Roger Federer Presser: This Was The Strongest Finish I’ve Ever Had To A Season
by Staff | November 27th, 2011, 10:11 pm
  • 138 Comments

The records keep piling up for the great Roger Federer. Today, playing his 100th career ATP final, the Swiss captured his 70th title winning the World Tour Finals over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.

After a subpar first 10 months to 2011, Federer finished with a flourish winning his last 17 matches and three straight titles including an undefeated run in London which culminated in a record sixth ATP Finals crown.

Federer will finish the year ranked No. 3 keeping his him in the Top 3 for a record ninth straight year. And at 30 he’s the oldest World Tour Finals champion.

He’ll now look ahead to 2012 and hope to collect two more titles in London: Wimbledon and the Olympics.

Here’s Roger’s post match interview:

Q. How does that rate? Another record. Six titles. No one has done that before. How do you think you actually played in the match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it feels very special, indeed. I mean, you know, I’ve been trying to sort of block it out for the entire tournament, the entire time I’ve been here in London. I just tried to recuperate from Basel and Paris and hopefully get through the round robin stages.
So now it’s finally sort of reality that I’ve been able to win six World Tour Finals. It’s an amazing feeling. I know it’s one of my greatest accomplishments.
As well as the way the match went, I think. I think that was the difference to other matches this year, where I lost so closely, and this time around I was still able to find a way through. I think that was the difference at times during the year which didn’t maybe make this an absolutely phenomenal year.
But this definitely is an amazing finish again to the season. I’ve never finished so strong. I thought I played well. Look, I thought Jo played well. Could I have won it easier? I guess. I had it in my hands. I had a chance to go a double break in the second. I had chances to serve it out. I had chances in the tiebreaker. Yeah, it wasn’t meant to be.
I had to go through the third set, which was tough, but eventually I made it, which felt probably even better going through three sets. The relief was amazing. The joy, of course, as you can imagine, was great.

Q. The way you played the last few weeks, especially this week, do you feel like the best player in the world?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, who cares. I felt like I played great during these last few weeks, like you mentioned. I felt I played great here in London. It gives me a lot of confidence for next year.
But regardless of how it went here, I would have been in a good state of mind for next year. And I think that counts for all the other top guys as well. I think it’s been a good year and a good championships for most of the top eight players. I think most of them are looking forward to next year starting again at some point.
For me, it was the strongest finish I’ve ever had in my career, which I’m very proud of. I’m looking forward to next year. So I’m really excited.

Q. After a spectacular end of the season, regarding 2012, is a gold medal in singles your biggest dream for next year?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. Why not? Still a long way to go. Obviously at this point I’m extremely tired. But, of course, I’m looking forward to coming back to London hopefully on three occasions next year. So this is going to be a very important place to play good tennis, like I did here this week.
Be unfair to the other tournaments to pick London Olympic Games as my number one priority because I have priorities first before that. But I clearly don’t want to miss it and I hope to be healthy when the Olympics do come around.

Q. Just tell us about the other members of the top four, what a brilliant season we have in prospect next year, and also a little bit more about how motivated you are to get back on the Grand Slam winning trail.
ROGER FEDERER: Sure, to win Grand Slams would be nice. I’ve missed out on a few occasions now this year, and maybe also some last year. So I feel like it might be around the corner. Maybe not. The other players obviously have a role to play in this.
Novak was the Player of the Year, which goes without saying. A guy who can win 40 matches in a row from the start of the season completely deserves it till the very end of it.
I thought Andy played a very good season this year, Murray. Just unfortunate he couldn’t finish here strong. Other than that I thought he’s going to be very tough to beat next year.
And Rafa with his class anyway, he’s always going to be a threat for the throne, to win all the big tournaments.
I think the prospects are good. We also saw 5 to 8 or extremely close as well. Behind that, anything is possible, too. I think right now we have great quality within the top 10, even within the top 20, 25 actually. I’m looking forward to a tough season next year.

Q. You talked about the fact that this time you managed to win a close match, maybe a few times this season it hasn’t gone your way. What made the difference today? Is it a mental thing?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it’s a mental thing, yes. Not only. Sometimes it’s also the player playing better than you. Jo played better than me at Wimbledon. Maybe not much, but enough just to come through. Same as Rafa at the French Open in the finals, Novak in the semis of the US Open. It’s fine to respect that. But I feel when it happens maybe that often, I do have to question myself that maybe I did something wrong.
I think I’m mentally good right now. That was also one of the reasons why I did take some time off, to actually think it through, you know, get into the right mental mindset because we do I don’t want to say underestimate or overestimate the mental part of the game, but there is a lot of time that goes by out on tour, during a match, you’re just trying to stay positive, but you can’t always be positive out there. You know, it’s just too difficult. That’s where maybe the doubts were just a bit too strong during certain important moments.
I think I didn’t have those doubts now for the remainder of the season, which is what I wanted to get out of my system during this six weeks’ break, and I was able to do that.

Q. Two things about momentum. One, today after the second set, did you feel the momentum had swung over to Jo? In terms of your finish this season with Basel, Paris, and now, how much do you think that matters to the beginning of the next season, or will the slate be completely wiped clean come January 1st?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don’t feel like it completely swung his way, the momentum. He had to go through to the tiebreaker. He wasn’t serving his absolute best right then either. So I did have my chances in the breaker. I thought I was almost a better player in it.
But because I did serve for the match, and he knew that, somehow just felt like it was not going to go my way. I was trying everything I could. I think I took some good decisions. But my serve let me down, like it actually let him down in the breaker. There was a lot on the line. That was a bit disappointing for me.
But I actually did take the right decisions going into the third set. How I wanted to return Jo, how I wanted to play him from the baseline. I think I was able to stay calm mentally throughout that third set, because at that point, it’s very easy to lose your mind over what just happened.
Then for next year, yeah, I think I answered the question. I think everybody’s going to have an equal good chance to win the big tournaments. I think the injuries we saw were not that serious that we have to worry for anybody at the beginning of the season. I think that’s the most important at this point.

Q. You haven’t lost since the US Open. Is still the biggest regret of your year the match point that you didn’t make against Djokovic? Also, before, Tsonga said you have won everything, your career is perfect, but you’re missing the Olympic Games and the Davis Cup. Is the Davis Cup a priority for you or is it not anymore?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I said it. I don’t think the match against Novak was my biggest disappointment of the season. It wasn’t the finals. So I felt like my chances were there as much at the French Open against Rafa. I mean, that would have been an amazing accomplishment to beat Rafa in the finals of the French Open. So I look back on that one with maybe a few more regrets.
I know I was one point away from getting to the US Open final, but it all happened in a moment. It was past.
I think for me, most important is the reaction I show after losses like this. Because it was a tough loss, like you mentioned. It was one that hurt. It was one that makes you wonder, How in the world can I end up losing this match? But Novak had such great momentum going this season, you just felt like it was his season.
But to bounce back and not lose a match from that moment on I think shows, again, how tough I am, the right decisions I can take. I also lost to Jo twice in a row at Wimbledon and in Montréal. Now I beat him four straight times. These are the kinds of reactions I expect from myself.
So to come through and prove it to myself was a great feeling.
Look, I don’t know, I always have to explain myself. But I don’t have a sheet where I say, I have to achieve everything. I really don’t.
Would I take all these accomplishments? Yes, I would. But do I love winning six World Tour Finals? Yes, I love it equally. The effort that goes into all this is equally big. Every tournament I play in some ways is a priority for me, otherwise I wouldn’t be playing. I don’t play 35 tournaments. I play, you know, a certain amount where I know I can perform well. If the Olympics, Davis Cup, all these things are part of it, it’s great.
Right now I’m happy the season’s over. I’m happy the season went well. In some ways I can’t believe another season is over. But I’m happy I’m still strong and healthy and really excited for next year.

Q. I think the World Tour Finals equals a Grand Slam as a major title event. Now you have 16 Grand Slam titles and six World Tour Final titles. How much satisfaction do you have holding both records?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, of course I’m extremely happy and extremely proud. I still don’t feel like I’m better than Pete Sampras, or Lendl for that matter. I still believe they are one of the all time greats to play the game. I’m just happy to be compared to them.
I’m actually happy that they are mentioned while I’m doing this because they have done amazing things in our sport. Sometimes legends do get forgotten rather quickly, which is unfortunate.
So for me to hear we are talking about Pete, Ivan, other players, I think is great for the sport and great for them. I mean, that I hold both records, sure, I’m very happy about it, I’m proud, because I know the effort that has gone into it. It’s longevity, it’s something you can’t just do over a short period of time.
I used to be famous for not being consistent. I think this one proves to me that I was able, and proves to maybe many people, that if I can be, then many other people can be successful for a long period of time, as well, because I thought that was a very difficult thing to achieve.

Q. Talking about when you had that mental freshening up during your break, did you speak to anyone? Did you go back and look at your old matches? What was the process you went through?
ROGER FEDERER: It was a lot, you know, talking to Severin and Paul and Pierre and so forth, my team. Obviously, my wife, as well. Just going through things, how they are going on tour, how I would like them to be. Everybody bring in their own ideas, giving their own opinions, because in some way winning solves everything.
When you do lose, a lot of more problems come out. You see a lot more problems than there actually are. It’s like in the press room, not everyone can win the tournament, so they say you played poorly because you lost. I don’t always agree with that. It’s someone on a team that can create that vibe.
For me it was important to step back and sort of have that bird’s view from up top and say, Where am I right now in my year? It’s been a good year. I know I’ve been playing well, I’ve been healthy. When is all this hard work going to pay off?
I just had to stick with it and have the right mindset, which I then had obviously coming back.

Q. What exactly were the doubts at that time?
ROGER FEDERER: Nothing that I can put my finger on. It was just a matter of trying to find something or nothing, at least think it through. I always said I was going to play full on until the US Open and see where my ranking is going to be at after the US Open, see where my health is, how much more I’m going to have left for this year. And then also looking ahead for next year with the Olympics coming around, it’s going to be a different type of season. I had to look ahead for that, as well, how I wanted to manage my schedule. That was it really.
It was in some ways simple, but a tough choice to make not going to Asia. I was disappointed not being able to do that. There are so many reasons not to do it that it was the only right decision this year. I hope to be back again in Asia next year. But I’m happy it’s kind of paid off for the end of the season.

Q. I know it rather bucks the argument that people are playing too much tennis at the moment. Do you think to make the Masters final extra special, it should return to being the best of five sets?
ROGER FEDERER: The finals?

Q. Of this tournament.
ROGER FEDERER: I think so. I think so. I mean, if it’s a match like this, it’s fine. I think it’s still enough tennis for the people. I think it’s exciting. We had the whole scenario today in today’s match.
But if I would have served it out, it would have been over in a hurry. I think I almost felt the spectators weren’t quite ready for it to end quite yet, although many would have been happy for me, they would have loved to see more tennis.
I remember sitting in a room in Shanghai where players were asked, Would you like it to be five sets or three sets, the year end final? Kind of went in a circle.
Everyone said best of three sets. I was the only guy that said, I think we should have best of five sets. Okay, let’s make it best of three sets. I don’t care.
I do care actually. I think it makes for a great year end. Sure, you can see why maybe it’s healthier to play best of three sets. Maybe the year end could be a best of five set match. I do believe that, yeah.

