt he stand too behind to return rafa’s serve? shouldnt he be trying to take it a little earlier like blake generally does?

I am sure funches didnt mean to say youzhny’s backhand is double-handed. I have seen him make very insightful posts on the xboard. (and funny too funches, thanks for that!)
Also, is it just me or was fed not using the slice a lot yesterday. He generally uses that beautifully to get opponents out of position. Wasn’t that the shot which paid him good dividends in the 2nd set at RG?


Dan Martin Says:

I think Federer did not swing freely except during the first 3 games of the match, the two tiebreakers and the last 4 games of the fifth set. Some of this was due to how well Nadal played. Some was also due to nerves (and potentially the 5 day layoff??). Federer had a lot more to lose than Nadal on Sunday. When Federer was able to swing freely he was winning points and he served exceptionally well. Peter Bodo once said that Federer lacked the “heft” to his game that Sampras had. Well 24 aces vs. a good returner seemed like a lot of heft. If you click the website with my post you can read my column on the matter.

Dan


Skorocel Says:

Kash, I too predicted that if Fed would be serving like he did in the Gasquet semi (that is 1st serve % around 70 or more, 20 or more aces), it will be very tough for Rafa – but in reality, he still stretched him to 5 sets… That tells you 2 things: 1. Nadal was playing one helluva match, 2. the grass is getting slower each year. It’s hard to imagine Fed serving better as he did in this match (remember how poorly he served in that “minislump”), but it still went to 5 sets… As far as I remember, I’ve never seen him achieving a number of 80 % or more 1st serves in – not even in one single match! I know, 80 % is a crazy and very demanding number, but so far, I’ve never seen him achieve that… Usually, he would serve around 55-60 % AT BEST, so if we consider that he was above 70 THROUGH 5 SETS, really, it can’t be much better than this… The same for aces – you don’t see him serving 20 + aces that often (even though this was a 5-setter, and he usually has a very good ratio of aces and double faults). And last but not least, let’s not forget he’s the best server out there, yet it went to 5 sets… Roddick maybe has a quicker serve, but qualitatively, it’s nowhere near Fed’s…

You mentioned Fed annoyed you with his inability to break Nadal for the most part of the match… Well, the fact is that he still can’t cope with that Nadal’s kick-serve to his BH wide – even on grass… In the Sunday’s final, he usually tried to run it around to hit a hammer FH return, but was either too late or hit it with a frame… Most of the times, he was simply harmless, and thus giving Nadal a great chance to get back to the rally (or even to regain control of it)… This brings up the question whether Nadal’s serve really is that weak as many people proclaim (?)… Personally, it’s a bit of a mystery to me… You may think that the main reason for this Fed’s inability is simply because he has a single-handed BH (so he doesn’t have that much of a control over this shot as opposed to players who have doublehanded BH), but then again, Youzhny or Blake do have singlehanded BH as well, isn’t it?

You’re absolutely right that Fed’s FH used to be the single most deadliest shot in tennis history – I agree. I would even go as far as to say “the most beautiful shot in tennis history” – a scythe he used to mow his opponents with! But, at the very latest in Dubai, I’ve noticed that something became wrong with it… Already there he was missing too many easy balls, many of which were at least 2 m behind the baseline – and that’s pretty unusual for Fed… Firstly, I’ve thought it had something to do with the change of his racquet, but then again, he won the Aussie Open without a loss of a set with the same one, didn’t he? But the fact that Nadal had MORE FH winners on Sunday than Fed really tells you something (apart from the obvious fact that Nadal was playing superb on Sunday, of course)… Who knows, maybe he and Roche were trying to put too much of a emphasis on his BH in order to better handle that crazy Nadal’s topspin, so his FH suffered a bit, but this is rather unlikely I guess… But certainly, it’s not as effective and lethal as it once was! He seems to me as if he’s not hitting it that freely. It certainly changed a bit during 2007, but personally, I don’t think he needs to change anything on it. Anyway, we will see how it holds on the US hardcourts and in the rest of the season…


HJL Says:

“What’s the problem with Federer having a good serve?”

Is anybody suggesting that there’s a problem with that?
Question: is there anything wrong in saying that Federer’s serve was what made the difference between win and loss?
Thats not reducing his game to his serve but it’s only saying that it was the DECIDING factor. I have no idea why some of you get so defensive over this.

**
Nadal’s serve. You should hear John McEnroe talk about it because it’s interesting to hear his lefthanded point of view. John said that Nadal’s serve has improved from a weakness in the beginning of his pro career but to his credit, he’s worked hard on it and now, it’s a good serve. It’s not one of the best in the ATP of course but it’s good and sometimes even very good
The fastest serve of that Wimbledon final was from Rafa so he can hit fast ones, he’s improving the variety of placement and he’s working on improving the change of speed to keep the opponent guessing. As was seen during that final, it’s still a work in progress.

John McEnroe says that Nadal’s two-handed backhand on the run (the one with which he hits those stretched crosscourt shots) is the best he’s ever seen and the quality is so high because he’s a natural righthander.
But just because he’s a natural righthander, the lefty serve is not an natural advantage but something he needs to work on.


Seth Says:

A couple of rebuttals to make:

1. “The reason Federer won on Sunday was not because he was playing better than Nadal, it was merely because of the effectiveness of his serve.”

Ok, this is very simple. The serve is part of the game. Serving is part of playing tennis. If you serve as well as Fed did, then that is part and parcel of playing well, especially if you do it in the clutch as he did. In some folks’ attempts to disparage Federer’s victory, this fact has apparently been lost on them (Abe Kuijl included).

2. “At the US open federer will lose. His reign over the tennis world is over. Rafael Nadal will win.”

John predicted a U.S. Open win for Nadal, with an ignominious defeat for Federer. Of course, this is always possible, but I just don’t see it happening. Rafa has never looked entirely comfortable at the U.S. Open, less so than at any other slam, in fact. DecoTurf is now the fastest surface in tennis, which works against Nadal. I predict that Nadal will win the Australian Open and/or Wimbledon before he lifts up the U.S. Open trophy. As it is now, Federer is the three-time defending champion and has played some of his most sublime tennis at Flushing Meadows. If you were a betting man, you’d find it hard to bet against him.

3. “Rafa is rapidly gaining on Fed.”

Um, slightly gaining, yes, but that’s as far as any sensible person would be willing to take it before seeing how both men perform during the North American hard court swing. As it is now, Fed and Nadal are dead even at 2-2 on the hard stuff, with staggered, alternating wins. It’s most interesting to me as a fan of their rivalry to see how things develop between them on the tour’s now fastest surface.

To say that Nadal is gaining on Fed by leaps and bounds is to ignore the fact that Fed has won 4 out of the past 6 matches against Nadal (a 67% winning percentage). Compare that to only one Federer victory for the first seven times they played and that may serve to pour a bit of cold water on the idea that Nadal is just on the verge of overtaking Fed.


Seth Says:

I guess that was actually a trio of rebuttals.


grendel Says:

With regard to Nada’s serve, I remember Agassi saying, after his loss to him last year, he just couldn’t figure it out. It’s very deceptive, isn’t it? Sometimes it seems like just nothing at all, asking to be put away. But Nadal’s placement is generally excellent, and apparently hard to read – not to mention having huge spin on it.

regarding the slowness of the grass, the point has been made that people would much rather watch Fed/Nadal than Sampras/Ivanesevich. Rallies, rallies, rallies. Not endless serve-volley. The powers that be have taken note. This is business, remember. But people still talk about today’s grass as if it is the surface Sampras played on. It just isn’t, at all. And this slow, sludgy grass seems to suit Nadal. Ironically,it may in the end be that it suits him better than Federer – who is a natural serve-volleyer. It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if we could have a sort of happy medium between the old grass and the new – not to mention the balls they have messed with. Endless serve/volley is no doubt tedious. But virtually none at all is terrible. The glorious sight that was an Edberg or a Rafter – it’s just not possible now. The game is enhanced in some ways – but also diminished.


Kash Says:

Skorecel:

Agree with most of those things you said there :) Regarding that serve wide, I would say fed-man needs to start taking the ball early and rob nadal off some time. As you said, we gotta wait and see how the hard-cout and indoor carpet season unfolds. As things stand today nadal is 87 points ahead of fed in the race with an almost certainty of adding 50 points at stuttgart. Fed has is work cut out. After the french open, fed lost 2matches in 04 (to hrbaty and berdych) and 1 each in 05 (nalbandian) and 06 (murray). can he 4peat those results? ;). Over the last 4yrs, has fed ever played more than 18 tournaments? I think the closest a no.2 has come to fed’s ranking since he firmly entrenched himself as no.1 in 04 end, is 1465 points, i believe (thanks to andrew at tennis.com). That is insane domination. Nadal seems to be in pole position to challenge that. Exciting times in tennis.

HJL:

Nadal’s stretched backhand shot is awesome. The power he can generate with that is insane. I couldn’t believe it the 1st few time I saw in 05 rolland garros, but over the last 2 yrs, have seen way too many of those. he gets sharp angles too with that one! Another shot in that league is fed’s mid-court forehand half-volley shot. He takes a mid-court ball on the half-volley and with the collective force from his elastic wrists and the full twist of the hip deposits the ball in the mid-court on the other side of the net from where it takes off at a wicked angle. That was the shot in the 03 wimbledon semifinal against roddick that made me sit up and overcome my 9-month depression of not watching sampras play. Hopefully someone will understand the shot I tried to describe and explain it with more coherence and tennis expertise!

Seth:

The answers 2 and 3 will start to reveal themselves in the next one month or so at montreal and cincinnati. cant wait for them to start!


Kash Says:

HJL and grendel:

Thanks for those inputs on the nadal serve. Deceptive is the word, then, i guess. Same is true about that wicked bh of nadal. it is more of a weapon than it appears to be. The awesome fh overshadows it a lot i guess.

Regarding slower wimbledon, maybe the can let the surface be and restore the balls to older quality and that should help us find that “happy” medium! Nadal and ferrero and their spannish friends, wouldnt be happy, i am guessing.


Christopher Says:

I don’t think much has changed at all from this year to last year between Federer and Nadal. Nadal won all the clay court events except for Hamburg and Federer won Wimbledon. I think too much is being made of the fact that Federer had to go 5 sets against Nadal to win Wimbledon. So what. Nadal also struggled at times to make the final at Wimbledon. Youzny almost beat him. If Youzny hadn’t gotten injured, I believe Nadal would have been out before the final. On the other hand, Federer cruised into the final. Also remember, Nadal has yet to prove he can play well at the U.S. open on hard courts where he has struggled . Same is true at the Austrailian open for Nadal. Again – On the other hand, Federer dominates those two grand slam events like no one else can.

Federer has a complete game and wins points much easier than Nadal does. To say the only reason Federer won Wimbledon was because he has a bigger serve than Nadal does – is ridiculous. Sampras had a little better overall serve than Federer does and he still lost on grass to Federer. Federer’s game has more dimensions to it than any other player. Federer also has many more gears he can take his game to when he needs it the most. Federer put his foot on the pedal and upped his gear in the 5th set against Nadal. Federer’s mental strength and overall game was stronger than Nadal’s physical play and will.

I do think Nadal will be a Wimbledon champion someday but not until Federer is gone. Federer is in a class all by himself.


samps Says:

Regarding Rafa’s serve, perhaps it would be interesting to find the number of unreturned serves on each players serve(and which will not of course be included in the aces. Are they included among the unforced errors?). I remember some statistic popping up on screen sometime in the third set and it seemed that Fed had Twice the number of unreturned points on Rafa’s serve than Rafa on his. So Rafa was actually gaining a lot of these points over Fed on his serve without a rally.
Perhaps the efficacy of the serves can be judged better taking this factor into account rather than the disproportionate ace count. Also it seemed that most of the serves that Fed wasn’t able to return were down the T and moving away on his backhand.


fresh Says:

no doubt Fed has more aces … and it seems on paper that his aces save his day

but the real difference between wasn’t about the serve

rather i think it is about the return … Raf serves very very well too but too bad for him Fed returns way much better

and i was annoyed too that Fed waits till the 5th set to run to his forehead to attack Raf 2nd serve

he should have done that in the French Open too … hopes he will remember the next time they play right from the start and puts pressures on Raf 2nd serve


Tejuz Says:

Well.. how about saying Nadal choked on big points … and Fed played well on big points.

It was just the opposite in the french Open finals where Federer choked on big points.


Tejuz Says:

Author is very much pro-Nadal .. Nadal no more owns Federer now… he has lost 4 of the last 6 matches between them and has only won their matches on clay.

He certainly played a great match on Sunday.. credit to him. But he did miss all those break-point oppurtunites. Fed was outplayed from the baseline by Nadal, but it might be because of the weight of expectations on Federer.

Nadal has nothing to lose whereas Fed had everything to lose. He was defying recent history where a player hasnt won wimbledon without playing a warmup grass tournament. He had broken Nadal’s clay streak this year, which might suggest Nadal was out to break Federer’s grass streak.

