Nadal, Federer Australian Open Postscript
by Sean Randall | February 5th, 2009, 12:12 am
  • 433 Comments

So just who is the better player, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer? Well, I think the answer is crystal clear. Right now it’s Nadal. After winning the Australian Open the Spaniard has amassed Slams on hardcourt, grass and on clay to go along with two Davis Cup titles and an Olympic Gold. And he’s done it all by the age of 23. Wow.

Would you rather have Federer’s resume or Rafa’s with the possibility the Spaniard’s best may still be yet to come? It’s debatable now.

Before looking ahead, I do want to look back one more time at that stunning final Sunday morning. After a few days to digest I am still amazed at the outcome. Sure, I picked Federer to win the title and to beat Nadal. Yet given their history, Rafa claiming victory wasn’t a major surprise or upset (taken head-to-head one could argue it should have been expected). For me the surprise was how Rafa did it and how Fed didn’t do it.

As many of you know I am a Fed supporter, however after seeing him go down the way he did to Rafa I’m left with a lot of doubt as to whether he’ll ever return to the No. 1 ranking. My guess is no. That loss had to be absolutely shattering on so many levels. And to think it follows a similar gut-ripper in their Wimbledon meeting has to make it all the more painful for Federer and that much more sweeter for Nadal.

You can argue that at least Fed didn’t get blown out like he did at the French Open. He was close and well within reach of Rafa during much of the match, but in the end it comes down to scoreboard. And regardless of the scoreline or how it got there, that scoreboard was once again in Rafa’s favor. That simple.

When it counts the very most, Nadal clearly has been the better player having now won four of the last five meetings against Federer in Slam finals. The only loss of course was the five-setter at ’07 Wimbledon which Rafa could have also won and made it a clean sweep the last couple years.

What was so starting about this Australian final was just how badly Fed fell apart in that fifth set. Throughout the match Fed was struggling with his serve, but I thought his ground game was holding up better than I expected and his backhand was firm against Rafa’s onslaught. However, once he got into the fifth everything in his game virtually disintegrated. It was like watching someone play their very first five-set match on a major stage. Mentally he caved in. Like he went James Blake. It seemed all at once the moment, the opponent and the stage were too great for Federer, and that’s something we haven’t seen that from him in eons.

And the way he checked out in that fifth simply doesn’t bode well going forward for Federer, especially when he next faces Nadal. How can that confidence be there the next time he’s in the fifth against Nadal?

Nadal, though, is simply astounding. I really didn’t think he played at his highest level during that match, but when he needed to raise his game on the big points he really stepped up. There is no one mentally tougher than him right now in tennis. Saving all six break points late in that third set was high and mighty.

And even though Fed grabbed the fourth set and the momentum, Rafa didn’t blink whatsoever, simply refusing to lose in the end. Fed use to be that guy with the mental edge, now it’s Rafa. Full credit again to Spaniard. What I wonder is just what the other players were thinking watching back home. I’m referring to Murray, Djokovic, Roddick and the rest of the chasers who will likely have to beat this guy to win a Slam. They had to be shaking there heads in disbelief and maybe even in horror. Nadal doesn’t crack.

Regarding Rafa’s fitness, on the other threads there’s been lots of chatter about steroids. Well, from what I’ve read tennis does some serious, exhaustive drug testing so until I’m told otherwise Rafa’s clean. That simple. Might he be using some new-age, undetectable wonder drug? It can’t be ruled out. But he’s being tested and nothing has turned up. So until something does it’s disappointing that people would make such remarks and accusations. This isn’t baseball back in the day when they didn’t test. In tennis, they test.

Many players have won grinding, back-to-back, if not back-to-back-to-back five setters. So what? Is it no longer possible to play consecutive five-set matches with a day off in between anymore? Please. Unless there’s some hardcore evidence – like he’s growing a third arm – I really don’t want to hear about steroids and Rafa.

As for the GOAT talk. Well, this does change things.

There’s of course the possibility of a calendar Slam this year for Rafa, but I don’t see that happening. Far more plausible is the career Slam.

Rafa’s got about five good years to win the US Open which would give him all four Majors. As I said before I think he’ll get it, maybe not this year but at some point. After a draining summer last season he still came within six sets of the title. With fewer obligations leading up to the Open in the next few years he should enter the tournament far fresher and more motivated – what else is there for him to do? If it isn’t already, the US Open will become Rafa’s No. 1 goal and if you give this guy enough time and he stays healthy I think he can do just about anything.

Now he might not reach Pete Sampras’s 14 Slams or whatever number Federer ends up at. But if Nadal does get the US Open and he keeps beating Federer in Slam finals it’s awfully hard to put to the Swiss above Rafa regardless of final Slam count. Plus, five of Rafa’s six Slam titles have already come at Roger’s expense. That poor record is not the mark of the greatest and I’m sure Roger would agree. You can’t be the greatest when you are second fiddle in your own peer group.

Sure, Sampras took some hits from Andre Agassi, but Pete had the 20-14 advantage plus in Grand Slam matches he’s ahead 5-3. Rafa leads Roger now 13-6, 6-2 in Grand Slams. If Roger wants to cement his status as the greatest he’ll need a few convincing wins over Rafa at the Majors, and right now that prospect doesn’t look promising. So as I said previously, while many of us have been looking at Federer becoming the GOAT, perhaps Rafa will ultimately sneak in and lay claim to that title. Doesn’t sound as crazy as it did before, does it?

That said, Rafa will have to stay injury free because it’s hard to imagine him playing into his 30s. So his peak playing window will be much smaller than a Federer, Sampras, etc.

I do, however, think Federer will eclipse Sampras, maybe even this year. I still pick him to win Wimbledon and then the US Open is always a chance, that is as long as he can avoid a healthy Nadal.

I will also be interested to see just how motivated Federer will be now to play in the smaller events like Indian Well, Dubai, Miami, etc when those tournaments outside of hard cash will really add little value to his legacy.

And as many speculate, perhaps Roger will make some changes. Maybe he gets a coach who can help get him mentally ready for the next time he plays Nadal. Maybe he focuses everything on getting that French Open title, or he starts paying more attention to Davis Cup. Hell, maybe he just takes a few months off, marries Mirka and returns a new man. Or maybe he just plays through the pain.

It’s really anyone’s guess, and I right now I doubt even Roger knows just how he’ll respond. What I do know is that this most recent result sure makes this tennis season that much more intriguing. And if nothing else, that’s a good thing.


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433 Comments for Nadal, Federer Australian Open Postscript

Tejuz Says:

whenever Fed loses to Nadal, we always term it a ‘BIG’ blow. Be it the last three French finals, last years wimbledon or this years AU Open finals. Each of those Finals, Fed was chasing Histroy.. calendar slam, 6 in a row wimbledon, or 14th major. Everytime we wonder if Fed will be able to regroup. But then he always does come back everytime.. and puts himself in a position to win the Title. This shouldnt be any different for him. He has had hard losses in past few years .. mostly to the very same person. I guess we are just over-analyzing this match.

Nadal is currently ahead this year by a few points. If Fed can reclaim him wimbledon and a US Open, he could reclaim his No 1 by end of this year. Nadal is gonna lose points from his Olympics this year.


Sean Randall Says:

The real big blows came at Wimbledon last year and this weekend. The French Open losses were blows, but expected. Even Fed admitted to feeling the aftershocks of the Wimbledon loss. To his credit he did regroup for the US Open.

I picked Fed to finish 2009 No. 1. But as of now, I know it’s so early but I don’t see how he can do it unless Nadal gets injured.


ron Says:

“Might he be using some new-age, undetectable wonder drug? It can’t be ruled out.”

Now you’re just making shit up. It’s as intellectually dishonest as asking someone when they stopped beating their wife.

Shame, shame. Why so desperate to admit Rafa simply out performed Federer? It is the changing of the guard in tennis.


Mina Says:

I think Federer still has the ability to get to #1 again this year, but of course, that is dependent in large part on the way that Nadal plays.

The bonus for Federer is that because he had a crappy year (by his standards) in 2009, he doesn’t have a whole whack of points to protect this season when it comes to the non-Slam tourneys. I think this is where he can pick up some points. But I’m no math expert and I don’t watch the point distributions very closely, so I might be totally off about this.

And despite the fact that Nadal is the fittest player on tour (not saying that Federer isn’t fit, just that Nadal is slightly fitter), his style of play is very demanding on his body…so as is often pointed out, injury could be a factor down the road. What I think will definitely be a factor is fatigue – he might run out of gas in the latter half of the year if he plays as many tournaments in the clay court season as he did last year and gets as deeply into virtually all tournaments (on all surfaces) as I think he will.


Mina Says:

Sorry, wanted to clarify my above post. I’m not saying that Federer needs to completely overhaul his game…after all, it works against 95% of the guys on tour just fine, but against Nadal it seems like he’s going to HAVE to in order to beat him. This makes it even tougher for him – to go through an entire tournament playing one style and having it work effectively, and then making adjustments if he ends up meeting Nadal in the final – it’s tough to do, especially under pressure.


Mina Says:

^ Sorry – I’m an idiot. Posted the above comment at 2:03am under the wrong blog article (makes no sense in this context). Apologies.


Ezorra Says:

Ron, I think you should read the whole paragraph to at least have a basic idea of what he is talking about.


Kroll Says:

ron
—-
“Now you’re just making shit up. It’s as intellectually dishonest as asking someone when they stopped beating their wife.”

Instead of you if it was I who missed some pretty obvious sarcasm and took it literally, I would be very embarrassed, nay mortified.


Milo Says:

OK, here’s a guy who is testing clean…but obviously dirty. Undetectable wonder drug?

HA! Team Manager “shocked.” I’m sure that will clear him of any liability, since I’d bet he was carrying the “goodie bag” for the whole team. How could a cyclist with huge aerobic lung capacity and a strong heart, die in his sleep when he’s not exerting??? Let me take a wild guess — some form of red blood booster that is perfect when the cyclist is pumping hard in a race, but runs through the heart too thick when asleep at night. A waste? NO, a choice. If you’ll do anything to be an elite athlete…anything can happen. Goodbye cheater.

Belgian team confirms death of cyclist in Qatar
ShareThis
The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, Feb. 05, 2009

BRUSSELS — Belgian cycling team Topsport Vlaanderen Mercator says one of its riders was found dead in his hotel bed in Qatar.

The team says 21-year-old Frederiek Nolf died in his sleep Wednesday night. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

Nolf was competing in the Tour of Qatar, his first race of the season. He joined the team two years ago.

Team manager Christophe Sercu says the death came as a shock and Nolf had no apparent health problems. Sercu says each rider on the team is tested every four months for doping and Nolf was drug free.

The team was quitting the Qatar tour and returning to Belgium on Thursday.


Milo Says:

Memo to Belgian cycling team:

Set your alarm clock to go off every 3 minutes for a few weeks, just to be safe. And don’t hit the “snooze” button unless you have a death wish.

Also avoid watching a rerun of the Aussie Women’s final. That will surely put you to sleep.


pau. Says:

To even hint that Rafa Nadal (whose training programme is specially designed so that he does NOT build too much muscle!)would take steroids is laughable; it displays complete ignorance of where Nadal is coming from and what motivates him and makes him tick. The Spaniard is the squeakiest of clean guys with high principles about fair play. Everyone on the ATP tour knows that any such claims are absolutely ridiculous so it is high time that a stop be put to this type of vile innuendo that arises every time he defeats Federer.


grendel Says:

Sean says:

“So as I said previously, while many of us have been looking at Federer becoming the GOAT, perhaps Rafa will ultimately sneak in and lay claim to that title. Doesn’t sound as crazy as it did before, does it?”

Well, leaving aside the question as to what GOAT can actually mean (beyond a dictionary definition which doesn’t help much, since this is all about context) this idea of Nadal replacing Federer in the “goat” stakes is becoming fashionable.

Oh, you johnnie come latelies! Over 18 months ago, on this very site, I suggested Nadal had Federer in his sights at ALL levels, especially overtaking him on the grand slam haul. And I felt he would achieve his aims. I did this not because I like Nadal – I don’t, and I revere Federer the tennis player – and not because I think I know a lot about tennis, I certainly don’t. But certain things can be spotted by the non expert, providing he has a basic love and knowledge of his subject. (The intricacies of technique I enjoy reading about, if I struggle sometimes to understand them). It was always obvious to me that Nadal was a player of phenomenal skills – in those days, it was customary to dismiss him as some sort defensive , passive beast who simply absorbed allcomers. He was a man who could concentrate for long periods, and if his methods of so doing were disturbing to his competitors, this was of no interest to him. He was utterly singleminded even as a very young man. I had no interest whatever in his offcourt modesty antics, I was interested in his supreme arrogance oncourt, that was the only thing that counted. I had never seen anything like it. This was a champion designed to take on and displace other champions, and to reveal them – no matter how lofty their status – to have been pretenders. I feared, then, for Federer. Ever since, I have gloomily watched my predictions being confirmed. Of course, he had been greatly helped in his path by the fact that the one possible obstacle in his path – and Nadal and his entourage have always recognized that Federer was a real threat to their immense ambitions – is a stubbornly self deluding man who simply refuses to bend in the face of reality. Nadal, of course, would bend east, west north and south, and doubtless one or two directions, if this would help him. Flexibility and a cold eyed appraisal of reality is another mark of a great champion. Federer is essentially a romantic.

Ron:

“Might he be using some new-age, undetectable wonder drug? It can’t be ruled out.” “Now,” splutters Ron, “you’re just making shit up..” Language, Ron, is (among other things) a matter of nuance, and you have missed this side of things. The whole thrust of Sean’s argument was that Nadal has been subjected to scrutiny and has been found clean. It is theresfore sad that some people still insist in questioning him. The line you quote simply constitutes a logical possibility. For instance, it is possible that every night, before retiring to bed, Prince Philip subjects the Queen of England to a thorough thrashing, and furthermore when he stops for refreshment (he is, after all, 80 plus), the Queen is heard to moan “more, more!”. This is possible. Strictly speaking, and taking into account the infinite number of events which might transpire when the Queen and her consort prepare themselves for their nightly repose, you cannot rule it out. Nevertheless, it is unlikely, perhaps even to vanishing point. It is in this spirit, I suggest, that Sean made his remark. The “intellectual dishonesty” of which you accuse Sean, therefore, is, Ron, your own.


Milo Says:

Please, it has nothing to do with Federer. Its not even about Nadal. It is about the blind silly sheep here who think ANY professional sport that requires speed, power and endurance, is clean.

Wow, you say Rafa has to design a program so he won’t build too much muscle. Ha! Name me one non-roiding athlete who has so much testosterone, he has to worry about getting HUGE (other than Martina Navratilova)? Have you ever seen “all natural” bodybuilders? They’re working out like crazy in the gym and they don’t look all that big. I guess Nadal has super DNA.

The only program Rafa has specially designed, is the PR campaign he uses to keep your nose firmly stuck in his ass. Hmmmmm, maybe that’s what’s behind his famous ass-grabbing — he’s trying to dislodge all his “brown nosing” fans?

I never said he was on steroids like a bodybuilder. Yeah, if you get your arms as large as Arnold, you cannot swing your levers well for tennis. That said, the Agassi/Nadal “hitters” of the ball are rewarded with a bit more bulk in their arms, than the players with more of a sweeping/timing style (Fed, Murray, Sampras). Look at how Major League Baseball pitchers used steroids. They took just enough for added strength, but not so much that their throwing arm became too bulky. The pitchers looked nothing like the hitters. That said, Barry Bonds, McGwire and Canseco all roided their arms HUGE, and they still were increasing bat speed. So you can get just short of the freakish bodybuilder and still swing free enough.

If I had to guess…and I’m sure you want me to :) — Rafa’s has bulked up just enough with light steroid use, mixed with some red blood cell booster for endurance. He also has some of his own blood removed in the off-season, condensed to a pure density in a centrifuge and ready for re-injection at key times of the year.

Don’t get me wrong, he still is a great clay grinder. Not anything overly creative, but he owns the shots related to his wife-beater style. So he can play, but the willingness to use the PED’s turns him into Godzilla, allowing “the Rafa” to beat the technically superior Federer like a rented mule.

This from the Spiegel:

The fact that he was able to turn himself into a performance enhancement guru also has something to do with Spain’s permissive laws, which have only recently become more rigorous.

Spain, a paradise for performance enhancement

Besides, until now there has been very little public pressure in Spain to prosecute those involved in performance enhancement. Even El País, an investigative newspaper that now leads the pack in reporting on “Operation Mountain Pass,” was long averse to even addressing the topic.

This atmosphere allowed Spain to develop into a paradise for athletes interested in performance enhancement. The first reports about compliant doctors and well-equipped laboratories began making the rounds in the track and field world in the late 1990s. The suspicion that a network had developed in this environment was confirmed last year when the police staged a spectacular coup against the drug cartel. In a series of raids on the Spanish mainland, as well as on the Canary and Balearic Islands, police secured 10 tons of illegal doping products.

Anti-doping activists there, like Heidelberg cell biologist Werner Franke, have openly referred to the so-called “Spanish connection.”


sixtwo Says:

This is now the third time that Nadal has beaten Federer despite winning fewer points. The reverse has never happened.


Milo Says:

Grendel:

You think Prince Phillip will get off the Queen long enough to let me pound her? Don’t ask why, its more of a power thing with me. Besides, if you turn the lights off and put a pillow over her head, she looks just like Jessica Alba.


grendel Says:

I see that in a tense encounter at Vina del Mar, Gonzalez has beaten Gonzalez 7-5,7-6.


Mary Says:

“Well, from what I’ve read tennis does some serious, exhaustive drug testing so until I’m told otherwise Rafa’s clean. ”

Stop reading the ATP/ITF website. If it was so serious, exhaustive then why is WADA taking over? The testing is a joke and all over the place.

Operation Puerto- (a bigger BALCO)a French paper outted Nadal, just last year the outgoing President of WADA admitted that the Spanish government is witholding release of the tennis and soccer players on the list.

There is so much more valid info out there on him being dirty.

How in this world of Bonds, Jones, Petitt, Clemens, Giambi, McEnroe etc. can you say we wait for a dirty drug test?! None of them were caught by a drug test.

Players are caught only when reporters and their readers start demanding answers.


Mary Says:

Just to add- I don’t expect you to come out and say he is doped, but to shut the door on it waiting for a dirty test is silly.
There is no difference between a Bonds and a Nadal.


Twocents Says:

I’ll just repost my pieces on Dan Martin’s post again here:

When Fed lost to Djork in straight sets at AO 08, it remainded me of Micheal Stich beat Boris Becker in WO 1991 final. The former signaled end of Fed’s hard court reign, and the latter Becker’s WO reign. Djork lost lots of credit after Fed’s mono story surfaced. But hey, player’s physical is automatically part of game. Becker was dead tired when he lost in straight to Stich, too. Part of change of guards deal. I felt so vindicated when Fed himself pointed out just last week that Djork played so well at last year’s AO, that he might have still lost it even if he’s in perfect shape. My point is: USO is no way Fed’s to take, even after we take out Nadal. Amid all this hype about Nadal dethrone Fed, let’s not forget it’s Djork, imo, that stopped the red hot Fed at AO 08 and put a first real dent on Fed’s armor.

Von,

What is it with this Laver guy that he could make Fed cry like a baby: in victory (AO 06) and in defeat? LOL.

I’m too much a bad guy myself to read too much into what these old glory’s words: if Laver’s talk occured after Fed’s defeat, you’d see quite a different tone. This happened way too many times with Borg, JMac, etc. I respect all these guys. But they unfortunately become part of all these GOAT crap — which I never buy. Just like one can not change time, one can never compare players from different era.

Ryan,

There seems plenty of media coverage on Nadal’s wins. Even if there’s indeed more than necessary Fed stories, it’s perceivable cuz this past AO was more about someone’s record drawing slam no.14, than someone else’s slam no.6 and hardcourt no.1. Nadal’s been no.1 for less than 6 months. It takes time to build up an empire.

Nadal has been phenominal both on and off court. Unfortunately, a coward and ultra conservative person I am in real life, I follow tennis to satisfy my own offensive fantasy. That’s why I enjoy Fed, Roddick, and Djork’s attacking game much more. I can only respect but can not enjoy Nadal’s will power cuz: 1) it’s an integral part of his grinding game which is not to my taste; 2) it’s overshadowed by his on/off court antics. There’s nothing wrong to push limits on all fronts: medical time outs, on court coaching, etc. And I hail team Nadal for its unparalled success. But again, I watch tennis to find asylum from my own daily business tricks. I’ve written tens of biz plans and strategies. I don’t need any more trick amusement from tennis. I just want to see players play their hearts out on court. And after all biz bargains, it’s refreshing to hear young players say unscripted stupid things and behave foolishly off court. Toni Nadal runs his own tennis school. He’s soooooo good! Fed needs to find himself an uncle.

Everyone’s different. I have no problem with others enjoy Nadal and worship him :-)). I actually feel we maybe witness last batch of raw pro tennis from Fed/Roddick alike. All future kings must follow Nadal’s path of nailing it down with an overall strategy on and off court.


MMT Says:

“But if Nadal does get the US Open and he keeps beating Federer in Slam finals it’s awfully hard to put to the Swiss above Rafa regardless of final Slam count.”

This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. How does 1 stellar year from Rafa usurp 4 years of excellence from Federer?

If Nadal has not reached any other slam finals in those 4 years that’s a question mark against the greatness of NADAL, not Federer. FEDERER did his part, Nadal didn’t. You can argue that Nadal wasn’t the finished article, but that’s always the case when players are not the exact same age and don’t follow the same arc of development.

Can you say for certain that Federer would have lost to Nadal between 2004 and 2007 had they met in other slam finals? Nadal wasn’t good enough to get through the field, so what evidence is there to suggest he would have beaten Federer?
His performance in 2008?

If you want to do that sort of historical juxtaposition, why not take the Federer of 2005, 2006 and 2007 and play him against the Nadal of 2008? How can you possibly know what would be the result, and therefore, why discount Federer’s best years simply because in Nadal’s best year, he’s been better than Federer?

This is not a logical argument. You should leave it at what we know – that Nadal is currently the better player overall.


PietjeP Says:

Sean, good post! Although I disagree slightly.

For Rafa to be called GOAT or to be in that discussion; he needs to win at least over 10 slams. Look at Agassi… is he mentioned in the GOAT discussion? Yet he won everything (including gold medal and Davis cup).

As for he is the better player: Nadal
Who is the best tennis player: Federer

Now let’s see who understands that nuance :)

Again like I asked in a comment on a previous post; can one of you guys dig deeper into the match stats of matches played between the two? I’m sure you will discover interesting things there…

Sean; you keep referring to that fifth set only. While if Fed had taken his chances it should have been over in 3, max 4. You didn’t mention that 3rd set tiebreaker as crucial? It was CRAP from Federer too. Shank, UE, DF…
Or the way he squandered those BP’s late in 3rd set or that break lead in the 1st set. (did you rewatch that game at 4-2…. you should! Bad choices there from Fed!)

Actually I thought he was the better player from the baseline in this final too. Specially during some periods of the match. Now why do I think calling Rafa the better of the two is only half right? If Fed took his chances a little more the H2H would be around equal at minimum.

Fed’s problem with Rafa is mental. Nothing to do with bad matchups or lefty or whatever. He has the bigger game. Just not the bigger mind….

I agree with you; to be called GOAT you cannot have a 5 slam final losing record against your biggest rival.

Cheers!


Mary Says:

Under 100 out of competiton players– wta and atp– were drug tested in 2007.
Nadal was tested ONE time leading into the 2007 French Open.
It’s not just about him, but saying the testing is anything else but laughable is laughable.


Twocents Says:

Fed’s collapse in 5th wasn’t the first time. He did it at Doha just last month against Murray too: completely giving up 3rd set. I suspect it’s more physical than mental, even though I completely acknowledge Fed’s Nadal-drome. Me, for one, just don’t buy all Fed’s PR on Mr.Pefect Health. His back issue may be much more serious than he lets out: Paris Indoor TMS title could have given him 500 points, and he just won Basel playing lights out tennis. Why did he withdraw from Paris QF to defend his 750 points from a much tough top 8 TMC Shanghai? and resulting in his first ever retirement in 700+ pro matches? He got no choice, most likely.

That back combined with his Nadal-drome does not fare well at all for Fed’s post-no.1 journey. Most if not all past top guns were slowed and stopped by physical issues. No real surprise here. Fed’s got 13 majors. Anything additional can be considered icing.


jane Says:

Mina,

No – you are not an idiot! :D

But, Fed does actually have quite a few points to defend. There were only a few tournaments in which he exited early last year:

Dubai – R32
Canada – R32
Cincy – R16

Also quarters showings at Miami, Rome and Paris.

So where he can really pick up points is those two hard court Masters / 1000s events. But otherwise he actually has a lot of points to defend, reaching the finals at most of the clay events, winning on grass, and the finals at Wimbledon, and of course, winning the USO.

I think the key thing regarding who will finish number 1, as you mentioned, is how Rafa plays throughout the year. He obviously does have loads of points to defend, and he’ll lose his Olympics points – as will Fed (Qs), Djokovic (Bronze), etc.


jane Says:

Grendel says “Federer is essentially a romantic.” Yes, I get this; hence he could buy into his own sublime press, talk of legends and kingdoms.

Meanwhile Rafa is utterly pragmatic: what needs to be done next? How do I go about it? Okay – let’s get on with it then…

They are a study in contrasts, which makes for a good story.


jane Says:

I get this too: “it is possible that every night, before retiring to bed, Prince Philip subjects the Queen of England to a thorough thrashing, and furthermore when he stops for refreshment (he is, after all, 80 plus), the Queen is heard to moan “more, more!”. This is possible.”

Call me “intellectually dishonest” but somehow it seems utterly possible. Return of the repressed, you know.


Sean Randall Says:

Grendel, kudos to you for seeing well before it did! Anything else in your crystal ball?

Mary, what makes you think Rafa’s doping? And what do you mean Rafa was tested one time leading into the French Open. Was he tested the day before? A week before?? How many times should he be tested?

As for the program, what’s so laughable? Random tests, out of competition tests, harsh penalties. Guess I missed something.

MMT, has Rafa had just one stellar year? I’d say a few more than that. I will agree that Roger’s not as good as he was a few years back, but even in his best years Rafa was still beating him. In fact, Rafa won the first six of seven meetings with Federer during the 2004-2006 period. That only loss was a gag from Rafa in Miami.

PietejP, thanks for reminding me, Roger really played poorly in that tiebreak. Regarding the breakpoints, I still give a lot of credit to Rafa’s will. The guy really toughens up on the big points.

Twocents, Federer’s back may be OK for now, but I’m sure at some point it may flare up, or he’ll suffer a different ailment. Just part of getting old.


margot Says:

All you foreigners fantasing about our beloved monarchy, please come and spirit ALL of them away to your own homelands, only then will you fully appreciate them, promise. Then us Brits can sigh into our beer and say how we miss them….or perhaps not…
Anyone for tennis?


Mary Says:

Sean: He should be tested on par with the rest of the players, which he was not in 2007. He was tested in the AO and FO. BTW, Fed was tested only once during the same time period.
Under 100 tests for the entire WTA and ATP is laughable. Hint: the test for OOC are done during one of two weeks, not so secret.

Also, you can look at the tennis schedule and get a good guage when you will and will not be tested.

You really think the two low-level busts they get each year represents the only players that dope?


Sean Randall Says:

Mary, so how many times was Rafa tested in 2007? And guy’s get randomly tested in and out of competition so what gauge would the calendar provide?


Fred Says:

Having watched the two players from about 5 feet away on numerous occasions and being a tournament player myself I can honesty say that Federer is for the ages and Nadal will become the less remembered number two of the era.

Nada’sl versions of the game is about 5 times as taxing on the body as Federer’s.

My guess is that Nadal will succumb to injury before he gets anywhere near any of the ‘greats’ records.

Head to head at this time he is better than Federer. Looked at over the history of the game, he isn’t even on the radar yet.


jane Says:

margot – sincere apologies! No offense meant: I was joking. The way Grendel (a Brit himself) put that little scenario was so laughable that I couldn’t help envisioning it, which made it, well, real-seeming. Sorry, I have a vivid imagination.

I think the Queen has style. And so does Helen Mirren. But, yes, back to tennis!


jane Says:

Sean says “Regarding the breakpoints, I still give a lot of credit to Rafa’s will. The guy really toughens up on the big points.”

Yes. I think it’s unfair to say, simply, that Federer lost this one, or Federer blew his chances; the match was his to lose, and so on and so forth. Sure, to an extent he did blow some chances; he also made way too many errors. But are those only his doing? Don’t forget who was across the net from him. Nadal is (a) “THE” comeback guy, not only against Fed (think: Tsonga IW, Rafa down 2-5 in the decider, or against Djokovic at both Hamburg and Queens, Rafa down 1 sometimes 2 breaks in the first set but comes back to win them), and (b) usually at the top of stats in break points saved.

So the match was decided based on the play of both players.

Those who say Fed played poorly because he made a lot of unforced errors, and how uncharacteristic, etc are, to a degree anyhow, in a kind of denial, because too many unforced errors has been de rigeur for Fed for at least a year now. And it comes and goes. He’ll play a really clean match one round (witness his matches against Del Potro or Roddick) but will play messier matches in other rounds (see: Berdych and Rafa matches). But the point is that you can expect those sorts of inconsistencies from Fed’s side. Just depends which slim shady shows up!


jane Says:

“Just depends which slim shady shows up!” Sorry, again, that’s oversimple. It depends which Fed shows up for sure, but also it depends on who he is playing. Berdych has always played Fed pretty close, and he came out cooking at the AO. He was hitting bombs and Fed looked a little shell-shocked. So I don’t want to take away from Berdych by saying it was all to do with which Fed showed up.

It’s always a combination of factors, in the end.


Oleg Says:

Fred: “Head to head at this time he is better than Federer. Looked at over the history of the game, he isn’t even on the radar yet.”

Let’s see…4 straight roland garros, 1 wimbledon, 1 aussie open, 1 gold medal.
One of only three players (Laver, Borg) in the open era to win roland garros and wimbledon the same year.

He’s already in the history of the game. Nadal could retire today and he would still be in the history books/hall of fame.

“Nadal will become the less remembered number two of the era”

Actually, Federer and Nadal are pretty much permanently connected now. And if Federer doesn’t start winning grand slam matches against Nadal, you can bet that anytime Fed is mentioned in the history books, there will be a reminder of his poor record against Nadal. It is something that can be genuinely held against him and can prevent him from having the GOAT title.


SG Says:

I don’t think Sean was ever implying that Rafa’s juiced up. I think his article is responding to those who think he might be. Rafa beats Federer often not merely because of his physical prowess. Guys like Verdasco and Berdych hit bigger than Rafa does. Rafa beats Fed because he has a great defensive game that irritates Fedrer AND more importantly, because he wears Federer down mentally. Federer does not have near the mental intensity that Rafa does. Last I checked, there aren’t any ‘roids that make you tougher between the ears.

Federer is very stubborn. He wants to prove he can beat Nadal at his own game but it doesn’t work our for him. Watching his matches against Nadal, I’m not sure he can serve big enough to serve and volley against Nadal. It’s hard to say. He doesn’t get a lot of free points of his serve when he plays Rafa. I wuold say that he needs to mix up his game a lot when he plays Rafa. Stay back, attack off the ground, serve and volley as a surprise tactic. But, doing this involves him changing his stripes a bit. I;m not sure any great player can make a radical game change so late in their career. And it’s not something he can trump out only when he plays Nadal. He needs to bring that philosophy out against everyne he plays so he becomes comfortable with it. Does he have the talent to do it? Yes. Will he? Beats me.


SG Says:

It’t tough to label someone as the GOAT when they are consistently losing to one guy on the big stage. If Fed doesn’t get this turned around it will damage his legacy. He has a losing record against Murray and Federer. It is quite possible that Djokovic could get the edge on Fed with his age advantage. Fed has a good lead at the moment but Djokovic has the age advantage. If Federer were to having losing records against those three players, it could give credence to the “Lack of Top 10 Depth” argument that people were making when he was dominating from 2003 to 2007. Great champions usually step up when the chips are down. We’ll all have to watch and see how Fed reacts. I do see him breaking Sampras’ record. Will he shatter it? Doesn’t seem likely now. I can see him ending with 16 or 17 majors though. He is still the King of the DCII surface which suits his game better than any other. And grass…it’s a toss up with him and Rafa. They might divide up a few titles over the next few years.


SG Says:

Sorry, should have said “He has a losing record against Murray and Nadal” in previous post.


SG Says:

I don’t think Nadal can be considered in the GOAT talk until he gets to a double digit major total.


ron Says:

Why do these postings devolve into scrolls on a bathroom stall?


Mary Says:

Sean- go to the ITF Antidoping site and count for yourself. He was tested only 20% of his tournaments, not a lot.

The players are NOT tested randomly. If I was a guy player, I could easily figure out that OOC testing will take place in, most likely, July and December.

I thought you read about the testing? I don’t care whether or not you think a player is dirty, but I do care about someone posting an opinion on a drug testing program when they have no idea about it. As far as third arms, come on, it’s naive.


Ojo Says:

Maybe Tsonga and Djok think they can take HALLE…Fed’s always been so secure in this event that it’s got to have Fed worried.


Ojo Says:

Fed himself pointed out just last week that Djork played so well at last year’s AO, that he might have still lost”

Two Cents, when did he say this and do you have a link?


Sean Randall Says:

Mary, true, i am no drug czar, but I like to think I have a good grasp of the process.

First, you still haven’t explained why you think Nadal is doping.

Second, you say players are not tested randomly. How so? Are they told ahead of time when and where and at what time they will be tested?

Regarding OOC testing, of course they get tested in December because…that’s when they are OOC. So what?


MMT Says:

SG said: “MMT, has Rafa had just one stellar year? I’d say a few more than that.”

I disagree – he’s had very good years, #2 in the world years, but only 2008 can even compare with Federer’s best years of 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 – on this measure he is not the equal of Federer. So I don’t know how it can be said that Nadal has been better than him unless you’re referring to H2H. Speaking of which…

“I will agree that Roger’s not as good as he was a few years back, but even in his best years Rafa was still beating him. In fact, Rafa won the first six of seven meetings with Federer during the 2004-2006 period. That only loss was a gag from Rafa in Miami.”

Here’s the record between Federer and Nadal from 2004 – 2007

Overall Nadal 8 Fed 6
Clay Nadal 6 Fed 1
Hard Nadal 2 Fed 3
Grass Nadal 0 Fed 2

In other words, yes, Nadal had the better of him, but that includes half of their encounters coming on CLAY an obvious advantage to Nadal. If half their encounters had come on grass, I submit the overall may have been very different. Furthermore, Nadal didn’t have any wins against Federer on grass until 2008, whereas Federer had one on clay in 2007.

My point – there is nothing in a DETAILED analysis of their encounteres from 2004 to 2007 that would discount Federer’s overall record, and their H2H record, while in favor of Nadal in that period, was heavily weighted to CLAY and hence not a good measure. (Borg and McEnroe were 7-7 career, but never played on clay – I’m certain it would have been at least 10 to 4 Borg had 7 of those encounters been on clay, Borg’s favorite and McEnroe’s least favorite, surface).

It could be said that the few encounters they had on hard court and grass in that period diminish NADAL’S claim to the GOAT status, but not Federer’s. It was NADAL who didn’t reach the Wimbledon finals in 2004 and 2005, not Federer and it is NADAL who (STILL) hasn’t reached a US Open final, which Federer has, and he reached 3 French Open finals in a row, and lost 4 times to the eventual champion…who happens to be Nadal!

