Forget Debating Tennis GOATS, Track Paradigm Shifts
by Dan Martin | June 17th, 2009, 11:26 am
  • 159 Comments

How Andy Murray Tempered my Interests in the GOAT Debate

I saw something at the 2009 ATP Masters 1000 Miami (formerly known as a Masters Series/Super 9/Lipton Tea/Pi=3.16 event) that adjusted my attitude on the GOAT debate. Twice during the first set of the championship match Novak Djokovic crushed a ground stroke with great power and placement. Each time Andy Murray was well behind the baseline and pulled beyond the sideline when he made contact. Murray getting his racket on the ball was a testament to his foot speed as this could have been a clean winner. Djokovic did what every tennis player who strikes such a shot is told to do from a young age – he moved forward. Nole was passed at net by a clean winner from Murray on each occasion.

What about Rafa?

I have seen Rafael Nadal hit these type of winners over the past few years, but a single player hitting winners from spots where all conventional wisdom dictates the point should be lost does not make a trend. Nadal being naturally right handed allows for his two handed backhand to get some odd action even from seemingly losing positions on the court. As far as I know, Murray’s left hand is not his dominant hand when he is not playing tennis.

Something Old, Something New

It was not easy for Murray to hit these two winners. However, Murray hit a winner and made it look like something he could do 30% of the time off of a shot that would have in most eras of tennis elicited at best a weak defensive lob. Michael Chang on a full run might have hit a winner 5% of the time from the spots Murray was striking these two winners. Chang may have been able to throw a good defensive lob into the air and extend the point, but the shot Murray hit was a shoe string shot in which he had enough speed and strength to hit a winner past an excellent player doing the right thing in terms of maximizing a court positioning advantage.

I asked Jon Wertheim about what I saw and he was kind enough to answer. His response was more or less “thank/blame the Luxilon.” Wanting confirmation, I asked a former top 50 junior and current Atlantic 10 NCAA tennis player. He said it was unreal how much more spin he generated when using Luxilon. I am not saying both Murray and Djokovic would not have preferred to be in Djokovic’s position during those two points, but if the probability of an elite player hitting a winner from Murray’s court position was 5% in 1996 and it is 30% in 2009, the math of how to win enough points to win a match has changed. The math changed because Djokovic’s shot, while excellent, was a shot players could hit in previous eras whereas Murray’s response was something utterly new.

The sport has changed enough in a short period of time to ask if tennis fans can accurately compare eras right next to one another. Luxilon helped extend Andre Agassi’s career, but what would Agassi’s game resemble if he had been using those strings during his formative years? What if Jim Courier or Thomas Muster had been able to generate a lot more power without sacrificing spin? No one can answer these questions.

Five Other Key Paradigm Shifts Leading Up to the Present
(In Chronological Order)

1. 1989 Becker Serves Big and Hits Heavy Ground Strokes – Boris Becker won the U.S. Open by overwhelming Ivan Lendl with his huge serve, imposing presence at the net and heavy ground strokes. Becker seemed to be playing at the time a type of tennis for which no one had an answer.

2. 1990 Pete Sampras Adds Greater Mobility – Pete Sampras won the U.S. Open playing tennis that looked a lot like Becker’s one year earlier except Sampras was only 19 and was faster than Becker. Sampras was 14 when Becker won Wimbledon in 1985, and it undoubtedly impacted his development as a player.

3. 1991 Courier and Agassi Take it on the Rise - Jim Courier defeated Andre Agassi in Five sets to win the 1991 French Open. Courier and Agassi had been making inroads, but this was the year that each combined enough patience with the Bollettieri power baseline game to cast aside European and South American clay court specialists. The results: everyone taking the ball on the rise, a lot of baseball caps on court, and European baseliners starting to play a bigger game.

4.1998 Shorter Players Have Big Serves Too – Marcello Rios had a great start to 1998. He returned well, took the ball on the rise, and showed deft angles and changed the direction of the ball with ease during rallies. Rios also was clocking serves above 115 mph with regularity. Michael Chang had spent most of ten years working on adding pop to his serve. Rios seemed to simply have the bigger serve Chang desired due to growing up in an era where more and more players served with greater pace.

5.1998 Spain Reigns on Clay– Carlos Moya won the French Open beating Felix Mantilla and Alex Corretja back-to-back. Spanish players learned their lessons from Agassi and Courier. I know that Sergi Bruguera had already won 2 French Open titles, but he did not hit with the power that Moya and Corretja did. Albert Costa, Juan Carlos Ferrero, and Rafael Nadal also integrated the classical clay court stamina game with a power baseline approach.

These five events bring us to the cusp of the use of Luxilon. New string technology has undermined he tactics brought on by some of the paradigm shifts I lisetd. Taking the ball on the rise still has a place in tennis, but if power can be generated deeper in the court with an added margin for error, the days of climbing all over the baseline might be over. Also, players can more easily hit outright winners from the baseline. Therefore, the put away volley is not used as often.

Think about how Jimmy Connors played. He did hit clean winners off of the return of serve if his opponent was coming to net. He hit winners on passing shots and lobs. He did hit baseline winners by running his opponent side to side and then either hitting behind his fatigued opponent or simply hitting cross court too sharply for a worn out player to chase.

Connors also won a lot of points by following a great ground stroke into the net and volleying off a sitter. Jimbo did not have great hands at net, but he ended a lot of points at the net. Like Connors, Djokovic did the age old ploy of following a big ground stroke to net versus Murray except the sitter never arrived. Instead, Murray whipped a seemingly impossible angle passed Nole’s feet. Those two points are why I am not thrilled to discuss tennis’ GOAT unless a player grows a great goatee.


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159 Comments for Forget Debating Tennis GOATS, Track Paradigm Shifts

Shan Says:

Yah the problem (not really a problem but some may think it is…) is that the ball, string and racket technologies all have evolved and each evolution compensates for the weaknesses brought on by the other. Simple example is racket technology has evolved a lot versus wooden rackets or early composite rackets to the point where I would guess racket speeds are greater on average than in earlier days. Where there is more speed then the string technology improves to grip the felt on the balls better in order to produce greater spin to keep the ball in court.

Average grips change to work with the tools in the best way (i.e. extreme western), and techniques / play styles adjust accordingly.

Yah it’s obvious that GOATs are not comparable because there is no such thing as a cross-era apples to apples comparison of tennis players.

Heck there are even environmental factors that change the game a lot – you think the retractable roof at Wimby isn’t going to change the game at all? Think again!


MMT Says:

They’re all using luxilon today, so what’s the difference (the only exception I know of is Caroline Wozniacki who still uses natural gut, but it works for her game and I’m sure she’s tried Luxilon). If the argument is that approaching the net is not possible in this environment, the opposite argument – playing almost exclusively from the back court in previous eras – also excluded a certain style of play from consideration.

The game of tennis has certainly evolved, but not in a way that favors one player or another particularly unless they were transported through a time-warp to an era where their particular game gave them an advantage.

I think underlying your analysis is that the GOAT argument somehow has something to do with who would beat whom – but that is not an argument that anyone on this earth can ever resolve – in fact, that’s why they play the matches.

But if the GOAT argument is restricted (correctly, in my opinion) to who has accomplished what in the game, that simplifies the question and more importantly speaks to what everyone is actually trying to do, which is win matches and win slams. Therefore, it doesn’t matter that technology has changed, and therefore someone who either did or didn’t have access to that technology would have done better or worse. These questions are totally irrelevant.

It’s not like Laver played with a graphite racquet while everyone else used wood. It’s not like Sampras only played challenge rounds at Wimbledon, rather than getting through the entire draw. Everyone in every era maximized to their tastes the available technology. No player wittingly used inferior technology despite the CONFIRMATION that it would have helped them. And if a player did so, that would be their choice and not something imposed on them that would make a discussion of their place in history somehow an unfair argument.

What matters is what they did, and there’s plenty of available records to discuss that with two exceptions: Pancho Gonzales and the era of touring professional and Rod Laver and the era of tournament professionals. There are records, but they do not convene to the standards everyone played with. Everybody else (amateur or open era) busted their tails to win slams, so for me, that’s enough of a measure of their RESULTS to debate their place in the history of the game.


Shan Says:

Yah the only way to compare is by looking at objective statistics, everything else is speculative and subjective


Voicemale1 Says:

Nadal doesn’t use Luxilon. He uses, and always has used, the Babolat Pro-Hurricane Tour polyester strings. The standard problem with polyester strings is that the lose their tension pretty quickly, resulting in loss of control. And polyester strings as a whole are much more stiff than nylon or gut, and that’s why arm trouble is often predicted with these polyester strings. So they recommend a looser string tension by 10-15% for those using solely polyester strings. This can explain why Nadal gets so many racquets re-strung during a match.

And word from Neil Harmon at The London Times is that we’re about to embark on yet a new sea-change with strings. Evidently in the works is a string that’s “hexagonal” in shape, as opposed to the round shape strings are now. This will supposedly give the player even MORE spin and bite on the ball. So you think the spin on the ball is crazy now? Stay tuned….


MMT Says:

Okay – I stand corrected with regards to Nadal and anyone else not using luxilon. I should have said, luxilon is available to everyone – in which case my contention is the same – Nadal uses some technology that’s available to everyone, that best suits him – which is the same thing everyone in every other era did.

Nadal’s not using something that’s not available to everyone else – so what advantage does he have over someone from another era? Any advantage he gains over someone in another era is mitigated by the advantage gained by his contemporaries using the same available technology.

The author goes through a discussion of Connors who used a steel racquet when (almost) everyone else used wood – does that put an asterisk next to his results? The steel racquet he used was available to everyone else, but nobody used it because it didn’t suit them.

For every argument that technology is an advantage the opposite mitigates it – if Tilden used graphite racquets everyone else would have too (if it suited them) so what really would he have gained? You could argue that wood exacerbated Tilden’s technical advantage, mitigating any athletic advantages his contemporaries may have had – is tennis not an athletic endeavor? Did he not gain an advantage from playing in an era when athleticism and strength had less of an impact on results than technique?

All of these argument are fascinating, but largely irrelevant to the GOAT debate. What counts is results.


jane Says:

The historical context in this piece is a treat. I love the “something old, something new” approach, and also your explanation for Murray’s incredible gets which are turned into winners. I noticed this in his match with JMDP at the USO last year. I was utterly amazed at some of the shots Murray was able to not only retrieve but somehow hit a winner off of. Speed was what I had thought it was down to, his increased fitness. But now you add the string technology shift and that makes even more sense.

