Roger Federer: He’s Your (Career) Grand Slam Man
by Dan Martin | June 8th, 2009, 9:47 pm
  • 99 Comments

I don’t want my columns to sound as though they are a few connecting sentences holding together sayings from fortune cookies, but there is an old saying in sports about one needing to never get too high after a win or too low after a loss. The 2009 Men’s French Open may be an exception that proves the rule.

A Short Recap of the Championship Match

The first set was an exercise in one player coming out tight and the other taking advantage. Robin Soderling was tense. Roger Federer played a tidy set that did not give the Swede time to settle.

The second set saw a few backhand errors and miscues sneak into Federer’s game even prior to the madman who ran onto the court. Both men served well during the second set. I think the rain made footing a bit dicey and left the returner planted on the court giving the server a big edge in the subsequent rallies. Federer hitting four aces on four service points in the tie-breaker was a clutch performance. Federer also hit two forehand winners amounting to six clean winners in a race to seven.

The third set opened with Soderling seemingly still mesmerized by Federer’s flawless tie-breaker. The early break led to a fairly routine set for Federer despite having to save two break points.

Federer and Those to Never Win in Paris

While Ivan Lendl was bewitched by Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg’s attacking tennis on grass, many other top tennis players failed to conquer red clay. Tennis luminaries such as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, and Pete Sampras never won the French Open. Each champion had at least one near miss and plenty of heart break in Paris. Less decorated winners of multiple majors including Lleyton Hewitt, Patrick Rafter, and Marat Safin also failed to solve Roland Garros. Prior to his French Open win, Roger Federer had amassed enough near misses to almost encapsulate all of the disappointments of Connors, McEnroe, Becker, Edberg and Sampras. One could sense John McEnroe’s admiration when he asked Federer if he could hold the trophy.

Fourteen Majors and a Career Grand Slam

Pete Sampras’ greatest achievement was setting the all-time Grand Slam title mark at fourteen. Andre Agassi’s greatest achievement was winning the career Grand Slam. Roger Federer has now equaled the greatest achievements of the top two players from the prior generation.

Where Does Federer Go from Here?

Late in Andre Agassi’s career he seemed to be champion emeritus on tour. Young players looked up to him, fans admired his generosity and his results were generally good enough to make him a threat. Roger Federer’s game is not where it was 2004-2006. His competition is also more formidable. If Federer is unfazed by not winning over 90% of his matches and winning 11.33 titles per year as he did between 2004-2006, he can be champion emeritus at a much younger age.

Roger will turn 28 in August 2009. He is married and has a child on the way. He has tied Pete Sampras’ Grand Slam record, but due to winning Roland Garros most will say that the tie goes to Federer. While some will always find faults and question Federer’s body of work, he goes forth from this event with a lot more freedom than if he had tied Sampras’ record on a hard or grass court.

During the hard court Summer of 2007, I thought Roger seemed to be playing more cautious tennis. In 2008, he got roughed up at the Australian Open by Novak Djokovic, got humiliated by Nadal at the French Open and got dethroned by Nadal at Wimbledon. Prior to the 2008 U.S. Open, I sensed that he might never win another major title. He was so close to a career goal and to not achieve it would lead to whispers of “he won five consecutive … but could not quite get there.” Winning the 2008 U.S. Open made me think that Federer would get to fourteen majors, but that it might take a couple of years.

Now that he has fourteen major titles, Roger Federer can swing more freely. Nadal is already a great champion. Djokovic and Andy Murray are all extremely formidable players. Juan Martin del Potro is on the cusp of being in that same league. Time guarantees that a few young players will emerge and become elite. Furthermore, players such as Soderling might be late bloomers a la Patrick Rafter.

Federer being able to swing freely and not worry about where he stands, is a frightening thought. We saw how tightly wound he was at this year’s Australian Open. Federer now has the anchor of knowing that he equaled Pete Sampras’ fourteen major titles and completed a career Grand Slam. I also suspect that the sense of purpose and perspective brought on by parenthood will further temper most anxieties regarding tennis results.

All of this serenity, might lead Roger to lose his edge. After all, how many dragons are left to slay? Is winning a Davis Cup title or a singles medal at the 2012 Olympics worth living out of a suitcase when he could be playing with his infant?

On the other hand, Roger might like to test his game against a host of talented younger players knowing that every win adds to his legacy, but that no loss can tarnish his body of work. In that case, Federer as the champion emeritus at various events will be akin to seeing former greats such as Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Mats Wilander hanging around the Grand Slam events except that Federer will be relatively young and someone’s semifinal opponent. After playing several years of tennis with a lot of expectations on his shoulders, my guess is Roger wants to play at least a few years as a guy with a lot of game and nothing to lose.

5 After Thoughts

1.I was glad John McEnroe brushed aside the Tiger Woods-Roger Federer comparisons. I like golf, well I like disc golf, but one sport requires walking 4 miles over 3 hours to strike a stationary object while the other requires split second decisions regarding a moving object while running.

2.For those who complain Tennis-X does not have enough pro-Federer content, I can only say my Facebook posts after the match confirm that I am a Federer fan.

3.If you don’t believe #2 check out the Roger Federer song (my only obnoxious post). Maybe this can replace Rick Rolling…

4.As I mentioned in a thread, I was impressed with Soderling’s speech, I felt bad when I saw his parents, but he has a lot to be proud of and look forward to.

5. Juan Martin del Potro is an early candidate to win the U.S. Open.


Also Check Out:
Rivalry Renewed: Serena Meets Henin in Australian Open Final
Poll: Will Novak Djokovic Ever Win The French Open And The Career Grand Slam?
Roger Federer Has Now Won More Grand Slam Matches Than Anyone In Tennis History
Bryan Brothers Win 2nd French Open, 2nd Career Grand Slam
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: “This Year I Want To Win A Grand Slam”

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99 Comments for Roger Federer: He’s Your (Career) Grand Slam Man

Shan Says:

Re Soderling – he was very gracious in his interviews – thumbs up and here’s hoping he’ll have wins at ATP 500 and higher events!

I wonder though how Soderling had his best results on surfaces other than clay just considering his wide swinging forehand. He could benefit from shortening it, I’m surprised it just seems like there’s so much unnecessary movement there.


Ra Says:

Nice post, Dan.

“even prior to the madman who ran onto the court” is a phrase I hope needs never to be repeated in reference to a future match.


Mina Says:

Me too, Ra. That moment could have been incredibly scary. I know the sometimes streakers and crazy super-fans can temporarily get past security and run onto the court, but they should never get close enough to physically TOUCH a player before being stopped. By the time that slightly less useless security guard tackled him, he had enough time to seriously injure one if not both players.

On a lighter note – nice post, Dan!


margot Says:

I think this victory will set Federer free! Awesome thought! How about 3 more slam?
JMDP USO? Hmm. Don’t think he moves well enough at mo. Future perhaps. Also needs Murray’s fitness coach.


Dan Martin Says:

Margot, I think JMDP has moved into the list of serious contenders that obviously contains the 4 guys ranked ahead of him as well. I don’t think JMDP wins in NY (with no results yet to see his hard court form or anyone else’s for that matter), I just think he goes from long shot to realistic contender sooner or later at majors. It shows how top heavy tennis has been since 2004 that a #5 player in the world needed a near miss to be considered a real threat down the line. I think grass still has too low of a bounce even if it is slower to be a realistic break through for JMDP so I think NY is the first slam he will enter as one of the guys inside the velvet rope in terms of contender vs. pretender (another fortune cookie saying).

As for the madman, I think and I am serious, tennis may want to pull a “ball man” from Seinfeld and have at least a few older ball kids (18-25) on court who double as extra security.


Ra Says:

Mina,

“…but they should never get close enough to physically TOUCH a player…”

Yeah, totally. For me, that’s exactly when it crosses the line from idiotic and inappropriate to horrific.