So I ask you, how can you contend that Federer was not the best player of his era when for 4 years from 2004 to 2007, which INCLUDED Nadal, he clearly was, simply because from 2008 to the first slam of 2009 Nadal has been better?

It doesn’t make sense.


MMT Says:

I’m sorry, can anyone explaing to me why we’re discussing doping on a post about Nadal vs. Federer?


Mary Says:

OOC is the only “random” testing; otherwise, it was during tournaments.

Why do I think he dopes. Well, it actually started a few years back– 2005ish. I thought it odd that this player, only trained by an uncle, who while have some tennis playing experience, is kept at home and trained. The player never trains elsewhere. Also, he looks physically stronger.
The player is implicated9and still is) in a Spanish doping scandal. The doctor involved implicated Nadal, point blank. (keep in mind balco) Just last year, the outgoing WADA pres. and UCI go to the press saying that the Spanish Govt admitted there are tennis players on the list in Puerto.
In 2006 there are press reports that the same player failed a drug test in Dubai– no comment from ATP that I have ever located.
The player has increaed his serving speed by 20% in the past two-three years, unheard of according to ESPN analysts. Again this week they discussed how the guy is doped.
Oh the “injuries” yeah every year he is suppose to break down and be done, yet he comes back and wins more tournaments.
His type of injuries are also consistent with steroid abuse. Yes, I know he charges every ball- it’s bs.
Again, read the European press they don’t buy his bs either.


Mary Says:

I forgot when he skipped the AO one year b/c Nike did not have his shoes ready. Peter Bodo(shocker) blasted him on that.
Nevermind that was when Puerto was heating up.


Mary Says:

Just for the record, I have watched the sport for over 30-plus years(but don’t look it– look much younger). I am a huge sports fan. While I like different styles of playing, I don’t have one favorite, ever. Out of all of the sports I have watched, I have never thought “that person is doping.” until I saw Nadal.

This topic is continuing b/c Nadal released a statement concerning Phelps.


Sean Randall Says:

MMT, from 2004-2007 Federer was without question the best player. There’s no debate.

The problem comes when you look H2H and it’s clear that Rafa’s better H2H than Federer.

So if Roger’s the GOAT, then what’s to come of Rafa? Did Sampras, Borg, Laver, etc have such a lopsided record to their chief rival? Martina? Steffi?


Sean Randall Says:

Mary, so when you wrote “The players are NOT tested randomly” you were wrong? It’s only random OOC? I’m confused.

And how is tournament testing not random? Explain.

You say that Rafa’s injuries are consistent with steroid abuse? How so? I’ve never heard knee tendinitis being linked to peds.

As for his serve, Rafa’s still not among the faster servers in the game. Sure his speed has gone up but that could easily be due to the racquet, string tension, adjusted motion or that he’s simply flattening it out more. And remember, he was just a kid when he began and usually players into their 20s can serve harder than when they were teens.


CryBaby Says:

Majority of tennis fans agree that what Fed did made Nadal feel awkward to really celebrate with GUSTO, as it would be miscontrued as being “Sticking it you” or “kick me while I am down”. It must been hell for Nadal to deal with that delicate, precarious, uncomfortable and awkward situation. Instead, we went with the flow, consoled Roger and just made a token thanks to Sponsors and organizers. I wanted to hear a lot more but he made it so short because he is a terrible position now with the egotistical Roger. Roger stole his moment of glory and thunder after a well deserved bruising fight for the title. C’mon how can you as a WINNER, celebrate when the other guys is trying to be a conceited brat clamoring for attention at the wrong time! Just classless and so full of himself.

In contrast, NADAL behaved admirably!

In all of Nadal’s losses or wins, he has always been gracious. Just one of the cases in point, is his thumping or annahilation of Agassi, already a “grandfather” by then at Wimbledom. In fact, he was not even in camera range, he stepped way aside outside of the picture. He gave Agassi, all the time and attention from Sue Barker’s interview. Or, he in his losses, he will just say, “I tried but What can I say, the other guy is good today. or my…FH. serve or whatever is not good today but it is fine, just try to improve and work hard, NO?

Just an incredible even keeled, level headed, not the slobbering crying of “.. but I used to be Number 1, wah wah, baby.

You don’t go to someone’s wedding and cry about your own divorce.*


Sean Randall Says:

To add Mary, Rafa’s fastest serve in final was 122mph, only 2mph faster than Venus’s best of the tournament.


Mina Says:

CryBaby – Are you implying that Federer purposely cried to take attention away from Rafa? Granted Federer can come off as a bit arrogant and does seem to enjoy the attention and admiration that his tennis career has brought him…but in my opinion, it looked like he was trying really hard to compose himself. Did it steal a bit of Nadal’s thunder? Definitely. Did Federer cry on purpose to steal the spotlight? I doubt it.

And it seems quite unfair to accuse Rafa (or any other player) of steroid use without some evidence to back it up. It’s true that drug testing is not as accurate or sensitive as it needs to be to 100% confirm that the sport is clean, but there is a huge difference between saying that the sport of tennis might not be entirely drug-free and insisting that there’s absolutely no way that Nadal can be clean. Until I’m presented with proof (i.e. he fails a random drug test), I’m assuming he’s clean.


jane Says:

MMT,

Bear with me, as I know we are worlds apart in terms of your knowledge of both tennis history and the technical aspects of the game, but I have a couple of questions re: your above post.

Also, I should preface this by saying I don’t believe in GOATS, only goats. And therefore, I am not saying that either Nadal or Federer are the GOAT. But I think I agree with SG when he says that Rafa has had more than one “stellar” year. I don’t want to get into semantics, i.e., defining the many shades of “stellar”, but I simply mean excellent.

I’d contend that Rafa’s 2007 was excellent, not out of this world like 2008, but excellent nonetheless: reaching the Qs of the AO, winning IW, winning almost everything on clay, reaching the Qs at queens and then taking Fed – on grass – to 5 sets in the final, getting to semis in Canada & finals in Paris. There were glitches, like the knee injury at the USO, and the semis result and walloping by Fed at the Masters Cup. But overall, an excellent year.

BUT, he was not dominant like Federer was from 05-06, even though he made in-roads on grass which set him up for his conquering of grass in 08.

About the H2H, you said:

“but that includes half of their encounters coming on CLAY an obvious advantage to Nadal. If half their encounters had come on grass, I submit the overall may have been very different.”

“while in favor of Nadal in that period, was heavily weighted to CLAY and hence not a good measure.”

—-

I wonder if these comparisons somewhat undervalue Federer’s prowess on clay? He is a phenomenal clay player, much like Nadal is. So I don’t see why clay should be discounted, devalued or qualified when discussing their H2H. Rafa has beaten Fed on grass, why can’t Fed beat Rafa on clay?

After all, if it weren’t for Nadal, Fed would likely have at least one RG title, if not 3 of them.

Nadal was able to conquer Fed on grass on his third try, whereas Fed seemed, as of last year, his third try, to be getting further from beating Rafa on clay.

—–
You also mentioned that…

“Furthermore, Nadal didn’t have any wins against Federer on grass until 2008, whereas Federer had one on clay in 2007.”

Is it worth noting there are way more clay events than grass events however.

Maybe, had Nadal played against Fed on grass more, he’d've gotten a W pre-2008.

After all, the only times Rafa and Fed met on grass (correct me if I am wrong) were in the Wimbledon finals – 2 Fed / 1 Rafa – so 5 setters, with much on the line.

By contrast, Fed and Rafa have met a number of times at clay events, many 3 setters, including the 1 win Fed has over Rafa on clay.

It could maybe be argued that Federer should’ve solved the Nadal/clay conundrum since he’s played him so much on the stuff.

But maybe this is where the age-difference comes into play, as Nadal only peaked last year, whereas, it’s possible that Fed’s on the decline.

A lengthy post, I know, and really just food for thought – their history/rivalry is so interesting.


tennisontherocks Says:

‘So if Roger’s the GOAT, then what’s to come of Rafa? Did Sampras, Borg, Laver, etc have such a lopsided record to their chief rival? Martina? Steffi?’

Sampras has loosing H2H against Krajicek (and even Wayne Ferreira had his number for few years). At US open, Borg managed to loose to people he owned everywhere else. Seles had beaten Graf at RG and Aus open finals and could have even beaten her on grass had she not stabbed. Evert dominated Martina in the first half of their rivalary and then Martina was dominating her.

Tennis is a game of match ups. All players had someone (or some place/surface) who bothered them. Difference is where/when and how long.

Roger is candidate for GOAT because of his achievements. yes, Rafa owns their H2H, but only half the slams as Roger. To face Roger in slam finals, he needs to beat 6 other players. Had he managed to do it on hard courts before this years Aus open and beaten Roger in those finals, then they both will have same slams by now. So depending on how they finish their careers will determine how much their H2H will matter.


MMT Says:

Don’t you see that the H2H with Nadal from 2004 to 2007 is too heavily weighted towards clay? It is only this last year that Nadal’s superiority has been total over Federer. From 2004 to 2007, 6 of his 8 victories over Federer were on clay. If half the matches had been on another surface, say grass, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

If Nadal was #2 in the world and he didn’t make it to any hard court slam finals that’s not Federer’s problem, so their lopbsided H2H can be attributed to the unequal distribution of surfaces. Only in 2008 and 2009 has he beaten Federer on all surfaces all the time, but again, he’s having his best year ever.

The H2H comparison (I might add against just ONE player – Nadal) is too heavily weighted against Federer to be fair to him in the GOAT argument. If this is the ONE and ONLY argument against him, there are many things he has done that none of the others have:

1) None of that list reached 20 GS semifinals in a row
2) None of that list reached 10 GS finals in a row
3) None of them have 3 years of 3 grand slam wins
4) None of them was ranked #1 for more consecutive weeks

So why pick H2H against 1 particular player as your one disqualifying measure. If you’re going disqualify someone, it should be on the # of slams they’ve won, and not on something as arbitrary as their results against 1 player.


Mary Says:

Sean: You knew when you were chosen for OOC. Do some research on his injuries connected with steroids.
Talk to ESPN and NBC about the serve diffential.
Seriously, it’s not like the global media and anti-doping blogs have nothing else better to do than to pick on some spanish tennis player. I do appreciate you asking questions.
Do I want him to be dirty? No. I’ve watched to many of his matches. Do I think he is? hell, yes.
You want to wait for a dirty drug test, okay. I just want to put the other info out there.


Mary Says:

“‘So if Roger’s the GOAT, then what’s to come of Rafa? Did Sampras, Borg, Laver, etc have such a lopsided record to their chief rival? Martina? Steffi?’”
Federer has not had a consistent rival outside of Nadal. I like the blasts from the past that are coming up.
Martina the Hingis or the other one?


Mary Says:

“It is only this last year that Nadal’s superiority has been total over Federer. From 2004 to 2007, 6 of his 8 victories over Federer were on clay. If half the matches had been on another surface, say grass, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Nadal is winning now on those surfaces, so there lies the drama.
Sorry to triple post, it goes to submit when I switch screens.


Oleg Says:

tennisontherocks:
“Tennis is a game of match ups. All players had someone (or some place/surface) who bothered them. Difference is where/when and how long.”

You’re correct. But when your main rival is the guy who has a clear lead in the H2H, it’s hard to make a case for being the GOAT.

If you look at the H2H of the other candidates for GOAT, you see Federer is the anomaly (losing record against his main rival).

Were Krajiceck/Ferreira Sampras’ main rival? no. Agassi was. And Sampras has the edge in the H2H vs Andre.

Rod Laver also leads the H2H against his main rivals (Rosewall, Emerson, Gonzalez).

Borg was 7-7 vs McEnroe and 15-8 vs Connors.

So regardless of Nadal’s own standing in the GOAT consideration (and it’s too early in his career to consider him as GOAT), Federer needs to improve that H2H if he is to be considered as the GOAT.


Mary Says:

Oleg: If the record stays the same percentage wise on non-clay surfaces vs. Nadal, is Federer GOAT or does Sampras stay the GOAT?


Oleg Says:

“Nadal was able to conquer Fed on grass on his third try, whereas Fed seemed, as of last year, his third try, to be getting further from beating Rafa on clay.”

That’s a great counter-argument to those who say the H2H is lopsided only because of clay. Nadal has improved and learned from his losses to Fed. Fed hasn’t done the same with his losses to Nadal.


Sidmore Says:

On grand slams other than clay, Federer and Nadal have a 2-2 record. That’s 50-50. Federer’s record is not that bad against Nadal. It is really misleading- if anything it tells you how much of an excellent clay court player Federer (he’s clearly the 2nd best on clay) is and how much of a toss up player Nadal (he’s maybe the 5th best on hard) is on hard court. Nadal has never really reached any hard court slams (except for this Australian)- so Federer really hasn’t had a chance to beat him often but if you look at hardcourt matches other than slams- Federer has 6-0 Nadal on the regular basis- so much so it’s embarrassing. I’m just saying the record is misleading, because it has so many clay court victories in it and frankly Nadal will end of being the UNDISPUTED GOAT on clay- so Federer will find it impossible to beat him on that surface ever and it shouldn’t even count (because he beats EVERYBODY on that surface).


Oleg Says:

Mary:
I would say yes. If Federer can win a few matches vs Nadal at any grand slam it would definitely end a lot of arguments.

If Federer wins Roland Garros, I’d put him ahead of Sampras (But maybe not ahead of Laver).

If he wins Roland Garros, and does it by beating Nadal, I think he’s the undisputed GOAT.


Giner Says:

“Sure, I picked Federer to win the title and to beat Nadal.”

It was on paper the obvious choice. I didn’t think Nadal was going to win it myself, but only because the Verdasco match would have drained him. The hard court surface and Federer’s record on it compared to Nadal was not a consideration. If both players were fresh, I actually would have expected Nadal to have a slightly above 50% chance of winning it based on how well his game matches up against Roger’s. He has more problems playing Nadal than a lot of lesser players do, and this likely is mental.

“As many of you know I am a Fed supporter, however after seeing him go down the way he did to Rafa I’m left with a lot of doubt as to whether he’ll ever return to the No. 1 ranking. My guess is no.”

I think he can still return to #1. He can just hope that Nadal gets a tough draw and someone else takes him out. Nadal doesn’t make as many hard court finals as Fed does. Fed can safely say that as long as Nadal is not on the other side of the net on the last day, the title is his. He can say that because Nadal is the only guy that has been able to beat him on day 14 of any slam. Everyone else he plays, he owns them.

In 3 Wimbledon finals pre-Nadal, he has dropped a total of one set. He dropped one set in 5 US Open finals, and one set in 3 AO finals pre-Nadal. That’s a total of 3 sets of tennis, one at each event until Nadal came. He can and will almost certainly beat anyone as long as it’s not Nadal on finals day. And if I had to put money on who will make more finals between him and Nadal, it’s still on Federer.

“And even though Fed grabbed the fourth set and the momentum, Rafa didn’t blink whatsoever, simply refusing to lose in the end. Fed use to be that guy with the mental edge, now it’s Rafa. Full credit again to Spaniard. What I wonder is just what the other players were thinking watching back home. I’m referring to Murray, Djokovic, Roddick and the rest of the chasers who will likely have to beat this guy to win a Slam. They had to be shaking there heads in disbelief and maybe even in horror. Nadal doesn’t crack.”

If you ask these guys they will probably say they didn’t see the match, or only watched a bit of it. It’s the standard, “I’m not fazed,” act.

“Many players have won grinding, back-to-back, if not back-to-back-to-back five setters. So what? Is it no longer possible to play consecutive five-set matches with a day off in between anymore? Please. Unless there’s some hardcore evidence – like he’s growing a third arm – I really don’t want to hear about steroids and Rafa.”

Yeah it’s a sad way to take credit away from someone’s hard earned victory. Go and look at Al Costa’s FO 03 run if you want to be impressed by a player’s endurance. What Nadal did was child’s play compared to what Costa had to get through.


jane Says:

Does anyone know the percentage split for the season on Hard, Clay and Grass courts?

Clearly, surface figures into the debate over Roger and Rafa’s H2H, as noted above by MMT. We can’t change what is — it is what it is.

BUT, if the surfaces were divided equally into thirds, that would sure raise a lot of questions and different possibilities.

As it is now? I am taking a wild guess here but, I am estimating it’s approx. 60% hard courts, 30% clay courts, and 10% grass. Maybe I’ll check the ATP site to see….

I guess points distribution factors in as well, i.e., 2 hard court slams, 1 clay, 1 grass. x hard court Masters/1000s, x clay Masters/1000s, 0 grass Masters/1000s. And then to the 500s, and so on.


Sean Randall Says:

Mary, to be clear you think Rafa’s dirty because he has muscles and he can serve 122mph? Oh yeah, and because he looks like a user – always a 100% tell! – and that there was some new report out of Spain implicating a Spanish tennis player.

Honestly, Mary, not very convincing. Not at all.

Regarding OOC, I’m still lost. So testing at tournaments is random but OOC is not? How so?? How much notice are players given before they are tested OOC?? As far as I can tell there is no real advance notice.


jane Says:

Oleg–

“That’s a great counter-argument to those who say the H2H is lopsided only because of clay. Nadal has improved and learned from his losses to Fed. Fed hasn’t done the same with his losses to Nadal.”

Thanks — and the further point I tried to make above is that Roger has played Rafa on clay numerous times at non-slam events, so he’s had more opportunities to win, figure out his game, etc. I wonder if there were more non-slam grass events, what the Fed/Rafa match up on grass would be like. Would Rafa had beaten Fed sooner on grass if he’d've had more opportunities. I’d lean toward yes, only because Rafa seems like such a good student/ adapter.

But we’ll never know.


Mary Says:

Sean: that’s not what I wrote concerning the serve. It’s the speed increase which ESPN and NBC commented about after last years Wimbledon.

OOC- they pick out random players, but the players know they are picked out.
Wait for the third arm, keep drinking the koolaid, Sean. You don’t want to look up the articles or do any research, not my problem. The sport is clean, no problems.


Sean Randall Says:

Tennisontherocks, I had no idea Pete’s chief rivals were Ferreira and Krajicek.

MMT, as has since be pointed out, there’s merit in the fact that Nadal has solved the grass and hardcourt issues while Federer remains flummoxed on clay v. Nadal.

And I love the fact that people are quick to throw out the clay records almost as if it were unfair. Ha. The irony. “Roger’s the greatest, but clay doesn’t count because Rafa’s too good on that surface!”


Sidmore Says:

Mary,

You are a sour grapes jackass. I hope to God you get sued for LIBEL.


SG Says:

Sampras had a winning record against Becker, Lendl (I think), Ivanisevic, Agassi, Edberg, Courier, Kuerten (I think), Chang and pretty much all the top players of his era.

Here’s where it gets a little dicey for Fed. From 2003 to 2006, he faced pretty much no one with extensive major championship pedigree. Hewitt and Roddick are the only ones I can think of that were in their prime. Andre was still around but definitely on the back end of his career with his best tennis behind him. The other two have a combined 3 majors between them. I think this has now played out as detriment to Federer. You become a great champion by taking out other great champions. Like Borg did with Connors and McEnroe. The way McEnroe took the mantle back from Borg and then how Lendl took it from Mac. And how Becker and Edberg took it from Lendl. And how Sampras took it from Lendl and Becker.

Some will argue that Federer did that when he beat Sampras in ’01 at Wimbledon. I think of that match as a bit of an aberration. Federer didn’t go on to win his first major until 2 years later in ’03 and Sampras wasn’t moving near as well in ’01 as he did in the 90′s. I watched some of the Fed-Sampras Wimbledon match again recently. Sampras was definitely a touch slower than he was earlier in his career. And it’s quite possible that he missed a couple of passing shots in the 5th set because of it.

I think Federer could have ultimately benefitted playing others with similar pedigree to himself. Right now, when confronted by greatness, he seems to have trouble responding. Having the experience to taking out great champions gives you the confidence to respond in crunch time. Fed’s 5 set record is 11 wins and 11 losses. Sampras’ is 26 wins and 10 losses. I’m sure Boris Becker would tell you that a stat like that means something.


Mary Says:

Sidmore: I have standards, like fair play, sorry you do not feel the same. Bye.
What’s he going to sue me for? Making the same mistake like Clemens. That’s why he has not sued the newspapers that print the allegations. If this wasn’t an issue, why do you guys keep bringing it up? If you were 100% sure you would not bring it up.
I didn’t bring it up in today’s blog.


Sean Randall Says:

Mary, simple question, during OOC how soon are players alerted that they have to be tested? A week? A day? An hour?? How much lead time do they get?

Regarding his serve, when NBC/ESPN noted Rafa’s increased serve speed did they follow up by attributing it to being on the juice? No, but you have somehow made that link.


jane Says:

SG – maybe you could add Safin to Hewitt and Roddick, although Safin’s never been the measure of consistency.


Mary Says:

Sean: ESPN made the link. Go to you tube and watch it.
I don’t know how far ahead, but they do find out. Why don’t you read the info that is readily out there before bashing me and the other posters? That’s all we have asked you to do for the past few days and still you bring it up. We moved on.


Mary Says:

I do think knowing a full year ahead of time when the OOC will be conducted is time enough. do you think testing well under 100 players is a good thing?


tennisontherocks Says:

How much control a player can have over who will be his main rival and who is not? If Krajicek was healthier/mentally strong etc etc he could have become Sampras’s main rival instead of Agassi/Chang/Courier. But that did not happen…so maybe Pete was lucky in having players he owned as main rivals or Roger is unlucky in facing so often the player who owns him or once you win 14 slams, these things don’t matter that much???

at this point, I am just happy as a tennis fan to have such great rivalry and the discussions its generating. I don’t see anyone making comments about the Serena-Dinara final :)


ladyjulia Says:

Mary,

There are articles out there from 2006 where some French newspapers linked Nadal to a doping scandal.

One would assume that the ITF made a thorough investigation and nothing came from it….


Sean Randall Says:

Sorry, Mary, all your arguments fall flat. First you have no real knowledge of how the system works. Just innuendo and personal bias, hence your unfounded attacks on Rafa.

If you actually took the time and followed your own advice you would know that OOC testing is random and is carried out with “no advance notice”. Do I need to post the bit from rules here? Actually I will.

“Any period outside of an In-Competition period shall be deemed an “Out-of-Competition” period for purposes of this Programme and the Code. Any Testing of a Player outside of an In-Competition period shall therefore be considered Out-of-Competition Testing. Save in exceptional circumstances, such Testing shall be No Advance Notice Testing.”

What this means is that a guy like Rafa could be tested at anytime he is not playing, and in addition be tested at tournaments he is playing. I fail to see the loophole in this program that you see.


Mary Says:

Ladyjulie: Um, getting the answer “no.” is not an investigation. They won’t even answer any more questions on it this year, despite the new evidence linking there players.
What happened to the lawsuit against the papers who printed the stories? Never came about even though no retractions were ever printed. Everyone is just picking on this poor guy.

I’m done with the subject matter. If anyone would like to actually look up the items that many posters have put on here, feel free. I don’t have to fight my point.
Nothing wrong with the ATP, WTA, and ITF ever. It’s not a business, just fluffy bunnies playing for your entertainment. I’m going to go polish my Barry Bonds memrobilia.
Outta here.


Mary Says:

Sean: Look when the bulk of the tests happen. Use your head. You know when you are out of competition and the likely weeks you will be chosen. Think. Do you know what they test for? I do. What are the three tests and how often are they used? Do you know it’s missing a lot of drugs that are now mainstream for cheating? I do.

My arguments are solid that’s why some posters are coming back with nonsense. I thought you knew all of this before you printed today’s blog?

Keep wondering why tennis is a joke to most people. Bye.


SG Says:

Jane,

Correct about Safin but GS tennis champions are usually mental monsters. Safin was a pure tennis prodigy without the mind to match his endless ability. When the stars aligned he could beat anyone. Federer, Sampras…it didn’t matter. But the stars aligned all too rarely for him. I like Safin. He’s a character for sure. 20 years from now I hope he can live with the career he had. Very few in history have ever been blessed with his talent for the sport.


Mary Says:

Sean: Just admit you posted today’s blog without researching the suibject matter. Now you attack posters for what you failed to do.
Ban me, I don’t care.


Sean Randall Says:

Mary, so the WADA list is incomplete? Is that what you are saying? The ITF tests according to the WADA code which the Olympics also uses I believe.


SG Says:

Mary,

How do steroids make you mentally tough? A lot of people have juiced up in a lot of different sports. Not all of them become champions. It’s this guy’s mental make-up that is so impressive. He doesn’t hit the ball better than Federer. No one does.

All of this “juiced” BS comes out because he had two tough 5 setters in a row to win the championship. It’s so ironic. If Rafa had stomped out both Fed and Verdasco in straight sets than there would be no ‘roids issue to discuss here. Can you see the irony? The guys was stretched to 5 sets by both opponents and because he happened to stop Federer from winning his 14th major he must be on something right? I’m not saying the guy is or is not on anything. I have no idea. But, winning two five setters in a row isn’t evidence of any kind.

When Edberg won his 2nd consecutive USO in 1992, he played 3 five setters to get to the final and a 4 setter to win the championship against one of greatest players to ever lace up a pair of Nikes. It was the greatest title defence I’ve ever seen. Was Edberg juiced? Did anyone ever raise the possibility that he was?


Sean Randall Says:

Mary, I knew when I wrote my post that the tennis doping program was stringent. For your sake I researched it further and guess what…I found it to be just as stringent.

But obviously you see something I don’t. What that is I have no idea.


Sean Randall Says:

Ah yes, back to tennis. Regarding Roger’s rivals, yes, Hewitt, Safin, Roddick, Nalbandian he all dominated. Yet Rafa’s the one the got away and unfortunately for Rog it wasn’t just a one-off. Rafa’s been dominating more than just Fed.


Mary Says:

Sean: Yes, Sean, that is what I am saying. That is the reason why Olympic participants from the 2008 Games are still being tested. Just a week or so ago, thanks to a new French test, 11 more athletes were busted. WADA and Interpol are developing gene passport for athletes.

SG: It’s not a steroid thing. This has been repeated so many times. It has nothing to do with last Sunday, it just adds on to what is out there.
I don’t mind answering questions, but these have been asked and answered by myself and so many others on this board. If you don’t want to discuss it, drop the subject.


Mary Says:

Sean: You researched nothing in the past few hours. How do you define stringent? Why did WADA have to step in?

If you want to get back to tennis go ahead, stop attacking me for doing the leg work on the matter.


Sean Randall Says:

Where did WADA step in? The ITF runs the doping program per the WADA guidelines.

If the WADA banned substances list is incomplete, then that’s a different matter. Don’t blast the program and the OOC which is what you were doing, correct?


Mary Says:

Sean: Yeah, why did they have to step in and oversee the program? Why did WADA have to fight to get stiffer rules? It has nothing to do with privacy. Do you know how easy it is to get a dr. to sign off on a prescription for you to take a banned substance for medical reasons? Ever wonder why exercised-induced asthma disappeared from the Games?
There is no way to get every substance, the problem. There are new ones being developed every day. There is a new EPO discovered just this past month for which athletes were banned from a sport.
The testing program is crap. Good testing program: cycling. There is a reason why there are so many busts in the sport. The sport was pressured to change due to flagging interest. WADA is moving towards that type of program, but the sport itself does other testing.

I see in the ad on the bottom that 2008 US Open subway posters can be sold on ebay and people will bid for it. If you see missing posters this summer on the F, A, and D lines, I took them to pay my bills.

Good night, Sean. I’m off to see a show.


grendel Says:

Eurosport poll on who will get most g-slams (6.5 thousan canvassed) – 54% Fed, 46% Nadal. Well, the times, they certainly-are-a-changing. I’m sure this time last year, would have been nearer 80:20. This time next year?

Margot:

sorry to cause offence. In my own way, I’m rather a fan of the Royal Family you know. Constitutionally, I approve – imagine that strutting little Tony Blair getting even more opportunity to parade his self-importance. And so on. Prince Charles is a genuine British eccentric. An absurd man in many ways, and yet curiously endearing – and also, a voice to be listened to, imo, in some areas, eg modern architecture. There is something inherently funny, of course, in one of the richest people in Britain, maybe the world, inveighing against rampant materialism. But the nice thing about Prince Charles is, he would probably agree – whereas a politician would instantly start getting defensive, and end up proving that 2+2=5.

SG says “Rafa beats Fed because he has a great defensive game that irritates Fedrer AND more importantly, because he wears Federer down mentally. Federer does not have near the mental intensity that Rafa does” This puts it very well in my view, and accounts for perhaps more than it was intended to. But first to jane’s:

“I wonder if these comparisons somewhat undervalue Federer’s prowess on clay? He is a phenomenal clay player, much like Nadal is. So I don’t see why clay should be discounted, devalued or qualified when discussing their H2H. Rafa has beaten Fed on grass, why can’t Fed beat Rafa on clay?” This looks sound, but in fact is an invalid argument, since we are not dealing in equivalents. It is true that Federer is a tremendous claycourter. But Nadal is simply a phenomenon on the surface, generally reckoned to be the greatest ever, anyway along with Borg. Federer, on the other hand, whilst he has a terrific record on grass, is by no means an absolute natural on it, and there have been plenty of grass courters who stand comparison with him, and some who are arguably better. And bear in mind, too, that the h2h on clay is itself misleading. Federer, whilst invariably losing, has frequently been very competitive, has choked at least one victory away (Rome), possibly others – in fact, even on clay, Federer has at some points in many of the encounters looked better than the great claycourter Nadal. You certainly cannot say that of any other player. But he just can’t win. And that goes back to SG’s quote.

To a degree, it is a question of emphasis. jane always keeps a very beady eye indeed upon any statements which appear to be lopsizedly partial on behalf of Federer. That is her right, of course, but it does show a certain obvious partiality of her own which I think, wearing my own particular partial hat, rather misses the boat. It is hard to be fair to someone you don’t really like. Even if you try, because you have a sense of fairness – which jane certainly does – one can hear the teeth gritting in the background.

Those who are drawn to Federer don’t necessarily deny jane’s comments, but view the events she describes through different glasses. And it is notoriously the case that two people can witness the same spectacle, both report it truthfully, and yet leave the impression that they are actually describing two quite different situations.

In the end, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Nadal doesn’t have a better record than Federer in almost every department, and he will certainly have a much better h2h. But in my eyes, Federer will always be much the greater player. But then I don’t like that huge moral intensity which SG describes in Nadal, and which gives him such an edge over Federer. In fact, quite candidly, I absolutely abominate it. But that’s my prejudice. Many people would, quite justifiably, say that the mental component is so huge you cannot abstract it while considering a player’s overall prowess. And furthermore, I am sufficiently dishonest (and how about you, dear poster – are you squeaky clean on the honesty front?) to wish that Federer could, temporarily, to get him over the hump as it were, acquire that very intensity I dislike so much.

One last comment. SG in speculating that Fed ends up having a losing record against Djokovic (possible in view of the age gap) as well as Nadal and Murray, adds “If Federer were to having losing records against those three players, it could give credence to the “Lack of Top 10 Depth” argument that people were making when he was dominating from 2003 to 2007″. That impression might well gain ground – but it would be invalid, I should have thought, since it would be based upon the latter half of Federer’s career.


Von Says:

Mary:

“Sean: Look when the bulk of the tests happen. Use your head. You know when you are out of competition and the likely weeks you will be chosen. Think. Do you know what they test for? I do. What are the three tests and how often are they used? Do you know it’s missing a lot of drugs that are now mainstream for cheating? I do.

My arguments are solid that’s why some posters are coming back with nonsense. I thought you knew all of this before you printed today’s blog?

Keep wondering why tennis is a joke to most people. Bye”

You’re not going to even come close on winning this one. The reasons are many, and the biggest concerns what the good book says “my people perish for lack of knowledge.”

The majority of tennis fans are ignorant with respect to the testing of the athletes. Some don’t even realize that WADA is not ITF and ATP and each en tity does its own testing, and is separately done. Neither is random and/olr surprise testing understood either.

There are only three (3) or four (4) substances that the athletes are tested for, and of which they are very cognizant. If they don’t show a positive for those drugs, they are automatically deemed “clean”. While being supposedly “clean”, they could be using a host of other drugs that are performance enhancers but which are not deemed important enough for which a test should be performed. For example, we know EPO gives the athlete stamina, is somewhat a sort of souped up substance similar but totally different from Guarana or any others which gives the athlete super energy and with the super energy the athlete gains the mental edge too, becomikng mental,y tolugh. It’s easy to be mentally tough when an athlethe knows he can outlast his opponent, and he’ll break him down eventually. At the point of invincibility when he’s charged up, he feels he can climb Mount Everest and fly if he has to do so. Therefore, beating anyone on the opposite side of the net is a menial task.

How, and when are they using this stuff, right under the umpires and tournament referee’s noses, in their innocent little drinks, which are never tested and in their gels and whatever fluids they consume on court. I’ve seen where they reach into their bags and takes a pill. Are those innocent drinks and pills which some of the athletes bring on court — their special brew, ever tested? Never. However, even though they’re so innocent they can sure pack a punch and give the athlete a super human edge over his opponent. And, the athletes are aware that they’ll be tested “clean” despite ingesting them, because it’s not on the list of the drugs that are verboten. Hence, they can keep on doing it for as long a they need to do so, until one day their heart gives out from being raced too much or their brains explode.

You’re fighting a losing battle trying to prove a point here on this site. There’s is closed-mindedness, and if a poster, (I speak from personal experience) pursues a topic that’s not what is favored, then they’re told they’re talking nonsense or to “shut up”. I’ve been insulted many times, treated like a five-year old, for taking a stance on a topic or topics, and many of my questions go unanswered as if I’m some apparition that comes and goes. If, my small point is dignified with a tart answer which is not very clear, it’s to the only nameless one among all the others who have names when answer time rolls by. Hence, I’ve given up asking any questions.

I’d hate for you to leave, because you are smart, not only on the issue of drugs but on other topics and you’re not into politicking or being politically correct as some are, which is very refreshing to me. Heck, solm e can’t be honest enolujgh to sayh they root for a certain player and he’s a favourite of theirs; they speak in generalized terms. Can I ask you to stick around and ignore the semantics, while riding a fine line. Thanks.


Sean Randall Says:

Mary, tennis follows the WADA guidelines. So if WADA modifies the ban list than tennis would follow I presume. So if there are substances being used that are not on the list doesn’t that blame fall partially on WADA.

And if this is in fact all about the banned substances list, why are you so opposed to the administration of the program, specifically the OOC?


Sean Randall Says:

Von, from ITF site there’s seems to be more than 3 or 4 substances as you say. Again, these come from the WADA guidelines. Is WADA the culprit here or the ITF which administers the tennis doping program?


jane Says:

grendel,

What do you mean by “moral intensity” when referring to Nadal. Mental, yes, but moral? Maybe that’s a typo?

Thanks for tossing me the “sense of fairness” comment, grendel, even if you do couple it with a vision of my beady eyes and gritting teeth. Begrudged fairness I guess? At least you didn’t call me a “Fed-hater”!

Underneath it all, I think Fed seems like a nice guy, actually, kind of sweet, definitely romantic, but admittedly I don’t want to see another utter domination by him. I’d be happy for him if he won the French, though it’ll be tough to do unless Rafa’s not part of the equation. And I will be happy for him when he ties and surpasses Pete. I still think he will. He is, after all, one of the best to play this sport. It’s simply true, and that’s me being honest, even with my beady eyes.


jane Says:

Von,

In case your concluding comment to Mary refers to me, and I think it may since you’ve called me out on not being honest or on being contradictory a number of times, can I please say this for the record?

1. Djokovic is my current favorite.
2. That may change at some point.
3. I like a lot of players. Mostly, I just like watching tennis.