Q. The season is now over for you, but there is still a Davis Cup final ahead next week. What is your feeling for this final? Do you think that Spain is the overwhelming favorite? Do you see any chance for Argentina?
ROGER FEDERER: I’m sure it’s an open match in some ways. But I think that Spain is the favorite. Are they the overwhelming favorite? I don’t think it matters. They are the favorites. They’re playing at home. They have an incredibly solid team.
But then again, the Argentinians, they have their players and their team, as well. If a surprise happens, anything’s possible. Obviously it’s normal to favor the Spaniards with Rafa on the team back on clay. It’s logical.

Q. With so many titles and records in the bag, how do you assess your hunger and desire? Has it dipped at all? Is it stronger than ever?
ROGER FEDERER: It’s normal really. I don’t go through phases where I feel like I want to play 10 more years and then only six more months. I always look ahead one and a half to two years, and that’s still the same right now. Then as time goes by, you know, you see how the body is.
I love this game more than anybody, so I’m not all of a sudden going to wake up in the morning and say I don’t like it anymore.
It’s a lot of sacrifice. It’s a lot of effort I have to put in every day. I know that. But I do enjoy that because what I get in return is moments like I got today, with my team, with my family. It’s priceless really. So for this reason I’m very excited for next year.
I am happy that the season is over because it has been long, it has been grueling. But, yeah, I’m very happy and upbeat about what’s to come.


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138 Comments for Roger Federer Presser: This Was The Strongest Finish I’ve Ever Had To A Season

Michael Says:

Many congratulations to the mighty Roger he has once again proved that he is the GOAT. I do not think any other tennis critic or analyst should have doubt in this now that he has won his sixth WTF at 30.


Muralisk Says:

Amazing tennis, great display of skill and what a win last night. Congratulations Roger, you were at your best and with sixth ATP title, you have proved that you have what it takes to compete at the highest level and add few more silverware to your collection. Have fun, take rest and all the best for 2012. Looking forward to your continued winning streak in 2012 as well.


Rahul Says:

Wow that was a great presser. Im glad he acknowledged the close losses because that was something that was really hard to watch as a Federer fan.

Also his interviews are always so frank and open. He doesnt dodge questions or give diplomatic answers. Truly one of the great ambassadors of the sport and I never thought Id say this, but I feel privileged that Ive been able to follow his journey from a good talented player to one of the greatest.


bstevens Says:

Federer ends the year on a 17 match win streak. I recall he had a similar streak to end last year when he had a 15 match streak that was snapped by Djokovic at the Aussie Open. It remains to be seen if Federer can maintain this type of form on other surfaces. Hard to believe that his last non hard court title was at Wimbledon in 2009. Difficult to say if Federer can snag another major next year as you except that Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray, will be recharged for next year. This truly is a golden age of men’s tennis and I feel privileged to be witnessing it.


bstevens Says:

^ expect should be except (lol for anagrams-too much scrabble for me)


jane Says:

^ Yep, he finished strongly last year too. In 2010, Fed also did well in Asia, reaching the finals of Shanghai, which Murray won, then winning in Stockholm, winning in Basel, reaching the semis of Paris, and winning the WTF. So quite similar, only he skipped Shanghai and Stockholm this year, and won Paris.

Has Fed won all the Masters 1000 events now, or if not, which one is he missing? Does he have Monte Carlo? Rome? I assume so, just don’t remember.


Rahul Says:

@Jane No hes still missing Monte Carlo and Rome. As per his 2012 schedule he wont be playing Monte, and given Rafa’s dominance there I think this is one title which will remain missing from his collection.


bstevens Says:

List of Masters the top 3 have not won:

Djokovic – Monte Carlo, Cincinnati, Shanghai
Nadal – Miami, Cincinnati, Paris
Federer – Monte Carlo, Rome

It should be noted that both Federer and Nadal won Madrid when it was held in an indoor hardcourt, so that takes the place of Shanghai.


scineram Says:

Well he is wrong. His last loss in 2006 was in Cincinatti. Playing New York, Tokyo, Madrid, Basel, Shanghai after that.


van orten Says:

vamos roger ! 2012!!!!!!


grendel Says:

“I think it’s a mental thing, yes. Not only. Sometimes it’s also the player playing better than you. Jo played better than me at Wimbledon. Maybe not much, but enough just to come through. Same as Rafa at the French Open in the finals, Novak in the semis of the US Open. It’s fine to respect that. But I feel when it happens maybe that often, I do have to question myself that maybe I did something wrong.
I think I’m mentally good right now. That was also one of the reasons why I did take some time off, to actually think it through, you know, get into the right mental mindset because we do I don’t want to say underestimate or overestimate the mental part of the game, but there is a lot of time that goes by out on tour, during a match, you’re just trying to stay positive, but you can’t always be positive out there. You know, it’s just too difficult. That’s where maybe the doubts were just a bit too strong during certain important moments.
I think I didn’t have those doubts now for the remainder of the season, which is what I wanted to get out of my system during this six weeks’ break, and I was able to do that.”

This struck me as the heart of the interview, at least from a long term perspective. As bstevens says, it remains to be seen whether Federer can carry this form into the AO and beyond. The parallels with last year are perhaps not exact. Federer seems wiser somehow – he has squarely faced the bitter diappointments of the year, and tried to exact meaning from them.

There seems to me to be a slightly calmer, and more patient, aspect to his play. That might pay dividends.


Skorocel Says:

I know everyone’s happy about Fed’s 6th WTF title, that it is 1 better than what Sampras & Lendl did, that it is one more reason to consider him the GOAT, etc. etc., but frankly, let’s see who these 3 guys had to face in the finals in the years they won it, and then we can judge. I know I’ll (probably) be slammed for it by the die hard Fed fans here, but what the hell? ;-)

Lendl:
1981 Gerulaitis
1982 McEnroe
1985 Becker
1986 Becker
1986 Wilander

Sampras:
1991 Courier
1994 Becker
1996 Becker
1997 Kafelnikov
1999 Agassi

Federer:
2003 Agassi
2004 Hewitt
2006 Blake
2007 Ferrer
2010 Nadal
2011 Tsonga

Anyone here not that blind to see the difference?


Skeezerweezer Says:

Skorocel,

It would be nice to see the opponets year end ranking in each of those years.. That said, remember this isn’t boxing where you get to choose your opponet. If the top 4 players in the world can’t get to the finals, who’s fault is that?

BTW… Becker was an awesome indoors player, no?


Skorocel Says:

Skeezerweezer:

Becker: 30 indoor titles
Nadal: 1 indoor title


grendel Says:

well, Skyrocel, for a start, Sampras’ Becker not the same as Lendl’s. You see the name “Becker” written twice, for each geezer, and you think – ah, same thing. Nope. Not same thing. Lendl’s Becker better than Sampras’ Becker.

Now, consider. We have Fed beating Blake in 2006. No good, is the implication. Why? Blake on his day could beat anyone and did (apart from Davydenko, a great player b.t.w.). Dunno what Blake was like on that day. But there is this: Federer beat Nadal in the semi that year, and this was Steve Tignor’s comment (Tignor, b.t.w., more a Nadal than Federer man, I am given to understand):”I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this, a go-for-broke slugfest from start to finish, was the best 6-4, 7-5 match ever played”(http://blogs.tennis.com/thewrap/2011/11/utennis-the-war.html). Note that Tignor isn’t even talking about indoor surfaces – he means on ALL surfaces. It doesn’t matter that Nadal only has won 1 indoor tourney – partly due to Federer, b.t.w., this being Fed’s return compliment to Nadal for denying him RG on so many occasions – everyone knows that on a given day, Nadal can be as formidable as any player who has ever lived, on ANY surface. According to Tignor, this was just such a day. (The other day, when Fed wiped the floor with Nadal, was clearly not such a day).

Then Lendl has Gerulaitis and Wilander – weaker on indoor, I suggest, than any of Federer’s. Sampras has Kafelnikov and Courier – fine players, are you suggesting Hewitt and Ferrer could not match up to them? And then Tsonga is a monstrous, huge talent who has only just come into his own. You ought to hear the great Becker on him – he, at least, understands his quality.

I have made some qualifications, I am sure others more knowledgeable than me could make plenty of others. You just can’t brandish a list of names and say “yah, my names are better than your names”. It altogether depends on the circumstances, and I have merely instanced a few. Naturally, this works both ways. For instance, Federer’s Agassi probably wasn’t as strong as Sampras’.

So, Skyrocel, there is no question of “slamming,” you, but I hope I have shown that your comment”Anyone here not that blind to see the difference” is, to say the least, tendentious.


Ben Pronin Says:

Sampras’s Becker may not have been Lendl’s Becker, but who can forget their 96 final. Although I don’t think that’s the same one because there were 2 year end championships that year and the one where they played one of the greatest matches ever was in Germany. And in 96 Becker did win the Australian Open so it’s not like he was washed up.


grendel Says:

Absolutely not washed up, Ben Pronin. But for my money, early Becker much better than late Becker. Somehow, that fantastic promise was never quite fulfilled; not only did he stall, he seemed to go backwards – and as a Becker fan, I was often disconsolate. In particular, I hated seeing Sampras playing Becker, especially at Wimbledon – I am afraid he had his measure, as did also Agassi. I never saw the Germany match – what a shame!


grendel Says:

b.t.w. I’m not sure if that bloody link of Steve Tignor’s I gave works. If not, go onto Tennis.com, look for Concrete Elbow, and click on UTennis:The War. There’s a nice video of highlights of that Shanghai Fed/Nadal match. Nadal looking so young, God it was only 5 years ago, but it feels like looking at a film from the 1950′s or something. Weird stuff, time.


Skorocel Says:

Ben: I don’t get why everyone mentions the so called “Compaq Grand Slam Cup” as a tourney of great importance. Sure, its prize money was, for that particular time, unheard of (I remember Pioline once losing to Agassi there in some 40 minutes & collecting $ 100k for that, LOL!), but the thing is, there weren’t any ranking points for it, as far as I remember.

Re: that 1996 YEC final, you’re perfectly right. One of the best indoor matches ever played. What a pity the finals aren’t best of 5 anymore…

grendel: Early Becker or later Becker, it doesn’t matter. He was still better than Ferrer, Blake & even Tsonga could ever be – especially INDOORS. Same about Kafelnikov & Courier compared to Ferrer. About Nadal, well, you’re right. If not for Federer, he would’ve, at the very least, have won that one elusive YEC trophy, if not more. That’s true.


jane Says:

The guys that Lendl and Sampras played were almost all ranked number one at some point: I think Vitas is the only exception, and they all have at least one slam, in many cases multiple slams (Courier, Wilander, Becker, McEnroe), in contrast to Blake, Ferrer, and Tsonga.

That said, because Fed and Nadal have dominated the slams for so long, players like Blake, Ferrer and Tsonga perhaps were not able to break through, haven’t therefore won slams and never reached above #3 in the rankings; does that suggest weaker competition or greater domination? It could entail a whirlygig of an answer. Ferrer might have arguably won the FO or AO were it not for Fedal; Blake, the USO perhaps, and Tsonga has been hampered by injury, suicidal tendencies on the court, and a bad coach. Maybe now he will come into his own.