Dan,

I agree w.r.t. JMDP’s being a possible contender. I’d said at one point prior to the semifinals that while a year ago at this time I think JMDP was overrated, at this point in time I think he’s underrated. Way back when he strung those 4 titles (if I recall correctly) together, I felt that he had unquestionably demonstrated the mental fortitude to be the guy that comes out on top, but I also felt it was too early to be singing his praises as to the level of actual tennis he was playing (since he hadn’t faced the top guys to claim those titles). He continues to improve, however, and has now beaten or given the top tier players a serious run for their money. And considering almost no one has shown quite pristine consistency over the past few months (with the exceptions of himself and Roddick, maybe), it looks to me like he’ll be right in the mix for the foreseeable future. And that he continues to improve suggests that he’ll probably take good lessons from and put the experience of his first GS semi run to good use.


jules Says:

Fed will not lose his edge yet, at least not for one more slams. Now at 14 he is ‘sharing’ the record with Pete, how can that be good enough? :-)


TejuZ Says:

Dan, Agree with what you have written.

Fed will not go back to winning ways of 2005-2006, but hez still the man to beat at Grand-Slams. Until he starts losing consistently before the semi-finals, he will always be the man to beat.. along with Nadal. Murray might win some Masters Series, but i still don’t see him winning any Majors this year. He is over-rated by the British Media. Djoker and JMDP might rise at the Grand Slams.

I get the feeling Nadal wants to save himself from tiring to give a good shot at the US open this year. He will play Wimbledon, but will probabaly miss the smaller tournaments.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Dan
Nice comment.
The Before Madrid period now seems so long ago, doesn’t it? When all the world thought Fed was delusional for not recognizing that he needed a coach, or needed a retooled backhand, or whatever, while Fed insisted nothing was wrong, he’d just had an off year.
As soon as Fed made that Madrid final, I began to wonder if we could be seeing a new Fed era begining- and a third era to the Rivalry. Now it looks as though Nadal may not be able to share in that. How sad that would be for tennis fans, if indeed Rog has returned to form, to miss the quality finals we would have expected between the two. So I certainly hope Nadal returns to full form.
BUT, although the sky is the limit again for Fed, the wildcard is his family life. I don’t think its possible, even for Fed himself, to predict how a baby will affect him. Many a tennis career has been shuttered by marital bliss. Perhaps Fed will be one who draws inspiration from fatherhood, and wants to push himself to greater heights.
How the storylines have changed so quickly from just a month ago!


Polo Says:

Federer may never win another tournament again but I, as a fan, will still feel satisfied that I have witnessed such virtuosity on the tennis court and feel gratified that he has fulfilled his dream to win all the majors. He has made his mark. Another player may catch up and surpass him later but when that time comes, Roger would have been long retired and relishing a different life, more involved with his family and other endeavors he may eventually pursue. Hopefully, he will age like Sampras, be fuller with wisdom and gracious to pass on the laurels to another deserving athlete. Sampras did that, acknowledge Roger’s supremacy and this makes him (Sampras) look even bigger to me.


margot Says:

Hi Dan Martin: I agree with your qualification re JMDP, yes he’s proved himself a serious contender now. The rest of the years gonna be very exciting, especially with Rafa’s knees thrown into the mix. However, methinks there’s a bit of spinning going on from his camp re the knees. Are Americans familiar with the concept of “spinning” rather a feature of Tony Blair’s government…I’ll say no more…


jane Says:

Dan, I agree with your assessment of JMDP, and the “Seinfeld” ball kids/grown-ups, so long as they’re not like Kramer. LOL.

I thought that “crazy guy” turned out to be no threat at all, per the link to his website which NachoF provided on the other thread; isn’t he a sort of “professional” court jumper? i.e., he does this all the time and means no harm? I guess it could still be seen as scary given past events, which is too bad. Otherwise it could be seen as a light and funny moment, like the streakers of yore.


jane Says:

Yes margot, we’re aware of “spin”; however, I disagree about Nadal given that the knees have been a recurring issue. And I think we should give these athletes the benefit of the doubt when it comes to injuries and illnesses (all mentioned on other thread so won’t go into detail here).

Looks like Murray’s found a good doubles partner in Hewitt!


jane Says:

Ra says “Way back when he strung those 4 titles (if I recall correctly) together, I felt that he had unquestionably demonstrated the mental fortitude to be the guy that comes out on top,”

I’ve always thought that mentally JMDP is a true champ/contender. I remember when he cried (!) after losing to Murray at the USO, and I thought to myself “this guy hates to lose”. But then throughout the rest of last year and the beginning of this year, he wasn’t doing so well in the big matches. The top players seemed to have a read on his game and while he could beat those below him it seemed like he didn’t do as well against the others. However, he’s now beaten Murray, Nadal, and taken Fed to the brink. I am convinced his serve and his movement have improved, and he is working on adding variety. He’s got so much power. He’ll be a force on the hard courts, if not the grass.


sports fan Says:

I do not like making predictions, but here we go anyway………What Federer did in Paris is going to lift the load off his shoulders totally, and what I expect is to see him play some really good tennis the rest of the year…….Will it be the way he played from 2003-2007. Probably not, but I make him the favorite for Wimbeldon just ahead of Nadal….Behind Nadal I put Djokovic and Murray in that order…….As for Nadal he is going to be just fine, and in fact after he lost in Paris I was waiting for the knee thing to come up as that seems to be the common response from the nadal camp for his defeats……I believe that every professional athlete out there plays with some kind of pain, and it is how you deal and play with the pain that seperates the men from the boys…..There is no better example of this than Roger Federer…..I would imagine that at least 3 or 4 of his majors that he has won has been won when he was not 100%………It just seems to me that Nadal might have a serious obsessive compulsive disorder to where if everything is not just perfect he cannot play his best tennis, and if that is the case he needs to get some help because this rivalry needs him to be in the finals of these major events and I promise you Federer wants him in the finals of these events, and anybody who doesn’t agree is delusional…….I believe there is a good chance that Federer will break the record at Wimbeldon this year to win his 15 major……The end of the year will be pretty odd for Roger Federer because this summer he is going to become a father…..I think there is a good chance that Roger will miss Montreal and possibly Cincinatti before playing the US Open which I believe is where you are going to see Roger’s intensity level come down a bit and will possibly have his record of semifinal appearences broken……Next year we will really know where Roger is at as far as what he will want out of tennis from that point on since he will have accomplished everything in the game more than likely…….I think that Roger will play 2-3 more years of good tennis: not what we saw for 5 or 6 years in a row but good enough to be in contention for majors with Nadal and the other up and coming players……Prediction…..Roger ends his career with 17-18 major titles……7-8 Wimbeldons…..6 US Opens….3 Australian Opens…..1 French Open…….Prediction……Nadal ends his career with 12-13 majors……7-8 French Opens……2 Australian Opens….2 Wimbeldons……1 US Open……..Let me know what you think.


ferix Says:

Okay so Nadal did his press conference today…

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/8085394.stm

We still don’t know whether he will play wimbledon, so what was the point of it?

He said he’s been playing injured for a while now, which conveniently covers the Madrid and FO losses. He really, really could have done without that statement.


Kimo Says:

Federer did an interview with CNN, the other day. He said that retirement could not be further from his mind at the moment. He said he wanted to give tennis at the 2012 olympics a shot, especially because it will be played at Wimbledon. He said that it is Mirka’s wish that he keep on playing long enough for his children to see it.


Dan Martin Says:

Sports fan – the predictions seem reasonable. When is Mirka due?


Kimo Says:

sportsfan, I think your prediction on Roger is almost exactly like mine, hoever I disagree that Rafa will win 7-8 French Opens. I just don’t see three more good years for him in order for him to collect at least three French Opens.

I think he’ll be forced to retire by the time he’s 26. His knees can only endure so much, if that.


andrea Says:

bum news about nadal’s knees….hopefully just a temporary thing. don’t know how brutal tendinitis can be but from the word on the street, it’s not a good thing.


SG Says:

I think Rafa will be a 9 or 10 major guy. An incredible career by any standard. He plays such a physical game. I doubt he can play like he does now three years down the road. One thing’s for sure. I believe that Nadal will go down as the TOAT (Toughest Of All Time).


FoT Says:

To the Nadal fans – if you can answer. Usually when Rafa’s knees are bothering him, doesn’t he tape them up to give them more support? I ask because I noticed that when he got on the clay, he took the tape off and didn’t seem to be bothered by his knees at all. I watched many of his matches and there was no indication that anything was wrong. Now he’s saying he’s been bothered by paid for months now.

Have you guys (since you follow him closer than I do) noticed anything wrong with his knees for the past 2 or 3 months?