Also, Federer’s game plan can be questioned in the 1st few sets. He was tentative and rarely came to the net with the right approach shots. But look the the last 4 games of the match… thats how he shud have played earlier as well. He was using his cross court short sliced backhand so effectively. Well.. the important thing is that he played it right during the important points, especially the tie-breakers and final set.

So it can only be concluded that when the HEAT was on Fed stood out and Nadal choked.

And before we can say Nadal is closer to Fed’s No 1 ranking.. He was always near Federer in the race around this time of the year for the last 3 years because he has always had a great clay season everytime. The problem is he doesnt keep the same level for the rest of the season.


Tejus Says:

Author is very much pro-Nadal .. Nadal no more owns Federer now… he has lost 4 of the last 6 matches between them and has only won their matches on clay.

He certainly played a great match on Sunday.. credit to him. But he did miss all those break-point oppurtunites. Fed was outplayed from the baseline by Nadal, but it might be because of the weight of expectations on Federer.

Nadal has nothing to lose whereas Fed had everything to lose. He was defying recent history where a player hasnt won wimbledon without playing a warmup grass tournament. He had broken Nadal’s clay streak this year, which might suggest Nadal was out to break Federer’s grass streak.

Also, Federer’s game plan can be questioned in the 1st few sets. He was tentative and rarely came to the net with the right approach shots. But look the the last 4 games of the match… thats how he shud have played earlier as well. He was using his cross court short sliced backhand so effectively. Well.. the important thing is that he played it right during the important points, especially the tie-breakers and final set.

So it can only be concluded that when the HEAT was on Fed stood out and Nadal choked.

And before we can say Nadal is closer to Fed’s No 1 ranking.. He was always near Federer in the race around this time of the year for the last 3 years because he has always had a great clay season everytime. The problem is he doesnt keep the same level for the rest of the season.


grendel Says:

Another point on Nadal’s serve; aside from the heavy spin, which presumably accounts for Fed’s problem in getting the damn ball back decent, it’s extremely reliable. It’s a very, very controlled serve. This means when he’s in difficulty, he can abandon his customary rather ordinary second serve and up it to first – with an excellent chance of success. This serve is not dramatic, a la fed or roddick say, but it’s becoming almost as effective – overall, more, in fact, since although Fed served well this tournament, he has not been able to rely generally on his serve since Aussie Open.

Regarding the grass and the balls yes, Kash, the Spaniards (Lopez apart) would be none too pleased by even a semi-reversion to Sampras days. John McEnroe has been saying that Ferrero is now looking more effective on grass than on clay. Imagine if we come to say the same of Nadal! In an earlier posting, I suggested that, in the light of Borg’s success at Wimbledon, no reason why Nadal couldn’t adapt to the fast surface as well. But it has been pointed out to me that the Borg analogy doesn’t work, because they used wooden rackets in Borg’s time. Fast grass plus modern racket technology = claycourters haven’t got a bean’s chance in hell. Is this good or is this bad? As I say, why can’t we have something in between?

To Tejus: if Federer and Nadal were not to play another game till Christmas, Nadal would be number 1 by about 500 points – so I understand. That’s a measure of how many points Fed has to defend, how few Nadal has. If Nadal gets his act together on the hard courts – and surely you are not ruling this out are you, last year’s kind of beside the point, the kid is developing – Fed’s going to have to be on his metal to retain his number 1 status.These are interesting times…..


adrienne Says:

Dream on Nadal fans, I have a lot of, lot of respect for this “physically” strong contender. However, Nadal will never win as many slams as Fed, and never.. ever… dominate the way Fed has. Yes, the longer rallies at Wimby could kind of tilted more towards Nadal because he chases every one of them down like a dog. So good for him!, and yes he is talented because he is so quick and fast, but all in all, his game is not as complete as Feds and even as he works on it, he won’t be able to craft it as perfect as Feds. He keeps winning the French because he is the ultimate grinder who is also taking the grind to Wimbledon lately. But dream on Nadal Fans if you guys ever think he will ever dominate like the Fed. Never ever. But I like him for his persistance. Unfortunately he will eventually tire his own self out. Another difference are there are many others out there that can beat him. Others that can beat the Fed are grinders also like Canas who has made himself so physically strong on his time off that he is another “pittbull” type player who chases every ball down. Hard to get balls past these types, but these types will eventually get hurt quicker.
Fed is stubborn on the way he plays Nadal. He needs a better coach for the French. I think he will win it next year. Nadal may take a Wimby but never 5 of them.


Dan Martin Says:

I think NY has proved to be a major obstacle for many European players for whatever reason. Edberg eventually figured it out and won the U.S. Open twice. However, in 1989 Edberg gotten mugged by Jimmy Connors in the round of 16 and lost in the first round in 1988 and 1990 after winning Wimbledon. Wilander and Becker each own one U.S. Open. Borg never won the title in NY. I do not know the reason(s) why some players have struggled with the atmosphere at the U.S. Open, but Nadal may have a similar mountain to climb. His victory at Indian Wells this year ought to boost his confidence, but solving the riddle of the U.S. Open may take more time. I guess we’ll know more by mid-September.


Dan Martin Says:

That should read “got mugged” not “gotten mugged” – Sorry


ross Says:

Nadal almost lost to Soderling. He would have absolutely lost to youzhny, had it not been for youzhny’s injury. he did play a good match against berdych, but would have lost to djokovic had it again not been for djoke’s extreme fatigue and injury.

so touting nadal as some grass king is ridiculous! he again got very lucky this year. he should have lost in the quarters.

don’t have too much hopes on him winning the US. not happening any time soon.


Tejuz Says:

Grendel… agree that Nadal is nearly 500 points ahead of Fed at the moment. But then he has also played 3 more tournaments than Fed. For year end ranking, i guess ATP just considers 18 tournamets + masters cup. So, if race gets very hot, Fed can always choose to play those lesser tournaments to reduce the gap. Fed can even gain points at Paris and Cincy masters if he doesnt do well at Toronto or Madrid. So i guess it might be good on Fed’s part that he skipped those tournaments in the past.

If you look at last year or the year before that.. Nadal wasnt far behind Fed in the Race during this time of the year.

Fed is also pretty fresh cuz he hasnt played many tournaments.

Even then, if Nadal wins a few masters and go far at US Open and Masters cup and finally pip Fed at the year end race … then all the credit to him. I would agree he deserves the No 1 ranking. But then, i guess we will just have to wait til Nov for that.

Again for those, who say that Fed won just cuz of his serve.. if you check out the match again… most of the break points on Fed’s serve in 5th set had gone into rallies and Fed won all of ‘em and when Fed broke Nadal.. he won cuz he hit winners rather than waiting for Nadal to make unforced errors. He just switched gears when it mattered. Honestly i think Nadal also choked during big points cuz he was going for too much.


Dave Says:

Whatever, adrienne. And whoever said that Nadal has to be exactly like Federer? So everyone who chases down the ball is a dog?


Dave Says:

ross- yeah, he got lucky for 2 straight years. Lost in the quarters againts the whiny Berdych? Heck he couldn’t even get a set from him but whines bout the wind.


grendel Says:

Actually, adrienne, I’m a Fed fan myself -and I have been tempted by this line that Nadal is just a grinder, if a super one. But come on. Honesty doesn’t hurt, you know. After a while, it starts to feel quite good – you get to have more of a feel for what’s going on, and that is enjoyable. The way Nadal gets to an apparently certain winner in the absolute corner of the court -right, that’s grinding plus speed. Cannas, for example might – might – also do that, and then he’d stick the ball back on the other side of the net, and off we go again. The opponent is tormented into error by sheer, not boredom exactly, but – something, anyway. But Nadal doesn’t do that. He proceeds, not only to pick the ball up, but to hit an impossible winner of his own. It is breathtaking. Admit it, adrienne, it’s bloody well breathtaking.

What I think is so intriguing about the current rivalry is this. Sampras, for his last few years, was really unchallenged. Even when he wasn’t number 1, he was really. Everyone knew that. It did get a mite tedious. And Fed’s had it pretty easy for a number of years, and this has, for one reason or another, clearly got up the noses of a lot of people. The unthinking venom directed at him is just the flip side of the unthinking adoration he attracts. But now there’s this fellow Nadal who threatens to overtake him. He really does, there’s absolutely not the slightest doubt about it. Can Federer fight him off? That’s the question, to which NOBODY has the answer. That’s what makes it so exciting. If Fed comes through over the next couple of years -after that, we may assume age to take its course – I personally will have derived a great deal more enjoyment and satisfaction than if he had just, as it were, glided his way to record after record. But the other side of this particular coin is that I may be doomed to disappointment. That’s the way it works.


grendel Says:

Tejuz: Nadal certainly looked forlorn for last few games. Was it choking? Or did he just sense the momentum had gone with Fed and he was now finished? In the game Fed broke Nadal, at love – 15, Jimmy Connors said “D’you sense the momentum’s going with Federer now, Lloydie?” Given what happened, that seems quite brilliant. Nor did Connors crow afterwards how right he’d been. A class guy.


Christopher Says:

Grendel,

With all due respect. Federer has a 2000+ point lead over Nadal at this moment. We all looked for great things from Nadal during the hard court season last year. It didn’t happen. That is the problem. On hard courts many players can beat Nadal. He does not dominate on hard courts the way Federer is capable of doing. His high top spin shots can be hit aggresively by powerful flat ball hitters on hard courts. Nadal is immedicately put on the defensive. Youhzny, Blake, Roddick, Djokovic just to mention a few can handl Nadal on hard courts. They know if they play well they can beat Nadal. I don’t think these same players have that confidence against Federer. By Christmas time Federer will have just about the same pt lead that enjoys right now. Nadal pads his points every year during the clay court season. That’s over. Now it’s Federers time. By the way who has the longest hard court winning streak in history. Let me give you a clue. It aint Nadal.


Smasham Says:

It’s hard to believe that Federer would not be #1 at year’s end, with the hard court and indoor season coming up. In his mind he has defeated his arch rival twice and has defended 2 slam titles so far. Despite a mini slump this spring, he’s defended his position. Psychologically for Federer this is a huge advantage. He does not need to play and win every single tournament. He’s really peaking when it matters most.

Nadal expends a ton of mental and physical energy to win his matches and it can leave him exhausted. In addition, he seems to have some issues with his knee and/or foot that does not bode well for him on hard courts—-in the long run.


Tejuz Says:

Grendel, you can call it momentum shift if you like.. but then Nadal is someone who fights for every point, doesnt he?? Atleast he has control over his shots so as to not make unforced errors. Look at the unforced erros for Nadal for the whole match??? very few… but Most of them have come in the last few games and the tie-breakers.. where it really mattered. and also most of Fed’s winners have come during those periods.

When Fed was 15-40 down twice.. wasnt the momentum with Nadal??? But few brilliant points and Fed turned it around.

Before this match.. everybody were saying that Fed was never tested in 5 setters at Grand-slams, he always had it easy.. and wud probabaly break down if challenged. This win shud probably silence ‘em.

Fed leads Nadal 2-1 in 5-setters.. where once he came back from 2 sets and a break down to win in Miami. The match he lost, he had a match point where he (i agree) choked. The other 5 setters he lost recently, he either had match point(Safin) or was 2 points away from win (Nalbandian).

Nadal is anyway losing his hold on Fed, losin 4 of the last 6 games .. including a final on clay. So the next time they meet, Fed will be the favourite to win.


Kash Says:

Grendel:

Good point about nadal being extra special than canas. Think about this, if not for Mr. federer, nadal would have done the french open – wimby double in two consecutive years! This before he is 22? Something tells me that kid is extra special. Even if he never gets to the no.1 ranking, he has prevented the entire atp tour from giving up tennis because of this insane domination from federer. Since the start of 2005, fed-ex has been 204-7 against non-nadal players and 4-7 against nadal. I can only say holy F!@# when I read that. I am federer fans would find that a bitter pill, I mean if not for nadal he would have quite possibly achieved 9 slams in a row, but to a lot more fans nadal has spiced up things and made the game that much more interesting. I feel fortunate in a sense that I can appreciate both fed’s artistry and the unflinching desire and humongous effort that this kid brings. I hope both of them stay injury free and achieve all that their games will allow them to achieve to the maximum extent possible. They could each achieve a lot more if they played in different eras, but the dynamics of two of the greatest players of all time co-existing and fighting it out to their natural ends is something a competitive game like men’s tennis deserves. I mean borg-mcenroe was cut short by borg’s idea to quit the game and sampras-agassi loses it’s appeal coz agassi took some mid-career vacations a little too often.

Tejuz:

I will tell you how this year is different from the last 2 years. At the end of the wimbledon last 2years, federer was leading by about 200 points in the atp race. This time however he trails by 87 points, I believe. That in my opinion is a huge change of position. Fed better be ready for perhaps the closest run-in to his no.1 position. If he, even so much as, blinks, the tiger that is nadal shall pounce. Last time the year end no-1 was a dog fight, fed blinked in montreal losing to roddick for the only time in his career. That costed him a year end no-1. It is not a statistic I particularly care for, but I am sure the media and sampras fans will try their best to convince tennis fans otherwise. sampras had 6 consecutive year end no.1s. fed thus far has 3, should have been 4, but that blink came at a rather unfortunate time for mr. fed coz he did miss the ranking by only 25 race points. Bottomline is that the race is far more in nadal’s control than it has been in the previous 2yrs. Will nadal choke like he did at wimby or fed did in the no.1 race 4 yrs back or manage to shut the door on fed? Let the drama unfold :)


Tejuz Says:

Kash.. 2003 was a 3-horse race between Fed, Ferrero and Roddick. And it was not as though that blink cost Fed the race. Fed dint do well at US Open as well.. Roddick and Ferrero both made the finals. Fed caught up with them at Masters Cup with a 5-0 domination.

