Nadal, Federer: What Lies Ahead?
by Sean Randall | July 20th, 2008, 5:00 pm
  • 128 Comments

In sports, a measure of greatness is seeing just how a champion responds after getting hit. Well, Roger Federer got hit by Rafael Nadal in the French Open final, then five weeks later Nadal knocked him down in the Wimbledon final. You can make case that Nadal delivered the knockout blow to Federer in France, but I have to think that Roger felt a hell of a lot worse the Monday after Wimbledon than he did the Monday after Paris.

In Paris, the way Nadal was rolling entering the final, Roger had to have known his chances of actually beating Rafa were a long shot. But Wimbledon was a different story. That was Federer’s house, his turf, his property and he was arguably playing better ball than Nadal going into that final. And I think Federer was even OK with the tradeoff: Rafa you get your French and I get my Wimbledon just as it’s been. Deal? Well, not anymore.

Rafa’s Wimbledon win may very well signal a true changing of the guard in tennis. Time will tell. But time right now isn’t on the side of Federer. The Swiss who turns 27 in just a few weeks now faces what I think is his greatest challenge yet as a pro. For the first time really in his career he’s the one looking up, he’s the one that is giving chase in the current day.

The field isn’t catching up to Federer, it’s caught up and in Nadal’s case, it’s passed him. And within this competitive environment Federer still needs two Slam titles to tie Pete Sampras, three to pass. He needs three more year-end No. 1 finishes and he’s more 50 than weeks shy of the total weeks at No. 1. And there’s the French Open.

Clearly, Fed’s still got some work to do in the record books if that’s still part of his priorities.

Physically, after his early season woes Federer appeared fine and fit in Paris and Wimbledon. But after that Nadal blow two Sundays ago I’m not even sure Roger really knows where he stands mentally now.

How does he muster up the reserves when it looks increasingly bleak that yes, his best days are behind him while for Rafa, Novak and others their best is likely yet to come? And just how motivated can he be to keep practicing, putting in the hours, punching clock to get up for non-Majors like Toronto and Cincinnati?

For many of us lucky enough to either enjoy decent TV coverage or good tickets to these summer events, we’ll have a front row seat over the next 45 days or so to see just what Federer’s response is. I’m very eager to watch because right now I really have no sense of what’s to come from the Swiss.

As for Nadal, if you watched ESPN during Wimbledon you no doubt heard Brad Gilbert throw Rafa’s name right into the GOAT discussion, forecasting the Spaniard will end his career with 15-18 Slams if I him heard correctly.

18 Slams for Rafa? Wow. Gilbert may be ahead of himself a bit there, but I get where he’s coming from. As I said following the French Open, while many of us are looking at Roger as perhaps the greatest, maybe all along it’s been Rafa who will ultimately take that title. I don’t think it’s really that far-fetched a scenario given what’s Rafa’s already accomplished having just turned 22. (Ask yourself this, who’s more likely to win the career Slam right now, Rafa or Roger? In my mind clearly Rafa has a better chance.)

What I like about Rafa right now is that he’s learning and getting better. He’s on an upslope. He enjoyed his best start to the year in Australia and then followed with a very strong U.S. spring campaign. He had what I think was his best clay season. Then he had his best grass season. And now I think he rides that uptrend right through this North American summer circuit.

Nadal might not accumulate titles and run roughshod on the cement like he did on the clay and grass the last few months, but I still think he puts up his best numbers he ever has this time of year.

Mentally, Nadal’s simply in a class by himself, and now he’s focusing on other aspects of his game. As we saw at Wimbledon, Nadal’s really improved his court positioning and his serve, especially his second serve. And I think on hardcourts his second serve is his greatest vulnerability. With that weakness now strengthened – or perhaps better said, less weaker – it’s only going to help him and make him that much tougher. And if he can stay within the court and keep healthy I see no reason why he cannot continue to do well, finally claim No. 1 and reach at least the US Open Final Four.

True, on hardcourts many, many more players can step up and take it to Rafa. But the way Rafa’s been playing of late it’s tough to see him as the underdog really in any match for at least these next few weeks.

Roger is the overall tournament favorite in Toronto, but head-to-head should he and Rafa meet in the final Rafa may very well become the betting favorite.

As for the rest of the guys…

Novak Djokovic remains a real mystery to me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he’s got a lot of game. A lot. But something’s still isn’t right between the ears. After losing to Marat Safin at Wimbledon Novak talked about being “tired mentally”. How the hell can you be tired mentally in June? For a guy who tapped out at the end of year last season, such talk doesn’t exactly instill a lot belief that he’s going overtake a couple of greats like Federer and Nadal anytime soon.

On the positive side for Novak, before Rafa took over tennis back in April, remember it was Djokovic’s circuit the first three months. The Serb won the Australian and won Indian Wells. By all accounts he was the best player.

However, after all that work and after putting up some good results on the clay circuit, he’s still stuck at No. 3 and in some ways even a more distant No. 3 than he was at the start of the year after the recent resumption of the Roger-Rafa show.

Novak now faces perhaps his toughest test of his young career. He needs to get back into the Roger-Rafa spoiler conversation and he’s now under the gun to defend a substantial amount of ranking points from last summer. Also, might Ana Ivanovic’s Roland Garros triumph and her subsequent ascension to No. 1 added even more pressure on Novak? I’m guessing it doesn’t help.

I thought at the start of the year that Andy Roddick could steal a Wimbledon or a US Open title this season. I still do, though Roddick pretty much crapped out at Wimbledon, but I’ll still give him a look at the US Open. I think if Andy can keep his back in check, keep his SI model in tow, put up some nice results this summer and harness the form we saw from in Dubai and Miami, he can be a big factor at Flushing. Plus, with just about every top guy heading to China, Roddick, who’s skipping the Olympics, may very well be the freshest of the big favorites entering the US Open. And being fresh come US Open time might turn out to be a huge edge for those that are.

Beijing, though, really is the X-factor, the unknown quantity, this summer. How players who go deep at the Olympics react/perform at US Open is anyone’s guess right now. I have a hard time seeing any player winning both Beijing and the US Open given the tight the tight schedule, the distance and the physical demands.

Starting Monday the hardcourt summer swing grinds five tough weeks before we hit the US Open and asking the top players to play their best tennis and put up big results in three of them – Toronto, Cincinnati and Beijing – and then ultimately peak at the US Open is going to be a difficult if not an impossible task.

That’s why I think we may very well revert back to the utter unpredictability that we saw at the start of the year. With guys coming from nowhere like Nikolay Davydenko in Miami, Roddick in Dubai, Mardy Fish at Indian Wells and of course JW Tsonga in Australia.

The Roger-Rafa show is one of the best we’ve ever had in tennis, and I think we hit a near-term, season climax with their epic at Wimbledon. So I think now feels about right for a little break from their rivalry, allowing perhaps a return to the chaos we had earlier. And if it doesn’t happen, and we get even more Roger v. Rafa, who’s going to argue with that?


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128 Comments for Nadal, Federer: What Lies Ahead?

FoT Says:

The only problem with predicting Rafa will win 18 or more slams is his body! He has to tape both knees before every match. He even had to call for a trainer at Wimbledon (although it didn’t appear to hamper him there); he was basically broken down at last year’s US Open after playing 2 tournaments on hard court. We all know the hard court in the summer does not agree with Nadal’s knees and so it’s hard to see what the future holds in store for someone with such a physical game and who relies on speed so much.

Also, I would like to wait and see what the players do on the summer hard court. I think it’s a mistake to think Roger is through since usually even with all the wins Roger has, he has shown in the past that his body can hold up for the duration of the long tennis calendar year. He was the one playing the best at the end of the tennis season last year beating Nadal pretty good at the year-end and winning that title while Djokovic really fizzled out last year.

And, like you said – I found it a little disturbing that Djokovic said earlier that he was mentally tired. Mentally tired in May/June? He has a long road ahead of him and needs to know that by being one of the favorites, the bullseye is on his back – so welcome to the Federer/Nadal world.


federer is dead Says:

Djokovic definitely was tired mentally because he had been playing mental warfare a lot throughout the european summer season.He was talking so much about beating Nadal and Federer that he could not bear the pressure he brought upon himself.He paid a big price for his and his family’s idiotic arrogance.I am confident the early wimbledon exit will put some sense into his head.He was firmly put in his place there and will be more careful about saying anything stupid in the future.He just did not have any excuse and therefore came out with a ridiculous one of being “mentally tired”.It was Nadal who should have been mentally and physically tired.Yet,he played like a champion without complaining and has got the just rewards.Vamos Rafael!!


Russel Says:

Rafa has the best chance for winning the career slam? What are you smoking? Nadal has made 1 semifinal at a hard court major. Federer has made the final of the one slam that has eluded him (3 times). I like Nadal but I think it is a tall task for him to win both the Australian and the US Open given his long winding forehand. He just doesn’t have the time on a hard court to really utilize this stroke like he does on clay and slow grass of Wimbledon.


Tennisisthebest Says:

I agree, i think that rafael will not be performing at his best at the US Open, but i think he’d be feeling pretty confident at this point because he’s so close to finally being the worlds number 1, so maybe that will give him the mental strength most others dont have. I love Roger too though so its hard to say who will be the worlds best tennis player after this comp. i really want to see more of Richard Gasquet personally, he’s a fantastic player! extremely talented and is definetly capable of winning Many slams to come! but its just that he’s not “mentally strong enough” :(


Vedrana Says:

Mark my words, and I say this with no ill thoughts towards Federer, who will remain one of the greatest of all time, for sure, but Rafa will win them all! 5 Grand Slams at 22!!! 10 more to go.
Just wait and see… VAMOS RAFA!


Tennissu Says:

haha, no i agree i think that nadal will not be the worlds no. 2 for much longer :) he’s got many years ahead of him too! roger will have to retire when rafa is still in top form, so if you think about it rafa will be like what roger is now :D


Ray Says:

yes! I agree with ‘tennisisthebest’! i think richard has exceeding talent! his style is much like roger federers but he has a few tricks of his own ;0, he’s definetly not going away, i think he’ll be number 1 some day.. soon..


jane Says:

Rafa’s shown us that he’s always improving and working on his game, plus he’s very young, so it’s entirely likely that he will win a hardcourt slam, or two, or three.

IMO, he’ll probably have better luck at the AO, though, being that it’s now a “slower” hardcourt and it’s held at the beginning of the year, when he’s fresh. The USO will always be tougher for him, I would think.

I agree with Sean that the end of this year will probably be more chaotic, with the masters events, olympics, and open spread between a few players – perhaps some less predictable winners too.

As for Djokovic’s mental exhaustion, I hope it was simply an excuse, as someone mentioned above. But the guy is only 20 and I think after winning his first slam he might’ve (?) been a little overwhelmed. That’s no excuse, really; he played poorly against Safin. But he’s been awfully consistent in slams up to this year’s Wimbledon, so we’ll see how / if he bounces back. I wrote on another blog that I read somewhere that Novak text messaged his coach after the Roger – Rafa Wimbledon final: “I’ve got a lot to learn” so hopefully he’ll continue to improve as well, working out the kinks in his game etc, and stay in the mix. He does have a great game – on all surfaces.


Noel Says:

“Novak Djokovic remains a real mystery to me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he’s got a lot of game. A lot. But something’s still isn’t right between the ears.”
Don’t be so harsh on Nole.One bad loss and we are making him a mystery.I don’t think there is much wrong between his ears.He is just 21 and yet has achieved quite a lot in his short career.I don’t think we should be so demanding because the clay and grass season was not expected to be his to lose in any case.The Roger-Rafa “show” was a real show only at wimby.On clay,it was only a Rafa show.From this point onwards,I expect it to become a Nole show as I don’t expect Roger to do as well as he normally does and Rafa is not capable of matching Nole on hard courts even though he may improves his results from last year.Nole had a bad finish last year and I expect him to gain a lot of points in the indoor season.In fact,I won’t be surprised if Fed finishes the year ranked third behind Rafa and Nole.The year-end number one rank is almost impossible for Nole now because of his poor wimby as compared to Rafa’s but he can hope for second place depending on how Fed plays in the rest of the season.


Hypnos Says:

Novak needs to dump his entourage and find his own motivation, a la Hewitt.


oasismiki Says:

I think that a lot of people, including the press, took Nole’s comment about being mentally tired way to literally. The way I understood that remark was that it was only a comment regarding his match with Marat. I say this because as soon as he stepped out on the court I could tell he wasn’t really interested in playing, he just wasn’t there MENTALLY. All of you are making it sound as if he said he was mentally tired of playing in general or whatever. I’m very excited about Rogers Cup, I hope he’ll be able to defend his title and that he will rock U.S Open.


TD (Tam) Says:

Please may I ask, no more Nadal-Federer finals. Not for another year at least.


kofi ofori Says:

shhhhhh, don’t look now but nadal is only 9 slams away from sampras!


janhavi Says:

I dont know what you guys are playing at writing Federer off so soon..if u must know Sampras did not win slams for almost two years..and then came bact to win the USO when nobody expected that..as for Rafa- he’s lucky the grass courts have been slowered down..put the grass courts into the pace they were earlier..and rafa wouldnt even make the finals..& that can be seen from his performance in 2005.he just runs around like a rabbit chasing every ball down..there’s nothing extraodinary about his game..its nowhere near to Federer’s
style of playing..how long is he going to run like that???? & if you’re forgetting Federer has been winning three slams a year & all tht for four years & most of the times he’s been without a coach..i’d like to see rafa doing that.