I like that in this paradigm shift you’ve managed to note even a sartorial one: “more baseball caps” on the court. LOL.


tennisontherocks Says:

Federer uses gut in the mains and luxilon in crosses. Thats exactly opposite to what many others do. On womens side, serena/venus/Justine all used FULL gut. I think Djokovic uses tecnifibre x1-biphase. Just few more examples of some successful players who don’t rely on polyster strings for their success.

so yes, the technology matters, only if the player has the skills to use it.


jane Says:

huh – I replied to you on the “Haas shocks Djokovic” thread.


Dan Martin Says:

I think if a club player hits a good driving ground stroke move forward as people can’t hit that type of spin regardless of the strings and rackets unless the player is a pro or really good.


RZ Says:

I think Monica Seles also deserves a mention about taking hte ball on the rise. She broke out before that Courier-Agassi final. The fact that the 3 of them all had done time at the Bolleterri Academy could mean that taking the ball on the rise is due to Nick B.


Dan Martin Says:

Good point on Seles. Can I add that the dynamics of the Graf-Seles rivalry remind me some of the Fed-Rafa rivalry.


margot Says:

Dan Martin: really pleased Mrs Martin is OK about “us” as long as we only talk about Andy M….Fine with me……


Rogie Says:

What an awful article.

The author makes two random and baseless assumptions at the beginning and he writes the whole article around that.

The first assumption he makes is:
However, Murray hit a winner and made it look like something he could do 30% of the time off of a shot that would have in most eras of tennis elicited at best a weak defensive lob.

The Second assumption he makes is:
Michael Chang on a full run might have hit a winner 5% of the time from the spots Murray was striking these two winners.

How did the author came with 30% and 5% statistics ?

Ridiculous


Polo Says:

Monica also deserves a mention for starting loud grunting during tennis matches. The fact that she as well as Sharapova and that most annoying de Brito had done time at the Bolleterri Academy could mean that grunting is due to Nick B.


PietjeP Says:

Well Dan… the whole goat debate is useless anyway. And that is coming from a Fed fan too! :)

Besides the racket technology many other things changed over the years. At first the amateur/open era,; the slower courts and heavier and slower balls; more variety in courts at the slams; and different depth in competition in the game.

As a romantic I would say no to the new string technology. But like it or not it is here to stay. But good comfort… the playing style will be adjusted to get a competitive edge. Soon (5-10 years) everybody will be able to play shots from the defense like Murray and Nadal. So to gain an edge players will have to look again for new ways of play. Thus, the circle will start again :)

PS: Interesting thought; I think Fed would be the best player wild old fashioned rackets of all current days competitors. Since he is the most technically fluid player…


Dan Martin Says:

Rogie I can only say having played and coached tennis the shots Murry hit looked difficult but not out of the ordinary and I have seen Murray and Chang live and in person. If you don’t see guys hitting winners from places on court that used to be losing positions a lot more often then the article is baseless. If you do see this, then I like Jon Wertheim and a really good tennis player see the sport changing quite a bit.


tennisontherocks Says:

About Murray-Chang comparison: Murray is 6-2 and Chang was like 5-8. So the size and upper body strength differential will also have an impact on what you can do with the ball when pulled off the court.


vern Says:

I see this on plenty of tennis forums, but why is Novak Djokovic nicknamed Nole?


Dan Martin Says:

I agree about the heights being different but Chang tracked down a lot of shots others in his hey day did not. So Murray hitting winners from a terrible position according to the conventional tennis wisdom is something of note. The spins in tennis are a bit more like table tennis than before and may become even more so.


Peka Says:

Great analysis! Once in a while, I get to read something like this, something I always thought but never said.

Sometimes it seems to me this is just the kind of advantage Nadal has over Federer, being 1/2 generations behind him. But, being a true artist, Federer finds a way to evolve even at such a “mature” age, when very few tennis players are willing to change their game, to improve. That’s why he is where he is now.

The percents should not be taken literally.


Peka Says:

@vern

Let me answer to your question, because I am Serbian. In Serbian, when your name is Marko, they often call you Mare, Nikola – Nidza, Petar – Pera… and Novak – Nole.

As simple as that :)


tennisontherocks Says:

The spins have ALWAYS been there. Check out old clips of Laver/Rosewall on youtube and you will see every spin possible there. But ONLY few players like Laver could do it so consistently then. Now luxilon allows a college player to achieve them now. The flip side is many college players manage to get career threatening injuries also.


huh Says:

jane Says:
“huh asks “why all this concern? ” For me the concern is based on his most recent slam results all being worse that the slam before:

1. Wimbledon 2007 = semis / Wimbledon 2008 = R64
2. USO 2007 = finals / USO 2008 = semis
3. AO 2008 = winner / AO 2009 = quarters
4. FO 2008 = semis / FO 2009 = R32

Moreover, in addition to his performance dropping off at the slams, he has not won a Masters Series shield since Rome in May 2008. Remember that in 07 he won a couple (Miami and Canada) and in 08 he won a couple (IW and Rome).

Finally, of course, he’d dropped off in the rankings, which is a reflection of his drop in performance ever since Wimbledon of last year.

That’s not to say it’s been all bad: he won the YEC and he pushed Nadal hard on clay this year. He also went deeper at Miami and beat Federer at two MS events. However, he wasn’t able to capture the title at either, running up against a hot Murray on hard courts, and a prime Nadal on clay (Rome and Barcelona were Nadal’s two best clay events this year imo).

But still, there is a definite pattern. And I am concerned about it. I guys you don’t have to “buy the freefall theory” but the facts speak for themselves.”

I don’t think this answer is satisfactory! First of all in 08 Wim he lost to the mercurial Safin who’s the greatest talent on tour besides Fed(and the great David Nalbandian!). And we all know that losing to Fed at the USO 08 semi is nothing to be disappointed about for you or for Djokovic. Then talking about Djoko-Rod qtrf at 09 AO, Roddick is again a player who, if at his best, is not easy to handle for anybody and this was the case at this year’s AO. Roddick’s a fairly good player to be honest and defeat to him must be held as not an offence. So the only defeat which was bad for him was the one that he suffered at this year’s FO. I agree that he shouldn’t have lost this match to Kohl under any condition(except serious physical ones that he may suffer at times). But again, who can blame him about this? And the last but not the least is beating Rafa in a fina to win one of the clay MS at Rome/MC is near to impossible. After all the mighty Fed has also miserably failed in this respect, so it doesn’t surprise me to see Djoko giving his all and still coming up short there. Besides all these things, to except 5/10/15/20 consecutive GS semifinals/finals streak from him is not realistic. Djoko’s obviously a guy who’s much much hell much more hungry and determined than both of us combined for success. So he’d continue to give his best every time and you have to accept that. But one thing that I can assure you of is that he’s not going to give up easily in the future against Rafa/Murray/Fed and that’d be more than enough to fetch him a few more MS shields for your sake and probably 1-3 more slams too. I’m not saying this to hurt you or for any other selfish reason. All that I want is to give my honest and humble opinion about Djoko and the way I see things about him. Now be happy! Never lose hope, remember!


huh Says:

huh Says:
skeezerweezer, I’ve something to say to you and that is, it’s not me but you who’re delusional and a blind person may be too. Otherwise you’d have never accused me of saying that Rafa’s one of the greatest player of all times already. It was Mohona who said this and I rather countered his argument but thanks to your delusion/delirium/ whatever @$$ reasons you may have, you said that I called Rafa as one of the greatest player of all times. Be real and don’t be too much of a fantasiser. Beware of making baseless allegations. And my evidence to back up my claim: http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2009-06-11/1566.php


margot Says:

In most sports a record time, a record jump, a record swim etc is beaten and we all go wow. The four minute mile for example, once thought impossible now routine. Of course the new technology helps but don’t you think that Fed and Rafa raised the tennis bar and so the rest have had to improve their game in order to have a chance? Certainly the extraordinary fitness of these two leaves most other players wanting for starters.


jane Says:

huh, I answered you on the original thread, but thanks for posting your reply in both spots.


skeezerweezer Says:

Dan & “Forget Debating Tennis GOATS, Track Paradigm Shifts”

Strings? Yes,
Bigger, Faster, bodies. Yes.
More talented? Debatable. I’ll stay out of that one.

But here is a shift for sure that is factually different. Why did they slow Wimbledon down. Why did this year ( although debatable because of weather conditions ) did Clay speed up? I why are Hard courts slower? Now I may get some argument here that Hard is considered a “Fast” court but let me tell you it was a lot faster 3-5 years ago. In my humble opinion, they are slowing down all the courts OVERALL( except Clay of course, to me it has been the only consistent surface in the past decade excluding this past FO ). Now that, is a Paradigm Shift. Why?


skeezerweezer Says:

Huh,

My apologies. Sh!t. I don’t why I addressed that to you , it WAS meant for “Mohona”. Obviously I did not pay attention, my bad, and yes, I am delusional, apparently. Thanks for calling me out on that, I deserved it, and deserved you post. BTW your posts are great, and if I disagreed with any of them I would have said so. Kudos to you
I’m out.


skeezerweezer Says:

PietjeP,

I think you’re right about Fed using and old racket. Think about this for fun, what if all the ATP players had to play with wood rackets, who would be winning the tournaments? But kow that I think about it, never mind, it would bring Mac back, and I don’t know if he would go back to his old ways of: “You CANNOT ( thanks Von ) be serious!”


Von Says:

skeezer:

“Now I may get some argument here that Hard is considered a “Fast” court but let me tell you it was a lot faster 3-5 years ago. In my humble opinion, they are slowing down all the courts OVERALL( except Clay of course, to me it has been the only consistent surface in the past decade excluding this past FO ). Now that, is a Paradigm Shift. Why?”

We discussed the above last week. I don’t think there is a legitimate argument that can be proffered to counter the slowing down of the courts. It’s definitely true per several commentators and players alike, that there has been court surface ‘tampering’, LOL, if that’s the right word. I usually receive surveys from ATP on my opinions on various topics and the next time I get one, I’ll definitely mention the changes in court surfaces. From what we’ve seen in Madrid and the FO this year, the clay surfaces have gotten faster, and it’s been the opposite, especially at IW and Miami, where those surfaces have slowed down. Wimby’s grass was changed a few years ago, and it has definitely been slower since. There has been a change with respect to the size of the balls also. I’d hazard a guess and say the present players on the ATP council have had some input in the surface changes, ergo the fast and slow courts. This could all be just my silly musings, so guys please don’t shoot the messenger.