And u cant say that race is in Nadal’s control, cuz for him to reach No 1 he will probabaly meet Federer in most of the finals and have to beat him on all those hard court events. Their recent head to head record doesnt suggest that he would. So its equally in control of Federer as well.

Except for the Indian wells title, Nadal has nothin much to show on hard courts. he has lost to lower ranked players time and again this year .. So i dont expect him to win more than 1 title on hard courts.. and cetrainly not US Open.

87 points – can easily be covered by 3 titles at lesser tournaments which Fed can still play if he chooses to. Fed was down by 150 points after the end of French Open, but still he chose not to play Halle. It shows Fed isnt all that concerned.

Probably he relishes this rivalry now.. with him coming trumps 4 of the last 6 times. It would only spur him to do better at Toronto and Cincy.


Tejuz Says:

btw.. Fed at the age of 22 had 3 GSs, 23 – 5, 24 – 8 , and 25 – 11. Thats like almost 3 GS per year.

Even though Nadal has a head start of 3 GS at the head of 21, am pretty sure he wud fall behin Fed’s mark in 2 years.

Atleast let him reach the finals or win other Grand Slam before we start callin him a genuine contender.


Boza Says:

Well, I’ve seen him on almost every GS or Masters Tennis final, just to lose against Federer, I think his is a contender and definitely the next #1 of the world.


max Says:

you guys know what makes me sick about this particular blog? The main theme is about Nadal being a contender, Nadal this and Nadal that. How about saying something about the milestone that Fed achieved by winning his 5 Wimbledon in a row? I imagine what all these Nadal fans will say when he wins his 5 Roland Garros. One thing is for sure, I won’t read it. And don’t get me wrong, I think Nadal is a great player who will go on to win Wimbledon, the US and Australia and become the new #1. But he hasn’t done that yet.


Tejuz Says:

Boza.. who are u talkin about?? Nadal?? he hasnt gone past quarters in Au Open or US open.. or has reached a final in Master’s cup.


Kash Says:

Tejuz:

That win in montreal would have given fed the no.1 ranking and he choked. He admitted as much that the pressure got to him. Check the no. of double faults from roger in that match. I remember it as 9! Yes he did catch up in the end, but that was only after the no.1 was no more in his hands. Roddick had to lose all 3 of his RR matches for federer to have a chance. That still doesnt diminish federer’s achievement at the master’s cup, though. I would count that montreal match as a blink. Ferrero with the same position in the Semis of the USopen that year, probably played the match of his life beating andre in an awesome match. (Ferrero had beaten todd martin in a 5-setter and hewitt in 4sets in consecutive days and followed up with that magical 4 set over andre the next day. How is that for physical fitness?). Anyways this just shows different players respond differently when the opportunity presents. Ofcourse federer has overcome that blink with his insane domination at no.1 but if he makes the yr end no.1 this yr and next and then loses the following year, that match might be the one single match that federer might rue. Ofcourse there is too much of speculation here.Maybe fed doesnt even remember that match. then again maybe he does! We will find out if and when things unfold…..

When I said the race was in nadal’s control, I meant to compare it to nadal’s control last year. Yes, it is equally in Federer’s control too this year but you cant argue that being 87 points ahead in the race this year is not better than being 200points behind at the same time last year. Right?

I agree with your take on nadal’s performance on the hard courts thus far, but roger has had his share of troubles in the 2 master’s series played on hardcourt this year. Anyways in 6weeks time things will be clearer. Whether nadal is headed north or federer. At the start of the season, if we had to pick one of federer/nadal to not make it beyond the 4th round of both miami and indian wells, I am sure federer would have been the choice hands down! Sport my friend is capricious and the best laid plans can go awry, so I find it tough to dismiss nadal’s pursuit, especially with the desire that that kid has. May the better man win!


Kash Says:

Max:

Roger’s 5peat has not gone unnoticed, let me tell you. At RG, wasn’t the talk all about fed making it a grandslam? If anything nadal’s french-wimby has not got enough coverage because no one gave him the slightest of chances to win wimbledon. I am sure they sweated bullets on sunday.

Point is, depending on whose fan you are, you are obviously going to feel your star has not got enough coverage. I have seen fed and nadal die-hard fans make unfair claims their boy didnt get the attention he deserved. If they remove the fed/nadal glasses and see, they will see that world is not so ignorant and/or unfair.

Tejuz why is 22 the magical number? at age 21, fed had only a wimbledon and french open QF to show. Nadal on the otherhand as 3RG, 2 wimbledon finals and a qf each in the other two slams. not bad, uh? I would say start making peace with nadal as a potential threat to federer’s legacy. Sampras fans should have a world of advice regarding that. They must have had a horrible last 3yrs ;)


Angel Says:

Rafa played his best but still could not win. I fell players who have good hold on clay court can play better in grass as well, but grass players find it very difficult to play in clay court. But Roger did reach to finals of french. Before there was too much hype about Roddick because of his serve n forehand, and he is no more in the picture. Soon rafa will face the similar situation. I remember once steffi had said,-” Monica seles has improved my game alot. I am sure rafa entry will make roger give the same comment. I see 2008 and 2009 wimbeldon’s trophy in Roger’s hands. I think commentators side the player who plays more aggresively. Winner is the one who plays it smart. And the one who is winner is the Master. Bless roger..comeone Roger lift the rest of the tropies and prove everyone rafa cannot shake you cheers


Tejuz Says:

Well Kash, I would only start accepting Nadal as a potential threat to Federer’s legacy once he starts winning slams other than Roland Garros. And with the current crop of youngsters like Djokovic, Murray, Baghdatis and Gasquet .. i dont see Nadal winning too many Grand slams other than FO. Nadal is an early bloomer like Becker or Borg or Hewitt, so i dont bet on him keeping the same level for more years to come.

Fed has already done most of the hard yards.. Nadal has just started.

I agree he is the best clay court player since Borg.. but he’ll just remain that till he wins a few other GS.

2003, Fed wasnt as mentally strong .. he lost that match against Roddick, against Nalbandian at US Open and also that davis cup match where he was 2 sets up against Hewitt. He has overcome that long time ago. He has just lost to 3 players this year… Nadal, Canas and Volandri. The loss to Canas in the 1st round doesnt say much, cuz he was unprepared for a strong wild-card who already had 3 qualifying matches under his belt. The second match was surely somethin he shud have won. Volandri won cuz Fed wasnt in the match the whole time pondering over his decision to sack Roche. And boy, did he come back strongly at Hamburg, FO and Wimbledon winning 2 of the 3 finals against Nadal. So momentum is surely with Roger now.. cuz Nadal was leading by more than 150 points before Hamburg.


Christopher Says:

The big difference between Federer and Nadal is energy expendature. Nadal’s physical game is so taxing, I can’t imagine him continuing at this pace for too long. Federer can win points so much easier with less effort. Federer will last longer in the end. Hewitt is a good example. He cooled off his pace after age 21. Even Borg who was so fit his pulse rate was calculated in the 40 range, knew how to save his energy supplies. Nadal may burn him self out before too long. We will see.


grendel Says:

Christopher: of the players you mention, Nadal dismissed Roddick with ease on hard courts; he is even with Djokovich (but agree: here is a real threat, to Fed as well); Blake (unfortunately) seems to have gone off completely; Youzhny – I get the sense Nadal will catch up with him, like fed caught up with Nalbandian, but perhaps this is wrong.

Tejuz: agree absolutely Fed’s win in the 5th answered some questions – which needed asking – about Fed’s resolve. It’s not that I think Fed’s no.1 position is likely to be under threat this year, just that it’s not out of the question. Nor would I put too much on Fed’s recent record v Nadal. The point about their matches – win or lose – is that they are close. You wouldn’t bet your house on one beating the other, not unless you’re addicted to recklesness. Nadal to win only one hard court tournament? Maybe. But again, you’re basing your assumption on what he did, or failed to do, last year – and this with a player who is still learning. Why should we assume Nadal has reached his peak on hard courts, when we have just seen him dramatically improve on both clay and grass? It may be, of course, that every time Nadal gets better, Federer is able to respond. I hope so. We shall see.
To Smasham: Nadal and injury. Everyone always brings this up. On what evidence, though (leaving aside the niggles all players get)? But in any case, surely you want Fed to win without assistance from Nature?


Skorocel Says:

Kash, why are you making such a fuss about the year-end ranking? That’s irrelevant! The only important thing for Fed as far as the rankings go is TO BREAK PETE’S 286 TOTAL WEEKS – nothing more! He’s already broken the consecutive record for men (he’s now also guaranteed to break Steffi’s record of 186 consecutive weeks), so I really don’t know what’s the fuss? Everytime I read about this year-end ranking crap, it’s always connected with Sampras… When you search the web to read something about McEnroe or Lendl, for example, you can hardly even notice they were 4 times the year end No. 1s – and that really tells you how “important” that year-end ranking actually is… Don’t get me wrong, it’s surely a noteworthy achievement from Pete, but the most important thing for Fed is to reach 287 or more – that’s how I see it…

And btw, though it’s true that Fed’s loss to Roddick in Montreal 2003 eventually cost him the year-end No. 1 spot in both Entry and Race, it’s simply ridiculous to say Fed blew it or something… How on earth could he know it would cost him the year-end No. 1 spot in the midst of August? Did he have a crystal ball or something?


Dave Says:

Tejuz -Why are you so sure he won’t win any other slam besides FO? Don’t write him off just yet. And why are you declaring him as early bloomer, he’s just 21 for God’s sake and still improving.


Kash Says:

Tejuz , Christopher and Grendel:

Nice posts and understand your points :)

Skorocel:

Year end no.1 is more important than being a no.1 at some point in the year, for the exact same reason as a calendar slam is more important than an individual slam. If you read my earlier posts carefully, you will realise it does not score high in my book, but psychologically it stays more in people’s head for multiple reasons. Not to mention the year end no.1 gives a player about 6weeks of extra stay at no.1 without the need to defend anything.

As for the montreal match, roger himself admitted the pressure of the occasion got to him. Let me see if I can find some article or written proof of that.


Seth Says:

Here’s what we know:

1. Fed has won 4 of his last 6 meetings against Nadal (67% winning percentage). The Fed-Nadal rivalry is currently 13 matches old. So, it’s fair to call these last 6 matches the second half of their rivalry thus far. However, during the FIRST half of their rivalry, Fed was a paltry 1-6. In this light, you can make the case that Fed is the one who is gaining on Nadal, not vice versa. Of course, I don’t believe it’s quite this simple, as Nadal demonstrably improved his grass court game from last year, but you also can’t argue with the numbers of their rivalry.

2. Nadal has yet to fully prove himself on fast hard courts. Yes, he won Indian Wells this year, which bodes well for his future on the surface, but he still has never looked comfortable at Flushing Meadows. Before we all look in our crystal balls and say, “Yes, Nadal will overtake Federer soon,” let’s wait to see how both men fare on the North American hard courts this summer.

3. This rivalry is fantastic, isn’t it? Let’s not lose sight of that, no matter which guy we root for. I have immense respect for both players.


max Says:

Seth, nice objective post. I could not agree more with your last bullet. The Fed-Rafa rivalry is indeed fantastic. It is what is keeping tennis so interesting to watch in addition to the raise of youngsters like Djokovich and Murray.
Talking about Djokovich, had he been in good shape in his semifinal match against Nadal, we would not be talking so much about Rafa now. I think that Rafa’s top spin shots bother Fed’s backhand a lot more than what it does Djokovich, this kid is awesome.


Seth Says:

I agree, Max, Djoko has tons of game and is shaping up to be the X Factor right now. He’s demonstrated that he can take it to Nadal and put up a strong challenge if he’s fit. He hasn’t quite proven himself yet to be a strong challenger against Fed, but I eagerly anticipate the next time they meet; hopefully it will be this summer on the hard courts.


Christopher Says:

To anybody who is interested. Yesterday James Blake was interviewed on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption. He was asked about Nadal’s game on hard courts and his rivalry with Federer. Blake felt Nadal can be beaten much easier than Federer can on hard courts. Blake feels comfortable playing Nadal on hard courts. He feels his game matches up well with Nadal’s. Flat power hitters are far more effective on hard courts than top spin players. Top spinners have to work much harder to win points. If Blake is on he can take those heavy top spin shots of Nadal’s early and blast them for winners in the corners time and time again. He did it to Nadal before and he can do it again. The U.S. Open surface is flat ball friendly. Youzny plays Nadal that way too without a big serve. The top players know the formula to beat Nadal’s game. At least on hard courts. Again, we will see.