JM Says:

All this speculation about who will win how many slams amounts to nothing. Everyone forgets the next Sampras or Federer is probably just ready to burst on the scene. 5 years from now there will many more contenders the likes of which we’ve never seen before. By that time, Nadal will be overwhelmed by the competition because his type of play can’ be sustained, and on hard court, as Tsonga showed us, Nadal can look ridiculously slow compared to the greatest of players.

As for Federer I doubt he’s done. Far from it. As soon as a dominent player starts to lose everyone is so quick to wrtite them off and write about the changing of the guards. Total journalistic BS with no solid arguments. The set back for Federer could be related to his personnal life, and though speculations amount it’s his long time relationship to Mirka (his manager & girlfriend), no one has actually written about the effect it can have on a career. Just look at Agassi when things went wrong with then wife Brook Shields.

I believe Federer will either take a break from tennis or come back much stronger, but he will have to clean house first. If his relationship doesn’t give him much satisfaction anymore, he will have to move on and we all know this could be devastating for his career in the short term. Hopefully he will make the right choices and sacrifice what has to go for tennis, the sports, the records, the glory and the fans.


Ezorra Says:

janhavi says;

“…as for Rafa- he’s lucky the grass courts have been slowered down..put the grass courts into the pace they were earlier..and rafa wouldnt even make the finals..& that can be seen from his performance in 2005.he just runs around like a rabbit chasing every ball down..there’s nothing extraodinary about his game..its nowhere near to Federer’s style of playing… ”

Come on dude! Are u kidding me or what? Believe me; even federer’s fans will think that you’re out of your mind! Whether Rafa’s game is extraordinaire or not, it is very subjective to be talked about so it’ll only waste my time to further argue about it. However, why can’t you accept the fact that he won Wimbledon because he has become a better player from time to time? Come on, this is Nadal in 2008 that we are talking about, not the the 19 year-old Nadal!

Another thing is about the nonsense reason that some of you keep barking; the “slowered” down grass court of Wimbledon! Come on, if Federer is that great (I mean sooooo great), why can’t he adapt with the “slowered” down grass court? In my opinion, there is no doubt that Federer is one of the greatest tennis player ever, but Nadal won the title not because of the “slowered” down grass court, he won because he played better than Federer! Shame on you!

“…if you’re forgetting Federer has been winning three slams a year & all tht for four years & most of the times he’s been without a coach..i’d like to see rafa doing that…”

Gosh!!! Nobody denies that but just because Federer’s plays good tennis without a coach, it doesn’t mean that it suitable for other players too… duh!

To be honest with all of you, I am Nadal’s fan but I put all my respect to Federer as well. Listen to all the craps that you’ve created towards Nadal and Federer has only made me sick. To me, both players have contributed so much in the world of tennis. I also believe that Federer should be placed in a different level and class of players than Nadal and Djokovic, due to the fact that those two players are still young and there are still a lot of rooms for improvement.


Dan_M Says:

Shital asked for my take on the Toronto draw and I think it is perhaps one of the hardest draws I have ever seen for Nadal. Good players lurk throughout his quarter of the draw.


sensationalsafin Says:

Seriously, I’m as pissed as the next Fed fan about Nadal winning but cmon. Nadal just runs around like a rabbit? That didn’t look like his only gameplan at all in the final. Give credit where credit is due and Nadal deserves a lot of credit. And cmon, would you really have Federer losing to a guy who simply runs around like a rabbit?

The draw is really tough for Nadal… on paper.


Daniel Says:

What happen with Toronto’s draw. I counted 8 lucky loser!


Kevin Says:

Nadal played better is one of reason he won Wimbledon. The slowere grass is another. But even the grass is fast, Federer would still lose, as he played too much error. Nadal played better in this year is a fact, but I am looking forward to seeing his performance at hard court. I feel his hard court game will improve. I also want to see the loss at Wimbledon will make Fed let him down forward or bounce back.


Gordo Says:

After licking his wounds from Wimbledon and Roland Garros, Federer must be very happy to be on his friendly hard surfaces again.

I know there are a ton of you who just can’t wait for Federer to vanish, but I have a hunch not only is he not going away, he is not going to relinquish number one without a fight.

This next month will show us what Federer and Djokovic are made of. As for Nadal – he still has to prove he can play world-class on the hard courts, not having won a title on the surface for over a year. The Spanish wonder has all the tools, but I am wondering if – despite his conditioning and his physique – he has the toolbox!

Oh – and as to Gilbert’s ridiculous slam prediction – how can anyone know how any of these players are going to perform, physically or mentally. over the next decade? I remember when Borg won his 5th Wimbledon analysts were making Grand Slam predictions of 20 or more for him and we all know what happened, don’t we?

Still… I was passing by a club here in town and saw this 8-year-old really hammering balls. I think he should be able to win 6 – 8 slams starting around the year 2020. Any takers?


ferix Says:

a little off topic but as i couldn’t find any suitable thread for this post … how about JM Del Potro’s back to back clay titles? Amazing thing for a 19 year old! who was the last teenager to do something like that? I think it was Nole.

i like nadal but it would be nice to see somebody challenge him on clay at roland garros. maybe Del Potro’s the man? obviously federer is not the one to do it. out of the established players, i think djokovic and gasquet is capable but i can’t see anybody else.

maybe the tennis gods have already hatched a plan with 19 yos like Del Potro and Gulbis coming through. it’ll be interesting to see how nadal responds to somebody challenging him, given that he’s been so good at applying pressure to federer in his career to date. it’ll be interesting to see when the hunter becomes the hunted. tennis doesn’t pause to take a breath


gm Says:

NADAL WON BACK TO BACK TITLES IN CLAYS WHEN HE WAS 19


gm Says:

I think it was Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He has won both tournaments 4 times in a row


Voicemale1 Says:

Gilbert’s comment on Nadal’s Grand Slam Total had to do with his already having 5 in the bank by age 22, whereas Federer at the same age had just one. The assessment had to do with the age range: Gilbert pointed out history says the optimum time frame for winning Grand Slams is 22-26, leading him to say “if Nadal stays healthy” (and he did qualify it with this phrase) and manages to win two Majors a year for that five year period of 22-26, that would add ten to his existing total of five. But as a good friend pointed out to me, it’s not so much about years or age as it is about “mileage” on, or in, your body. Nadal’s got a lot more tennis in his legs by this age than Federer at the same stage. That’s what will eventually take it’s toll. The upside for Nadal is that it’s clear he’ll dominate The French Open in the same way Sampras & Federer dominated Wimbledon. And since Nadal has show such effectiveness at Wimbledon, he could do the Borg thing and rattle up most of his Majors at those two events, and the softer nature of the surfaces will be a lot kinder to his body. But I have a tough time thinking he’ll retire with 15 or 16 Grand Slams.

One thing both Cahill & Gilbert said during that same ESPN broadcast was they both believe it’s much more likely that Nadal will end up with the Career Grand Slam than Federer. They believe Federer’s chances of winning The French are just about done, whereas Nadal’s got more years to take the remaining two at least once.

One interesting thing about Djokovic came up in Kamakshi Tandon’s blog at Tennis Magazine’s website. Djokovic had said he didn’t watch very much of the Wimbledon Final but had heard it was a “good match”. But Neil Harman – who covers tennis for The London Times – reported that Djokovic did indeed watch the match, and sent a text message to his publicist Benito Perez-Barbadillo (who is also Nadal’s publicist) during the match. The text from Djokovic was “I have a lot to learn”. If this is true, then more power to him. Maybe losing early at Wimbledon taught him enough that more work and less boasting will get him to where he wants to go.


andrea Says:

no one spoke of federer retiring or taking a break from tennis until bjorn ‘mouth piece’ borg went on his pre wimbledon rant and hypothesized that federer might retire cos the pressure of being #1 would get to him.

fed’s clearly stated that he wants to play into his thirties if his health stands up so why would that change? he barely lost wimbledon to nadal. he’s got lots more to give.


SG Says:

Fed’s far from done. Losing once in a very tight Wimby final does not spell doom and gloom for him. He’ll have to share the spotlight more, but so what. He’s still got majors in him. I actually think that the DCII surface at the USO is Roger’s best. The ball tends to stay low and it rewards excellent ball striking. Roger has at least a 50-50 shot of winning the Open. If he can win in Beijing, I think it will definitely give him the confidence he needs going into the US Open. I think that only Djokovic has the game to derail Roger on the USO surface.


jane Says:

ferix,

“maybe the tennis gods have already hatched a plan with 19 yos like Del Potro and Gulbis coming through.” – don’t forget Cillic too. These three have great potential; I hope to see them fill it!


juju Says:

roddick winning another slam?
no way!


Von Says:

juju:
The Roddick critics said he couldn’t beat any of the top 3 and he’s proved them wrong, so maybe he’ll prove you wrong too. Never count anyone out — who would have thought Schuettler would make it to the Wimby SFs. Where there’s life, there’s hope. We’ll just have to wait and see won’t we. Agassi made a huge comeback at 29, so can Roddick.


Dan_M Says:

Nadal could win more slams than Federer. I would not make a career by doubting the guy, but I also agree about the mileage comment. The other thing about sports is that there is always someone trying to take your spot. Del Potro may not be the guy to make a serious run at Nadal on clay, but sooner or later someone will start winning a lot on clay and challenge Nadal there too. All time records are hard to set precisely because of mileage, other hungry players and of course luck/the unexpected. I think on the all time accomplishments list there is a big gap between the guys with 8 slams and the guys with more than 8. Nadal can easily get to 8 and then it is realistic to think beyond.


NachoF Says:

The fact that there are many players who can actually put up a fight on hard courts is probably more dangerous for Nadal than Federer….. I dont see Nadal reaching the semifinals at the Rogers Cup.


I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

I got Nadal spam in my inbox!


Roddick is a donkey on the court Says:

Only an idiot will put roddick and agassi at the same level. Roddick plays one of the dumbest games on the court. Agassi’s comeback was based on a very smart game on the court with two of the greatest coaches helping him plan that.

Donkey will remain a donkey unless he begs Gilbert to pardon him and come back and coach him.


Von Says:

Well, when you can’t beat them, ya just gotta join ‘em, and guess what R/donkey, for the first time you make good sense. Andy needs a good coach.


Fruitcake Says:

The guy has won 5 slams .. 4 of them on clay and 1 on what a lot of people consider to be “green clay”, has never yet made the final of the USO or AO and suddenly he’s the best thing since sliced bread! Rotflmao.


jane Says:

Gulbis is already struggling with Acasuso; looks like he’s got consistency problems. Or maybe he’s a “big show” player – he always seems to go his best in slams.

But Canada’s own Dancevic best Ancic quite handily so that’s Novak’s first opponent; once again Nole will have to be the bad guy and take out the local favorite.


matt Says:

In the Open Era ( since RolandGarros’68 ), only the following players won more GrandSlams than Nadal:

Pete Sampras: 14
Roger Federer: 12
Björn Borg: 11
Jimmy Connors: 8
Ivan Lendl: 8
Andre Agassi: 8
John McEnroe: 7
Mats Wilander: 7
Stefan Edberg: 6
Boris Becker: 6

Nadal has won 5 GS and he is 22 years and one month old.

This is the GS that the above players won with Nadal’s age ( 22 years 1 month ) :

Pete Sampras: 2
Roger Federer: 1
Björn Borg: 6
Jimmy Connors: 3
Ivan Lendl: 0
Andre Agassi: 0
John McEnroe: 2
Mats Wilander: 4
Stefan Edberg: 2
Boris Becker: 4

Interestingly enough, the three players among them that won more GS at such a young age ( Borg, Wilander and Becker ) failed to win many GS after 25 years of age.

Borg won his 11th and last GS when he was 25. He retired when he was 27.

Wilander won his 7th and last GS when he was 24 (few days after his 24th birthday indeed). He retired at 26, then came back at 29 and finally retired again when he was 32.

Becker won his 5th GS when he was 23 years and two months and after that he could only win one more GS, the AO’96 when he was 28 years old. He retired at 31.

So you’ll never know what will happen. If you think that Nadal has already won 5 GS when he just turn 22, you would think that he will end up with more than 10 GS. But look at Borg, Wilander and Becker. You’ll never know how it will unfold.

Another curious thing is the similarities between Federer and Sampras “timing”:

Ten years ago, Sampras was turning 27 years old, just like Federer now. This is what Sampras achieved at that age:

Australian Open: 2
RolandGarros: 0
Wimbledon: 5
USOPEN: 4
Masters Cup: 4
ATP Tournaments: 55
Years-End-Nº1: 5

This is Federer’s:

Australian Open: 3
RolandGarros: 0
Wimbledon: 5
USOPEN: 4
Masters Cup: 4
ATP Tournaments: 55
Years-End-Nº1: 4

Isn’t it just amazing?


jane Says:

Er, can’t seem to type: in the above first paragraph “go” s/b “do” and in the second paragraph “best” s/b “beat”.

And now Acasuso is serving for it…looks like the Latvian with so much potential will be going home tonight.


jane Says:

matt – those are some great stats; thanks for posting them. i am not even one who believes in all this GOAT talk, but still, it’s pretty cool to see it all laid out like that. nice of you to take the time to do it.


SG Says:

It’s weird. You’d think that the USTA wouldn’t put their money behind a donkey. Then again, people purchased pet rocks so anything’s possible.

Hard to say what Andy will show up this hardcourt season or at the USO. Andy played some pretty good matches the last couple of times he played Fed at the Open. He seemed to keep the matches close but couldn’t win the big points in the tie-breaks.