If the greater domination answer applies, it makes Nole’s year this year even more amazing… Hee hee ;) Had to get that in.


Ben Pronin Says:

Funny, if not for Federer I don’t think Nadal would’ve ever won outside of clay (maybe Wimbledon).

Skorocel, I don’t know. It was a year end tournament with top players.

But basically you’re just bringing up the weak competition argument again. I don’t agree. Federer may not have had to face the greatest finalists, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that he won the event undefeated 5 times.


Ben Pronin Says:

Ferrer has never had particularly good results at the French so him not winning it can’t be blamed of Fedal. Same with Blake, never really got consistently deep at the slams anyway. But Nalbandian and Tsonga could’ve maybe done better. And what’s wrong with Hewitt and Agassi? Not enough slams or weeks at number 1 there?


Skorocel Says:

jane: Blake winning the USO? He hasn’t managed to even reach a GS semifinal, if I remember…


jane Says:

Skorocel, I did say perhaps. But I don’t think it is out of the question. One year at the USO I thought he played well against Fed when Fed was at /near his best. And I figured if he were to win a slam anywhere it would have to be there. Maybe it is a stretch. I always wanted to see Blake winning, so maybe a bit of wishful thinking too.


dari Says:

If you really wanted to mention something “obviously” superior about lendl and pete’s wins it would be the five-set bit.
They may be comparable more to slams then in that sense.
Not that fed hasn’t mentioned he would prefer it 5 sets!

*******
Whoa, grendel, checked out some of the highlights from that match on YouTube, it was mindblowing tennis, fed was so fast!


Contemperory Says:

There are no ifs and buts in life, and we cannot really say that it could have happened if ___ was there. Since it didn’t happen, we cannot concretely predict the outcome of the event. Coming to comparison of eras, that again is another effort which may not create that much value.

Fed defeated Djokovic, Murray and Nadal in last year’s WTF. He has defeated Nadal overall 4 times in the WTF. If WTF was held on clay, then Nadal would have swept the ATP finals. If WTF was held outdoors, so and so would have happened, so on and so forth.

What if 2 grand slams were on clay and 2 were on grass? We would see a different perspective about greatness, tennis, etc.

It is better to appreciate the goodness in each era and enjoy tennis the way it is.


joe w Says:

hi Dari can you post a link to the youtube match please. thanks


grendel Says:

come on, you dozy lot, you’ve missed a howler. As I was lying in bed, tossing and turning and contemplating the vagaries of age, I suddenly realized that they’d hit me smackeroo, and I was left wondering whether Alzheimers was at last kicking in. For how else can one explain the monumental error of suggesting that Blake couldn’t beat Davydenko – whereas, of course, Davydenko couldn’t beat Blake.

Skyrocel: yes, of course Becker was better than Ferrer, that was not my point, which was merely to indicate that simply throwing a name out is not as illuminating as you might think. For example, naturally Becker is a much greater player than Tsonga, he has a hugely distinguished record whilst Tsonga has hardly got going (laregely due to chronic injury). But that absolutely does NOT mean that Tsonga could not, on a given day, beat Becker. Of course, he could, without the faintest doubt, indoors too. I think it is easy to be bewitched by the glamour of the great name.

You perhaps have missed my point about Nadal (I didn’t make it clearly, I admit). It was that even if Blake was weak competition for Federer in the final, to get to that final, Federer had to beat Nadal in a match described by Steve Tignor as one of the greatest of all time. In other words, stronger competition than either Lendl or Sampras had.

Meanwhile, if too easily dazzled by the great name, we can also leap to contemptuous conclusions about the lesser names which logic and experience doesn’t warrant. Blake was exactly the sort of player who can wreak havoc with the stellar player if his day is on. Come to think of it, consider the way he manhandled Davydenko, certainly a great player especially then. Was he playing topnotch? I don’t know, maybe it was easy competition for Federer on the day – but maybe not. Simply relying on the potency – or lack of it – of a name doesn’t answer the question. And why are you so sure that Kafelnikov was a much stronger opponent than Ferrer? Simply no good to say that Kafelnikov won a couple of slams, Ferrer never has. Nalbandian and Murray have never won slams – both far more gifted players than either Courier or Kafelnikov. And talking of Nalbandian, Federer came within an ace of beating him to win the title, in an extraordinary 5 setter. There’s that to hold in reserve, you might say.

So, sorry Skyrocel – nice try, but these sort of arguments never work. Just one more examply. Suppose Djokovic had somehow struggled to the final – and he wasn’t that far off. The likelihood is, Federer would have beaten him (given how they are both playing right now). Then according to your argument, this would have strengthened Federer’s claim, since Djokovic is undoubtedly one of the great names of tennis history, possibly greater than anyone either Lendl or Sampras faced – or at least right up there. But in fact, Djokovic would have been a much easier opponent than Tsonga or even Ferrer, simply because the boy isn’t feeling good these days.

In short, the “great name” argument has to be used with care and thought – or it’s just a blunderbuss.


Michael Says:

What is remarkable about this win of Federer is that he has achieved this when he is over 30. It is never easy to dominate especially when you are aging and if Federer is doing that precisely then tells us about his greatness. I wonder with Nadal, Djokovic and Murray already struggling with fitness problems, what will be their record when they reach 28-29 ???? We can be pretty sure that they will never dominate as the way Federer is doing now. Federer is still World No.3 a rank many players would envy, but that is not enough for him since he has set a high bar. Now about the prospects in 2012, I would say Federer might win a major at most and it is a toss up between the Wimbledon and US Open or if luck permits even both. I am not sure about the Australian and French Open and I feel Federer will somewhat struggle in those slow surface. All said and done, for 9 straight years, Federer has been ranked in the top three. I do not know of any other yester player who has such a stellar record ?


jane Says:

Fed’s been in top 3 (mainly, though he did drop to 4 but we could say year end) for 9 years, Rafa has been in top 3 for what, 7-8 years, since 05? Nole has been in the top 3 for 5 straight years now. And Murray’s been top four for four. They certainly have dominating the top of the rankings for a long time. Is that common, historically? That the same four guys have all been in the top four spots for four or more years?


Michael Says:

Jane, I am not sure this (the big four dominating) has happened before not even in the Borg-Mcenroe era as far as I know. By the way, Nadal too dropped to No.4 in 2009.


jane Says:

Michael, oh yeah, you are right. The year he was injured Rafa dropped and I think Murray rose up to number 2 then as well. But nevertheless, these top four have had a lock down on those top four spots for a long time! I think Delpo snuck into the top four for a wee bit, but that is it.


Michael Says:

Jane, They are the FANTASTIC FOUR !! No chance.


alison hodge Says:

feds amazing to still be ranked inside the top 3 at the age of 30,wow what an achievement in itself,however sometimes i dont think his rivals get the credit they deserve,like jane says rafa 7-8 years,nole 3-5 years,muzza 4 years,then you here people say i doubt those players will still be playing at the age of 30,which i find irritating,whos to say rafa,nole,muzza wont be playing at the age of 30,they have remained at the top of the game this long,then why not till they are 30,purely speculation i know but why cant people wait and see,instead of simply dismissing them and there chances.


scineram Says:

Few players dominate all around, because the ATP won the war on diversity.


Tennislover Says:

Skorocel: I agree with Grendel that it is not as simple as you’d like to believe. There’s a context to virtually every match/tournament/season etc. You have to take into account the fitness and form of the qualifiers as well as their ability on indoor carpet/hard. Both Lendl and Sampras beat some very good opponents in some years and some “easy” ones in some other years. In 1981, Lendl beat Vilas, Clerc and Gerulaitis but in 1982, he beat Noah, Connors and Mac. In 1985, he had Smid, Mayotte, Gomez and Becker but in 1986, he had Gomez, Edberg, Noah, Wilander and Becker. In 1987, he faced Gilbert, Connors, Becker and Wilander.

Sampras beat Stich, Agassi, Lendl and Courier in 1991. He then beat Edberg, Ivanisevic, Agassi and Becker in 1994. He beat Kafelnikov, Agassi, Ivanisevic and Becker in 1996. However, He beat Rusedski, Rafter, Bjorkman and Kafelnikov in 1997 and Kuerten, Lapenti, Keifer and Agassi in 1999.

As you can see, the competition for Lendl and Sampras was tougher in some years compared to some other years if you go purely by how big the names were. However, a Lendl in the mid-1980s was much more formidable than the one who faced Sampras in 1991 and we have several similar cases with respect to many players. Vilas was mainly a clay courter. Noah’s best results were also on clay. Wilander wasn’t the most proficient on carpet. Clerc, Smid, Mayotte, Gomez and Gilbert aren’t household names. Ditto for Stich, Rusedski, Bjorkman, Lapenti, Keifer etc. However, Stich had a flowing game that I liked when he was playing well and could reach very high levels . Keifer could be a very dogged opponent for the best of them. Rafter was playing very well in 1997………..The same applies to some of Federer’s opponents.

I have no doubt in my mind that most of these lesser names qualified on merit and they could have gotten hot that year or even in a particular YEC. What really matters is FORM on a given day or during a particular event/season. We have seen several players getting hot for some time but not being able to sustain it. Conversely, some of the big names can and do go off the boil at certain stages. I can’t comment with any degree of certainty about the context of the YECs in the early 1980s in terms of some of the lesser players’ ability on carpet but I do know that the YECs of the 1990s were tailor-made for players like Sampras and Becker. They used to be played on blazing fast indoor carpet with relatively lower bounce. Becker also had vociferous home-crowd support.

Federer won his first two TMCs on outdoor hard. He beat the then AO champ Agassi twice apart from Nalbandian, Roddick and Ferrero. Not bad if you go back to 2003 and see it in that context as all these guys were playing very well. I admit Gaudio was poor on hard but beating Hewitt twice apart from Moya and Safin in 2004 isn’t as bad as you think it is. He beat Nalbandian, Roddick, Ljub, Nadal and Blake in 2006 when all of them were playing very well. He beat Davy, Roddick , Nadal and Ferrer in 2007 after losing the first match to Gonzalez – I really miss that guy- in a thriller. These guys aren’t exactly second-rate.

It is true that Nadal and Djokovic were not at their very best at the 2011 WTF and Murray withdrew with an injury. Nadal hasn’t been close to his 2010 form all year though. However 2010 was very different. They were all playing very well and Federer still defeated all three of them apart from Soderling and Ferrer. That surely compares very favorably to anything that Lendl and Sampras did at the YECs. In 2008, Djokovic won the TMC without having met Federer or Murray and Nadal was absent. He got unbelievably lucky but couldn’t do anything about it, could he? OTOH, he probably would have been the favorite for the 2011 TMC had he not been emotionally spent after a brilliant season.

Tsonga is an incredibly dangerous player for Federer now (a heavy weight against a declining cruiser-weight at best) and I always get the feeling that he can overwhelm Federer if he takes his guard off even slightly. These days, he does that more frequently than he used to do in the past. Ferrer is the sort of terrier who you have to beat. He rarely beats himself. I understand that he doesn’t have an extremely high peak but he plays at a very good level consistently. Blake, otoh, could be very dangerous on a given day albeit, generally, a bit hit and miss. Nalbandian and Hewitt had great H2H against Federer in the past. Safin, Roddick and Ferrero were very good players in their time. Ljub played very well for some time and Davy showed at the 2009 TMC what a nightmare he can be to play against in the shorter format when he is playing well. The best players of a season qualify for the WTF and they are generally very good except for the odd exception.