Seth Says:

Anybody want to play an interesting, yet meaningless game of What If?

How about this one, then:

What if Federer were left-handed?

Would he have won even more Grand Slams by this point than he has now?

Would he have an easier time handling Nadal?

Would he be virtually unstoppable?


FOT Says:

One comment about the #1 ranking. For those who are putting so much stock into this “ATP Race” ranking (where Roger is 87 points behind)… remember, this ranking is only used to determine the top 8 players to appear in the Year End. After December, this ranking goes back to zero.

The REAL race is the ATP Entry Race and Roger still leads Nadal by 2,065 points. That’s still a big difference. I remember reading last year that after Nadal made the Wimbledon final (unexpected) his fans were saying Roger’s time at #1 was over and Nadal was the “real #1″, etc., but we all know what happened the 2nd half of the year.

What I’m saying is I don’t think it’s even fair to Nadal to crown him #1 already because you really have history to fall back on. Nadal did not meet his or his fans expectations after Wimbledon last year and in fact didn’t even reach 1 final the entire rest of the year. So like someone said earlier – why not just wait to see how the hard court and indoor season develops. One thing we do know is that Roger has shown a tendancy to get better after Wimbledon for the past 2-3 years. (check his record after Wimbledon and it’s just amazing). So for all those who are righting off Roger – good luck. I’ll go with history and say Roger will be defending all or if not all (most) of the points he put up last year. If he hadn’t done it before, it would be ‘up-in-the-air’, but he has proven that he can defend his points.

He also has said in the past that after Wimbledon (which was and still is his big goal), he tends to ‘relax’ and just play. Plus with his style he doesn’t tire himself out.

It also amazes me that the hard court season is coming up yet I understand Nadal is still going to play a clay court tournament? Interesting… I guess he better pick up any points he can before the hardcourt and indoor court season really gets underway.


Daniel Says:

I found odd that no one gives the same credit Nadal is having on grass to Federer on clay! In the last years he has 4 Hamburgo titles, 5 finals in 2006 and 2007 (2 Roland Garros, 2 Monte Carlo and 1 in Rome. All the tournaments that matter! Other than Nadal he is the best player on clay, and if he had played the small tournaments he would have more titles (something between 8 and 10) and could be included in the list of all time clay court winners. Now there I put this up, I realized he only lost to Nadal and one strange match against Volandri in the last two years.

Nadal has yet a lot to prove, we’ll see!


ross Says:

No player, other than Fed, has ever won 2 or more slams 4 years in a row. Not even tiger woods in Golf. So Nadal winning 3 French Opens is much less of a big deal than Fed winning so many more slams in the same time span. Nine consecutive slam finals already!!! Come on, its going to be very difficult to top that.


Christopher Says:

Good points Fot.

Roger Federer only owns the Wimbledon crown, the U.S. open crown, The Austrailian open crown and a finalist’s showing at the French open in the last 12 months. He is also the current owner of 3 of the 9 master series events in the past 12 months. No other athlete is held up to such high standards as this except for Tiger Woods. It is ridiculous to say Roger Federer is on the decline. How many tennis players would love to be on the decline like Roger Federer is? Federer actually gained more points on clay this year than last year. Look it up. The only thing any one can point to is the two early loses to Canas at Indian Wells and Miami. I say big deal. Roger was probably focusing his energy, at that time, towards winning the French open later in the Spring. Roger has been in 9 grand slam finals in a row. That is ridiculously good. But he is on the decline and in danger of losing his number one status by some who post here. Ridiculous!


max Says:

Daniel, you are right on the money, Roger is the second best player on clay, and it is not that Rafa has an easy time beating Fed on this surface, that I remember it always goes to at least 4 sets.
So, is Rafa the second best player on hard courts and grass? Absolutely not…not yet anyways.
Rafa is getting better, no doubt about that but still has a lot to prove to reach Fed’s greatness.
One thing I noticed about Rafa is that he finally stop pumping himself up in such a sickening way as he used to. If only he stopped picking up his butt all the time. Did you guys see what Soderling did in his match with Rafa? Boy, I would even root for Rafa if he stopped doing that :-)


Kash Says:

FoT:

“One comment about the #1 ranking. For those who are putting so much stock into this “ATP Race” ranking (where Roger is 87 points behind)… remember, this ranking is only used to determine the top 8 players to appear in the Year End. After December, this ranking goes back to zero.”

>>>>>> I am sorry but your point is just doesnt sound right. After december or more accurately just before the master’s cup, the race will be the same as the entry. Meaning if nadal is no. 1 in th e race the when paris indoors ends, Nadal will be the new no.1.

Also, the race doesnt make much sense in the beginning of the year, but now that we are 2/3 in to this season, the race starts making more sense. Right now, in this season, nadal is in the lead. He may not get the no.1 ranking but what cannot be denied is thus far this year, nadal has had better results. Yes by only 87 meagre points but he is the leader. I agree that nadal needs to keep up this stupenduous work though.

Daniel:

Fed is definitely the no.2 player on clay. Most of the debates have centered around which guy is closing the gap faster on the other guy’s best surface. No one has been mentioned in the same breath as these two on clay and grass. Nadal has some catching up to do on the hardcourts with fed though. That is why the rest of the season will be exciting. Can nadal bring the Indian wells form more often in the hardcourt season, and fed prove that his slip against canas earlier in the season was just a blip.


FOT Says:

Kash… look it up. The ATP Race Ranking starts over after the Year End. In January, every player starts at ‘zero’. That’s why after a warm-up tournament in January you’ll have unusual players listed as #1 in this stupid Race. I remember earlier this year, before Roger or Nadal had played, the #1 player was Ljubicic! I remember reading a headline that said “Ljubicic – the new #1″. It was just plain stupid and misleading.

Now you say Nadal has had better results this far? Well, I don’t know about better. I do know for Roger – there have been 3 grand slams played and he’s been in the finals in 3 and has won 2. Can’t get too much better than that! The reason Nadal is still the “Race” leader is fankly that he’s played more tournaments this year than Roger – hence, picking up some additional points.

Believe me… the only reason the players pay attention to the “Race Rankings” is that they want to make the top 8 to get the the Year End. The REAL race – the race that decides the seeds in each tournament, etc., is the ATP Entry race where Roger is comfortably still ahead.

If you don’t believe me about the ATP Race and how it fits, look at this link: And make sure you read where it says: “Every player regardless of his performance in the previous year, starts with zero points”.

http://www.sportsline.com/tennis/story/8089253


Christopher Says:

The ATP rankings are calculated on a 17 tournament year round round basis. They count the best 17 tournaments a player participates in. All 9 master series events count towards it reguardless if a player enters it or not. In order for Rafael Nadal to over take Federer in the world entry rankings, he must hope Federer loses early in Canada, The U.S. open, Madrid, and the masters cup final. All four of these tournaments Federer won. They account for 2750 of Federer’s points. Nadal must do better than Federer in most or all of these tournaments to over take him in the world rankings. I don’t think it’s going to happen.


zola Says:

*****Says Says:
i still find it hard to understand why fed waited until the last game of the match to attack nadals 2nd serve with his forehand.
****

because NAdal’s knee was injured in the 4th set at 4-1 as a result of playing 7 days in a row. Who knows what would have happened if he was not injured.


Seth Says:

The ATP Race Rankings are useless other than as a measuring stick for the top 8 at the year end Master’s Cup. I remember tennis-x used to make fun of the ATP Race Rankings’ very existence and clammored for them to be done away with. Amazing how interested the editors of this site have become in a Rankings Race they once deemed irrelevant, and all because they can use it to disparage Fed’s results this year.


Seth Says:

Still singing that tired old tune, eh, zola?


HJL Says:

I think that it’s important to consider how short the grass court season is compared with the clay court season.

In other words, a player who is not comfortable on clay has more opportunity to learn about the surface, to get used to it and eventually to win titles on it.
A player who is not comfortable on grass does not have many opportunities to get used to the surface, esp. when growing up in a place with very few to no grass courts.

With that in view – and leaving the “who’s closing the gap faster” debate out of it – Rafael Nadal has been a fast learner on grass.


Kash Says:

FoT:

I do understand how the race fits. You need to realise that the atp race starts at the beginning of the calendar year and ends after the master’s cup. One week before the master’s cup, the race will be the same as the atp entry ranking. Do you debate that? What you are talking about is the atp race for the next calendar year, say 2008 which will start in Jan 08. There everyone starts with zero.

Also, if you read the 2nd paragraph of my earlier post, you would think twice before calling the atp race stupid. There is a reason why it is in place. Not everything we donot understand is stupid. It gives you a way to measure how players have been performing since the start of this calendar year. Since there is a 6week break at the end of every year, the race at any point reflects the performance of the players up until that calendar year. As the calendar year approaches the end the race gives you a good amount of information.

Ofcourse there are people stupid enough to misinterpret that information, that still does not diminish what the “ATP race” has got to offer. Ignore the race at your own peril.

Whether roger/rafa are having a better year thus far can be debated all day, but what the “ATP race” tells us is that rafa has had a better year which makes as much sense as the atp entry ranking proclaiming roger the no.1 all these past 3 years. You can still have people proclaiming rafa the real no.1 because he has a 8-5 H2H against roger, but they would not have the atp entry ranking to support that.


Seth Says:

Or HJL, one can also interpret the brevity of the grass court season in Federer’s favor. For instance, Fed went into the Wimby final having played a grand total of FIVE grass court matches over the past 12 months. Since he opted to skip Halle, he was fairly short of match practice on the lawns. This problem was exacerbated by Haas’ fourth round withdrawal.

So you see, I just spun the grass court season’s short duration in Federer’s favor, just like you spun it for Nadal. Did the scheduling problems hurt Nadal or Federer more. I would say that they both suffered under the scheduling debacle in very different ways. Bottom line, that’s the life of a Grand Slam contender, with all the uncontrollable variables that inevitably come with the territory thrown at them.


Kash Says:

Christopher:

I think it is 18. 4 GS, 9 MS and 5 best results from the remaining tournaments. Apart from that I mostly agree with what you said. Though to put every thing in perspective. If rafa and roger split the montreal and cincy master’s and fed-ex loses in the 1st round of the US open and rafa wins it, then we will have to welcome the new no.1. (This also includes rafa winning stuttgart though :D ). That is way too much of a rafa-biased view, but I hope you realise how quickly things can change.


Kash Says:

Seth:

If at the beginning of the tournament one were to offer rafa’s path to the finals and federer’s path. I am almost sure both rafa and federer fan’s would have chosen federer’s path in the blink of an eye. (Given that both of them finally reach the finals i.e) Rafa’s match with soderling was THE craziest match ever. And rafa played 11 sets on thursday / friday and saturday to federer’s 7. There is no way anyone can argue that the scheduling affected them equally without a hint of bias.


Kash Says:

Seth:

Which editors on tennis-x are calling for the “race” statistics?

Also, most of the criticism the atp race gets is from fans who cannot add 2 and 2 without using a calculator. It is not rocket science. If you are into gambling/betting and want to predict the future, the atp race is a very useful tool.


Christopher Says:

Just a note. Federer grew up playing on clay just as Nadal did. Federer learned to play grass very quickly and very well. It is not a surface which one is really taught tennis these days. Nadal and every other player for that matter has basically equal experience when it comes to playing on grass. Some players just take to it easier than others. Federer is a natural. Nadal is not. He has to work harder on it. I’m not trying to put Nadal’s achievements down. He is amazing. Nadal is somewhat robotic and mechanical in his approach towards tennis. Sorta like Ivan Lendl was. Federer is so natural and fluid in everything he does. He makes it all look easy and relaxed. That is true talent.


Seth Says:

kash,

Re: Rafa’s crazy, rain-delayed nightmare match with Soderling. Part of the responsibility for the insanity of that match was Rafa’s failure to hit the ball about inch closer to the line on the match point he had in the third set. Of course, after that missed opportunity, much of the problem was the weather’s fault and some of the blame also rests with the organizers. Just goes to show how important one point can be not just in the context of the match, but also in the entire tournament.

And you must admit that it’s pretty impressive for Fed to win that Wimby final against his greatest rival after having played a grand total of five grass court matches within the last year. The scheduling certainly didn’t help Fed with his lack of match play issue.


Seth Says:

“Seth:

Which editors on tennis-x are calling for the “race” statistics?”

kash,

I never said that the editors of this site were calling for the “race” statistics. I merely made the point that they used to carry on about how useless the race ranking were and about how the ATP Entry Race is the only ranking that matters.


Christopher Says:

Kash,

When you say some of the blame should fall on the organizers, do you mean scheduling all the men’s matches last or not playing any tennis on the middle Sunday? Or both.