I like reading your posts. You are very straightforward and sure-fired about your opinions, much like Mary is.

I am too neurotic to be so sure about things, and tend to be a walking bundle of contradictions. Maybe too easily swayed by good weather, and good arguments.

You girls even have me concerned about doping in tennis, a subject I was completely oblivious to other than hearing about the odd bust here or there. I’ll be following those reports a little more closely in the future anyhow.


Mary Says:

Sean: It’s political nonsense about the testing with the players and TPTB. The ATP/WTA run the ITF and they are in it to make money, not put on a pretty show for us. It takes ages for anything to get fixed. I think the program as it was run was crap.
If one can look and surmise that I can be tested one of two or three weeks, it’s a problem.

What is going to come of the new program, I don’t know. Again, look at what cycling has done. Tennis will not follow suit, with extra testing, without some uproar. why not press for that? Again, do you think it is just one or two low level players doping?
Look up dopage and tenis- there is a good blog that should come up. translate it and read.

Von: Thanks! Thanks for the good info you share.
Okay, I now have to stop avoiding going out and freezing to death. Hope the F train has wings tonight.

Don’t forget Fed Cup on Saturday. Tennis channel has it starting at 2pm.


Ryan Says:

I think fed is not playing like a champ. He doesnt have that killer instinct of a champion.Champs believe that nobody can beat them.But Fed has this feeling that nadal can beat him and its gotten to him so much now. Maybe he should take some advice from Michael Phelps.People like Thorpe said that Phelps won in Athens coz there was no competition. But Phelps proved a point by coming back in Beijing and winning more golds and also beating this new competition by milliseconds. Thats wat true champions do.Live upto the expectations.Dont get it twisted , I do think talent wise he could be the greatest player ever but not as a champion.

I can even understand his problems on clay with nadal. But once he started bending down to nadal on grass I knew its gonna be tough for him.2008 was the year. The 13 slams he got was more like a dedication from fed’s competitors for his talents wit a racket.Maybe nadal is like phelps but not fed.

When it comes to nadal, I dont know if anyone ever noticed but there is not much media coverage when nadal won AO or wen he wins the french for that matter. Its almost like everyone wants fed to win and nadal winning slams is like an anomaly. Its sad. Its no wonder nadal rips these french open punks. They all want federer to win it and give nadal the toughest draw and everything that favours federer. But he still won it last year in straight sets. Thats wat Nadal is about.

To be honest I dont like Nadal’s game which is the main reason i call him a roid junkie but he is the champion of champions who deserves better respect. I have to admit that.


Fedfan Says:

In the Fed vs Rafa issue:

First, I give full credit to Rafa. He deserves what he has achieved, and will certainly go down as one of the greats of tennis.

However, the Fed-Rafa rivalry is not between two people of the same generation – Rafa is 5 years younger than Fed, so will obviously end up with a massive winning record. If they had both grown up together, it would have been a FAIR rivalry. That federer has created a rivalry here is itself creditable.

For comparison, Sampras never had to face a 6-time (and counting) grand slam champion 5 years younger than him. At the start of his career, Sampras faced already over the hill and aging Lendl, Becker, Edberg. Agassi was his only true rival, but they were the same age – and Agassi also goofed off with Brooke Shields in the mid nineties, which really opened up a few slams for Sampras.

Fed has faced a much much tougher competition than Sampras. Heck, 4 years in a row (including 3 finals), Fed has lost only to Rafa at the French. And Rafa is probably the greatest clay courter EVER, and a lefty. Now of course we see an aging Fed fighting 5 set matches with Rafa on grass and hard courts. Borg quit before that happened too often with Mcenroe, otherwise it would have been similar.

That said, I do think Federer does have a bit of a mental problem against Rafa. He really needs to talk to a sports psychologist, and get this deamon out of his head. Its more mental than his game, his losses on surfaces other than clay. Somehow, even a great like Fed gets rattled by Nadal. And he should not. That is certainly a bit of a blemish on Fed.

The biggest time of Fed’s career is now. Fed has hit rock bottom, by his standards. How he recovers from this, if he does (I hope he will, and I think he will) will really define his legacy more than his 13 slams. If he can come back and beat Nadal at wimbledon finals, I think he is the GOAT. Otherwise, he is one of the GOATs. Reall, Fed needs to start to think of himself as the underdog, and really FIGHT, FIGHT until death kind of attitude. Which he has sadly lacked, because he never needed it, due to his genious game. That’s all he needs to bring to his game now, this fight untuil death attitude.

Lets hope he resurrects himself and we see another 5 Fed-Rafa grand slam finals, and Fed wins at least a couple of those! A clay win would really be sweet (French Open)…..


Fedfan Says:

In fact, Fed first needs to get out of his denial mode and acknowledge clearly that right now, Rafa is the better player on all surfaces (he says that in press conferences, but doesn’t really believe it anywhere other than clay). Then he needs to acknowledge that Rafa is actually making him a better player. Then he needs to actually start enjoying his matches with Rafa – and look forward to them (something that would be very tough to do). Only if he reaches this stage can he hope to be relaxed enough to “fight until death” without being afraid of losing. Right now, Fed has become afraid of losing to Rafa.

In my mind, if Fed can recover from this and beat Rafa in a slam final – not only will he have 14, he would be the GOAT in my mind (considering his 3 french finals and rivalry with Rafa).

I admire Rafa, but I don’t think he is getting to 14 slams. He will win 2-3 more French titles, maybe another wimbledon, but hard court titles will be always tough for him – Murray is fast catching up. Djoke is not going away, and soon there will be others.


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“Von, from ITF site there’s seems to be more than 3 or 4 substances as you say. Again, these come from the WADA guidelines. Is WADA the culprit here or the ITF which administers the tennis doping program?”

No, I don’t think WADA is the culprit here. I should be more emphatic and say WADA is definitely NOT the culprit. ITF IS the culprit and whatever ITF says, ATP jiggles up its robotic form and anwers “working, working”. ITF is being naive, because if it were to crack down on doping, it would unearth so much information that would cause its divine mind to be reeling from here to eternity. ATP is just an arm of ITF and will follow suit even if it means that ATP’s chairman were banished to Elba to spend the balance of his life with the likes of Napoleon’s ghost.

WADA is tying its best to coordinate the laxness of drug testing by ATP/ITF and the doping problems of athletes in every sport. They are mounting an ‘insurmountable’ task and with insuifficient personnel and resources, plus lack of cooperation from the likes of ITF/ATP and other sports associations, I can’t see it making much headway.

According to what I’ve read thus far, it is presumed that the Spanish and South American athletes are the most tainted with respect to tennis. There was talk of a Spanish tennis athletes list which was recovered from a Dr. Fuentes. Further, there was the raid which Mary referred to that produced more evidence, but was all swept under the rug. That list contained some pretty top ranked players.

The problem with the drug testing stuff is so large more than we can fathom, and it’s been going on for a very long time. Once in a while some sacrificial lambs are offered up on the altar, e.g., Puerta, Coria, Canas, Zabaletta, et al., but isn’t it sad that only one (Argentina) country’s athletes has been found fraudulent in this whole despicable situation? What’s being done with the rest of the world’s athletes? Trained drug specialists can look at body types before, during and at the end of the season and put an MO on that athlete’s habits. It’s not very difficult, but close observation is the key. Sorry to be so intense on the subject, but a great portion of my work for a few years was dedicated to overseeing drug testing.

I understand from your point as a writer you need to take a middle of the road stance, and Tennis.X has conditions pertaining to defamation and libel with which to abide, however, an open mind should be kept. From my observations with respect to the posts since Nadal objected to testing, it’s been split 50-50, which has taken you and Tennis.X out of the libel equation. The posters have “Freedom of Speech” and we can’t be sued for expressing our opinions, albeit we could be bumped off one by one, by some magical arm for casting unfounded aspersions(here’s where a smiley is desperately needed), so why not allolw people to speak up and see where it goes. Only a thought.

The suspect athletes that aren’t caught doping most probably are using short term stuff which is undectable by the drug screenings. It makes me sick to know they are not being caught because there are so many versions of unscreened lesser potent drugs that remain untested, not to mention the unfair advantage over their opponents.
____________

On another very unimportant topic, I’ve asked you on 3 occasions whether the “smiley’ emoticon has been disabled? Has it? I happen to like the smileys because I can’t express when I’m kidding around or winking by my writing. Hence, if it’s not too much of a problem, won’t you plase reconsider reinstating the little yellow tennis ball smiles. Merci.


moimoi Says:

king rafa always will own federer! i hate federer to the core, federer is a cheat, i wouldnt be surprised if federer was on drugs! the guy never does any fitness and never gets tired, something is fishy! im sure federer takes some endurance enhancing drugs! to me rafa nadal will always be a better player than federer, that will never change in my book! nadal is just way too strong mentally for federer, sport is about mental toughness! 13-6 speaks for itself, nadal’s brand of tennis will always win over federe’s brand of tennis! will power, grit, mentally tough, heart will always win over just technically correct play! this applies not just in tennis but in any sport and in life too! for me nadal is a far superior player and person to federer, not even close in my book! rafa is a matchwinner, he gets the job done, winning is all that matters! nadal plays the way tennis and sport should be played!


jane Says:

Grendel says, ” Federer, whilst invariably losing, has frequently been very competitive, has choked at least one victory away (Rome), possibly others – in fact, even on clay, Federer has at some points in many of the encounters looked better than the great claycourter ”

THe biggest choke in my memory was at Monte Carlo last year. I couldn’t believe Fed lost the second (?) set. He had a huge lead and then squandered it. Contrast that to his valiant comeback against Hidalgo-Ramirez at the same event a few rounds earlier, when he was down in the third set by a mile and came back to win it in the 3rd set tiebreak. That could be called a choke by his opponent, but it’s definitely a case of the shoe being on the other foot. Momentum swing, comeback, choke – sometimes these are fine lines.

Fed seems to only ever choke against Nadal though, whereas Nadal comesback against a number of players. So the line is somewhat blurry.

HOWEVER, by comparing the two instances at Monte Carlo it seems to support the notion that – as everyone has been saying here -these losses are due to a mental block that Fed has when playing against Nadal. Be it on clay or what-have-you. Though he’s certainly walloped Nadal at times.

And yet doesn’t the fact that Fed came so close to beating Nadal on clay also support the notion that the clay H2H shouldn’t be discounted or qualified. He has pushed Rafa on a number of occasions, and Rafa’s possibly one of the greatest to play on clay, up there with a few others.

I don’t a lot know about grasscourt greats but isn’t Fed one of the greatest ever on grass? He’s won 5 Wimbledons (more RG than Rafa), conquered Pete Sampras on that surface, tied Borg’s record of successive wins. On grass, I think of Fed, Borg, Mac and Samprass. On clay, I think of Rafa, Borg, Kuerten and even Lendl.

Surely Fed has to be considered one of the best grass courters ever, just as Rafa is one of the best clay-courters ever.

But because there are so many more clay events on the ATP tour than there are grass events, it makes the surface comparison skewed. Anyhow I’m not sure I agree with grendel that the surface argument is invalid and I am trying to be fair-minded about it, though my knowledge of tennis history is not as thorough as many of the posters here.


Von Says:

jane:

FYI, You are NOT the only poster who’s contradictory, as a matter of fact, we all are, some more than others. I was speaking in a general sense of what I see happening on the threads. There are some who just perplex me as to their stance. And, I’m sure you notice how much trouble I get into, because at times I think I knolw where I stand with a specific poster, and then i’m thrown a curve which leaves me reeling. My comment was meant in a general sense for all who are contradictory.

Thank you for being open-minded on the drug issue. It’s a huge topic and one of grave concern in sports, and to the pessimist it takes away from the enjoyment of the sport. One begins to wonder who’s doping and who’s clean, and is this guy for real.


jane Says:

It’s ironic innit? Federer and Nadal seem to like and respect each other a lot. And yet, they divide a lot of fans, to the point of venom. I prefer Nadal mainly because I was a disgruntled tennis fan throughout Fed’s dominance, and Rafa came along and started to tip the balance. Plus I love his fire and intensity on the court. But I’ve also come to appreciate Roger’s skill and variety. I can still see how he comes across as arrogant but there are other sides to people, especially public people, and you could see glimpses of that when Fed broke down, or when he struggled at the USO last summer, fighting so hard to win. You could see at the trophy ceremony that Rafa and Fed share an understanding of each other and their place in the sport. That’s pretty cool. Sometimes the rivalries where the two players despise each other are fun, but this is kind of unique.

Does anyone think if Fed hated Rafa he’d beat him more?

Rafa’s double-sidedness seems to work to his advantage in this regard. He can be kind and even overly-modest off the court, but when he gets on it, he has no mercy. He transforms.


jane Says:

Von,

Thanks for your reply. I don’t mean to come across as being a dissembler. Ironically my open waffling is more honest than if I tried to be black and white about things.


Mina Says:

Good points Jane (and thanks for pointing out that I’m not an idiot earlier – appreciate the support) – I too can appreciate both players. I would consider myself more of a fan of Federer’s style of play, but that’s not to say that I can’t appreciate Nadal’s incredible talent and achievements as well. It’s been amazing him continue to improve over the years – mind boggling sometimes. And there are also aspects of Federer that I find infuriating at times…anyway, I’m okay with being a Fedal fan.

I think it does make it tough sometimes to motivate yourself against someone that you like on a personal level. Obviously, they are both professional athletes and are used to playing against friends on a regular basis, but when it comes to crunch time, I think it does help if you really hate the guy on the other side of the net.

Nadal’s always careful to praise Federer, stroke his ego a bit. I don’t know if he does this on purpose or if it’s just Nadal’s humble and easygoing personality…but it certainly doesn’t give Federer anything to feed off of as far a negative comments or insults and such.


SG Says:

Grendel,

My only point about the losing record thing is in respect to Connors. Connors won more ATP tournaments than any other player in history. But, the argument against him being a possible GOAT is that he had a losing a record to pretty much all of his major rivals. If this rule applies to Connors, the rule has to apply to Fed as well. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Connors could have won the French in the early 70′s and been one of those few players with all 4 majors in his bag if circumstances of the time had been different.


Von Says:

Mary:

You’re welcome. The “F” train huh? Oh wow, when it runs, it’s OK but when it’s not, it can surely drive you nuts.

I’m looking forward to Fed Cup, but sadly we have a very weak team.


Sean Randall Says:

Racial remarks deleted. I’m not interested.

Mary, the ATP/WTA runs the ITF? Are you sure. I think it’s the other way around. The ITF control the Slams and the Davis Cup which really are the two crowning jewels of the sport.

I’m still not clear on your obsession over the OOC. If I’m a player and I have the month of December off then per the rules I could get tested at anytime (during one of four weeks) if at all. How is that a problem?

Or said another way, in your mind is there a time when he absolutely 100% will not be tested?

Von, ITF runs the doping program, not the ATP or WTA. The ATP botched it up back in 2005 all but necessitating the need for the ITF to take over. The ITF program follows the WADA guidelines, so what is so lax? Where is the weakness in this program?


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“Von, ITF runs the doping program, not the ATP or WTA. The ATP botched it up back in 2005 all but necessitating the need for the ITF to take over. The ITF program follows the WADA guidelines, so what is so lax? Where is the weakness in this program?”

The following was my answer to you from my previous post.

“ITF IS the culprit and whatever ITF says, ATP jiggles up its robotic form and anwers “working, working”. ITF is being naive, because if it were to crack down on doping, it would unearth so much information that would cause its divine mind to be reeling from here to eternity.”

I believe you are confusing my answer with Mary’s. What is so lax? Not enough testing done per season, and more drugs should be added to the list of banned substances. ITF should keep a more watchful eye on what’s new on the market.

Are you ever going to answer about the smileys? Yes, No?


ladyjulia Says:

Mary and Von and Sean,

I think the ITF is taking positive steps in 2009 to ensure that the sport is clean.

However, it is possible that their list may not cover everything, but i do think they put in a good effort to keep abreast of new stuff that could be abused.

It is still possible that it may not be enough, since people come up with new ways to cheat the system all the time. But I think it is a perennial problem and we can only hope athletes will engage in fair play.

I think sports like cycling or track may have a higher rate of offense as compared to tennis, since tennis is a week-in, week-out consistency rewarded game. The gain would be very little with doping. Sure, one can win one match, but winning all year? Besides, it is opponent based…one can dope, but you never know how the opponent will play.

Also, Federer and Nadal are highly consistent over years, not just the past two weeks…to achieve that kind of consistency with doping over years on a week-to-week basis would be dangerous for their health i think….therefore, it is highly unlikely that these two athletes have not achieved it through hard work,skill and will.


Sean Randall Says:

The ITF follows the WADA banned list, so new substances should be added by WADA, correct?

Regarding smiliys, I was told last month that when the new wordpress was upgraded the smiliys were being flagged as links such that post went right into the mod/spam queue. I was told it was a bug in the program. Not sure if that was fixed.


Twocents Says:

Ojo,

Fed said this after his semi win on 01/29/2009:

Q. Back in another Grand Slam final. It’s a great start to the year for you, and so different, I suppose, than the feeling here last year.

ROGER FEDERER: Like I said on the court, I think I played well throughout the tournament last year as well, you know. Just kind of came up short against Novak. I thought he played a fantastic match against me. He was the aggressive one. He was serving his spots so well that night that he kind of made that difficult.

Even maybe if I would have been in perfect shape, you know, I think he deserved to win last year. I struggled maybe a bit. Maybe the draw was a bit better for me this year playing Andy in the semis who I have such a great record against.

I do feel better mentally. I’m obviously more healthy so I can focus on playing well. I’m really pleased about my performance so far in the tournament. The draw was difficult and dangerous if you look back on who I had to play.

http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2009-01-29/200901291233230197906.html


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“The ITF follows the WADA banned list, so new substances should be added by WADA, correct?”

Yes, they should. Then the question to be asked: Is WADA erring or is ITF not adhering? There seems to be a little breakdown in communication if one of the two is happening. But which one.

“Regarding smiliys, I was told last month that when the new wordpress was upgraded the smiliys were being flagged as links such that post went right into the mod/spam queue. I was told it was a bug in the program. Not sure if that was fixed.”

Let’s try :P If a smiley comes up; then it was fixed, if not, then the bug’s still there. Out, out, ….. spot.


Von Says:

Sean:

No smiley, the bug’s still there, but thanks for answering.


Von Says:

ladyjulia:

I agree that they’re all trying to keep up with the war on drugs, and I hope they’ll eventually win. It’s difficult because there’s so much out there. All I ask is for them to keep on top of things, which I know is easier said than done.


fed is afraid Says:

so roger really is afraid-of rafa.
i knew it all along.
what a wuss.


Sean Randall Says:

The ITF is adhering to the WADA list and using their approved labs, then WADA is in fact the culprit if they are not keeping up with the latest doping methods, right?

The smileys I was told would likely get fixed during the next upgrade which apparently hasn’t happened.


Von Says:

Two Cents:

I saw your post to me on the other thread with reference to Laver and Fed’s tears. What can I say, there’s something about Laver that turns on Fed’s water tap. I suppose it’s that little child that’s seeking approval.


Ezorra Says:

Mary,

You’ve once said this:

“For me it’s not so much about targeting a single player, the argument goes nowhere fast and gets any discussion about steroid etc. abuse shut down fast and posts erased– generally on most sites; although I have not noticed it here.”

- and

“What I am about to type is not to point a finger at Nadal.

- And then you were saying this?…

““Why do I think he dopes. Well, it actually started a few years back– 2005ish. I thought it odd that this player, only trained by an uncle, who while have some tennis playing experience, is kept at home and trained. The player never trains elsewhere blablabla …”

- The only word I can say at the moment is… WOW!


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“The ITF is adhering to the WADA list and using their approved labs, then WADA is in fact the culprit if they are not keeping up with the latest doping methods, right?”

Right. Oh Sean, what a good detective you’ve turned out to be. You’ve missed your calling. PI or lawyer.


ladyjulia Says:

Sean,

Its easy to blame WADA….I think WADA is trying to do their job…but it all depends whether new stuff or old stuff can be detected or not. You cannot do a biopsy or do a complete physical examination or run 1000 different assays in limited time to determine whether one particular molecule is there in the system or not. And upon that, they have to know what they are looking for!

They have a hard task, and its good that WADA and ITF are taking positive steps this year.


Sean Randall Says:

Von, then why above did you write: “No, I don’t think WADA is the culprit here. I should be more emphatic and say WADA is definitely NOT the culprit. ITF IS the culprit…”????

Which is it??


Sean Randall Says:

Ladyjulia, I’m not trying to blame anyone. I’m just trying to understand why some people think that tennis’ doping program is faulty.


ladyjulia Says:

Well, all we can hope is we won’t have a Marion Jones like case in tennis.


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“Von, then why above did you write: “No, I don’t think WADA is the culprit here. I should be more emphatic and say WADA is definitely NOT the culprit. ITF IS the culprit…”????

Which is it??”

First, I was answering your question on the assumption that if ITF is adhering to WADA’s list then WADA has to be the culprit. Hence, my answer was “yes”. I was being logical, in that if it wasn’t ITF who was at fault, then it had to be WADA. It had to be one or the other, but it can’t be both. However, it hasn’t been proved that WADA is not supplying the list to ITF, nor has it been disproved that ITF is not following WADA’s guidelines. We’re at an impasse here, because unless we see WADA’s guidlines, and ITF’s response thereto, we’d never know who’s erring or adhering, right? Back to square one — there isn’t a preponderance of evidence which favors one over the other.

I can understand your desire to prove ITF right beyond any reasonable doubt, why? You’re involved in tennis and don’t want to see tennis dirty. I like tennis too, and I certainly don’t want to think of it as dirty, but we’re not wanting for evidence are we? Some very blatant evidence has been proffered.


Sean Randall Says:

The “list” has been available online for years. The latest:

http://www.itftennis.com/shared/medialibrary/pdf/original/IO_37544_original.PDF

And I’m sure it’s followed, why wouldn’t it be?

And what evidence is there to prove otherwise? The Spanish government?? How are they involved in the testing program?


ladyjulia Says:

Von,

What is the evidence that you are talking about?


jane Says:

Twocents,

Thanks for posting that interview excerpt. I think it was really good and honest of Fed to say that. Some people had downgraded Djokovic’s win last year as simply being due to Fed’s ill-health. Which may’ve slowed him a step, certainly. But Djoko was on-song throughout the 08 AO, and he played a heck of a match against Roger too, so it’s nice to read Roger, himself, saying that to the press! Good on him, as they say.


Tejuz Says:

SG:
“If this rule applies to Connors, the rule has to apply to Fed as well. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Connors could have won the French in the early 70’s and been one of those few players with all 4 majors in his bag if circumstances of the time had been different.”

well.. Connors doesnt have the number of slams needed for GOAT discussions. He also won lots of minor events which never featured the other top players. During their time, i doubt there were any mandatory tournaments like the Masters Series where Top-64 meet each other consistently.

Fed on the other hand has a record between 03(Masters Cup) and 05 of not losing to a top-10 players for more than 30 matches till he lost to Safin at AO. He also has the record of winning 16 or more consecutive finals that he has played till he lost his final to Nadal at Dubai in 06.


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“And I’m sure it’s followed, why wouldn’t it be?”

Denial and too much money involved. A huge amount of revenue would be lost if there was a scandal.

“And what evidence is there to prove otherwise?”

The insufficient amount of testing of some athletes.

“The Spanish government?? How are they involved in the testing program?”

There were records found when the Spanish raid occurred. Clients of dirty doctors in Spain who were supplying banned substances to several athletes.

____________
ladyjulia:

The above answer to Sean apllies to your question also.


Von Says:

jane:

“But Djoko was on-song throughout the 08 AO,”

Not really. He nearly lost to Ferrer. There were periods throughout the Ferrer match where he looked like he would fall asleep, as if he was epileptic. Maybe it was too hot for him on that day.


Voicemale1 Says:

Sean:

You’re wasting your time in your back & forth with “Mary” – someone who’s obviously deeply disturbed. You point out accurately she makes no real arguments – just petulant assertions.
Obviously “Mary” needs some kind of relevance in her life, so she’s decided to find it here by making bizarre and outlandish claims based on nothing but her own suspicions. She dares someone to challenger here – and lets’ face it. You’ve probebly bene the only person that communicated with her this sincerely for decades. Take pity on her, for sure – but stop indulging her. She’s clearly clinging to her delusions as desparately as a Scientologist clings to theirs. No matter what you say, she will remain neurotically invested in her insane claims and will not be dislodged from them. It’s possible the nature of her claims could escalate even further in their bizarreness – you never know with someone this obviously disturbed. In a way it’s scary – she could be the new Gunter Parche. So Nadal better watch for her in case she escapes from the Boobie Hatch in which she obviously now resides.


jane Says:

Von,

I agree he wasn’t at his best in that match, but nearly lost? Only the 3rd set was tight. He did not lose one set last year – until Tsonga took one off of him in the final. To me, that’s on-song.

But, I am biased. :-D


Sean Randall Says:

Ah, okay Von. We are finally making some headway.

So the story as you (and I presume Mary feels the same way) is that the positive tests from certain players are being tossed or covered up.

Further, a Balco-type scandal in Spain broke and tennis players were fingered among the recipients of peds.

First, as for money exchanges I don’t buy it. There would be too much to lose. Far better to have a top player get busted than try to cover it up only to come back in a greater form later. The latter would sink the sport. The former would be difficult but order would eventually be restored.

Regarding the alleged Spain scandal, if there were tennis players involved then then where were the positive tests?

Regarding the test process itself, could players be tested more? Hard to say as it is random. The point is though under the current rules it’s far too risky to dope when you can be tested at virtually at any moment.

As for why the lower/no names get busted. I think a lot of it has to do with their own ignorance of what’s banned and what isn’t. Some of them simply don’t know, but it is there responsibility to find out.

And in some parts of the world health care may not be quite what is here. How good is the Argentine health care system? Probably much worse than say the UK or Spain.


Sean Randall Says:

Voicemale1, noted. But sometimes curiosity gets the best of me.


Andrew Miller Says:

I agree with Mr. Randall.

What about Paul Annacone or Darren Cahill for Federer? Both are low-key. Personally I would like to see Federer make another run at the French Open. I feel like he should abandon trying to be the best ever and the records chase and get back to aiming for improvement and regaining his curiosity for the sport. I liked seeing him take out Thomas Berdych, and personally I want to see him win the French Open. (Roddick taking another major would be great too. If Ivanisevic could do it…I am a broken record, i know!)

As for Steroids…you never know. There is an investigation in Spain into cycling called Operacion Puerto. I find Rafa’s reaction (not response) a little jarring. Agassi would always uphold the testing – probably because baseball and cycling would prove to be juiced sports, and he did not want tennis to turn out the same (in that sense, Agassi was very much the statesman). Rafa seems to take genuine offense, and it would be great if he just invited the people who accused him to interview him.

Counterintuitive, but it would just make Rafa even better. He is extremely diplomatic…why not stretch that diplomacy into other corners where he is less appreciated.


Von Says:

Sean:

Thank You. You forgot Milo. Both Milo and Mary have contributed more relevance to this topic than I have. Milo has the lowdown of exactly what has been going on in Spain. I remember reading a post a couple of days ago that the positives for the athletes got thrown out. Anyway, case closed for now. Is that OK with you?

Milo where are you?


Von Says:

Andrew:

I want andy to win another slam too. I’m forever playing that CD.

Agree with you on Nadal’s reaction, it is only sending up red flags and causing suspicion to grow.

_____________
jane;
You’re entitled to be biased within reason. And, this coming from someone who’s absolutely unbiased. If you believe that then you’d believe I’m Roddick’s sister. ha, ha.


Mary Says:

Sean: You keep asking about the OCC.
The problem with just a list is this: You only look for what is on the list, a banned substance that one takes in a certain time frame.
Sean could take a derivative of a banned substance. It’s not the actual one named on a list, so it goes undetected. Athletes are always two steps ahead, so you need to be able to compare changes to the body over time.

Cycling has a bio passport to measure the changes in a rider’s body. You can follow any changes in the blood or urine to spot blood doping etc.
WADA gives a minimum; the rules are ratified after a lot of bs and political nonsense. It’s not a voice from above. For example, if the USOC does not like what is being proposed they just lobby to block it.
It’s up to the sports and respective federations to go one extra step.

Ezorra: I changed my mind.

There is so much on Operation Puerto on the net.


Sean Randall Says:

Von, as long as you are off the Rafa-is-juiced trip and the drug testing policy stinks kick, I’m ok.

Here’s some background on Nadal and Puerto:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/wimbledon/article683107.ece

I didn’t do much more digging, but apparently many of the cases against the cyclists were thrown out. However the case is now being reopened.


Mary Says:

About your comment to voicemale1: You should have done your research before making your claims. I backed mine up why a dirty drug test is not the end all be all.


NachoF Says:

Bjon Borg is usually considered better than McEnroe and sometimes even the GOAT.. yet McEnroe had him beat everytime…so even if Nadal ends up with a winning record against Federer, if Federer gets to 15 GSs he will be considered the GOAT… that is unless Nadals surpasses him on that department as well.


Sean Randall Says:

Mary, the banned list is pretty comprehensive. That said, I’m sure there are cheaters who will be six months ahead of the curve. I don’t doubt that.

But it’s hard to connect the dots to Rafa being a doper based on your evidence which is 1) his physique, 2) that he trained at home with his uncle, 3) his improved serve speed, 4) his injuries (you argue are related to doping), 5) his possible involvement with this Puerta case (even if his name is proven in court, it’s doesn’t prove he used any banned substances), and 6) the availability of advanced, undetectable new-age peds.

Did I leave anything else out?

And when I asked you when the OOC testing occurs you replied with, “I don’t know how far ahead”. So you admit that you don’t know the procedures yet you turn around and claim Rafa’s a doper.

Whatever…Honestly Mary, I would give it a rest. Maybe something will come out of the case, but based on what you’ve told to me here you’re really grasping. Get over it…


Mary Says:

I’m only answering your questions. I told you point blank a player can figure out when the testing OCC will happen.
If I was grasping, you wouldn’t keep asking questions. It is not much for me to ask that you back up your claims. If you looked into anything, you would see I have a valid claim. You do too but you didn’t make an argue for it. Just I don’t know.

Next time watch what you post and double check so you are not called out again.
good night.


Von Says:

Sean:

“Von, as long as you are off the Rafa-is-juiced trip and the drug testing policy stinks kick, I’m ok.”

I don’t believe that I’ve at any time in any of my posts stated that Nadal is juiced-up. My only argument concerned the laxness of ITF’s testing. Please show me where I’ve stated anything else with regard to Nadal using banned substances. I know I’ve stated that his refusal to discuss the matter is sending out red flags, but that’s about all the reference I’ve made with respect to him.


Milo Says:

If I’m barking at the Moon, why is the Moon so worried!

To those who believe in the unbelievable — AKA, The Rafa Defense Fund. I’m sort of confused by the moral majority here, who sound like the denying father standing up for Britney Spears chastity. Give up the ghost. Please return to a reality based universe and admit the drugs do work and when administered by a quality Dr. Feelgood, they have proven they can beat the test. Millions of dollars and international fame and acclaim are at stake. Governing bodies and law enforcement have been derelict to combat the scourge. Now, after admitting that obvious truth, you can now begin your argument as to why your favorite “goody-twoshoes,” Mother Theresa, never-ever-nana even an STD rash favorite player is above reproach? Please also inform me why tennis, apart from all other sports, is the only totally clean game?

Look at pictures of Rafa at 17 compared with today. That is not the normal body maturation of players I’ve seen training in tennis. Then look at pictures at 17 & 23 of Fed, Murray, Nalbandian, Novak, or whoever. All have filled out in a common human progression, but one has changed quite a bit. Can you name him? I’m so thankful tennis is clean.

Every major speed and power sport has an epidemic of PED’s. Sports like tennis, that require a high degree of hand/eye coordination, were not where the drugs first migrated, but they have arrived. Football, baseball, soccer and many others are endemic with performance enhancers. The drugs have seeped so low, that they are now powering high school performers dreaming of a lucrative Division I scholarship, to the cocky rich lawyer who cheats with drugs to easily win an un-tested senior age-group triathlon. The drugs work bigtime. The athlete’s involved are not only stragglers trying to make a pro career, they are some of the best and most beloved performers in sport. All these castles built of sand.

Major sports should declare they are going to hold blood and urine samples for 25 years. Let’s hope the fear of future technology exposing their shame dampens the problem. We can’t count on the aging hero to find his personal Jesus and come clean. Drug addicts and denial too often make it to the grave. Watch how the family of the recently deceased Belgian cyclist will cling to a heart deformity defense, while knowing full well why he passed. People don’t mind cheating, but nobody wants to be proven a cheat. Luckily, tennis remains clean.

Ha…look at Lance Armstrong — he’s been under such suspicion that this year he has made his comeback with an army of his own doctors watching and testing his every move. Not that I trust them, but I’m sure the Tour’s de France will test him after every stage. Watch…Lance will not do very well. 80-20 says he fakes an injury and skates the scene. Thank goodness tennis is alone with honor, and remains clean.


Marjorie Says:

Compare age 17 and then at 22 and now ! He grew, he plays golf and he’s clean !

http://www.historicgolfphotos.com/Tiger_Woods__follow_through__1992_LA_Open_pictures_photos_art-0797-2013.html


Lenny Says:

jane Says:
“Does anyone think if Fed hated Rafa he’d beat him more?”

That’s an interesting angle, actually, Jane. I know Becker once said the reason he didn’t have a better record against Edberg was because he liked him too much, and he preferred to play opponents he disliked. Although Federer seems to be pretty personable with most players, so I don’t know if it would be a factor with him.

Fedfan:
That’s a very valid point about the difference in ages. To be fair, Rafa, Nole, Muzza are all from the next generation. It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that while these guys are on the rise, Fed, if not on the way down, is at least near the top, looking down. And yet, he continues to give them a run for their money.

Mary:
I dunno if you’re still around, but I’ll assume you are, coz you keep saying bye, but like a ball hit to Rafa, you keep coming back ;). Ok, in all seriousness? You accuse those who, until proven otherwise, would rather presume the game’s top athletes are clean, as being close-minded. Yet, you say you absolutely KNOW Rafa’s dirty, and remain close-minded yourself to any other possibility. I think if you go through the posts slamming you, that’s what most of them are objecting to – not your bringing doping up as a possibility, but declaring it a surety. Yes, you may have done your research, but none of it proves your accusations conclusively, so we still have the right to question them, and you must accept that right now, they remain merely your point of view. You are absolutely entitled to it, but you are not entitled to claim them as positive, unquestionable fact, and call the rest of us who choose not to buy into them morons or naive or ignorant.


Milo Says:

Mary,

Wake up! This is like WWF tag-team wrestling. I was hoping to deflect and absorb some of the pounding, but I always go to sleep just as the board heats up.


Lenny Says:

The most eloquent article I’ve read on the AO 2009 final yet.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/matthew_syed/article5653849.ece


Marjorie Says:

So sorry that I posted the link with Tiger’s photo. It never occured to me that the response might be so inaccurate and so racially prejudiced. My apologies to Nadal and to Tiger and to you all. Indeed, the response is outrageous and should be deleted. This is the worst gossip column in town…Enough.


grendel Says:

jane

“moral intensity” – that was an error, well spotted. I had taken it over from SG who had said “mental intensity”. I wouldn’t say my error was typo, it is curious (though unimportant) and I cannot account for it.