It may not be relevant in the larger picture but winning the WTF is still an achievement when you consider his age and the fact that he is not the player he used to be.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

An excellent argument. I will settle it:
Lendl’s competition was toughest. Sampras and Fed about even.

Thank you Skorocel for the topic.


carlo Says:

It is my opinion that if not for Federer, players like Hewitt, Safin, Roddick, Nalbandian and probably some others, would have been bigger even names than they are – plus Agassi would have won at least another US Open. I don’t buy the weak era idea. Perhaps within Era’s there is a weak year or two. I don’t know..

In the weak era – how many years defines an era, anyway?


carlo Says:

Definitely winning 6 WTF titles is an achievement for Federer. He has been in 10 of these ATP year end finals. I don’t recall what he did in 2002 but 2008 he wasn’t in good shape. 2009 he got to the semi-final and 2005, the final with Nalbandian. All other times he has won. That is remarkable. As far as there being weak competition, well, that doesn’t speak well of Nadal since Nadal had to play Federer in, I think, 4 of the 6 WTF’s Federer won. Djokovic has been contesting the final yearly since 2007 and Murray since 2008. The weak era argument against Federer falls flat as to WTF’s. Or maybe I’ve entered late and don’t understand the finer points of the weak era definition. When exactly was the Weak Era?

I would like to see WTF go back to having the final played over 5 sets.


skeezerweezer Says:

^carlo…agreed. And of all the players you mentioned(excluding Nalby) had won Slams in Feds era. So that can’t be THAT lowly. Fed was, simply that good :-)


grendel Says:

@scineram 6.56.

I thought it was accepted that surfaces were becoming more uniform, not diverse. You disagree, presumably?


grendel Says:

Top 4 greatest top4 in tennis history, also unusual longevity – as said above.

Think what this must do for Ferrer’s reputation – to be #5 in such an era is not to be sneezed at, particularly when you have, if briefly, challenged for the #4 spot. Ferrer, the unglamorous hero! Down with glamour!


Tennis Vagabond Says:

WHOA GRENDEL!

1981:
McEnroe, Lendl, Connors, Borg

1987:
Lendl, Edberg, WIlander, Connors, Becker

1990:
Edberg, Becker, Lendl, Agassi, Sampras

I don’t believe Fed has faced a weak era, at least compared to Sampras… but lets get real. Compared to some other Golden Ages, Murray does not belong- and so far Nole is not yet at WIlander’s stature, let alone these other names.


grendel Says:

Take your point, TV. But what about longevity?
re Scineram – irony, perhaps?


Skorocel Says:

grendel said: „You perhaps have missed my point about Nadal (I didn’t make it clearly, I admit). It was that even if Blake was weak competition for Federer in the final, to get to that final, Federer had to beat Nadal in a match described by Steve Tignor as one of the greatest of all time. In other words, stronger competition than either Lendl or Sampras had.“

Well, if you consider how tough of a matchup Nadal is to Federer, then maybe yes, but still, I wouldn’t call Federer beating Nadal on indoor hard/carpet (Nadal’s worst surface by far) a better accomplishment than Sampras beating Becker or Lendl beating McEnroe on the same surface.

——————-

„And why are you so sure that Kafelnikov was a much stronger opponent than Ferrer?“

Kafelnikov: Great all-court player with virtually no real weakness. Very good serve, FH, BH, and volleys too. 2 slams, 1 slam final, 12 indoor titles, 26 titles overall.
Ferrer: No real weapon except stubbornly retrieving & bashing the ball like a 5-year old child who doesn’t know when to stop. 0 slams, 0 slam final, 1 indoor title, 11 titles overall.

——————-

„Nalbandian and Murray have never won slams – both far more gifted players than either Courier or Kafelnikov.“

I wouldn’t be that sure about Kafelnikov. See above.

——————-

„But in fact, Djokovic would have been a much easier opponent than Tsonga or even Ferrer, simply because the boy isn’t feeling good these days.“

Easier than Tsonga maybe, but certainly NOT easier than Ferrer. Of all the opponents who Fed could’ve gotten in the semis (or finals, for that matter), Ferrer was CLEARLY the easiest. Easier than Djoker & easier than Berdych. 3 sets out of 12 matches speak for itself…


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Socorcel
I would counter that Kafelnikov’s SLams and titles are in fact an indication of the weakness of the Sampras era. Courier was great for a short period of time. Kafelnikov was never great. He beat Stich and Enqvist for his Slams, for crying out loud. He would have a record very similar to Ferrer if he started ten years later.
I agree with you though about Ferrer. He’s a very good player, but never been great.


Skorocel Says:

“Tsonga is an incredibly dangerous player for Federer now (a heavy weight against a declining cruiser-weight at best) and I always get the feeling that he can overwhelm Federer if he takes his guard off even slightly.”

Ha ha, very nicely said, Tennislover!


margot Says:

Whoa, guys, you can’t have it BOTH ways, you really can’t. You can’t say Roger and Rafa are the greatest players of all time and then berate Nole and Andy for “merely” being in the top four for 4 to 5 years.
Having it both ways perchance?
And BTW Andy is on record as saying he’s glad he’s playing in this era because it’s “made me a better player.”


Skorocel Says:

Tennis Vagabond:

Kafelnikov, no matter how you dislike him or not, was FAR more talented & accomplished player than Ferrer could ever be. I agree, though, that his 2 slam wins were a bit “lucky” in the sense that he didn’t have to beat the biggest favorite in those editions (for the FO he beat Krajicek, Sampras & Stich in the last 3 rounds instead of say Muster or Medvedev & for the AO he beat Martin, Haas & Enqvist instead of Agassi, who, btw, beat him 12 weeks later in the final of the same tournament, if I remember). Btw, didn’t Kafelnikov have a 4-2 lead vs Federer? I know that was only “baby Fed”, but still…


Skorocel Says:

Correction: 12 weeks should read 12 months


madmax Says:

Hi to all federer fans.

Dari, I got tickets for the WTF on Saturday semi finals, as you know. The tube was a nightmare. (that was the way back). At the time I got to the O2, it was buzzing….went to look at the programme for the day, and there it was federer v ferrer..I couldn’t believe my eyes, I thought perhaps I would be watching Tsonga v Berdych. Was so happy. Happy, happy, happy.

It’s taken me a while to read all your posts and catch up, but I can tell you that Roger in the flesh is a skinny thing. Really skinny, lean and tall, very handsome and really, really charming. The crowd (with me in it), went completely wild, waving the swiss flag. It was an awesome match against Ferrer. Not the best; it took fed a while to get into the match, but there were some great shots. If you ever get the chance to see him play live, you will know what I mean.

Been lucky. Twice now. Stockholm last year, 02 this year. Amazing stroke of luck as the tickets were bought a year ago and of course, you just never know who is going to end up in the final week.

But, was well worth it. Federer in the final – well, what a match. And no one can say (though I see some have), that there is an asterisk next to his name? Why? He played so brilliantly, as did Tsonga and Tsonga is a heavy set guy, but really so very, very swift on his feet. Made Federer work for the trophy that is for sure. Played better than I have ever seen him play (Tsonga). At times, was unsure whether Federe could hold it together, but he did. Federer really is a true champion. He held it together at those tricky moments, where before he would go walkabout, he didn’t this time. There was a resolve to his shots more than I have ever seen them.

Federer is back. No doubt and what a champion he is too.

Dari, getting the tube back, got onto the jubilee line after a couple of stops the tube just stopped. Was going nowhere, had to get off and find another route. Didn’t get home until late. totally unreliable London Underground, but I didn’t let it spoil my great day and was so glad I got to see the Mighty, Mighty Fed becaus that is what he is.

Got to say, some of the shots he made were unbelievably fast. If you blinked, you would have missed them.

Federer truly is the greatest ever.


madmax Says:

The weak era argument…

Seriously? Do you really believe that Federer has won his tournaments through playing in a weak era?

Have you checked out Federer’s 92-5 win loss ratio in his most dominant season (2006) where he entered 16 finals out of 17 tournaments he competed for winning 3 Grand Slams, a finalist at Roland Garros, 4 masters , the WTF and four other titles? He played 97 matches that year so do not give me the tired excuse (Nadal (2010) and Djokovic(2011). Federer is a class above all of them.

Small wonder he is still challenging those 5 years his junior and in their prime in every tennis tournament.

A fantastic season by Novak, truly fantastic and amazing player that he is; is 70-6 this year (2011) with 3 slams and 5 masters title.

Fed was 92-5 in 2006 with 3 slams, 1 WTF and 4 masters. End of discussion.

Applying the same logic of competition being weak in 2005-2006 it can also be said that Rafa’s achievements on clay were due to lack of competition now that Djokovic has beaten him on clay in straight sets?

Most of the times this question is put to show Nadal’s recent non-clay successes and Djokovic’s victories against Federer. Otherwise how can Nadal and Djokovic be termed as greats if they don’t beat Federer (other than clay in case Nadal v Federer) at his best who has been beating everyone else since 2005? (watch videos of 2005-2006 shanghai masters to see what I mean).

The set of players from 2005-2011 has largely been the same. Nadal could beat Federer on grass only in 2008 and at AO only in 2009. Djokovic was a one slam wonder at that time; it’s only recently with a new diet, new training regime, new racquet, dropping of old coach and a much better, healthier mindset that the new Novak has arrived and made the boldest statement ever. Only in 2011 has Djokovic stepped up his game (read his interviews). See his ambitions and aspirations.

So if Federer’s game has declined then it doesn’t reflect well on Rafa’s achievements (4 non-clay titles) as he faced the same set of players Roger has faced.

Just by beating one more so-called ‘declining’ player won’t make his achievements great. Same goes with Djokovic. And fans won’t like it if it is suggested that Nadal was not at his best in 2011 and that is why Novak beat Rafa. I don’t believe that for a minute. Novak beat rafa because he was the better player and didn’t give up when he could easily have walked away. Novak was phenomenal. Simple. And Regarding players like Berdych, Tsonga, and Soderling they haven’t done anything special to differentiate themselves from the Hewitts, Safins and Roddicks of the past so far So this whole argument of competition being better now is a valid one but only to a very limited point. You have to compare the other players and who they are playing against too. but don’t (can’t remember who and haven’t got time to read all the posts), say that Federer was playing in a weak era. It doesn’t work.

I think that Tsonga is playing better than Murray (imo) and is a real threat for next year, if he can believe in himself more. He is such a brilliant, brilliant player. He has everything; the humour and the charm as well as the right approach when things don’t go his way.

Before 2011, it was Rafa and Roger all over the place. Before 2008, it was Roger all over others on non-clay and Rafa all over others on clay. In 2011, it is Djokovic all over others! So basically, a player’s past successes have been used to term him great and when another player starts beating him consistently he is termed greater!!

Federer has never gone away though. He may not be as consistent as he has been, but he is in no more of a decline than rafa or murray in my view. They are younger, yet get injured more. Why?

Federer is still about to prove his worth and to prove that he can still play with the best of them for a long, long time.