Who’s to say that Andy won’t have a bit of a late career renaissance. I hope he wins another major. Maybe he’ll find a way to hit his forehand a little flatter. I think this more than anything has caused led to some his failures.


matt Says:

jane, I don’t believe in the GOAT thing neither.

I’ve been playing tennis for so long and technology changed the game so much that now it is a totally different game than it was 40 years ago.

It is even a totally different game than it was only 10 years ago.

I played with Jack Kramer’s wood racket when I was young. It was such a beautiful game back then in the sixties.

You could not make winners from the baseline with those wood rackets, so to win a point you had to do a lot more.

In 1967 Wilson released the Wilson T-2000 steel racket.

I proved it. You could hit with more power, but I prefered the “touch” of the wood, so I went back to my wood racket.

Many of the pros back then proved the Wilson T-2000, but most of them went back to wood as well. ( The young Jimmy Connors was almost the only top player that played many, many years with the Wilson T-2000).

In 1976 Head released the big-head Prince, and at the end of the seventies it started the graphite rackets.

This was a huge change to the game. Amateur players changed rapidly to these new technology, and a bit later the pros followed them.

Lendl used his graphite Adidas back in 1980 for example.

McEnroe turned to his famous graphite Dunlop in 1983, and at the end of that year almost all the pros played with graphite.

That was a different game. Bigger sweet-spot, stiffness, power, control……it changed the game.

The racket technology continued, but the main change in the last ten years has been the strings.

Kuerten started and the rest of the field followed him with the synthetic Luxilon-type strings.

It produces more than 50% more of top-spin so you can hit really hard and the ball still lands inside the court.

It has been a huge advantage for the baseliners, because now they can hit with extreme powerful rackets and with these strings the ball still lands inside.

When Agassi proved these new strings, he said: “it should be forbidden, or everybody should use them”

Sampras call it “cheatilon”.

It has changed the game again, so now it is a totally different game than it was only 10 years ago.

Add to this that they use now slower balls, slower surfaces…..

That’s why the GOAT thing doesn’t make sense.

You see today some shots that were impossible ten years ago, but these shots are impossible today if hit with former rackets and strings.

It is not that today’s players are better, it is just that they use a different equipment.

In fact, the most amazing thing to me is Sampras winning the USOPEN’02 with his old 85 inches square, heavy racket (and using gut) from 1980.

The only thing you can compare is the GS, years nº1 (and things like that) each player achieved in his era, and that doesn’t mean one of the them is “the GOAT”. Just the more accomplished.


Samprazzz Says:

I think we’re getting way ahead of ourselves on Rafa. Sure, he won Wimbledon. But who did he beat? He had a Betty Cracker draw to get to the finals. In the finals, he matches up well against Federer. Plus, his knees are almost worn out already. I put Rafa in the Patrick Rafter category: his body will give out because he simply has to work too hard to win routine matches. I think this summer will belong to Djokovic and Federer. They are far and away the best 2 players on hardcourt. We won’t hear much from Rafa until next spring when clay season starts up again.


Samprazzz Says:

P.S. Andy Roddick is done. Arm is shot. Can’t serve consistently at 140KM anymore. The rest of his game is crap to back it up. Feet are slower than ever.


Von Says:

We sure have a lot of fortune tellers around. Crystal balls, et al.

Samprazz:

Maybe Andy will still prove you WRONG. Wanna bet? That same inconsistent serve beat the top 3 this year. His backhand has improved tremendously. When last did you actually watch him play?


Von Says:

jane:

I don’t know if you remember I mentioned I saw Gulbis play in Vegas and was not at all impressed. He was floundering and overhitting. I was surprised when I saw him play at Wimby, but that was an exception — he’s not a consistent player IMO.


Sean Randall Says:

Nadal and his knees again? Why such concern? Just how many knee surgeries has the guy had? I must have missed a few. As for the tape on the knees, so what? Lots of guys have their ankles wrapped, who cares?

Sure Nadal body takes a lot of pounding, but I highly doubt his knees are going to give out like many of you believe. Maybe his motivation will wane or he’ll be mentally drained/burnt out or he’ll suffer a violent injury, but to say his knees won’t take five-six more years on the tour is garbage.

Samprazzz, just who did you want Nadal to beat at Wimbledon to convince you?? The guy’s reached the finals there three straight years, winning this year. At some you have to agree, it’s not an “easy draw” thing.

Nice data, Matt. Roger’s clearly been spending too much time with Pete! Pete’s slowing him down!

NachoF, so who beats Nadal ahead of the semifinals? Baghdatis? Berdych? Ferrer? Just being curious.


Von Says:

Merci beaucoup! Nikolas Mahut, for taking out Janko (Tipsy) today.


jane Says:

Von,

Gulbis played excellently at last year’s USO & this year’s Roland Garros and Wimbledon, so I don’t think Wimbledon was the exception. However, as I said above, I am beginning to wonder if he’s one of those who feeds off the big matches & situations?

Tipsy might be another one of those, self-admittedly so. He says he likes centre courts and big matches.

But these guys – to be in the upper echelons – will need to leanr how to play the smaller matches just as well as the big ones. Consistency is key!

Although I can see you’re please that Tipsy is out… ;-0


angel Says:

FEDERER WILL WIN MORE GRAND SLAMS HE IS THE FAVORITE TO THE HARDCOURTS SLAMS WITH MAYBE DJOKOVIC THAT’S THE TRUE NOBODY ELSE CAN BEAT FEDERER AT USOPEN BESIDES THE SERB. I THINK FEDERER WILL WIN 5 MORE GRAND SLAM HE IS A PLAYER THAT CAN PLAY UNTIL HIS 30TIES PRETTY EASILY. IN THE OTHER HAND NADAL IS THE NEW BORG AND HE IS ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE TROUBLE IN THE HARDCOURTS HE WILL BREAK BORG’S RECORD AT ROLAND GARROS AND I COULD SEE HIM WINNING TWO MORE WIMBLEDONS BUT NO MORE THAN THAT SO HE WILL PROBABLY END HIS CARRERA WITH 10 OR 11 GRAND SLAMS TOPS I DON’T THINK HE PLAYS BEYOND 29, 30 YEARS OLD.


Ezorra Says:

Rafael Nadal replaces Roger Federer as number one: Becker

TORONTO – The ATP computer says otherwise but Boris Becker believes Rafael Nadal has already replaced Roger Federer as the world number one.

Despite losing to Nadal in both the French Open and Wimbledon finals, Federer has yet to be evicted from top spot, arriving at the Toronto Masters for the start of his hardcourt campaign having held the ATP’s number one ranking for 234 weeks.

But Becker, who was in Toronto on Monday to play an exhibition match ahead of his induction into the tournament’s Hall of Fame, declared that he and the rest of the tennis world were in agreement on who was the true number one.

“If you watched the French Open and Wimbledon, there was a lot of talk about Federer going into the history books as the first man to win six Wimbledons in a row or Nadal being the first since Bjorn Borg to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year.

“The winner is known now and you have to give credit,” said Becker, winner of six grand slam tournaments, including three at Wimbledon.

“In the world rankings there is still a number one called Federer but if you ask anyone in the world of tennis, who is considered the number one player in the world it is the winner of the French Open and Wimbledon.

Dwindling advantage

“There is a change in position at the moment.”

Becker’s ranking and the official standings could fall into line before the end of the season.

Twice a winner on the Canadian hardcourts, Federer faces a challenging summer trying to protect a dwindling lead atop the ranking, now a mere 770 points above Nadal, while winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games.

It is almost certain the muscular Spaniard will continue to eat away at Federer’s advantage with the Swiss having to defend a truck load of points earned from reaching the Canadian final at Montreal last year which was followed by wins at the Cincinnati Masters and U.S. Open.

While Nadal’s durability on the unforgiving hardcourts remains suspect, he has already demonstrated he is capable of winning on the surface, taking the Canadian title in 2005 and reaching the semi-finals last year.

“I am happy how I am playing but I am still number two and have the same motivation to improve my tennis,” said Nadal.

“I want to be number one for sure but right now all I want is to play a good tournament here in Toronto.

“It’s nothing new for him to defend a lot of points.”


Ezorra Says:

OK WITH NO.2

Spain’s Rafael Nadal is fine with being ranked No. 2 in the world – for now.

Surprisingly, Nadal is ranked second overall behind Switzerland’s Roger Federer despite having defeated his arch rival in the finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon.

“I don’t think nobody doesn’t want to be No. 1,” Nadal said. “I want to be No. 1 for sure but right now I don’t want to be No. 1

“Right now, I want to play a very good tournament here in Toronto.”

Nadal claimed his first Wimbledon title with a thrilling five-set win over Federer, the five-time defending champion, in a match that many rank as one of the greatest final of a grand-slam event. Adding to the drama was Nadal blowing a two-set lead and two championship points in the fourth set tie-breaker before capturing the title with a thrilling 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 victory to end a match that lasted nearly five hours.

However, Nadal said he hasn’t watched a repeat of the final on television.

“I only watch some points,” he said. “But I don’t watch the final.”

And despite his success this season, Nadal doesn’t believe he should be considered the man to beat in tennis.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I am playing a good season but if I lost the final at Wimbledon, the season doesn’t change too much.

“So I’m happy with how I’m playing . . . but I’m still with the same motivation for continuing to improve my tennis.”


Ezorra Says:

Novak Djokovic is the returning Rogers Cup champion, but you would hardly know it from his first appearance here yesterday.

On the eve of the first matches in the main singles draw, Djokovic seemed anything but interested in talking up his chances for a repeat.

He also seemed somewhat insulted when it was suggested his second-round exit from Wimbledon a few weeks back may have widened the gap between himself and the top two players in the world, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who also are here this week.

“It was a bad tournament for me,” Djokovic said. “Just nothing went the right way. I’m just turning another page and looking forward to the hardcourt season.

“I have just tried to be positive, not think about it too much. Just a bad day. You know, it was a lot of tournaments. (But) now I’m fresh, I’m ready and hopefully I can do well.”

A straight-sets loss to Marat Safin, a wild-card entry this week in Toronto as well and on the same side of the draw as the No. 3 seeded Djokovic, is what the defending champ is trying to turn the page on.

Djokovic insists there is no hangover from that Wimbledon letdown.

“I lost, okay, I lost the match in Wimbledon, which was a bit unexpected to lose in the second round,” Djokovic said. “You know, from my position, I am not really down. I am not depressed, whatever. I am not thinking negatively. I am just looking forward to the hardcourt.”

Interestingly, Djokovic’s no-sense-looking-back philosphy was almost exactly the same tack that Federer took a few hours earlier in his first sit-down with the local media.

The world No. 1, who came out on the wrong end of that one-for-the-ages final with Rafael Nadal two weeks ago at Wimbledon, could not move on quick enough from any question regarding the final that all the tennis world continues to talk about.
Federer pounded home the point that with the ATP schedule back on the hardcourt after the clay in France and the grass in England, things are much more to his liking.

“It is definitely nice to play on hardcourt (rather) than on clay or grass,” he said.

NO BAD BOUNCE

“We don’t have the bad bounce. We have the normal bounce again, and that’s good to see. I am very excited to be playing on hardcourts again.”
Nadal, the only one presumably interested in re-living his 2008 Wimbledon experience or his win on the clay in Paris, chose to beg off his media obligations yesterday and now will speak today instead.

If there is a crisis of confidence for Djokovic going on right now, he can always look back to last year’s Rogers Cup in Montreal when he took out Federer, Nadal and Andy Roddick in the final three matches to earn the tournament win.
“This was one of the touranments that is a turning point in my career,” Djokovic said. “I can say this was a tournament where I won against the best three players in the world in the final stages of the tournament.

“So it obviously gave me a lot of motivation to do even better in the future and gave me a boost up.”

Whether that boost will prevail over the letdown at Wimbledon a few weeks back will be answered this week.

Ezorra: I would love to see Djokovic keeps this kind of attitude; very positive and not cocky :)


JCF Says:

That Wimbledon final was so great that we’re still talking about it in blogs weeks after the fact.

“You can make case that Nadal delivered the knockout blow to Federer in France, but I have to think that Roger felt a hell of a lot worse the Monday after Wimbledon than he did the Monday after Paris.”

This much was obvious from his reaction after the loss (he was positive after losing in Paris, devastated after Wimby) and also his post match interview. He said “Losing Paris was nothing. Losing here is a disaster.”

“For the first time really in his career he’s the one looking up, he’s the one that is giving chase in the current day.”

Not exactly. You probably meant ‘for the first time after he became #1′.

“The field isn’t catching up to Federer, it’s caught up and in Nadal’s case, it’s passed him. ”

I think one season (or half a season to be exact) is too little to write him off by. It’s too early to make such a proclaimation. Nadal may not be able to keep it up. I do expect Federer to get the #1 ranking back if he should lose it.

I credit you for your courage in writing articles like these in what is essentially a pro-Federer audience base. You are a glutton for punishment.


Voicemale1 Says:

Samprazz:

If anyone’s had an “easy draw” at all 3 Grand Slam events so far it’s been Federer. He’s played 20 matches in Majors this year and only has wins over 2 opponents that are ranked within the Top 25 Guys in the world: Blake & Berdych, in Australia. All other guys he beat in the Slams this year were ranked below #25 in the world when he beat them.


Tote Tennis Pro Says:

Nadal did brilliantly to beat Federer at Wimbledon. i’ll be the first to admit – i never thought he’d do it.

Can he go on now and be the top male tennis player in the world? You bet he can.

Can he go on and dominate all te majors? I doubt it. The guy has only once made it to the QF of the US open! I’m sure he’ll do well this time, but i can’t see him winning it. Same goes for the Australian.