BTW, you’re welcome for the ‘cannot’. I mean the guy was so emphatic with his ‘cannot’, that his jugular vein appeared to increase in size instantaneously he screamed out the word, and a stroke could have been imminent. And no, please no come-back for Mac, he was too deranged. I saw on the Tennis Channel where he got so angry re a bad call, he knocked hundreds of glasses of a table in the presence of the King of Norway (?) I think. Anyway, there was royalty in the house at the time. That has to be lunacy or close thereto as possible.


Voicemale1 Says:

Tennisontherocks is right. Topspin has always been a part of the game well before the String Revolution of the late 90′s. Watching the replay of the 1975 Wimbledon Men’s Final last night, I was stunned to see Arthur Ashe consistently hitting The Revrerse Forehand! That shot puts a different kind of topspin on every ball. And it was one of the many shots that frustrated Connors no end. As was pointed out, that’s what the best players do – they hit their best shots over and over again.

The racquet technology today allows for the extreme spin to be propelled by incredible pace. The racquets help the strings operate optimally. But at the end of the day, it’s about the player first, and the technology second.


Von Says:

Wasn’t it mostly that Ashe junk balled Connors, ala Santoro? The junk balling, coupled with the kick serve out wide, had Connors in a dither .


sensationalsafin Says:

Von,

This has nothing to do with the current topic, I just wanted to tell you this before I forgot. When Federer was losing during the hardcourt season, you said you thought it was his fitness that was a real problem. Then Federer proves his superb fitness at the FO and I said this shows you were wrong. But I was thinking about what Federer had been saying throughout the tourny and then after he won it. He said how all the hard work that he had been putting really paid off, and he capped that statement with a, not that I wasn’t putting in the work before. Perhaps Federer started more vigorous physical training that he wasn’t doing before that made him so fit during the FO. So I think it is very likely you were right and Federer made sure to correct it himself. Just saying.


Tennis Freak Says:

I truly appreciate this article for its take on technology’s role on shaping an era and how it is embedded in players’ skills and shots they produce. Technophobes and those technologically less savvy may find this piece incredulous (or even distasteful), as their liking and judgment is clouded by history and sheer number of wins and loses than how much technology has helped tennis grow in variety, speed, and overall artistry.
Good work, Dan !


sensationalsafin Says:

I don’t know if I really by into this whole technology thing. I know the strings matter. I don’t know what kind of strings I use, but I know I use different ones for the mains and the crosses and they allow me to put some crazy spin on the ball at times. But I agree with Voicemale1 that it’s players first, technology second. When I used to go crazy on the court and throw my racket, people would say it’s not the racket’s fault I missed, it’s my own. Same goes for when I hit in, it’s because of me, not my racket. Technology has allowed for a lot of new shots that were unthinkable before. But making those shots is a credit to the players, not to the technology.


NachoF Says:

Dan,
How is this new anyway??…how can Roger be considered GOAT last week but now that this “Luxilon” issue pops up he no longer can be considered that??… the fact that rackets used to be made of wood is not news to anyone…. yet it wasnt stopping us from calling him GOAT…. technology happens, it will keep on happening and it will be the available to all players that are currently playing… the point is its results that matter, Roger has the best lifetime results, end of story.


Von Says:

huh:

“Then talking about Djoko-Rod qtrf at 09 AO, Roddick is again a player who, if at his best, is not easy to handle for anybody and this was the case at this year’s AO. Roddick’s a fairly good player to be honest and defeat to him must be held as not an offence.”

This is just my opinion, but I sense from the manner in which Djokovic obsesses over his loss to Roddick at the ’09 AO, which he went so far as to term it a ‘walkover’ in one of his interviews recently, that he somehow feels he’s so much better than Roddick and had it not been for the ‘heat’, he would not have lost to Roddick. And, I daresay many of his fans felt that way also, which angers me. But, there is something such as comeuppance, Roddick again beat Djoko at IW, approx. 3 months later, and again, Djoko being his ever gracious self, proclaimed Roddick ‘didn’t do anything special, it was more me making the errors’. I mean how awful and unsporting is that for a player to be operating under such delusional thinking — it’s somewhat akin to ‘hysterical blindness’. Because Djoko refuses to admit he actually lost to Roddick, not due to the heat, but Roddick outplayed him on both occasions, reasons he can’t move forward. Another example of Djoko’s inability to move forward, is his loss to Nadal in Madrid, where he felt he played so well, but still lost. These things happen and people have to move on.

Case in point, Roddick’s loss to Federer at the 2006 YEC, where he had match points in that match, to me it was an extremely painful loss, but Andy took his loss like a man and moved forward, never once referring to it again, after the completion of the mandatory pressers, interviews, et al.

I believe that the foregoing are some of the reasons why Djoko cannot perform well at tourneys. It’s simply a matter of carrying around too much emotional baggage due to denial.


Von Says:

SS:

Thanks for clarifying that situation with respect to Federer’s fitness. (Did I ever tell you that i like how you call a spade a spade? Yes, i’ve done so a few times.) At least now I don’t feel as if I was talking off the top of my head. I do believe Federer upped his fitness regimen by putting in extra work before the FO and it was responsible for him coming back from two sets down against Haas and the other 5 setters he played. Additionally, he got that guy Stefan Koubek and his coach to practice with the clay season in mind, and the perfected the drop shot is a testament to his time spent with Koubek.

If you were to back track and listen to Fed’s interviews in ’08, he always mentioned that during 2008, due to the mono, he had to play catch-up on his fitness all of the time, because he was playing and trying to fit in training simultaneously. That to me, was a clear indication that even Federer felt his fitness was not up to snuff. Anyway, I’m glad to see that his hard work paid off. And, who knows, maybe Fed listened to me. LOL. So maybe, I should request that FO prize money. Now picture the headlines, ‘Federer Wins FO due to the comments of a woman whom many felt is a bit touched in the head’. LOL.


sensationalsafin Says:

Haha. Speaking of drop shots, has anyone seen Federer miss one? How did he master them so well. I noticed his grip is different from the usual grips players use, but still, it’s amazing.

I agree regarding Djokovic, too. I like Djokovic, his game especially, but he needs to focus on his future matches. Forget the Madrid loss. Forget the retirements and heat and whatnot. I personally believe Djokovic is a much more gifted player than Roddick and when both are playing their A games, no matter the surface, Djokovic comes away with the W. But it doesn’t really matter because there’s no guarantee he’ll play his A game. He needs to just go out and play his best on whoever wins is the better player that day. Roddick is 3-2 against Djokovic. That means 3 outta 5 times, Roddick was the better player. That’s how it is. Djokovic needs to get his aggressive cockiness back that won him the AO. He needs to BELIEVE he can beat everyone, not just expect or hope to win. In his losses to Neiminen earlier this year, and against Kohls, he seemed so listless. Like he was hoping his superior talent would grant him the win but it wouldn’t and he was annoyed. Federer is the perfect person to learn from when it comes to this. He didn’t start dominating until he realized his superior talent alone wasn’t going to get him far. He had to put in the hard work and capitalize on his talent. Djokovic needs to do the same.


Dan Martin Says:

NachoF I love Federer everyone should know that and I think he can objectively said to be a more accomplished player than almost everyone. No one is clearly more accomplished than Fed. So he is in the mix as the most accomplished player. I just think watching Nadal, Murray and others hit winners on a full run when in trouble in a point frequently enough that it is not a fluke means the sport has morphed significantly. I think the antidote to the way behind the baseline heavy spinners will be taller guys doing a revamped Agassi-Courier on the rise tactic saying if you want to run a lot fine go run. If a 6’6″ player is taking the ball early and bullying the court then the hit hard with a lot of spin and a lot of margin for error by staying back tactic might lose some steam. It is an arms race of sorts.


Von Says:

SS:

A footnote to my post on Federer’s fitness, he recently stated:

“I feel like I’ve definitely become more a man now than in the last few years since I’m not scared of five setters anymore. I can handle the pressure,” Federer, who became only the sixth man to achieve a career grand slam with his triumph at Roland Garros 10 days ago, told a small group of invited reporters.”

In this quote he states he’s no longer afraid of 5 setters. Why would he have thought that previously? I’d say because he felt his fitness was questionable. And, why did he think his fitness was not up to snuff? Because he couldn’t practice as he would have liked to during ’08. Remember, mental toughness is all contingent upon physical fitness. When an athlete feels he’s physically deficient, he begins to have doubts as to whether he’d be able to go that extra mile = fear in playing 5 setters. But when an athlete feels he’s physically fit, then the stars are within his reach = no fear in 5 setters. Nadal gives himself the mental edge due to his fitness regimen. The two go hand in hand, IMO.


jane Says:

Great post sensationalsafin, esp. with this “He needs to BELIEVE”; and this, “Like he was hoping his superior talent would grant him the win but it wouldn’t and he was annoyed”; and this most of all: “He had to put in the hard work and capitalize on his talent. Djokovic needs to do the same.”

I also agree with Von that Djoko is a bit stuck. We’ll see what happens next, but I am hoping for a shift in the right direction.


Von Says:

Dan: “NachoF I love Federer everyone should know that and I think he can objectively said to be a more accomplished player than almost everyone.”

There’s that ‘L’ word again. LOL. Anyway, you did say ‘love’ was OK for tennis.


Von Says:

jane: “I also agree with Von that Djoko is a bit stuck. We’ll see what happens next, but I am hoping for a shift in the right direction ..”

Well, he needs to put the car in “drive”, not reverse and/or park, and shift, shift, shift, so that he can become “un-stuck”. LOL. Sorry, today is one of those days where I can see humor in almost everything.


NachoF Says:

“I think the antidote to the way behind the baseline heavy spinners will be taller guys doing a revamped Agassi-Courier on the rise tactic saying if you want to run a lot fine go run”

Robin Soderling?


sensationalsafin Says:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/magazine/21nadal-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=magazine

Great 7 page article about Nadal. I got through about 3 pages :P

Von, Federer isn’t only referring to last year. Federer has been saying he’s not afraid of 5 setters for a few years now. It started back in 05 with Tony Roche. After his 5 setter with Safin, Roche asked Federer if he was tired. Federer said he was and they started vigorously training on Federer’s fitness so that feeling tired was never an issue. I remember Federer said he would hit for long periods of time without drinking to improve his stamina and whatnot. The motivation behind the training back then was because in his early years, Federer didn’t like going 5 sets. He said that when he would play in the slams back in 02 and 03 (and presumably 04), he felt as if though he HAD to win in 3 or at most 4 sets because he didn’t want to go to 5. His poor 5 set record could be traced back to his early days where he wasn’t that fit. Federer was clearly extremely fit in 06 when he played 95? matches and didn’t suffer any injuries except for when he was really tired in the Cincinnati Masters. In 08, he wasn’t able to train as hard and that probably did hurt him earlier this year. But I think Federer knows how to keep himself in tip top shape.