The bit of the interview that I loved the most was the following:

“I love this game more than anybody, so I’m not all of a sudden going to wake up in the morning and say I don’t like it anymore.
It’s a lot of sacrifice. It’s a lot of effort I have to put in every day. I know that. But I do enjoy that because what I get in return is moments like I got today, with my team, with my family. It’s priceless really. So for this reason I’m very excited for next year”.

Fed loves the game. That is the most important part of the interview for me. After all he has achieved, he still loves the game and wants to play. There is no loss of passion for the sport. The same cannot be said for rafa (his own words). That is the worry.


grendel Says:

Skyrocel says:”Well, if you consider how tough of a matchup Nadal is to Federer, then maybe yes, but still, I wouldn’t call Federer beating Nadal on indoor hard/carpet (Nadal’s worst surface by far) a better accomplishment than Sampras beating Becker or Lendl beating McEnroe on the same surface.”

Again, this mechanical reference to surface preference and so on. That is a generalisation, which usually works (hence the “general”) but sometimes doesn’t. Either Steve Tignor was right or he wasn’t. If the match was that great, then this provides an excellent case for it being a tougher match than the Sampras/Becker or McEnroe/Lendl. I don’t remember those particular matches – do you? Like all very great players, Nadal is something of a law unto himself, and I am quite prepared to believe that at the age of 20, he could pull out one of the alltime great indoor matches.

“Easier than Tsonga maybe, but certainly NOT easier than Ferrer.” Why ever not? Ferrer gave Djokovic a pasting. He lived with Federer up till about 5-5. I very much doubt if Djokovic would have done at this moment in time. I stand by what I said. As for Kafelnikov being a much more accomplished player (he had a much better serve, true, and the serve is of course huge factor), how are you so sure? This kind of comment does not give one confidence:” No real weapon except stubbornly retrieving & bashing the ball like a 5-year old child who doesn’t know when to stop”. It’s just silly. Ferrer’s base line game is magnificent and, even if some are inclined to mock him his fellow players – significantly – are not. Ferrer’s lack of a big serve is critical, and I wonder if just that lack is responsible for a tendency to panic at the critical moments. He has no free points available to him.

Personally, I haven’t any doubt that Nalbandian and Murray are much, much more talented than the rather mechanical Kafelnikov. Still, it takes all types, and Kafelnikov was effective.


MMT Says:

I’m sorry Skorocel – but this is the most illogical argument in sports. In order for your competition to be “better”, unless they come from another league/competition, you actually have to LOSE MORE. Since when does losing more often make you a greater champion?


alison hodge Says:

i agree with everything madmax and grendel are saying(except for the bit about roger been handsome,charming yes elegant yes classy yes handsome sorry no, but thats jmo),anyway rogers the goat,rafas one of the goats and noles been the best player this year,all any player can do is to try and beat whoever is stood in front of them,it is what it is,its also an argument that goes around in circles going no where.


gypsy Says:

madmax, well said. Am so jealous that you got to see Fed. My husband and I both dream of seeing him playing in person some day.

And to all those Fed detractors, they always roll out their pathetic weak era excuse without any solid proof. I am not sure what yard stick they are using to compare talent in any era. It is getting boring.

As for Fed, he keeps on trucking, sometimes one step forward, 2 steps back. He never gives up, he has the ability to stay positive, to keep believing despite the negativity that surrounds him. He may not be at the same level as he was in his dominant years, and he understands and accepts the challenge. That, to me, is the hall mark of a true champion.


dari Says:

Wow, great luck for you, madmax.
That’s amazing you got to see roger in those matches! The thrill of the final must have been incredible. Happy for you! No tube issue could tarnished that ;)

I was fortunate to see roger this summer at USO, I need more though! He was very thin and has an exaggerated, deliberate gait where his knees kinda lock, reminds me of a giraffe or horse.
When he plays he alternates between being so fast you can’t see the shot, to making it look the ball stands still for him to hit it where he wants (and everything in between, of course!)

He’s the best! And you saw him in great glory!


Skorocel Says:

grendel: What exactly did I say about Ferrer that is NOT true? Does he have just one stroke that can be called a formidable weapon? No. Has he ever won something of great importance? No. Kafelnikov at least won 2 slams and got to 1 final, whereas Ferrer hasn’t even managed to reach a final. Then?


grendel Says:

Skyrocel – you went on about Ferrer” retrieving & bashing the ball like a 5-year old child who doesn’t know when to stop”. Actually, this is neither true nor untrue. It’s just silly.

Ferrer does certainly have formidable weapons, that is why he is currently ranked as the 5th best tennis player in the world. He doesn’t have a huge fh etc compared to a Tsonga or Berdych etc, true. Everyone knows that. What Ferrer does have is awesome accuracy, incredible retrieving ability, excellent hands at the net and a good understanding of how to manouevre the play towards the net. For a while, he was said to have the best return of serve in the world – now that honour goes to Djokovic. He is still exceptional, however, and I argued on this site that when he pushed Djokovic very hard in the Madrid final this year, his ros was superior to Djokovic’s – jane contested that.

He is a formidable opponent. Ask Nadal, ask Djokovic, ask Roddick, ask Berdych. It is true, he does not really have the weapons to hurt Federer, although he has run him very close, in Hamburg some years ago, I recall that being an exceptionally tense match. But just because Federer would always be a strong favourite against him can hardly be counted against Federer. Rather the opposite, I should have thought. Federer beat him convincingly in the final, having beaten Nadal convincingly in the semi (6-4, 6-1). It was a perfectly strong line up, in the RR Gonzalez beat up on Federer in a magnificent display, but Federer fought his way through all the same. As for Ferrer not having the titles of Kafelnikov – who knows, would Kafelnikov have won these titles in today’s conditions? Maybe.

This whole argument strikes me as daft. Federer did what he had to do and did it with a degree of ease. Are you seriously suggesting that if, instead of Ferrer, he had had say an exact clone of Kafelnikov or Courier to face the result would have been any different? The idea doesn’t even begin to get off the ground. Not, of course, that annyone can offer any proof. The real question is, why would you even want to try?


grendel Says:

dari says:” He was very thin and has an exaggerated, deliberate gait where his knees kinda lock, reminds me of a giraffe or horse.
When he plays he alternates between being so fast you can’t see the shot, to making it look the ball stands still for him to hit it where he wants (and everything in between, of course!)”

Very graphic account. It’s easy to forget that in the end, the glory of tennis, any sport really, lies in the visual impact it makes. The records are fun, but really if we weren’t so entranced by the visual pyrotechnics, why would we care about them? Yes, I was startled and invigorated by your description, dari.


Ben Pronin Says:

In all fairness, everyone sucks in tennis right now except the top 3. The ATP would be the same as the WTA if not for Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. Cut them out and what do you have? Murray the leader of the pack with his consistent results but inability to deliver at the most important moments (Wozniacki). Del Potro hovering around the top but unable to put everything together due to injury and overall inconsistency (Sharapova). And there is no one else with a slam… Berdych underachieves, Tsonga underachieves, Baghdatis, Monfils, Gasquet. So much talent out there, so much instability when it comes to the mental part. Federer admitted that he had some trouble with the mental part of the game this year, which he did, and that’s nothing compared to how badly everyone else falls a part any time there’s even a hint of pressure.

When it comes to tennis ability, I don’t think it’s fair to compare eras. Everyone in 2011 can do everything someone from 2001 could do and then some, and 1991, and 1981, and so on. It only makes sense that players adopt successful techniques and then improve upon them. But when it comes to a strong mental game, I don’t know what happen to tennis but everyone dropped the ball on this one, men and women.


Skorocel Says:

grendel: I wouldn’t call Ferrer’s return as the best today. Not at all. Djoker’s return is FAR better, because he not only returns the ball in play (like Ferrer does in most of the cases), he returns it WITH INTEREST. Ask Nadal or Fed about that. Speaking about returns, Nalbandian’s was (or I should say “used to be”) also much better (for the same reason as Djoker’s), and I wouldn’t consider Murray’s or Davy’s return worse than Ferrer’s either.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Skorocel, I am just so shocked and impressed to see someone passionately defending Yevgelny Kafelnikov that I will take your side on Ferrer’s lack of weapons.
Grendel is reaching in his defense of Ferrer’s return game is not in the same league as Djokovic, Murray and Rafa. This year, probably Ferrer’s best ever, he is 4th in break games won, 4th in 2nd serve ROS points, and not even top ten in 1st serve ROS points.
Ferrer is an excellent player obviously, but it is an Orwellian twist of language to speak of his defensive skills, which are indeed impressive, as weapons. This takes away the meaning of the word ‘weapons’. I could as well say that Soderling is one of the great defensive players of our time because, hey, the best defense is a good offense!


Skorocel Says:

Tennis Vagabond: Shocked and impressed positively, or negatively? LOL :-) I’m not saying Kafelnikov was a god or something to that extent, I’m just merely pointing out that he was certainly better player than Ferrer, Blake, or even Tsonga – yet of all the opponents Sampras beat in those finals he won, he (Kafelnikov) was probably the “weakest”, so to speak. Now let’s tell that to all those people who claim Sampras’ era was weaker than Federer’s…


jane Says:

madmax, glad you were able to see Fed and have fun.

dari, loved your description of seeing him play and move.

margot, touche.

grendel, I don’t even remember seeing that Ferrer versus Nole match you mention that we discussed. I guess it must have been semis as he played Rafa in the final, which I do recall watching. The early part of the season was such a blur but I remember all the finals in particular.


Michael Says:

If some claims Federer played in a weak era, then how come Nadal’s record against Davydenko is 6-8 ? Even Ljubicic is giving Nadal a tough time whenever he faces him even at this age, not to mention Roddick, Juan and even Haas. They are all very good players who didn’t realize their potential. Therefore, it is imponderable to compare eras and claim as strong and weak. Remember, Roger beat Sampras in 2001 at Wimbledon in his prime and we all know how tough was Sampras to be beaten at his favourite surface.


Skeezerweezer Says:

Skorocel,

Seems you have generated a nice discussion here, love it and kudos to you.

My question in this is this. How does this play to Rafa. In otherwords, how great then…….is Rafa’s era? Without Fed….would it be a weak or very strong era for Rafa?

Would he win a bunch of WTFs? Or a bunch more slams? Wouldn’t it be, by your theory, for Rafa, a weak era also?

What is good for the goose….


Skorocel Says:

Michael: 2001 certainly wasn’t Sampras’ prime year ;-)

Skeezerweezer: Yes, it would be the very same era as with (or without) Federer. What’s wrong with that? Btw, I don’t understand why you’re bringing Nadal here (?)… What’s your point?


Michael Says:

Skorocel, Right Sampras was in his early 30s when Federer beat him. But still he was invincible on Grass and if Federer had not stopped him he would gone ahead and won the title. A very young Federer did stop Sampras in his tracks at his favourite court which is an achievement and that was a major break through in his career which paved the way for the downfall of Sampras. The impression gaining ground that the era of Federer is weak is because of the fact of the superiority of Federer and his versatile game.


Swiss Maestro Says:

If skorocel’s mom had balls, she would be his dad. just saying. that is how if’s and but’s works.

MMT said it best. it is utterly stupid to say you would be a greater champion if you lost some more titles but have a better H2H against the rivals?

would you want all the innumerous records federer has [mostly obliterating sampras' records] and have a losing h2h against another GOAT candidate like nadal or be 2nd like sampras[or even 3rd if rafa wins some more slams] in all those records and have a winning H2H against mediocre legends like becker/agassi/courier/kafelnikov.