Skorocel Says:

Kash, imagine a player who, after spending say 45 weeks in the given year as No. 2, becomes the year-end No. 1… Ridiculous! How can it be more important than those 45 weeks, during which the other guy was on top? A perfect example of such nonsense occured in 1977, when Vilas won 16 tournaments (2 of which were Slams) – yet Connors was the year end No. 1 (despite winning only 7 tourneys, none of which were Slams)…

The Entry ranking has a continuing character, i.e. it never “resets” to zero (as opposed to Race), so you’ll carry the year-end points to the next year, and so on… For me, the year-end No. 1 player is simply the guy who wins the Race – simple as that! The Entry, on the other hand, is sort of an “ongoing coefficient” of the players’ qualities to me…

You said the year-end No. 1 spot in Entry will give you an extra 6-7 weeks – that’s true… But then again, Fed can easily add those 6-7 weeks by simply resting after Aussie Open, SW19 and US Open (actually, even more)…

As for the calendar Slam vs the individual (or career) Slam – you’re right. But to be honest, it doesn’t matter to me whether Fed wins the calendar one or not… He simply must win in Paris at least once to become the GOAT – but that’s only my opinion, of course… There’s no doubt it would be better for him to win them all in one and the same year, but he simply doesn’t need that in order to become the GOAT (again, only my opinion)…


HJL Says:

Seth,

I’m trying to stay away from this “all circumstances were equal and Federer > Nadal” argument because I find it rather pointless to be honest.

All I’m saying is that I think that Nadal has been a fast learner on grass given how few pro matches he had on the surface and how long it took him to reach the final with few experience.

And I’m not taking anything away from Federer’s accomplishments by saying this, I believe.


Sir Loz Says:

I think everyone is missing a big point here. The way the rankings are compiled are absolutely ludicrous. How can a player be punished for having a good year previously?
We could have a situation whereby Federer wins 3 Grand Slams and the Masters cup and ends the season as number 2 in the world!!
Although I am a massive admirer of Nadal, we need to put this into perspective. Federer has had the best 3 years of anyone in the history of the game. We have become so accustomed to him winning absolutely everything that simply being taken to five sets before he WINS Wimbledon is seen as Federer in decline! What other player in history has ever been judged by these stupidly high standards?
I agree that Nadal will be the next number 1 but not for a long time yet. Fed has won two Grand Slams this year, that would be seen as the best ever year for Sampras, Agassi and even Borg. How ridiculous that we talk about Federer’s season so far as not as good just because of a couple of rogue losses?! He is human!
To put it into perspective, I believe Nadal will be one of the best ever when he finally retires but at the moment, no matter how much he is improving on other surfaces, he is still only a proven champion on clay.
That said, I believe he is the best I’ve ever seen on the red stuff, and it is bad luck for Federer that he has to get past Nadal at RG to do the career slam, which is a harder task then any other GOAT contender has had to face. But I believe he will win the French and beat Nadal there at some stage.
The problem is that if he wins the French and surpasses 14 slams, there will always be someone who finds another reason as to why he isn’t the GOAT. Sad really becasue he is a credit to the sport, and probably the most gifted sportsman and winner i’ve ever seen – all with mild modesty.


Seth Says:

Thanks for putting things into perspective, Sir Loz. We do get a bit carried away with expectations of Federer simply because he’s been so utterly dominant for the past 3 and a half years.


FoT Says:

Sir Loz, I really enjoyed your post. Good job!


FloridaMan Says:

I don’t know if Federer is the GOAT right now. But to me he is absolutely ahead of Pete Sampras. Here’s why:

1) He’s been #1 for more successive weeks than anyone else.
2) He’s the only one to have won 3 majors at least three times (Australia, US Open and Wimbledon)
3) He’s reached 9 consecutive grand slam finals, winning 7 of those 9. Surely a record. This is the one that impresses me most about Fed, personally.
4) Unlike Sampras, Federer is an excellent claycourt player. In fact, clay is nowhere near as big a hole on his resume as it was for Sampras. There are players that Sampras lost to in the early rounds at the French Open that Fed would most likely win in 3 straight sets.

Those 4 factors alone are why Fed is clearly ahead of Sampras in the race for GOAT. Sure, Sampras was number 1 for more weeks and more years, and won 3 more slams. But all this was over a much longer period of time, without anywhere near the dominance over a short period of time like with Federer. Another stat that people don’t realize: outside of Wimbledon, Sampras has only successfully defended a grand slam title once, that being the 1996 U.S. Open, which he won the previous year.


FloridaMan Says:

I forgot reason #5: Fed has won 3 majors a year on 2 different years. And this year could possibly be a third.


Tejus Says:

Agree with Sir Loz… We put too much expectation on federer that a 5 setter looks like he is on a decline. Everyone gets carried away everytime he is stretched to 5 sets. Hez been reachin the finals for a grandslam for the 9th consecuitve time.. and semis for 13th consecutive time. We can only say that he is on a decline if he starts failing to reach semis or finals in the grand slams.
How many times have Borg, Sampras, McEnroe, Becker, Lendl been stretched to 5 sets etc .. plenty more than Fed at wimbledon… and also they have lost more Grand Slam finals.

But Skorocel, If Nadal is ahead in ATP Race at the end of the year, then he certainly deserves the No 1 even if he was No 2 for the rest of the year.. cuz he certianly wud have had a better year… even if that means winning less Slams and more Masters series titles.
Fed currently enjoys this cushion that he has from last years hard court season, that he is sure to be No 1 for another few months even if he doesnt play a single match.
But i guess… there will come a time where Fed will choose Grand Slams over No 1 ranking.. where he will skip more tournaments and stay fresh for Grand slams.. just like how Pete did.


Tejus Says:

Look at the number of tournaments played, won and lost for eveyone.

Nadal : 12 – 5 – 7 (7 finals)
Fed: 9 – 4 – 5 (6 finals)
Djokovic 13 – 3 – 10

Who has the better win-loss??? and better percentage of reachin finals??

obviously Federer … and thats just for this year where Nadal is supposedly having a better year than Fed.


grendel Says:

Nobody’s saying Federer’s in decline. It’s just a curious mathematical fact that Nadal could be #1 by the end of the year. Most unlikely – but, for instance, Fed losing in first round of U.S.Open is just the sort utterly unforseen loss -like Sampras losing to Bastl, to Bastle! – that happens to every great player once in a while. That’s why statistics, although intriguing, need to be treated with caution.

Here’s another possible oddity. Federer carries on at the top for 2 more years, just enough to beat the 286 or whatever it is weeks (with the added bonus of having done them in succession). By this time, let’s say Djokovic has caught up with Nadal. So Nadal never becomes #1, despite being one of the undisputed all time greats. Not particularly likely – but you can see how it could happen.

Meanwhile, I think Zola’s point needs to be addressed, if that is possible without an actual verbal contribution from Nadal. Was nadal’s knee a factor or not in the 5th set? For what it’s worth, I watched Nadal very closely indeed – because it was obvious a controversy of this sort might come up after the match – and for the first 4 games, I couldn’t see any difference at all in the way he was running around. He did start to slow down after that, not running for balls he would normally have gone for, and there are 3 possibilities: 1) knee injury beginning to tell 2) tiredness finally kicking in after atrocious scheduling 3)dejection because he knew it was over. or some combination of the 3.

3) might seem unlikely, given Nadal’s renowned mental strength, his record for chasing everything under any circumstance. But consider this: Nadal is human, after all, and players, apparently, often have a sense when the momentum has shifted irreversibly. Nadal, for example, said he knew he had Federer in RG at some point in 4th set quite some time before the end. And remember Jimmy Connors thinking he spotted the shift. Nadal resigned to the inevitable? There’s nowt so queer as folk, as they say in Yorkshire!


HJL Says:

Grendel,

Nadal was still running. If that knee injury had been very serious, he wouldn’t be doing that. I agree with that.
However, I watched him closely as well and I could see a difference, in his serving for example. Watching his feet before and after and how he pushes off his right leg to do the serve: there was a difference IMO.

But only Nadal knows the real impact and he did say that it wasn’t that serious so a win by Federer is a win.

Now, only Rafael Nadal knows what sort of impact it really had.


HJL Says:

The rest of the speculation over Federer and Nadal so-called decline or domination is just that: sheer speculation spiced up with a lot of wishful thinking.

Pointless.


grendel Says:

But we all enjoy speculation, HJL, even you I suspect. It does tend to depend on where it’s going, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, if no conclusions are reached, interesting bits of information can be gained along the way.

As for wishful thinking, not many of us are free altogether of that. You, for example, with your “a win by Federer is a win” is quite grudging, and the implication one draws from your interpretation of Nadal’s injury is that it was conclusive. Do you really believe that, deep down? The quote by Nadal is meaningless, as you know. Nadal is particularly keen to be seen as a good loser, having criticised others in this respect. But the way I read his comments was something like:well, it was a great match, don’t lets worry about injuries, I’m fine, don’t you worry, etc. Which rather nicely leaves the matter open, don’t you think? Smart boy, Nadal!

Meanwhile, your comment on how his serve was affected is certainly interesting. One would have thought people like Jimmy Connors would have noticed, no one noticed so far as I am aware – but that doesn’t mean you’re not right. But the again:wishful thinking? Of course, if I am wrong about noone else noticing, then I am guilty of wishful thinking….


max Says:

folks,
if Nadal had not injured his knee he…
if Djoko had not injured his back he…

I have one of my own,
if my mother was a man I would have two dads.

Let’s do a more serious one:
if Nadal would not chase balls down the way he does and spend so much energy in every point he plays, his knee would be OK

Please don’t take anything away from Fed’s win.


Tejuz Says:

well Grendel .. mathematically yes, Nadal can be #1, but so can Djokovic, if he wins 3 masters and the US Open. But then, there is something called Probability… As per history and form on the comin surface Federer has more chance of retaining the his No 1 ranking than Nadal overtaking him. If Nadal can defy those odds and end up No 1 by end of year, he deserves it for sure. That also means he has done well on all three surfaces.

As per your other oddity that you mentioned… yes, Nadal cud forever remain No 2, with Djokovic succeeding Fed as No 1 winning Wimbledon and hard courts. Similar to Boris Becker… who was No 2 to Lendl and then to Edberg. But then.. i dont think so.. am sure Nadal will be No 1 in future someday.. but wont dominate the sport as much as Fed has.

And am sure.. Fed wont give up his No 1 ranking without a fight.


Tejuz Says:

Nice one Max .. dunno why.. Nadal is either tired or injured everytime Fed wins agaisnt him..be it hamburg or wimby. Luck really favours Federer so frequently.. pity it dint favour him at Roland Garros.


HJL Says:

“You, for example, with your “a win by Federer is a win” is quite grudging, and the implication one draws from your interpretation of Nadal’s injury is that it was conclusive. Do you really believe that, deep down?”

As a matter of fact, I do.

I admit that I was supporting Nadal in this final but in the end, Federer pulled through so he won and that’s that.
Just like Nadal came through in Rome 2006.


HJL Says:

Max and Tejuz,

You can usually see plenty of excuses on both sides so that’s a moot point.


grendel Says:

Yes, Max has a good point. Obviously if you play in such a way which is likely to induce injury, then you have to take the rough with the smooth. The smooth is that you get a lot of points you wouldn’t normally get; the rough is that you incur an injury and start to lose points you normally would get. That’s the gamble. Sometimes it pays off for Nadal, sometimes it doesn’t. At Wimbledon, it didn’t. He has no cause for complaint, on this reading. Thanks for that, Max.

Even so, we are assuming that the serve really was affected as HJL says. I don’t have a recording. Did anyone else see what HJL saw? That would be interesting, although nothing is proved one way or the other, of course. Eyes are fallible.


FOT Says:

You can do a lot of “ifs” in almost all of their matches to make the results questionnable:

1. First meeting in Miami. Roger would have won “if he didn’t get sick and was not running a fevor”

2. Meeting where Federer came back in Miami after being down 2 sets to love and a break. Nadal would have won “if he didn’t get tired in that 5th set”

3. Meeting in Rome where Nadal won that Epic match. Federer would have won “if he had just connected on 1 of those match points”.

4. Meeting at the Master’s Cup where Federer won. Nadal would have won “if Roger hadn’t been so lucky to hit that final shot against Nadal”.

5. Meeting in Hamburg where Federer won. Nadal would have won “if he wasn’t tired”.

6. Meeting at Wimbedon where Roger won. Nadal would have won “if he hadn’t had to play a bad schedule and Roger had all that time off”.

See what I mean… We can speculate all day but nothing will change the results! So let’s just give credit to both of these guys for playing great and the winner is who it is.


HJL Says:

Max has a good point? Yes, perhaps.

But you’ve got to admit that playing 7 days of tennis in a row didn’t exactly help. Any tennis player would get bothered by it and in that very hard schedule in the bottom half, Nadal went further than anybody else.

Which isn’t an excuse because Nadal should have finished off Söderling in 3 sets.

But the explanation Max is giving only tells you half of the story IMHO.


DUNCAN Says:

I watched every Nadal match from Wimbledon despite being in Cyprus. There can be no doubt that the incompetence of the officials robbed Nadal of the championship with their failure to complete his matches after rain interuptions by putting on new matches before completing his. He had to play every day for a week while Federer had his feet up at home. Interesting that the affable Federer was far from that when he was obviously losing in the fourth set even challenging the Hawk Eye but Nadal’s exhaustion overcame him and lost him the match. Perhaps there was an agenda to ensure that Federer got his fifth win with all the ensuing hullabaloo but I am sure that Nadal will win Wimbledon very soon.


grendel Says:

But now we’re back to the scheduling. Don’t confuse the issues, or we’ll never sort this one out!