“And yet doesn’t the fact that Fed came so close to beating Nadal on clay also support the notion that the clay H2H shouldn’t be discounted or qualified. He has pushed Rafa on a number of occasions, and Rafa’s possibly one of the greatest to play on clay, up there with a few others.” As so often, you have identified the weak area in my argument. For the case is ambiguous – you can look at it either way. On the one hand, Fed pushing Nadal so close on clay on so many occasions and yet never actually winning (the Hamburg anamoly aside) is indeed a case for saying clay should be included in any considerations of h2h. On the other, you could argue that clay is Nadal territory, and should therefore be treated seperately – meanwhile, the fact that Federer was able to push Nadal so close so often on clay is just evidence of Federer’s extraordinary flexibility and overall skill. It really is a question of perspective, and when you say “I’m not sure I agree with grendel that the surface arument is invalid”, I think in terms of pure logic – in the way you presented your case, you are mistaken. But nevertheless, as a matter of actual fact, you may well be right. It’s an amazingly grey area.

By the way, “beady eyes” is metaphorical, you know, and I would say complimentary on the whole, though I agree there is just a touch of ambiguity….


Sean Randall Says:

Milo/others, If you are going to get racial your post will be deleted. Take it elsewhere.


Milo Says:

Sean,

It was only racial because she didn’t understand what I was saying. I ask, is what I write below too dangerous to know???

Marj

I’m confused. Let me try a test.

If you were in the wild studying a cheetah and a turtle…which one appears to be faster?

You’re right…why not give both animals a hug and ask them who wants ice cream.

Why do I get the sinking feeling that you run the USTA’s talent scouting program?


Sean Randall Says:

Sorry, Milo. Don’t go there. Can I be any more clear? Nobody wants to hear it here.


Milo Says:

Got it. I’m with the program.

Rafa is my hero. Rafa is God.

Federer is also a very good hero person.


fed is afraid Says:

my prediction-in 6 months the H2H with roger will be 17-6-rafa. roger will never learn. rafa owns him and always will.


MMT Says:

Sean – I think I am misunderstood – I don’t put aside Nadal’s results against Federer on clay. I merely point it out as a counter-argument to the suggestion that Nadal’s record against Federer disqualifies Federer from GOAT status.

When considering the GOAT question, one facet of a player’s career should not disqualify a player from consideration. Borg lost his last 3 GS finals to McEnroe, does it make McEnroe the better player? Not necessarily – as I pointed out, had they played half their encounters on clay, their head to head series would likely resemble Nadal and Federer’s. And Federer’s record from 2004-2007 against Nadal on all surfaces except for clay his positive. In fact, he did beat him on clay at an MS series final in 2007 (Hamburg).

To disqualify him because in the last 7 months he has not had good results against Nadal is in my view, mypoic. Sampras’ results in the last 2 years of his career against the field were much worse than Federer’s have been since he ascended to the summit of the game. Why does results against one player, trump results against the field. You cannot argue that Sampras was old, because at age 32, in his final slam, he showed he clearly had the game to win a major – it didn’t magically appear, it was there all along, and he just didn’t get the job done. This is, in my view, a bigger dent on his legacy than losing consitently to one player for a year.

And let me state for the record that I believe the GOAT question is a very viable question, and total grand slams is a good measure thereof. It’s messy, but the best standard available is grand slams won, particularly for players who came along after the open era. The period from 1949 to 1969 is murky because of the touring professionals, but the open era’s best standard is slams won, in my view.


Milo Says:

Only because Roger can actually make finals on clay. Federer should pull a Sampras and go out early on dirt, and save his h2h with raf.


SJS Says:

I urge readers to seek Lenny’s post above and visit the article he suggests. It’s fantastic.

For me, it has always been thus: Nadal was always going to be too strong and too fast for Federer, eventually. The fact that Federer has been able to keep up with him – has it been forgotten that Federer defeated Nadal in TWO grand slam finals? – is testament to his (almost) perfect game.

Federer’s legacy will always be his style, technique, movement and grace. His 13 (and counting) grand slam victories have been, for me at least, nothing more than a just bonus.


Sean Randall Says:

MMT, as I said above it’s ironic people want to throw out those clay matches with Nadal. Instead, FedFans should embrace them. After all part of Fed’s legacy, part of the GOAT equation is just how great a player he is on all surfaces, which is true. Bad luck, though, he happened to do it during a time of the greatest clay court player ever.

Now it would be one thing if Nadal remained just a clay specialist, but unfortunately for Fed he’s now successfully plying his trade on other surfaces and doing it against Fed. Has another player ever made such a leap? I can’t recall.

So I wouldn’t say his losses to Nadal disqualifies him from the GOAT discussion, but if current trend of Nadal winning non-clay Slams continues, then it may make Nadal more qualified for that title than Federer.


Sean Randall Says:

Lenny/SJS, indeed. Great read! Thanks.


Marjorie Says:

Lenny/SJS/Sean : another good read in my opinion from Pete Bodo.

http://tennisworld.typepad.com/tennisworld/2009/02/rafa.html


grendel Says:

Sean

I have never encountered censorship before you deleted half of my post. It is a weird experience. Utterly trivial in this context, of course, but it gives me a tiny, tiny inkling of what it must be like for those unfortunates – in the greater part of the world – who have to face censorship every day of their lives.

For the record – Sean permitting, of course – I wanted to question Milo on quite what he meant. The question of “race” in sport is a difficult one, fraught with possible misunderstandings,and yet also, in a sense, interesting. The field of genetics just is, interesting – and the perusal of it in any area, including sport, should be objectively neutral. That it can be abused and twisted for despicable reasons goes without saying. Being a human being, I have discovered, is not without its dangers.

This is a tennis site and not a science site. But science is not in itself a “specialism” but something which pervades our lives at every step. To sweep questions involving race under the carpet as if they don’t exist does not thereby abolish them, but inflames them further. That is the lesson of the history of censorship everywhere. It is true that if people are being deliberately abusive in a sensitive area, then censorship very possibly makes sense – in the calling out “fire” in a crowded cinema sense. But I was calling for clarity – I was sceptical of some of Milo’s points insofar as I understood them, and I thought it reasonable to hear them aired and debated properly.

Sean has decided to squash that, and it is a serious decision – unlike, say, banning discussion of turmoil in the Middle East, which has nothing whatever to do with tennis – because the question of race affects tennis. There is no reason not to address it calmly, and to raise certain sceptical questions, which call for further questions. This is what I did, and Sean has banned that. That is sad, very sad – and mistaken, because it actually perpetuates what it seeks to evade. Openess is nearly always the best – and most honourable – policy.


jane Says:

Well I’d agree on two fronts:

1. Censorship doesn’t generally solve much. (Again, return of the repressed. Look at the Victorian era for evidence.)

- Aside: this is why I agree with Lenny’s post above. The doping question itself should not be discounted or ignored. I’ve learned a lot reading these posts. Knowledge is a good thing. But the direct accusations are what I personally take issue with, as I think is the case with most people here; until they are validated by official evidence, they are unfounded and inflammatory.

2. The study of genetics is making leaps and bounds presently; that raises the specter of eugenics, which is where race comes into play. Hilter, if you recall, was very fond of Riefenstahl’s film Olympia, which features race and sport very prominently.

Thus, on these grounds, if the topic of race can be discussed intelligently and fairly, I suspect it would be interesting, even enlightening.

Was it not grendel who raised the race question with regards to Wimbledon or Britain generally? Has it not come up in relation to the Williams sisters, and their father, repeatedly? Seems to have merit in a tennis forum then.


Fedfan Says:

Its those clay matches that really bruised Fed’s confidence against Rafa. Its 9-1 rafa on clay, but 5-4 to Fed on other surfaces, so Fed is extremely competitive with Rafa on other surfaces (of those 4 losses, the one in Miami in 2004 was when Fed was sick). The French 2008 beating really affected federer. If federer had been as miserable as Sampras was on clay, he would have rarely faced Nadal on clay, and then would never have had such a bad H2H or the deamons in his head.

So you have to dig into the details before making inferences, rather than just blindly looking at numbers.

And as I said before, Rafa is 22, Fed is 27, they are not exactly the same generation (tennis wise – they are at least half a generation apart, given that a tennis player normally lasts 10 years MAX at the top, mostly 5-6 years).

How Fed responds from here will define his legacy. He does need to work out his mental issues against Nadal. He does need to fight more. He knows he has a superior game on all surfaces except clay, so just needs to make himself mentally tougher against Nadal.


Sean Randall Says:

Grendel, sorry for removing bits of your post. I rarely if ever have done that.

Without question race and race in sports merits discussion. But unfortunately, however constructive and educational that discussion may be at the outset, in a public/open forum such as this one it often ends up in the gutter.

As you say, this is a tennis site, so let’s try to keep it on tennis as best we can. If you want to veer off and talk about how cook ravioli, that’s fine. But once you start hitting emotional, hot button issues like race, religion, politics, etc., the line has to be drawn.


Marjorie Says:

Grendel, Sean and tennis x have an absolutely necessary basic “policy” or code or set of standards which I believe are essential in this sort of forum. With all due respect and trust, there are “limits” and “warning signs” that should be acknowledged to avoid our dangerous human instincts to bring out the worst without consideration or facts or decency. There are other forums where a historical debate about genetics in sport might be a viable debate – but I frankly fear that this is not the time or the place. I am not interested in hearing more dubious comments or opening any doors that may lead to objectionable remarks about anybody. It’s too great a trap and I think it wise to take another road. To compare the decision to delete your words with a totalitarianism regime is really quite exaggerated don’t you think ? I think in this case, sound policy prevailed with no undue disrespect for anyone. No-one is trying to sweep anything under the carpet. It’s just not appropriate and was obviously leading in the wrong direction (not you and maybe not Milo either). So tennis x said stop. Fair enough. Openess and honesty are best in good faith and nobody ever said otherwise. So many other roads to take.


margot Says:

Hi Grendel, am afraid you and Jane too, misunderstood my post. I am not a monarchist, I was hoping someone would borrow them for a while. Yes, Charles is a lovable eccentric but also a vert expensive one. I favour an elected monarch, for a year, starting with me! However, do agree with you about Blair, your image of him is awful. However,this is probably not the place to debate the future of the monarchy….I can hear people yawning and fidgeting….leaving…
Completely agree with you re Rafa, surely Roger is the better player but Rafa is playing better now and, as many people have said, this could be down to age.
As for racist remarks generally, I’m glad that they are being wiped, there have been a couple of quite shocking ones on Tennisx. Attack someone’s ideas of course, but attack the person because you don’t agree with their ideas…where’s that coming from? I’m not sure about linking race and achievement either, if the Williams sisters had been born into nice affluent homes without a suptemely motivated dad for a coach, I wonder if they would have achieved what they have done.
Success is 90% perspiration isn’t it?


grendel Says:

“To compare the decision to delete your words with a totalitarianism regime is really quite exaggerated don’t you think ?”

Absolutely – which is why I said it was tiny, tiny stuff. On reflection, I was a bit on my high horse. Don’t agree with the rest of what you have to say, though. There is room for adult debate here. It doesn’t have to get nasty.


jane Says:

Margot,

“Success is 90% perspiration isn’t it?” Good one! Maybe Fed needs to sweat a little more. ;D

I thought you might’ve been taking a swipe at the monarchy, what with the sighing into your beers, “not” comment, but thought I’d apologize nonetheless.

I think achievement has little-to-nothing to do with race either, but that’s in a way why I think it should be discussed, because people use “science” in such dangerous ways. Anyhow, perhaps you and Marjorie (and Sean) are correct that this isn’t the best context to discuss it.


jane Says:

Lenny,

That is a very good take on the final and Fed/Nadal rivalry; thanks for drawing our attention to it. I take issue with the author’s slight exaggeration that the “epic” matches of Fed and Nadal are fodder for Tolstoy’s pen, however.


Fedfan Says:

Also, don’t forget that at the end of 2007, Rafa was 8-6 on Fed overall (2-5 on surfaces other than clay). So it was very very close. The difference was one point – the match points that Fed had against Rafa at Rome 2006. So by no means was Rafa dominating Federer except on clay – even on clay, almost all their matches were close.

At that time, Fed was 26 and Rafa was 21. 26 is sort of the end of the peak of a tennis player, so his decline after that should not be that surprising.

Imagine today’s Fed playing a 27 year old Rafa – Fed would thrash him, maybe even on clay.

Sampras was lucky to be 10 years elder to Federer, so they hardly overlapped. If Federer had started playing 1993 instead of 1998, he would have made Sampras absolutely miserable in his later years (maybe even earlier years). Sampras was anyway miserable after 1998, even against much lower ranked players. And with today’s grass on wimbledon – no way would he have won 7 of them.

So the young come in and beat the old. What’s new? Most are not very luck, so they get the young guy at age 25 or 26 (like Borg, Mcenroe, Lendl, Becker, Wilander, Edberg). Sampras was the only one luck enough not to run into a 5 years younger, 6+ slam champion in his later years (agassi was actually older than Sampras).

Am not trying to deride Sampras here. He was one of the greatest. Just trying to put statistics in perspective, since many people forget the details, and focus on the numbers superficially.


jane Says:

Good point Fedfan: “since many people forget the details, and focus on the numbers superficially.”

It’s easy to fall victim to this, especially if you haven’t witnessed the “details” as you put it.


I like tennis bullies Says:

“” Right now it’s Nadal. “”

tennisx would never say federer was the best player “right now” they would say federer IS the best player EVER. federer is THE ONE

nadal sure messed up tennisx plans for federers world domination didnt he? lol


Ojo Says:

Two cents, Nice find.


that_matt Says:

The Federer VS. Nadal matchup is starting to get silly. This last match at the AO really stunk. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the drama of the match. But the one dimensionality of the points got to be a bit mind-numbing around the 3rd set.

Nadal’s power shots to Federer’s backhand. Step 1: Hit a power/huge-top-spin shot to Federer’s backhand. Step 2: Repeat.

Never have I seen a top player be consistently picked apart on the same shot for an entire match. This happens on all surfaces between these two. Federer (only at this point?) has no way of falling behind in any point against Nadal because of this advantage. No wonder Nadal is in his head. Imagine being a top player and one guy has full control over your weakness. That to me, is why these matches are silly.

I just don’t remember top rivalries being this redundant. Point after point. Sampras had an awesome serve, but Agassi had an awesome return. Becker and Edberg served and volleyed and relied on mistakes to get one or two breaks per match.

Federer can’t hit a decent backhand against Nadal, consistently.

I ramble.


that_matt Says:

**correction on this sentence: “I just don’t remember top rivalries being this redundant.”

Should be: I just don’t remember top rivalries being this redundantly lopsided.


MMT Says:

Sean Randall says: “…if current trend of Nadal winning non-clay Slams continues, then it may make Nadal more qualified for that title than Federer.”

I would agree with this if he passed 13 slams only – if he doesn’t, his H2H vs. Fed is bonus, but not enough to put him ahead of Fed in overall status.


margot Says:

Is Fed too old or too proud to remedy this deficiency? I don’t believe the former but the latter not sure of.


that_matt Says:

margot, good questions! also, can he?

How did James Blake have Nadal’s number on hard courts for years? He has a one hand backhand.

Mind is boggling.


SG Says:

I think this coming Wimbledon will say it all for Federer. If he bounces back from the heartbreak at the AO and wins Wimbledon, the ship will right itself. If he loses to Nadal in the final or earlier, it will be a serious blow to his psyche.

If he does not win Wimbledon, the tournament he treasures above all others, he may not win another major. I happen to think he will win his 6th Wimbledon title irrespective of who he plays. I also think you’ll see him a little more aggressive at Wimbledon which will serve him well going forward.


Von Says:

that matt:

“I just don’t remember top rivalries being this redundant. Point after point. Sampras had an awesome serve, but Agassi had an awesome return. Becker and Edberg served and volleyed and relied on mistakes to get one or two breaks per match.”

Absolutely true. It’s the main reason I don’t enjoy Nadal’s tennis style nor do I enjoy watching his matches. Nadal’s MO against ANY player, but specifically against Federer, is to pepper/target their backhand and then wait for them to make the errors. Is that what tennis has evolved into? This so-called rivalry is boring. How often does it happen that the winner of the match has less “winners” than his opponent and still wins? In this case, the answer is simple, just target the opponent’s backhand relentlestly, and wait for the errors to come.


MMT Says:

Margot: “Is Fed too old or too proud to remedy this deficiency? I don’t believe the former but the latter not sure of.”

I don’t think he’s too old to, but I think there’s something to the second part of that question. I give a side-bar:

The first 2 times Lendl played McEnroe, he lost but took a set off of him each time. Then, starting in a 1981 Davis Cup match, Lendl beat him in straight sets and proceeded to win a total of 7 matches in a row – this was when John McEnroe was #1 in the world, BTW, which he lost by the end of 1982.

In his 7th loss at the Masters at MSG at the and of 1982 McEnroe lost in 3 straight sets 4-4-2, and had really hit rock bottom. In those days the Masters was more important than the Australian Open, so this was quite a humiliation for him.

Don Budge had been watching the match and as an American, just couldn’t take watching another American get his arse handed to him by Lendl. He called up McEnroe and asked him, why the hell he was trying trade strokes with this guy? Start with the second serve, and chip and charge every chance you get. If that works, start chipping and charging on the first serve – you’ll crush him.

McEnroe proceeded to beat Lendl the next 10 out 12 meetings, and regained the #1 ranking in 1984.

My point is not that Federer has to chip and charge on the second serve, but that he has to, like McEnroe, really hit rock bottom, before he’ll accept that straight up Nadal is the better player on any surface, and that he’ll have to figure out another way to win.

If Federer lost the Wimbledon final in straight sets, that’s really the only way I see him accepting his inferiority – to date he still thinks he’s choking, which in a way he is, but to me that’s the same as playing like crap.

He needs to lose with ABSOLUTELY NO wiggle room, before he’ll get some advice on how to turn it around. If I were him, I’d start making phone calls.

Ironically, this is one of the things McEnroe suggested he should do to Nadal on clay when the only question was why Fed couldn’t win the French.

Interesting…


grendel Says:

With regard to your question on Federer – too old, too proud or even not able, have a look at Voicemale1′s contribution – recent, I think, but on the previous thread. He takes the heretical view that Federer is overated, and pours scorn on his competition in the early slam wins. Some of his facts are a little awry. For example, Philippoussis was not in his thirties when Fed won his first Wimbledon against him, but 27. Philippoussis was actually a very formidable player dogged by injury. A few years earlier, he took the first set off a rampant Sampras, but had to retire. Sampras later acknowledged that he had “dodged a bullet”. Federer destroyed the talented Aussie, it was by any standards an awesome performance.

Voicemale1 was just wrong about Philippoussis, but he makes a case at least worthy of inspection otherwise. Was – on the whole – Federer the beneficiary of sub standard competition? I can’t see it. For instance, Gonzalez – yes, his record is poor, but we all know what he can do. He destroyed the great Nadal, and then Federer took him with equal ease. I’m not inclined to dismiss that. Then there is this: “Three of his slams came at the hands of his hapless whipping boy Roddick,who continues to prove that nothing in his game hurts Federer”. That’s just sloppy. Apart from anything else, this could be a sign of Federer’s greatness – even Roddick is dismissed by Federer with contempt. There is nothing to prevent that interpretation. But in fact, of course, it is simplistic. Roddick might very well have beaten Federer at Wimbledon were it not for the rain. At least one set at the US Open was extremely tough – had Roddick won it, the result might have been different. At the AO this year, Federer acknowledged his match with Roddick was difficult – anyone could see the 2nd and 3rd sets were highly competitive.

Nevertheless, although Voicemale1 fails, fairly dismally in my view, to make his case, there still IS


grendel Says:

a case to answer. We all assume Federer needs to do this, that or the other to defeat Nadal. Perhaps. But is it possible that Voicemale1 is onto something, at least here? That Federer just isn’t good enough to beat a Nadal who is now in his absolute prime (and different to the Nadal Fed used to – sometimes – beat)? I don’t know the answer to this one. But it seems to me a real question.

p.s. this post follows on immediately from the last, which was submitted by accident, I touced ther wrong key or something.


that_matt Says:

MMT, wow. That’s a very interesting read on Johnny Mac vs Lendl. Thanks!


Oleg Says:

Von: it’s funny how you criticize Nadal’s “boring” style when your fave Roddick plays possibly the most boring type of tennis.

Big Serve. Ace. Big Serve. Unreturnable.
Real exciting stuff.

“How often does it happen that the winner of the match has less “winners” than his opponent and still wins? ”
Sorry to remind you but part of tennis is being consistent, playing percentages, not making errors and not going for broke on every shot.


grendel Says:

Margot – you are the one I was referring to in last post. My computer is just playing silly buggers, and I lost the first paragraph. Roughly, I’d said I was drawn by your phrase “beloved monarchy” and made assumptions, without properly reading the rest of what you had to say. Very lazy. In particular, I missed your little gem (in the context) “anyone for tennis” – the philosophy surrounding which also accounts for England’s inability to produce any decent tennis players. b.t.w, never could understand even basic economics. So I have no idea whether the monarchy is a drain or a contributor in that regard. Personally, though, I rather like these creaky, somewhat absrud old institutions. Efficiency alarms me…..


MMT Says:

Hey Von! How the hell are ‘ya? Your description of Nadal’s MO is eerily reminiscent of Borg’s. I don’t recall Borg hitting a lot of winners outright from the baseline – in fact, his MO was to wait for his opponent to make a mistake, with exception for the times he was forced into a passing shot or he himself came to net. Aside from his serve, Borg rarely hit winners from the back court – that was the domain of Connors. But boy did he ever dominate the game.

I do think Nadal has a little more (relative given the changes in equipment) firepower than Borg, but their dogged determination, immense reserves of stamina, error free tennis, and steadily improving serve and net game make me think I’m seeing Borg all over again…just left handed and Spanish.

Coincidentally, it took the curious and unique skills of John McEnroe to really put a dent of any consequence in Borg’s game, and it was McEnroe who beat him in the last 3 grand slam finals he played, including his beloved Wimbledon, and his personal Moby Dick, the US Open (two years in a row).

BTW – Connors beat Borg the first 6 out of 7 times they playedj – this included a US Open final in 1976 on clay! But once Borg developed a stronger first serve, and put it in use, he proceeded to beat Connors the next 14 out of 16 times they played.

To be fair to Connors, Borg did that to everyone else in the world except McEnroe (I should also point out AGAIN that they never played on clay). But it’s fair to say that “rivalries” are rarely tit for tat over the course of a career. There are periods of relative egality, and periods of dominance, but this doesn’t mean the rivarly is dead per se.

The Sampras Agassi rivalry is the only exception I can think of. Sampras won 4 in a row just once between the 1995 US Open and the rest of 1996 (when Agassi was in the midst of one of his down periods, and he was about as useless as teets on a bull – he did win the Olympic Gold, but none of the slam winners in 1996 participated). Other than this period, they traded a couple of 3peats and a lot of repeats, but Sampras was FAR better against Agassi in the slams 6-2 over their careers, and 3 of their 4 GS finals.


fed is afraid Says:

hell, roger had trouble beating nadal when he first came up, he sure as heck isn’t going to be beating him now. roger should just do the noble thing and bow down to the great nadal. it is over for him and he knows it. everytime he sees nadal across the net his brain turns to mush.


margot Says:

You were all probably in nappies, or not even a twinkle…. when Ashe beat Connors at Wimbledon, but it’s worth a consideration. There was no way Ashe could ever out-hit Connors but he still beat him cos he used his brain. I think the same about Fed and Rafa. Roger has just got to use his brain…but…and I say this with sorrow cos I’m a Fed fan, there does seem to be a kind of arrogance(?) about Fed., a kind of “bow down and worship” which has, it’s true served him well in the past. Of course Rafa has played lip service to this aura whilst all the time coming for him all guns blazing. Very clever. And I’m sorry all you folk who seem to think Rafa has a split personality, in my experience people who are very aggressive in one part of their lives are pretty aggressive in other areas, so I think he’s been playing a very long game.


SG Says:

I may catch Grendel’s ire (…and probably others as well), but I do wonder about 2003 to 2006 years for Federer and the level of players he faced. The top 10 was not what I’d call a who’s who of major championship contenders. The argument is that Fed cannot choose who he face to win all those tournaments. Granted. He has no control of that. He has to beat who’s in front of him and man oh man did he do that. I am not going to say that he has 13 majors because of weak competition. What I am going to say is that I believe that there is some truth to it. I do believe that that the 2003-2006 period of utter domination was attributed to two factors:

1) Fed’s superlative abilities and

2) to at least some degree playing against players that had questionable GS pedigree.

I believe that point is the greater contributor to his dominance but to completely dismiss point 2 is deny certain realities. Borg, McEnroe, Lendl and Connors were all together at very close to their primes. Connors was winning majors before and after Borg retired. So was McEnroe. So did Lendl. Each of them saw Borg at his best or close to it. And while none of them have as many majors as Borg, all of them have at least 7 and they won most of them by their middle 20′s or thereabouts. Federer did not face that these kinds of foes during his most dominant period. For a period, Borg was almost as dominant as Federer. He didn’t play the AO because he did’t have a chance to win the slam so one might argue that he was as dominant as Federer at his peak. Nonetheless he had 11 majors by his 26th birthday (…maybe 25th). And that’s all he could win. Perhaps if Fed had faced the kind of players Borg did, he would be at 10 or 11 majors instead of 13. I know it’s not provable but it’s at least plausible.


SG Says:

just to correct my statement:

I believe that point #1 is the greater contributor


MMT Says:

Quite accidentally, fed is afraid has made a good point: Nadal went 6 out of 7 their first 7 encounters (wins on clay and hard), and then Federer went 5 out of 7 in their next 7 encounters (wins on all 3 surfaces), and now the pendulum has swung back in favor of Nadal with 5 in a row on all 3 surfaces.

Has there ever been a 4th swing of the pendulum in any major rivalry? History says no:

Connors went 8-0 vs Lendl through 1981, then they split their next 8 4-4 through 1984, then Lendl won the next 17 times they played.

McEnroe went 3-2 against Borg, then Borg went 5-1, before losing his last 3 to McEnroe

And after that 12 for 16 period for McEnroe with Lendl, he lost all but one of their next 11 matches.

It doesn’t look good (historically) for Federer.


Von Says:

MM:

“Hey Von! How the hell are ‘ya?”

I was wondering about you too. I posted to you a few threads ago, but my post was not dignified with even a smidgen of a reply, hence I thought, oh well, he’s mad at me for something I’ve said. (smile). Seriously though, it was a nice long post, and I can’t seem to find it. I thought you were ignoring me.

It was on the topic of adding Jimmy Connors to the Tennis Channel’s commentating crew for the USO, and when I saw that interview on TC I thought of you and wondered how you’d react to such news considering you “dislike” Copnnors in the worst way. However, I was mildly surprised, nay, dumbfounded that you felt it was a good move on TC’s behalf. If you can find that thread, you’d see my reply.

“I do think Nadal has a little more (relative given the changes in equipment) firepower than Borg, but their dogged determination, immense reserves of stamina, error free tennis, and steadily improving serve and net game make me think I’m seeing Borg all over again…just left handed and Spanish.”

Yes, in many ways they do mirror each other, but don’t you think Borg’s game had more finesse and style than Nadal’s? Nadal’s game is just built around raw power. His MO is the same, different player, but same style, whereas Borg’s game was a bit more tailor-made to suit his opponent — it varied.

I recorded some “Best of 5s” but have not had the time to watch them, but when I do I’m going to make some mental notes to discuss with you.

I agree, Sampras was far better than Agassi in their slam finals. I always picked Sampras to win on those occasions. Albeit Pete was so introverted and Agassi so flashy, I always preferred Pete’s style of play to Agassi’s. Agassi relished in blowing his opponent’s lungs out and runing him ragged, while Pete was content to hold his serve and end the points at the net — short and sweet, and he didn’t want to win each point.


Noel Says:

Even though the so called “GOAT” debate is very tricky,I think the number of slams won is a MAJOR consideration and probably overrides all other considerations. However, Laver and Borg are frequently discussed as the best of the open era even though they have less slams than Pete. Emerson has more slams than Borg and Laver but he isn’t even mentioned in these debates for obvious reasons. I personally think that Laver probably was the best to have played the game in the open era. Not because he won the calendar slams twice because he only had grass and clay to play on. It is primarily because most of the experts and his main rivals agreed on that point and he would most probably have won a ton of slams had he not turned pro. Borg’s name enters the debate mainly because he achieved the FO-wimbie double a few times and that is a BIG achievement. However,Borg didn’t win the USO or the AO although it still doesn’t prevent him from being considered for ‘GOAT’. Agassi won all four slams on different surfaces but is never even considered in the same league as Pete.
Borg was physically and mentally spent by the time he finished and I’d imagine he’d probably have ‘hurt’ his legacy had he continued to play. Had Roger stopped after 2007, his legacy would also have been pretty clean. Pete’s legacy is great primarily,imho, because of the number of slams won as opposed to the rare feats of Laver and Borg. My perceptions about Borg and Laver are shaped almost entirely by expert views because I was still a very small kid when Borg retired. However, I have watched most of the players from 1980s onwards and can claim to know a bit about them.

I personally never thought of Pete as a very good all-round player like Roger is but he was very tough mentally and, in many ways, his focus and determination-certainly for the big prizes- separated him from his contemporaries almost like Rafa’s do today. He was an unbelievable player in big matches/finals. However, I don’t believe the canard-started by Pete himself and in very poor taste – that he had more competition and Fed had none. Lendl, Edberg, Wilander were in the last stages of their careers when Pete entered his prime. Courier didn’t do anything significant after losing the 1993 wimby final and went downhill rather rapidly. Chang,Todd Martin, Pioline,Kafelnikov etc hardly ever challenged Pete in a big event. Rafter shined very briefly. Becker could compete with him somewhat because of his mental toughness but was past his best during Pete’s prime. Ivanisevic had the game to trouble Pete but came up short on the big occasions due to a suspect temperament. Pete could play only those who were available just like Roger or Rafa can play only those that are available in their time. Both eras had/have some very good players and I’d always assume that each era had quality players but the best player of each era probably reached incredible heights during their prime and made good players look ordinary.
Even Agassi wasn’t focused enough at certain stages of his rivalry with Pete. He went away for more than a year around 1997. However,we can compare them because it is a VERY FAIR comparison. Both started around the same time and were roughly the same age. Most of their matches took place on hard courts which both of them liked playing on. Even here, Agassi’s best results came after Pete started coming off his highs albeit not necessarily because of it. Pete won most of the biggest matches between them including his first and last slam wins (1990 and 2002 USO) but it was a great rivalry nonetheless. They said repeatedly that they brought the best out of each other. Pete got thrashed by two next gen players (Safin and Hewitt) in two straight USO finals (2000 and 2001)and it is never held against Pete although the same Safin and Hewitt became ‘weak’ if they were beaten by Fed!! The moment Pete found his old foe Agassi in the 2002 final, he duly got the job done. If Pete thinks that the likes of Hewitt,Safin,Rod,JCF, Nalby etc(Fed’s TRUE contemporaries) are/were weak competition, then he is living in a fools’ paradise. Fed actually had terrible h2h against the likes of Hewitt,Nalby and even Henman before he entered his prime.

I have a simple theory that with each passing generation, the competition gets tougher and the men’s game has more depth than ever before. The coming years will, therefore, be even more competitive but it doesn’t necessarily follow that there won’t be a truly dominant player even in an intensely competitive era. Rafa could well become the next such player after Pete and Roger. There is certainly no debate/comparison with previous eras as far as the physical demands of the game are concerned. While there is a stagnation in racquet/strings technology now,we are seeing much stronger and better athletes with each passing year. It takes a hell of a lot more physical effort to win a slam now than it took ten years back. The intensity with which a point is played these days is quite scary.

Back to the ‘GOAT’ debate. Despite the fact that Pete made the FO sf only once in 13 attempts, he is not only included in the debate by most people, he is, in fact, considered the ‘GOAT’ by some. His struggles-and some humiliations- in the last few years of his career don’t diminish his legacy either. I agree totally with MMT here. The fact that Fed was so good as to reach those clay finals against Rafa is now being held against him just as his unprecedented domination was held against him to insinuate that he had no competition. The moment someone starts beating him,it is said that he is only now getting real competition. If he’d tanked his sf matches in those clay events, he won’t have such a lopsided h2h with Rafa who is probably the “GOAT” on clay. One can argue about the fairness of taking away clay results and it is certainly fascinating that clay results have,for some strange reason,never been given the same importance as results on other surfaces. Pete can be ‘GOAT’ because he has seven wimby titles although he has a pathetic FO record. I wonder if it is an old Brit ploy to undermine the French and keep the ‘preeminence’ of wimby as the biggest prize in tennis. Grendel will hopefully be kind enough to provide some insight here. :)

I‘d say just look at all the clay results of as many years as you can and see if you can find a lot of players who won those events and weren’t considered clay specialists at the same time. You’d be hard pressed to find many who were very good on grass and/or hard and still won major clay events. The list of past FO winners itself should suffice. One has to go back to Courier in the early 1990s to see a real ‘non-specialist’ do really well although Agassi managed to win somehow in 1999. Of all the surfaces, clay is the most unique and has changed very little over the years whereas conditions have been deliberately slowed down at most other non-clay events over the years to, presumably, neutralize the advances in racquet/strings technology. It is the all-round brilliance of guys like Fed-and Nole of late-that has prevented these big clay events from remaining all-specialist affairs. It is especially commendable given that most non-clay players-including some really good players- find it hard to do well on clay although many clay specialists find it much easier now-with the slower conditions- to do well on hard and grass. Grass also used to be a specialist surface-certainly WAY more than it is now- before 2001 when conditions were made slower esp at wimby. I always wonder if that was the reason Pete struggled there in 2001 and 2002 and if Fed also benefited due to this. After all, Fed hasn’t won his wimby titles on the back of a powerful serve or by employing too much of a net game. Wimby is not a paradise for s&v players anymore but FO still demands a player to grind out matches in wars of attrition….

In order to isolate the many factors/variables that muddle the ‘GOAT’ debate, we should be really taking and comparing the best years of multiple slam winners and what heights they reached during those years i.e. the prime of their careers where they had their best results and they were at the peak of their prowess. What Fed did for four straight years(2004-07) is WAY more impressive than what Pete did in his prime(mid-1993 to mid-1997). What Rafa has achieved so far –esp over the last year or so-is fantastic for a player of his age. However,we have to wait and see if he can continue in the same vein and for how long. Things can change pretty quickly-just as they did for Fed- although Rafa is obviously in very good position to do very well in the coming few years and Nole and Murray have their task cut out.

As for the h2h in slams, is it Fed’s fault that Rafa wasn’t good enough to reach more hard slam finals during Fed’s prime? Now that Rafa is in his prime, I don’t think we can jump to conclusions based on Fed’s losses when he is on his way down even if Rafa has always posed problems for Fed. It only takes a slight improvement in one player and a slight decline in another to turn the tables completely. Rafa has improved so much since the last time they played on hard. The only true comparison we can make is between Rafa and his contemporaries of similar age like Nole and Murray among others. All three are expected to be in their prime simultaneously pretty soon and theirs would be a TRUE and FAIR comparison although Murray and Nole are far from being as established as Rafa is at the moment. I don’t think it’d be fair to compare Rafa to some other player in his prime when Rafa is 27 and-most probably- declining and not winning as much. It won’t affect Rafa’s legacy either.

Fed was in ‘GOAT’ discussions even when he had only won five or six slams. It was highly unusual by any stretch because the usual parameters were not used for his ‘qualification’ at that time and it was SO early in his career. It was generally considered that he had the most complete all-round game and both the mechanics and the aesthetics of his game were better than that of anybody else to have played the game so far. This factor alone sufficed in the view of many experts. He made it look unbelievably easy when it was, in fact, very tough to do. I certainly became a fan due to this reason alone.