Dan Martin Says:

I like it. Can’t we settle on these two titles for awhile – TOAT – Rafa MCOAT – Most Consistent of All Time – Federer

Bonus question – Who was Disgruntled Goat?


SG Says:

Rafa could be engaging in a little “gamesmanship”. Who knows? Upper echelon athletes have their own sensibilities.


SG Says:

Dan,

Disgruntled Goat? No clue? As for TOAT and MCOAT, I’ll buy it. Sounds about right.


sensationalsafin Says:

Let’s say Nadal is blowing the knee thing out of proportion. Would you really think it’s gamesmanship? Maybe it’s just like Federer’s back after the AO. It’s there, just not as serious as everyone is making it seem. And why is being over exaggerated? Maybe because Nadal just lost the tournament that started it all for him where he was undefeated and the 4 time defending champ and going for history of his own. Maybe he’s now recovering mentally because it was a tough blow. Is that really so bad? Pulling out of Queens is like a parallel to Federer pulling out of Dubai. Like Federer, Nadal loves the sport and is very motivated and the FO loss was probably a huge blow. Give the guy a break. He needs time to recover. There’s nothing wrong with that.


Dan Martin Says:

Disgruntled Goat is not a tennis player or even a human. Lunch hour is ending so I look forward to people’s answers on that one.


jane Says:

“Pulling out of Queens is like a parallel to Federer pulling out of Dubai. Like Federer, Nadal loves the sport and is very motivated and the FO loss was probably a huge blow. Give the guy a break. He needs time to recover. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Well said sensationalsafin.


Kimo Says:

News: Roger Federer’s hometown of Basel has announced that its St. Jakobshalle stadium will be renamed Roger Federer Arena.

I always knew this was going to happen, but I didn’t want it to happen before Fed retires. Now if he loses on that court players will gloat: “I beat him on his own court.”

He will also be featured on the cover of next week’s Sports Illustrated. Way to go Rog :)


Twocents Says:

Hello, Margot. Just got back from Paris.

Have to run, but how cannot a Texan feel flattered when asked for Shakespeare by a Brit! I share your amusement a lot on this whole “Wimbledon Champion Nadal (the clay monster) and French Open Champion Federer (the white blazer)” comedy. LOL!

How about:

Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.

or

O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!


Kimo Says:

sensationalsafin said:

“Pulling out of Queens is like a parallel to Federer pulling out of Dubai.”

I would agree with you that both tournaments are of the same significance in terms of points, but they are hardly the same.

1. Queen’s is Wimbledon’s warm-up tournnament; the most prestigious tournament in the sport. Dubai is the warm up of….Indian Wells.

2. Fed withdrew to make sure he doesn’t push his luck too far with his back. Nadal actually waited till his knees blew out, and had he won at RG he would have still played Queen’s. Not very smart.


jane Says:

Kimo “had he won at RG he would have still played Queen’s.” And how do you know this? Can I borrow your crystal ball? There’s some stuff I want to find out. : )

BTW, anyone know if Fed has stated outright he will play Halle? I thought it was up in the air, per the other thread, but I have not heard one way or the other. His name is still on the draw but…


Kimo Says:

jane said:

“Kimo “had he won at RG he would have still played Queen’s.” And how do you know this? Can I borrow your crystal ball? There’s some stuff I want to find out. : )”

I appreciate the sarcasm, I really do. I know that becasue that is the kind of guy Nadal has been for the past four years. When he’s on a roll he doesn’t know when to quit.

Let’s see:

(Monte Carlo 2009, Barcelona 2009, Rome 2009, Madrid 2009?)

(Monte Carlo 2007, Barcelona 2007, Rome 2007, Hamgurg 2007?)

He lost in Madrid and in Hamburg against the same guy because of the same reason: He was too damn tired. But did he learn his lesson? NOOOOOOOOO.

See a pattern?


sensationalsafin Says:

Kimo, I’m not saying Dubai and Queens are of the same significance. I’m just saying they’re both fairly small tournaments that Federer and Nadal enjoy, respectively, and would have probably had played in them had they not suffered tough losses.

And you’re right about the knees vs back thing. I mean, Federer is clearly a lot smarter with his scheduling and injury management than Nadal. Or the team is smarter than the other team, whatever. But the parallel is not within the injuries, it’s the timing of the event. This is assuming that the injury is actually a cover up to the mental blow the players experienced. Dubai was going to be Fed’s first tournament after the AO where he lost a heartbreaker and still wasn’t fully recovered mentally. Queens is right after the FO where Nadal lost his best tournament and he needs time to recover mentally as well.


Kimo Says:

Federer pulled out of Halle, now there’s a guy who knows when to call it a day.


the mind reels Says:

I posted this on the other article too, but FYI:

Fed will not be playing Halle:

http://www.gerryweber-open.de/en/current-news/news-gerry-weber-open/?id=3505


tennisontherocks Says:

Disgruntled Goat : Connors or Lendl??? both have 8 majors…but such strong resumes otherwise. Connors at least got to enjoy some fan support, Lendl never even had that.

I am hoping that Roger will play more freely now and not saddle himself with breaking more records (like winning 7+ wimbledons or so on). But even then, he may end up winning only couple more slams and will need some help from the draw. Except for wimbledon, I no longer see him winning a slam by beating say, Del Potro, Murray and Nadal in row. He has the talent, but as you get older the it just gets harder to recover from matches.

About Rafa’s knees: right from his first slam, he has had lower body issues. I think they are real. Yet, he is strong enough mentally that he can play through them. He himself has never made issue about them. But usually its uncle Toni or some other guy from his team talking about them. Monfils also had knee issue before RG and played great in quarters…so Rafa should be ok. But due to his lack of prep, he would rather not see a big serving/hitting guy in the first round. Once he gets couple of matches underway, he will be ok.


Kimo Says:

I see your point sensationalsafin, but somehow I think this Nadal situation is not just mental. I think he’s in serious trouble this time. I hope he comes out of it ok.


jane Says:

Kimo, I am not saying Nadal doesn’t overpack his schedule; there’s no doubt that he does. And I personally hate when he plays injured, like he did in the USO 07 – I figure the guy should skip it and get better. So imo this is a good move. Pull out of Queens, rest the knees and see what happens at Wimbledon, which is obviously of more importance. But I still don’t think you can know that Rafa would’ve played Queens had he won the French. Similarly, we don’t know that Federer would’ve played at Halle in 2007 if he had won the FO as opposed to losing in the finals. It’s tough to say.


Kimo Says:

tennisontherocks said:

“Except for wimbledon, I no longer see him winning a slam by beating say, Del Potro, Murray and Nadal in row.”

I agree with you completely. Federer is the best grasscourt player among those playing now, and by quite a margin. Nadal is good too, but he’s not as natural on grass as Federer. On hard courts, the fields widens and the competition grows.

Federer on grass is pure magic.


jane Says:

Thanks for the update on Fed pulling out of Halle – I was wondering when we’d know. Someone will have a nice primary spot on that draw now.


Kimo Says:

Djokovic and Murray must be thinking it’s Christmas. No Nadal AND no Federer. :DDD


jane Says:

Maybe Kimo, but regardless of Nadal and Fed’s withdrawals, both Murray and Djoko have some stiff competition at their respective events. Djoko, if he wins the next round, could meet Kiefer, who always does very well at Halle. Murray has Lopez (who plays well on grass), Safin, Roddick, Simon, Cilic. Djoko, if he passes Kiefer, has Tsonga, Haas, Berdych.

So I don’t think these guys have gifts to open just yet…


Dan Martin Says:

Murray might think it is boxing day – Disgruntled Goat was a cartoon character mentioned on The Simpsons at some point (a friend of Itchy and Scratchy).


margot Says:

Two cents: how nice to have you back! Were you at RG? I was there last year. Fabulous tournament. I was thinking of King Lear myself: “Most savage and unnatural.” act3 sc3!!!
ferix et al: exactly what I mean by spin
everyone: heard on beeb 2day Grigor Dimitrov is future star, Junior Wimbledon champ and a real charmer with a very sensible ma. Plays 2morrow against Simon.


jane Says:

Here’s an article on that crazy fan, a.k.a. “Jimmy Jump”: apparently he’s been arrested and could serve prison time:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/frenchopen/5469188/French-Open-2009-Intruder-Jimmy-Jump-approaches-Roger-Federer-during-final.html


tennisontherocks Says:

Found this interesting article on espn and a pretty good attempt at ‘objective’ analysis of GOAT debate…and more importantly, very good summary of various player’s achievements.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=tennis/090608

With their points system, Roger will reach the GOAT spot with couple more years with deep slam runs and top 3 ranking finish. But Connors/lendl do finish much higher in the list than they usually get credit for.


jane Says:

tennisontherocks – that’s a very interesting points system. And it’s true that Connors’ longevity was amazing, not to mention being in the top 3 in the world for TWELVE years consecutive. Wow – that’s CRAZY CONSISTENCY.