If i’m proven wrong (again) then he will surely be number 1 for a long time


jane Says:

Voicemale1,

I am glad you gave some facts or stats on the GS draws; I have thought Roger’s draws were easier in the slams so far this year. Mind you, draws have a way of opening up. Both Djoko and Davydenko were on Roger’s side at Wimbledon but lost early.

Rafa’s draw in Toronto is definitely tougher than Roger’s on paper – but if there are more upsets, it may open up too.

BTW, on July 20th I posted regarding Novak’s text message (though I had thought it was to his coach) and then you posted the same information on the 21st – with an addedum – you mentioned that you read that Novak said he *didn’t* watch much of the Wimbledon final on another Tennis blog, but I have a question: did that blog say the source of its information? I am inclined to believe Harman at the Times over a blog, but am curious nonetheless.


ferix Says:

I think federer deserves the world no 1 because his 12 month record is still:

US Open Champion, Masters Cup Champion, Aus Open Semifinalist, Roland Garros Runner Up, Wimbledon Runner Up

Nadal is:

Non-factor in US Open and Masters Cup, Aus Open Semifinalist, Roland Garros Champion, Wimbledon Champion

They’re close but Federer still comes out on top in terms of results and consistency. If he repeats his results in the Hard Court season and adds an Olympic Gold to it, who’s to argue that he’s number 1?

jane, i predict cilic will be challenging for wimbledon, del potro to challenge for the french and gulbis in the uso in 2010 or 2011. over the next 12 months, they’ll each score a win over nadal or federer in a smallish tournament (much like how first nadal, then berdych, gasquet, djoker and then murray announced their arrival by beating federer).


Vulcan Says:

“It is definitely nice to play on hardcourt (rather) than on clay or grass,” he said.

It’s hard to believe that Federer actually said that about his beloved Grass courts. I think its indicative of how much turmoil he is feeling after losing to Nadal.


SG Says:

Athletes tell themselves what they need to hear. If Federer said he was looking forward to the hardcourt season after grass, it’s just his way of pumping himself up. Interestingly, if Fed wins the USO, he has as many USO’s as he does W’s. I’ve always tended to believe that hardcourts are Roger’s best surface. It has a true bounce and rewards good ball striking. I suspect that Federer will be a force over the next couple of months. If he can win the final major, he can still stake a claim to being No.1. If he doesn’t, it’ll be tough to convince anyone he’s the best in the world. I think it’d be hard even for Roger to think he’s the best player in the world if he goes majorless this year.


SG Says:

Someone was saying that Nadal is the new Borg as if this was some kind of insult. I think Nadal would be very happy winning 4 more Wimbledons. 11 majors is nothing to sneeze at.

As Sean said, I do believe that his game will begin to falter when he loses his mental edge. I suspect he has 3 years of excellent tennis ahaed of him. After that, he’s on borrowed time. I don’t see how anyone can maintain such emotional and physical intensity for 10 years. But, in the next 3 years, I do believe that Nadal will cement his legacy as one of top 5 or 6 all time greats.


Shital Green Says:

Among other metonyms, evocation of history ad infinitum in conjunction with vituperative tirade of GOAT could be perceived as an alibi for the decline in the present or a subconscious acknowledgment of the insurmountable present or an escape from the present reality or nostalgia about lost glory or a glory that is tapering into the horizon to fade and disappear, to be eventually archived in memory of the few initiated. Viewed extremly negatively, it could be a sign of relinguishment of the battle field under the pressure of the other side that is overwhelming. At the positive pole, it could be a sign of regeneration of power that is uncannily evincing propensity toward recession, by a reminder of the wonders that were once manipulable at will.

Be that as it may, who would not suffer from acrophobic vertigo when the fall is inevitable, imminent and unavoidable?


Von Says:

Athletes tell themselves what they need to hear. If Federer said he was looking forward to the hardcourt season after grass, it’s just his way of pumping himself up…”

Althletes, in addition to saying to themselves what sounds good to the ear or what will get their juices flowing, say what they feel the public wants to hear. It’s one of those PR subtleties to get the crowd thinking. They are acutely aware of the gullibility of some fans and/or reporters, in general. Can you envision the headlines if Federer were to say directly to Jon Wertheim, or Bodo, that he prefers to play on hardcourt as opposed to grass? There will be huge headlines and blogging for weeks, with each fan putting in his/her two cents worth. Not to mention the speculations and/or predictions.


Von Says:

Athletes tell themselves what they need to hear. If Federer said he was looking forward to the hardcourt season after grass, it’s just his way of pumping himself up…”

Althletes, in addition to saying to themselves what sounds good to the ear or what will get their juices flowing in a positive manner, say what they feel the public wants to hear. It’s one of those PR subtleties to get the crowd excited and thinking about the forthcoming tournamnents — it’s their way of inviting attention. They are acutely aware of the gullibility of some fans and/or reporters, in general. Can you envision the headlines if Federer were to say directly to Jon Wertheim, or Bodo, that he prefers to play on hardcourt as opposed to grass? There will be huge headlines and blogging for weeks, with each fan putting in his/her two cents worth. Not to mention the speculations, predictions and/or stats.


zola Says:

Sean,
***Well, Roger Federer got hit by Rafael Nadal in the French Open final, then five weeks later Nadal knocked him down in the Wimbledon final.***

Sorry, a minor correction! I think it was 4 weeks. the FO final was played on June 8th, RAfa played Queens the next week, took the week after off and started Wimbledon in the next Monday. the Wimbledon final was played at July 6th!

thanks for your great assesment of Rafa’s game. Let’s hope he stays healthy. It might bug Fed that everyone ( including Boris Becker http://tinyurl.com/6gm3qy ) now regards Rafa as unofficial No 1. It might be a mental factor. ( I hope not).
Hard courts is Fed’s surface and he is the man to beat. I just hope RAfa keeps serving well and stays on the baseline. He can improve as he says himself. If not this year, maybe next year he should be much better on hard courts.
Greatest ever? why not! he has every element of it. But as he says, let’s just wait and see what he will accomplish during his career.


Von Says:

sorry for the double post – Tennis.X gave me some weird messages, about duplicate posting, hence I had to change up some words and then both posts appeared… strange remelins at work.


Von Says:

sorry for the double post – Tennis.X gave me some weird messages, about duplicate posting, hence I had to change up some words and then both posts appeared… strange gremlins at work.


zola Says:

It is very awkward to read prediction or perhaps wishes for Rafa’s body and knees to break down? for what reason? so that he wouldbn’t be able to take over Fed or win slams? All I can say is that I am sorry!

RAfa’s knees broke down last US Open, because he won every single clay tournament and played the final of Hamburg. It is the way that clay court schedule is crammed that makes it difficult for players like RAfa to compete the whole year. It is designed for hard court players.

Rafa has done his best to improve his game to overcome the hurdles and he only has to be commended for that. Predictions for his body to fall apart are just poor efforts to overcome the disappointment that Rafa is now a better player.

RAfa’s career was almost over when he was 18, after his first French Open. Still, he won 4 more GS titles after that. Those talks did not demotivate him, but made him change his game and be more aggressive. He will continue to improve and then we will see what dominance means.

I don’t agree with wahetevr Brad Gilbert says. he is too emotional. Before FO, he predicted that Djoko will win it. Now he predicts 18 slams for Rafa! let’s go one by one Mr. Gilbert!

Jane,
the AO courts were changed to the same material as US Open last year. It may or may not play faster or slower because of the conditions in Australia, but it was a deliberate move to make it faster , not slower.

Rafa may have a better chance there because he is more rested going to AO.


zola Says:

why is my post here twice? I am pretty sure I pressed the submit button only once!


jane Says:

zola,

Yeah, I am aware that the AO was changed to match the USO, but I remember commentators and players this year saying that it plays slower.

Maybe the fast/slow factor is not a big one, but I still think Rafa has a better chance at the AO. He’s always going to be a bit spent at the USO due to the tremendous effort he puts in over clay & now grass too.


zola Says:

Jane,
I wrote that because you mentioned that the AO is now slower!
It IS, according to some and IS NOT according to others. But the fact is that it is exactly the same material as the one used in US Open and was made in an effort to make the AO play faster. Yes, two GSs on the same surface and still some hard court playeras like to make excuses by claiming the courts are slow!

Anyway,
I played the ATP bracket and ended up with 4-5 misses already! Tipsy, Seppi, PHM, Ancic and Gulbis ( of all?) …made sure I stayed out of competetion! why Gulbis, why? btw, he has a temper too, but has the cutest face.

Roddick won today rather easily. He needs to stay calm during bad calls. He wastes oo much energy and gets distracted. Mahut uused that and took the secod set, but no chance in the third!


Von Says:

jane: Even though the courts might play the same in terms of fastness/slowness, the atmospheric changes in temperature, etc., and the time of day when a player’s match is scheduled to be played have to be taken into consideration. For example, albeit the AO and the USO are similar in surface and speed, at the AO the temperature is usually around the low 100+ degrees during the day. On the other hand, at the USO in August the temperature is usually around 80+ degrees — a 20+ degree less heat on the court, which can affect the bounce and the serve.


Von Says:

Zola:

“Roddick won today rather easily. He needs to stay calm during bad calls. He wastes oo much energy and gets distracted. Mahut uused that and took the secod set, but no chance in the third!”

I wrote something similar about Roddick’s lapse in concentration on the other thread. He lets those bad calls get to him too much. Same thing happened at Wimby in that match v. Tipsy — he should not have let Tipsy’s grunting while he was about to serve get the better of him. Oh my, what can I say — that’s a personality flaw — but a detrimental one, nonetheless.


zola Says:

Von,
was he like that before teaming up with Connors? I hope he watches the match and can see how his temoper can cost him.Otherwise he has every chance to go deep in these hard court tournaments. I like his witty press conferences, but he should keep it cool on court.

I saw something similar with Gulbis (I already like that guy so much!). He gets very nervous and wastes too much energy. Again the same with Any Murray.Although I can tell he is trying to get over it.


jane Says:

Nice to see our Frankie do well against Nole; even if he couldn’t get a set, he got one break when Nole played a loose game. HE started being the joker, crossing his heart on a challenge and kneeling to the tennis gods. But Novak closed it out right after. Safin next…


JCF Says:

“as for Rafa- he’s lucky the grass courts have been slowered down..”

Since Federer is so good at slow surfaces, it’s about time he won Roland Garros, no?

“put the grass courts into the pace they were earlier..and rafa wouldnt even make the finals..& that can be seen from his performance in 2005.”

Could it be that he’s improved a lot since 2005?

“he just runs around like a rabbit chasing every ball down..there’s nothing extraodinary about his game..its nowhere near to Federer’s”

It did enough to beat Federer and the rest of the field. Good enough.

“But as a good friend pointed out to me, it’s not so much about years or age as it is about “mileage” on, or in, your body. Nadal’s got a lot more tennis in his legs by this age than Federer at the same stage.”

That’s because he had better results than Federer, and won more titles and played more matches. Federer was to inject way more tennis into his body after 22.

“One thing both Cahill & Gilbert said during that same ESPN broadcast was they both believe it’s much more likely that Nadal will end up with the Career Grand Slam than Federer. They believe Federer’s chances of winning The French are just about done, whereas Nadal’s got more years to take the remaining two at least once.”

I have no comment on that statement, but I will say that Cahill is not a guy with any credibility for me. He’s made many laughable predictions in the past which turned out very wrong. This year at the AO, he said Federer has a better chance of winning 4 slams this year than 2, implying that 3 was the number. WRONG there. The next thing he said in the same breath was that Djokovic would be the next #1.

Gilbert on the other hand is a guy who’s picks I trust more. Back in 05 when Rafa had 1 FO title, he was predicting Rafa would be able to win the hard court slams, and even Wimbledon was possible, admitting that Wimbledon was the hardest one to win, but that he could do it. At the time, I thought it was a bold prediction with Fed dominating the grass, but he’s vindicated now.

“One interesting thing about Djokovic came up in Kamakshi Tandon’s blog at Tennis Magazine’s website. Djokovic had said he didn’t watch very much of the Wimbledon Final but had heard it was a “good match”.”

Players dignify themselves all the time by claiming they only watched a bit of a match here and there. The fact is, if they’re doing their homework, they will have taken a lot of interest in a match as important as this one… a Wimbledon final between the top 2 players in the world. When they say they didn’t watch a match, they are being complacent and trying to look confident.

“That’s why the GOAT thing doesn’t make sense.

You see today some shots that were impossible ten years ago, but these shots are impossible today if hit with former rackets and strings. ”

I don’t see what difference it makes. The technology is better today, but it’s available to everyone today, so that’s equalized. The only thing you can’t say is that Player A would beat Player B (of a different era) in a match if one of them was given a time machine.

“Rafa has the best chance for winning the career slam? What are you smoking? Nadal has made 1 semifinal at a hard court major. ”

Before 2005, you could say the same thing about him and the French Open. At that time, he had won ZERO matches at the FO, who would expect him to be able to win the title?

These guys who say Nadal can’t win on hard court.. I think I’ve figured out what they will say should he win the USO: He can’t keep it up because of his knees. He will retire soon.

“Federer pounded home the point that with the ATP schedule back on the hardcourt after the clay in France and the grass in England, things are much more to his liking.

“It is definitely nice to play on hardcourt (rather) than on clay or grass,” he said. ”

Funny that… after the FO drubbing, he said the exact same thing about the grass. It’s nice to be on the grass now, my favorite surface. I’m looking forward to the grass. That was what he said.