I know which one a wise person would chose. the reason courier/kafelnikov even won FOs was because sampras was a wuss on clay. Anyone who has watched tennis will tell you that these 2 would never win a RG/ao [the only GS these 2 won] in the fedal era. they wouldn’t even be ranked no.1. that they did reflects rather poor on sampras/agassi. fedal did not allow anyone a whiff at the no.1 from 03-11. 8freaking years.

Look what novak had to do to wrestle the no.1 from FEDAL. an insanely mind boggling year to get to no.1. courier/kafelnikov couldn’t hold a candle to novak’s achievements and he is far from done.

you can continue to live in lala land thinking rock the cave man was the greatest tennis player/sportsperson ever. the truth of the matter, however, is that tennis is much more tougher/competitive than even 10yrs ago. there is no ifs and buts here. you will have to play the best tennis of your life to even have a chance against the top 3 players in the world. and if you so much as slip, the top 100 is filled with competitive players who can usurp your position.


Swiss Maestro Says:

michael:

“A very young Federer did stop Sampras in his tracks at his favourite court which is an achievement and that was a major break through in his career which paved the way for the downfall of Sampras. ”

what does this tell about sampras’ era that none of these dudes can beat him for 31 matches, whereas a rookie did so in his 1st match. strongest era indeed.

atleast federer is not pi$$ing in his pants and retiring when he gets challenged by players 5/6 years younger than him and retiring. as steve tignor said in one of his articles, fed was outplaying everyone [except nadal on clay] during his prime. now he is outlasting these young guns.
if federer’s era was so weak, why did sampras retire in 2002 and not try and win more titles? the answer, this weak era did not let the “i cant play on clay” GOAT win a title in 17months. he was ranked outside the top 10 in this so-called weakera, when he retired.


Swiss Maestro Says:

madmax:

there are no asterisk’s in tennis/sport unless people are convicted of doping.

those asterisk’s are only in people’s minds. so enjoy fed’s run and let’s hope the greatest tennis player that walked this planet can continue slapping across the faces of his detractors like skorocel. :)


Rahul Says:

Skorocel, the argument youve posted is impossible to debate because its simply speculation. Your dissing Ferrer but defending Kafelnikov. How many slams do you think Kalashnikov would have won playing in this era? I think you and the rest of the posters would agree – zero.

Lets go further and speculate how much even guys like Becker, Edberg, Agassi and Courier would have won? All great champions and some my childhood idols but the unanimous answer would be that they would have won far far less playing against Roger/Rafa and now Nole.

I agree that now the achievements are concentrated between 3-4 players as opposed to 7-8 in the earlier eras but I still believe it is tougher to win now simply because the consistency of the top 4 is at another level than its ever been.

Bottom line Fed did his part to reach the final. Whoever he plays has to win some formidable matches not only during the course of the tournament but throughout the season. Thats enough for me even if the match does not have the same buzz as a Sampras – Becker final.


Michael Says:

Swiss Maestro, I completely agree with your contention. I can never consider Sampras as a complete player because his record in Clay courts is pretty dismal. He has just a semi-final performance to show at the French and ofcourse won the Italian Open. But apart from that, Sampras record at Clay Courts is just mediocre. How can you consider a player as great if he has managed to come to the finals of a major played on his least favoured surface and in this case – Clay. Ofcourse there were some Clay Court specialists during those times like Sergi Brugera, Kuerten, Chang, Kafalnikov etc. But that is no excuse. I am not asking Sampras to win, but atleast a player of his standard should have managed to come to the finals of French atleast once. But it never happened. Therefore in the Professional era, I have no place for Sampras in the list of GREATS.


Michael Says:

Can anybody tell me what was the ranking of Sampras when he was over 30 ???????


dheeraj chitkara Says:

Fed did not play in a weak era – he was simply too dominant.

Lets say a player wins the calender GS for 4 straight years – would you say this player played in a weak era or was he utterly dominant?

Anyone who says that Fed played in a weak era is suggesting that after the 4 decades of high quality tennis, the quality of tennis dipped in early part of this century and then the quality again drastically improved in 2008.

Any suggestions of a weak era is rubbish – there are too many people playing tennis on this planet.

Fed was a superbly dominant player in his prime for 4+years and therefore is talked about by many as the goat.


MMT Says:

Hey Michael – I agree that Skorocel’s argument about Federer’s competition is illogical, but what’s all this about no place for Sampras among the greats?

He has more majors than anyone but Federer, more Wimbledons than anyone, more weeks and years ended at #1, and until last Sunday more year end championships than anyone but Federer and Lendl – he also won two Davis Cups, by the way. And he also went 8 straight years with at least 1 major.

How on earth could you exclude a resume like that from the list of the best in history?

I understand the argument against Federer is not logical, but you don’t have to remove Sampras from the list of all-time greats to make that point!


Skeezerweezer Says:

Skorocel,

Re: Rafa, why not? Is Fed the only top player in this era? Just sayin….If there are claims it is a weak era for Fed ( which I disagree ) then its a weak era also for any other player like say a Rafa ( who accumulated 10 slams ), no?

SM,

Great stuff as usual.


grendel Says:

skyrocel – I wrote ” For a while, he was said to have the best return of serve in the world – now that honour goes to Djokovic. He is still exceptional, however..” In this I have agreed with you. You mustn’t put words into peoples’ mouths, you know. b.t.w., of course Ferrer also returns the ball with interest, how could he be a great returner otherwise? It’s just that the interest is not – shall we say – anywhere near so hefty. I agree about Nalbandian. The fact is, there are a a surprising number of great returners, and Ferrer is one of them. For a brief time, Ferrer was generally regarded as the best – Tennis Vagabond kindly note. Now, apart from the usual names, we have Federer executing some remarkable returns – he mixes them in a way which is intriguing, exasperating and in the long run may prove to be the most effective of them all.And then (as Federer himself has noted) there is Tsonga and even, of late, Berdych. It’s as if everyone has suddenly caught on – the return of serve is hugely important. The days of the lonely prophets of Connors followed by Agassi are long gone.

It’s just no good saying Kafelnikov is a better player than Tsonga. He has a better record, of course. I’d say Tsonga is an incomparably more dangerous player than Kafelnikov and can genuinely threaten the very best in the way Kafelnikov rarely could. If, therefore, you had to choose someone to beat a Federer or a Sampras in a one off, you would, if you were wise, choose Tsonga over Kafelnikov. That is what I meant, and it is clear enough. In this sense, Federer’s competition was certainly higher.

Tennis Vagabond says:”it is an Orwellian twist of language to speak of his defensive skills, which are indeed impressive, as weapons. This takes away the meaning of the word ‘weapons’.” Orwellian – strong stuff . For those not familiar with one of my all time favourite writers, “war is peace” and that sort of stuff is what TV is referring to. It’s a clever travesty, of course. What Ferrer does again and again is to use his defensive skills very aggressively – he doesn’t just pop the bloody ball back into play – either to find winners or (indeed) to induce the error and surprisingly often to work his way to the net. It is completely reasonable to say Ferrer puts defense in the service of offence, that his defense merges into offence, and to bring up the name of Orwell in this context suggests a limited acquaintance (to say the least) with this great writer. If Ferrer had a great serve, he would be extraordinarily dangerous. His lack of such a serve does seem to terminally limit him – but not to the degree that he cannot easily bear comparison with Kafelnikov.

And b.t.w, whilst conceding I was over the top in saying the current top 4 are tennis history’s best – your list of names was impressive – you did not address what I took to be the main point of jane and I think others – namely the unusual longevity of the current top 4. I haven’t checked – I’ll leave you to pour over the record books – but I’d be surprised if it was not exceptional.

jane – my bad. The Ferrer/Djokovic match was a quarter final and yes, we did clash on that. Worrying to have forgotten it was a quarter, considering the drama of the actual final!


carlo Says:

Michael-

Several weeks ago I was curious about Sampras age and ranking at his career end and looked it up. If I remember, Sampras is 10 years older than Federer – birthdays both in August.

Sampras at 30 was ranked #10 at year end 2001. And that was the 1st year he had no title.

Age 31, 2002 Sampras won US Open. That was his only title in 2002 and he didn’t play tournaments after that but didn’t officially retire until 2003. So effectively Sampras retired on a high note, age 31 – the end of 2002 he was ranked #13 but he was not playing.

2002 US Open he beat Agassi. Agassi was 32 I think. So it was a geriatric final – j/k…

He actually had to beat a young Tommy Haas and Andy Roddick getting to Agassi.


madmax Says:

Whilst Sampras can just about be within the same generation of Federer, can we also remember that he only played Federer once. In comparison with Rafa whom I understand played Andre Agassi, twice, (though two rival ‘wiki’ sites have rafa having played Agassi 4 times – I think it is only twice).


grendel Says:

Re-reading what I wrote about Ferrer – I was uneasy because I knew something was amiss but couldn’t pin it down – and find I did originally write:”What Ferrer does have is awesome accuracy, incredible retrieving ability, excellent hands at the net and a good understanding of how to manouevre the play towards the net.” Note the word “defence” is nowhere mentioned, Tennis Vagabond has simply constructed a nice little straw man so he can have the pleasure of battering it down.

However, I will concede one thing. I wasn’t clear enough in the above bit, and I think I was unecessarily convoluted in my most recent post about Ferrer. The fact is, although Ferrer’s defence is of course superb, he is a very aggressive player and it is therefore wrong to lable him as defensive. I think Roddick tends to be a defensive player (to his cost), easy to forget because of that huge serve and the fact Roddick does have a big forehand – when he chooses to use it.

Conversely, Ferrer does not have a big forehand or backhand, and so there can be a tendency to slip into a sort of associative error of thinking of him as defensive. It is difficult for Ferrer to finish his points in a crushing way, because of his relative lack of power, so he has to manouevre his way into position. But he’s always looking for that position, which is why it is just mistaken to call him defensive, and his opponent only has to be a little short – nothing extravagant – and Ferrer can be on to it in a flash and flail the ball into the corner. Ferrer cn sometimes trouble the best players. I think, on occasion, he might have had a field day with a Kafelnikov. And no, Ferrer is not a great player whereas Tsonga already is though he has the potential to become much greater. Kafelnikov also was not a great player. For my taste, Ferrer is a much more interesting tennis player than the Russian, although of course opinions will differ.


Skorocel Says:

Michael: „Therefore in the Professional era, I have no place for Sampras in the list of GREATS.“

Pretty rough statement about a guy who won 14 slams, was 286 weeks at the no 1. spot and ended the year 6 consecutive times as no 1., don’t you think? Anyway, if it’s not Sampras, then who is it? Just curious ;-)

——————

dheeraj chitkara: „Anyone who says that Fed played in a weak era is suggesting that after the 4 decades of high quality tennis, the quality of tennis dipped in early part of this century and then the quality again drastically improved in 2008.“

No, it didn’t drastically improved in 2008. You still have Federer, Nadal, Djoker, Murray, but that’s about it…

——————

skeezerweezer: Yes, it’s the same era for Nadal as well. Call it strong, weak, whatever. As for me, I see it as Federer, Nadal, Djoker and Murray only. No one else on the horizon.