I also think it’s relevant that some of these guys hardly played the Australian, like Borg only ever entering the event once. It shows that one cannot go solely on grand slams won to determine how great a career was.

I also like that they limit it to a particular era because again it makes for a stronger and fairer comparison.

It’ll never be settled, I suspect. But all the 11 guys on their list are surely deserving of being there as some of the greatest players to play tennis.


jane Says:

I think the other thing that points system does — and especially the little blurb at the bottom about Connors — is debunk the notion that Fed is the MCOAT. Connors has him beat. i mean besides the 12 consecutive years in the top 3, there is this stat, which is amazing:

“From 1973 Wimbledon through the 1985 U.S. Open, [Connors] played in 35 majors and reached the quarterfinals in 34 of them (and the semifinals in 28 of them).”


tennisontherocks Says:

So here is a crazy thought: maybe Roger should hire Jimbo as the coach now, as Jimbo may has the best record among all after becoming a father.


Kimo Says:

I like that ranking system.


Dan Martin Says:

Jane, Connors skipped the Aussie Open every year after 1975 so he consistently reached the quarters or further in slams he played. He skipped the French for 5 or 6 years as well after being barred in 1974. Connors was great and I loved the guy, but GOAT or MCOAT? – He’s neither. On the GOAT front if Fed is going to get dinged for a bad head to head vs. Nadal, Connors had losing records against McEnroe, Lendl, Borg, Wilander. Federer reached 10 consecutive slam finals without skipping any and the old record was 4. The new #2 in that category is Federer with 5 consecutive finals and counting. Longest slam final streaks in the Open era (sorry not digging beyond that point) Federer 10, Federer 5 (active), 4 Laver & Agassi.


Kimo Says:

I agree with everything you wrote Dan, and I’ll ask you to wait just a couple more years till Fed breaks the other records. ;)


Kimo Says:

I pasted this link yesterday but it got lost in a blizzard of posts. I think it’s an interesting read:

http://www.tennis.com/features/greatestshots/index.aspx


Dan Martin Says:

I know even Borg was 4 or 5 years younger than Connors so some of that is unfair due to age, but if longevity is part of the deal you have to beat people younger than you. I did leave his head to head record with Becker off due to his age. He was 5-4 vs. G. Vilas and 2-2 vs. John Newcomb, he owned Vitas G. 15-6, was 7-2 vs. Kriek …

Federer’s slam final streak & semifinal streak are unparalleled even if ESPN found someone from Belleville, IL to make a rankings formula.


tennisontherocks Says:

‘On the GOAT front if Fed is going to get dinged for a bad head to head vs. Nadal, Connors had losing records against McEnroe, Lendl, Borg, Wilander.’

All 4 guys you mentioned are at least 4 or more years younger than Jimbo. with exception of Borg, we never quite had Jimmy at his peak vs these 4 at their peak. But even when Jimmy was not at his peak, he did not loose to some journeyman in the first round and ended up loosing to the current top guys in the later rounds of the slams.

In few more years, Roger may very well have the exact problem. He does not loose to Soderling or Kohlschreiber or Gonzo, but ends up loosing to Rafa or Murray or Novak in late stages of tourneys. So I am not sure if its possible to have both the long term consistency and the best record against other great players.


funches Says:

The absolute worst thing to do in the GOAT argument is to create an objective system to measure greatness. It takes thought out of the process, and we have brains for a reason.

Connors is not a realistic candidate for GOAT because he got tooled too many times by Borg and McEnroe. When they played at their peak ability, he could not compete with them. Even Lendl at his peak was a better player than Connors ever was – bigger serve, bigger forehand, better endurance.

McEnroe would be a candidate if he had sustained his brilliance, but he didn’t. Borg would be a candidate if he had won the U.S. Open, but he didn’t.

Federer, Sampras and Laver are the only legitimate candidates in the discussion, which is why they usually are the only candidates in the discussion. They are the three guys who were far better than any of their contemporaries at their peak and never ran into anyone who was clearly better than they were at any part of their prime.

Don’t give me Nadal with Federer, at least not yet. The only reason he has a winning record against Federer is Federer is good enough to reach the final of almost every event on Nadal’s best surface (and not just his best surface, but the surface where he plays better than anyone in tennis history), while Rafa rarely has gotten to the final of events on Fed’s best surfaces with the exception of Wimbledon, where Federer is 2-1 against him.

And for what it’s worth, Connors’ run of semifinals or better was in an era that had no depth. The players at the top were very good, but players below the top 20 had zero chance of knocking off a top guy unless he had an awful day. Federer is playing in an era when the 200th-ranked player in the world can hit winners from 10 feet behind the baseline and you have to bring it every match to avoid an upset.


Dan Martin Says:

Tennis on the Rocks – I agree about the age thing, but Federer is 4 years 10 months older than Rafa so if a 4-5 year age gap hurts one’s chances in a head to head record then Federer is clear just like Jimmy. I love Connors. Still, 2 of his 5 years he finished at #1 he did not win a single slam. In 1975, Jimmy was runner-up at 3 Slams so ok he can be #1 with no clams. In 1977 Borg won Wimbledon and Vilas won Roland Garros and the U.S. Open, but Jimmy was #1 for the year. No way under any ranking system Federer or Sampras played under would that happen. In 1978 Borg won Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but Bjorn finished #2 to Connors who did win the U.S. Open.


jane Says:

funches says “The absolute worst thing to do in the GOAT argument is to create an objective system to measure greatness. ”

Well then it cannot be resolved, simply because people with have “subjective” opinions which disagree with others’ subjective opinions.

I thought the ESPN scoring system was good as it included competition, longevity, ranking (top 3) and slam titles, plus it limited the era. Even so there are differentials not considered, in that slam titles would be limited for those very players who did not play the AO regularly, like Borg, Mac and Connors. And I am not going into racquet technology et al. But at least this system tries to find a level play field.

I don’t think it matters where the person who came up with the scoring system is from (?); it seemed like a reasonable one.

Anyhow, I won’t belabour the topic. I’ll leave for the keener ones.


MMT Says:

Dan, this is an even better explanation of the problems with the #1 ranking than I gave Von on a previous thread, thanks for that.

I disagree with Tennisontherocks abou the age thing – Connors had one good year in 1974 beating Rosewall (who was 39) twice out of 3 slams. At the end of the day, age is irrelevant. Either you beat who’s across the net from you or you don’t.

For that matter, this business of points for beating other champions is inherently unfair to the winner of slams. After all, why get additional points for another’s results? This is really just a weak competition argument disguised as a strong competitition reward, but at the end of the day, the more you beat your competitors, the less likely they are to make this list and pad your numbers.

It is a nice thought though – I may use it to do my own cross era analysis of Gonzales, Laver and Federer/Sampras.


Dan Martin Says:

Connors had an excellent 1982 as well. He won Wimbledon and Queen’s beating Mac at both. He won the U.S. Open beating Lendl. He should have been #1 in 1982.

Vilas got robbed in 1977. He won the French, Borg was barred, and the U.S. Open beating, he won 14 other tournaments and finished #2 to Jimmy who won zero slams that year.


margot Says:

This is where the GOAT thing is daft,IMHO Connors was a hustler, indeed a very effective hustler, but Federer is a maestro, in no way are you comparing like with like.


SG Says:

Connors was a maestro of a different sort. He beat Lendl in consecutive USO’s with smarts and guile. Tactics that a lot of today’s players could really learn from. It seems that all the power in today’s game has numbed the mind a little. Connors didn’t really start losing to Lendl heavily until he was in his mid thirties. (34 or 35). By that time Lendl was quite a bit younger than him.