When it comes to Djokovic, he’s got too much going on in his head. He’s stuck because he thinks he should let these matches affect him. He shouldn’t. If he wants to be a champion, he can’t. The reason I hate the mono excuse for Fed at the 08 AO is because I just don’t think anyone could have stopped Djokovic there. Not even Federer. Djokovic was playing the best tennis of everyone. Even Tsonga, who obliterated Nadal, couldn’t stop him. Djokovic played with such poise and confidence. He just sulks on the court too much. Jeez it’s tough to watch. Djokovic has so much game. It’d be such a same if he doesn’t live up to his potential. I think Djokovic really needs to start working on his fitness hardcore, just like the rest of the top players. Djokovic clearly has health issues that even fitness might not be able to fix, but that shouldn’t stop him. Sampras won, what, something like 14 slams? Couple years at number 1. Not too bad for a guy with anemia.


skeezerweezer Says:

I think everyone knows where ( I would assume ) where I was going with the slowing down of surfaces. Who do think has benefited from the courts being slow? Have you seen Nadal NOT struggle on fast courts? Ok let’s look at extremes, A purist would argue that hey, can you win on a really slow court and a really fast one? I know of a guy that I saw throughout his career ( showing my age here, oooops )did it as he grew as a pro, BORG. I know, I know, he did not win the US open. But he got close, he competed well.

Back then Clay and Grass were like oil and water. The Spaniards ( not to stereotype ) disappeared on the grass. And I do not to take away Nadal’s great accomplishment last year, he won a brillant match, he did not decide how the surface was going to be! i am just trying to focus on the way the surfaces have changed……a lot! And IF, they stayed the way they have been for decades I personally think we would have seen a completely different landscape of players looking good in some GS and some not. Except FED of course! But then, players like Djoke and Murray I could see adapting, I have seen Murray play VERY WELL on the slick stuff.

NAchoF,

Slam dunk! TY. Good read

Von,

I saw your post about Fed’s fitness, I agree, a bit. I think his endurance, ala running out of gas, he as always been in shape that way. His strength, however, could use some beefing up. Got to be careful here cause with his body type he has already 14 GS. However, Me being a one handed BH player, having some guns really helps against the two handers, and in my humble outside Monday morning quarterback looking from the outside in seeing his matches this could help him a lot. Overall the biggest thing he was lacking and lost was confidence. You can go 100 miles and big as big as Arnold but without confidence at high level sports you have nothing.

But then, every time someone ( like me ) says he needs a coach, needs to do this or that he comes along and wins the FO, the most physically demanding GS of all. So I regress, and just say FED, just be the ball, I mean the nike logo, “Just go for it”, I think you know what your doing.

Side note: Thanks for the “Cannot” re: Mac. Yeah I saw that on Tennis Channel I don’t know how many times. Probably the reason I keep mentioning it when I debate the topics, ugh! LOL


sensationalsafin Says:

It seemed to me that the FO was faster this year than previous years. I seriously think there’s a conspiracy to make Nadal lose his number 1 ranking. The French cheer for his loss. The FO is sped up. Madrid is sped up. Even though Nadal is still pretty far ahead in the rankings, Federer is once again regarded as the best in the world by EVERYONE. Not just fans, but players, too. He’s still number 2 though. It’s like no one wants Nadal to be 1. Sigh.


huh Says:

skeezerweezer Says:
“Huh,

My apologies. Sh!t. I don’t why I addressed that to you , it WAS meant for “Mohona”. Obviously I did not pay attention, my bad, and yes, I am delusional, apparently. Thanks for calling me out on that, I deserved it, and deserved you post. BTW your posts are great, and if I disagreed with any of them I would have said so. Kudos to you
I’m out.”

Well, it’s quite ok with me now that you have realised what you said. I actually became much more angry with you coz personally I’ve never considered Rafa as a better or equal player as Fed and I can’t agree with anyone if he says that either. Rafa’s to go a long way before he can be compared with Laver/Borg/Sampras/ Federer. So until then, I am not buying Rafa’s among the GOATs theory and here I


huh Says:

huh Says:
skeezerweezer Says:
“Huh,

My apologies. Sh!t. I don’t why I addressed that to you , it WAS meant for “Mohona”. Obviously I did not pay attention, my bad, and yes, I am delusional, apparently. Thanks for calling me out on that, I deserved it, and deserved you post. BTW your posts are great, and if I disagreed with any of them I would have said so. Kudos to you
I’m out.”

Well, it’s quite ok with me now that you have realised what you said. I actually became much more angry with you coz personally I’ve never considered Rafa as a better or equal player as Fed and I can’t agree with anyone if he says that either. Rafa’s to go a long way before he can be compared with Laver/Borg/Sampras/ Federer. So until then, I am not buying Rafa’s among the GOATs theory and here I’m pretty much passionate about my conviction , which is that Fed’s simply superior to Rafa, that’s why my anger and outburst. But now that you’ve understood me, I’m thankful to you as my burden is off now. :)


TejuZ Says:

skeezerweezer Says: “His strength, however, could use some beefing up.”

I have been watching these highlights of matches from 2002-2005, Federer certainly looks like he has lost some weight now… dunno if its because he had pony tail back then.. Federer of 2004 looks more broad shouldered, taller and stronger. His movement then was also impeccable, never wrong-footed. His match against Nalbandian in Au Open 2004, both played exceptionally well, but Fed was still out-playing Nalbandian from the baseline. Feds game looked more fluid.

His serve is much better now of course.. hits the line consistently. He out-aced Soderling by a long margin on a slow surface. Same with Monfils as well i guess.


huh Says:

sensationalsafin Says:
“It seemed to me that the FO was faster this year than previous years. I seriously think there’s a conspiracy to make Nadal lose his number 1 ranking. The French cheer for his loss. The FO is sped up. Madrid is sped up. Even though Nadal is still pretty far ahead in the rankings, Federer is once again regarded as the best in the world by EVERYONE. Not just fans, but players, too. He’s still number 2 though. It’s like no one wants Nadal to be 1. Sigh.”

Completely agree with you sensationalsafin! Though Nadal’s not among my first favourites, he’s a blessing for tennis. Though I hate to say this, but he is as important for tennis as Federer. But unfortunately many are probably not ready to accept this. It’s a sad truth that nobody’s talking highly of him despite him being the number one and he’s getting a very stepmotherly treatment in slams. I mean look super crazy Fed fans like me should dismiss him but not the players. Fed himself has said that Rafa’s not given enough credit for how good(nay…..GREAT!) a player he actually is! Fed himself has said that Rafa’s the guy who more than any other player plays PHENOMENAL TENNIS! Look, wiyh all respect to Rafa, I don’t thik that he’s talentwise or mentally superior to Fed. I mean, I see him clearly as a player who’s less talented than Fed but his mental strength is surely equal to Fed. But the one thing in which he’s superior to Fed’s that he’s definitely got more will to fight, he’s got more will to be unsubmitting to even the Best of guys, Rafa’s clearly more spirited than Fed, I mean despite knowing that Fed’s a better player than him, he never gave up against him and just kept trying to defeat him, with all his efforts culminating in THE COMPLETE DEFEAT OF FEDERER to him in 2008. Only God knows what a devastating player he’d have been had he got as much talent as Fed! But as I said, even after a type of a SEEMINGLY complete mastery of Federer by him, he’s still not given respect. Nobody actually wants Rafa to remain at no.1 and this is the greatest insult to him. The most painful and even more discomfortingly disgraceful thing about this is that the man whom they want to succeed Rafa as early as possible is the almost Vanquished Federer. I can’t imagine how painful it must be for poor Rafa to tolerate all this! He is a young and very good-hearted and emotional guy after all and he may be shedding even tears about all this injustices meted out to him! But they don’t know, the worse he’s treated, more people like me, and the true lovers of tennis, would sympathise with him. Though Fed’s a good guy and a great player and it’s not bad to want him to reclaim his top spot but that doesn’t mean the whole world should start praying for Rafa’s demise and start trying to invent ways to discourage Rafa in his pursuits. Just look at whatb happened earlier at AO 2009 this year, all the past greats were there to reward Fed hoping for him win, and hoping for themselves to be the fortunate ones to witness Fed equal Sampras at the AO itself, but thank God, Rafa won that and denied them this privilege! I can’t imagine how much bashing Rafa’d have faced had he lost to Fed at the 2009 AO, it’d have been just too much for him! And this cheap acts of booing Rafa at Roland Garros, making the RG surface faster(?/!), constantly proclaiming Fed as the GOAT as if Rafa’s nothing but a goat, these things are unjust, condemnable, devilish, disgraceful, cowardly and dastardly, all at the same time. I don’t know whether RG has been made faster or not, but in the context of the present situation it’s not impossible that it might have been done. I have since sometimes been thinking that like the jack@$$es slowed down Wim, they might at some point also increase the pace of RG courts and it’s not completely questionable if you or others feel like this has happened this year at RG! I for one am not suspecting you to be a conspiracy theorist when you say that you feel like RG has appeared to you to be playing faster this year, that’s for sure! However I’m not completely sure about RG having been sped up either!


Colin Says:

I don’t know how many of you saw Murray’s semi-final at Queen’s, but he proved one thing – whatever the advantages of those strings, you can’t take liberties with them. In a moment of frustration he punched the face of his racquet and either cut or skinned his knuckle on the strings. His hand was bleeding freely for the rest of the match, and he probably ought to have got it taped. There was an amusing moment in the final when he seemed about to do the same thing, drew back his fist – and then thought better of it!


Dan Martin Says:

Madrid played fast due to the altitude. It played fast for a Davis Cup tie. How or why would Spain for Davis Cup have a conspiracy against Nadal? Black helicopters and tennis have little in common from where I see things.


Ecublens Says:

Guy Forget Debating Tennis GOATS ?