“I think we’re getting way ahead of ourselves on Rafa. Sure, he won Wimbledon. But who did he beat? He had a Betty Cracker draw to get to the finals. In the finals, he matches up well against Federer.”

First, he had to beat Gulbis, a guy people can’t stop talking up. Then Youzhny, a guy who everyone tipped would beat Rafa, or at least make it very difficult for him. Then Murray.

Second, you say he had a ‘Better Cracker’ draw getting to the finals, then he matches up well against Fed. Well what is to say that he can’t or won’t get another Betty Cracker draw at the USO, and then face the guy he matches up well against? If these Betty Cracker draws can happen for him 3 times in a row at Wimby, I’d say he has the Goddess of Luck on his side, and can easily conjure up some more draws like this.

“Plus, his knees are almost worn out already. I put Rafa in the Patrick Rafter category: his body will give out because he simply has to work too hard to win routine matches. ”

On the contrary, Rafter was a serve volley player, like Pete. You can’t end your points any quicker than with that style of play.

“P.S. Andy Roddick is done. Arm is shot. Can’t serve consistently at 140KM anymore. The rest of his game is crap to back it up. Feet are slower than ever.”

I assume you meant miles. 140KM is piss slow, even for a woman’s serve.

“Can he go on and dominate all te majors? I doubt it. The guy has only once made it to the QF of the US open! I’m sure he’ll do well this time, but i can’t see him winning it. Same goes for the Australian.”

This kind of logic implies that the only way you can win a tournament, is to make the finals lots of times and lose, THEN you are able to win it. Or make the QF one year, then the SF the next year, then the F the year after that, in gradual progression. Have you never seen any case of a guy who had mediocre showings in the past go on to win the title the following year?

Here’s a case in point: Where were you in 2004? Were you saying how it wasn’t likely that Fed could win the AO or USO because his best results have only been 4th round at both? He went from 4th round to winning the title, which completely debunks your assertion that Nadal can’t win it because his best performances there are a QF and SF.

“Can you envision the headlines if Federer were to say directly to Jon Wertheim, or Bodo, that he prefers to play on hardcourt as opposed to grass? There will be huge headlines and blogging for weeks, with each fan putting in his/her two cents worth. Not to mention the speculations and/or predictions.”

I can’t imagine what surface Fed will be turning to if he gets beaten at the USO. He prefers indoor Carpet?

“Yeah, I am aware that the AO was changed to match the USO, but I remember commentators and players this year saying that it plays slower.”

Some players found it slower some found it faster. Kind of like Wimby grass. I think it might depend on their style of play. Hewitt, who always complaiend about rebound ace being too slow said he was happy with the surface and it was indeed faster. Rafa probably would have prefered the rebound ace.


JCF Says:

Tote Tennis Pro,

“Can he go on and dominate all te majors? I doubt it. The guy has only once made it to the QF of the US open! I’m sure he’ll do well this time, but i can’t see him winning it. Same goes for the Australian.”

This argument I hear a lot, but it lacks critical thought. The way you frame this implies that you HAVE to make gradual rounds in order to be able to win a title. It’s not possible to win a title without making a final (or many finals) previously, according to your logic. Or it’s not possible to win a title in your first ever visit to the tournament.

Fact: Before Federer won Wimbledon, he was about to turn 22, and he had only once made the QF there! Does that sound familiar?

Fact: Federer’s best showing at the AO and USO before he won them was a 4th round. That is even worse than Rafa’s best result. Did that stop him from winning it? What happened to the steps he’s meant to make before he’s able to win it — QF, SF, F? He was older than Rafa is now btw.

Rafa has time on his side.

Your predictions may or may not be sound, but your logic doesn’t hold water. You don’t HAVE to have made more than one QF, or further than the QF previously in order to win a title. Myskina never made it past the 2nd round at the FO before she won it. She had 3 first round defeats, and one second round defeat, a total of one win in four attempts. In her 5th attempt, she won the title. Rafa had zero wins at the FO before he won it the first time.

I hope you will work on your reasoning skills a bit more in future.


jane Says:

Re AO surface:

Von says: “the atmospheric changes in temperature, etc., and the time of day when a player’s match is scheduled to be played have to be taken into consideration…[it] can affect the bounce and the serve.”

Makes sense to me; perhaps similar to how the clay in Hamburg plays different than that at Monte Carlo, for example, the AO & USO courts could play differently because of their environments.

JCF says “Some players found it slower some found it faster. Kind of like Wimby grass. I think it might depend on their style of play.”

Style could be a factor too, especially with spins vs. flatter strokes.

Maybe the balls too? Do USO and AO use different balls?

I think it was either P-Mac or Cahill who I recall stating that the AO is a “slower” hardcourt, and that comment just stuck in my head for some reason.


Voicemale1 Says:

Jane:

No source other than Harman was quoted by Tandon in her blog on Djokovic’s first answer about not watching the match. But since there was no source listed by her, it could have been a comment he made during his pre-tournament interview in Toronto, in which case she just would have lifted it from the transcript. I don’t think he’s played anywhere or made a public appearance since Wimbledon.


Giner Says:

Continuing where JCF left off…

“Can he go on and dominate all te majors? I doubt it. The guy has only once made it to the QF of the US open! I’m sure he’ll do well this time, but i can’t see him winning it. Same goes for the Australian.”

How many QF’s do you think Safin made at the USO before he won it? The answer is none. His previous appearances were a 4th round in 98, and a 2nd round in 99. He won it in 2000. Impossible right? He did even worse than Nadal.

Roddick made two QF’s before he won it.

Let’s not use this argument again. You can easily come up with big lists of people who defied the requirement of needing to do better than QFs (and more than once) before being allowed to win a title.

Another write off that shouldn’t be used is easy draws. Player X was lucky because he got an easy draw. He won’t win another slam. If Player X can get an easy draw once, who is to say that they can’t get an easy draw again, and again? As JCF noted, Nadal is the god of easy draws. He did it 3 times at Wimbledon, surely he can get some easy draws on hard court slams as well?


kofi ofori Says:

Shital Green from “July 22nd, 2008 at 1:07 pm” posting, are you some english/psychology professor or something?
english – and by extension its use for communication purposes – is supposed to be used as a tool and not a weapon. people who generally ‘evince’ such big english overcompensate for something they lack or feel they lack or just as a way to gain attention/deficit disorder or feel pompous/elitist.
but i enjoyed reading it all the same. heck, what do we know anyways?


Daniel Says:

JCF

This argument of Player A is more capable of winning major X, it’s more like a “waiting for it thing”. Ever since Federer turned pro there was a lot of expectations due to his results as a junior (Wimbledon champion) and classical style of play, so was with Nalbandian (who turns out to not have the same ‘IT’ than Fed or others great champions).

In Nadal’s case most expected him to win the French several times but never was that feeling that he could win a hardcourt major. Wimbledon to me is different and as much as you are an avid defensor of the “not changed grass”, that bouce was not there before, that’s for sure. But Nadal improve in orther to win it and that’s what it counts.

That’s one of the reasons why some are attached to the sense of Nadal not winning on hard due to his previousts results. I myself still think he can’t, at leats not this year or next, but the way he is improving on his weak areas I won’t be surprised if he wins it in 2, 3 years. As someone mentioned in other tread he still has that 2 meters from the baseline in him and he has to be willing to play his agressive game and accept the risks of making unforced errors. There must be a change in concept and that takes a while. It took 3 years for Wimbledon, maybe will be less for hard!


blah Says:

I think it’s quite obvious that grass has slowed down a lot from the past decades, but grass is still grass and still relatively fast for tennis surfaces, although I am not sure just speed wise whether there is that much of a difference from hardcourt. This doesn’t take away from Nadal’s accomplishment though as I think he would challenge even if it was on faster grass (maybe he wouldn’t win but who knows)
I do miss the old grass terribly though, not because I dislik baseliners or Nadal, but because it brought variety to the game, and baseliners would have to play their best to win it where as serve/volleyers have to play their best to win roland garros, and on hard court it’s anybody’s call. I still think borg’s wimby/fo is the more impressive feat but I think Nadal would probably be the better clay courter.
Anyhow, on hard court, Nadal obviously has a good chance but I wouldn’t call him favorite just yet. Also No matter what anybody says, as long as Nadal is not #1 in the rankings, he’s not #1 to me, and I am pretty sure he too wouldn’t think he’s the #1 when he hasn’t done it in the rankings.
In both post slams interviews Nadal said Federer’s still number 1, and although he could’ve said that just because he couldn’t really praise himself, I think he meant it and that’s part of what drives him on the tour, to officially be ranked #1 and go in the record book.


Sardino Says:

I think Djoko played great today. A little tentative at first but pulled it all together shen needed. His behavior was appropriate and his win showed relief. The commentators were really bad– Robbie Koenig and Doug Adler.


Giner Says:

kofi ofori Says:

“Shital Green from “July 22nd, 2008 at 1:07 pm” posting, are you some english/psychology professor or something?
english – and by extension its use for communication purposes – is supposed to be used as a tool and not a weapon. people who generally ‘evince’ such big english overcompensate for something they lack or feel they lack or just as a way to gain attention/deficit disorder or feel pompous/elitist.
but i enjoyed reading it all the same. heck, what do we know anyways?”

If you can’t understand his or her english, it is your problem not his. Maybe that’s just how he normally speaks? Don’t blame them if they have better literacy skills than you do. I doubt he was using words to impress you.


jane Says:

Sardino – too bad you can’t have our commentators; we have Peter Burwash, who I think is a very efficient and insightful commentator. He’s paired with Canada’s version of Ted Robinson (you know, the booming voice, the dramatic reactions, etc) but what can you do? Overall it’s good stuff.

BTW, I thought Novak played well too, and he reacted kindly to Dancevic’s spirited challenge and to the crowd. He seemed focused, calm and mature to me. And, to be superficial for a moment, I liked the new orange and blue duds.

Too bad they both couldn’t have won; I like Dancevic. But Frankie gained some good points by bagging Nalbandian at Wimbledon, and Novak has a title to defend. So I’m glad Novak played well. I’d like to see Dancevic play more consistently well; he’s got talent.


Henry Says:

To the off topic guys “ferix” and “gm”:
“a little off topic but as i couldn’t find any suitable thread for this post … how about JM Del Potro’s back to back clay titles? Amazing thing for a 19 year old! who was the last teenager to do something like that? I think it was Nole”

Nadal won back to back titles TWICE as an 18-year-old!

I really like JM Del Potro and have seen him coming since his junior years. However, neither he nor any other teenager has been close to what Nadal did in his teen years. For your info: Nadal was still only 18 when he won back to back titles TWICE that year. He won Costa do Saupe (Brazil) and the week after he won Acapulco. He then made it to a hard court final (vs Federer at the Key Biscayne Masters) and then went on to win back to back titles again at the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona the week after.

That was his breakthrough year as he went on to win the Rome Masters two weeks later and then Roland Garros while turning 19 in Paris. He picked up two more clay coourt titles (Bastad and Stuttgart) and, for those who keep on doubting Rafa’s had court chances, he then went on and won no less than 3 hard court titles that same year(Masters Montreal, Beijing and the Madrid Masters). Rafa won a total of 16 titles as a teenager. The only player before him who managed the same was Bjorn Borg (Mats Wilander won 14 titles in his teen years)


Giner Says:

Daniel,

“This argument of Player A is more capable of winning major X, it’s more like a “waiting for it thing”. Ever since Federer turned pro there was a lot of expectations due to his results as a junior (Wimbledon champion) and classical style of play, so was with Nalbandian (who turns out to not have the same ‘IT’ than Fed or others great champions).”

Responding on behalf of JCF, a lot of players won Jr slams but did not achieve anything on the pro tour. I agree about the ‘waiting for it’ thing.

“In Nadal’s case most expected him to win the French several times but never was that feeling that he could win a hardcourt major. Wimbledon to me is different and as much as you are an avid defensor of the “not changed grass”, that bouce was not there before, that’s for sure. But Nadal improve in orther to win it and that’s what it counts.”

I’m no expert on this matter, but aren’t hard courts supposed to have even higher bounce than grass? What is it that’s so difficult to win about hard courts anyway? Some are saying it’s too fast for him, others are saying the bounce isn’t as high as he likes it (which I don’t really get.. if he can handle the higher bounces of other players, why can’t they handle the higher bounces from him? Take the ball earlier if you don’t like it), and some say it’s his knees that don’t agree with the court. He’s won 3 hard court AMS and made the finals of Miami twice. I want to know how the hell he did that whilst sucking on hard courts (did he pull some lucky draws out of a hat again?). And he won Dubai (beating Federer), which was according to Federer, a very fast hard court.

“In Nadal’s case most expected him to win the French several times but never was that feeling that he could win a hardcourt major. ”

That’s only because it’s ingrained into people’s heads that nobody coming from spain has any business winning any tournament outside of the FO, but does have every business of winning the FO.

“Wimbledon to me is different and as much as you are an avid defensor of the “not changed grass”, that bouce was not there before, that’s for sure. But Nadal improve in orther to win it and that’s what it counts.”

Nobody would be making this argument, whether it be different bounces or slow grass, if Nadal lost early the last few years, but the grass surface was unchanged from what it was the last few years. They would be saying the grass is too fast for him and unsuited to his game.

“That’s one of the reasons why some are attached to the sense of Nadal not winning on hard due to his previousts results.”