Strictly on the manner of play Nadal chooses – chooses, note – to adopt, he is taking a gamble. Sometimes he gains extra points, which could mean a win he would not otherwise get. But, the gamble can backfire, and so he can lose.

The point about the scheduling has already been argued. definitely Djokovich was the most adversely affected, and looked much the better player than Nadal until injury struck. certainly Gasquet would have given a better performance, and could possibly have beaten Federer, although there is no evidence one way or the other. Past history suggests otherwise. Federer himself was very ill prepared, you could almost smell the rust coming off him. If he had been match tight, he might well have continued the good form of the first two games, and won the set. Things might have been very different. |And finally, Nadal was certainly illserved by the scheduling, but of all players, this super fit young man was best equipped to cope. I submit, in light of the above, Max’s point holds.

But again, note: none of this is relevant unless HJL’s point about Nadal’s serve is correct. Given that, so far as I know, nobody else has noticed this, the point cannot be allowed to stand. The eye is notoriously fallible, especially when the witness is very far from being impartial. We need more witnesses. Failing that, Federer won fair and square, although I believe Max’s point carries the day anyway – for reasons given above.


max Says:

Duncan,

you can’t be serious.

anyways folks, iTunes has the Fed-Nadal entire match available for download. I did download it, quality is just OK.


Alan Says:

I haven’t read many others’ comments, apologies if this has been said already. The men’s final should dispose of the idiotic notion that the way to beat Nadal is to come to the net (or, more foolish, to serve and volley) against him. I doubt either tactic will work against any of the top players, but against Nadal it has no chance. His defense and passing shots are just too good. Dream on Pete Sampras. If you played today you’d not make the 4th round of any Slam.


Seth Says:

Max, your comment about the “ifs” gave me a good chuckle.

And grendel, you are spot on. The trade-off for Nadal’s ultra-physical style of play is that he risks injury more often than Federer, whose style and movement exemplifies the term “economical”. He may get to more balls and win more points for a period of time, but then his body suffers and he loses more points because of it. And now that I think about it, Federer also moves around the court on some pretty fast wheels; but the way in which he does it, with those long, flowing strides, takes less of a toll on his body.

And one, slightly unrelated thought: Man, what did tennis fans do back in the pre-internet days when they wanted to discuss and dissect the game ad nauseum? ;)


Seth Says:

Aargh, being an English teacher, I hate making errors in conjugation! It should’ve read:

“. . . whose style and movement EXEMPLIFY the term ‘economical’.”

There. Better now.


Alan Says:

Don’t be so narcissistic, we can figure out what you mean. Keep it about the tennis, don’t make it about you.


grendel Says:

oops! “…and won the set”. Sorry, I meant, of course, “and won the set easily” – as opposed to the dog fight it became.


grendel Says:

Alan

If Nadal could be transported back in time, he would have had no chance whatever against Sampras (at Wimbledon). The grass and balls are now so different, it’s not really the same surface. Wimbledon today is more favourable to claycourters than to old style grass players like Sampras. This is a deliberate decision by the authorities, taken on financial grounds. Serve and volley wasn’t popular among the viewing public. Personally, I think they went too far – we’ve lost variety.


Alan Says:

Uh, okay, Alan, I’ll be sure not to discuss anything at all but forehands, backhands, serves, Federer, Nadal, Wimbledon, the GOAT debate, and whether or not Nadal should pick his butt obsessively.

Heaven forbid I show a bit of personality in this *very serious* tennis only forum.


Alan Says:

Grendel, try it the other way. Let Pete Sampras at his physical peak be playing on today’s Wimbledon surface, with today’s balls against today’s players. No more 90 minute walkovers, not just 1 or 2 guys who step in to return your serve. How many Wimbledons does he win? A few yes, but certainly not 7. Sampras is an all-time great, no question; but he wouldn’t be able to sleepwalk his way into the 2nd week of Wimbledon.


Seth Says:

Heh! In my fit of pique against Alan’s rude comment, I accidentally filled my name in as “Alan”. The above post was, of course, me. But, dang, silly me! I’m off-topic again!


samps Says:

If the lame reprove was an attempt at ‘showing personality’, I ve got you all figured Alan!

Anyway, regarding the Soderling-Nadal match, if there is anyone to blame it IS Nadal and not just for missing That match point. Nadal has had this terrible tendency to start real slow throughout the tournament and almost did the same in the first set of the final. The moment Fed broke, I figured the first could well be a bagel like last year. In the soderling match, he was rubbish every time he came back and Soderling was playing better. Soderling mentioned it in his post match interview and indicated that the rain was actually good for him. Nadal had poor starts in every other match of the tournament including the ones against Youhzny and Djokovic (who seemed pretty fit in the first set). I actually believe he would have beaten Djoko eventually but would have been a far from easy match.

And I am very optimistic about Rafa’s hard court season this year. The reason is not the five set stretch that he managed against Fed but the shot selection on the Forehand. Someone mentioned that the problem with Rafa’s game on hardcourts in the past has been the top-spun forehand. Effort wasted on the spin obviously makes it much weaker and easy to reach on hardcourts where it bounces nonce. And of course easy to play. If you watched the final, he employed both flatter forehand and the the top spun one, depending on the shot being attempted. The lob for example is a shot that is best top spun since it is kept in play. And Nadal also used it to counter the Fed slice pretty effectively.


samps Says:

Damn!I wrote “both flatter forehand and the…” on the third last line but it should actually be “both THE flatter forehand and the….”. And yes, its impossible for me to get past my narcissistic tendencies.


max Says:

Seth, I totally understand your feeling of hating it when making errors in conjugation, me having a mom-teacher instilled me the same, although this was for the Spanish language. It was funny you mention that.

oops off-topic again


grendel Says:

I’ve been trawling the message boards – B.B.C.Sports, The Guardian Sports,E.S.P.N, and I have found 3 other people who opine that Nadal’s serve was affected in 5th set by the knee injury, though none are as specific as HJL. Still, perhaps he has a point.

But the main impression I gathered was the extraordinary passion with which people line up behind either Federer or Nadal. Sometimes it’s very funny – check out theB.B.C. one. There’s a Nadal fan there who gets so agitated byanyone who dares to suggest that the final result was anything other than a travesty that he repeatedly accuses Fed fans of being fanatics, and at one stage goes so far as to accuse them of being little better than terrorists. The Fed fans seem a bit bemused by the ferocity of this chap, but then they plough back into the fray, stolidly insisting that their man is by far the greatest player who ever lived and perhaps ever will live. The Nadal chap comes straight back, so angry that he needs two or three immensley long blogs, all in charming broken English which you imagine him spitting out at breakneck speed, before he can thoroughly acquaint his audience with how deeply, how utterly he despises these Fed fans. Actually, he gets so worked up, that he is not content to have a go merely at the Fed fans. He lambasts the “coward players” who failed to stand up to the monster Federer, until this valiant knight, this unparalleled shining example of humanity, Rafael Nadal, honoured us by his presence, and came forth to slay the wicked, the evil dragon.
Of course, his noble work is not yet complete, but that is only a matter of time, and nothing the terorists can say can alter this fact.

I exaggerate only a little, though of course it isn’t all like that.(The Guardian did disallow one posting, however, on account of the virulence of the views expressed.) But the level of emotion is frequently very high. And very little attention is paid to anyone other than Federer and Nadal. I don’t want to sound superior, because I am not immune from this. We can’t all be as pure as HJL and concentrate exclusively on the tennis. Somehow, emotions are deeply engaged – in the case of the broken English man, bordering on insanity I’d say – and it becomes astonishingly important that our man gets the verdict. And this is someone we don’t even know. It’s all very strange.


FoT Says:

Don’t know if this will be allowed but if you all are looking for a ‘fair’ board to post, one of the better ones is at this webb site:

http://www.tennis4you.com/phpBB2/index.php

You have to register to post but it’s fair and the webmaster (Scott) is great. We have Nadal fans, Federer fans, Roddick fans, Venus, Serena, ets., and even though we’re passionate about our players – we all still basically get along and can get our points across without being called “trolls”! Anyway, visit if you want. We’d love to have more posters.


achilles190 Says:

I am not sure about the effect of injury…….Nadal was obviously hampered in the fourth set….for a few games……but if he was truly injured….how did he manage to win the fourth set…..and push Federer to the brink in the fifth set……bearing in mind that 6-2 in this case was not indicative of the play……….Tendonitis would not have stopped either of these players from going full out to make history……..

I actually feel the combination of not converting the break points and Fed breaking Nadal demoralised Nadal for a few minutes….was a much bigger factor…..

the two demigods would have left body parts on the court before surrendiering or putting in a second best effort……


Tejus Says:

Yah.. probably it was a combination of Injury, and resignation to the fact that Fed wouldnt let the 4-2 lead slip by. Yes.. Nadal did look resigned to his fate after he was broken in 4th set. It was those 8(out of 9) consecutive points that Fed played from 15-40 (2-2) that really broke Nadal’s resolve.


Tejus Says:

sorry… Nadal was broken in 5th set … my bad…


JgC Says:

So Sports Illustrated once again failed to give Federer a full page cover. I wish I knew someone who worked there so I could find out what the hell is wrong with those people. There must be some serious bad blood on SI’s part. Eleven slams, 5 straight Wimbledons, a majestic final with Nadal…the list can go on and on. How they can continue to snub him is staggeringly unbelievable. I don’t think they’ll ever put him on the cover, even if he wins the Grand Slam and shatters Sampras’ record. What an utter disgrace to sports journalism.


Christopher Says:

JgC,

The truth is Federer isn’t American and Sports Illustrated knows tennis is not a popular sport in America. I think it’s more of a business decision than a snub job. If Federer were American the Sports magazines would be lining up to adorne Federer on their cover. Just an educated opinion.


grendel Says:

One thing I discovered on other boards – I take it it is true? – is that Nadal has built a private grass court in his home in Mallorca. That could account for why he has adapted so quickly to grass, although not of course for his superior skills – these would have emerged anyway, it’s just a bit quicker.

Shades of Lendl, building a replica of U.S.Open hard court? Incidentally, if Lendl had had today’s grass and balls to play on, he surely would have won Wimbledon, perhaps many times. It is this sort of thing which surely make the whole GOAT debate a bit of a non starter. How many slams would Laver have won if he hadn’t been excluded from playing for 5 years ? Some people say Pancho Gonzales was the most talented of the lot, but he was too poor to play “amateur” tennis as it was then. So no slams for him. And so on. I think being recognized as a great champion – that’s enough for anyone.

That said, there’s definitely a piquancy in the fed/nadal rivalry. If in the next 12 months (before Fed gets too old so it doesn’t count), if one gets on top of the other, it won’t mean that either of them are GOAT, in my opinion. But it will mean that one of them is extra EXTRA


grendel Says:

One thing I discovered on other boards – I take it it is true? – is that Nadal has built a private grass court in his home in Mallorca. That could account for why he has adapted so quickly to grass, although not of course for his superior skills – these would have emerged anyway, it’s just a bit quicker.

Shades of Lendl, building a replica of U.S.Open hard court? Incidentally, if Lendl had had today’s grass and balls to play on, he surely would have won Wimbledon, perhaps many times. It is this sort of thing which surely make the whole GOAT debate a bit of a non starter. How many slams would Laver have won if he hadn’t been excluded from playing for 5 years ? Some people say Pancho Gonzales was the most talented of the lot, but he was too poor to play “amateur” tennis as it was then. So no slams for him. And so on. I think being recognized as a great champion – that’s enough for anyone.

That said, there’s definitely a piquancy in the fed/nadal rivalry. If in the next 12 months (before Fed gets too old so it doesn’t count), if one gets on top of the other, it won’t mean that either of them are GOAT, in my opinion. But it will mean that one of them is extra EXTRA special….Absolutely no idea who it will be, look forward to finding out.


grendel Says:

sorry, computer playing up!


Christopher Says:

Grendel,

I enjoy your posts. I think Lendl did everything he could to win Wimbledon. He even skipped the clay court season entirely at one point to focus on Wimbledon. His problem was that he had two hall of fame grass court players in his way. That being Becker and Edberg. He lost to Pat Cash in the 1987 final who was in peak form at the time. I’m afraid that Federer will always be in Nadal’s way at Wimbledon. The young hungry talented lions like Djokovic are not far behind. In my opinion, Djokovik’s game is more suited to winning Wimbledon than Nadal’s. He is only going to get better. Nadal could end up being the modern version of Lendl. Lendl won everything in tennis except Wimbledon.


max Says:

Have you guys realized that it has taken a Fed+Nadal combination to get close to what Borg did when it comes down to winning Wimbledon and RG? Borg won 6 RG, 4 straight, and the 5 straight Wimbledons. Nadal might match the 4 straights RG next year.
I think that when we talk about tennis greatest Borg might be the greatest ever depending on what Fed keeps achieving.
I just read an interesting article about Borg numbers here: http://besteversportstalk.blogspot.com/2007_07_01_archive.html


Christopher Says:

Max,

It is also interesting to note that no two players (that I can remember anyways) have ever represented the finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. These two players have now done it in two consecutive years. It is amazing to have two great players that are so good on different surfaces at the same time. I think we as tennis fans, should feel priviledged to be witnessing this great rivalry. It has sparked world wide interest back into men’s tennis. I am thrilled about it. I can’t wait until the U.S. Open begins in late August. It’s going to be fantastic!