——————

Ben Pronin: „In all fairness, everyone sucks in tennis right now except the top 3. The ATP would be the same as the WTA if not for Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. Cut them out and what do you have?“

THAT IS the question, Ben ;-) Fact is, since Fed won his first slam in 2003, you could hardly find a player who would CONSISTENTLY win big tourneys and occupy the highest ranking spots apart from him, Nadal & Djoker. Maybe Roddick & Murray, but that’s about all. The others pretty much came and went… Some would „blame“ it on the dominance of these 3 being too big, but I would rather call it as it is (and as you have accurately pointed out) – a lack of mental strength on the side of the rest. Be it Ferrer, Davydenko, Soderling, Ljubicic, Gonzalez, Blake, Verdasco, Monfils, Tsonga, etc. etc. – you name it.


Ben Pronin Says:

Skorocel, you’re giving Murray (and even Roddick) too much credit. Roddick has the mental toughness but his game is lacking. Murray lacks the mental toughness and lacks big weapons.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

grendel, no worries, I’d be grouchy too if I found myself in the position of defending Ferrer’s ‘weapons’.


carlo Says:

Just one minor correction/edit for Skorocel. Sampras holds the record for weeks at #1 but Federer holds the ‘consecutive’ weeks at #1 record.

And aren’t you guys being too hard on Murray? He’s 24 and has 21 titles already! It’s premature at least to discredit him. There is still time.

Ferrer, I’d like to help Grendel but all I can think of is how fast he is, his terrific footwork and he has done well with his height being diminutive compared to the present competition.

Roddick has not been good since losing Wimbledon 09 final. Then he had mini mono in 2010. He could have a good run at a GS again. We’ll see.

Bah. weak era. Djokovic wants a word with a couple of you. ha!


Skorocel Says:

Ben: Since 2008, Murray has won 2 MS events each year, plus been in a slam final thrice. If that’s not a sign of certain consistency, then I don’t know what is? I know he’s had his fair share of 1st round exits, but when you look at these last 4 years, you could hardly find a more consistent player than Murray (apart from the “Fedalovic” trio, of course).

Re: Roddick, well, it’s been some time since he’s showed a worthy performance, that’s true, but being in the Top 10 for some 7-8 years + reaching a total of 5 slam finals certainly requires a bit of consistency as well, don’t you think?


Tennis Vagabond Says:

I see Federer’s era as spanning two tennis lifetimes, the New Balls Generation and the Big Four years. So in that sense, Fed’s era is not the same as Rafa’s. It include’s Rafa’s, but also includes the “Roddick as a Slam favourite era”

As far as the Big Four years, I do not believe that the players outside the top 3 are weak. I think that Rafa and Fed are the most dominant two-some of all time. Look, if we’d had this conversation last year, Ben, you’d have to fit Novak in with those others outsiders. The fact is Novak and Murray have both consistently made GS semis for several years while racking up some significant trophies of their own.
I think the early Fed era may actually have been stronger than the current era. Ferrero, Kuerten, Hewitt, Safin and Roddick were all GS champs early, and Hewitt and Safin were thumping Sampras while he was still on top of the world. These guys, plus Haas, were worldbeaters. But three things happened:
1) Federer made everyone obsolete. How many times could Hewitt and Roddick after all lose so badly to Fed and maintain belief in themselves as the real #1? Roddick would have a MIT full of Slams if not for Federer. If Roddick could make that many Slam finals and semis, and came of age with Sampras and Agassi marveling at his abilities, I think its safe to say that in another era he would be a multi-slam era, perhaps as many as five or six.
2) Injuries. The top players of the New Balls generation were massively hurt by injuries. Kuerten forced into retirement, Hewitt, Haas and Ferrero forever hobbled. Nalbandian always recovering as well.
3) Safin, perhaps the 2nd most talented of the New Ballers, could not hold together a champs attitude.

But of the three I think Federer is the overwhelming cause- obviously as an ultimate cause (“Damn, I lost to Fed in the semis again!”) but also as a proximate cause (“I can’t beat Federer, I will always be fighting for #2. This saddens me”) and it is this latter idea that may have caused Ferrero, Hewitt and Haase to gently drift down the rankings as much as any injuries.


grendel Says:

@Tennis Vagabond 4.59 – that’s witty. But just to show it is possible to applaud Ferrer without ulterior motives (winning an argument etc), I’ll quote from myself (Nov 25, Tsonga beats Nadal):

“For the first set and a half, Ferrer played beautifully. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, Ferrer, there seems something ordinary about him. He definitely lacks glamour, that mysterious quality – if it is a quality.It’s something, I suppose. And yet to me, he epitomises professionalism, and he reminds me a bit of a comic book hero of my youth, Alf Tupper, Tough of the Track, who subsisted on tea and fish and chips – when he could find time to gobble them down, in between training sessions. There must be some Spanish equivalent.

Ferrer seems to be getting better, even his serve is looking pretty good. Berdych just couldn’t get past him, whatever he tried. Ferrer would soak it up, and then spot the right moment to go in for the kill. If this reminds you of someone, he’s really nothing like Nadal, all muscle and deliberation. He’s busy busy, and utterly unassuming.”

b.t.w., very thoughtful post at 7.55 pm. Contentious and provocative, some of it, but fresh somehow and leading one to think and question one’s own thoughts.


jane Says:

Speaking of witty, first I’ve heard this one Skorocel: “the “Fedalovic” trio”. Ha.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Grendel- when we’re arguing the relative merits of Kafelnikov and Ferrer, it must be the off season. But its not even December, surely too early for this!

Can we do Todd Martin vs James Blake next? Or Soderling vs Ivanisevic?


skeezerweezer Says:

TV,

Totally awesome post. reminding us that only Fed played against the previous ERA, and bode well. He played and beat the likes of Sampras and Agassi and Safin. Where was Rafa and Nole? And now Fed is playing and competing well with them. the ole man has big Kahones.


Michael Says:

Skorocel/MMT, Don’t you think the pre-requisite of a Great player demands that he should be an all court player ??? Clay courts are an important component in Tennis and if you are unable to come out with your best on that surface then my statement is fully justified. If Sampras had atleast made one finals at the French, I would not have entered into this argument. Ofcourse he has a stellar record in other Courts and I respect him for that. But to be enlisted in the list of Greats, I am sorry to say Sampras just doesn’t deserve it. Now Scorocel you wanted to give me the list of Greats. Yes my line-up in the professional era would be as under :-

1. FEDERER (GREATEST)
2. Bjorn Borg
3. Rafael Nadal
4. Jimmy Connors
5. Ivan Lendl
6. John Mcenroe
7. Andre Agassi

and the ranking stops right here for the moment.
Remember although Connors never won the French or came near to winning it yet he won the US Open on Clay courts. Borg was unlucky not to win the US Open despite making about four finals. Lendl came to the premier Grass court finals twice in his career and Mcenroe nearly won the French Open when he lost a match he should have won.


Michael Says:

Carlo, So at about 30 Sampras was ranked No. 10, While Federer is ranked at No.3 – Doesn’t that tell something ?????????


Skeezerweezer Says:

Rafa ahead of Connors & Lendl? Really?


Michael Says:

Skeezer, Why not ?? Rafa has won 10 majors at 25 whereas Connors and Lendl had 8 majors each. Rafa has completed a career slam which they have not. He has also won 19 Masters series titles which is a record although one may contest that 15 of those nineteen wins were on clay courts making it somewhat lopsided. Therefore, the records even at such young age are looking menacing at first look. Who knows what else is in store ?


scineram Says:

So what? Lendl won 22. Connors won 18.


Skorocel Says:

Michael: “1. FEDERER (GREATEST)”

Really? I would never have thought about that… What a surprise, LOL :-)


grendel Says:

Considering Sampras on clay, the following article may be of interest:http://blog.oregonlive.com/tennis/2010/02/pete_sampras_the_claycourt_master_that_never_was.html

It’s a good read (an account of Sampras beating Kafelnikov on clay in the Davis Cup), but I’ll just quote this:”Confidence is key in tennis — we all know that. And Sampras just didn’t have it. It’s not a surprise that he had a lot of success on clay in Davis Cup but none at the French Open. For one or two matches on clay, he could hold his emotions together and fend off his frustration to beat anybody. But to not quite feel comfortable through seven best-of-five-set matches? He just couldn’t do it. The psychic toll was too much.

When the French Open rolled around six months after that 1995 Davis Cup final, Sampras had his best result ever in the world’s premier claycourt event, reaching the semifinals. The guy who beat him in the final four? That’s right, Kafelnikov: 7-6, 6-0, 6-2.”

The impressions one gets are twofold: 1)Sampras DID have the skills to play world beating tennis on clay and 2)It was never quite instinctive, and Sampras was not prepared to put in the hard graft (that Lendl, unavailingly, did for Wimbledon)which probably would have generated an RG win. I mean, Kafelnikov, really!

Sampras also beat Becker on clay in Rome final, and won one other clay court final against the great Jason Stoltenberg.

So I am sceptical of claims that Sampras cannot be counted as an alltime great because of claycourt deficiencies. In fact, I think they are frankly nuts!


Skorocel Says:

Here’s something to ponder (or drool over) for Fed lovers (taken from the Swiss TV site):

Federer in 2011: 76 matches in total / 104 minutes per match avg. / 132 hours of matchplay in total

Murray in 2011: 69 matches / 121 minutes / 139 hours

Djokovic in 2011: 76 matches / 114 minutes / 144 hours

Nadal in 2011: 82 matches / 126 minutes / 172 hours


grendel Says:

Off topic, but couldn’t resist this on Sampras. I realise that Sampras fanboys will go nuts, but I think most of the big champions are, deep down, like this. It’s normal. But it’s not often you get quite such delicious detail.

“In 1998, after Rafter defeated Sampras in the Cincinnati Masters final, Sampras, at the time winner of 11 Grand Slams, when asked about the difference between himself and Rafter, famously stated “Ten grand slams”, that a controversial line-call cost him the match, and that a player had to come back and win another Grand Slam title in order to be considered great.[28] The two met in the semifinals of the 1998 US Open, with Rafter winning in five sets. Sampras cited a leg injury as the reason Rafter won, an attitude that upset the generally mild-mannered Aussie: “He really does say some funny things at the wrong time”, said Rafter, “We are out there busting our guts and he doesn’t show a lot of respect at the end of the day. He tries to play down the reason why he lost, giving no respect to the other player, and that is what really upsets me about him and the reason I try to piss him off as much as I can.”[29]

Following his successful defense of his 1997 U.S. Open title by defeating Mark Philippoussis in the 1998 final, when asked about Sampras’ earlier comments about having to win another Grand Slam in order to be considered great, Rafter replied: “Maybe you can ask him that question, if he thinks that now. For me, I won another Slam, and it hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s very, very exciting for me, especially to repeat it”.[28] For his part, Sampras said about Rafter, “When I see him holding the US Open trophy, it pisses me off.”[30] (Wiki).