Nice guy, but I’m not that interested…


MMT Says:

Okay, I think I can put my finger on the problem with this post – the expression “paradigm shift” is way too strong for what’s happening with string technology.

A real paradigm shift that would call into question comparisons of tennis across eras is something like the challenge round. Comparing the 7 wins at Wimbledon of William Renshaw to the 7 wins of Sampras is absurd when Renshaw played only 1 match 5 years as the defending champion in the “challenge round”, and the reason why 9 out of 10 people have never heard of this man, even though he was champion at Wimbledon 7 times.

Another example of a real paradigm shift is the loss of the top professional players to the touring and tournament professional ranks from 1947 to 1967, and the reason nobody cares about the 12 grand slam titles of Roy Emerson from 1961 to 1967, and the main reason why he is generally excluded from the GOAT debate.

But given that:

1) not everyone is even using luxilon (as many have pointed out to me…thank you!)
2) the game is still primarily organized and played the same way (2 weeks, 128-player field, best of 5 sets, etc. and
3) the dimensions of the court have remained unchanged
4) the ball is relatively the same (e.g. the ball has not gone from say one containing a core of pressurized air to one with a solid core)

I think your paradigm shift is really just a change in the game that happens to all sports, and doesn’t reflect something that nullifies comparison across eras, let alone from one randomly identified 2-3 year period to another.


Dan Martin Says:

Maybe track the tennis arms race instead? I agree the wording might be too strong.


Dan Martin Says:

Plus this could be read as Guy Forget debating GOATS


jane Says:

I don’t know about conspiracy theories, but it does seem to be true, to an extent, that Nadal doesn’t get the same respect and adoration that Federer did as number 1 – at least from some fans and media. He might have that “bad guy” tag stuck to him because he dethroned the “maestro”? There is a certain elitism attached to Fed for whatever reason and that could also degrade Nadal and his achievements in the eyes of some, since many people don’t think he’s as good as Federer – even though he has a winning record against him etc. Anyhow, regardless of those possibilities, it’s a shame because I cannot recall another player who has worked so long and hard to get the number 1 spot; he does hold the record for longest ranked number 2.


Dan Martin Says:

I am sure former #1′s Ivan Lendl and Lleyton Hewitt think nadal gets treated pretty well. In truth, Nadal is more popular in some circles than Federer and less so in others. Nadal was on the cover of two U.S. men’s fitness magazines this past month. He has a sort of tough guy credibility that got him a lot of non-tennis media coverage in the U.S. Roddick was on the cover of a fitness magazine in the past 3 years, but I can’t think of another tennis player getting that honor. Soccer fans seem to love Nadal as he brings a little of that flair to the tennis court. The New Yorker had him on the cover headed into the 2008 U.S. Open. Federer and Nadal have gotten more and better press stateside than did Pete Sampras and English is not their first language. I think this is an area where both exhibit an openness to the media and fans that was not always the norm for top tennis players. If Paris made the court faster, well it happens at all of the slams. Wimbledon slowed down over the past 10 years is that a conspiracy against Gulbis getting to the semifinals? The U.S. Open plays really fast due to Roddick, the Williams Sisters and James Blake liking fast courts. I am sure if the top U.S. players were counter punchers the surface in NY would suddenly slow a bit. Tsonga and Monfils’ serves probably have as much to do with the French playing faster. What I will not abide is the notion that a tournament in Madrid would try to trip Rafa up, that is just a priori incorrect.


jane Says:

Here’s a quote from the NY Times article link sensationalsafin posted:

“Federer, the Swiss champion who many people believe is the most brilliant tennis player in history, is locked into unpredictable, week-by-week, multiepisodic combat with the Spaniard whom Andre Agassi recently called a “freak of nature” and who has taken Federer’s place as the top-ranked player in the world.”

Would you rather be called:

(a) the most brilliant tennis player in history or
(b) a freak of nature?

As I said above, I am not going in for conspiracy theories, but I still think Nadal is less appreciated than perhaps he could be as the number 1 and given his accomplishments.

I agree he may have “niche” markets – e.g., fitness mags, soccer fans – but by the wider populace /media I think not so much. Many of the articles after Nadal took over were about Federer still, and what’s wrong with him, and why isn’t he winning, and etc. But when Fed took over number 1, from whom? Roddick was it? I just remember a lot of press on him, and it’s never stopped.

Anyhow it doesn’t really matter in the end. What matters is the points and rankings. And that Nadal just plays on as best as he can.


sensationalsafin Says:

Agassi is the one who called him a freak of nature and he meant it as a huge compliment. I was watching the Wimbledon roof exhibition the other day and the commentators were saying how Agassi speaks so fondly of Nadal and all the he’s accomplished and yet to accomplish. Agassi is a huge Nadal fan.


Dan Martin Says:

Agassi likes Fed & Nadal – Nadal & Fed like each other – Sampras & Federer like each other – hmmm Maybe fans can take a hint from these guys.


huh Says:

Actually yes, Agassi was complimentary to Rafa when he called him a ‘freak of nature’ and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Just look at how Fed described his incredible achievements. Referring to it he said that he’s created a monster!


jane Says:

Fans and media. Yes. Especially the French fans.

sensationalsafin, whether Agassi meant it as a compliment or not (and I can believe that he did, although he did use the phrase in the context of saying ‘if it weren’t for the FoN Nadal, Fed would’ve won the French long ago,’ so it doesn’t seem entirely complimentary), “freak of nature” generally has negative connotations, suggesting Nadal is unnatural. “Freaks” aren’t usually seen in the most glowing of terms. Similar to the French calling Rafa an ogre, which means cannibalistic monster.

Meanwhile Fed gets called an artist and a maestro and a master and naturally talented and so on, all of which have extremely positive connotations.

So the press / fans are to blame. It’s not that the players don’t have enormous respect for one another. Some writers and fans show respect for both too; I am just speaking generally.


sensationalsafin Says:

Agassi corrected himself later because, as you said, it came off bad. But he meant it in a good way.


Dan Martin Says:

on a basketball court freak of nature is a huge compliment


jane Says:

Agassi has always been a favorite of mine, so I don’t mean to call him out; it just seemed a useful example to make the point – I am still trying to finish that long article you posted – 7 pages!


jane Says:

We’re not talking about basketball though; largely speaking, tennis has an entirely different feel and fanbase than that sport.


Colin Says:

Apart from the headline on this article, I’d like to comment on the current “Who’s got the Funk” list. Since this is primarily an American website, is it really necessary to suggest people “look up” the reference to Ichabod Crane? I’m English, and I know perfectly well who Crane is. Applied to Andy Murray, the comparison is amusing but maybe a bit unkind.


huh Says:

Fed and Rafa obviously aren’t just politically correct when speaking about each other. They honestly have genuine respect for each other. In fact Fed appreciates Rafa more than anybody else, especially coz Rafa’s proved himself in Fed’s eyes !


tennisontherocks Says:

yeah, RG seemed to play faster this year. But weather was all bright and dry until the last weekend and the clay does tend to play bit faster in these conditions. But more than speed, it’s the bounce of Rafa’s shots that bothers Roger more. so I don’t really see any conspiracy here.

As far as, Nadal not enjoying as much support from crowd/press as Roger: well, lets just back track to his early days of constant fist pumping and all the over-the-top theatrics. Hewitt is also not the most popular for same reasons. Chrissy enjoyed more public support than Martina. I mean if a club player does that, he/she will be the most ridiculed and hated person there. And sadly, tennis has not yet moved fully out of its old country club roots and public display of intensity/competitiveness is considered as a negative, esp. if you are the winner. Usually players like Monfils/Tsonga can get away with it when they are NOT in danger of winning. I know its not fair, but hats off to Rafa for the maturity he has shown in handling all this.


Dan Martin Says:

Jane I was born in Kentucky so it is hard for me to not have some basketball sensibilities that I apply to all sports.


jane Says:

Too, too sad about Nadal. I’d've loved to see him defend his title, or at least try his best, while at his best. It doesn’t sound good though.


Janadev Says:

I am totally upset and sad..I dont see things brightening up in next couple of days..


Andrew Miller Says:

Mr. Martin-
Question; if it’s important to see trends and the evolution of the game, what about the other factors – such as the roof closing at Wimbledon, or sturdier grass? As much as new strings, a different grass at Wimbledon seems to have helped Rafael Nadal scale the heights there (three years straight to the finals), or assist Juan Carlos Ferrero in making a semifinal run at Queens. Sure, the volley is still an essential part of grass court tennis, but winning Wimbledon for a baseliner (or all courter) is now, for all intents and purposes, not only possible but the standard.

Isnt that because of the surface, as much as the technology? I remember the grounds at Wimbledon looking awful beat-up when Stich took out Becker, or Sampras over Ivanisevic, but in last year’s final they looked…well…pretty good.

So, wouldnt this year’s ROOF change benefit some players? Say, a Federer gets rocked by Gulbis, and Nadal is out (kind of like three of the top 4 looking before the QF at the French and nemesis Nadal knocked out, leaving Federer with opponents against which he was virtually undefeated). Peter Bodo raised the possibility at ESPN that a few factors could conspire to favor players other than the overwhelming favorites.

Is this upcoming Wimbledon, with the roof down and Nadal possibly out of the tournament, now anyone’s tournament?


Dan Martin Says:

I hope he gets better tennis #1 tournament needs its #1 player and defending champion.


Dan Martin Says:

Changes to the surfaces and to the tennis balls also clearly make a major impact. They used to play clay with heavy pressure-less tennis balls and watered the courts between sets. Talk about a recipe for arm problems. Yes the game is a lot different for a lot of reasons.


huh Says:

Nadal’s often referred to as a bull, a freak of nature, a muscleman etc only coz of the fact that Rafa’s a really strong physique and also coz his shots
appear very imposing indeed.


MMT Says:

Dan Martin said: “Yes the game is a lot different for a lot of reasons.”

But is the game so different as to make comparisons to previous eras invalid? I don’t think so.

Many assume S&V has been an everpresent tactic at Wimbledon since its inception. This is not the case. Bill Tilden won Wimbledon 3 times and he was not an out and out S&V’er, nor was Don Budge or Fred Perry. Bobby Riggs was a scrambler and trickster in the mode of Fabrice Santoro.

Out and out (O&O) S&V (e.g. on first and second serves throughout the match) was first successfully employed by Jack Kramer in 1947. Until then, and even since, O&O S&V was not a tactic employed by all those who won and played successfully at Wimbledon.