Tejuz Says:

Well.. Nadal cannot be a mondern day Lendl unless he starts winning other Slams.

Even if Nadal does something great in the next one year.. he cant be extra special over federer.. he still will have to prove it for few years… unless ofcourse he completes the set of Grand Slams by next year. 3 wins and one Runner Up out of 4 grand slams is not good enough for everyone.. cuz Fed has done that twice , but stil most of us are reluctant to name him GOAT.

Nice article about Borg.. Max. Certainly showz how much he dominated during his days. Pity he left early..


Christopher Says:

Tejuz,

Good point about Nadal and Lendl. However remember, Lendl had trouble winning grand slams in the early part of his career. Once he did, he was unstopable. Nadal shows significant signs of improving on other surfaces. He seems willing to do what it takes. I think in time he may learn to flatten out his great forehand and step in more to better take advantage of faster courts. His timing and reflexes are amazing. He could do this. Any way, time will tell. Let’s see how it developes.


grendel Says:

Lendl couldn’t win Wimbledon on the old style grass. But his game was ideally suited to contemporary Wimbledon conditions – that was my point. In other words, luck does have a certain role in these matters.

It is true that Nadal cannot match Fed’s record in the next 12 months what ever he does – unless he gets grand slam, as you say Tejuz. But he may emerge as the superior player, especially in the eyes of the other players, which is what really counts. I am hoping Fed holds him off, apart from anything else, that may well entail Federer having to raise his level – that should be something to see, shouldn’t it? It’s a strange thing, one wants Nadal to be good, to be very good indeed, in fact. But not too good…..


HJL Says:

I don’t think that Nadal has a grass court at home.

You guys are comparing Nadal with Lendl now, hoping that the same will happen to him in Wimbledon (always trying but never winning it). LOL

Awwww….Federer is still the best. There. Better now?


DUNCAN Says:

I still maintain that Nadal was exhausted in this final and, regardless of what his serve is normally like, the fact remains that he hardly got a single first serve in – certainly in the final set I don’t believe he got one in.
On another tack altogether is there anyone out there who, like me, is sick and tired of the drivel that the commentators continually spew out while play is in progress. The worst offender is undoubtedly McEnroe whose whining tones and fatuous comments detract from my enjoyment of the game. I can’t understand what he is doing on the BBC anyway. I asked the BBC in an email to provide and commentary free channel on their interactive service but, as usual, the request was neither acknowledged or complied with. Anyone agree with this let the BBC know.


Christopher Says:

Duncan,

With all due respect, fitness comes into winning grand slam events. If Nadal was tired as you claim, then how is this Roger Federer’s fault. Andre Agassi made a living on ware(ing) down opponents to win his grand slam titles. It’s part of the game. Wimbledon doesn’t have some sort of conspiracy plot to give Federer an advantage. They don’t control the weather. How ridiculous.

By the way, John McEnroe is a brilliant color commentator. I love his candid honest responses. He is far better than hearing Bud Collins ooh and ahh through every point. You want to talk about annoying. That was it. Both John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova are great commentators. They know what they are talking about. Long live Johnny Mac in the booth!


grendel Says:

if Nadal doesn’t have a grass court at home (and what do you mean you think he doesn’t, HJL? surely, you either know or you don’t), where does the rumour that he does come from? If incorrect, you have to say it is sheer spite. It would be interesting to know for sure.

Look, this business about Lendl, so far as I am concerned, is just to point out the role that luck, or ill luck of course, plays in tennis – as in life. You don’t want to exaggerate it, but it’s definitely there.

Another McEnroe hater! Well, there can be no arguing about tastes. I find him very refreshing indeed after a diet of desperately dreary English commentators. I think Navratilova will be good, once she’s got the hang of it. At the moment, she’s just a bit too relentlessly technical, at least for ignoramuses like me. I find it hard to keep up! McEnroe steers a nice line between the informative and the chatty.


Kash Says:

Christopher,

I am sorry, I somehow missed your post on July 11th 5:54 p.m Anyways I think I goofed up on the punctuation of that sentence. Here is what I wanted to say:

“There is no way anyone can argue, that the scheduling affected them equally, without a hint of bias.”

This was the last sentence of my post on July 11 @5:39 p.m

To the person who says bjorg is rafa + fed. You can look at it another way, bjorg is rafa/fed without the other. In a way, bjorg must be having fun watching one guy prevent the other from achivieng the RG-Wimby. Fed lost last 3yrs at RG to nadal and nadal the last two years lost wimby to fed. Actually, in my book fed has crossed bjorg. He has the wimbledon-US open trifecta which bjorg never achieved. So even stevens!

All said and done, I dont care who the GOAT is. I had beaten it to death during sampras times and thought whoever is going to win 15 slams wouldn’t have been born yet. Lo and behold. Enter mr. Federer. I have learnt my lesson :D ” The only thing that doesn’t change ,in this world, is change.

Tejuz:

Couple of reasons why nadal wont be lendl :

1) Hasnt lost his first 4 slam finals.
2) nadal has oodles of charisma! with a capital C. I am not even sure lendl’s parents are aware of his achievements ;)


Christopher Says:

Kash,

Had to laugh at the Lendl comment. You are right. He wasn’t Mr. personality. Was he?

That’s it!


max Says:

Duncan,

I think John McEnroe is as brilliant a commentator as he was a tennis player.
On the other hand, listening to English commentators is even more boring than dancing with your sister at your prom.

Grendel, I agree with your “luck does have a certain role in these matters”, in fact for Fed to beat Nadal in RG will take not only luck but a miracle. So, we all Fed fans we’ll have not only to believe in miracles but to count on them :-)


DUNCAN Says:

My point seems to have been lost because I dared to criticise McEnroe. I am saying I do not want to hear commentators. I can see what the players are doing and what they have scored – I don’t need people waffling on about it. Perhaps the American contributers like to hear McEnroe but everyone I have spoken to in UK does not. Anyway my point is that with the interactive service it should be possible to provide a commentary free screen especially for the final. I would agree that Navratilova is a good comentator as are one or two others but we Brits (and Wimbledon is a British event after all) do not care for the abrasive US accent assailing our ear drums.


HJL Says:

“and what do you mean you think he doesn’t, HJL? surely, you either know or you don’t”

How sure can you be about these things if your main source of info is the internet? I haven’t even been on his home island let alone know what sort of training facilities he has to be exact.
However, I remember reading an interview not that long ago and Nadal was asked about it. He did say that he doesn’t have a grass court at home because that’s hard to keep up where he lives. There’s an artificial grass court somewhere but Nadal himself said that it’s not ideal to train on because it does not react in the same way as real grass.

Personally, I think that John McEnroe is a brilliant commentator.


FloridaMan Says:

To DUNCAN: I agree, Wimbledon’s scheduling was a total sham. It’s London. It rains a lot in London. I am glad that they are finally waking up to building a roof over the center court. They talk so much about “tradition”, but that word can be over-used and reduced to, frankly, baloney. Since when can’t practicality be tradition??


FloridaMan Says:

Folks, do you remember the talented tennis player Ronald Agenor? He was the Hatian Sensation, a top 20 player back in the late 80s and early 90s. He has a great tennis site out now called http://www.internationaltennismagazine.com. Check it out! There’s a great interview with Andres Gomez in it right now. Plus a lot of current news.


grendel Says:

Well, HJL, it sounds after all as if you do know, and Nadal doesn’t have a grass court. That settles that one. I wonder how the rumour arose?

Duncan: “everyone I have spoken too in UK doesn’t (i.e.like to listen to McEnroe)”. This is a good example of how unreliable anecdotal evidence is. You see I am British, and everyone I know thinks, like me, that McEnroe is right up there at the top as a commentator. But this, too, is just anecdotal. But the fact that the B.B.C. is prepared to pay McEnroe a lot more loot than the humble home grown commentator suggests that he is popular. And as for “we Brits not caring for the abrasive US accent”, speak for yourself, chum. I couldn’t give a toss what accent anyone has. It’s a moot point whether Wimbledon is a British event. It’s such a huge event, I would regard it as international.

Whilst John McEnroe is a wonderful commentator, one even better, I believe, is Frew Macmillan, the South African – he comments for Eurosport, so perhaps not too many people are aware of him, which is a pity.


mouseinlionsclothing Says:

fishgoat


impartial_lion Says:

i salute you mouse. the discombobulated swiss has proved beyond doubt that he is the transitional number 1. here’s to a happy retirement.

roger-and-out


Jonathan Says:

Not much has been made here of Fed’s apparent upset by the computer line calls; it seemed to me he lost a lot of momentum in the fourth set because of this ( and he should cure himself of reacting to a machine ). His reaction could have cost him the match.

Mary Carillo’s voice is easy on the ears and always insightful, without the over-bearing. She gets my vote for best tennis commentator.


grendel Says:

Well, now, to get one over Roger on the computer screen, it seems one must act as two.

But who will help Rafa on the real thing as he slides helplessly en route to NUMBER 3!

Discombobulatedly yours,
A Goat For All Seasons


Skorocel Says:

Grendel, you’re absolutely right about Frew McMillan. Here in Slovakia (that’s in Mid Europe), we once used to have the English commentary on Eurosport, with the likes of McMillan, David Mercer or Sam Smith commentating… I always liked their views, since they were very insightful and professional. Too bad they switched the commentary to Czech (which is 1000 times worse)…


HJL Says:

“Well, HJL, it sounds after all as if you do know, and Nadal doesn’t have a grass court”

Why do you care whether I’m sure about it or not anyway? That was a weird question to ask.
I get this sort of information from the internet and I know better than to believe everything I read so I tend to be careful with basing my opinion on what I read on the internet.
I mean, do you get more certainty just because I typed something out here?
It’s not a matter of “knowing something or not” since you nor I don’t know the guy personally.


grendel Says:

calm down, HJL. I was picking a hole in your logic, earlier.Either you knew whether Nadal had a grass court or you didn’t know. You said you thought he, Nadal, didn’t have a grass court. A little bit of probing from me, and I elicit from you that you have read Nadal actually saying he didn’t have a grass court. That counts as know ledge, to me, not mere belief.

Of course, Nadal could be lying. Very unlikely, seeing how easy it would be to check. And then, you could be lying. That is where judgement comes in. You come across as a prickly fellow, and one who doesn’t always bother to read carefully what is in front of him. But you don’t strike me as a liar. So I am content to accept your word – perhaps I am guilty of a fatal naievety.

It is exactly because statements on message boards are, without any backing evidence, open to question, that I introduced the topic on this message board, hoping to elicit some information. You are the person who has provided the information. But it didn’t matter who it was, providing I thought the person was likely (not certain, note: certainties are not so easy to come by) to be reasonably trustworthy. So don’t personalise it. In short, grow up my friend.


HJL Says:

Grow up, my friend?
calm down?

LOL
Are you kidding?

Come on, Grendel. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill and for what?
Just because I didn’t type “I know he doesn’t have a grass court at home” instead of “I think that he doesn’t have a grass court?

We can have a perfectly fine discussion or you can stop acting as if this is your own little blog. Trying to be a bit condescending in such a silly way doesn’t really work with me.

So, what is it? Stop picking at people for no good reason or have a REAL conversation?

Besides, I think that this topic is dead anyway.


grendel Says:

I agree with you on one thing, HJL – this could be boring the pants of anybody else, for which I apologise, and this will certainly be my last word on the topic.

You accused me of a) being personal and b) just accepting stuff because it happens to be on the internet. I replied to this, and I notice you didn’t question that. To accuse me of “picking on you for no good reason” is peculiar. I accepted what you said about Nadal and grass courts – and to me, this was quite an important issue. I was actually quite grateful to you. So I was pretty baffled when you come up all prickly, and why do you care what I say, and all this stuff. Perhaps I was a bit sharp in my first comment – about thinking and knowing and distinctions to be made there – which was insensitive of me, since I hadn’t intended to wound. But I do think that your excessive sensitivity has lead you to ignore what’s in front of your eyes. That’s not being condescending, nor is the urge for your to calm down. But “grow up”? Yes, that was unnecessary, sorry for that.


HJL Says:

“Perhaps I was a bit sharp in my first comment ”

Yup. Thanks for admitting that. Keep that tought, though.

“nor is the urge for your to calm down. ”
I’m perfectly calm. Thanks for your concern. It’s not because I don’t agree with everything you say that I’m not calm, you know.

““grow up”? Yes, that was unnecessary, sorry for that”
Thanks for the apology, I guess.

However, was this necessary, though? –>
” But I do think that your excessive sensitivity has lead you to ignore what’s in front of your eyes.”
excessive sensitivity? LOL
You’re kidding again, right?