Nadal and Connors are very mentally similar in terms of how they approach matches. You may be beat them, but not without getting blood on your shirt (some of yours and some of theirs).


Mina Says:

MMT Says:
“…this business of points for beating other champions is inherently unfair to the winner of slams. After all, why get additional points for another’s results? This is really just a weak competition argument disguised as a strong competitition reward, but at the end of the day, the more you beat your competitors, the less likely they are to make this list and pad your numbers…”

Excellent point. If a player is so dominant that they prevent others from winning any Slams (or you have 2 dominant players like Federer and Nadal hoarding all of them), they simply have no other champions to beat. That’s why the “weak competition” argument (as you’ve stated before) is invalid if you base it solely on how many Slams players in a certain era have. 1 or 2 dominant players completely skew the results and make the competition seem weaker on paper than they truly are/were.

This is probably why the WTA eliminated those stupid “quality points” for beating players based on ranking. Higher ranked players were at a slight disadvantage because they rarely met any players until the final rounds that they could earn a decent amount of quality points from, while mid- or low-ranked players could earn significant points all throughout a tournament if they had a good run.


Skorocel Says:

“4.As I mentioned in a thread, I was impressed with Soderling’s speech, I felt bad when I saw his parents, but he has a lot to be proud of and look forward to.”

Just curious about those parents… Can you please elaborate on this one?


skeezerweezer Says:

sportsfan,

I agree with you and on other posts also predict Fed should reach 18. His game looks good, better, in fact than I have seen in the last two years. His dropshots, and serve, along with straightening out the great forehand of his, has made him real solid again. Thank you Sampras, who son nivcely one of the fist tennis champs to say Rog is the greatest. There are people up here that will not give him that, (even Bud Collins?) do to his losing record against Rafa. If you check the History books Sampras had a losing record I think against Kraject? So that argument is out the window. Look, in this sport, you can pick who you play in a GS final or any tourney for that matter. So what is the oint. I will never convince th anti FED movement although I will never understand why they don’t like the guy. When he hits 18, all this will be moot. I’m out


Skorocel Says:

funches said: “Don’t give me Nadal with Federer, at least not yet. The only reason he has a winning record against Federer is Federer is good enough to reach the final of almost every event on Nadal’s best surface (and not just his best surface, but the surface where he plays better than anyone in tennis history), while Rafa rarely has gotten to the final of events on Fed’s best surfaces with the exception of Wimbledon, where Federer is 2-1 against him.”

When you look at their H2H, the ratio between the clay and non-clay matches is 11:9, so one would logically assume their H2H should be pretty much similar as well. However, 13:7 is anything but similar… Outside of clay, Fed’s leading only by a whisker (5:4), and it could’ve easily been vice-versa had the umpire Steve Ulrich, in the 3rd set of that Miami 2005 final, seen that one Fed’s shot landing wide (I guess it was at 3:4, 0-30, Fed serving)… Not to mention that he was a bit lucky when Nadal blew his knee in the 4th set of their Wimby 2007 final…


funches Says:

Federer is one of only two players to beat Nadal on clay twice, so I’d say his record on dirt against Rafa is quite good even though he is 2-9.

Again, Rafa’s brilliance on clay distorts everything. At best, only a third of the year is played on clay, so a fair comparison would be if two-thirds of their matches had been played on surfaces other than clay. Federer plays four events a year (out of about 18) on clay, but 11 of his 20 career meetings with Rafa have been on clay. The H2H won’t be relevant unless Rafa beats Federer a lot more often on faster surfaces in the next few years.


jane Says:

“The H2H won’t be relevant unless Rafa beats Federer a lot more often on faster surfaces in the next few years.”

Selfishly, I hope this applies to Djoko’s and Rafa’s H2H as well, since it’s highly lopsided due mainly to the clay matches. They’ve played 18 times, half of which were on clay, all nine going to Nadal (though the last one was oh so close!). The other nine matches are split 5-4 for Nadal. Djoko has won 4 on hard courts; Nadal has won 3 on hard and 2 on grass. So their H2H, clay aside, is still close. I hope Djoko can close the gap.


SG Says:

skeezerweezer,

Sampras did have a losing record against Stich & Krajicek. But he did not consistently lose to them in the big moments. And these players, despite their big games, did not dominate tennis the way Agassi, Courier, Edberg, Lendl or Becker did at their peaks. Sampras played all of these guys at or near their peaks. He scantly lost to them when it mattered most.

Federer has lost to Rafa on a consistent basis. To say that this does not blemish his GOAT claim would not be fair or realistic. Connors was often punished in the GOAT rankings because of his less than stellar record against the best of his era. The fact that he lost to Mac, Borg & Lendl many times should play against him. If you are the GOAT, you cow tow to no one. You are on the good end of ALL your major rivalries. Federer is in the GOAT mix…that’s for sure. I think we’ll have to wait until his career is done before we coronate him. At that time, if the numbers bear it out, than he’ll be considered the GOAT.

I have to say though that Laver’s two slams put him in a very special place. Roger’s been close, but without the Grand Slam Holy Grail, he’s left some doubt. Maybe he could complete a “Roger” Slam. If he could win everything up to and including next year’s AO, he’d certainly improve his case for being the undisputed GOAT.


Andrew Miller Says:

Mr. Martin – question to you:

Do you see Federer, over the course of this year, now as a changed man, no longer in denial? To me so many indicators are pointing to that conclusion – that now Federer has truly changed (from #1 and above all others, to a guy who still wants to see what he’s capable of).

Did you have a sense that Federer, at the French Open, rediscovered not desire for winning (which he had more than his share of), but a taste for combat (or at least less fear – he had his back to the wall in THREE contests: Acasuso, Haas, Del Potro) a love of the game (which seemed more pronounced, a la Agassi), as well as an appreciation of the crowd (seeing that not only the crowds and stadium, but also his opponents at times just WANTED Federer to win the French Open!).

That, to me, was the evolution of Andre Agassi – though he was far more “down and out” than Sampras or Federer ever were (by a long, long, longshot) his run in 1999 to the French Open title made Agassi rediscover his joy for the game. Federer usually sounded almost ENTITLED before this year (which to me seemed like quite a reckoning for him).

Heck, Federer’s language even changed. His curiosity seemed to be back in his matches – he was looking more at X and O – at ways to get back into a match. I was so accustomed to Federer always talking about how he “feels” – but now he seemed to move on to “problem solving” – making the most of situations, however awful (rain, wind, cold, hot) seemed to unfold on the court.

Federer as problem solver?

Here’s some backup evidence from the French Open press conferences:

After beating Soderling – to me there’s always the kind of interesting thought that Federer comes up with more than other players, of imagining what it’s like to win, but equally present is “these are the different elements I needed at the right points, and this is how I looked at it strategically, I executed and it worked.” <– that is Agassi to me.

Q. We would like to know if you felt moresuspense than we felt? You won the firstset, second set in the tiebreaker, third, set break immediately. So for you it was easier than you expected,or…

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, sure, I expected a tough match todayobviously because Robin’s been playing well and it’s a final of Paris, one thatI’ve never been able to win yet.

So I knew the difficulty of thismatch. I was hoping for a good start; I got it, which then obviously relaxed me. I think second set was key to stay with him and not give him too many opportunities on my serve, which I was, again, able to do.

I played one of greatest tiebreakers in my career with the four aces obviously. But it was very hard mentally for me to staywithin the match during the match, because my mind was always wondering, whatif? What if I win this tournament? What does that mean? What will I possibly say? I don’t know. ”

===

Love of the game:

Q. Do you consider this, looking back to Australia andthen coming forward, a rejuvenation in your career mentally and physically andin every other way?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I just think it’s an unbelievableachievement, you know. You know, I mean,I’m very proud of my career, obviously. You know, I achieved more than I ever thought I would. My dream as boy was to win Wimbledonone day. I won that five times, youknow, like one wasn’t enough.

But it’s just ‑‑ I think the FrenchOpen, like for instance this victory, sort of came up over the last few yearswhen I realized what a great player I could actually become.

After starting to actuallygetting to love this city and the people and the center court, whereas in thebeginning I had such a hard time getting used to the conditions here and justnot feeling right for some reason. I hada lot of difficulties playing well on center court because the court was sobig.