The Australians, who learned and trained on grass, all coveted Wimbledon above their own national championships, and thus began to employ O&O S&V successfully first through Neal Fraser, Roy Emerson and then Rod Laver.

Rosewall (although he never won Wimbledon did reach 4 finals there) did not employ S&V (and never O&O) until he turned professional when he started playing 300 times a year and couldn’t keep up his backcourt game and remain competitive against Gonzales and Hoad.

But it wasn’t really until Laver began to dominate at Wimbledon that the majority of successful players played O&O S&V at Wimbledon. Even so, the most successful grass courters of the 70′s were Connors and Borg (hardly O&O S&V’ers). Nevertheless most did employ this tactic because they lacked the talent and technique of those two titans.

McEnroe’s success reaffirmed O&O S&V as the dominant tactic on grass, continued by Becker and Edberg in the late 80′s, but even those were interrupted by wins in 1982 by Connors and 1992 by Agassi.

The trend returned with the dominance of Sampras, and even Federer in his first Wimbledon S&V’d throughout the tournament; less so on second serves. It was only in 2004 that he began to employ a truly all-court approach to his play at Wimbledon.

My point with all of this that lawn tennis did not always entail O&O S&V – so the fact that all-court play is again the norm on the grass does not mean the game has perverted from its original intent or even beyond a state that has already existed in the past. If anything it is a return to Wimbledon as it was played long before the dominance of serve and volley as a tactic invented by Jack Kramer in 1940′s, and perfected by the Australians of the 60′s and early 70′s.

So again argues against the theory that the game has changed so much that it is incomparable to previous eras.


huh Says:

Jane, don’t you think Fed’ll look amazing if he grows his two canines? I mean Fed’s absolutely similar structure to a
dracula. Trust me Jane, he’d be such a handsome dracula that many women’d wish to become his prey & be his beloved vampire girlfriends!


huh Says:

Rafa losing to Hewitt doesn’t sound great. Now even I’m doubtful about Rafa participating/performing well at Wimbledon. But may be he can surprise me. But after all’s said and done, I really want Rafa at Wimbledon, no matter what! My +ve vibes for Rafa…


jane Says:

huh – I think Djoko would make a much better vampire. He’s got the right black hair, angular features, dark mood and theatricality. Plus i think he’s already worn a cape once or twice. And of course there’s an incredible amount of vampiric lore originating in Serbia too, so he even comes from the right place. Don’t get me started on vampires, I know a lot. : )

Fed would make a good prince of the fairy tale sort imo. He’s much too delicate to suck blood! Though he does appreciate good fashion and wine. He’s the one who rides in on the white horse, no?


Joe Says:

Freak of nature is commonly used to describe any American NFL player. No other country/sport known to man consistenly produces these exceptional athletes. Out of 1300 division 1 football programs, only 1% of their players make the NFL. This term has been a part of the american vernacular for the past few years and as an american, its not surprising to hear agassi use it. That being said, fed has a much greater international appeal than nadal. At this particular point in their respective careers, its totally understandable.


huh Says:

May be Jane, trying to appear as a prince’s another option for Fed,
but dracula’s also a good option for him IMO. And btw Rafa, I think can play the ideal prince and not Fed. But what’s this Jane, how can Djoko be a vampire? Djoko’s a man after all ! :-


jane Says:

But Rafa’s the conquistador, no? An explorer of new possibilities, a conqueror of new lands, or, in this context, surfaces – yes? Not a prince, no. Federer wears “the shining armor”. Of course, vampires are men too. Have you not read or seen “Twilight”? LOL.


Peka Says:

Although I’m a huge Fed fan, I think without Rafa it will be one of the saddest Wimbledon tournaments ever.

He put up tremendous effort to change, and change and change and improve his game to reach the finals 3 consecutive years, against the undisputed King of Wimbledon. Remember last year’s final and how hard he had to work to get the crown… and now he might just give it away…

I hope he will get well soon, the game is just not the same without (100% of) him.


huh Says:

Oh my God Jane, thanks for reminding me about Twilight. How can I forget that?


margot Says:

Monfils is out of Wimbledon, also Bagdatis I believe -an op? and Tursenov had a heavy fall at Eastbourne, Rafa didn’t look too good v Hewittand Andy R twists his ankle. Is this an excepional year 4 injury? Who next?


jane Says:

Ljubicic too – he injured himself in his match today. I don’t know if he’s out of Wimbledon yet, but it cannot be good. : (


jane Says:

Plus, was there something, somewhere about Murray’s back?


Kimmi Says:

Oh No. Rafa.

**As Toni Nadal urged him to “bend down” to the ball during the second set, the Spaniard appeared to mutter, “I can’t”.***

This is just too sad. If he is hurting he should pull out just for the sake of not damaging his knees further. It will be not the same without Rafa.

Monfils is very injury prone I am afraid. This year alone, he pull out of AO, was in doubt for FO and now wrist injury at wimbledon. How will he maintain his ranking if he cannot play in GS ?


MMT Says:

“Monfils is very injury prone I am afraid. This year alone, he pull out of AO, was in doubt for FO and now wrist injury at wimbledon. How will he maintain his ranking if he cannot play in GS ?”

Not to be unsympathetic to him, his ranking has almost nothing to do with the grand slams – with exception of two good outings at the French Open, the man is a perennial underachiever. That he is in the top ten without reaching the quarterfinal at just one of the 4 slams in his career is one of the biggest jokes in tennis.


Colin Says:

Good grief, Jane, don’t say that! I haven’t heard anything about Murray’s back. Maybe some evil Murray hater was starting a rumour.
Actually, as I think I’ve pointed out before, a surprising number of Andy’s opponents seem to get injured during matches.


huh Says:

I don’t want guys like Rafa to pull out of Wimbledon or it’ll again create a lot of pressure on Fed. By the way I’d surely watch out for Dimitrov in this Wimbledon coz this guy’s exactly a Fed incarnate type of player, he’s many things Federous about him!


vared Says:

Poor Monfils, Ljubi, Baggy, Tursunov and Nadal!


huh Says:

When I saw a Rafa v Dimitrov clip today, I could hardly believe my eyes ! Dimitrov just hell hits the FH & BH exactly like Fed, almost same; and THEN his serving, so much similar! , almost same to Safin, almost SAME !!!
Insane mix of Fed and Safin !


huh Says:

Completely agree with you Kimmi, it’s extremely sad to know about Rafa muttering to Tony about being unable to bend his knees. Honestly speaking, I’m EXTREMELY disappointed with the way Rafa handled his schedule. How can he be so careless? No plan at all.


Andrew Miller Says:

Rafa really messed up. He should have recognized that once you win the Australian Open, you dont have to play all the clay court tournaments, especially if you are the 4-time reigning, never lost a match and hardly ever loses a set at Roland Garros kind of person.

I guess this means we’ll see Rafa in peak form in Canada before he bows out at the US Open.

(or wins it).


huh Says:

Unfortunately for Rafa, it’s tough for him to defend his title, may be even if he participates!


vared Says:

I say he should stay in until he gets knocked out, even if it’s the second round


jane Says:

Colin, here’s the blurb / live interview in which Murray talks about a back injury. He says it’s fine, though, so breath easy: “Murray ‘feeling better’ after back injury” –

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/7832696.stm


jane Says:

Colin – I am mistaken! Ignore that link – it’s very old, from before the AO. I think it was posted recently and that’s why I thought it was new. So Murray must be fine and dandy and ready to try to win it for the UK.


tennisontherocks Says:

‘vared Says:
I say he should stay in until he gets knocked out, even if it’s the second round’

At wimbledon, Rafa is good enough to win 2-3 rounds against some lesser players. Eventually he will run into someone better who will take him down in long slug fest, but he may end up doing more long term harm in process. I would rather see him rest for a month and then launch full assault at the US open.


Kimmi Says:

It does not make sense with Rafa. All the care and doctors he has at his disposal, he must know if he can/cannot play.

But the article says he is waiting for tomorrow after Wawrinka match to make a decision. If he cannot bend his knees, why is he waiting for tomorrow match ? strange! He probably does not have match fitness but maybe fit enough to play. The draw is out tomorrow so………


huh Says:

I didn’t know that murray said something like ‘Fed’s over the hill as he’s married’ during FO! But now that I know this, I am starting to think that Murray talks more than he should, very bad habit indeed. So now I wish that Murray doesn’t win Wimby !


Colin Says:

And I’m starting to think you post more than you should,huh, very bad habit. “Something like” is not good enough. Let’s have the exact words, and the source. If he said “something like” that, it was jokingly. Are you yet another who can’t detect Murray’s dry jokes? Do you want him to have a flashing smilie mounted on his chest?


vared Says:

Fed’s over the hill as he’s married’

Murray really said that? Wow, if he did there will be some butt whippin.


Colin Says:

Phew! Jane, don’t do that to me!
By the way, regarding vampires – some people I know are at this moment holidaying in Whitby where, you may remember, Dracula landed in England. I’ve never been there, but I saw a TV doc about the place, and apparently the bay, with the ruined abbey on the hill, is very little changed from when the novel was written.
If Djokovic could be a vampire, we should note what’s in the bottles he takes on court!


Von Says:

“As Toni Nadal urged him to “bend down” to the ball during the second set, the Spaniard appeared to mutter, “I can’t”.”

I think there’s too much supposition going on with what Nadal said by the journalist/writer. It should be noted the writer of this article said “the Spaniard ‘appeared’ to mutter, “I can’t”.

“Appeared to mutter”, to me means the writer is not sure what Nadal stated and supposition is being quoted here, which could be far from what Nadal actually said. nadal could have said “I still feel pain” or “I’m stiff”, or “It’s not that easy”.

“By the time the one hour 20 minute match finished, Nadal looked world weary and barely resembled the man who ended Federer’s five-year reign at Wimbledon last July.”

It’s normal for an athlete to look tired after playing for an hour and 20 minutes if he’s not played for over a two weeks. His legs will have a sea weary feel to them. It’s similar to a sick person lying in bed for a while and upon arising feels everything is turning around. I believe the journalist is reading more into the situation and making it appear rather ominous. I believe by Friday Nadal will have a better understanding of his knees and his game.


Von Says:

Well, I’m not a Fed fan, but he sent me an email. Ha, ha. I suppose he did this for the ATP World Insider:

Dear Tennis Fan,

If you’re like me, you’re always on the go and never have time to wade through all the emails that clog up your inbox.