The ‘apparent’ ease with which he won also added to the illusion that he had weak competition or that most players lost before they even entered the court. These so called “weak” players were the likes of Hewitt,Agassi,Rod,Safin,Moya,Jcf, Nalby etc.

He is not your normal “modern” tennis player at all. If anything, I think he lacks a bit of power and he is far from being the most powerful ball-striker in the game. His inability to hit it flatter and deeper-esp on the bh side- hurts him most while playing the best movers in the game. He doesn’t have any obviously HUGE weapon although his fh is touted to be a big one even though it is neither the deepest nor the flattest. The whole of his game is SO much more than the sum of its parts. His game is about precision timing, placement and movement and if any of these aspects somehow gets/is disturbed and he loses his rhythm, he struggles. In fact, the margin for error in his game is so tiny that it boggles my mind that he had so few bad days in his prime.

Players like Rafa, Murray and Simon take Fed out of his comfort zone and Fed loses his court position much much more in his encounters with such players. Rafa is the best at doing it and he has so much margin for error that he isn’t going to ever lose the match by playing badly himself. Fed has to win/earn it. Serve very well,put more pressure on Rafa’s serve in the deuce court,mix it up by using the bh slice more instead of too many consecutive top spin drives, make Rafa move up and down and diagonally as much as possible with short and acutely angled fh and bh,go to the net only on good approach shots,remain patient,focused and determined bla bla bla………..We have discussed it again and again and will do so after his next loss too. He MUST take Rafa out of his comfort zone and maintain a high level for almost the duration of a match which is easier said than done esp in a best of five format. It is just such a HORRIBLE match up-esp on clay- and now it clearly has turned psychological. It is like a street-smart bully engaging in a fight with the aristocrat who feels helpless and doesn’t have a clue how to get his hands dirty to win the scrap. Fed can’t overpower Rafa in the manner of a Tsonga/Blake/Berdych etc and probably has to do what Davy did to Rafa in Miami last year although only Davy is capable of executing-and very rarely so- that sort of highly risky game plan against a player as good as Rafa.


Blah Says:

I am sorry, but the Federer Nadal rivalry up to the AO match is not boring. How quickly we forget 08 Wimbledon. Even the Ao final had great tennis in the first and 3rd set. Give me two players that have consistently played more exciting matches with each other in this generation. Exactly. Don’t be spoiled.

It comes down to slams. If Fed doesn’t get 14 then he’s not better than Pete. Nobody could stop Pete on the old wimbledon grass, Pete would destroy Fed on the old surface because of his serve, etc. see how easy that is. Why should players’ greatness be measured on today’s surface and not yesterday’s, after all it might change again ten years down the line and somebody else would come along and dominate. The only definitive measurement is slams, how they did in their era, that cross over if Nadal was five years older or if Pete was born in this decade thing doesn’t work.


Von Says:

“So I have no idea whether the monarchy is a drain or a contributor in that regard. Personally, though, I rather like these creaky, somewhat absrud old institutions. Efficiency alarms me…..”

I think when all is said and done, the English love their monarchy. Who wouldn’t? The pomp and circumstance, et al. A country and monarchy unmatched by all others who have tried, close, but no cigar. I say let Brittania rule what little she’s got left.


Blah Says:

Just to add to it, I don’t buy the “How can Fed be best of all time if he’s not the best in his generation ” argument. When their careers are finished, if Rafa only has single digit slams, he’s not better than Federer. Number of slams, while not the ultimate judgment, is one of the few definitive ways to judge how players did.

Also, who’s to say longevity is not as valuable as dominance over a short period of time. Why is Pete winning his slams over a 12 year period less impressive than Federer winning all of his over 5 year period. In the end it’s still the number of slams for me.

And to say Fed did not have a power game is ridiculous. His forehand from 04-07 tore people apart. It was flat, deep, angled, powerful. His serve was also a big weapon in that period.


Von Says:

MMT:

I found one of my posts, and I’m still looking for the other on the Connors/USO commentating. Don’t ever say I don’t think of you. Gosh I sure do miss the smileys. :P One is needed just about here.

“Von Says:
MMT:

At last I’ve found you. Ha,ha.

When Fed initially hooked up with Higueras, I remember reading an article which was an interview done with one of the former champions, whose name escapes me now, however, he stated that Higueras is instructing Fed to play the exact opposite of how he should, to beat Nadal.

“Try a couple of looping approach shots as well – it’s very hard to make a passing shot from above the shoulders.”

Jimmy Connors employed the use of those loopy shots. While Roddick was working with Connors I saw him use that shot often and it was very effective.

It’s obvious Fed needs to make some changes in his style of play, simultaneously playing more within himself whenever he faces Nadal, play his game, not Nadal’s game. While he may be practising different shots and approaches etc., unfortunately, when he’s faced with the reality of the situation before him and nerves come into play, everything goes through the window due to the brain’s inability to follow through in crisis situations. Theirs – Fed/Nadal’s is just a very bad matchup and Nadal is cognizant of this — he’s in the driver’s seat.

“Mechanically I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his serve – it’s just that Nadal gets a beat on it sometimes and that puts pressure on him. He’s got to jam him more often by hitting straight at him to prevent him guessing right on the serve, and that will alleviate some pressure on his serve and help him hold after he’s broken Nadal’s serve.”

Doesn’t this scenario seem familar? Roddick/Fed — not much wrong with Roddick’s serve, however, Fed has been able to block it and deny Andy the cheap points he’d normally earn on his serve, ren dering it somewhat effective. Nadal’s able to figure out where Fed will serve and position’s himself correctly thus rendering the serve ineffective at times. And, even if Nadal isn’t positioned with the exact precision, his speed allows him to get there very quickly. I’ve stated before that it’s a matter of nerves when Fed faces Nadal, but many claim it’s timikng, etc., but until Fed’s able to master those nerves, Nadal will always have the upper hand.

Posted February 4th, 2009 at 6:16 pm


Von Says:

“Von: it’s funny how you criticize Nadal’s “boring” style when your fave Roddick plays possibly the most boring type of tennis.

Big Serve. Ace. Big Serve. Unreturnable.”

Oh, Oleg, what can I say, it’s the reason I like Roddick and you like Nadal. Can we really explain our likes and dislikes? Not absolutely — it’s all chemistry baby. I suppose chemistry is also the reason why we both don’t meld. Too bad, n’est ce pas?


Von Says:

MMT:

Von Says:
MMT:

Hey, you were in my thoughts this morning. I mean is that good or bad? Did I pique your curiosity as to why I was thinking of you? OK, enough suspense. Jimmy Connors was being interviewed by Bill Macatee and Martina as to his upcoming stint in the commentators booth for this year’s USO, and I wondered how you’d react to such news. I must say I’m surprised by your reaction considering how much you dislike him. Well, this much I can say, he definitely will be a welcome change from Justin Gimelstob for sure. See, there is a God and all good things come to those who wait, even in the form of (”the BRAT”) James Scott Connors.

I’m glad that Mary Carillo cannot hear me, but I’ve lost count of how many times per day I tell that woman to “shut up”. She’s worse than the dentist’s drill — she’s eaten away at the last good nerve I have left in my auditory canal.

We agree on one thing, Martina Navratilova’s commentating. I like to listen to her. Her voice is very well modulated and she’s got the tennis savvy. I like Leif Shiras (I think of him as the proverbial “Ivey Leaguer” with his “All American Boy” good looks, et al. Can’t say I miss Jimmy Arias, his nasal tone get to that one good nerve also. Corinna Morariu is pretty OK but she’s fast becoming a “Chatty Kathy” like Tracy Austin.

Anyway, here’s looking forward to some intelligent commentary at the USO!!!!

Posted January 29th, 2009 at 7:35 pm

________________
MMT:

The foregoing is the Connors post.


jane Says:

Noel, MMT,

You guys should write books on tennis! Your knowledge of its history is fantastic and it’s our luck that you both post here.

Noel,

Do you think Lendl qualifies in this regard? “You’d be hard pressed to find many who were very good on grass and/or hard and still won major clay events. ”

Also you ask: “is it Fed’s fault that Rafa wasn’t good enough to reach more hard slam finals during Fed’s prime? ”

Obviously the answer is no. But just curious – when would you say Fed’s absolute prime was? 05 or 06? If so, how old was Rafa then? I do think the age difference may factor in, here too, as well as the fact that Rafa (well, his game) was raised on clay.

Makes sense that Murray Nole and Rafa are a more fair comparions due to their similar ages, and yet, as you note, Rafa is a bit of an anomaly in that group: he seems much older and is clearly more established. And as Von has pointed out before, Rafa turned pro quite young – in 2001 – which is two years before Djokovic and 5 years before Murray. So this probably is relevant as well.

Anyway, it was great to read your post, as usual.


Ryan Says:

Fed’s peak was from 2004 – 2007. He also managed to defeat nadal 6 times during this period. Lets think about it in this way. Who else has managed to defeat nadal more number of times? I dont think anyone has done it. Now fed is losing to him and it woulda been the case for borg with mcenroe had he not retired.Nadal is entering his peak years and federer has left his peak years. The results are not that surprising.I dont even know wat the big deal is.Its just tough luck for fed that his rival turned out to be 5 years younger. But in his age group he didnt have rivals and he still doesnt.


Ryan Says:

I think for the GOAT argument its wat you do in ur peak years that count. If Sampras or Mcenroe comes and plays in the pro tour now they will be getting beaten all the time by young players and they will all have a winning record against him. Does that automatically mean they are not legends who can contend for the top spot of all time? No…..Its wat you did wen u were at ur best that matters.Federer was nearly unbeatable in 2004 – 2007 and he had better results on clay than Sampras. So I think Fed is the GOAT now….if sampras is considered to be the GOAT.


Oleg Says:

Noel: “I personally never thought of Pete as a very good all-round player”.

It’s time for you to get some tape or, even better, fly to San Jose and go see Pete play on feb 9th.

Pete not a very good all around player? are you kidding? He volleys exquisitely, has some of the game’s most classic strokes (how many players in the world today lift their front foot at the start of their service motion? that’s because of Pete). His running forehand is on par with Roger’s. His backhand wasn’t always consistent but when he was on he couldn’t flatten it out and hit winners. He could chip and charge effectively.

What more do you need to call him an all around player?


Blah Says:

To me it’s what you did during your entire career that matters. If Federer wins 15 I’ll put him above Pete. Same thing for Nadal, when he wins more slams than Federer I’ll say his career was better than his. As much as people talk about tennis like it’s boxing, ultimately you still have to win six matches to get to a slam final. A grand slam is not a one match affair. If Nadal’s body doesn’t hold up against the other guys on tour in the future then I don’t care how many times he beats Federer, overall his career is not as good just because he didn’t win more slams. I don’t care how much Federer dominated in a four year span, I look at it from a career perspective. That’s my view on GOAT.


fed is afraid Says:

roger is lucky that rafa isn’t closer to his age, cause fed would not have 13 slams.


MMT Says:

Von: I’m blushing! And I’m sorry sorry that i’ve been negligent – there is this pesky thing I have to do 5 days a week that really gets in the way of my posting! :-)

Well, despite my intense dislike of Connors as in so many regards, it’s hard to deny his knowledge of tennis, and his own record. He has a tendency to self-aggrandize, but at the end of the day, he was a great champion. You don’t go #1 for 250+ weeks and win 8 slams on grit alone.

There is a fascinating article in the Sports Illustrated archives about Connors and the challenges his strong-willed mother and grandmother faced teaching him to play tennis. In fact, there was a theory that one of the reasons Gloria (his mother) didn’t prevent him from behaving so wretchedly as he often did, was because she wanted him to develop an edge that was borne of trying to prove to everyone that just because he was taught tennis by a woman, he was every bit the man as any other tennis player, and then some.

As a matter of fact, here it is:

http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1094013/index.htm

Maybe the Connors I know is a product of his environment, but somehow I cannot allow that to make me see past his most abhorrent personality flaws. But it will be good to have a commentator in the booth with some gravitas, and what I really hope is that he approaches it not as entertainment, but serious match analysis, as does Martina.

The worst thing about Justin Gimelstob is his incessant latent self-serving motivation behind every idiotic catch phrase or highlight reel candidate he attempts to utter. Every once in a while, he will say something intelligent, but its buried beneath a never-ending deluge of inane hyperpole and shameless cheerleading, that you can scarcely appreciate for what it is until minutes later your mind finally extracts it from mental gag reflex to the package in which it arrived.

And as for Federer and Nadal – I think you’re right – it is a combination of technical problems that exacerbate the natural case of nerves you would expect when you’re trying to beat someone who’s beaten you five times in a row.


Giner Says:

Andy Murray criticises new anti-doping rules

Kevin Eason, Sports News Correspondent

Top tennis players including Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are in open revolt at what they consider to be intrusive new anti-doping rules that demand testers know their location every day.

Players jeered representatives of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) when details of the stringent regulations were announced at a stormy meeting at the Australian Open in Melbourne last month. One player walked out and others questioned ITF officials on the mandatory requirement of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

Under Wada’s ruling, athletes must report where they are for one hour of each day for the whole year so that investigators can call at any time, unannounced. Anyone who misses three tests in an 18-month period could be suspended for up to two years.

Nadal, the world No 1, condemned the rules as showing “a lack of respect for privacy” and last night Murray criticised the new regime as unworkable and called for a rapid review of the legislation, introduced from January 1.

“These new rules are so draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life,” the British No 1 said. “I got a visit at 7am one morning at my home right after I had travelled home from Australia. I woke up not really knowing where I was and suffering badly from jet lag. It seemed ridiculous to me as I’d been tested just four days earlier, straight after the match I had lost in the Australian Open.

“The official who came to my home wanted me to produce identification to prove who I was. He insisted on watching me provide a sample, literally with my trousers round my ankles, and then insisted that I wrote down my own address, even though he was at my private home at 7am.”

Resistance to the new anti-doping rules has spread throughout sport, with Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, joining the chorus of condemnation, claiming the new measures are a “logistical headache”. In Belgium, 65 sportsmen are preparing to challenge the Wada code in the courts, a fight that Nadal says he will join. The Spaniard revealed that he has also had an early-morning visit from testers and said: “There is a unanimous voice in the locker-room. It is an intolerable hunt.”

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has signed up to the new code, although officials admit that the nomadic nature of a player’s life makes it difficult to predict where they will be at any time. “They are unique in that they don’t know when they will leave a tournament, how long a match will last, when they have to appear at a tournament or where they will be headed next,” the ATP said.

Murray added: “I may miss a flight or a flight could be delayed, yet I have to let Wada know exactly where I will be, even when I am resting. They even turned up at my hotel in Miami while I was on holiday.

“Tennis has not got a big problem with drugs. I support drug testing and strongly condemn any use of drugs in sport, but there has to be a more realistic and practical way to deal with the problem with tennis players.”

Roger Federer, the 13-times grand-slam tournament winner who was beaten by Nadal in the final in Melbourne, is one of a handful of stars who have spoken in support of the new rules. They were necessary to prove the sport is clean, the Swiss said, but he, too, was suspicious of their demanding nature.

At least one player is already in breach only five weeks into the new regime — Mike Bryan, one half of the Bryan brothers, who won the Australian Open doubles title on Sunday, has two strikes against his name. A combination of forgetfulness and a flat tyre were to blame for his missed tests, the American said, and one more could lead to a long suspension. However, Bryan added: “I think we have just got to get used to the strictness.”

—————————-

Looks like it isn’t just Nadal. Is Murray a doper too?


Twocents Says:

Von,

I agree with you on Laver and Fed: little child’s crave for approval. And may I push it further that boys having a big sister can’t hold their water (Fed), and buys having a bullying big brother can (Roddick). LOL!

Fedfan’s generation perspective is valid: Fed’s already the oldest in top 10. I don’t know how to clarify this puzzle: If player A takes all slams during his peak, none of his peers is good enough GS make, sure. Then, we deem this player A not so special sicne he only faced weak competition? or we deem that his greatness makes his competition look weak? Which is cause which consequence?

I also agree with MMT’s 4:07pm point:
until Fed’s straight setted on hard court or grass slam match by Nadal, he will not change. That’s why I credit Djork for straight setting Fed at AO 08 — the first one to do it to Fed at slam (including clay) since god knows when :-))! Nadal’s breakthru came after that.


Ryan Says:

fed is afraid – Roger is lucky nadal is not his age….. very funny.Its not fed’s fault that nadal kept losing on hard courts to some dumb players like gonzalez and youzhny all the time.He also lost twice to federer on grass in wimbledon finals…..
so shut the fukk up. u talk like as if nadal is unbeatable. Fed is just gettin old.Thats the reason he cant beat him.Nadal is very beatable. In fact he is lucky he didnt have to face djokovic or murray on hard courts during this years australian open instead of a roided up verdasco.Otherwise he woulda gotten his ass handed to him.


Ezorra Says:

;D hehehe…


Ezorra Says:

Giner:

;D hehehe…


MMT Says:

Oh dear, Jane it looks like I’ve neglected you too, so here goes:

Nadal’s 2007 was very good, but it wasn’t better than Fed’s 2004, 2005, 2006 or 2007 and so in comparing Fed’s record against Nadal’s in the same period, against the same class of players, Fed’s was far better, and as such, I’d have to say he was the better player, 2008 & 2009 notwithstanding.

Also, I didn’t intend to discount Federer’s clay success, or Nadal’s prowess thereon – that analysis was only offered in response to the contention the Nadal has “owned” Federer from the beginning of their rivarly, but the weight of clay results, as well as separating the first 7 results from the next 7, don’t bear that out in my opinion. These results have been misinterpreted given the opposing example of the absence of clay results in the assumed even rivalry between Borg and McEnroe. And a couple of fact checks – Fed has beaten Nadal on clay but only once at Hamburg in 2007.

It is true that Fed seems to be getting further from Nadal at the French Open. But let me give you another example – it’s not a strong one, but food for thought:

Pete Sampras played Andre Agassi 34 times, and 5 encounters were on clay, of which 3 (all Agassi victories) were in their first 7 meetings between 1989 and 1992 at which point Agassi led in the H2H 4-3. Agassi had played 2 French Open finals already, and clay was generally considered his best surface – he didn’t even play Wimbledon until 1991.

From that 7th match and 3rd clay encounter, Sampras went 10-5 all on hard courts or indoor carpet, and then you know what happened, in 1998? Sampras beat Agassi on clay – now who would have thought that after winning at a 2:1 ratio on all surfaces but clay, that Sampras, on his worst surface, and far worse on the surface in their H2H won his first match on clay against Agassi a full 10 years after their first professional match.

And just in case we’d think it was a fluke – in 2002 Sampras beat Agassi in their second to last match, at age 32, in the twilight of his career, not having won a title since Wimbledon in 2000…on clay in Houston.

But ultimately, I think you’re right, he’s getting further from Nadal on clay, and what’s happened to him mentally on every other surface, has already happened to him on clay. Well, maybe this year, now that he’s not taking it seriously, will be the year he finally beats him at the French Open? And you’re right, he should have solved that problem a long time ago.

Nadal is getting better on grass, and I don’t see Federer getting better on grass because I think his biggest problem against Nadal is that he won’t adjust to Nadal’s game, as Nadal has adjusted to his, and as such, he plays to his own strengths on grass even moreso than on clay, and that will cost him another Wimbledon. I think he’ll have to lose (in straight sets) to Nadal at Wimbledon before he genuinely goes in with a strategy beyond just playing his natural game, which no longer works.


jane Says:

Thanks MMT. I had followed along during your posts to SG and Sean so I understood that you were taking issue, mainly, with the disqualification of Fed for GOAT consideration just because of Nadal’s and his lopsided H2H.

The example you raise with Sampras and Agassi is an interesting one, and certainly it would be quite a shocker were Federer to come along and finally snatch the French away from Rafa this year. Yet it’s plausible that if he just relaxes and focuses on the matches, not the records, he may surprise everyone. You also make a good point that sometimes it takes someone to hit rock bottom (relatively speaking of course) before he or she wakes up and makes changes. The earlier post you wrote, in which you included the anecdote about McEnroe, Borg and a phone call from Don Budge, seems exemplary in this regard. And McEnroe and Federer seem to share that “stubborn” champion quality, so if Mac could turn things around it’s possible Fed could, if not turn the tables, improve the balance. But I wonder: who would call Fed if he loses Wimbledon in straight sets? It wouldn’t be Borg, I shouldn’t think! Mac seems kind of impartial in the Fed and Nadal rivalry. Hmmm. Maybe Laver?

So you predict Rafa will defend his Wimbledon title this year, hey? So many people are saying that this is precisely where Federer will have revenge, and right his ship, so to speak. That might be the key slam in determining who ends the year number one too. A lot will be at stake.


fed is afraid Says:

roger’s goose is cooked. the only way he wins anymore slams is if nadal is not in the final. but the days of blake and youzney taking rafa out are gone.


sweet Says:

I AM DISGUSTED TO HEAR YOU TALK ABOUT STERIODS…OK FEDERER CAN WIN SLAM AFTER SLAM AND THERE IS NO TALK ABOUT STERIODS..BUT HERE COMES A SPANIARD AND NOW THERE IS TALK ABOUT DRUGS..HOW UNFAIR IS THAT..COULD IT POSSIBLY THAT THE SPANIARD JUST DOESNT GIVE UP..ITS EVIDENT BY OBSERVING HIM PLAY EVERY POINT LIKE ITS THE LAST POINT…LETS GIVE HIM THE CREDIT HE DESERVES….WOULDNT YOU AGREE???OR ARE YOU JUST BEING BIASED?


Milo Says:

Giner,

Murray’s not worried about the drug test. He’s worried about his daily schedule becoming public. Then his main girlfriend will do a quick Google maps search to discover her loyal man has a supermodel in every city.

All the top guys are doping. She’s a “dope” if she thinks she is the only one.


Dan Martin Says:

Sean,

Good stuff. I think these GOAT discussions are tricky and normally without much resolution. If Sampras had played better in Paris and lost to Guga and Agassi a few times between 1997-2002 that might have actually hurt his status as his losses would have come against guys with slams and a #1 pedigree. After 1996 Pete almost benefits from losing early and pre-1996 he spread his losses between Agassi, Courier, Bruguerra and Kafelnikov rather than losing 3-4 times to one of them. Anyway, Becker was something like 5-1 or 6-1 vs. Lendl in Grand Slam play yet no one would say Lendl did not accomplish more than Becker did in his career. I think in a lot of ways we are too close to Sampras and Agassi let alone Federer and Nadal chronologically speaking to really evaluate their overall accomplishments. Nadal’s clay court dominance and Federer’s 19 consecutive Slam semifinals are so far out of the norm that I don’t think anyone really knows how to assign value to those stats. Time has a way of drawing some stats into finer relief and leaving others out as less important. In 2035 we’ll have a better idea about all of this.

I do think when Nadal wins slam #9 we can really start to wonder where he finishes in total as a big gap occurs between guys with 8 slams and guys with more than 8. Borg (11), Laver (11), Federer (13) and Sampras (14) are generally considered to have achieved a lot more in their careers than those with 8: Lendl, Connors and Agassi. I am leaving Emmo off because I have never seen him play on even a replay. I think more criteria exist than simply # of slams won or else Emmo was the GOAT prior to Wimbledon 1999. I don’t think anyone viewed Emmo as the GOAT. Still, total slam singles titles is a big measuring stick for guys whose entire career was in the Open era.

PS – If I was Federer, I would hire Muster as a coach.


Milo Says:

Sweet,

When you’re on steroids, you never give up because you feel like SUPERMAN and know you will win. Someone made this point a few days ago. Its so true. Remember how Capriati never gave up in submitting Hingis in that sweltering Aussie final? She went from teen phenom, to burnout, to mediocre comeback, to an amazing speed and power gain to take a few Grand Slams. Once she had more sauce in the tank, she never quit on a point either.

Journeyman Puerta went 7-5 in the fourth, flying and diving all over the court smacking huge forehands. He was right there matching your beloved. How did he do it? How did RN do it?


Milo Says:

How can Federer be the GOAT, with such a weak chicken-wing backhand? He should be happy he’s not in an era of great lefties who can take his “Roger run-around” forehand game away.


margot Says:

Isn’t it a bit churlish to denigrate Fed’s achievement by denigrating his opponents? And, although it looks as if his career is waining is he really finished? I don’t think so.
Noel: enjoyed your blog, two points, first all Brits do not love the monarchy, in fact when I see Charles spending barrow loads of money, my money actually, on yet another Polo pony it kindof sticks in my throat…secondly, if only the big boys in English tennis could work dark magic and make everyone prioritise Wimbledon over the French, then perhaps they’d be able to use their dark magic and produce tennis players.
Murray, a noble exception is not a product of the British system. Alas they can’t! I don’t understand why many players, except interestingly enough Murray, seem to go ga ga over Wimbledon either. As an observer, I’ve been to Wim. and the French Open and infinately prefer the latter, it’s much more egalitarian for a start.
Finally, perhaps it’s just all tennis commentators? watching the AO, if we were told about Roddick’s new coach and his weight loss once, we were told a million times…AAAHHH!!!


Mina Says:

Not saying that Fed is the GOAT – I don’t think he can be considered it yet, and I’m not even certain that it is possible for there to even be one (unless of course, some guy goes out and wins 35 Slams on all surfaces multiple times)…but since when did you have to be an absolutely perfect player to be the GOAT?

Every player has at least one weakness. Federer’s happens to be his backhand which in comparison to the rest of his game is pretty shabby, but it’s still a pretty decent backhand. Nadal, obviously, works this to his advantage to devastating and beautiful effect.


Milo Says:

Some of our GOAT candidates have two weaknesses.

Sampras — weak backhand and not much of a fighter.

Federer — weak backhand and not much of a fighter. These guys probably won most of their junior matches 0 & 1. Things came too easy.

Nadal — Inefficient style. Won’t last long enough to be considered GOAT status. Rams his shoulder into his head on the forehand. Ask Sharapova’s shoulder how smart it was to copy Raf’s bolo shot? His second serve is weak and overall serve is a rather unnatural clanking of parts. He volleys with a grip that favors his forehand, just off the classic continental. This cheaty forehand grip is more common to girls 12′s. This should hurt him on low forehand volleys and requires that he has the strength of ten golden elephants to hit a shoulder high backhand volley. Another weakness is his main ploy is to put so much “euro dirt” yucker spin on the ball, that he’s more about wrecking the other guys game, than doing anything creative himself. Rafa is basically a nuclear powered clay 5.0 player. Every club has players with better technique than Raf.

One day a GOAT will come around with Pete’s serve, Roger’s forehand…Roger’s forehand whip on a 2-hander…Edberg’s volleys and Rafter’s fight. And let’s throw in Mecir’s movement and Stepanek’s head games. Hold on, I’ll go out back and try to do it?

I’m back…its cake.


grendel Says:

Noel says: “Pete got thrashed by two next gen players (Safin and Hewitt) in two straight USO finals (2000 and 2001)and it is never held against Pete although the same Safin and Hewitt became ‘weak’ if they were beaten by Fed!!”

Furthermore, who did Hewitt beat in the semis before overwhelming Sampras in final? Roddick, in a tough 5 setter which may have been decided by a pretty dubious call – certainly we were treated to Hewitt’s delighful “I’m innocent, gov: well, alright, I did the dirty deed, ‘ts how it goes, yahknow?” expression.

This is the same Roddick who is such easy fodder for Federer, apparently – and Roddick, b.t.w., was NOT in his prime then. And Hewitt – thrashed by Federer at US Open; well, he wasn’t in his prime, was he? Early twenties, went on to the final of the AO the following year – no big deal, my friends. He was beaten easily by Federer, so he coldn’t have been playing to his own limits….


Dan Martin Says:

Hewitt beat Kafelnikov in the semis in 2001 at the U.S. Open the 5 set win over Roddick came in the quarters.


PietjeP Says:

Hey guys,

Who here thinks Fed has a shot at beating Rafa at clay? And not in a minor (masters) event, but at the big one… RG?

Not just mental, luck, day form. But has Fed got the game to beat Rafa at clay?

Rgrds, Pietje


Milo Says:

PietjeP,

Only if Fed goes to a two-handed backhand. Maybe Nalbandian has an opening on his lesson schedule.


Von Says:

MMT:

FYI: Tsonga is playing in the SA Johanesburg SF today around 9:30/10:00 am US ET. The Ferrer/Chardy match is on presently, and Tsonga’s match will follow after it’s conclusion. Here’s the link for live streaming. Enjoy!!

http://www.justin.tv/norianou


gm Says:

I found it funny how you guys question nadal,because he burns out rivals…..then some of you say agassi did it too and non of you think he was doping too. I think that says a lot about some people writing in this web! SOME OF YOUR COMMENTS JUST STINK TO JEALOUSY!
I’ll bet you if nadal was from the US, nobody would say anything about dope.

What about roddick? Is it natural to serve at 245 km/h?
AH! And by the way, he is not african american! just like nadal


PietjeP Says:

Milo; changing the backhand at this stage in his career seems highly unlikely :)

So in other words; not a chance? How about changing tactics of play?


Von Says:

MMT:

It’s also on ATDHE.net @ 4:00 am, but don’t pay attention to the time, it’s being shown now.


Lenny Says:

SSJ, Sean, Jane: Glad you enjoyed the article. Oh, SSJ, i’m a ‘she’ not a ‘he’ :)

Jane:
it’s nice to see more sane voices like yours on here after all the tripe recently.


Von Says:

TwoCents:

“I agree with you on Laver and Fed: little child’s crave for approval. And may I push it further that boys having a big sister can’t hold their water (Fed), and buys having a bullying big brother can (Roddick). LOL!”

You are way too funny. I suppose it helps to have a big brother rather than a big sister.


Von Says:

MMT:

I’ve found your weak spot, you blush. Ha, ha.

Thanks for sharing that article on Jimmy Connors’ life. He suffered through a lot of emotional turmoil, thus when all is said and done, he did pretty well for himself. I suppose his mom wanted to toughen him up and prepare him for the tough times he would encounter later in his career.

I’m sure he’ll make a good addition to the USO commentating crew and look forward to hearing him.

I watched the 5 best segment which was dedicated to 5 one-slam winners and among them was Michael Chang. Did you ever see the FO final where he beat Lendl? He served under hand toward the end of the match due to cramps. It was the wierdest serving I have ever seen. Lendl was furious, not to mention the crowd was going bonkers. It was sort of reminiscent of the Hingis/Graf FO final when Hingis got angry with a bad call and deliberately began serving under hand. She lost the match and the crowd’s respect.


Dan Martin Says:

FO rd of 16 vs. Lendl and FO 5 set final was vs. Edberg. This is why GOAT discussions are tough – memory fades out key details.


Twocents Says:

Von,

I sure like my own big brother :-)). But I’m ok with Fed’s tear since he cried in victory atthe same event too. I just can not appreciate Chang’s FO win that much: Lendl really underestimated Chang (and paid dearly). And Edgerg was burnt out by his own 5 set semi against Becker. Such a pity for Edberg to lose that FO final.

Dan,

Can’t agree with you more on memory fading out details: how long did it take Sampras to collect his slam no.14 after his no.13? 20 months or more? Here and now, everyone is faulting Fed for not getting his no.13 and 14 in 5 monthes. Is or should he that much better than Sampras?


grendel Says:

Thanks for the correction, Dan. I do remember the match – but, something in the memory has got to give. My point holds, though. I don’t think Roddick and Hewitt and Philippoussis and Nalbandian were in any sense easy numbers for Federer. Suppose he had had Nadal, Murray and Djokovic to deal with in the early part of his career? Quite simple, he wouldn’t have achieved as much. BUT: nor would anybody else. Why set up an unrealistic level of competition?

That said, SG and others are right about one thing. How Federer responds to the challenge of this amazing new breed over the next two years will, in the long run, go some way to defining him. The way Federer collapsed in the 5th set does not bode well, because I reckon he’s going to be obliged to deal with more and more five setters. The days of summary execution are over, except where naive tyros like del Potro are concerned. Like MMT, I have fantasised about Federer getting thrashed out of his skull at a non clay slam so that he is obliged to face up to reality. But I wonder if it works like that. He has a relatively frail psyche, and it might just utterly demoralise him.

Meanwhile, the question I posed in an earlier post remains. Perhaps, after all, it is not a question of Federer improving. Age has just done its stuff, and that’s it. Federer is no longer quite good enough – easy to miss, because he’s so close. Some people can, I believe, reinvent themselves, up to a certain point, to accomodate shifting realities. Federer doesn’t seem to me to be the type. He was uniquely dominant over a two or three year period, and I believe deservedly so – attempts to discredit that period don’t really work. But that’s the characteristic of a sprinter. Renewal of the kind we’re talking about belongs with the long distance mentality. Federer, in my view, is s sprinter, not a long distance man.

Hard to be both.


Hypnos Says:

Milo,

I think you misread Sampras’ game. Sampras’ backhand was a monster one-hander and a real weapon — when it was working. I think an “weaknes” here was part of his overall baseline inconsistency.

And I don’t know how you conclude that Sampras wasn’t a fighter. His 5 set record is excellent, and his iconic victories showed his mental toughness: puking against Corretja, overcoming grief against Courier in Australia, and the tiebreak epic against Agass in the 2001 US Open QF.

OTOH, I would say Sampras didn’t handle heat well and didn’t recover well between matches late in his career.

By contrast, I think Federer, while tremendously fit, prefers to win pretty rather than slugging it out, and his backhand, while somwhat consistent, isn’t a huge weapon and gets broken down.


Dan Martin Says:

Sampras backhand was a monster…? I think few would describe it as such.

I am sure Federer would have done just fine versus Corretja or Courier. Nadal is so far ahead of Corretja that well it is a non-starter (Fed’s recent 5 set wins over Andreev, Tipsy and Berdych don’t compare either because Corretja is a lot more accomplished than those 3 so I can’t think of a good counter part). Similarly, Courier was big strong and fit, but not as quick as Nadal, right handed, and with a much weaker backhand than Nadal. Courier would have been destroyed by Federer 9 out of 10 times regardless of surface and I think he would admit that.


Hypnos Says:

Dan,

You misunderstand my point, which is merely that Sampras could gut out wins against mentally-tough opponents when things weren’t going well for him. In the case of the Courier and Correjta wins, his own problems were the issue; in the case of the win against Agassi, an all-time great across the net.

Sampras’ mental toughness is further evidenced by his sterling 5-set record.

As for Sampras’ backhand, I don’t disagree it was the weaker wing. Not because it was soft, but rather inconsistent. He had no problem trading backhands against Agassi or anyone else, *provided* his backhand was clicking.

I have no doubt that Federer would dominate Corretja and Courier. The issue is whether he’s mentally tough when someone can make him play ugly, as Nadal did.


Mary-avoidingtypingaphilospaper duein twohrs. Says:

Since every tennis topic has been exhausted, why not draw up a Tennis-X Law of GOAT?
Can we draw up a new name whose acronyms spell out a more appealing animal? Perhaps KITTYCAT or the sound a kittycat makes MEOW?
We can blaze a new trail!

Do we determine GOAT by the actions, age, result and hairstyle of the previous GOAT?
How to compare generational players given all of the changes in season and equipment?
Do slams mean more than the results on surface during its season?
What ration wins/losses against a player should count against the deification of a MEOW?

Discuss.


Blah Says:

1. By previous players in the GOAT discussion

2. How and what they did in their career, there is no way to cross compare

3. Yes

4. It shouldn’t. I believe GOAT is about who was best throughout his career, and you determine that by number of slams. So if Nadal goes on to beat Federer 6 more times but still ends up with less slams than Federer, I would put Federer higher because he had the better career.