I’ve come along way. To get it at the end as thelast remaining Grand Slam, it’s an incredible feeling. I’m, of course, very proud at this verymoment.

====

Dealing with the conditions and concentrating well:

Q. Roger,with the rain and the history in your mind and the rain and this crazy guy, wasthis as mentally challenging a final as you’ve had to deal with? Obviously physically playing you weren’thaving a problem, but mentally.

ROGER FEDERER: I think it was difficult conditions, like yousay. I was hoping for ‑‑ I said it inthe press the other day I think when I spoke Swiss German. I said I hope for little ‑‑ no rain, becausethat would not be nice for anybody: me,the opponent, for the spectators. Therain interruptions are tough to deal with especially in a Grand Slam final.

Now, I do feel like it’s ‑‑ itwas meant to be this kind of weather for me. Looking back, you know, especially I think I drew inspiration the wayAndre won here ten years ago.

I remember ‑‑ I don’twant to say how lucky he got, but how things turned into his favor when heneeded it the most. That’s exactly whathappened to me the last couple weeks. We’re not talking about the Haas house forehand I had to hit on thatbreakpoint down in the third set or other things.

But I wasin desperate situations during this tournament. This was just part of this tournament, this terrible rain today and thistough conditions, the swirly winds and the dangerous opponent. I think I was able to handle all of it fortwo weeks.

I also saidit many times that if you want to be a good clay courter, you have to be ableto play in these kind of conditions and in nice conditions, too. That’s where I’ve had my success in claybefore, on bad ‑‑ in storms and in nice weather. I was able to show it these last coupleweeks. It’s been very nice.

===

Digging out of tough moments:

Q. Doyou think the most important point of the tournament was the breakpoint whenyou are serving in the third set with Haas?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it seems like it to me. But, sure, if you want to put it down to onepoint, let’s put it down to that one. Ihad to play many tough shots during this tournament. Maybe one was also the breakpoint at 5‑4against Soderling when he shanks the forehand. Who knows if he makes it and gets to 5‑All. We don’t know.

You have to go through manysituations like this. I’m happy I wasable to handle all of them. Like I said,I had tough moments against Acasuso, Haas, Mathieu, Monfils as well when he hadset point, and against Del Potro, and again today, as well.

So I always had to come upwith the goods, and I did great. Ireally did.

=======================

Doing prep work:

Q. Could you please tell us two things: This last game you were saying in English hownervous you were. Can you tell us thatagain? Second question, what did you doyesterday evening, and how did you manage the day before the match?

But as foryesterday night, I was watching the two matches I played against Soderling in Madrid and in Paris,Bercy, here last year. I had the CDs tosee what he does well and not that well to prepare. Then we talked about the match, and then Ihad dinner in my room with Mirka.

====

Q. Sincelast Sunday and the elimination of Nadal, there were great expectations onyou. Was it the longest week of yourlife?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, these were two long weeks, butespecially the last one, because it was as if I had to play four finals againstHaas, Del Potro, Monfils, and Soderling. The pressure is so big. Peoplereally wanted my to win.

It was very difficult to manage allthis. This is why I’m very tired rightnow. I think it’s going to take me a bitof time to sort of accept this victory. It came as a surprise in the end because I’ve never won here, but thefeelings were great, absolutely great.

This is why I think it mighttake me a bit more time to realize that I made it.

===
More Strategy, More X and O:

Q. Soderlingplayed beautiful matches all along the tournament. Today he was almost absent during the firstset. What happened? Was it the pressure of the final? How do you analyze this?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, no, I don’t think so. He probably didn’t have the beginning of thematch he was expecting, because I was playing well. But when I analyze the matches he played andwhen I saw how he won, I said, yes, he won against guys who were playing veryfar from the baseline.

So this gave him time to organizeand he used his big shots. I never hadmany problems returning his shots. Iknew that there would be rallies, and it was important for me to be close tohim, to play hard against him, and use the advantages I have on clay.

This is exactly what I wantedto do, and it worked out. This is how Ibeat him the last nine times. I have thefeeling that the other opponents let him play too much. This is what I tried not to let him do.

=============

This seems like a more humbled, curious, strategic Federer. Maybe coming down to earth has its advantages….


Dan Martin Says:

I am not buying the idea that Sampras faced a ton of stiff competition from some of the players listed above. Edberg won his last major in Sept. 92 when Sampras had only won 1 major. Lendl’s best year was 1986 a long time before Pete was even a pro let alone a top pro. Lendl won his final major title in January 1990 almost 8 months before Pete won his first – not much meaningful overlap there. Becker was really good from Wimbledon 95-Wimbledon 96 when his wrist exploded, he was really good in 1990 and 1991, but Becker minus a his typical solid Wimbledon showings was in the wilderness so to speak between 92-94. In short those 3 guys were not really huge rivals of Sampras’ with the exception of maybe Becker. Also, Edberg was 2-0 vs. Sampras in Grand Slam matches (Edberg d. Sampras in 4 sets in the 92 U.S. Open final and in straight sets at the 93 Australian Open Semifinal). So I don’t buy Pete dominating Edberg even if he beat him in Indianapolis or something. Agassi was hot and cold until 1999. From 1999-2005 Agassi was really consistent and dedicated, but Sampras retired after 2002 so 2003-05 don’t count as part of that rivalry. Agassi was his major rival in 1990, 1995, 1999-2002. Courier …. he was done winning majors by January 1993 when Pete once again only had 1 of his 14 majors. Courier was to Sampras what Roddick has been to Federer except Roddick has been a top 10 player longer than Courier was despite having 3 fewer majors. Courier just matched up poorly with Sampras and rarely beat him. Courier played through 1999, but was he a serious threat to Sampras after 1995? I am not trying to denigrate Sampras or his achievements but Agassi played more meaningful matches vs. Federer than Lendl did Sampras. Edberg was hardly dominated by Sampras. That is my only point. Pete won a lot of matches against great players and won a lot vs. not so great players.


mel Says:

dan, i actually share the impression of most that this site pays little attention when fed wins. so this is a welcome article.

i agree, a free swinging fed will be dangerous. and with all the pressure off, winning will be easier i believe.


jane Says:

Mel, if you scroll through the Blog threads just on the immediate blog front page, you will find that 6 of the 10 threads have the name “Federer” in their titles. That’s 60% of all blogs written in the last 4 days having as their focus Federer. And 4 of those 6 threads are precisely about Federer’s wins, and they are each accompanied by many many posts on the wins and on Federer’s status as one of the greatest. Therefore, I find it quite surprising that you have that impression of this site, that it “pays little attention when Fed wins”. I don’t see it.


Kimmi Says:

Jane, I think mel is being sarcastic. ha ha !!


Andrew Miller Says:

Is Federer a changed man? Is “not the same Federer” a Federer that more people will like?


Twocents Says:

margot,

Yes. I booked flight to Paris after Fed beat JMDP and watch the final at RG. I usually only go watch live tournaments when they fit into my biz travels. But this final worths one exception, I figure. Lots of brits there.

I like the King Lear one :-)).

Andrew Miller,

I don’t think there is any real big change in Fed’s game or mind. The change is more on the way he handles media. Phase 1: he was all open and nice with press; Phase 2: he was bitter and a bit defiant cuz the media wrote him off so ruthlessly; Phase 3: he reconciled with the media, stay open but with a bit more caution, knowing how quick media changes. But throughout all three phases, Fed remains a guy who has a big mouth that talks too much.


xmike Says:

i everyone, I usually don’t post anything but come here almost every day for fresh news :)

I was wondering if anyone out there can help me out: does anyone know of ANYWHERE on the web that has a list of total weaks all the male players spent ranked in the top 2, top 3, top 4 and top 5, consecutivly and non consecutivly, since the rankings started?

Weaks at number 1 lists are easy to find, of course, and at tennis28.com they have complete stats for some of the more recent players, but not all of them, so it’s impossible to organize a list and compare everyone… :(

Thanks in advance for any help!

Any Federer fans out there might like to check out http://federer-records.blogspot.com/


skeezerweezer Says:

For TWO cents, whose logic is on cent

” I don’t think there is any real big change in Fed’s game or mind. The change is more on the way he handles media.”