I’m writing to let you know that you have been upgraded to the ATP World Tour Fan Credential, where you’ll only receive the tennis content that you care about. Customise your credential to receive your choice of newsletters, mobile alerts, tickets offers, or, for the hard-core fan, daily results in your inbox! Enjoy fantasy games, merchandise discounts and other benefits reserved for Credential holders.

Click on the link below and don’t forget to specify your favourite players (think Swiss!) and tournaments and we’ll create an experience specifically designed for you.

View my account and customise my Credential

Best wishes,

Roger Federer
________________________


skeezerweezer Says:

Andrew Miller
Post: osted June 18th, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Thanks for bringing up what I consider a very important factor in the game the last few years, “Court surfaces” and them “slowing down” overall. Yes Madrid was fast, ( have any of you played in altitude? ) and this years FO was fast, but as I mentioned in posts before, a lot of analysts were saying the weather conditions were to blame, they ( at FO ) have not changed the surface conditions. However, Wimbledon especially, th officials have made official comments about slowing it down. Why? I would assume the reason would be to see longer rallies? But for the purists to make all the courts play closer to the same, why just make everyone play on one surface? What’s the difference. The “old days ” to be set apart from the rest the players have to prove they can win on ANY surface. Mac had the year of is life in 84, couldn’t win the French. Sampras could never win the French. Borg never won the US Open. BUt they were all great. Fast, slow, medium, different bounce, sliding, not sliding, whatever. This is why in the past it was such a big deal to be a complete player you have to win on different playing type surfaces. Nowadays, I don’t know. I’m out


Von Says:

I think Nadal should play. If only for one or two rounds, and he should give himself a chance of defending his title. His knees could begin to improve or feel stronger once he becomes more mobilized. It’s similar to the lottery, ‘haven’t got a ticket, haven’t got a chance’. Go for it Rafa!!!


skeezerweezer Says:

Von,

Congratulations! and impressive! An e-mail from the FED!

I could say some spot on funny stuff but I am not going there!Lol!

Thanks for sharing


skeezerweezer Says:

RE: Rafa’s career. I guess time needs to be played out about his knees. But if they are a chronic issue I agree with an earlier post, slow down, pick your tourneys, and go after the Slams. We need a guy like Rafa in the game, whether he is your guy or not, it would be sad if he got worn out at a young age ( Now, hold on, I am not saying he will, just a hypo there ). He is good for the game, brings a different style, strength, and big time heart. Oh, and by the way he is current rank is #1.


Kimo Says:

I got that email rom Fed too ;)

I think Nadal’s confidence level right now is at it’s lowest point since the beginning of his career.

Losing to Hewitt, who is something of a journeyman these days, in straight sets on grass when you’re the Wimbledon defending champion can’t be good. I didn’t see the match but reports say that he was very frustrated and kept muttering in Spanish. I have never seen Nadal like that ever.

I’m a huge Fed fan, but I’m kinda sad for Rafa, but at least he won what apparently looks like his only Wimbledon title last year in an epic final against the King of grass.


Von Says:

Dan: “Agassi likes Fed & Nadal – Nadal & Fed like each other – Sampras & Federer like each other – hmmm Maybe fans can take a hint from these guys.”

The majority of fans are not interested in those niceties of who likes whom, players that is, the fans thrive on results and the instant gratification felt from wins and/or losses of their faves. The blogging does at times reveal glimpses of their true personalities. The players don’t have too many choices while on tour, thus they form alliances with other players to bridge the loneliness/emptiness of their down times. It’s during the down times they reach out to each other and begin to form an ‘acquaintance’ type relationship. However, when they get on the court to compete, it’s mano e mano, and the niceties disappear.

I don’t feel there are too many lasting friendships formed on a tennis court or the arena of any sports. Many times when I read the athletes comments about an opponent, I often stop and ask myself, is this genuine or is the speaker only trying to appear politically correct, and/or make himself look like a nice guy. I’d hazard a guess that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes than the projection of what we see, hear and/or read. Who knows when Sampras says he’d be around to hand the trophy to Federer if, and when, Federer passes Pete’s record, that he’s being genuine? Considering they are tied now, but when that times arrives, would Pete, as a human being, really be that magnanimous? I’ve no doubt in my mind he’d definitely present the trophy to Fed, but would he be gushing over with brotherly love when he’s doing so? I’d like to believe that there’s really something as a genuine friendship in business, and if it does exist, then I’d say those who have been able to cultivate them are truly blessed, but I see so much lip service in the actual business world which has placed some serious doubts in my mind that most of the athletes can be anything but acquaintances, even though on the surface it appears that they are friends. I also believe the word ‘friend’ is over-used in relationships where only an acquaintanceship exists. Hopefully, I’m wrong ….


Von Says:

skeezer:

Thanks, I thought I’d post it as a kind of teaser, knowing fully well that anyone who subscribes to the ATP world Insider would receive one, e.g., Kimo got one.

I’m still going to comment on the surfaces whenever a survey is received, I promise.

BTW, don’t curb your facetious side, we need the laughs, so shake ‘em up with lots of LOL!!!! did you feel that shake?
__________________
Kimo: Nadal’s confidence has to be low right now, and playing Hewitt is not an easy task for an out-of-form player, however, Nadal has to shake of the rust and the exhos are just what the doctor would order to shake off those sea legs. I sincerely want Nadal to play at Wimby if only for a few rounds. I think he’s suffering from a combination of negatives.


Von Says:

On another note, Fed lost to Roddick a few years ago at KooYong and then he dismantled Andy in the SFs. Sometimes, we need to play it by ear and let the chips fall where they may.


Tom Foober Says:

Andy will be just fine at Wimbledon.

He should be a lock for the quarters.


Tom Foober Says:

Look out for Safin again and Tommy Haas at the Big W.


vared Says:

I think Nadal should play. If only for one or two rounds,

We agree on this Von. Let him play as long as he can.

If he feels he is getting worse, he can “lose.”

I think Andy R has a real shot. Apparently Djok’s been written out of the equation by everyone so he has no pressure at all. No one is talking about Tsonga. Delpo is not a grass fan. I don’t think Simon or Verdasco are any threat. Haas is hot right now.


skeezerweezer Says:

Von,

First of all, I am jealous of you and Kimo, I am going right over to “ATP world Insider” and join up so I can get my “gimme some love” letter.:)

I think you are right on about the “formal” friendships between the ATP pros. I am very happy they say all the great things at the end and everyone loves everyone, it is the right thing to do for the public. However, it would crack me up to see Djoke ( not to pick on him, but he would be good at it ) win a critical match and say “I played great, my opponent played the best I ever seen, but I just played way better and I am so happy I kicked his a@@. (But wait, doesn’t Serena already say stuff like that? Lol)

Seriously, Tennis in it’s purest form is a game, and the object is to win. And there are only two players, so what do you really think they are thinking out there. I know what I would be thinking, but that is just me.

I do think ex-pro players form a bond of friendship after the game is over, as I have observed in many other sports, but while there in competition, NO way. Don’t believe it. Have to put on the game face and I believe they do.
I’m out

PS: Von, TY, I feel the shake! Rrrrrrruuuumble!

Foobar and Vared,

I agree Haas look out! 31 and going strong. Being a FED fan, he would be my Fav if Fed went out, I love the underdog and under appreciated and it’s obvious he has been working hard. Let’s not forget his career of injuries also!
Kinda wish Safin would have done the same, great talent, I just felt like he could have worked harder, but whom are we to judge? If I was a pro like Safin though, I would have probably came out the same. Partied, enjoyed the world travel and food, wine and relatioships, ….oh yeah played some tourneys, won a Slam or two, ahhhh the life.!


tanya patrickson nyc Says:

Roger Federer, although not the defending champion at Wimbledon last year, should be the one seed and Nadal should be a 2. Injuries have to be factored in when seeding the majors or a mess like this can happen. For all we know Nadal can’t play and will have to withdraw before the match and if so where does that leave the tournament? We better watch this story as it gathers momentum because I think it would be a sham if Nadal does back out the night before. The Tennis Channel will cover the Sunday action before the Monday morning coverage on ESPN2 from what I have gathered. I need a better look at the draw though before making any predictions but I am not that type of gal anyway.


Von Says:

Maybe Nadal is in some way responsible for his problems to some extent, here’s a quote from that NY times article:

“When I told Nadal about all the people who worried aloud to me about the level at which he is using up his body — this was back in March, it must be remembered, while he was winning everything in sight — he laughed and threw up his hands and looked for an instant less like an international tennis champion than a righteously ripped 22-year-old being told he was going to hurt himself if he kept snowboarding so fast.

“‘They were saying this three years ago, that I couldn’t last,’ Nadal said. ‘And after four years, I’m better than I ever was. This irritates me, no? I’m tired of people telling me I can’t go on playing like this. In the end this is what makes me win, lose, everything. I can’t control how I play. I want to keep getting better. And the most important part is the head.’”

Nadal seems like a very opinionated young man who’s going to do the opposite to defy the nay sayers. I mentioned a while back that it’s not possible to control a young adult male, who at times, feel they know everything, and the adults are the ones who know nothing.


vared Says:

I like Haas but wonder if he will keep it up. He just won a trophy and who knows if he will stay motivated.


vared Says:

The maturation process is not complete until about age 24.


Von Says:

skeezer:

I would have been jealous too, if I were in your place. Get signed up and read about all of the good stuff that happens behind the scenes from ATP world Insider

I work in a corporate type environment and a dog eat dog world, and I can honestly say that I had to learn the hard way. Trust is violated and used as a weapon.

In team sport it’s easy to form friendships, where the guys bond together, e.g., football, soccer, and even Davis Cup in tennis, but for an individual sport such as golf and tennis, well, it’s every man for himself. A smart and shrewd player is not going to shout out the obvious, which is, he doesn’t like his colleague, but it would be stupid for him to think of his opponent as his buddy. These guys have PR advisers who help them with their image. For example, Fed transformed from a heavy metal guy, with pony tails and punk black outfits, to a Vogue fashion plate. This was not Fed’s doing, but his PR company, because first impressions sells, and money is the name of the game. It’s almost like what’s pleasing to the palette, and it’s the reason we see so many commercials competing for those few square inches of stomach space to sell food.

Serena is condemned for speaking her true feelings, but I’d take Serena’s outspokenness than the sheep followers where everything is just fabulous and wonderful. i don’t think people should sacrifice their individuality for popularity.