The only players on the tour with better hard court credentials than him are: Federer, Djokovic, Roddick, Hewitt, Safin, and possibly Nalbandian. That’s not a lot of players, and typically a guy can win their first slam whilst having even more superior opponents than that. The only players from the above list he would be certain to run into if he were to win the title would be Federer and Djokovic. As someone else said, he matches up well against Federer. Djokovic he is 1-2 against on hard. Not by any means a lopsided record.

“As someone mentioned in other tread he still has that 2 meters from the baseline in him and he has to be willing to play his agressive game and accept the risks of making unforced errors. There must be a change in concept and that takes a while.”

This is exactly how Hewitt plays, and that didn’t stop him from winning it. They are both baseliners who’s assets are mental toughness, swift court coverage, extreme fitness, good backhand, good passing shots, good return of serve, counter-punching percentage play, not going for as many winners but reducing error count. Neither had a big serve. Both relied on getting as many balls back as possible and making their opponent hit ‘winners’ multiple times in order to win a point, eventually missing a ball. And Hewitt did not hit a flat ball. That was one of his weaknesses. He’s only started changing that recently, but back in his early days, this game served him well on hard courts.

“It took 3 years for Wimbledon, maybe will be less for hard!”

To put his achievement into perspective, it should be noted that winning Wimbledon post 2003 is a LOT harder than it was pre-2003 due to Federer. No other player has managed to beat him after 2003 or even come close. The most a player has been able to do is take one set off him. If he can translate his game onto his weakest surface (grass), I’m sure he can do the same on hard courts. I am not convinced by people who say that hard courts are his weakest surface and not grass. If he won on hard after clay, rather than Wimbledon (while both surfaces remained the same), people would then be saying that grass was his weakest surface. It is by sheer accident that Wimbledon became his next slam after RG, and not a hard court slam. He has won fewer tournaments on grass than he has on hard courts, and it has taken him much longer to win his first on grass.

“I think it’s quite obvious that grass has slowed down a lot from the past decades, but grass is still grass and still relatively fast for tennis surfaces, although I am not sure just speed wise whether there is that much of a difference from hardcourt. This doesn’t take away from Nadal’s accomplishment though as I think he would challenge even if it was on faster grass (maybe he wouldn’t win but who knows)”

Queen’s grass was faster than Wimbledon. I don’t know of any commenters that called Queen’s grass slow.

“I do miss the old grass terribly though, not because I dislik baseliners or Nadal, but because it brought variety to the game, and baseliners would have to play their best to win it where as serve/volleyers have to play their best to win roland garros, and on hard court it’s anybody’s call.”

Then you dislike 99% of players out there. Federer himself is not a serve-volleyer. Nor is Djokovic.

“Anyhow, on hard court, Nadal obviously has a good chance but I wouldn’t call him favorite just yet.”

People are not calling him favorite here, they are saying he has no chance.

“In both post slams interviews Nadal said Federer’s still number 1, and although he could’ve said that just because he couldn’t really praise himself, I think he meant it and that’s part of what drives him on the tour, to officially be ranked #1 and go in the record book.”

He knows that he has few points to defend while Fed has plenty, and that the gap has narrowed. He has everything to gain, and Fed has everything to lose. That’s how he cuts the equation. Fed will really be hoping that Nadal gets a tough draw at the USO, or he could be in trouble. It’s not just about how Fed himself performs but he also has to hope Nadal doesn’t perform well if he is to protect his ranking.

“Also No matter what anybody says, as long as Nadal is not #1 in the rankings, he’s not #1 to me, and I am pretty sure he too wouldn’t think he’s the #1 when he hasn’t done it in the rankings.”

In the rolling 52 week period, Fed has more ranking points. Fed is #1. I would not say he has had a better last 52 weeks though. We would be comparing 1 slam vs 2.

In 2008, Rafa is #1. Even if Fed was to go on to win the US Open, it would still be 1 slam vs 2. I know who’s 2008 season I’d rather have if I could pick between the two.

The bulk of Fed’s ranking points came from 2007′s second half. He has little to gain, everything to lose. Rafa is the opposite. As everyone says, Rafa always plays crap in the second half, so he has crap to defend.

The ball is in Federer’s court right now, not Rafa’s. For Rafa to gain #1 in ranking, he can do it in one of two ways: By playing good himself, or if Fed plays badly. For Fed to hold on to #1, he needs for two of two possibilities to happen: To play good himself, and to hope Rafa doesn’t.

He has more work to do than Rafa. The odds are not in his favour.

In any case, the days of Fed holding 50% more ranking points than his nearest competitor are irrevocably over.


Von Says:

jane:

So Djoko beat Dancevic, eh? I bet you’re happy. Oh my, I wish I had watched the DVD before reading the posts. Now I know the results and there won’t be any suspense. I like your logic — Djoko has a title to defend. Same logic I apply whenever Andy has points to defend. we’re just two conniving gals who want our favorites to win — that’s the long and short of it. :)

Sorry you don’t like Doug Adler and Robbie Koenig; I think they’re pretty fair in thir commentating and not prone to gossip. I prefer them to the ESPN crew, except when Federer is playing, then they simply ooze molasses and I become nauseated.

I think the balls used for the USO are larger.
_________________

Zola:

In answer to your question about Roddick’s problems with bad calls; it’s a situation that has always bothered him. When he was younger, he’d cry from the frustration; nowadays, he vents. Either way it’s bad, as it saps mental energy and hinders his concentration. Today, was a prime example.

__________
JCF:

“When they say they didn’t watch a match, they are being complacent and trying to look confident.”

I think Djoko was probably getting back a little revenge against Federer for saying he won’t watch the AO final, after his loss to Djoko.


Shital Green Says:

kofi ofori,
If you stay around here for a little bit longer, you would kow me more. I am not only aphasic but also agraphiac. I think your periscopic disection my neurophysiological anatomy extrapolates my “disorder” accurately. I fear I have been inflicted with “disorder” of all kinds that have been so far identified in the field of medical science plus some future disorders. I submit to your care. Help me with your simple (simplistic) Ghanian herbs so that I can speak your language for simple communication.
But, Dr. Ofori, Dr. Heinz Von Foerster, speaking in cybernetic terminology, said “communication” is recursion, more precisely communication is the Eigen behavior of recursively operating system that is doubly closed onto itself. By the way, he was talking about quantum physics of communication. Go figure !

Forget that. I was just messing with your head.

Today, though he lost, Dancevic impressed me with his angled serves, not the T-line serves, which were weak. My best match so far was Andreev vs. Monfils. Roddick played ok. I was sad yesterday when Gulbis lost after leading 5-1 in the 3rd set.


JCF Says:

blah,

“Also No matter what anybody says, as long as Nadal is not #1 in the rankings, he’s not #1 to me, and I am pretty sure he too wouldn’t think he’s the #1 when he hasn’t done it in the rankings.”

Put it this way: Would you rather have 6 titles or 2? And not just any 6, 2 are big and 2 are major. Compared to 2 small titles and a bunch of finals. I would have eaten dinner out of my Wimbledon runner-up plate if I lost an epic there.

Even if Fed wins everything from here on out, including the Olympics and the Year end champs, and Rafa wins nothing in the second half, I’d still rather have the two slams than a perfect second half.

The entry ranking in the ATP’s computer is not indicative of reality. This is like how Kuznetsova was two matches away from clinching #1 at Wimbledon and in Paris, even though she had only won ONE title in the past 18 months. And it wasn’t a major. Had she gone on to be #1, she would not be regarded as a real #1. Without Henin in the game, there is suddenly a lot of depth now, with no clear cut player deserving to be #1. I do not think Ivanovic will hold onto it for very long. Janks might get it, but it will be a hollow victory to be #1 without ever winning a slam. There are no stand out players in women’s tennis right now, and I wouldn’t call Federer’s 2008 season a standout one either. It’s good if you’re considering it purely from a wins:loss statistic, but he’s been coming up short when it matters most, which is in the finals.

I’m not saying he will come up short in the second half. What I’m saying is, Nadal is the de facto #1 right now. The only one who can wrest that away from him is Djokovic, by winning the US Open and splitting it at 2 slams each. And in case I haven’t been clear, I do not go as far as presuming that Nadal will win the US Open (I give him better chances at the AO than USO). But I do think he’s a contender and his chances are better than most people give him. If he loses, I won’t need to pull a disappearance act or anything — the expectation is not on him to win. But if he wins, a lot of people are going to be silenced. People will start talking about how the US Open’s decoturf II has been slowed down and the bounce has changed. The same as the grass. It’s amazing how the tennis gods favor him and do everything to help him win, from draws, to surface changes and ball changes.


JCF Says:

Von,

“I think Djoko was probably getting back a little revenge against Federer for saying he won’t watch the AO final, after his loss to Djoko.”

I’m pretty sure Federer DID watch the final, despite his avowed nonchalance. And you can be certain that he would have saw the final if it was Djokovic vs Nadal. I don’t think he’s going to miss any more Rafa matches after what’s happened the past few months. He’s going to look for weaknesses and study how other players beat him.


jane Says:

Von,

“Sorry you don’t like Doug Adler and Robbie Koenig; I think they’re pretty fair in thir commentating and not prone to gossip.”

Oh actually I’m not sure I know them; I was responding to Sardino’s post as it was a complaint about the commentators. But I do like our Peter Burwash; he’s great.

“I like your logic” – yes, well, it’s really a guilty bit of fanism. We have so few compatriot, successful singles players in Canada, it’s difficult to root against them!


JCF Says:

Btw, I think every man in tennis would have saw that Wimbledon final. If they didn’t see it live, then they definately would have saw a replay simply after learning that Federer was beaten. They have to know how, and what it takes to do such a thing. It also helps that it was an epic, and that Nadal choked away opportunities to finish the match in the 3rd and the 4th sets. There would have been much to learn about both players in that final.

This match will be talked about for a while. I can see Nadal’s opponents being asked about it in their interviews at USO. And Federer’s opponents too.


blah Says:

Giner, I didn’t say I dislike baseliners or serve and volleyers or all courters. What I like is variety. I want to see a good mixture of all three, and due to the wimby grass, serve and volley is dying. Again, nothing against Nadal. He’s probably my favorite player on tour currently. I am not a big fed fan and definitely not a djokovic fan at all, but had Nadal played on the fast wimby grass in the past, one would think it would be harder for him to get through all the serve and volleyers there, and I know there are very little of them right now, but if the wimby grass was faster I am confident there would be a good increase, and the old wimby grass is great for s and v players. Again all I am saying is it would be harder for Nadal to win, not that he couldn’t, Andre won it back in 92 afterall, but my point is that I miss the variety of playing styles in the past, and that’s why I dislike the wimby grass right now, not because Nadal won it.
And like I said, because of the slowing down of the wimbledon grass along with racquet technology there are less and less serve and volleyers, who if they were present would’ve presented a harder challenge to Nadal in Queen’s imo.
Regarding the best player thing. Again, I doubt even Nadal truly believes that he should be recognized the best tennis player right now, (he might believe it, and so might Djokovic and Federer) but I am saying that as long as he does not top federer in the standings and have his name entered into that list of #1 players in history, I still would say Federer is #1, even if I believe Nadal has had the better year so far and is the better player right now. Tennis players go on streaks, and may be better than any other in that point, but all I am saying is before I crown Nadal I want him to earn the #1 ranking, which isn’t his yet, and I believe that Nadal will earn that ranking at some point this year and become year end number one, and I believe he deserves it if he does, but it is not a sure thing yet. Again, Nadal is a great tennis player, and the first to win wimbledon and french same year since borg, which is remarkable despite the slowing down of the surface because grass is still grass and clay is still clay afterall.
And as to people saying Nadal has no chance, well I am not one of those people. I know a lot of people on this site is anti nadal and have little no respect for him, but I am not one of them. I like Nadal better than Federer and definitely better than Djokovic but I am just trying to be fair here. Nadal is a great tennis player, a great fighter, mentally stronger than anybody on tour, so to not give him a chance on hardcourts would be foolish.


Shital Green Says:

Giner,
You make good argument about Rafa’s chances of winning GS on hard court. He has already shown enough to go a couple of more miles to get there. Yet, in comparison to his performance on clay and grass, he is a little bit behind on hard, despite 3 MS wins and twice MS runner-ups on this surface. His movement on hard is tentative, i.e. not as smooth and confident as on other surfaces. He takes more caution on hard to avoid hurting his knees. If anything prevents Rafa from winning a GS on hard, it will be his caution. Plus, heavy heaters can keep the ball normally low/flat on hard court. On hard, ball requires less energy and loses less force. Rafa’s caution slows his speed, his ability to get behind the ball in time, which is one of his best abilities. His opponent can flatten out his highbouncing balls.
In brief, I think Rafa may have to make some adjustment to his present style and make some sacrifice to win a GS on hard.


blah Says:

JCF,
come on, it’s obvious the wimby grass has been slowed down from last decade, look at how the balls are bouncing and how so many serve and volleyers that LOVED to play on that grass just disappeared.
I am not taking anything away from Nadal, I believe he is one of those baseliners who can win wimby even on the old grass, all I said is he would probably have a tougher time doing it.
And no I am not going to start saying they slowed us open courts down if Nadal wins, and if he does, I wouldn’t be that suprised to be honest.
Like I said, I am a Nadal fan that’s just trying to be fair and objective. Personally I would want two slams. Is Nadal the best right NOW? yes. but I would still like to see him earn the #1 ranking, I believe Nadal would tell you that he’s not #1 until he actually holds that spot in the rankings. These tennis players all strive toward being ranked #1 one day for a reason. And I am confident that Nadal will be #1 soon even if he only puts up good and not spectacular performance 2nd half, all I am saying is wait before declaring that he’s the official #1.


jane Says:

speaking of what literally lies ahead for Fed, he has never played Simon, who just won a hard tourney last week. Fed’ll probably still pummel him but it’s interesting that they’ve never played – seems like Fed’s played everyone!