Just pull out the stats since Madrid. The change is undeniable:

1) He re-tooled his serve, More aces than ever and more points one and first and second serves than the last two years.

2) Movement. The year he had mono Johnny mac as well as others stating his movement has slowed for whatever reason. Now they say and it is impeccable.

3)Forehand. 2008 Wimby and on through the rest of the year. Forehand, a major reliable weapon, became unreliable. Now it is back, along with his confidence.

4) Dropshot, although he as always had all the shots, he mastered this shot even more strategicly, for if and when he was going to meet Rafa again, and used it to death in is run at the FO this year

So he did the above, proven, from madrid on, which he said prior to clay he was working hard for 6 weeks re-tooling his game, which turned into success. Better player, strategy, more stuff to get him back in a match, and most of all CONFIDENCE.

5) Confidence is the biggest factor in all sports, don’t have it, don’t care if your server is 200 MPH, you’re not going to win. And Fed has the monkee off his back, and his confidence.

And you say the only thing he changed about his game is with the media? c’mon, you can’t be serious!


skeezerweezer Says:

RE:SAMPRAS

First of all, I love serve and volley players, alas they are gone with Pistol Pete, one of the greatest players ever.

But why is there so much argument that Fed is not better or equal to Sampras? Record books are not going to care who they played, as an example, they didn’t have a choice. They each played hard and they earned there way to the finals. They could not say, hey, let me take Agassi so my record would look better. Hey Agassi lost earlier to somebody, and didn’t deserve to be there. Same with this last FO and Fed. People are whining because he didn’t play Nadal in the final so that MAYBE shouldn’t count? C’mon! Rafa lost to Sod. He’s out. He did not EARN his way to the final. Therefore, people he did not qualify to play the other person, whether that is Fed or Bud Collins whoever is the other side of the final. I keep repeating , in my opinion, go to Guiness, Wiki, Hell, even ask Sampras, FED is arguably GOAT as of right now! And , in my opinion, he will get a few more. Now, for you Rafa fans, I totally agree Rafa has game, is young, and MAY surpass Roger in the end, but there is a lot of ifs in the future, God willing and I hope his health holds up, but we are talking now, within this era, and Rafa will be partially in this one and in the next dealing with Joke, Murray, Tsonga, etc. . Don’t discount these rising stars. They are getting closer to Fed and Rafa as time goes by, not further away. All in all, I believe Fed has enough game left to win a few more slams before these young guns take over and STAMP, not debate, GOAT, until sometime in the future one of the younger guys can get to 20 semis in a row, or 14-18 GS. or how many GS finals? FED holds a lot of records, and not on just one surface.


skeezerweezer Says:

Hi Von,

Good question. Based on the article I would take more weight into a 14 grand slam winner and peer in the sport than Bud Collins, as much as I have to say I grew up watching Bud on TV and enjoyed his antics and insights from a recreational player point of view. Anyways, from the article, quoting the great Sampras

“What he’s done over the past five years has never, ever been done — and probably will never, ever happen again,” Sampras told The Associated Press. “Regardless if he won [in Paris] or not, he goes down as the greatest ever. This just confirms it.”


skeezerweezer Says:

SG

People will debate this all day long and have. Rafa has a winning record against FED. So what? If Rafa winded up having 30 GS titles but a losing record against Fed would you say that this disqualifys him as GOAT? C’mon, you can’t be serious! Every player in history when it comes to greatness has had their issues, even Laver admitted that in his prime Pancho, etc was not around. I mean what do you measure? Tennis is a single elimination sport. Like I said you cannot CHOOSE your opponet in the final. Your job is to get there, and then win. Unlike boxing, which is an individual sport like tennis, you can pick your opponent. Tennis you take it a match at a time, play who is in front of you, and you have no choice. So how do you base greatness in tennis? I’ll tell you one universal word 99% of the past and present ATP tour players say, SLAMS. And FED has 14, with maybe more coming, can’t people just own up to the factc, instead of conjecture and what if this and you can’t compare because of what? The equation is so simple but people want to make it hard for some reason. Analysts talk for the past two years that FED couldn’t be considered the GOAT as Sampras because of the one blemish. NO FO title. Now that he has it, with even Sampras claiming him GoAT, people are in denial. Maybe they just can’t stand the guy who has all the strokes, is a genuine nice guy, loves the sport, a gracious loser as well as winner, I mean c’mon what do you want? I’m out


TejuZ Says:

skeezerweezer Says:”Confidence is the biggest factor in all sports, don’t have it, don’t care if your server is 200 MPH, you’re not going to win. And Fed has the monkee off his back, and his confidence.”

By winning the French Open, Fed killed two birds with one stone.. a Career Grand Slam and equalling Pete’s record. That certainly will take a lot of pressure off Fed, especially when he next faces Nadal at a major final. His win against Nadal in Madrid should only give him more confidence. he wont choke in the finals the way he did at the AO 2009 in front of all the Greats.


TejuZ Says:

Finally… Federer will grace the cover of Sports Illustrated..

(from the ATP website)
“Federer will grace the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, with writer S.L. Price arguing that Federer is the best tennis player ever: “Historians will look at Federer’s résumé—at least five U.S. Open titles, five Wimbledons, three Australians and one French—measure it against Laver’s 11 and Sampras’s Frenchless 14 and declare him supreme. But there’s also the matter of Federer’s unparalleled consistency: Federer has made an astonishing 20 straight Grand Slam semifinals.””


Dan Martin Says:

I really liked watching Pete Sampras although of guys he competed against I liked Becker (who got me to take my first tennis lesson after Wimbledon 1985), Courier, Goran and Krajicek better. I played serve-volley tennis as a junior, hit a one handed backhand, and Courier and Connors were really the only counter punching/grinding two handers in my pantheon of favorites growing up. Pete was there. He was maybe #5 but he was there. (I have tendenitis in my right wrist that developed in January and have not been able to play since hence the past tense, for now I hope, on my own mediocre tennis game).

Still, I can recall ESPN’s sports century countdown in 1999 to the top U.S athlete of the 20th century. Pete came in at #50 which was odd to me given that Michael Jordan finished #1 and Pete to my mind had a better 1990′s to Jordan. Jordan did win an NCAA title and a lot of NBA scoring titles in the 1980′s so I can understand him being ahead of Sampras, but #50 seemed low.

Anyway, Sampras was described in the series as a lonely champion due to having no true rival amassing a lot of major titles. That was the only point I was trying to get at above as Pete won a lot of matches for a very long time. That is a great accomplishment. I just don’t see a lot of the players that typically get thrown out there as having been Pete’s rivals actually as having challenged him more than here or there or at a very early stage in his illustrious career. The ESPN documentary being shown in 1999 is telling because at that point it did not consider Agassi as a chief career long rival. They did have a great 12 months of competition. Sampras did play Becker 3 times at Wimbledon and in a lot of classic indoor clashes. Courier was 2-6 vs. Sampras in Grand Slam matches. Yet, prior to 1999 Courier, Becker, Agassi, Goran, Chang and Rafter never mounted sustained challenges to Sampras. I don’t think any of this diminishes his greatness as you play who comes through the draw in tennis. As mentioned above, tennis is not boxing. I just don’t want time elapsing to cause years to get merged together and a player who was an obstacle for 2 seasons to suddenly turn into a decade long nemesis.


skeezerweezer Says:

Dan,

Nice to see a serve and volley player who appreciated the style. I would appreciate it ( I hope others would ) about a post about how the game has changed in the area. The argument is that the racket and the power of the player has mad the s/v game go away, but I argue the surfaces. Haven’t you noticed ( Wimbledon official admit ) they slowed the surface down? I use to play on grass a lot and there is no way the ball bounces nearly as high as it does now. They have slowed the hard courts down as well. I thought the whole point of winning on all these different surfaces as a player meant how much better you were ALL AROUND. Now, all those court surfaces ( in GS ) are seeming playing closer to the same? No? I do not think Pete would do has well in todays surfaces. I do not think Nadal would have the success he has had outside of clay. Then I see this year at FO, and I have to say the surface did seem faster. But was that the weather coming into play? Help?


SG Says:

If Rafa ends up with 30 slams and a lopsided losing record to his major rival, than his major rival isn’t really a major rival. He’s some sort of mythical creation. You can’t win 30 slams and be dominated by anyone. In a career, you may only play 48-60 slams (unless your Connors).