“Von, TY, I feel the shake! Rrrrrrruuuumble!”

I heard it!! shake ‘em up!!!!


skeezerweezer Says:

Von,

“I work in a corporate type environment and a dog eat dog world, and I can honestly say that I had to learn the hard way. Trust is violated and used as a weapon.”

Very interesting. I was too. Would you believe I was “in the tennis business”? I was in a resort that owned both golf and tennis, and I oversaw the tennis. We were always treated as the black sheep. I had to learn the hard way also and for sure “trust was violated”.

Yeah, Serena gets knocked for not saying, “she played better”. Sometimes, in truth, that is the way it is. But most times, Champs look inward and say ( not publicly ) I did not play my game or I could have done that or this and reflect on themselves. Looking from the outside it can look arrogant, but look at Serena’s record. She truly believes 99 percent of the time she is in control and its about how she plays, not her opponets, yet everyone knocks her comments. At least she speaks her mind, and she tells it like it is, why would you argue with her. Everyone fears her heart, mentality and always say what she is the threat to beat no matter what tourney she is in. I guess my only deal with her is in the press, if you get beat, you have to show some sportsmanship and give some credit to the other player who beat you, she has, but the press focuses on the negatives, it gets more write ups….


Tennis Freak Says:

This is what Murray said after the victory at Queen’s.
Q: Roger Federer is said to be exhausted after his French Open victory and Rafa has his injury, so people are saying you have a better chance to win this year.
Murray: I don’t think Roger will be exhausted come Wimbledon time, and I am sure he will be confident after winning the French title. It has been a long year for everyone. I have played just as many matches, if not more, than Roger. [Ed. note: Federer has played 39 matches this season compared to Murray’s 46.] And Rafa, I have no idea how bad his knees are, we will have to wait and see. I would be very surprised if he doesn’t play. In terms of Roger I do not think he will be exhausted but Rafa, I do not know.


huh Says:

The day Murray wins a slam, he’d surely know why Fed’s exhausted. Till then, he won’t know about it. And by the way Colin, I’d sure try to find the Murray quote you want. As I don’t hav it right now, that’s why I used something like that. But I’d sure try


huh Says:

The day Murray wins a slam, he’d surely know why Fed’s exhausted. Till then, he won’t know about it. And by the way Colin, I’d sure try to find the Murray quote you want. As I don’t hav it right now, that’s why I used ‘something like’. But I’d sure try.


huh Says:

Colin, by the way you are absolutely spot on one thing and that’s when you reminded me that I post more than I should, it’s a very bad habit indeed ! It may truly harm my studies and Mom and Dad’ll be so angry, bad habit indeed, save me Oh God !!! :-(


Peka Says:

!!!

Wimbledon draw, prospective SF lineup:

Roger Federer – Novak Đoković
Rafael Nadal – Andy Murray


TejuZ Says:

Roddick vs Dimnitrov .. possible 2nd round.. tough one for A-Rod


Von Says:

Yeah, that’s a tough one Andy against the young Belarusian, but I’m still glad he’s not in Federer’s side of the draw. I doubt there’s anything more depressing for Roddick than to look at the draw and see he’s on Federer’s side. I’m happy for him that for once in a long time, he’s out of that scenario.

I think Nadal should play because he’s got a very good draw, except for Hewitt, but with Hewitt it could be touch and go at times due to his hip problems. Anyway, Hewitt aside, Nadal has a chance to at least get to the QFs, barring any acute knee pain.
_________________
Colin: I’m not taking sides, but I don’t see anything wrong with huh posting as often as he feels is necessary. I’ve been criticized just recently for posting often, but I happen to enjoy interacting with some posters on tennis. this is the only placed i can exchange views on a sport I love because the majority of family and friends do not like tennis, hence the frequency of my posts.
___________________
huh: I like your posts so keep on posting. I just have one favour to ask, and that is please use more paragraphs. It’s a bit difficult for me to read lengthy paragraphs. Thanks.


TejuZ Says:

Nadal has got a tough two rounds at the start with Clement and Hewitt… 4th round with Stepanek shud be tough as well…

Same with roddick.. tough opener with Chardy and second round with Dimitrov. Hope Dimitrov doesnt do a Federer to Roddick.

Murray has Gulbis in 2nd round… Safin or Wawrinka in the 4th round.

Djoker has a much easier draw till quarters i guess..where he might be Delpo or Haas.


TejuZ Says:

Fed has some easy first few rounds.. meeting Kohls in 3rd and possible 4th with Baggy, Soderling or Feliciano Lopez who are all dangerous in grass. The Verdasco, Tsonga or Karlovic who are again tough…


Von Says:

correction: Dimitrov is Bulgarian not Belarusian .

Tejuz: Yeah, bite your tongue, I would like for Andy to go deep, and I also hope his ankle is better. Now that he’s shed Federer, I’m kindly asking Dimitrov, to please, pretty please, wait until next year Wimby or the USO to shine. I don’t think that’s asking for too much considering he turned pro just last year and has got oodles of time on his hands to begin collecting highly ranked scalps. OY, OY, OY.


Von Says:

Most of the guys in Fed’s section are not grass-courters, except for Soderling and Karlovic, whose serve booms on any surface. He should be called boom, boom Karlovic.


Kimo Says:

My picks for the final are Fed vs. Murray with Fed winning it in four tight sets.


Kimo Says:

Von, I agree with you that playing Karlovic on grass can be frustrating, but maybe his serves won’t bounce so high as they would on hard or clay courts which would make them returnable.

And I find it hard to believe that Karlovic can take three sets off of Fed.


Kimo Says:

And tbh, Nadal has one tough draw!!! I can’t see him going though if he’s at 100%, much less when he’s injured.


Kimo Says:

If Rafa goes through Clement and Hewitt, I don’t see him going through Zverev. He was on fire at Halle.


TejuZ Says:

Kimo.. Karlovic can certainly take a set or two from anybody.. most of his sets go to tie-break.. and then its anybody’s game.


Von Says:

Kimo: You’re right. Now that I’ve printed out the draw and am looking at it more closely, Clement is not an easy opponent on grass for Nadal, and Hewitt just beat him at the exho, so it won’t be easy street for Nadal.

I wish I didn’t look at the draw because I’m getting nervous for Roddick now. what a way to begin my weekend.


margot Says:

colin: don’t worry about folks not getting Andy’s sense of humour, remember two nations separated by a common language! I have posted many times, tongue in cheek, only to be taken totally seriously. Think the French have a similar sense of humour, judging by the films i’ve seen.
von: got an email from Fed too, but assumed it was a scam and junked it without reading it! And that’s my unique (?) British cynicism working overtime.


TejuZ Says:

Nadal pulls out… Roddick might have an easier ride to semi-finals. Anyway.. a roddick-nadal quarters in wimbledon should be good treat.. Roddick would beat Nadal here if hez on fire.


ferix Says:

Nadal has a very tough draw, considering Clement was in QF last year and Hewitt beat Nadal yesterday in an exho. Get through that, he is likely to get proficient grass courters like Tursunov and Stepanek. After that, it could be Roddick then Murray then Federer. I’ve been critical of him in the past, but if he can win Wimbledon with this draw, he will have made a fan out of me.

Btw, I am a Murray fan. He has a nice draw. Go Andy M!


Kroll Says:

Von
“I think Nadal should play because he’s got a very good draw…”

Really Von? I think he should be thinking long term- y’know, 22years and 6 slams gives him time, imho. When Rafa mentioned that he had knee problems, I didnt believe a word of it and assumed that he was making excuses, which in retrospect seems a little more complicated. He’s spent years defending his (lack of) shaky knees and now he decides thats a great excuse to use? – it seems a bit incongruous actually. So maybe its the opposite – his knees were always questionable (whether he admitted it to himself) and things have precipitated such, and Now….

And you got a mail from Fed? And not from Andy?
um…Sacrilege?


Colin Says:

Von, I didn’t really mean Huh should post less often. I meant only to mimic what he did, which was to say Murray should talk less, just because he (Huh)disagreed with something Murray said (or more likely didn’t say).
Meanwhile, Nadal tests himself again today – against Wawrinka – and then makes the big decision.
Sadly, I think Rafa will be retired by this time next year. Injuries heal; you can recover from illness; meachanical wear will just get worse.


Von Says:

Kroll:

Well, hello dahling, where have you been? I’ve missed you tons. I hope you’ve noticed that name is reserved for ONLY you. I hope you’ll stick round for Wimby.

I feel Nadal should at least give it a try to prove the naysayers wrong, if only for one round. his way he could satisfy himself that he tried. I agree he should look at the long-term picture and that should be the important deciding factor. I feel very badly for the kid. I don’t think he has a lot of time on the tour, because he’s been pro for 9 years and considering the state of his knees, it doesn’t seem feasible he’d be able to continue for many more years.

That email from Federer was sent by the ATP World Tour and i suppose they felt people would pay more attention if Federer’s name appeared.

That stinker Roddick didn’t even send me an invitation to his wedding, instead he invited a London cabbie. If that’s not a slap in the face, then what is? I mean, look at all of the abuse i endure for the brat. I’ll chalk that one up to experience and live and live. LOL.
________________
Margot: I don’t think you could be one-half paranoid or cynical as I am. My professional name is completely different from my personal name and I use my mother-in-law’s email address, with her maiden name, but it’s all due to my job.
_______________
Colin: So sorry, I completely missed your humor, but I wanted huh to feel it’s OK to post and often — no hard feelings I hope. Do you Brits have to engage in such dry humor? Talk about a language barrier, it’s really there!


Von Says:

Tejuz; Nadal pulled out? where did you hear/read/see that? I really feel so badly for him.


TejuZ Says:

Von.. Nadal hasnt yet pulled out

I was just speculating.. that .. if indeed he pulls out after his practice match with wawrinka, roddick might have a lil easier path to the semis .. though he might have to get thru del potro.


Jurasick Says:

It seems to me that some of the more “natural” athletes in tennis seem to neglect their conditioning. I can’t imagine how players like Monfils and Tsonga get injured so often. Maybe their physical capabilities make them feel they can manage extraordinary physical feats all the time. I wonder….

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ATP - Dec 15 WTA - Dec 15
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
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5 Kei Nishikori5 Ana Ivanovic
6 Andy Murray6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Tomas Berdych7 Eugenie Bouchard
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9 Marin Cilic9 Angelique Kerber
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