Don’t think Rafa’s first round should be much of a challenge, but after that he could face Berdych, Gasquet, maybe Djoko, or whomever comes out of that top half. It won’t be easy for him to get to the finals here.


blah Says:

Also, I am not saying the wimby grass has slowed because Nadal won it. Even when Federer was racking up those slams the grass was slower than it had been since around 2001 or 2002.


zola Says:

blah,
how are you so sure that the grass is slower than 2001-2002? what is the measure of slowness?

I also mentioned above that two of 4 GS tournaments are on hard courts and the AO eas re-surfaces last year with the same material as the one in the US Open. They made it faster.

From 8 master series tournaments, only 3 is on clay. nothing on grass, 4 on hard courts, 2 on fast indoor carpet and I think master cup is also on carpet or hard.

Isn’t the ATP tour tailred for hard court players? How fair is that?

Even with all these concesions , hearing complaints about “courts being slowed down” is just very strange!


zola Says:

JCF
*** don’t think he’s going to miss any more Rafa matches after what’s happened the past few months. He’s going to look for weaknesses and study how other players beat him.***

You mean he hasn’t done it? I am pretty sure he has studied Rafa’s game many times. He does it every year. But Rafa knows that and till now, every year he has come up with a better play.


blah Says:

JCF,
of course it’s not fair. I don’t like the hardcourt bias. I would love to see the players get an extra week of rest or two during the clay season. I would love to see one or two masters series on grass. I want to see truly the tour be split into 4 surfaces. But only atp can change that.
What I mean by slower is that it’s slow to a level where there’s a noticable difference from what it was before. Balls do not bounce as low, the courts play slower, serve and volleyers lose their advantage on these courts because it gives baseliners more reaction time to hit a passing shot. It still has certain characteristics of grass such as slices on grass are still slices on grass, but do you really believe that there’s no difference when now you are seeing long drawn out rallies on grass as opposed to quick points, aces, errors caused by the volleys which gave the baseliner little time to get off a good shot, etc. in the old days?
anyhow, I don’t blame players, they cant really do anything about it (or would risk too much if they try to), I blame the atp.


blah Says:

oh, and the above post was answering to zola, not jcf. my bad.


Von Says:

JCF:

“I don’t think he’s going to miss any more Rafa matches after what’s happened the past few months. He’s going to look for weaknesses and study how other players beat him.”

I saw Fed on the Tennis Channel in an interview with Murphy Jensen, and he stated that he dedicates hours studying the draws and watching matches, analyzing and breaking down the players’ games. He mentioned Mirka gets tired and angry about the amount of time he devotes to watching the matches. That said, I’m sure he watched the AO fina, to see what it is that Djoko did to beat Tsonga. Further, I’d say he does an in-depth analysis of any of Rafa’s or Djoko’s matches. He’s well prepared when he gets on court facing any opponent. Another smart tactic that he utilizes, is that of inviting the other players to practice with him. By so doing, he’s able to see whatever new strategies and/or shots they’ve incorporated into their arsenal of weapons. Roddick was stupid enough to practice with him after he beat Fed at Kooyong, before the ’06 AO, and he got a good trashing. I suppose it’s nice to be friendly, but to me that’s very stupid practising with your opponent. I doubt whether Rafa would do that.


blah Says:

I guess to sum up a couple of above posts, what I am trying to say is that I am against essentially making the courts around the same speed and making players play one style.
And this isn’t just serve and volley, I would be as opposed if, say, they shrinked the balls and made courts faster and eliminated baseliners. Variety is beautiful in tennis. Different playing styles, different courts. A tour which one really has to be able to play well on multiple courts in order to get to the top.
But again, that’s unlikely to happen with people being more entertained with long rallies, and that translating to rating which means more money.
I complain of the grass because it’s just another step toward the homogenization of tennis.


JCF Says:

I haven’t played on the surface, so I’m no authority on whether it has been slowed or not. There is dissenting opinion from actual players on the matter. I don’t think Rafa has commented on it. But even if it was slow grass, no other slow court player has managed to beat Fed in the last 6 years. He got broken once in 5 sets. Not just any 5 sets, that was the longest final ever played at Wimbledon. Compare his serve to last year, which cost him the 5th set.

It’s difficult for me to compare the speed with past years. You’d have to watch the same players hitting the same strokes (preferably to the same opponent) side by side to make a scientific comparisson. What I can definately say, having watched Fed & Nadal play RG and then Wimbledon back to back (I downloaded both matches and spent a day watching them), is that Wimbledon is clearly faster than RG. You could tell because the tennis was different. And so was the result. In one (lopsided) match, he dropped only 4 games, in the other (epic), he dropped 29, and almost the match. Anyone who says Wimbledon plays like clay should be shot.

Is Wimby 08 slower than Wimby 01? I don’t know. Possibly. Probably. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say that it is. But I’m a skeptic of anyone who says it was slower in 08 than it was in 07 or 06. They would not be saying this if Rafa lost. Is it slower than hard court? I don’t think it is. And I don’t think Rafa’s knees are as weak as people claim they are. He had some medical time outs but that was because he slipped and strained them, not because they couldn’t handle the stress of running. The strapping is preventative. He wore those even on clay.

It is true that S&V players are not as common anymore, but I don’t believe this is a simple reaction to courts being slowed. Serve and volley is a style you had to learn while growing up. They could not possibly react this fast to a change in court conditions. It’s not as if you saw S&V players stop S&Ving and start baselining. It would take time for these changes to filter down to player level. Juniors and prospective players would need to change their game while learning, and it would take years before the effect was noticed on the pro tour.

Doesn’t racquet technology which allows you to hit the ball harder (so that it flies faster) somewhat mitigate the slowing of the courts?


blah Says:

Yes racquet technology is part of it, but the grass kills it off too.
S and Volleyrs used to make up half of the draw in wimby, and as for changing playing style, a player like Henman served and volleyed less as the change took place in wimby.
Think of it like this, a lot of players model their game to win a certain slam. A lot of spainiard model it to win RO, therefore clay court specialists.
If the younger players who have a promising future, are alerted by this change, and their coaches told them to change techniques, after all why would they learn the serve and volley game when it doesn’t really help you in any slam and when playing baseline suits you better on many surfaces. Like Pete, who was told by his coach to change his two handed to one hand backhand in order to win wimby when he was young.
As to the slowing of wimby from 07 to 08, I don’t really buy it, and like I said, I take nothing away from Nadal, but ever since Ivanesevic won it in 01 by defeating rafter, (a wimbledon slam where the new grass was neutralized by rain), no s and vers have made a big noise in a tournament where there used to be dominated by them.
Grass is still grass to an extent, it’s still faster than clay, but it has been slowed down noticeably, and as you know the biggest effect of the new grass is that topspin shots bounce higher on it than it did before, which is deadly to any serve and volleyer. The T mark that used to be formed is now at the back of the baseline.
Going from 70/30 mix of rye to 100 rye is quite a difference.
Again I am a Nadal fan, I really cannot think of a player I like more than him that’s on tour right now, but all I am saying is his accomplishment would be even more impressive if this was old wimbeldon grass. because the speed differential between this and clay, the way the ball bounces and courts play would be very different, just like when Borg did it back in the days.


Ezorra Says:

List of 2008 ESPY Award Winners

Best International Male Athlete: Rafael Nadal, Tennis (He beats Christiano Ronaldo and Kaka – soccer and Manu Ginobili – basketball)

Best Male Tennis Player: Roger Federer
(He beats Nadal, Djokovic and Bryaan Brothers)

Best Female Tennis Player: Maria Sharapova
(She beats Justine Henin and Ana Ivanovic)<– seriously I’ve no idea how this happen!


Ryan Says:

Nadal wont make it in this US open…..Thats for sure…..the court is too fast for him and his results will be at best the same as last year….mark my words…..


Daniel Says:

Agree with Blah and I would add the heavier balls they use in Wimbledon this days too.

JCF/Giner

“He has won fewer tournaments on grass than he has on hard courts, and it has taken him much longer to win his first on grass.”

But he made 2 consecutive finals before winning Wimbledon which to me is way more expressive that any other MS or small hard court title. In US Open and AO he made none.

I understand your point that anyone can win without previuos results but as Rafa “wasn’t ment
” to win on hard is difficult to believe that he will suddenly make a final in a surface that has give him trouble more than grass.

And I too agee with you that his hardcourt results are not bad. This year he lost to the eventual champion in IW (Djoko), Miami (Davy) and Dubai (Roddick), so…


Danica Says:

Blah,

“Also No matter what anybody says, as long as Nadal is not #1 in the rankings, he’s not #1 to me, and I am pretty sure he too wouldn’t think he’s the #1 when he hasn’t done it in the rankings.”

But he IS current #1. He leads the champ race. Personally, I couldn’t care less for results of 12 months past. What counts for me is this season. And this season, he is overwhelming and deservedly the best. We’ll see what the hard court part of the season will bring for him. I am amazed with his results at such a young age (5 slams @ 22!!!! Gotta admire that!)


jane Says:

Can I just cajole all those people who think Novak is arrogant, etc, to read his interview from yesterday in Toronto? It’s here on this website.

It’s an excellent interview. Novak is nothing but gracious – to Dancevic, to Canadian fans, to Roger & Rafa. And he gets in a joke – of course – about a fan’s marriage proposal.

Hopefully people will give the guy a little more credit and leeway; he, like Rafa, continues to learn how to carry himself, as well as how to better his game. He’s a great guy and boon to the sport, imo.


jane Says:

I didn’t mean to imply that Rafa needs to learn how to carry himself; he has his way firmly established, on court and off. I was merely suggesting that Rafa is alway working, always learning, and I think with Novak it’s the same – he keeps trying to improve.


jane Says:

Voicemale1,

Clearly Novak did watch the Wimbledon final, as he calls it one of the best matches in history in his interview. So that should settle that.


Noel Says:

The grass was changed after wimby 2000 and afaik,it has not been changed since.It can appear slower/quicker depending on the weather conditions(hot/warm/humid/rainy) and also the stage(early/late) the tournament is in.The centre court grass in the closing stages of the tournament is not the same as the grass on the first monday.It gets worn out after so much of play and is less slippery esp if the weather has been fine.the court shows obvious signs of it in terms of ‘grassless’ patches on some parts of the court as well as the colour of the grass as compared to the pristine conditions on the first day.
Other factors are also responsible for the relatively better performances from baseliners apart from the slower grass from 2001 onwards although different contrasting statements from different players do leave me confused as to the speed of the wimb courts.One thing that is beyond any dispute is the role of the tennis balls being used in slowing things down.the heavier and softer balls-along with the modern strings/racquets which Matt explained so well-make it much easier for the baseliners to play on the wimby grass as compared to s&v players.earlier the balls used to be stored in pressurized cans to keep them harder.we keep on blaming the courts for the decline in s&v players but ignore the crucial role of the balls and strings.today,the percentages are just not there for volleyers because the balls do not skid through and anything less than a perfectly placed volley would easily be passed due to the greater/truer bounce.Modern strings allow you to whack the ball much harder without worrying too much about it going out of the court.
However,it’d be wrong and unfair to single out Rafa as the only beneficiary of all these changes.We can argue that Fed is the bigger beneficiary because he has won five titles without playing much s&v.I for one definitely think that the chances of an upset victory by a big s&v player in the quicker conditions would have been greater and Rafa’d have been more ‘vulnerable’ but I guess,so would have been Fed.Rafa has adapted and improved brilliantly to play so well at wimby in the last three years esp this year.He lost two finals to the the best contemporary grass court player and eventually beat him.No other player-including the allegedly better grass players-has come even close.Let us give credit where it is due.Rafa was better than all other challengers and fiercely determined to reach his goal and nothing has changed-in terms of conditions-in the last three years to give him any advantage at wimby compared to other players.
Personally,I’d prefer conditions which are more suitable for s&v play at wimby but won’t like it to be so quick and low that it becomes a serving shootout.Ideally,one’d like different slams to preserve their unique character.
As for Rafa’s ability on the hard courts,he has done well enough in the past to suggest that he is a very good player on the surface albeit not as consistent as the best players who,in any case,can be counted on fingers.I myself think that he won’t be as great on hard courts as he is on clay and grass.However,he is only 22 now and has time on his side.I won’t be shocked if he wins a slam on this surface sooner than later and finishes his career with a few hard slams in his bag as well.As Dan said on the other thread,I won’t like to make a career predicting what Rafa can or can’t do.He scares me with his determination and motivation levels.


SG Says:

“jane Says:
I didn’t mean to imply that Rafa needs to learn how to carry himself; he has his way firmly established, on court and off. I was merely suggesting that Rafa is alway working, always learning, and I think with Novak it’s the same – he keeps trying to improve.”

People are remarkably fickle aren’t they? First we get the complaint that today’s players are boring…they have no personality. Then Djokovic comes along. He’s got game, he’s personable and funny and he’s confident in his own abilities. How do we label him? He’s arrogant, he’s obnoxious. Sometimes you just can’t win no matter what you do. I like Djokovic. I like him primarily because he’s one hell of a tennis player. But, he’s a breath of fresh air. He’s Roddick with a more complete game. He’s a great interviewer and he has superb court presence. People need to back off him.