Dan Martin Says:

Skeezer I played almost exactly like a bad version of Richard Krajicek as a junior. I hit a lot of aces and service winners and moved forward whenever possible. My one handed backhand was a liability as a junior but I find as an adult that I now have enough strength to consistently come over it or slice it and it helps in singles and doubles. Anyway, I do think the surfaces have changed a lot. The U.S. Open might be faster than ever in part because Roddick and the Williams sisters give the USTA hopes of a homegrown champ. I am not sure how the new Aussie surface plays compared to rebound ace as I have never hit on either. Grass does seem slowed. The strings make a difference too. It is possible to hit winners from spots a player could not realistically get enough spin to keep the ball in even 10 years ago.

As for the earlier question about Federer changing – I think he has in subtle ways. The dropper is obvious, but I think he may change some of his return practices in terms of having more of a plan on break points that he sticks with hit or miss who knows. If he played break points a bit better in Australia he would maybe won the whole thing.


skeezerweezer Says:

Dan

“I played almost exactly like a bad version of Richard Krajicek as a junior. I hit a lot of aces and service winners and moved forward whenever possible. My one handed backhand was a liability as a junior but I find as an adult that I now have enough strength to consistently come over it or slice it and it helps in singles and doubles.”

Sounds like me. Then you had to be a decent doubles player? The style you mentioned above, I won a lot of tourneys in doubles, but hardly at all in singles. Until I got older and wiser and learned how to come of the ball on the BH side as well.

RE: Fed….agreed. but I did notice his serve was more dominant prior to 2008, and now he seems to have that part of the game back since Madrid. You, being a server, know how important that is for your style of game. If you can dictate with a good service game, your mostly likely always in it.

Two devil advocate questions to myself on that though:

1) How in the h3ll did Ivo lose to Hewitt with 55 aces? OMG! Kudos to Hewitt? I guess?

2)Roddick and his serve. Do you think some coach when he was young with that serve should have told him to run up to the net after you hit a gazzilon miles per hour? Is anyone in our lifetime going to hit his first serve back as a winner. No. No He let’s guys like Fed push the ball back in play, while he STEPS back from the service line and its a groundie…..ugh@!

Am I wrong here? It’s not that I don’t wish the best for Roddick. I know he has improved as of late, but not because of a serve and volley game. People say the game has change so much you can’t do that anymore? Talk to Sampras…


Dan Martin Says:

Skeezer,

While I was and am better at doubles than singles (I enjoy singles more but …), if you were winning tournaments singles or doubles you were a much better junior than I was. I did well in the two years I coached high school tennis in part because I was spotty as a junior player. I was able to help guys navigate away from the problems I had as a player.

As for Ivo he had really dominated Hewitt in previous encounters (2 wins at least), it was hard to understand how he lost with only seeing the stats. Although Krajicek lost a match like that to Kafelnikov.

Roddick did sort of shock Federer in 2004 at Wimbledon by not letting the chip returns bounce. I am not sure what to say about Andy Roddick. He obviously works hard and has been in the top 10 since 2003 (maybe 02). I think his backhand grip and contact point hurts him, but since I hit a one handed backhand I can’t say exactly why. I also think he is not a natural volleyer so if a return or passing shot dips enough he has some issues.


skeezerweezer Says:

Dan,

For me, I did not play junior tennis, which a shame. Regrets, I’ve had a few, ha! Was a pothead and not into sports during high school . I did not take up tennis until my early twenty’s, and I just got good real fast. Was always good with hand eye stuff. Anyways, as a result my best years were believe it or not my late 30s to mid 40′s. My best years were in the Masters (35s) and was USPTA player of the year one year I was # 1 in doubles for 5 years in a row. Ok. I am blowing to much smoke that no one wants to hear, I know……

One of the reasons I got better as I got older was how to handle my then my ( what I thought )monstrous serve. (Only because as I got older I realized my 122 mph serve, and yes it was clocked, was more effective by mixing it up with better location, kicking it out wide with heavy spin, basically not just teeing it up and smashing the hell out of it.) :)Now, the Willaims sisters can serve faster than I ever could, UGH!

My point is even at 100 mph or more back then most guys could come in and it those return floaters away. My God, Roddick hits it at 140? Why on earth would you stand at the baseline and a watch a ball float back. And I have seen plenty of times in Roddicks career do that. But hey, your right, he is top 10 and has been a top ranked player, but for us Americans, I wish he was taught by Sampras coach, may god rest his soul.

Anyway, this thread is about Fed, so I will end on I am glad for all the top players he still has some juice left, cause the Rafa’s, Jokes, Murrays, etc are coming up fast and it will be an exciting next couple of years where I think no one is going to dominate.

BTW Kudos to you you gave back and coached…….


TejuZ Says:

SG Says:
“If Rafa ends up with 30 slams and a lopsided losing record to his major rival, than his major rival isn’t really a major rival. He’s some sort of mythical creation. You can’t win 30 slams and be dominated by anyone. In a career, you may only play 48-60 slams (unless your Connors).”

Could happen if Rafa keeps winning AU, French and Wim for next 8 years ;-), but he faces this one rival who keeps beating him at the US Open and all the Hard Court Masters Series(say Murray). How unfortunate.. he would not be called the GOAT cuz he would have a losing record against Murray. Murray might sneak in a AU and a WImbledon grandslam and end up with 10 Slams in total… compared to Rafa’s 30.

I think this is what is happening to Fed against Nadal. Fed makes sure he gives himself a chance at every Grandslam by reaching the finals of every Slam (14 of the last 15). Nadal only reaches exactly half of what Fed has.. wins two on clay, loses two on Grass .. and finally in his best year barely beats Federer in 3 finals (in Fed’s worst year til date). Fed was again just 2 winning sets away from a Roger Slam … just like he was 2 sets away in 2006 and 2007 french open.


skeezerweezer Says:

Tejuz.

Booya!!! I could not articulate that point as well as you. Tx. My point is, lets take FED and Rafa out of the equation. Let’s say Sampras has 30 GS but a losing record against Agassi, is he GOAT or not? That simple. You guys decide. I’m done. I should not have even brought the Rafa factor up cause I know posters up here who bleed Rafa. He is a great player and good for you. No denying that. But who played whom when and on what surface and blah blah blah. In the end, GS totals are gonna make the clear difference. Right now it is tied, so there is some debate, although Pete never won a career slam. But all you fan boys and girls who like the young guns are going to have to wait. Maybe and most likely someone will beat FED’s accomplishments, until then, give him him his due. I’m out, again.


Twocents Says:

skeezer,

My fault not to phrase my thoughts better (even though it still worthes less than one cent).

Yes. Everything and everyone change as time goes by. No one can stand at the same spot by the river twice. Same applies to Fed, his tennis, and his off court things.

However, unlike many people, I’m not attributing Fed’ FO win to his recent game/skill or mental change. From AO08 till FO09, I think the true dilemma for Fed had been the execution. He always has the drive to win. And he always has most tools, if not all. But, the bout of illness and injuries, along with them, his own confidence damage and new blood catch-ups, made it hard for him to put all pieces together, at the right time and at the right place, except USO. This dilemma, I still think, was bound to happen somewhere in his stellar career path, part of natural’s order.

I agree with Dan on that the noticeable change in Fed’s game is the dropshot — which he disdained in the past. Another aspect seems that Fed now mixes up his shots much more compared to before when he could rely more on his agility and power. That’s smart adapting for his later playing phase. But whether these subtle changes are good enough for grass and hardcourt remain to be seen.


skeezerweezer Says:

two cents,
Thank you for the comments, well written. I will call u two dollars now! just kidding….but I agree with u and Dan.


Twocents Says:

Not two Euros? Darn!

Thx & nites.


SG Says:

Sorry, no one wins 30 slams and ends up on the losing end of a their major rivalry. Federer is no where near 30 slams. He won’t be near 30 slams by the end of his career. Why? He’s lost 4 majors to his closest rival. There are about 40 winnable majors for a dominant professional tennis player. That’s it. No more. If you win 30 of them, you’ve pretty much annihilated the field for a 10 year period. It’s unrealistic that anyone could be a player like this consistently.


SG Says:

…beat a player like this consistently… sorry for the typo.

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