Mary-avoidingtypingaphilospaper duein twohrs. Says:

If we cannot cross compare, why is Sampras in any discussion? I’m not sure how one could do a generational deity of tennis considering how the generations overlap.

Nowadays, top players’ season consists of Master Series(whatever they’re called) where they only play other top players, it concentrates on one surface, and the events are virtually back to back.
Why shouldn’t they count as much as Slams? Why are they played considering qualifying for a master series is more stringent than qualifying for a slam?

I get that a slam is a surface championship. But is it superficial hype? Yeah, it’s two weeks and five sets, but the talent is diluted due to the qualifiers.

Continue discussion.


Mary-avoidingtypingaphilospaper duein twohrs. Says:

Why are they played considering qualifying for a master series is more stringent than qualifying for a slam?

To edit: Why don’t they enter into the discussion since qualifying for a master series is more stringent than qualifying for a slam?


Blah Says:

By not cross comparing I mean you should only look at who was most successful during the time they played and Not how they would match up in their primes.

There are too many factors, for example, how would Nadal have done with a wooden racquet that wouldn’t have let him place ridiculous topspin, would Federer be as dominant on old wimbledon grass (serve isn’t huge and just good but not great in serve and volleying.)

The players will tell you that they care about slams. Everyone brings their best and work toward winning slams, all preparation is for it, so in doing that I think slams become the most important because most players build themselves so that they have the best chance in slams. And the obvious part, the length of the tournament, 5 set matches etc.

(In the Borg era, some players didn’t care about certain slams though, but still I think it’s the closest we can come to measuring how a player did.)


Blah Says:

To add, yes a bit of it may be hype, but the players themselves bought into that hype. One can say the same thing about the majors in golf.


Mary-avoidingtypingaphilospaperdueinlessthan twohrs. Says:

So, slams are preferable for measuring greatness b/c it’s five sets, two weeks, and it adds the element of suprise with qualifiers(against who the top players may or may not play against regularly). I’ll define top players as those qualifying for the master series.
If slams are tests for top players and a top player fails to win, it’s not a win for the non-top players but a loss for the top players.


Blah Says:

I am saying that Greatest During Their Career, with the factors given to them, competition, racquet technology, surfaces, is the Greatest Of All Time. But even that can only be in a certain span of time, how do you measure before the open era for example.

If one does matchups, it’s obvious that current and future players would usually come out on top because they are becoming stronger, taller, faster athletes, getting more training, etc.


Blah Says:

To add to slams, most top players themselves feel that slams are most important. How can one argue against that when the top players use that to measure themselves.

Unless the slams turn into masters series championship format or even single elimination between top sixteen, then it would have more of a “playoff” form, but that’s not likely to happen.

Slams test players’ consistency, fitness, mental toughness and how well they are able to adjust their games. As much as people make tennis into boxing matchup, one still has to survive six players before getting into the slam final. It’s not one match between two set players (Fed, Nadal) from the beginning, even though it’s ended up that way more often than not in recent years.


Von Says:

Rotterdam begins on Monday. Nadal could meet Berdych in Rd.2, and Tsonga in the QFs.

Tsonga is playing in the SA final tomorrow. Hopefully he’ll have enough energy left to handle Nadal.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/tennis/en/common/TrackIt.asp?file=/1/posting/2009/407/MDS.pdf


Von Says:

Dan: Thanks for the correction on the Chang match. I didn’t realize I had transposed the players’ names. The image of Lendl’s anger was very strongly etched in my mind as I wrote that post, and b ecause of Lendl’s rage that match seemed more like the final to me.


Von Says:

Lenny:

“..it’s nice to see more sane voices like yours on here after all the tripe recently.”

Everyone is entitled to their opinions and they express them as they deem fit, it doesn’t necessarily mean that because you disagree or don’t like what they write means that you should label their opinions as “tripe”. Practice being open-minded because not everyone has to like or admire Nadal to the same degree as you do. Do you want truth or fiction from others?


Noel Says:

Jane,
I mentioned Courier just because he was the ‘latest’ and won twice there. Wilander was the last ‘specialist’ before Rafa to have done so well in non-clay slams. Wilander was more of a ‘specialist’ because the majority of his career titles were on clay although he won AO on both grass and hard besides the USO. Never did well on Wimby grass though.

Lendl was good on all surfaces. It wasn’t as if clay was his least favourite surface. He was extremely comfortable on clay. So much so that I’d almost call him a ‘specialist’ if he didn’t have such brilliant records on other surfaces as well. His baseline game and physical conditioning allowed him to reach five FO finals and win three FO titles apart from around 25 other clay titles. His clay achievements are in many ways greater than Wilander’s. He initially had problems handling the bad bounce of grass and missed the 1982 wimby saying Santana’s famous quote that grass was for cows even though he had won the junior wimby. However, he later became obsessed with winning it and left no stone unturned. I think he compromised some of his FO campaigns to prepare better for Wimby. Unfortunately he ran into the eventual winners-who somehow used to run into top form against him- all the time either in the finals (Becker/Cash in 1986/1987) or sf (Edberg/Becker/Edberg in 1988/89/90). He played some brilliant tennis in the 1989 sf before a rain break changed the course of the match completely. Lendl won the Queens event in 1989 and 1990 and crushed Becker in straight sets in the 1990 Queen’s final. I still remember the great Brit commentator Dan Maskell saying that it was the finest display of grass court tennis he had ever seen. I don’t know if it was hyperbole-I never watched the match- but it shows that he had become very competent on grass. He acquired whatever skills-esp the bh volley on the return- that were needed to win Wimby but just couldn’t win the thing.

There have been some instances of a‘non-specialist’ doing well at the FO but these have been rare in the open era. Asking about the identity of the 1990 FO winner still remains one of my favourite tennis quiz questions. I have never gotten a correct answer even from very knowledgeable persons who can reel off names of winners of other slams very easily.

As for the second question, I understand that Rafa is an early achiever almost in the mould of Borg and has done remarkably well for such a young person. However, despite his high level of play from 2005 to 2008,he was still not able to reach a single hard slam final. One must keep in mind that he had been a clear number two since mid-2005 and,therefore,one’d expect such a highly ranked player to do better on other surfaces too. We are talking about the slams here. I‘d like to believe Rafa is in the absolute prime of his career now (because of the non-clay results) but he had been at a very high level for quite some time before 2008 too. Yet,he didn’t have any hard slam final to show for his efforts till now. It is not as if he was doing THAT badly on hard surfaces in the lesser events. Some people may disagree but Fed’d have taken care of Rafa in hard slam finals even as late as in 2007. Imho,the USO 2008 was the first hard slam where Rafa would have been the favourite-only just- to beat Fed had they met in the final there. Things have obviously changed now. I had said before the AO final that Rafa’d be my favourite vs Fed on all surfaces except a very quick one. I wish Rafa were 100% for the final. An easier Rafa win would have forced Fed to come out of denial mode and convinced him that he needed to do something about the Rafa problem in particular. That close Wimby final didn’t help either.

BTW,I honestly think I don’t deserve to be even remotely compared to MMT. He knows WAY more about the history of the game than I’d ever imagine and I frequently learn something new whenever he touches such topics.


Von Says:

“By not cross comparing I mean you should only look at who was most successful during the time they played and Not how they would match up in their primes.”

I agree. Also, it’s not realistic to measure/compare a player’s greatness while he’s still competing. Who knows what he will accomplish before his career ends. It’s one of the reasons I dislike the obsession with stats. Stats are a guide as to how a match was played but many important details during a match are not captured by the stats.

“If one does matchups, it’s obvious that current and future players would usually come out on top because they are becoming stronger, taller, faster athletes, getting more training, etc.”

One very blatant example of this is the subject of “prize money” for the present players as opposed to the players from past eras. Many rejoice that Federer has earned the largest prize money purse, however, if we were to compare the prize money for events he has played with the prize money for those events during another era, e.g., Sampras’ era, and make them equal, Fed’s prize money most probably would be less than Sampras’.

This is just a small example of why comparisons don’t work or shouldn’t be used to measure greatness. Surfaces, racquet technology, length of matches, amount of sets played now as opposed to other eras, etc., have all gone through a metamorphosis, and it’s an ever evolving one, thus rendering comparisons a moot argument.

The GOAT debate is a very intense one, but one that has too many variables, which renders it inconclusive.


Milo Says:

Weeeehehehehheheheehe — A-Rod, the biggest name in baseball exposed as a fraud. Thank goodness tennis remains the only clean sport.


Milo Says:

Also note how the union wanted all test results destroyed (but they were not), and how the owners of the sport knew this information and deemed the public not worthy of knowing that their biggest star was a blatant cheat.

I wonder if Nadal, oops, I mean Rodriguez and his agent (and the owners who took in all the gate receipts) will give us the $$ millions back.


Milo Says:

A Rod, “you’ll have to talk to the union…I’m not saying anything.”

All his denials. He lied to us — could he also be lying to Madonna?


Von Says:

Two Cents;

“Here and now, everyone is faulting Fed for not getting his no.13 and 14 in 5 monthes. Is or should he that much better than Sampras?”

Ooooh, not “everyone”, I’m not faulting Fed. He needs to take as much time as possible. I mentioned several times that he’s his own worst enemy due to his “self-impose” pressure. I don’t think there is a stat (as yet, Thank God) for the shortest possible time in which to win 14 GS, hence, why the rush. Good things will come to he who waits……

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.” Shakespeare


fed is afraid Says:

is it time for rafa-fed yet?
i am ready for another butt whupping!!


Dan Martin Says:

Von no worries I mix up rounds and matches all of the time. Noel I really like your posts. Mary what was your philosophy paper on? I might have been of some help.


Von Says:

Milo:

“A-Rod reportedly tested positive for steroids..”

I saw the above headline a few minutes ago on Yahoo and my heart stood still for a few nano-seconds, then after reading it, I realized it was Alex Rodriguez. Roddick should sue Rodriguez for using his nickname.


Milo Says:

Nadal:

1 tournament title in 04

11 titles in 05

ELEVEN titles…one of the monster years in the whole history of the sport. Please show me another great player who took over the sport that fast?

Rafa probably told Unc Tony, “oops, maybe we overdid it a bit, no.”


grendel Says:

Noel says:”Lendl won the Queens event in 1989 and 1990 and crushed Becker in straight sets in the 1990 Queen’s final. I still remember the great Brit commentator Dan Maskell saying that it was the finest display of grass court tennis he had ever seen.”

I watched that match, with my heart in my boots. Just like, in my miserable sourgrapsey way I cannot abide Nadal winning slams, nor could I bear Lendl to win. Odd thing is, I can’t even remember why now (apart from infinitely preferring Becker and Edberg), and I rather like the dour old Czech. It’s something of a lesson, to me at any rate, that a lot of one’s hatreds actually come from inside oneself and don’t have a lot to do with the people one projects it on to. Much the same can be said for undue devotion, too, but that’s another matter.

The reason the old heart was sinking right down to the bottom of the old boots was that Lendl’s display was indeed phenomenal. He simply swept the great grasscourter Becker aside. It was a cold, ruthlessly efficient performance, enacted without joy by a master of his trade. All the time, you had the feeling Lendl had no particular interest in what he was doing except insofar as he was preparing for the assault on Wimbledon. Of course, giving the impertinent Becker a bloody nose must have been highly agreeable, but even so, this was just a useful prelude to the real thing.

And yet, it turned out to be the essential climax to Lendl’s grass court season. Perhaps he wanted Wimbledon too much. All that cool assurance deserted him in the heady atmosphere of S.W.17. The hard man began to look brittle. Desire strained against fear. Here was a man who had, with rigid discipline, set out to master the art of serve and volley, and had apparently done so with clinical efficiency. But when it mattered, his demons came back to haunt him and mock the contrived nature of his newly acquired skills. The skeletal face became taut and cracked as nature exacted her revenge in pityless slow motion. The voice of English summer, Dan Maskell, drifts back to me: “…and the wretched Lendl ….the wretched Lendl……the wretched Lendl…..


Milo Says:

Roddick should take steroids for his brain. The guy has the greatest nuclear arm in the history of the sport, but wants to fall back and grind from so deep, that his arm power is wasted. Andy’s not bad from way back, except for the fact that the # 500 player in the world can beat him in a rally game. Tennis should go to one serve to get goofers like Roddick out of the game. He’s artless.


ladyjulia Says:

I find the discussion of different eras very interesting here on this forum.

Regarding the discussion of “weak era” for Federer, it must be remembered that Federer did have a lot of trouble beating his own generation for some time (till the age of 22?)…he lost to Hewitt many times (7 times) until he finally turned it around in 2004…would we have called it weak if Federer never turned it around?

Ofcourse, the younger generation can beat him more easily, but then that will happen naturally…it is Sampras losing to Fed, Agassi losing to Fed and Fed losing to Nadal…the younger ones will eventually prevail.Since, they still mold their games to the available competition (like Rafa keeps improving every year).

So, just as we don’t say that it may be the weakest clay competition ever (is Federer the only guy who can take sets off Nadal on clay? And Federer dosen’t even prefer playing on Clay, he has a game for grass!), we shouldn’t really be saying that Federer dominated in the weakest era. He battled through his own generation until he turned it around and dominated them, and Nadal has done the same.

Whether Federer can dominate the younger generation also, only time will tell…but it goes against the forces of nature.He may well win more grand slams, but it is the way of nature that the old give way to the new.

And, we should appreciate the fact that Nadal has worked extremely hard to get to this point (3 yrs?) and improving his game to reach this stage. As Peter Bodo says “Who painted the baseline of greatness for Nadal?”

Nadal could have been content winning French Open and 3 MS on Clay if he had become No.1 (he could have if Fed was not around). He may have never even tried to have the game he has now if there was no Federer.

However, Federer molded his game to dominate his own generation, which he did successfully…it now remains to see what else he can do.

I think his most important contribution is that he showed it is possible to dominate your generation (by having a versatile game, incredible fitness, no injuries, and pure will)…he did it for 4 and a half years. Someone will outdo him eventually (Nadal….if his knees permit), but he will go down in history as the first one who showed that it can be done.

So, that record is as important as the GS record, because it will take someone 4 and a half yrs with a consistent,injury free game to break it (not even a week’s break mind you). And part of that 4 and a half yrs included Nadal for 3 yrs(the greatest clay court player ever, and possibly greatest ever).


Noel Says:

Oleg,
With due respect,I have followed Pete’s entire career very closely and I don’t think I need tapes/exos etc to form an opinion. You are perfectly entitled to yours.

I was comparing the two players and not making an absolute statement. I am not so stupid as to insinuate that he was not a great player. In fact,I disagree with you on one of your points.I think he had a much better running fh than Roger’s. His smash was much better. He had a much better-certainly much quicker- first serve and there is no comparison to probably the best ever second serve. He was definitely tougher mentally than Roger is and had tremendous confidence and faith in his abilities. However,it was mostly due to that almost bullet-proof serve. His entire game revolved around it. He could win his service games easily and put a lot of pressure on his opponents in the return games. If he couldn’t break,he’d win the tie-breaks on the back of that deadly serve. He could afford to relax and ‘tank’ some points/games entirely because of that serve.

However,Pete wasn’t the ‘exquisite’ volleyer that you’d have us believe. He was a pretty competent volleyer. Even Rafter and Henman were better. I won’t even talk about the really great ones in this department like Mac and Edberg. Pete didn’t have to make many difficult volleys due to his bazooka serves which resulted in aces/service winners or weak/mishit returns that were put away easily. We also must appreciate that it is much easier to make passing shots these days and s&v is not a viable default option on most surfaces. For instance, we’d definitely see more net play if the bounce remained lower and the ball skidded thru more at Wimby as was the case in the 1990s. The slower conditions now allow a player like Rafa to take even a very well placed volley from his shoe laces and hook it from WAY out-of-court positions into the corner as his opponent shakes his head in the service box or at the net. I’d love an exo between Pete and Rafa on a neutral sort of surface to see if Pete will still be “licking his chops” to find Rafa at the baseline.

I have seen Fed make more exquisite volleys than Pete although he remains a reluctant volleyer. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a good volleyer. He can hit some gorgeous drop and slice volleys and he can be a brilliant volleyer in the doubles. Watch the Beijing doubles matches to see how sharp he can be. Fed’s approach shots are frequently very dodgy and that may lead to less-than-ideal positions for making winning volleys in the singles because one’d ideally like the person trying to make the pass as off-balance as possible. Otherwise, Fed’s net game is very good. Serve and volley is WAY too risky for him because he doesn’t have as big a serve as Pete’s. If he doesn’t get the placement right, he is in trouble.

Now to Roger’s plus points. WAY better groundstrokes both on the fh and the bh sides. Pete’s bh was average and not an asset for him in terms of hitting many outright winners. Roger’s bh can get really ugly when he is not playing it on his own terms i.e. way behind the baseline and/or at around shoulder height. This is especially so vs Rafa. However, his single-handed bh can be a thing of beauty too if he is playing it in his comfort zone i.e. near or inside the baseline and/or at waist height. He hits a lot of bh winners whether cross-court or down the line. Pete himself has said repeatedly that he didn’t have the bh half-volley flick that Fed has. I don’t know how many people even play the shot. It is a delight to see full-bloodied and very deep shots being nonchalantly flicked on the half-volley down the line.
Fed’s slice-offensive or defensive- is much better and so is his movement and court-positioning although the last two aspects have deteriorated of late.
A major difference is the return game where Fed is much better than Pete even if he has probably gone down the most in this department compared to his glory days. He is probably behind all the other players in the top-four at the moment and it has affected his ability to put pressure on his opponents. No player in this group has a consistently big serve and the return games can make all the difference.
I understand that no shot of Fed stands out the way Pete’s serve did for instance. However, there is no obvious weakness either and the bh is a problem primarily against Rafa. Fed can trade groundstrokes with the best of baseliners and be pretty comfortable at the net too. He has enough variety in his game although he does not use all of it in most matches. A poor serving day-admittedly rare-would most probably mean a pretty bad day at the office for Pete. The same wouldn’t affect Fed as much because he can rely on other aspects of his game much more effectively.


ladyjulia Says:

Does anyone know why is Nadal playing in Rotterdam?

He is ~ 3000 points ahead of the No.2 player, and Rotterdam is not a compulsory tournament. He has no need to tire himself out!


Dan Martin Says:

I think the New Balls Generation and Sampras-Agassi-Courier-Chang-Goran-Stich etc. all benefited from the poor form that the generation in between them displayed. Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Thomas Johanson, Enqvist, Medvedev, Tommy Haas, Kiefer, Mark P., Tim Henman, Jonas Bjorkman etc. tallied very little singles glory. If Rafter gets placed with Sampras and Guga with the New Balls generation then these guys really did almost nothing collectively.

That allowed the guys roughly 5 years older and roughly 5 years younger to pile up accomplishments. Nadal is about as much younger than Federer that Kafelnikov was from Sampras. Nadal, Nole, Murray etc. look much stronger than YK, Haas, and Kiefer. Becker and Edberg helped end the reign of Lendl, Sampras never faced a Becker or Edberg type challenge from a younger generation. Federer never really had to overcome an imposing player such as Lendl as did guys like Edberg and Becker. They each benefited from that lost generation.


Noel Says:

Grendel,
I have always wondered if it was hyperbole although I didn’t have any obvious reason to suspect Maskell’s judgement. Although Lendl had played some very good grass court tennis in 1988 and 1989 at Wimby,I still couldn’t believe the “ever seen” part and thought it was an exaggeration. It is quite wonderful,after wondering about it all these years,that I have received a second expert opinion ,as it were,confirming Maskell’s version. Thanks a lot for the input.


Milo Says:

If tennis didn’t have a scoring system that so benefits the server, no one would have ever heard of Sampras. The guy lived on his serve and fast courts. One great Davis Cup clay win over Kafelnikov, but otherwise a miserable effort on the surface that exposes whether a player has heart.

Of course I can’t blame Sampras for developing his game around the rules of the sport.


Von Says:

Milo:

While you are entitled to your opinions, I don’t necessarily agree with you that Roddick “is artless”. Roddick is my favourite player presently, and a good player too, if I might add. OK, according to some, he’s Fed’s “whipping boy” and is also “hapless” per Voicemale1, but when all is said and done he has won a GS, reached 4 GS finals, 4 MS shields, and 27 titles, plus Davis Cup. I doubt whether one attains that much being “artless” or “hapless”. He’ll be in the ITF and I give you and Voicemale1, permission to add a subscript under his pedigree/CV/resume.


Von Says:

I’d like to know myself why Nadal is playing Rotterdam since he exited early last year when Seppi beat him, so it’s not like he has anything much in the way of points to defend, nor does he need the points. I suppose hardcourt is not that problematic for his kness after all, because one would think that this is a golden opportunity for him to “rest” due to the incredibly “long” season he has to play.

It all goes back to the debate about the long season when there was such a big brouhaha that the hardcourts combined with the “long” season caused him to suffer from perpetual knee tendinitis thus the meltdown after the USO. At that time, I mentioned they all have choices and no one is holding a gun to his head to play a ton of tournaments; he just needs to play the mandatory ones. Hence, here is a prime example of where he has a choice and that choice for him, includes playing Rotterdam? I suppose he has this insatiable need to pulverize some poor qualifier and to demonstrate to all, how much of a wonder boy he is on all surfaces, thereby cementing (pun) his greatness on the hardcourts. I’m nauseated by all the drama.

I’m curious as to what he’ll do when Hamburg rolls around considering it’s now a non-mandatory tournament and has been downgraded. I know the answer, but I’m still curious. However, only time will tell …..


Milo Says:

Von,

Like I said with Sampras. The rules so so favor a person with a monster serve. Such an archaic rule to give a guy two serves. One freebie that doesn’t matter, since you have the backup. Its almost like watching some hack take Mulligans in weekend golf. If tennis did Table Tennis scoring to 11, with each player exchanging after two serves, the advantage of serving the whole game would be negated somewhat…and you’d be able to meet your hero, since he’d be working at Home Depot.

I’d like Roddick if we would just stand on the baseline like Connors/Agassi and never back up. He wouldn’t be as good as they were at taking balls on the rise, but who cares, with his serve and that court position, he’d put the fear of God into all the top players on a fast surface.


Von Says:

Milo:

Fed, Djoko, gulbis, Cilic, Tsonga, Monfils, Murray, and recently Verdasco, and quite a few others have very good serves, so it’s possible a lot of their free points would be discounted too, if the sport went to a “one” serve game.

Roddick developed that bad habit of standing 10 feet behind the baseline during his stint with Gilbert. gilbert drilled it into his head that because of his serve and power, he needed to be standing far back. and, you know what they say about bad habits, “they keep coming back like a song”.

Anyway, in view of the foregoing, and be that as it may, I still maintain, he’s not “artless”, or “hapless”, or whatever derogatory and/or delightful adjectives anyone wants to attach to him. He’s a very good, consistent player, who’d been in the Top 10 for seven (7) consecutive years. I’m still looking for the perfect player, but unfortunately, have not been able to find him, have you? Or is it wonder boy? Methinks so.


fed is afraid Says:

at least roddick has some stones, unlike federer. roddick would never have gone down as meekly as roger did to rafa. roddick would have been fighting till the end. maybe roger should take some lessons from andy.


Milo Says:

Unless everyone wants to watch 6′ 9″ volleyball style players in the future, we should all lobby for the one serve rule. All net games are wrecked by giants. I want to see 6′ super coordinated players rewarded. And how great would doubles become if they went “to one?”

I’m no Gilbert fan, but I’d say his standing way back relates to the famous tennis quote: “under pressure, you’ll always return to the way you played when you were 12.” Roddick was a grinder as a junior and then matured into the body of an attacking force, but he never made the adjustment. Sampras trained a style as a junior in the hopes he’d mature to play attacking tennis.

I’m heading out to play. No one gets to rip on Rafa until I get back.


MMT Says:

“I think more criteria exist than simply # of slams won or else Emmo was the GOAT prior to Wimbledon 1999. I don’t think anyone viewed Emmo as the GOAT. Still, total slam singles titles is a big measuring stick for guys whose entire career was in the Open era.”

Dan: that’s a great distinction – for players who started and finished their careers in the Open era (to which I would add before the parallel professional era – circa 1946 – 1967).

Although I think Roy Emerson gets short changed (he did beat Rod Laver twice in GS finals, and before Laver turned professional – Australian and US Championships 1961) but I think that’s a fair distinction. I think you have to have played professionally, during that period from 1946 – 1967, and Laver’s numbers in that period alone are enough to put him in consideration for GOAT status, never mind his amateur and open era calendar year slams.


Noel Says:

Margot,

I didn’t comment on the British monarchy even once and I wonder if you got it a bit mixed up. I don’t think you need to be defensive/apologetic about your monarchy. I know it is difficult to digest the royal family splurging public money. However, as far as I know, most British people still like their monarchy and so long as it remains popular, I don’t see why a republic will be needed although, ideally, there shouldn’t be a place for monarchy at all. I like your queen and Prince Charles. I always thought that Charles got WAY too much negative press than he deserved although I know a lot of people think he was to blame entirely for Diana’s woes. There is something admirable about the way-in the face of all odds-he stuck by Camilla all those years.

The ‘old Brit ploy to undermine the French’ stuff was a slightly light-hearted comment. Hence the smiley if you noticed.

Wimby is a fantastic event and my first memories of watching live tennis on tv are from this event. I prefer the action at Wimby compared to the grind at the FO. However, there is too much noise and hype about the event and its traditions by the Brit media. There was a time when I used to cringe at the sight of players paying their respects(bow/curtsy) to all those worthies in the royal box.

The Brit media have always hyped the event as the ultimate prize to aspire for. Most players have frequently said that the FO is the best organized slam and there is less “tradition” and-as you said- it is more egalitarian. The “championships” are organized well too but I have always gotten the feeling that the hype gets a bit too much esp w.r.t the status and importance of wimby in tennis.


MMT Says:

Von – thanks for the info on the Tsonga match – I missed it of course, and haven’t found a time for a replay on Tennis channel, so I’m going to look for highlights on youtube.

As we speak, I’m watching Robert Lansdorp Tennis Channel Academy!

Boy, do I ever love this game…


MMT Says:

Hey Von:

“Did you ever see the FO final where he beat Lendl?”

I sure did – I think somewhere in my father’s dusty collection of VHS tennis tapes I still have a copy. What I remember is that Chang was coming back and started cramping badly, and that’s when he was serving under-hand and it worked. I also remember that he was standing 6 feet inside the baseline on Lendl’s second serve, disturbing him terribly, and ultimately the match ended on a double fault.

One other sad aspect of that story – all week they were talking about how no American had won the French Open in 34 years, since Tony Trabert in ’55, and I watched the final at my tennis club, and overheard a lady say, “Well, he won, but he’s not really American.”

Sad…


MMT Says:

If anyone has any clip of Roy Emerson playing a top level tennis match in his prime, I’d love to see it. Of all the greats in history since 1950, he’s the only one that I’ve absolutely never seen at all.


Skorocel Says:

Milo said:

“Nadal:

1 tournament title in 04

11 titles in 05

ELEVEN titles…one of the monster years in the whole history of the sport. Please show me another great player who took over the sport that fast?”

—————–

Exactly! That’s what I was always wondering about – did he really improve his game THAT much, or was it also something else which contributed to such a meteoric rise? If I recall it correctly, NO ONE of the all-time greats (and we can now safely assume Nadal is among them, at least resultswise certainly) had such a breakthrough year, NO ONE… You know, if his previous season was at least a decent one (or in other words, if it had suggested something), then I wouldn’t mind, but the fact is – the guy was only mediocre in 2004, to say the least…


Von Says:

MMT:

You’re welcome. I’m so sorry you missed it. I posted that info as soon as I saw it because I know you like to watch him play. I missed the match also due to an appointment.

tomorrow the final is set for 2:30 pm, SA time and, they’re 7 hours ahead of USET, which translates, by my calculation, to be aired at 7:00 am USET. I will check the usual sites for live streaming to see if there’s anything listed, and I’ll post it for you. My search for that information is contingent upon (1) You have to promise to look for my post on this thread, and (2) to wake up early enough to watch the match. And MMT, don’t ever say I’ve never done anything for you. (sm)

Too bad about that Trabert comment. I’ve learnt not to get too hot around my collar about the unkind anti-American remarks I hear and read, but sometimes I fail miserably. Posting on tennis has toughened me up somewhat.

Re: The Chang match, he certainly upset Lendl tremendously by stepping into the court so much and the final straw was the underhand serve. Lendl was furious. I’ve never seen that done except by Hingis and she did that out of anger, but Chang did it out of necessity for survival and it worked. It’s still weird to watch a player serving like that.

Presently the Tennis Channel is absorbed with FedCup, thus I doubt we’d see Tsonga’s match aired or re-b roadcasted. If I see anything listed next week, I’d let you know.

If you do all the required stuff I mentioned in my foregoing instructions and manage to see the match, enjoy!!


Twocents Says:

Von,

On Fed, have to go with your“self-impose”pressure point. Fed should only meet with the Laver’s and Sampras’s after he breaks their records, if ever. I can only imagine two possible reasons for his urgency: 1) the field is catching up; 2) he knows his own fitness is catching up quickly.

So English all like Shakespare, from lots of your posts? Hamlet is my favorite. Fits Fed’s story right now? So Fed’s revenge is doomed to tragedy. Who needs Hollywood!


Von Says:

Skorocel:

Hello, you’ve surfaced.


Von Says:

Milo:

“No one gets to rip on Rafa until I get back.”

You have carte blanche with all copyrights in tact.


Von Says:

Two Cents:

“Von, On Fed, have to go with your“self-impose”pressure point. Fed should only meet with the Laver’s and Sampras’s after he breaks their records, if ever. I can only imagine two possible reasons for his urgency: 1) the field is catching up; 2) he knows his own fitness is catching up quickly.”

I agree, both scenarios are legitimately occuring and he’s watching the clock, so to speak. A good thing he’s not female, and it’s not his biological clock he’s watching. Ha ha.

“So English all like Shakespare, from lots of your posts? Hamlet is my favorite. Fits Fed’s story right now? So Fed’s revenge is doomed to tragedy. Who needs Hollywood!”

My favourites are Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear.

Macbeth:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

Anything familiar to our discussion? Tomorrow, tommorow, that petty pace Fed has to keep. No wonder it’s killing him. Very painful ..


Dan Martin Says:

MMt I remember being at the Newport Hall of Fame in 1999 and seeing Emmo’s biography. The guy won 12 singles titles and 16 doubles titles! 16! This is when people at the top of the game played and cared about doubles. Doubles is another measuring stick that is hard to use because it was important to so many greats and really after McEnroe it ceased to be a relevant measure of a player’s greatness. I remember seeing Edberg play a Davis Cup doubles match when he had more or less stopped playing doubles and thinking, “If he wanted to Edberg could win a ton of doubles slam titles.” I wish doubles did have more weight than it does. Under those rubrics a lot of Aussie greats would move up the all time lists.


Skorocel Says:

To Noel:

Pretty much agree with your Fed vs Sampras comparison, though there are some things which I would argue with. You said:

„However,Pete wasn’t the ‘exquisite’ volleyer that you’d have us believe. He was a pretty competent volleyer. Even Rafter and Henman were better.“

I wouldn’t say so. Rafter was very good (in my mind, clearly the second best volleyer of Sampras’ later era), but certainly not on par with Sampras. Henman, on the other hand, was quite overrated. Don’t get me wrong – the guy certainly had some nice touch at the net, but his main problem was that his serve wasn’t nearly as powerful and deceptive than that of Pete (I remember he used to have a pretty high ball toss, didn’t he?). This indeed confirms what you have said about Pete’s serve (i.e. that it did bring him tons of easy volleys, so it then all looked easy), but still, I would call Sampras as not only the best S & V player of all times, but also the best volleyer… The guy was able to hit some unbelievably difficult volleys (and half-volleys, for that matter), YET he was also masterful and almost error-free at hitting the supposedly „easy ones“ (which may often be quite hard, jusk ask Fed)…

„I’d love an exo between Pete and Rafa on a neutral sort of surface to see if Pete will still be “licking his chops” to find Rafa at the baseline.“

You can bet he would! The fact is, Sampras simply thrived on the S & V game… It’s true that even back in his days (when the courts were much quicker), it was a very risky tactic, but Pete was simply confident (and skilled) enough, whereas Fed isn’t that much confident at S & V… Of course, the conditions nowadays don’t favor such game anymore, but I guess it’s the confidence which Fed is lacking (more so when Nadal is standing on the other side on the net)… In other words, he has the tools, but he doesn’t really believe in what he’s doing when playing S & V, whereas Sampras always was… It’s maybe a pity, because as you can imgainge, S & V would normally be the most logical approach against Nadal (save for clay, of course)… When you play the Spaniard, the equation is simple – the longr the rally, the worse for you, and S & V doesn’t count with that many long rallies, does it? Of course, it’s debatable how well would Sampras fare in today’s slower conditions, but I can assure you that if there was one exho I’d like to see, it would be between Pete and Rafa…

„Serve and volley is WAY too risky for him because he doesn’t have as big a serve as Pete’s. If he doesn’t get the placement right, he is in trouble.“

I agree, but the fact is, Fed simply isn’t that good at the net as was Sampras. I mean, he can maybe hit some unbelievable volleys, but what REALLY bugs me is the fact that he can often miss a very easy one, which wasn’t usually the case with Pete (and which has a lot to do with Fed’s aforementioned lack of confidence in playing the S & W)… Anyway, speaking about those poor „easy ones“, if you have the chance, try to review the FO 2006 final and that 2nd game of the 2nd set, in which Nadal broke Fed (and which virtually turned the whole match around)… That one crappy volley was all what Nadal needed…

„I understand that no shot of Fed stands out the way Pete’s serve did for instance.“

Indeed, there was one. Fed’s FH from 2004-2006 was perhaps the most destructive, yet so beautiful stroke which I EVER saw in tennis, period! It was like a Death’s scythe – silent, yet mowing down opponents with tremendous accuracy… A thing of pure beauty!


Skorocel Says:

To Von:

Yes, Ich bin wieder da :) But seriously, I can only be happy you’re so gracious after being once again on the receiving end of one of my (many) failed promises :) Shame on you, Skorocel!


Dan Martin Says:

To me Pete’s strength at net was handling hard hit returns well. I would rate his volleying ahead of Henman’s. I think he and Becker both volleyed about equally well each being one nitch behind Edberg*. Rafter had a really great backhand volley but sometimes almost hit a topspin forehand volley and Pete did not do this. *Edberg did not really punish overheads and Becker and Sampras did so this might put all three into a rough parity.


Giner Says:

Milo Says:

“Giner,

Murray’s not worried about the drug test. He’s worried about his daily schedule becoming public. Then his main girlfriend will do a quick Google maps search to discover her loyal man has a supermodel in every city.

All the top guys are doping. She’s a “dope” if she thinks she is the only one.”

Nowhere does it indicate that Nadal is afraid of the testing either. It’s a privacy issue and he says that the locker room consensus is that players are opposed to the reporting requirements. He isn’t the only one, only he’s one of the few willing to go public with it. He didn’t name anyone else who opposed it obviously, but he’s using his position as member of the player council and top player to voice his opposition to WADA.

That in no way implies admission of guilt. I oppose many things that I’m not afraid of, but for different reasons.


Giner Says:

Milo:

“Federer — weak backhand and not much of a fighter. These guys probably won most of their junior matches 0 & 1. Things came too easy.”

I beg to differ. His backhand isn’t as good as his forehand, but it’s still better than many. And his ‘not much of a fighter’ only happens in small matches. In Grand Slams, he fights for everything, even if he ends up losing. Apart from Djokovic, he has not lost a GS match to anyone not named Nadal since AO 2005. Those “fighters” have lost to more opponents than him and more often than he did without being a fighter.