Noel Says:

matt,
Thanks a lot for telling us how racquet technology has evolved over the years.I think it is just fantastic that we have in our midst such an experienced member who has been playing for so long and can provide a player’s perspective as it were.I have never even touched a racquet but am very passionate about the game and feel great when someone provides such great insight into the game’s changing character after having experienced it first hand.I didn’t know most of the stuff that you wrote about the chronology esp the bit about Kuerten starting the strings thing.Although I know about the stats that you have so kindly provided and have been comparing Pete’s and Fed’s careers for a while now,it is-as jane said- indeed very nice of you to have taken the trouble to post it here.Thanks again!


matt Says:

You’re very welcome, Noel.

And you spot it, I totally agree that Federer is probably the bigger beneficiary of the Luxilon-type strings, because Federer is probably the player who uses more spins in his game.


jane Says:

SG,

“I like Djokovic. I like him primarily because he’s one hell of a tennis player. But, he’s a breath of fresh air. He’s Roddick with a more complete game. He’s a great interviewer and he has superb court presence. People need to back off him.”

I agree 100% (as I often do with what you write), except that it’s “interviewee” not “interviewer. :-)

In fact I think it’s a shame that everyone thinks Novak has to change to become more like Rafa or Fed. I like his candidness – always have. People want to mold him into something more “humble” or whatever. So in my previous posts, I just wanted to point out how much Novak continues to evolve. Maybe those who find him “arrogant” will be happy to note that he’s more politically correct in his latest interview? Maybe they won’t.

I hope he remains a joker and doesn’t conform to expectations too broadly. It’s nice to see a variety of different personalities at the top in tennis.


leo Says:

someone posted a line above saying “Rafa was lucky at Wimbledon because the grass has been slowed down”. Or something for that matter.
A comment like that is not only utterly silly , but also ludicrous.
Isn’t it the grass where Roger Federer won 5 Championships in row?
Gosh, people wants to diminish Nadal’s triumph so much that they shoot themselves in the foot in the most ridiculous way.
By the way, if the Wimbledon grass got so slower that allowed Leyton Hewitt to win onver there, how this geniuoses explain the fact that the ultimate bomber serve and volley guy (even more that Sampras who at least knew a thing or two about slicing shots) Goran Ivanicevic won Wimby just one year before Hewitt?
Is it possible that the fast grass where Ivanicevoc won in 2001 serving a-la Ivo Karlovic was replaced the next year for a clay-like grass? On other question related, if the grass was so slow why Hewitt was never a factor during the clay seasons during on his (brief) prime ?
The grass is still fast, but the players are not the statues they were in the 70′s , and , on top of that, the rackets are another kind of animal.


Von Says:

“Gosh, people wants to diminish Nadal’s triumph so much that they shoot themselves in the foot in the most ridiculous way.”

It’s understandable about the excuses concerning the wimby grass — the excuses are emanating from some of the Federer fans who are still in shock over his loss, on what was undisputably his best surface. The rationalizations and/or excuses somewhat help to put a damper on the disappointment and most probably the pain, which obviously stil exists after 2-1/2 weeks.

Federer recently stated that hardcourt is his best surface and is looking forward to playing in the hardcourt season. Now this is a hypothetical question, if Federer should lose in Toronto, on what he has now proclaimed, his best surface, what rationalizations and/or excuses will the members of his fan-dom find to soften the pain? Will it be, the surface’s bounce was too low, high, slick, sandy, et al., and the hardcourt which we all see, is absolutely non-existent — a mirage, and in reality it is, without a doubt, a clay court, as was suggested of Wimby playing like a dirt surface? This is how ludicrous the excuses are now beginning to sound.

Many have hypothsized that Nadal will not be able to win the USO or be a force on hardcourts because of his knee problems, and here again, we see ludicrousness manifested. How can we as humans predict the outcome of anyone’s health situation? Nadal might prove all of the nay-sayers wrong and indeed be a force to be recokoned with on all surfaces. His supect knees could hold up longer than those who have perfect knees. It’s all a matter of what’s in his destiny. It would be easier for those who are looking for excuses as a buffer for Fed’s losses at Nadal’s hands, to accept that all of the players are entitled to some sucaess, and be thankful for the great 4 years of Federer’s success and triumph over the also rans.


JCF Says:

“Best Female Tennis Player: Maria Sharapova
(She beats Justine Henin and Ana Ivanovic)<– seriously I’ve no idea how this happen!”

You’ve got to be kidding. How many slams did Shaz win in 07? zero. How many did Henin win? 2. She didn’t even play AO, made SF at Wimby.

Ryan Says:

“Nadal wont make it in this US open…..Thats for sure…..the court is too fast for him and his results will be at best the same as last year….mark my words…..”

Consider them marked. If he makes it past the 4th round, I will be quoting you. And if he wins the title, your quote will permanently be in my Sig which I will post at the end of every message. And now that you’ve said the court will be “too fast”, you won’t even be able to use the excuse that they slowed it down for him.

Daniel,

“I understand your point that anyone can win without previuos results but as Rafa “wasn’t ment
” to win on hard is difficult to believe that he will suddenly make a final in a surface that has give him trouble more than grass.”

I don’t buy the claim that he wasn’t meant to win on hard. I can’t think of a single player on the tour that “wasn’t meant” to win on hard. It is as fair a surface as any can get. Those who say that it isn’t suited to his game have done a poor job justifying it. Tell me how it suited LLeyton Hewitt’s game.

And even if it were true, I still don’t find your response very convincing. You’re basically saying ‘yeah you are right.. you don’t need previous results to win a big title as others have shown, but just not in the case of him. He is a special exception.’ Color me unimpressed.

“You mean he hasn’t done it? I am pretty sure he has studied Rafa’s game many times. He does it every year. But Rafa knows that and till now, every year he has come up with a better play.”

He’s going to want to learn even more about him now. Because things have suddenly gotten serious. He didn’t care about losing to Rafa on clay. It meant nothing to him. But Wimbledon is something else. He can no longer be content with what he already knows. He’s going to want to never lose another non-clay match to Rafa again. He has taken every loss to Rafa on the chin, EXCEPT that Wimby final. And now Rafa threatens to supplant his #1 ranking too. Fed knows he has to step it up. And I don’t think Fed will ever underestimate him again, not even on hard court.

blah,

“As to the slowing of wimby from 07 to 08, I don’t really buy it, and like I said, I take nothing away from Nadal, but ever since Ivanesevic won it in 01 by defeating rafter, (a wimbledon slam where the new grass was neutralized by rain), no s and vers have made a big noise in a tournament where there used to be dominated by them.
Grass is still grass to an extent, it’s still faster than clay, but it has been slowed down noticeably, and as you know the biggest effect of the new grass is that topspin shots bounce higher on it than it did before, which is deadly to any serve and volleyer. The T mark that used to be formed is now at the back of the baseline.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye4bQjmA604

Here is a clip from the 2001 final between Ivanisevic and Rafter. As you can see the grass is worn in the same spots as it was in 08.

By the way, Hewitt and Nalbandian did not serve and volley even once between them in the 2002 final.

“People are remarkably fickle aren’t they? First we get the complaint that today’s players are boring…they have no personality. Then Djokovic comes along. He’s got game, he’s personable and funny and he’s confident in his own abilities. How do we label him? He’s arrogant, he’s obnoxious. Sometimes you just can’t win no matter what you do. I like Djokovic. I like him primarily because he’s one hell of a tennis player. But, he’s a breath of fresh air. He’s Roddick with a more complete game. He’s a great interviewer and he has superb court presence. People need to back off him.”

Agreed 100%. Tennis needs diverse personalities. We need a guy like Rios or Ivanisevic. Roddick is really the top personality in the game right now. Say what you want about his game, but he is a very entertaining guy and we need more players like him. Most other players are boring off the court. Djoko’s arrogance may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to agree, he does get people talking.

Von,

“It’s understandable about the excuses concerning the wimby grass — the excuses are emanating from some of the Federer fans who are still in shock over his loss, on what was undisputably his best surface. The rationalizations and/or excuses somewhat help to put a damper on the disappointment and most probably the pain, which obviously stil exists after 2-1/2 weeks.”

I think you’ve nailed it right on the head. People dismissed Rafa’s grass potential as soon as he started his clay streak in 05, presuming that it’s impossible for a clay expert from spain to stand a chance on the green stuff, and when he made a mockery of that, they say the grass was slowed just in time for his ascent. Sorry, but the grass has not changed since 2005. Nor has Nadal changed racquets and strings.

Now that he’s won wimbledon, the only recourse they have if they are to sweep his wins under the rug is to say that concrete is his Achilles heel.

“Federer recently stated that hardcourt is his best surface and is looking forward to playing in the hardcourt season. Now this is a hypothetical question, if Federer should lose in Toronto, on what he has now proclaimed, his best surface, what rationalizations and/or excuses will the members of his fan-dom find to soften the pain? Will it be, the surface’s bounce was too low, high, slick, sandy, et al., and the hardcourt which we all see, is absolutely non-existent — a mirage, and in reality it is, without a doubt, a clay court, as was suggested of Wimby playing like a dirt surface? This is how ludicrous the excuses are now beginning to sound.”

Bingo. Exactly what I was thinking yesterday. Which is why the next couple of months will be very interesting. This year we will find out once and for all if concrete really is his weakness. If he does badly in the 4 main tournaments, then I will pass my final judgment on him.

Don’t forget the ‘easy draw’ excuse too.

The excuses were really rampant on RF’s forums a few years back. They were saying how it was impossible for the guy to win on anything other than clay, and when he made the Miami finals in 05, almost beating Fed, they said ‘Miami was a slow hard court btw’. ‘But the US Open is a very fast hard court.’ Tosh on both accounts. The US Open is not fast at all. It looks slow-medium at best. I have seen faster hard courts than that.


JCF Says:

“I think you’ve nailed it right on the head. People dismissed Rafa’s grass potential as soon as he started his clay streak in 05, presuming that it’s impossible for a clay expert from spain to stand a chance on the green stuff, and when he made a mockery of that, they say the grass was slowed just in time for his ascent. Sorry, but the grass has not changed since 2005. Nor has Nadal changed racquets and strings.”

You can either admit that he has improved on the surface, or you can admit that the grass was always slow to begin with and that it was never ‘too fast’ for him. You can’t say it was fast during his rise on clay, and suddenly slowed dramatically a year later so he could start making some finals.

You can’t even call his 06 finals run a fluke due to easy opponents anymore, because he backed it up with two more finals in a row.


Ryan Says:

Hey JCF…… I made a mistake….. I actually meant to say that nadal will not get past his results of 2006 which is the quarters.Now you can mark my words…….


kofi ofori Says:

shital;
according to occam’s razor theory, when you have several reasons [simply put] for something occuring, stick with the simplest one.
so why would you speak such big and haughty english when you can communicate in simpler, everyday english? save yourself the time having to explain to common folk like me. by the way, its ghanaian, not ghanian.

giner;
we cannot say for certain that shital has better literacy skills than me. on what basis? his spectacularly bally-hooed english? i doubt that very much.

i have always believed that in life, whatever you do, if you do it well enough, people will sit up and take notice. whether its angling, jaywalking or even stealing, people will applaud your efforts. that is exactly what nadal is doing, putting himself out there and attracting all those comments from boris becker (nadal is the real number 1) etc. go figure


Spin Says:

Don’t bother trying to get anything remotely conversational out of some of the posters here. The one you’re trying to poke is referencing Deleuze in another thread. That is absolutely ridiculous given the environment.


Shital Green Says:

Kofi Ofori,
Thanks for making me go over Razor Theory after a long time. The first part states, “The simplest explanation is probably the right explanation.” Second part has “if” clause, “if competing theories are equally viable.” What I understand by the if-clause is if all carry the same message.
Keep in mind Razor theory was not originally about the use of language but about the use of theories: “Simpler theories are preferable other things being equal.” Even this does not absolutely hold true because, for instance, Newton’s theories are simpler than Einstein’s theories, but scientists agree that the latter is more correct than the former. Similarly, Copernicus’ heliocentric is complex but correct; Ptolemy’s (and Aristotle’s) geocentricism is simple but false. Thus, there is no inherent relationship between simplicity and truth, even if simplicity may serve communicative purposes. Creationism may be simpler to understand than evolutionism but lacks scientific truth value. The list goes on. If you want to extend Razor Theory to language use, I have no problem with that.
And in the above case that inspired this conversation with you in the 1st place, I was seeking a different message, so I had to resort to complexity.
My general contention is that sometimes complexity is preferable to simplicity depending on the subject matter and goal that we assign ourselves to achieve. On most occasions, I use plain language. If I have to seek depth and focus on avoiding contradiction and controversy, I find simplicity less effective, not because I am an admirer of Leibniz, who counters parsimony with plenitude. The instance in question is the consequence of a goal I set to myself.

Btw, Merriam Webster gives three options for the adjective of Ghana: Ghanaian, Ghanian, and Ghanese. When a word is imported from a foreign language and Anglicized/ Americanized, it goes through alteration (inflection). As a native (if you are from Ghana), you may prefer “Ghanaian.” Only after talking to you, I have come to know your preference.
I must respect and thank you for engaging in intellectual conversation.


Is Rafael Nadal Ready to Take New York? Says:

[...] I said in July that with the addition of the Beijing Olympics to the schedule that results this summer would go rather unpredictably, with no one player dominating. Well, I was wrong. Turns out one single player did dominate the summer, and it was Rafael Nadal who won both Cincinnati and the Olympic gold medal, and now he has sights firmly set on a third straight Grand Slam title, the US Open which begins Monday. [...]

Top story: Nadal Returns Tonight In Beijing, Djokovic Begins Final No. 1 Push; Serena Survives Scare
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