What is the big deal with saying “I think” instead of “I know”. You’re the one who started this little silly converation we’re having. I’m just asking why it’s such a big deal. And please, don’t give me the “finding a hole in my logic” argument again because that’s nonsense and you seem like a smart guy so deep down, you know that as well. I just typed “I think” instead of I know. WTF?

Case closed as far as I’m concerned because now we’re just nitpicking over nothing.


grendel Says:

I’ve managed to get hold of a video of the final, and watched it through again. Because I’ve had the luxury of being able to stop, rewind, pause etc, I’ve been able to make some notes some of which might be of interest.

I’ve just been forcibly reminded that this is not my personal blog, and I’ve been guiltily aware of how often the name “grendle” comes up. Can’t resist responding to posters, will have to watch that one. But I’ve noticed that for last 2 days or so, there’s been virtually nothing except a bizarre spat (talk about ships passing each other in the night), so if noone else wants to have a say, I’ll bung in my twopennyworth.

First set: honours even, with scrappy tiebreak could have gone either way. One typical scenario: Fed hits good shot to corner, Nadal responds with defensive squash shot, Fed hits aggressive forehand cross court, which is just a wee bit short, up to the net for kill – Nadal passes. With any other player, the forehand wouldn’t have counted as short – something to think about?

Another common scenario – Fed floats backhand slice, which sits up (Nadal spin?) to give Nadal easy kill. A certain rigidity, one senses here. On other hand, Fed wins tiebreak with an excellent backhand to corner, hitting over the ball. He doesn’t do this very often – obstinate, or Nadal doesn’t allow him?

First game second set, Nadal absolutely focused, Fed a little too relaxed. At 3 all, 30 love on Nadal serve,Fed hits very hard (unusual) backhand slice, called out. Tv replay showed it to be in. Fed wins next 2 points – so would have had break point. Then at 5-4 Nadal, there was that slapstick situation with Nadal on his bum, Fed looking puzzled and annoyed at something – actually, his first serve, but too late to challenge. Fed vents his frustration next point with wild slash, and effectively hands the set to Nadal. On the whole, honours even in this set in terms of play, but Nadal deserves it because of his cool discipline. This is where, you feel, a coach would be so useful to Federer. Lack of discipline nearly cost him this match.

3rd set, 1 all, and some long sliced backhands from Fed, one dropped deliberately short to draw Nadal in, giving Fed a relatively easy pass down the line. Worth a comment, because this just didn’t happen very often. Why not? Nadal too good, or Fed forgetting certain strengths of his ? At 3 all , Fed plays a magnificent point on Nadal’s serve – and loses it! Somewhere in the rally, Nadal retreats, a la Paris, to several feet behind the base line, which enables him to return with interest a heavy Fed forehand down the line. Nadal has a fine instinct as to when to go forward and to retreat – but his retreat is for purposes of attack! At 4 all, 30 all. Fed’s last 3 strokes of rally, all backhand – slice, top spin and imperious drive, all down the middle, all of good length. Lesson here?

Even so, at 30 all, 6-5, Nadal weakly dumps short ball into the net – would have been his set point. Great tiebreak from fed.

4th set, First game: Fed serves and volleys at 30 love – and loses point, not to Nadal pass but drops a relatively easy ball into the net. Moral: 1) Not enough practice on serve and volley and 2) loss of concentration. Sloppy game, essentially lost him the set. At 4-0, 15 love, Nadal first rubs his knee. Trainer on. Well, obviously I took the opportunity to look really closely at the serve, including rewindings for purpose of instant comparisons. Sometimes I thought I noticed a difference, sometimes not. Not very helpful, I’m afraid. A serve is a complex set of manouevres which I don’t have the expertise to interpret. But one thing is certainly true, Nadal won the next 4 service games, and Federer’s play didn’t seem any different at all. Hard to see how the serve could have affected the outcome of the match.

First set of break points: 15-40, solid but not spectacular serve which Nadal returns long – have to call it an error. At 30-40, aggressive backhand cross court keeping very low, which fed somewhow scoops up, delivering a powerful forehand to the line which Nadal can’t control. So you wouldn’t say Fed saved by serve on this game – more justifiable for the next service game Fed was in trouble in.

Nadal was finally broken on his 5th service game after the injury.
0-15 (unlucky net cord0
0-30 (magnificent Fed winner on 6th stroke after saving an apparently certain nadal winner to the corner)
0-40 (admittedly ordinary serve, winner on 4th stroke).
15-40 (Fed beaten by serve)
Game to Fed (good serve, which fed blocks defensively. He wins the point with a stunning forehand on the 14th – yes, 14th – stroke.

On this evidence, I don’t think Nadal’s serve comes into it.

Wimbledon 2008? Nadal will be better, no doubt. But Fed should have learnt from this match, preferably with a coach. And there will be much less pressure on him. Equalling the record was the breakthrough. Furthermore, a lot of people, maybe a majority, will now be expecting Nadal to win. Looking forward to it. Reckon my man’s in with a good chance.


Seraphim Says:

No update on “Who’s got the funk/Who’s in the trunk” yet?

It’s been a week or two now.

Abe, Lynn, Richard, Sean……………Remember WIMBLEDON? 2007?

Don’t be scurred. LOL.


Moya! Says:

I’ve been away for abit but I was scrolling back and I noticed Tejuz said that Borg was an early bloomer! How can you say that?! Borg retired when he was 26 and thats not exactly the youngest of ages tenniswise is it? And I’m sure he would of won at least a couple more french opens!!! Also
everyone talking about the massive Fed – Nadal
rivalry, Feds 25 and Nadals 21 a 4 year gap and Nadal is winning on the W-L record! I don’t think Nadal is just an early bloomer ( though being a Nadal fan I would say that! ) I think he will go on for quite abit. Partly because of his physicality but also because I think he’s too clever to wear himself out. I think he’ll find a way to pace himself. But for Fed I sense he’s coming to the end of his reign. Not quite the dominant force he once was. And finally people say that Fed will beat Nadal at french so Rafa wins it! People say hes got no chance to get to final of SW19 so he gets to the final and not only that but he takes Fed to arguably the closest match Feds ever had on grass! So PLEASE don’t say he’s got no chance at US open STOP ruling him out because he’s undoubtedly one of the faves!!!


Tejus Says:

Moya… nobody has ruled out Nadal’s chances at US Open. When i said Nadal was an early bloomer, i meant he won grandlams at age of 19, 20.. similar to Becker or Borg. Borg continued till 26 and ended up with 11 Grand Slams. Becker also won his 1st five grand slams before the age of 22 but slowed down later.

regarding his chances at US Open, he still has to prove himself in other grandslams outside of French Open. His chances in US Open is same as Djokovic or Davydenko or Roddick for that matter. They all are way behind Federer. And what do u mean Fed isnt the dominant force he once was?? he is leading their head 2 head rivalry since last year French Open.

Grendel, that was pretty nice analysis. If they meet next year again in Wimbledon, Fed would be ready for Nadal. He was short of match practice this time.


Moya! Says:

Tejuz: Early Bloomer:
I beleive that Borg may have retired early due to the fact he didn’t think that he could beat Mcenroe anymore and he even said that he wasn’t interested in number 2. In his words: “ Number 2,3,4 no good I want number 1! “
Becker, I think, was a very instinctive player. He burst onto the scene at 17 and played with the confidence of youth. As he got older he got a lot more involved in things outside tennis which distracted him and took the edge off his game very unlike Fed or Nadal for instance. A little like a more successful Safin in a way. However Nadal has a very long vision and also ( this is very important ) he is prepared to work for it, he,s very patient which someone like Becker I don’t think was.

Hard Court Season:
He quickly mastered grass so why can’t Rafa do the same with hardcourt?
Already this year he’s beaten Roddick easily on hard court in Roddicks home country. He’s already 2-2 with Fed on hard court where as
Djokovic is 0-3, Davy is 0-6 and Roddick is 1-8! Also Nadal is 1-0 against Davy and 1-1 with Novak.
Looking good for Rafa don’t you think? I also think that Rafa has the game to win the US open because he seems to change his game for each surface very well indeed.

Nadal – Fed rivalry:
Although in last 6 matches Fed is 4-2 up ( may I note that 2 were on grass and in Hamburg Nadal was obviously burnt out. ) they have all been very close and Nadals certainly not scared of Roger. However many people beleive that Fed is scared of Rafa, what do you think? Also Fed has a lot of pressure on him as #1 whilst Rafa has nothing to lose as the challenger, he only got to the quarters of New York last year and I think he’ll beat that this year!
Nadal for the US OPEN!!!
As I’m sad to say Moya does not have a serious chance anymore.
Long post eh?


Tejus Says:

Moya,
Agree with you on most of your points. Also i havent discounted Nadal for US Open crown. In fact if he reaches the finals with Fed he will have atleast 40-60 chance of winning it. But Fed is also beginning to enjoy this rivalry… especially after beating him in Hamburg and in that 5 setter.

But what i was pointing to was that Rafa will have a tougher time reaching the finals than Federer because he has quite a few people who have better record against him on hard courts. There are a lot of hard court specialists in today’s tennis as opposed to grass court specialists. Federer has already proved it for last 3 years consistently.. Nadal is yet to prove. We’ll only have to wait til US Open to see what Nadal has to deliver.

Btw.. some stats.. Fed is 90%(36 out of 40 matches) win-loss for this year wheras Nadal is 86.44% (51 out of 59) .. and Nadal is supposed to be having his best year and Fed is not supposedly not having his best. Nadal is 85 points more than Fed in the race, but has also played 3 extra tournaments. Fed can always choose to play some extra smaller tournaments if Nadal threatens his No 1 ranking. He still has a cushion.


LoveWins Says:

yo those are some good points.
federer is the best.
after Marat SafiN!


sanity Says:

christ! even the two protagonists have more respect for each other than you pathetic people show for each other. here’s a great little youtube thingy showing just how much they respect each other…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpKxC9A6dMw


sanity Says:

just realised that i used “each other” thrice. not great pose, but what the hey?


zola Says:

My guess is RAfa will win USOpen some time in his career. But to speculate on how he will play this year, better wait and see. To me, if he can reach semis, he has improved his last year’s record. If he can beta some of his hard court nemesis ( Youzhny, Berdych, Blake) on the fastest hard courts, that will be a great step forward.

It took Federer several years to reach where he is. At 21, he was nowhere near where RAfa is today. RAfa is a fast learner and loves to play tennis. To me, the most important thing is to see him stay healthy. with his discipline and way of improving, I have no doubt the results will follow.


zola Says:

sanity
that’s a nice clip. maybe too romantic!


Samar Says:

Look the wise man is on the block..if any of you morons know anything bout tennis then you would readily acknowledge the fact that fedex is the greatest player the game has and will ever see…nadal is a bloody bull who runs around as if he has another racket stuck up his ass somewhere..and whats with his constant fingering of the crack routine..? Federer shud refuse to shake hands with him after the match..nadal will probably give him an infection.so zola and nadal supporters…fuck off


Samar Says:

You bloody nadal supporting cunts…do you also eat your food from in between ur crack?..that bull shud be locked up in an asylum alongwith hewitt…fuck all of you thinking yourdelf as bloody analysts and dissecting the game of the great federer..if you had any fucking sense you wud seriously cock up and watch fedex’s glorious game…bloody spanish mierdas!!!!! as we say in spain..khoder!!!!


romerun Says:

I watched the match. Nadal knew Fed doesn’t like spin and high bounce on his backhand and he kept attacking it. Set 1 to 4, Fed stubbornly tried to hit back with his sharp backhand, but, so many times did the ball stop at the net. In set 5, Fed played safer, he used backhand slice instead and his game had improved since then.

PPl say in this couple years, the grass creates higher bounce which suits Nadal’s clay game. I’m quite agree, I have a feeling that the match was so similar to the French, except the outcome.


Tejus Says:

well.. sometimes Fed appears to be very stubborn in his approach to all the Nadal matches.


the kiwi Says:

my question proves a point now face facts the only grnd slam standing in roger federers in his way is as we all know the french open paris clay now we know rafeal nadal as the king of clay court but surely ha can do more then that cant he.Rafeal nadal world no2 what does nadal have that roger federer has is ive course the french open but hes better on the clay court.the difference to roger federer winning more grand slams is tis his advantage of surface you cant really blam him that he was raised to be a clay courterbut if he just has spare time to try more on grass rebound ace and hardcourt like the us open is comeing up lets see if he can beat him at the us open i hope so go rafeal nadal only one of the youngest top ten stars can you believe it he is world number two rafeal nadal to take on roger federer the world number one that is so hard to win over????????????
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LoveWins Says:

Marat Safin can beat Federer.


FloridaMan Says:

I agree with what one of the folks said, about McEnroe being an excellent commentator. I agree. And I am no big fan of Bud Collins. Never have been, never will be. His act got old a long long time ago.

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ATP - Sep 29 WTA - Sep 29
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Simona Halep
3 Roger Federer3 Petra Kvitova
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Maria Sharapova
5 David Ferrer5 Na Li
6 Tomas Berdych6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Kei Nishikori7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Milos Raonic8 Caroline Wozniacki
9 Marin Cilic9 Ana Ivanovic
10 Grigor Dimitrov10 Angelique Kerber
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