“Another weakness is his main ploy is to put so much “euro dirt” yucker spin on the ball, that he’s more about wrecking the other guys game, than doing anything creative himself. Rafa is basically a nuclear powered clay 5.0 player. Every club has players with better technique than Raf.”

If it works for him, what’s the problem?

“One day a GOAT will come around with Pete’s serve, Roger’s forehand…Roger’s forehand whip on a 2-hander…Edberg’s volleys and Rafter’s fight. And let’s throw in Mecir’s movement and Stepanek’s head games. Hold on, I’ll go out back and try to do it? ”

I doubt there will be such a perfect player. Fed is as close as it gets. The more time you spend perfecting one particular shot, the more time you neglect on your other shots. If you want all your shots to be equally strong, you will be well rounded but won’t have any major weapons, because you didn’t practice a money shot.

That’s the reason why people who serve massive bombs don’t have a good return of serve. Most players have one or two big weapons and some weaknesses. Someone who’s well balanced is not going to have any stand out shots. As for every shot being a killer shot.. not going to happen unless you had all the time in the world.

“Nadal:

1 tournament title in 04

11 titles in 05

ELEVEN titles…one of the monster years in the whole history of the sport. Please show me another great player who took over the sport that fast?

Rafa probably told Unc Tony, “oops, maybe we overdid it a bit, no.””

Most of them were clay titles, and 6 of them were small titles only. It’s still a dramatic improvement, but go and compare Federer’s 02 to his 03, and then to his 04. 1 title to 7 and then 11 with 3 GS, 3 MS and a Masters Cup. Right.


Mary Says:

This is a good article about the recent complaints and Phelps. It’s not about drugs.
“Phelps provides the greatest evidence that, no matter the inconvenience, being shown to be clean is as important as a sportsman knowing he is clean.”

Basically, your paychecks depend on sponsors and the sponsors are paying the money based on an image you are suppose to uphold. By supporting you or your sport, the sponsor is projecting a certan image to the public. If the public wants a certain image, give it to them. We’re all commodities.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/article5679473.ecetp
If you have an issue with your employer, there are proper channels to get that resolved. Proper channels don’t include putting it on blast to a global audience.

WADA responds to the complaints with STFU
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympic_games/7874306.stm

Dan Martin: thank you for the offer. I’m working on another degree and find that out of every department the Philosophy department is always the craziest.
It’s not about the concepts of the topic. I have loved the professors. It’s trying to figure out what they want in a paper or meeting that professor’s odd requirements for a paper.
I had one that would not allow a student to hand in a paper containing passive verbs. “Please explain to me how one “is”s. Please demonstrate.”
The one I have now in NYC just says “oh you know what to write.” I expect to get the paper back with a note chatstising me for not writing in haikus.
This is law and philosophy. I’m used to philosophy and politics and hope that Hobbes and Locke show up soon. Philosophy is not philosophy, sans logic class, without “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. …” being proclaimed.
Was philosophy your major and now you are a real live philosopher?

Von: Your father’s tapes contain things the tennis channel should be showing. I’m sure we all enjoy the ubiquitous programs showing European players training in Florida and spending their spare time in strip malls across Florida.
What is your favorite match to watch?
Have you considered converting the tapes to DVD and showing them on justin.tv?
Is it legal to upload one if you are not selling it and it’s not being recorded by a viewer?
People show movies and shows on the various channels.

I caught some of the US/Arg fed cup. They’re so pretty! It’s tied one all. It’s not so bad when it low ranked players playing. I’m interested when it is an even matchup.

Someone upthread mentioned Emerson matches. keep an eye on ebay. You may want to contact a seller and make a request for a match.

It’s hard to think of another individual who has to win and has to break a record. Federer, in many ways, is carrying the sport. Should he be given extra credit(I cannot think of another word) when discussing GOAT?

There’s so much publicity and money riding on him. The world’s changed so much from Sampras’ time. I cannot think of another player whose faced the same.

His problems with backhands, serving etc. may be pressure. While he must play the match at hand, he has to be thinking I must win the tourny.


Lenny Says:

Von:

If you read my previous post to Mary, you’ll see I am actually advocating exactly the same thing you are – open mindedness. Open mindedness on both sides of the issue. What I was referring to as “tripe” were those remarks that stated that they know for an absolute fact that Nadal is doping. That is what I’m objecting to – I have nothing whatsoever against the open sensible debate of doping as an issue, or even the discussion of the possibility of Nadal doping. But for people to state categorically that he – or any player for that matter – is definitely 100% dirty and that they know it as absolute fact – when there is no way they possibly could – and then condescend to those who choose not to believe it – that I take objection to. And I would do so, no matter whom the player being named. For the record, btw, I also consider you one of the sensible voices here.


Milo Says:

Giner,

I actually think Fed has the most versatile one-hand backhand on tour…but it still sucks. Against the top players, he can’t hit offensive returns with it (one-handers have no strength with a short backswing). He can’t take the offense with it in a rally. When Rafa ropes him his hard lefty crosscourt forehand, Fed cannot go down-the-line with any consistency.

Fed plays great defense, but that has more to do with his racket skills and reading of his opponents patterns. He plays “talent” defense, not “heart” defense. But since he’s a light mover, Fed should be able to wear Nadal out even on clay, if he could keep the rallies neutral and fight like the Spanish Bull.

Like the U.S. military, Fed has a lot of high tech equipment to keep his enemies at bay, but when Rafa asks him to match his fight, he goes “no mas.” The tennis scoring system and Fed’s more effective serve, sort of hides the fact that Rafa is destroying him in rallies. Fed is like Sampras. Muster once said something to the effect concerning Pete, “I know I’m mentally stronger and a better fighter…I just can’t keep the score close enough to show it.” Well, Rafa keeps it close enough to prove it.

Concerning Rafa’s grungy overspin style. Sure it works, but it lacks creativity. Tennis is supposed to be like chess — involving both a physical and mental equation. You could be a high school drop-out and play the Euro dirt-spin style. Like Hingis with the Williams sisters, Fed isn’t being out-thought…he’s simply being mauled to death. The last creative # 1 male player was Marcelo Rios. Sampras was elegant in style, but reproduced the same patterns in all his matches. Patterns he owned. Hewitt was a boring grinder. Rios used just enough recreational drugs to keep fresh flair to every match.

I agree. Sadly the game is moving away from anyone trying to be a GOAT who has it all. One-dimensional tennis is far easier to learn. It will be interesting in a few years to see if Roger has had an impact on the upcoming juniors. I doubt it. No one copied McEnroe’s finesse and all continental grip style — or maybe they did and we just never saw them, because the modern rackets prevented that player from getting to the Challenger level.

On the monster 11 title year.

Fed…5 years on tour before his breakout 7 win season at age 23 (3 titles the year before).

Rafa…3 years on tour before his takeover 11 win season at age 19 (1 title the year before).

Fed came of age yes…but he didn’t gain a new gear like you know who.


Hypnos Says:

Noel/Skorocel,

Agree with Dan Martin on Sampras’ volleys. You really saw his volleying magic at the US Open, where he had to deal with hard court returns and drop shots that wouldn’t stay as low as at Wimbledon.

If someone could produce a statistic about winners and errors for Sampras from fh and bh, compared to the field, that would be convincing as to whether the bh was really a liability of simply an inconsistent weapon.

Federer’s game is beautiful, but he not as comfortable/confident at net (though his technique is flawless) and he doesn’t seem to have the nasty streak to launch himself at a brick wall like Nadal.

***

Milo,

I think changing the game to have only one serve would not only cause havoc in tennis instruction worldwide, but actually give big servers an edge. Specifically, guys with huge 2nd serves would dominate. The gap in quality between a big server’s 2nd serve and a regular player’s 2nd serve is bigger than that between the first serves, IMHO …


Lenny Says:

I’m sure a lot of you must know about this site already, but in case you don’t, check out http://www.t3nnis.tv It’s a tennis torrents site, and they post most matches the day after they’re aired.


Milo Says:

With one serve, there would still be big servers, it would just put a great risk/reward to the strategy of serving. I’ve played many sets altering rules, and believe me, the Michael Chang’s of the world fare far better when the server has to back off at times.

I can’t think of another sport that wants one side to have such an advantage for the whole game? Sampras holds 98 % of his serve games at Wimbledon…yawn…zzzzzzzz. Soon, a Karlovic with coordination will show on the scene, and giving him “two” will seem ludicrous. That said, I think the women should go to THREE serves. Watching Safina “triple fault” would bring some entertainment to the usual blowout final.

Fed’s net game suffers from the fact that the average passing shot speed is up 15 – 20 mph from the 80′s and 90′s. When you get closer to a gun, there is less time to react.


margot Says:

Two Cents: isn’t Fed more King Lear, the guy who gives away his kingdom and then wants it back?
Noel: sorry.


Von Says:

MMT:

The Tsonga match is on ATDHE.Net. Their schedule says 4;00 a.m EST, but it’s not on as yet. Yesterday, even though the time stated was 4:00 am US EST, the match actually began at 7:00 a.m. I believe the same will apply today but at 7:30 a.m. because it’s scheduled to begin 2:30 pm SA time, which is 7 hours in front of USET. Check ATDHE around 7:00 – 7:30 am. Also check Justin.tv around the same time. Yesterday it was shown on http://www.justin.tv/norianou, and I’m assuming it will be the same broadcaster today.

While watching FedCup, Tennis Channel advertised the SA SF to be aired on Monday, Feb. 9th at 7:00 am., however, I checked their listings but it only stated “Tennis Channel Programming” in that time slot. I suppose they’ll probably change their listings to reflect the correct programme guide tomorrow. so it seems that you’ll be able to see the SF and Finals after all. Enjoy!!


Von Says:

Mary & MMT:

I believe you are confusing me with MMT. It’s his father who has the tapes. I watch the Best of 5 series on the Tennis chann el and record them on my DVR. It’s coincidental that you mentioned the uploading, etc., because I was thinking that MMT could probably buy one of those new HD Upconverting DVD recorders and copy his dad’s old VCR tapes onto DVD in HD format.
______________

Thanks for sharing that story about Phelps. His is a perfect case of how one mistake could ruin one’s career. I hope the vicious person who leaked that picture to the press is happy, and not choking on his gloat.


Von Says:

Lenny:

Thanks for the clarification of your post. Your explanation has helped me to see your point of view. I’ve always thought of you as a fairminded person and was a little shocked that you would make such a statement. I remember one time you defended Roddick when another poster was being unreasonable with respect to him withdrawing from a tournament.

BTW, thanks for that link. I didn’t know it existed, but it seems to be a bit complicated and doesn’t appear to be free. Is it free?


Von Says:

MMT:

The SA doubles match has just begun and the singles (Tsonga) will follow after on ADTHE.tv. enjoy if you’re awake.


Skorocel Says:

Giner said:

“Most of them were clay titles, and 6 of them were small titles only. It’s still a dramatic improvement, but go and compare Federer’s 02 to his 03, and then to his 04. 1 title to 7 and then 11 with 3 GS, 3 MS and a Masters Cup. Right.”

———————-

Yeah, but Fed didn’t become a world class player by overnight… By 2003 (his breakthrough year), he already had Hamburg, 3 more titles, 6 finals (Miami, among others) and a win over Sampras at SW19 under his belt, whereas Nadal only had 1 title (at 3rd class clay court tourney in Sopot) and one final (Auckland), if I remember it correctly… So whereas Fed’s rise on the top was a progressive one, Nadal literally came out of nowhere within one particular season (2005, that is)…


Hypnos Says:

Milo,

Your proposal makes sense, though perhaps the age for it has passed. Even though I adore serve-and-volley tennis, someone cranking more than 5 aces per set does get tiresome to watch. However, only Karlovic and Roddick have achieve this pace (guess-timating about how many sets they play):

http://www.atpworldtour.com/1/en/2008news/ace_leaders.asp

And, with the new strings there are far fewer service winners.

Finally, I’m not sure Sampras was ever an ace machine. For example, in the 1998 Wimbledon final, he had only 11 aces in the 5-setter, whereas Ivanisevic had 32 aces. And in the 5-setters with Becker on carpet Sampras had only ~15 aces, whereas Becker had ~30.

So Sampras held his service games on grass and indoor by half-volleying and volleying beautifully, which is apparent if you actually see the matches.

This all said, perhaps you have a point that if ace machines like Ivanisevic, Roddick and Krajicek could have so much success that perhaps the game needs to be slowed down. But right now Karlovic and Roddick aren’t exactly acing their way to victory; Karlovic isn’t even that highly ranked.


Milo Says:

Hypnos,

Agreed, the great big man has not arrived to the tennis scene yet. And if anything, the strings and modern grips have allowed the return-of-serve to be the most improved shot in the men’s game over the past 13 years. So its not really a servers era at the moment.

The tennis scoring system has tradition and its own strategic beauty — that said, I’d still rather see tennis go to a table tennis scoring. One game goes to 11 points, with each player alternating serve every 2 points. I find matches like the classic Sampras vs. Agassi, with four tiebreaker sets, boring. Both players holding easily. The games themselves were lopsided due to Pete’s ability to hold…ah, and Pete’s inability to break. I’d rather see a set-up where every game is more up for grabs.


Twocents Says:

Von,

“And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

Brilliant! No wonder we could not enjoy much the one D new new style tennis :-))((. Should I feel depressed or relieved for Fed? Ah, no real worry for any 27 year old with $100 million net worth. Just hope he doesn’t do a Borg.

margot,

I kind of feel it’s a bit more about Prince Roger on a (self-inflicted) mission to break that no.14 mark than about King Roger wanted his kingdom back. The past AO I still think was more about no.14 than (Nadal’s) no.6, no.1 hard court, and no.1 ranking vindication. But Nadal fans sure feel the other way around. I agree to disagree.


Hypnos Says:

Milo,

I agree that there is some golden mean between baseline bashing and serving domination. While it is difficult to achieve, it is to me a far more appealing option than tweaking a scoring system that is indeed as beautiful as you say.

What makes this even more difficult is that we also wish to have distinct surfaces (carpet, hard court, clay, grass) that all count significantly for points to reward different styles of play, and because technology and training are improving all the time.

Maybe keep the pace rating in a certain range? For the chart on the page below, perhaps the orange, blue and purple bands?

http://www.itftennis.com/technical/equipment/courts/class.asp


Andrew Miller Says:

Thought this was interesting – how to build an American NADAL!

Building an American Nadal
Tennis in this country has been falling behind the rest of the world, without a new generation of stars. The USTA’s answer? Tennis boot camp

http://nymag.com/news/sports/49288/


margot Says:

Have just seen Tsonga, Chardy match. Now where did JC come from, the AO now this but b4? The French have got so many rising stars, can’t believe they go in for boot camp! I’m laughing thinking of it!
It’s precisely why I think Rog gave away his kingdom, he was thinking 2 much about 14.


jane Says:

I mentioned previously that I’d calculate the surface ratio on the ATP tour currently: it follows below. Note: I did not include the year-end Masters, since only 8 players qualify, and I lumped outdoor and indoor hard court events together. The total tournaments are thus 66 events, with no distinction having been made (passive voice example Mary) between minors (250s, 500s, 1000s) and majors (slams).

Hard courts – 37 events = 56% of total
Clay courts – 23 events = 35% of total
Grass courts – 6 events = 9% of total

MORE GRASS PLEASE! ;D


jane Says:

Milo,

Interesting distinction you make between “talent” and “heart” defense; where would Murray fall in your opinion? Or Djoko?

———————————————-
Lenny,

Thanks for the replay link; I constantly miss matches and wish I could find a replay. I’ll echo Von – is it free?

————————————————
Von,

My faves are Lear and Macbeth, and since monarchy has been a sub-topic on this thread, did you know that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth with King James in mind (given that he was a Scot, and had various other, er, interesting proclivities)?

Mary,

Don’t you think Hobbes’ state of nature describes the career of a tennis player quite well – minus the “poor” part of course.
————————————————-

WRT Fed and Rafa’s break-through years / titles, I really don’t see that these differences amount to much? So Rafa broke through 2 years sooner than Fed. Why can’t that be attributed to different focus, coaches, maturity, etc. Rafa’s break-through on clay may’ve been due to the fact that no one was dominating that surface then. Fed’s slower break through may’ve been due to his coach passing away, or his temperament issues.

Djoko turned pro in 2003 and broke through in 07, so 4 years; Roddick turned pro in 2000, won a slam in 2003, so 3 years; Gasquet turned pro in … broke through in… wait, he hasn’t broken through yet has he?

————————————————-

Noel,

I agree that as late as 07 Fed would’ve beaten Rafa in a hard court slam final; I think had Rafa beaten Murray and gotten to the USO final last summer, Fed would’ve won there too.

1990 FO winner – Andres Gomez (googled it!)

I watched the Lendl Mac rivalry closely even though I was young; I favored Mac but didn’t hate Lendl. Lendl was just a little too unemotional for my liking.

————————————————-

Ladyjulia,

Novak took a set off Rafa on clay at Hamburg last year, and I believe (?) he was the only player to take Rafa to a tiebreak at RG in 2008.

————————————————-


King Roger Says:

Roger Federer will never win another grand slam in his career. Rafael Nadal will win calendar slams in 2009, 2010 and 2011.


King Roger Says:

Roger Federer managed to win 13 grand slams because the ITF and ATP helped him to get easier draws and schedules. Also many of his opponents have been bribed to lose their matches against Federer.


ladyjulia Says:

Jane,

You are right, my mistake. Novak was the only one to push Rafa to a tiebreaker.

It was before 2008, when Federer managed to take sets off Rafa at RG.


sar Says:

I am hoping that Novak will make some changes and soon. He has had a good year but needs to figure out a way to up his game.


Marjorie Says:

King Roger –

I burst out laughing when I read “Also many of his opponents have been bribed to lose their matches against Federer.” You really think so ?!?!


fed is afraid Says:

rafa could gift roger 2 sets up and a break in the third and roger would still find a way to lose.


Rey Vinluan Says:

for those of you who still think or believes that Federer will regain the number 1 ranking by year end; WAKE UP!. You guys cannot be serious! If Nadal doesn’t beat Federer in the remaining Grand Slams, one of these three or foursome will:
Djokovic, Verdasco, Murray, Roddick.

Seriously, barring any injury or illness to any of the above, Federer will fade…slowly and quietly. The GOOD player that he is/was and NOT even one of the GREATEST.


Catherine Says:

Ah, the old riddle again. One big nasty loss, and your career is over, one big win, and you’re in contest for becoming the GOAT with 20 GS.

I’d like to see people keeping some more perspective on things. Just two months ago, when Rafa was struggling with his knee injury, there were claims like ‘will he ever come back?’ and now it’s Federer who’s been written off by many – somehow comfortably forgetting that he’s back to good form, played well, but just lost it mentally when it counted most. He’s surely not done yet, and if he manages to get his head screwed back on again… don’t be surprised that by the time that Wimbly and the USO have come around, the story will be completely reversed again…
Not saying that it WILL happen, not at all – but just that it is waaaaaayyyyy too early to predict what will happen during the rest of the season.


Catherine Says:

“Not even ONE of the Greatest?”
With 13 GSs? I’d say it is *you* that should wake up, Rey.


Milo Says:

Jane,

I put Murray in the “talent” defense category whose trying to add some “heart” defense to match Rafa. Murray knows if you can match a players best strength (Nadal’s super hustle), you’ve made a serious dent to his main psychological advantage.

I may need to come up with a whole new term to define Santoro’s type of defense. “Smoke and Mirrors…think I’m naked, I’m not naked…Houdini lives.”


Milo Says:

Djoko I’ll tag as playing modern “athlete” defense. In classic old-school defense, a player is chipping, lobbing and looping. Novak is the greatest player I’ve ever seen at flying from corner to corner, seemingly out of the point, and whipping back hard topspin neutralizing balls. The usual downside of hitting the ball fast back to your opponent when out of position, is that it gives you no time to recover your court position, but Novak plays so long and lanky, that he’s able to recover.

Watch how the WTA whambo’s slam senselessly when out of position, and end up hitting a crazy winner or getting the ball to the opponent so quickly, the court is left wide open. Henin, the last top gal who could play “O” and “D” with rational smarts.


jane Says:

Yeah, Milo, great takes on all those defenses. Esp. Santoro’s smoke and mirrors. But his tricks don’t work on everyone do they. I wonder if Murray has a little of the magician in him?

He’s talent, though, like Roger, but I like your point about his trying to add the “heart” – one can see that not only in his D, but in his O as well. He’s just way more aggressive. And the bicep pumping, that’s totally Rafa territory, no?


Milo Says:

If exposing a one-dimensional young gun is any consolation — there is no way Nadal could expose Del Potro’s weaknesses the way Roger did. He took away his game, his pride, his wallet, and threw him in the trash can behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken.


jane Says:

One of Djoko’s greatest strengths, as you imply, is his flexibility and balance. Definitely works to his advantage when playing the D.


Milo Says:

jane,

Yeah, the last few beat-downs Roddick put on Fabrice, has the “magician” only getting gigs at children’s birthday parties 20 miles outside Toulouse. Roddick’s more of a meat and potato guy, who doesn’t much respect his cute crepe Suzette.

Yes, Murray’s is even a better than Fed at reading an opponents racket and having a gumption for past patterns. Very helpful when playing defense. You have to be smart to play “talent” defense and Andy’s a student of the game. Helps also if you play passively in the juniors and are used to being in a defensive reaction position.

When Murray outjumps Rafa’s kangaroo’s in the locker room and then one ups his little racecar formula-1 zig-zag run after the coin toss, Rafa will be toast.


Milo Says:

Djoko’s yoga defense is so incredibly awesome, that it can only be done from age 16-23…after that, goodbye groin. Hmmm, is Clijsters still doing that splitty move at home, or did she gift the “magic groin” to Jelena.


fed is afraid Says:

and then in the final rafa took roger’s game and pride from him. funny how that works.


Von Says:

Mary:

Yaaaaaayyyy!!!! Our FedCup team won!!! I didn’t give them a chance, shame on me. But those girls were just pure heart. I particularly enjoyed Oudin’s courage and heart, not to mention our doubles team. Who needs Serena and Venus? We’ve got oudin. That kid’s one to watch. Truthfully, we do need Venus and Serena, but at the moment I’m very angry with them because neither one of them cared to help out with FedCup knowing how crucial a tie it was. To me the first tie is the most crucial for Davis cup and FedCup because if it’s lost, that’s it for the whole year. I’m very, very happy!!!!

You asked which match I like to watch? Anything that features Roddick, but I do have some good ones on my DVR when tennis becomes boring and then I pull them out. I’ve watched the AO a few times, which is unusual for me, because I don’t like watchikng Nadal play, but it was a very interesting match.

I couldn’t access that link on Phelps but I read a similar one elsewhere where he has taken full blame and supports the decision made to ban him for 3 molnths. I absolutely feel bad for him, and wonder how many have taken a sniff or two and not been exposed. Also, considering it was NOT during competition time, why the problem?

I’ve been thinking about the crackdown on the random testing, and I see a pattern. It’s the exact mind-set I would see if I were conducting the program. Look at the players they have serously targeted, and the reason why. Murray and Nadal. why? They’ve both shot up in the rankings and beating everyone, left right and center during ’08. Red flags went up and piqued the curiosity of the testing team, hence the testing. I can only assume the next ones will be Verdasco and Tsonga. I can guarante Djoko won’t be tested often, nor Fed because of their spotty success. We’ll see if my hunch is correct.


andrea Says:

if i see GOAT, and it’s accompanying debates, one more time, watch out for the projectile vomit.

going on and on about a topic that is subjective at best, analysis-paralysis at its worst, gives exactly this thread.

YAWN.

moving on.


Von Says:

jane:

“Von, My faves are Lear and Macbeth, and since monarchy has been a sub-topic on this thread, did you know that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth with King James in mind (given that he was a Scot, and had various other, er, interesting proclivities)?”

I like Midsummer’s Night Dream too, in fact, I like most of the plays.

Yes, I’m all too familiar with James I, since my a history specialty was Tudor History. In fact James I was a scholar himself and wrote a few. He was the last of the Tudor line and the ‘Golden Age. I’ve been watching a series on the Elizabethan Era/Golden Age on TV and have found it to be very enlightening and entertaining. It has evoked a new appreciation for that era and the Shakespearean works, hence my quotes.

____________
Milo:

“If exposing a one-dimensional young gun is any consolation — there is no way Nadal could expose Del Potro’s weaknesses the way Roger did. He took away his game, his pride, his wallet, and threw him in the trash can behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

You’re waaaayyy too funny. I love the witty lines and phrases. I’ve not yet jumped on the DelPotro bandwaggon, but Fed has really rocked the kid’s confidence with that beatdown. I felt so sorry for the kid — he seemed all thumbs.


Milo Says:

Fed is afraid,

Well, we all know how that happened, but I won’t go there.

Not to defend Fed.

“MMM” — My Man Murray


Milo Says:

Thnx Von,

Yeah, Fed did everything to Del Potro except change his diaper. Because whatever happens for the rest of his career, El Pot definitely left that one “in his shorts.”


Mary Says:

Von:
Here’s the link:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/article5679473.ece
It’s not just a tennis thing, all the sports are being called on the carpet. the past week it’s been nonstop in the press.
This was on NPR last summer and I thought of it when I read the Shakespeare postings:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92236768

I’m watching the replay of the Fed Cup. It’s great they won! USA. Venus and Serena have money to make. You can pay $62 to see them play the two serbs at MSG in three weeks.
France won over Italy!

Andrea:
I agree about the GOAT discussion. I decide who is GOAT by looking to see who has the prettiest hair: Greatest of All Tresses. Fed has the prettiest hair.


Mary Says:

Von: oops th $62 tickets are the nosebleeds. It’s like watching from a tall building in Newark.


Twocents Says:

margot,

“It’s precisely why I think Rog gave away his kingdom, he was thinking 2 much about 14.”

Yeah, Fed was and still is. But isn’t “thinking = Hamlet”?

Catherine & andrea,

Words. We just need to talk to hear ourselves talking :-)).


jane Says:

Von – love Midsummers too – I was speaking in terms of the tragedies, but after I wrote that, I thought, what about the Tempest?! It’s great too. And Anthony and Cleopatra, plus so many of the comedies….hard to pick a fave.

andrea,

“We are merely the stars tennis-balls, struck and bandied which way please them. ” John Webster

The GOAT debate is never-ending, because “all time” makes it so. Maybe just fun to bandy about with?


kevin Says:

One of the best GOAT analysis articles I read here:http://bleacherreport.com/articles/119898-the-hall-of-goats


Von Says:

jane:

Funny you mention Anthony & Cleopatra, I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago for the umpteenth time, and remembered that play, but mostly Richard Burton, who’s one of the best Shakespearean actors of all times. Cleopatra’s final hour came to mind — it was all so sad that such a love could end in such tragedy.
_______________

Mary: Thanks for both links. I’ve read a while back that same discussion of Shakespeare’s impersonation and I don’t like it because it takes away from my love of his works. Too bad, there are so many skeptics around.

Did you notice my Macbeth quote was highlighted in that article? Wow, what a coincidence?

The other most famed book that’s discredited is the Bible and as a Christian/Catholic that rocks the very foundation of my beliefs. I can’t stand the thought that it’s all fiction.

______________
Two Cents:

“Words. We just need to talk to hear ourselves talking.”

Atta boy, hey, you’ve said it. I march to the sound of my own voice and/or tune, not gun fire, for sure. I have some lovely conversations with myself and I’m my best cheerleader and/or critic.

_____________
Milo:

“Yeah, Fed did everything to Del Potro except change his diaper. Because whatever happens for the rest of his career, El Pot definitely left that one “in his shorts.”

Another great one. From where do you come up with these lines? You and Two Cents should get together and write some comedies. You’re both hilarious!!


jane Says:

Kevin, excellent article; thanks for posting the link. There are so many variables to consider in GOAT debates, that it does seem reductive to say that the “greatest tennis player of all time” can boil down, simply, to the number of slams won. But that article doesn’t write off the importance of that stat either; instead the writer shows a few of the other important considerations, amongst a plethora of considerations. In any case, it’s a discussion many enjoy so ain’t no harm done I suppose.

Only if the pressure on players – or a player, namely, Roger – becomes too much is there harm in the hype, perhaps.


Lenny Says:

Von, Jane:
t3nnis.tv is absolutely free. You can donate if you want, but by no means is it a compulsion. You do have to register though. And it’s not all that complicated. Works like any torrent / p2p site. You search for the match you want (it’s easier to search by tournament than by the players’ names), and d/l it. You do however have to seed, ’cause you’ll be banned if you don’t. It’s great for older matches as well. I finally found the Agassi-Ivanisevic Wimby final. Been hunting for the DVD all over the place to add to my collection, and it’s forever out of stock. Finally found it on t3nnis.tv. As well as the Roddick-El Anouyi AO marathon. I’m in heaven :)

And no, they don’t pay me for the publicity ;)


Ryan Says:

fed is afraid , you should come around here wit ur stupid one liners,when nadal eventually loses on clay one day. Dont disappear wen that happens.


Von Says:

Lenny:

Thanks ever so much for that information. As I previously mentioned I checked out the website but I don’t know how to do the downloads, etc., and I don’t understand torrents. I’ll probably end up being banned. You won’t believe how utterly hopeless I am on the Internet re downloads etc. I would love to once again watch the Roddick/ElAnanaouyi match — the longest 5th set in AO history 19-21, but I’m afraid to even try. i’m glad you found the matches.

This will probably make you understand my plight. Last night I was googling for free live streaming for the Tsonga match, which took me to a tennis site in South Africa. They asked for the usual sign-in information regarding email, etc. I filled out the info, not even realizing it was a Black Dating site, because there wasn’t anything indicating such. When I was finished entering the info, this dating stuff came up and indicated that I’m now registered to check out possible partners. I’ve subsequently received a few emails regarding that site and some possible partner matches; all they now need is a picture. Is that weird or what? So, as you can see, I think it would be wise if I pass on this one. thanks again.

_____________
MMT:

The site Lenny provided would possibly be of some help to you re the matches you wanted/enquired for Emerson. She posted the link somewhere under the Feb. 8th, early am posts, or check with Lenny for further information.


Von Says:

Kevin:

Thanks for sharing that article. As I’ve always stated there are too many variables to decide who’s the GOAT. There are many legends, but I doubt whether there will ever be a “greatest of all time” player. It’s interesting to see the slam percentages and of course Laver is the leader. Most of the commentators and writers have all stated that if there was the possibility of a GOAT, it would definitely be Laver.

I also agree with the writer that there’s more to being crowned the GOAT than just the slam numbers. Total number of weeks at No. 1 and total amount of titles won. I can’t see any present day player matching Laver’s and Connors’ titles won stats

I also agree that the players’ focus should not be only on the GS but playing the other tournaments as well, this way, we’ll see good tennis matches all year long between the top ranked players. The top ranked players focusing on the GS only, will ultimately kill the sport. It’s happen eing already, because fans have very little interest in the smaller tournaments and even the Ms tourneys do not spark much interest.

That article shows the writer did some in-depth research and is not writing off the top of his head.


Milo Says:

Yes Ryan, concerning Fed is afraid. Don’t let him Michael Jackson moonwalk out of the courtroom come judgement day.

Someday, Rafa Bull will go down on clay. In fact, as we speak, there is a young kid who is training to get it done. Unfortunately that kid lives on MARS! We’ll have to find a way to get him here.

Speaking of which, last night I flicked to HBO and thought it was the Rafa vs. Verdasco “muscle beach” AO semi being rerun. Turns out it was Aliens vs. Predator. Same thing pretty much.


King Roger Says:

Federer was nothing but a product of the ATP and ITF who tried to create a “superstar” in tennis like Tiger Woods or Michael Schumacher.

Fortunately the game of tennis has found its real superstar in Rafael Nadal.


Milo Says:

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

What came first, the syringe or the Rafa?


Ryan Says:

Vamos Rafa ………u can do it….please get caught


David Says:

Physiologically, tennis players peak at 25, in terms of hand-eye coordination. Consider Borg and so many other great champions who were in decline after their 26th birthday. The drop off rate is infinitesimally small for the next few years but makes a difference at the top competitive level.

Although not tall at 6’ 1” (185cm) for a top tennis player in this era, Nadal is probably the best athlete in the game. Look at his strength, speed and especially his panther-like coordination on the court, which is unique.

These natural attributes help him to make up for deficiencies, such as a mediocre serve and unnecessary tendency to run around his backhand, despite it being one of the best. If (when?) Nadal improves his serve, he will win many more points cheaply and reduce the physical toll on his body, thus extending his career.

Temperamentally, Nadal is a phenomenon. He has the best demeanour in the game today, enabling him to remain in the zone at all times. Contrast this with the histrionics of some other extremely good players who also happen to be their own worst enemies. Nadal puts himself under less psychological pressure than Federer, by openly acknowledging the strengths of his opponents and modestly saying that he will have to play at his very best to win. He can also forgive himself for losing: “It’s normal.” Federer has the additional pressure of knowing that nature’s clock is no longer in his favour.


fed is afraid Says:

ryan-when nadal does lose, he will not go down in the wimpy way that federer went down. rafa will fight to the death, unlike roger who gives up at the first sign of distress.


Joe Says:

I caught an A&E Biography program on Chris Everett over the weekend and to me, there are many similarities to her career arc and Fed’s. She held #1 for 138 consecutive weeks and absolutely dominated her competition, including Navratilova, throughout the 70s. She holds numerous records that will likely never be broken: Owns the highest winning percentage in pro tennis history (.900), has the best record on clay of any player for any single surface with a 125-match win streak set from August 1973-May 1979 just to name a few.

By 1980, at the age of 27, Chris faced a Martina Navratilova that had dedicated herself to a new fitness program and relentless court attitude that seperated her from the pack, including Chris. At one point she had defeated Chris 30 times in a row!! Chris had to retool her game and fitness which she did. She eventually regained her #1 ranking ranking in 1985 and defeated her nemesis Martina in the 85 and 86 French Open, which were her two last Grand Slam victories. I believe similiar to Chris, Roger will find a way to beat Nadal and win two more Grand slam events, surpassing Sampras and briefly regaining the #1 ranking before his 30th birthday. Just a thought…


fed is afraid Says:

federer is no evert, chris was much tougher mentally than roger is. roger won because he had no competition until rafa came up, and the poor guy just can’t handle it.


Joe Says:

Also, I finished up John McEnroe’s autobiography ‘You can’t Serious’, which I recommend for any tennis fan. There is a wonderful insider’s view of the mid 1970s-to-early 1990s tennis history, with many interesting anecdotes on several players, including Nasty, Connors, Borg, Ashe, Vitas, Vilas, Lendl, Pete, Andre, etc..and his on court antics and biggest blow ups on the court. I didn’t know that he hung out with so many Hollywood types and Rock stars like the Stones, the Who, Pretenders, etc…

McEnroe also writes at a level and shares much of his personal life and the struggles with the tour, his marriage and divorce to Tatum O’Neal, kids, and getting older. There are used copies of this book on Amazon.com for $.01 + shipping.


jane Says:

I agree Joe- Johnny Mac’s book was a good read, not only a tennis memoir for fans of the sport either. He has always lived an interesting life off-court as well. One of my all-time favorites.


Joe Says:

There has been much discussion on Federer’s latest trend of to-or not to retain the services of a coach. If I were in camp Federer, there would be three people I’d try to hire on as consultants:

1. John McEnroe (lefty, gritty, strategist, broadcaster with unique insight into top 10 men’s games (strenghts/weaknesses)

2. Goron Ivanisevic as a hitting partner (left hander with a nasty left handed kick serve)

3. Brad Gilbert (imbue Fed with some street smarts and mental toughness, which he did for Andre and turned his career around)

The challenge is whether Fed is willing to modify a game that has brought him so far. Its complety unatural for him to change at this point.


King Roger Says:

Federer was never a real champion. All he had to do was to participate in the grand slams and the ITF and ATP would do the rest to make sure he won the tournament. He is a pathetic loser.


Joe Says:

Fed is afraid – you mean Sampras, Aggasi, Safin, Hewitt, Roddick, Djokivic, Murray, Nadal aren’t competition?? With the exception of Sampras, these are the players he defeated in GS finals.


Joe Says:

King Roger – I’m curious, how did the ATP make sure Fed won tournaments?


King Roger Says:

Joe- They gave him easier draws and schedules, and also asked many of his opponents to lie down. They bribed the players to achieve this.


margot Says:

Hi Twocents, in my defence Lear did a hell of a lot of thinking after he’d given away his kingdom, so I live in hope. Also Hamlet was completely screwed up over his mother, what r u trying to suggest………?


Polo Says:

About the GOAT:

It is quite obvious that Federer is aspiring to be the GOAT and I think that is what is derailing him and making him miserable. The GOAT will always be just an opinion and will never have an unequivocal answer. What is more realistic is to aspire to be the best during your time. Roger is without question the best during his time, that is against player in his age level, give or take one to two years. Nadal is about five years younger and clearly the leader of the next wave of tennis players who are now coming of age. Nobody should shoot for being the GOAT because that is unrealistic. That could only be answered if you can have head to head matches done during the each player’s peak years.


Polo Says:

To Joe,

As regards the comparison between Federer and Evert, I think Evert had a better perspective. She focused on improving her game against Navratilova and had some success. Federer on the other hand, seems to be focusing on some other things like beating Sampras GS record and being the GOAT. That is focusing on something a couple of steps ahead. That is why he has been stumbling because he keeps tripping on the first block which is Nadal. Pay attention to the first hurdle. Why not just focus on Nadal? If he can get past that first block called Nadal, the rest should just follow.


margot Says:

Hey, this game is fun! If Rafa is Macbeth, then Roger is King Duncan, Uncle Tony can be first witch, whispering thoughts of greatness, and who for Macduff? Well, I nominate Andy Murray, wonder if he was a caesarian……………now that’d be spooky…..


Von Says:

Polo:

Your assessment of Fed’s mind-set and what he needs to do is bang-on. It’s very unlikely there will ever be a “GOAT” in any sport. Hence, Fed’s focus is taking him to a path that’s counter-productive. And, when I say counter-productive, I mean he’s putting all his energies and thinking into a mythical title, while neglecting the most important thing, his game and the strategies to keep on winning and beating his fiercest competitor, Nadal.

If Fed were to just focus on winning the tournament he’s playing, and not think of the GS numbers, then the GS wins will automatically happen. However, what I’m saying is easier said than done because Fed’s mind-set is consumed and flooded with breaking and surpassing Sampras’ record in order to be the proverbial GOAT, a title that’s just a figment of his and may others imagination. Nadal is the obstacle, why not focus on beating him at even say Dubai or at a MS tourney. When the first win comes, then the path ahead is much clearer, and with that opening up to Fed, then and only then should he concentrate on tying and breaking Sampras’ record. First things first …..


fed is afraid Says:

hi guys this me gulu………….


Fedfan Says:

Fed is already the GOAT. If you analyze all statistics sensibly, not superficially, you will come to that conclusion. I am willing to have that argument with ANYONE.


MMT Says:

Hi Von:

Missed the Tsonga match, or of course, and haven’t found anything on youtube yet. Oh well, I’m happy he won.

As for Kevin’s article, it was well thought, but I have to disagree with many of his counter arguments.

First he argues that injuries play a role, but at the end of the day, you have to play to be the best, and you have to be fit to play – it’s hard luck if you have great ability but are injured all the time like Lew Hoad, but thems the breaks.

Then the Open era argument – in my opinion, players who played professionally then joined the open era benefitted from their times as professionals, so it’s as much of an advantage as it was a disadvantage.

Furthermore, you hear all the time the argument that if Laver had played the slams when he was a professional he would have won more, but then Roy Emerson’s history is discounted. You can’t have it both ways. Maybe Laver would have cleaned up, but nobody would have taken it seriously, as is the case with Emerson. And who knows, maybe Emerson would have been a great professional, but he chose to remain an amateur. We’ll never know.

He also argues that amateurs had to keep day jobs, but that’s not entirely true. Starting with the development of Bobby Riggs’ and then Jack Kramer’s professional tours, amateurs began to be paid under the table, and they all played full-time tennis schedules. Not the same as the pro’s, but full-time nonetheless.

He also argues in favor of Laver because he had success as both an amateur and a pro, but to be fair, you have to exclude his amateur slams if you’re going to discount Emerson’s (whom the author eventually dismisses as a part of his argument in favor of Laver as the GOAT), in which case he has 5 titles. Then you consider the benefit to his game of playing on the world’s best professionals for 5 years, and you’d probably have to discount his Open era slams as well. And for anyone wondering, Roy Emerson beat Rod Laver TWICE in slam finals in 1961, so he was not exactly a paper champion.

You have to remember that there were usually on 10 (at the most) professional players – every other good tennis player was playing in the amateurs. They didn’t play 200 nights a year against the best of the best, but they were the best players in the world. And Arthur Ashe won the first US Open in 1968, where the other finalist was an amateur, Tom Okker. This is a tournament that included Laver and Rosewall.

The point is the amateurs were only amateurs in name only, and they weren’t so terrible that you can assume the professionals would have cleaned up had they played the slams.

He also considers winning on various surfaces, and career winning percentage. Career winning percentage is a statistic that counts for my reconning, but there is a problem when you consider the touring professionals, who played against a higher level of competition and would understandably have lost more often, even if they were indeed better players.

Total titles are also problematic – most professionals lived well, but they lived and died by their results because endorsement income, which was relatively less than it is today, depended more heavily on results and less on image and likeability and other nonsense like that. Basically, Laver played all the time because he had too if he wanted to live well. I’m sure that if given the choice, he would have played a lot less.

The reason I favor the slam analysis, is that with the exception of Pancho Gonzalez, who played just two of his first years as a top player as an amateur, there is enough data on those players playing against the best 128 players in the world for the two weeks the tournament was held, and he who’s had the most success considering that for me qualifies as the greatest of all time.

Unfortunately for my favorite player of all time, Pancho Gonzales, it means he will not be considered in the GOAT discussion, but he’s really the only one for whom that argument can be made. All other professionals who had great success in the pro’s also had a lot of data in their amateur careers – maybe Kramer, but he didn’t dominate the pro’s as long as Gonzales, so he’s off the list.

At the end of the day, while it is imperfect, I think total slams is the best measure of greatness in tennis, and while a two notable players lose out in that comparison (Gonzalez and Kramer) they’re the only two. The others, Laver, Rosewall, Hoad, have, in my opinion, as many pluses as minuses as a result of having played professionally, and in the net analysis, I think their evaluation based on total slams is about right.


Polo Says:

Fedfan,

I would have wanted to take your challenge that Federer is the GOAT but I would not because if he is indeed the GOAT, then there would not have been any need for an argument in the first place. The fact that an argument is needed to prove that he is, already belabors the point that he, or anybody else for that matter, is the GOAT.

I am among those who would really want to call Federer the GOAT but could not because there are others who could lay claim to that title and there will always be arguments in favor of any of them. It will be an argument that will not have a final and incontrovertible answer.


Milo Says:

There is only one coach to give Roger what he needs to conquer all. The same coach Rafa has.

Winstrol


Milo Says:

Fed is Afraid,

Be careful with Evert. I had posts deleted that dared to make the outlandish insinuation that Serena was a better athlete than Chris Evert.


fed is afraid Says:

federer is not the GOAT, neither is sampras, you have to win all 4 slams for that designation, and roger is getting his hat handed to him by his closest rival everytime they play.


Von Says:

MMT:

And I did all that hard work for nothing? Shame on you!!

Tonight at 7:00 pm EST, the Tennis Channel is broadcasting the SA semi-final, so if you’re interested you can record it or watch it. There’s also a re-broadcast at I think 10:00 pm and again tomorrow evening at 7:00 pm. Check your listings, however it’s only listed on the guide as “Tennis”, but if you press info, you’d see it’s the SA SF. Enjoy. There’s also a 5 best segment of tantrums, and if it’s the one I saw previously with Tarrango, which I discussed with you, then you’ll see it first-hand. However, they didn’t show the wife slapping the umpire, (you supplied that footnote) which I would have loved to see. Ha, ha.

About the GOAT designation, I honestly believe it’s good fodder, but a very unrealistic designation to give to any one player. Too many factors and comparisons have to be taken into consideration which, to me, does not make it possible, but highly improbable. Fed’s working hard to achieve that designation and he’s focusing in the wrong direction. His focus should be on Nadal.


Von Says:

MMT:

The SA SF pertains to Tsonga if I didn’t make myself clear. Sometimes, i expect people to be mind-readers when I write, Shame on me.


Von Says:

MMT:

Presently they’re showing the Ferrer/SF, I suppose at 10:00 pm, they’ll show the Tsonga SF.


Polo Says:

Federer fell apart in that 5th set of the Australian Open because when he looked across the net, he saw many other opponents in addition to Nadal. Standing beside Nadal were Sampras and Laver. It is impossible to beat all those three guys together in one match. He seems to see all these people in every major event he plays now. He is making it too tough for himself.


Ezorra Says:

Polo says:

“Federer fell apart in that 5th set of the Australian Open because when he looked across the net, he saw many other opponents in addition to Nadal. Standing beside Nadal were Sampras and Laver. It is impossible to beat all those three guys together in one match. He seems to see all these people in every major event he plays now. He is making it too tough for himself.”

- Very brilliant observation. You’re absolutely right about this.


Twocents Says:

Polo,

Like Von & Ezorra, I’m 100% with you on Fed’s GOAT obsession. It’s getting ridiculus — all these self-inflicted trouble in his mind.

Maybe, just maybe, this’s just God’s mighty way to get things amusing? Why didn’t the Big Gray Wolf just ate the Little Red Riding Hood in the forest first, and then went for her grandma?

Hi, margot,

Yeah. King Lear did lots of thinking too. But Fed doesn’t have daughters who snatched away his kingdom. Maybe he finds mother in Mirka? Ok. I can go with Lear.

I like your new plot too. I also read a plot after last year’s WO final that Fed being J. Ceaser, Nadal the assasin Brutus, and on and on. Very intriguing. Forget the link. Please forgive my horrible spelling.

Tennis is fun.


Tejuz Says:

i recently watched some of the Rome 2006 finals between Fed and Nadal.. and even though Fed lost it after having matchpoints, that is the way he should play Nadal on clay..to beat him. He seemed the better player and he was using the slice to a great effect. Deep slice to Nadal’s backhand or short drop slice to Nadal’s forehand. Even though Nadal is in a position to reach those balls, he cannot do much but put the ball back in play. Fed was aggressive and volleyed well.. but more than the normal volley, fed should do for drop volleys, like how Tsonga did during his defeat of Nadal in AO 08. After watching that match, i get a lil bit of hope that Fed is capable of beating Nadal on clay, if he apply his mind and the right tactics.


jane Says:

Tejuz, true, and Fed played Rafa closely at Monte Carlos last year, with some great short, sharply angled cross court forehands that worked well to pull Rafa out of position and open the court.

However, I think Rafa has maybe improved on clay since 2006? Judging by the 06 FO final through to the 08 one, it seems Rafa has gotten even better.

He seems like a player (or it’s motivated by his coach) who studies his last matches with players and works on fixing weaknesses. I’d assume he’d do this especially with the close matches?

Anyhow, new strategies from Roger’s side of the court can’t hurt!


Von Says:

When Fed played against Nadal in the Rome final he was under Tony Roche’s tutelage, and he played exactly how Tony Roche wanted him to play. He used Roche’s strategy of coming to the net and executing his shots perfectly, making his points short and ending them at the net. There weren’t those long baseline rallies. It seemed that as soon as he got rid of Roche, Fed seemed to throw all of Roche’s tactics through the window and reverted to his same old defensive game, thereby allowing Nadal to dictate play.

I’ll reiterate, that’s it’s very easy to try to change a player’s MO, but when they are faced with an opponent who has beaten them many times, in the crunch situations all of the practiced strokes are quickly forgotten and then they revert to what they are most comfortable doing. E.g., Roddick knew going into his match with Fed at the AO this year, that he had to play as close to the baseline as possible, but when he was being pressured, he automatically began drifting back. It’s as though a switch is thrown in our brains in crisis situations, and we revert to the bad habits.


Tejuz Says:

Jane, Von.. i agree, it will be infinitely hard for Fed to win againt Nadal on clay, since 90% of it is mental. But watching that final, gave me a glimmer of hope.. like as though all is not lost for Federer on clay. He can certainly match Nadal on clay, but yeah.. i guess he will have to win a few small matches against Nadal before they face of again in a Grandslam final. And the best bet would be somehwere in Monte Carlo or Rome(again).

Also agree.. since Fed has parted with Roche, he has stopped using that slice and is persisting with loopy top spin backhands. well… Nadal loves nothing more than a shoulder high ball for him to take control of the point. Nadal cant generate the same high-bouncing top spin if the ball skids to his forehand (or backhand).

But i have a feeling we’ll see Fed beating Nadal on clay (dunno about RG since its a 5 setter)


Twocents Says:

Jane,

No doubt Rafa’s been improving, even on clay. He’s right in the uprising phase of his tennis career. All pieces are coming together nicely.

Roger’s in the decling phase. While lots of things can be done to slow the decline, nothing will stop the collapsing trend. Fed said long time ago that his confidence comes from his fitness. And I think it’s kind of true for all players. It’s hard to completely separate mental and physical issues. Yes, Fed does have mental block facing Nadal, I can’t help suspecting it’s partly caused by his physical issues.

Fed was quoted saying this before Doha (soemwhere quoted on MTF):

“The preparations were good. I am very confident. Also, the back was able to take it. I wonder how it will look in the following weeks, because now another kind of strain comes, although it is less problematic, but with repetitious movements, could also contain some risks. ”

And before Kooyong Ex, Fed said this:

“Q. Even after the US Open, do you feel better from that?

A. Yes, for sure. Obviously Shanghai was – I don’t know if it was a disappointment, but it was just not meant to be. I had a bad back before, so preparation was terrible, and I got sick during the Masters, so usually I come here after winning the US and Masters. So obviously I feel great, but Shanghai didn’t work out so good because I couldn’t work hard during the off season. ”
http://www.goroger.net/interview/2009/kooyong090114qt.html

It may be the combination of lacking practice and worrying/unsure about his back that caused his bad service performance in Doha against Murray, and in AO final. What good a coach can do if Fed can’t work hard? It’s all part of aging.


margot Says:

Hi Twocents, hooray, tennis is indeed fun! The more I think of Rafa as Macbeth, the more I like it, overcome by ambition etc. And Caesar was mighty ambitious too, whose your Brutus? Don’t see Murray as your upfront assassin, he’s more like waiting in the shadows, waiting his moment to pounce…..Iago!! Oh no!!!


Von Says:

Tejuz:

“Also agree.. since Fed has parted with Roche, he has stopped using that slice and is persisting with loopy top spin backhands. well… Nadal loves nothing more than a shoulder high ball for him to take control of the point. Nadal cant generate the same high-bouncing top spin if the ball skids to his forehand (or backhand).”

Well, that was Higueras’ doing. I read an article which was an interview by one of the older champions, in which he stated that Higueras is making Fed play the exact opposite of how he shouldn’t play Nadal. It also stated that Higueras is not the right coach for Fed. Well, I think that guy was correct because under Higueras, Fed got worse.

Fed has to start beating Nadal on any surface at the smaller tournaments. Those wins will definitely give him confidence so that when he meets Nadal at the GS he’ll have the mindset that he can beat Nadal. It’s very similar to Roddick’s experience with Fed. He beat Fed at Miami and at the AO, even though he didn’t win, he was able to keep the match close. Fed needs to employ the exact same strategy/mind set and only then will he be able to conquer his fears. His is a case of as you stated 90% mental. When he relaxes, and gets the cobwebs out of his head and his mindset on the right track, he’ll beat Nadal, and he would have crossed the hurdle, until then, he’s just a sitting duck for Nadal.


Paul Says:

Fed is afraid:

Agassi won all 4 slams: does this make him the best player ever?

AS to the comment (King Roger I think), that Fed quits at the first sign of distress, in the AO last year against Djokovic he knew he was feeling seriously unwell, but he soldiered on till the end of the match. Fed also threw up before the Blake match and still beat him in the quarters. Most other player suffering from mono wouldn’t even have entered the AO if they had felt as bad as Fed. If you are looking for a quitter you need look no further than Djokovic. Fed has only ever retired once in his phenomenal career: quitter? I don’t think so.

As to the serve-volley debate (Oleg and co.) the Wimbledon 2003 final against Philipoussis shows that Fed can win a match convincingly by serving and volleying. And he did it (albeit to a lesser extent) when he destroyed Murray at the Us Open last year. He has the ability, but is reluctant to do it consistently.


JRan Says:

You did a great job on this analysis; I completely agree. I too am a huge Federer supporter, but do not see him earning back his number one title anytime soon if he doesn’t increase his mental stamina. It was a huge disappointment for me to watch the last match, but I am glad that I still got to watch an amazing match that is sure to go down in history. Also, on the drug subject, I am glad to see that you are supporting Nadal on not doing drugs. I don’t think that he is taking any and don’t like the gossip going around just because he’s playing really well… I say he is clean until proved otherwise. Overall, this article was great! Thanks for sharing your insight.


jane Says:

Tejuz,

Interesting comparison between Samprass and Federer: as to the final question posed by the writer, that’s a tough one. Maybe if Samprass hit flat and powerfully to Rafa he’d have a good chance of conquering him. Rafa can struggle against that kind of flat hitting and power serving. Yet we know Federer can and has beaten Nadal. What is going on now may be largely – or at least partially – connected to what Twocents said above: the arcs of a player’s career.

Makes me think of Beowulf: when he’s at his peak, as a hero, he can take on anyone, and it’s him who defeats Grendel even though no one else could. But later in life, when he’s ruled his kingdom effectively for 50 years, he faces a foe he cannot beat this time – the dragon. And part of the reason for that defeat is that the sun is setting (rather than rising) on Beowulf’s career. The other reason is that he foolishly chooses to battle the dragon alone, refusing even the help of Wiglaf.

Fed should get a coach at this point; I guess he cannot go back to Roche, but it couldn’t hurt to have someone on his side, to offer new eyes, new ideas. Beowulf might’ve beaten that dragon had he had help. I know some people think this is pointless, but you never know. When Agassi experienced his late career surge, he had a strong team around him.

Adaptation will get you to a point, yes. But if a coach could help Roger simplify, that might also work. Shorten points against Rafa for sure, now that Fed’s lost a millisecond in timing. Go for big serves, really make it a weapon, and keep improving the second serve. Also, make sure the back will be okay; get extra physical help maybe (again, this helped Agassi later on). There is little worse than a sore back for serving.


jane Says:

Federer should also step in as much as possible. Both Djokovic and Rafa, maybe Murray too, although his play involves guile, are capable of pushing Roger back, and thus he has to scramble. As he might be a step closer, this can work to their advantage. So he should, as much as possible, look to take some of the court away. This won’t work as well on clay against Rafa, but on hardcourts Rafa’s handicap used to be to stand too far back. Maybe Roger could dictate then so that Rafa falls into old patterns. We saw Davydenko do that to Rafa in Miami and Djoko did it to him in Cincinatti.


jane Says:

Oops, one last thing – sorry for triple posts:Adaptation takes TIME. It works over vast expanses of time, usually. Roger needs to know he has the time. He’s only 27. No rush to get those couple slams, or that clay title, really. He could do it at 29, provided he’s fit and injury-free. He’s got to have someone telling him that.


David Says:

Part of Federer’s difficulty, other than your astute observations and my own comments on the 9th (8:41am), is that he predicted Nadal’s supremacy.

Remember his speech following the 5-set defeat of Rafa at Wimbledon in 2007? It was a match in which Nadal had the 5th set momentum until he pulled up with a tendon problem and had to take an injury break. On receiving the winner’s trophy, Roger said: “I’m glad to win one more before Rafa wins them all.”

He knew that he had met his match and that time favoured the younger man.


jane Says:

David,

Great point. I’ve often thought of Federer’s 5th Wimbledon victory. Federer’s speech was telling; it revealed that he knew he had really pulled one out of the fire, and he, himself, signaled the changing of the guard. That is not to say he didn’t play excellently and up his level in the 5th set; he did. But he also knew that, to a degree, Rafa had some key chances that he blew, which might’ve won him the match.

Time waits for no one. But that still doesn’t mean it’s over for Federer, of course. He can still achieve 14 and 15, I think. I don’t know about the French, but it is still, clearly possible. Roger was second only to Rafa on clay last year (Djoko might’ve been a close 2nd, though, but he was mostly on the opposite side of the draw as Federer since Roger was still number 1).


David Says:

Well said, Jane. Roger is certainly not out of the running for any GS title, not least Wimbledon, where Rafa could possibly be more easily upset during the earlier rounds. Rafa himself thinks Roger will win another couple of Grand Slams, and I do not think he was being disingenuous in saying so during his post match comments, just as Roger was sharing his intuition rather than flattering Rafa at Wimbledon in 2007.

I also agree that Roger can improve his tactics, for instance I was surprised that he did not play more aggressively against Rafa in Melbourne, the way he did against Andy Murray in New York last year. Interestingly, it was Rafa who threw down the gauntlet by winning the coin toss and having Roger serve.

While Roger may also be able to improve individual aspects of his game, as he has with his backhand in recent years, he will be 28 on August 8th. Consequently the hand-eye coordination is inevitably in slow decline and he may find it harder to maintain his remarkable, all but injury free run.

Conversely, Rafa can still improve every aspect of his game, especially the weak serve and tendency to drop too many returns near the service line. He will need to, in order to stave off the genuine threats from so many talented players, not least Murray and Djokovic who are both still maturing.


David Says:

I think men’s tennis is more exciting than ever and now we have a reformed Verdasco as well. What treats are in store!


margot Says:

I’m thinking Roger’s best chance is the US open, providing Rafa’s not on the other side of the net of course, but there again he does regard Wimbledon as his own.
Agree with you David, but the nearly there players must now step up to the mark.


margot Says:

PS it’s not 3pm where I am!


Joe Says:

I’d have to disagree that changing MO takes some time. Consider that in the summer of 1994, Agassi hired Brad Gilbert to be his new coach, citing Gilbert’s reputation for winning matches he was expected to lose. Gilbert convinced him to focus on winning smarter, and to out think and out fitness his opponents. The new strategy paid off when he won the 1994 U.S. Open less than 3 months later.

I go back to my previous post that Fed should hire Gilbert as coach, Mac for competitive intelligence, and Goran as a hitting partner.

With or without a new attitude, Fed wins one more US Open and one more Wimbledon based on pure skill.


Joe Says:

I love Chris but Serena is a much faster and stronger athlete. Chris did not have any apparent “weapons” as they say today. Her biggest weapon was her mind and spirit. It wasn’t until Martina raised the bar in the early 80s (after Chris dominated her during the 1970s ) that Chris raised her fitness level and was able to compete with Martina again.

Here’s a new topic: who is a better athlete – Steffi or Serena?


Von Says:

Tejuz:

FYI, Tony roche’s thoughts on Fed.

http://tennisnews.com/#


Tejuz Says:

Von,

yeah.. Roche believes Fed can still beat Nadal at RG but conditions have to favour him. It has to be cloudy and damp.

Jane,
I agree, Fed would definitely benefit from a coach more in terms of strategy. It definitely helps to try out new ideas during the build-up of a grandslam, especially the French Open.

David,
Fed was relieved to have won that Wimbledon final in 2007 because Nadal was the better player til the end of 4th set and i guess thats what must have prompted him to say what he said. But he might have not foreseen Nadal dominating him so soon like how hez doing right now.
Definitely Fed will have to improve his serves and keep altering between staying back and rushing to the net, just to keep the opposite player guessing . He wont be able to win matches on serve-volley alone like Sampras or other ex-champs because the return game has grown very strong nowadays.


Tejuz Says:

I had never seen Laver play before, so watched a few old clips from Youtube yesterday.. he certainly had a beautiful game, great backhand and nice volleying, covering the net so well.


Ryan Says:

fed is afraid is that same bitch known as gulu.


Tejuz Says:

Roger is on a decline.. but he can still improve his consistency. Most often than not, its the unforced errors from both the wings that causes his downfall. His service let him down during AO Final.. but its the shot which has saved him during other GS finals, especially Wimby 2007, US Open 2008 etc. Even though he cannot invent new shots or improve his already versatile game.. he should only try to improve the consistency of his shots which has deserted him since 2007. There is still quite a lot of scope for improvement in Federer… especially in the strategy department, combination of shots, approach shots, drop volleys, forehand drop shots(like Murray or Nalbandian), return of lefty serve(ofcourse) etc .. he will have to use lots of dropshots against Nadal on clay.

Regarding Nadal.. he is already at his peak. He can improve quite a few of the aspects in his game. His service is already good, and i dont see him getting better in department. He wont be able to hit ace after ace, because thats not his style. He likes to get lots of 1st serve in, with more lefty spin which is advantageous against guys like Fed. Regarding volleys, he could improve a bit.. but it might interfere with his current game.. which is just run around and bash the ball. Right now .. his game is very simple for him… (just like Sampras) he knows what are his strengths and what he must do. Sometimes its better to have less variety and be good at what you do.

With Fed, it looks like he is spoilt for choices and more often than not he ends up making wrong choices against Nadal. Same with Murray as well.. he is more versatile than Nadal.. and you can sometimes see him making those silly dropshots at the wrong time.


Tejuz Says:

Ryan,

I remember Gulu was a Fed Fan… but ‘fed is afraid’ is a Nadal fanatic and anti-federer.


Ryan Says:

Besides fed is afrad says nadal will not go down without a fight even if he loses on clay. Who gives a damn…..he will go down eventually and it doesnt matter whether he fights or not….he is going down and u should come around here when that happens. Even Fed took the match to a 5th set. He didnt get bagelled in all 3 sets in the final. So saying that fed didnt fight is immature and stupid. But since he lost people like u are coming with smart dialogues. I’m waiting for the day Nadal loses on clay.


Ryan Says:

Then I’ll come out with a new name :Nadal is afraid…


Ryan Says:

To Tejuz:

From now on fed cant beat nadal….any surface…simple as that. AO proved it. Fed is a nervous wreck. Nadal has developed a strong flattened backhand so there is nothing for fed to take advantage of. People keep saying sliced backhands and this and that as if fed doesnt know. He has tried it all and failed. How can u beat someone who returns everyball u play. Nadal has to lose to someone else for fed to win another major. This is guaranteed now. And this woulda happened even last year in the US open. But fortunately fed got murray. Otherwise he woulda choked and lost there as well.


Ryan Says:

Fed couldnt beat nadal on clayp for fed maybe considering his one handed back in 2005 or 2006 which were Fed’s peak years. Dont tell me hamburg in 2007 coz as everyone knows that was fluke and nadal was exhausted.Then how the hell is he going to beat him at this stage even on grass. He is struggling to nadal and winning sets in tie breakers on GRASS. Fed is sliding downhill and nadal is peaking. No way……Its just a bad match up for fed considering his one handed backhand. But watever it is fed just has to pray that nadal loses to someone else out there like a gulbis or tsonga , djok or murray.Peace.


Ryan Says:

fed is afraid is a stinking curry basher


Tejuz Says:

Had Fed been massively outplayed by Nadal, he wouldnt have had more points than Nadal in the entire match, especially when he wasnt getting any free points on his serve(2nd set was 37% first serve but still won 6-3). Look at the Winners to Unforced errors.. Fed had 20+ winners more than Nadal and made around the same number of extra unforeced errors the entire match.. and most of those UFE were in the 5th set. So.. infact it was Fed who was dominating the rallies this time. Its more mental with Fed.. and thats what he has to overcome. And as long as he keeps reaching the semis and finals consistently(even when he is past his prime) he has a big chance.


Von Says:

Tejuz:

“Von,yeah.. Roche believes Fed can still beat Nadal at RG but conditions have to favour him. It has to be cloudy and damp.”

The rain helped Agassi against Medevdev, so who knows how the isotherms will shift at the FO in Fed’s favor.


Ryan Says:

To Tejuz:

Now look fed maybe a better and a more versatile player than nadal. But in the end the winner is not always the better player but the better player on the big points. This is something fed has not been doing against nadal for I dont know how long. Wimbledon 08 3 -0 in the second set…loses it 6 -4
AO 09 had the lead in the first set 4 -2…..loses it 7-5. Had the lead in the 3rd set loses it in a tiebreak. Monte Carlo last year 4 -1 in the second set loses it 7 -5. Hamburg 5 -1 lead and loses it 7-5. Its crazy there is no way fed is beating nadal from now on…….not wit all these demons he has to deal with. Nadal know he can come back any time and beat fed. Lets face it mentally fed cant catch up to nadal.No way. He maybe the better player but that doesnt mean anything until u win. Berdych mite be a better player than lets say djokovic. But who is the champ and who is the man…..so thats wat this comes down to. It doesnt matter how many points fed wins or watever. He is unable to win the right points against nadal coz of the curse of the cross court nadal forehand to his one handed backhand…….end of story.Besides fed is getting old anyway so forget it.


Tejuz Says:

Exactly Ryan .. thats what i am saying… Fed can play and beat Nadal.. but its between the ears for Fed..especially on big points. That means there is a chance that Fed can turn this thing around if he can get that thing sorted out between his ears

And its not as though Fed alone chokes.. Nadal choked that Wimby 4th set away when he was leading 5-2 in the tie-break and Fed came back from match point down to take it to 5th. And it wasnt just an error from Nadal.. but and great backhand pass on the run by Fed which saved that Match Point.


Ryan Says:

“there is a chance that Fed can turn this thing around if he can get that thing sorted out between his ears” But unfortunately its not gonna happen.Coz if it could have happened then he woulda done it by now.


Ryan Says:

If u cant learn from the past then u’ll never learn. Fed has not been learning on his big point crisis wit nadal. Look at djok for ex: he choked away so many set points UO 07 final and then next year AO 08 he played all the big points well.All of them. He didnt choke for a second. Fed this year had a lot less pressure. Coz last year he lost out in the semis. But again he was serving like a pussy in the final. This is not the attitude of a champ.I remember pete playing agassi in UO 02. Even he was going for his 14th major. Nobody had even done it before and there was more pressure on pete’s shoulders to explore the unknown and to set the record than for fed to equal it. But still he played classic tennis and beat agassi once and for all and finished his career. Thats wat real champions do. Look at Phelps…….everyone was like there is more competition in beijing than he had in athens…..the same thing people are saying bout federer now and blah blah and look wat he did. He destroyed it with 8 gold medals winnin races by milliseconds. If u cant live up to it mentally then ur not a champ and fed is a mentally weak champion especially wen playing nadal. Coz he keeps choking and its not once…..its everytime.
Its almost like he knows nadal is gonna win or something like that. Its crazy


David Says:

There continues to be some fine analysis on this site.

I agree that Federer’s mental state is perhaps an even bigger problem for him right now than being two years and counting beyond his physical prime as a tennis player. Everyone told him that he was the greatest player the world had ever seen. This was too much for even a young man of his intelligence and maturity to handle. After hearing such accolades for several years, even the most modest player could be forgiven for thinking to himself: Who am I to disagree with that consensus. Consequently, he may have felt for a while that all he had to do was show up, in order to break Sampras’ record and confirm the pundits’ assessments. Now he knows better and his inner world is in turmoil, as both he and the pundits reassess.

Federer has had coaches but soon fell out with them once he became a top player. He is a proud man and “the best ever”, according to a once unanimous decree. Joe suggests a tempting menu of helpers, with Gilbert, Mac and Goran. We should all be so lucky! However for Federer at this stage of his career, they represent a mix of temperaments and national proclivities which might not make the perfect stew. A top psychoanalyst or even an older mentor with emotional intelligence might help him as much as a coach.


Polo Says:

Federer has become a mess because he kept reading and believing all the praises the press has heaped on him. He became consumed into believing that he is the best ever. He never had a steady coach because he wanted all the accolades to go to him alone, i.e., no help from a coach, a trainer, a psychologist, etc. etc. Time for him to face the real world that he is no longer the best. He has already passed his prime. And to stay competitive at the top, he can no longer do it on his own. Follow Agassi’s lead, get help from others. There is no shame in that.


margot Says:

Fed has said he wants to keep playing competitively till he’s 35. I really, really hope he doesn’t, that could turn into a horrible spectator sport. Just one, or even two more grand slams then just go, leave us to our memories. Already people are starting to pity him.
He’s never never gonna beat Rafa on clay, so let him concentrate on surfaces where there’s still a possibility.


fed is afraid Says:

when nadal does lose to some up and comer, i have no doubt he will not go down in the wimpy and desultory manner that federer repeatably does with nadal. rafa is a fighter, something roger doesn’t seem to know much about.


Jen Says:

Sean Randall I’ve read some of your articles now and I find you very bias against Nadal. In 2006, you predicted he’d hardly give federer a fight when in 2005, I already could see he’d be a genuine contender for the slams – and not just clay! You need to be more objective and see what is shown to you, not what you fancy and what you’d like to see! Here again you predict he won’t win a calender slam but he’ll prove you wrong again!!! People who want a fairer coverage should read The Times Online.


David Says:

Great commentary. You have seen the matches and reached a fair conclusion of where Nadal and Federers’ games are at, and right now it is one way traffic. I am excited about Federer getting a new coach. I think he needs a push and a mental shift to get back in the game, and although I am a big Nadal fan, I would be very disappointed if Federer did not come back this year with some hard fought wins over Rafa. This year is possibly his last chance to win back some credibility in his rivalry with Nadal, as Rafa just keeps getting better, and Federer’s age will start to take a toll by 2010.


Linecall Says:

Roger is not a fighter. He is a coward. He has not an oz of the nerve and courage of Nadal. Fed likes to play pretty tennis and win without much resistence. He’s never looked happy in a dog fight – always irritated and when he loses, he takes his ritual swipes at his victor. He’s afraid of competition unlike Nadal who thrives on it. Now nearing the dumps, Fed is chickening out.

Randall, I predict Fed WILL NOT be no. 1 this year – he’ll be lucky to keep no. 2! And he won’t win FO or Wimb. Than he’ll really hate the ring around being introduced on court as world no. 3 or 4. And baby excuse will set in.

Why? Because this is a person who is weakened by defeats whereas it has the opposite effect of Rafa who learns from it and improves the next time he steps on court! All this time, Fed believed the media and his fans that he’s the greatest. Now he’s being dragged down from his high horse, he doesn’t know what to do. He forgot what this level is like.


Bethany Says:

Anyone who thinks Federer is going to win a GS this year with a baby on the way, and the birth is scheduled around Wimbledon, is deluding themselves. Footballers take a year to really get over a first birth – subsequent ones don’t seem to have the same effect. Most tennis player fathers do not do so well on tour – reason so many of them delay marriage until their careers are over – the two are not compatible. Mirka is going to want Fed to do his fair share of late nights, parenting, etc. No GS this year for Fed.

Top story: Davis Cup Final Preview: Why I Think Roger Federer's Swiss Team Comes Up Just Short Against France
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