Given this mentality – a characteristic champion’s mentality, I venture to suggest – I suspect Rusedski, having been beaten (just) by Sampras in an early-ish (?) round at the US, did him a huge favour by breezily dismissing him as yesterday’s player. If there was one thing likely to galvanize old Pete……


carlo Says:

This thread is getting hard to find but it’s worth it- many interesting posts – grendel, Michael, Skorocel, Tennis Vagabond and others above.

grendel, don’t you think Sampras and Federer have a similar attitude. I can imagine Federer remarking something like Pete did in response to a question of the difference between him and del Potro. Federer might be less arrogant? I might guess.


grendel Says:

hmmmm, carlo, that will stir things up if I answer, shall we say, truthfully. Oh, wait a minute, perhaps I have just, obliquely, answered it….So far as I can see great tennis players are no different to great anyone else. For sheer bitchiness, hard to beat the literary brigade. I daresay great plumbers have a sort of order of merit, and woe betide any upcoming young plumber who gets a bit too uppity….


carlo Says:

Michael-

Federer and Sampras only played once. I have often wondered if his 2001 early loss to 20 year old Federer at Wimbledon was part of the signal for him to retire.

And Sampras not only finished #10 in 2001, it was his 1st year without a title at all. But, the one more title he did get was US Open in 2002. Not a bad note to end his career, wouldn’t you say? Federer might not get that lucky.

Sampras is one of the top greats, imo. Finicky about playing on clay but he could do it when forced.


carlo Says:

grendel. LOL’s…

You said it! “sheer bitchiness”


jane Says:

Skorocel, interesting “time” stats. Nole and Fed the exact same number of matches and Nole only 10 minutes over Fed on average. That shows, perhaps, that Nole was being more aggressive this year, looking to finish matches quickly. That’s good for him. I hope he keeps it up. Definitely he won matches quickly by winning so many return games but he got way more “free” points on serve this year, and even of the one-two (or three) punch variety.


Skorocel Says:

“Ten grand slams”

Couldn’t have said it more succintly, Pete :-)


Tennis Vagabond Says:

“Ten grand slams” is good. But not quite as good as Patrick Roy on Chris Chelios’ smack talk in the media: “I can’t hear him. I’ve got my Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears.”


alison hodge Says:

no disrespect to sampras and his many fans,but i think theres a big difference between him and roger,you see to me roger is much smarter than that, roger doesnt need to brag about how good he is,his records speak for themselves,sampras may well be one of the greats,and im not saying otherwise,but im afraid that roger is a class apart.


Brando Says:

Agree with Alison re Sampras. Didn’t really warm to pete during his years of dominition- everything seemed to robotic, planned and lifeless with him. You knew his serve was virtually unbreakable, his volleying brilliant, very good forehand, consistent backhand- yet he always seemed to bore! Much rather preferred tempremental ivanisevic- less game but more fireworks on court!


alison hodge Says:

thanks brando great point about goran too,that wimbledon final where goran played rafter(aside from the federer nadal final) was one of the most exciting finals ever,much more exciting than any of the finals that sampras won,shame though as would have loved to have seen pat grab a wimby title, as he was one of my favourite players around that time.


jane Says:

Brando,I tend to agree with you re: Pete. I didn’t dislike him, in fact, he always seemed like a nice enough guy, and he was clearly dedicated to the sport, but I did sometimes nod off during his matches, lol. I tend to like the firey types on the court, the ones who show some emotions, like Nole and Murray, or Johnny Mac with his rages against the machine, I mean umpire. Of course some of that can get tedious too, at times, but it’s good to see the humanity mixed in with the athletics, or something… :) Mind you, given that there are so many types of people, there will be all sundry of types on the court too. Be boring-est if they were all alike.


grendel Says:

Who had the greater serve (including second) – Sampras or Ivanesevic? Or is that a silly question? Come to think of it, I think it is. So many different components to greatness. For me, Ivanesevic’s serve is the most beautiful, the most shatteringly graceful, and at the same time most explosive serve. It may well not have been the most consistent, but when it was on, I suspect – without having the least evidence apart from my eyes and an increasingly fallible memory – it was the most effective.

Some will say, who cares if it is beautiful so long as it gets the job done? A legitimate point of view. However, being entranced by the beauty of a tennis stroke, the movement of a player and so on is also an aspect of pleasure. And we watch tennis for pleasure, do we not? Oh, we watch it for other reasons too, tribal allegiance especially. But innocent pleasure comes into it, and that is not just to do with winning.

It’s not like a work of art, though, where beauty, generally speaking, is sought after – if we overlook certain modernist curiosities. No tennis player, or footballer or cricketer or boxer seeks to be beautiful. They do not aspire to elegance or to grace or in fact to anything whatever except for winning.

So beauty, heartbreaking movement (why is it heartbreaking? haven’t the slightest idea, except that perhaps it comes from the mind and body of a mortal being who all too shortly will be dust and bones, like oneself)all these things are, as it were, emergent properties. We are used to that, really. Every time your heart misses a beat when you catch sight of the stealthy movement of a gazelle or a fox, or for that matter of a domestic cat, you are instinctively paying tribute to the automatic bounties of blind nature.

I believe the the beauty which tennis can afford is almost as fortuitous, as accidental as is the beauty of a human face, that ill-fated hotchpotch of genetic luck which sent 100,000 Trojans to their deaths. Does it matter? Does it matter that it is not borne of the will, not in itself, only indirectly? It seems to at first, we like to congratulate people and award them prizes and so on, and that doesn’t make sense if you leave out the controlling agent, but I believe that there is something deeply extraordinary in the fact that beauty emerges, unbidden, in the athletic strivings of certain individuals. And in the end, shorn of ego, its power to move is even greater.

Still doesn’t answer the question: does Sampras or Ivanesevic have the greater serve?


Skeezerweezer Says:

^i knew who had the better second serve. Sampras!,


El Flaco Says:

Well I was just watching Sampras vs Ivanisevic in the 95 Wimby semi on Youtube and they flashed the following tournament stat at the 3:15 mark of the video

Aces
-Ivanisevic 137
-Sampras 63

Sampras had played more sets up to that point, but the number of service games was comparable.

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


jane Says:

Ivanisevic’s win – serves from the terrible to the sublime, including a second serve ace; the ones out wide are most amazing, the curving trajectory:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hECNfj5G_s


grendel Says:

Am pretty appalled by my above post. I was half-hoping someone would have pointed out what pompous drivel it was for the most part, so I could just agree and have done with it. Why can’t one learn to keep these ill-digested “thoughts” to oneself? Also – and I partly sensed this at the time, so why go ahead and write it? why does one virtually lie in this strange way? – the main bit is not even true. Actually – and this is just my view – where “beauty” is concerned, the so-called arts are in exactly the same position as the sports. A tennis player seeks to play good tennis in his goal of winning. A writer (dancer, musician, film director etc) seeks to tell, as well as he can, a story (broadly speaking) in words, movement, film whatever – and that’s it.

If he deliberately aims for beauty, the result will be portentous crap which has the effect of making his audience curl up, though not with joy. An accidental byproduct of the work of the writer, tennis player, musician, boxer, mathematician, footballer – may, with a bit of luck, be beauty in some shape or form. Whatever beauty is. For this we may be grateful.

Looking at the Sampras/Ivanesevic clip, kindly provided by El Flaco, the quality of return between such great servers is, as commentator Mark Cox says, striking. I really do think the Wimbledon authorities made a big mistake in slowing the courts down.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Ach Grendel, you were righter the first time!


Skeezerweezer Says:

^been sayin it all along, slowin down Wimby. Wtf?

The problem is, when they had 2 stroke points or one point strokes, some started to critiqued the game, and they( the powers that be)panicked too soon imho. Instead of trustin the players and the game to evolve naturally with better athletes, technology, etc ,….they pushed it, and made a change that in part takes the blame for todays slow stuff.

For those who have seriously played up here and had a chance to play on Clay, eg;, they understand. Clay, slows down the game so you can prepare your stroke better, more time to consider your shot, etc. Whats good? You have more strategy and time to build your point. Its harder to end the point early, so knowing the game of chess is an advantage. ( yawn and pun)
On a fast surface, you better know what your doing. Imo it takes a greater skill set to prepare faster, make quicker decisions, etc.

Is a faster or slower surface better for the watcher?

Ahhhh…this is where the fundamental change was decided, imo. Blink and the point is over. The purest can see clearly. However, the casual fan needs to see more, they blinked, and they missed it. Boring, apparently.

Moving on with the changes, I won’t even get into the ball changing scenario, which is another topic. I am not a fan of tinkering with the game, it muddies the waters. Is the ball bigger, smaller, lighter, heavier per tourney? Why. This creates no benchmarks. So and so won this GS BUT the ball was not the one they used on the rest of the tour and the surface has changed, wtf? Why?

In Golf, they actually have a measurement to the speed of the green in the tourney prep to set things right.. The players are fully aware and are involved in it to keep the tradition. In Tennis? There chasin what they think sells and not trusting the game and the players will sell it on there own skills.

At least players are coming out now and complaining. Why change the balls at FO and for what purpose? Has it been bad the last 20 years at the same surface?

Rambling and Out…..


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Hey Da Skeeze
I agree on the ball changing from court to court, but Wimbledon had to be slowed a bit. The Sampras Ivanisevic Wimbledon years were, for me, boring to watch. As you say, blink and you missed it. I like the serve to be a weapon but the rally to be the battleground. I do think they went too far. What I would really like is a standardization of racquets, and just stop the game from changing due to technology. This is not auto racing. The cars are not the stars. If they would have any regulation of equipment, as every sport has, they would not have to change the other pieces.


Michael Says:

Scorocel – You still have doubts about Federer being the GREATEST. Most of the Tennis Players, Commentators and Analysts are pretty sure about that recognition to Federer. However, there are still some sceptics like you and may be you will be silenced if Federer goes on to win two more majors.

Carlo – I am still unable to understand how can a Player be called as GREAT if he cannot play on all courts. Mind you, Sampras has not come to the French Open finals even once in his career and that tells you a lot about his deficiency. Regarding Federer being not so lucky like Sampras winning a major in his later years and I am confident that Federer will disappoint you in 2012.

Grendel – Nodoubt about it in my mind. Sampras has the best serve in the game and may be Mcenroe might come close.


Michael Says:

Scineram – Lendl Won 22 and Connors 18 – Are you taking about the majors or Masters series tournaments ????


Skeezerweezer Says:

TV,

“The cars are not the stars”…such a great quote :)…

Also “like the serve to be a weapon but the rally to be the battleground”

Money, TV! Your on fire. I would just add don’t make the court surface favorable to just the backcourt, but make it playable for the whole court, make them play the full court baby! ( like the battleground is just the backourt? C’mon! Only wimps play half court Basketball? )


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Agree. Totally. THanks. Now we just have to wait for the Slam executives to read this and then, ‘WHOA! Da Skeeze and Vagabond have consensus on what we need to do. You! Make it happen!”


scineram Says:

I’m talking about this.


madmax Says:

scineram that was great. Lovely colourful charts and info…can you do one for the slams though?


madmax Says:

Hey Skeeze and dari, Roger gave an interview before he hit the beach…here is part of it; you can read the rest via the link. He talks about his meeting with rafa before rafa took off for Spain Davis Cup, about extending his coaching relationship with Annacone amongst other things. Well worth the read.

Here’s a taster about Mirka…Awwww.

“The vacation has only just started, and I had quite a trip trying to get down here,” Federer said by telephone. “But once down at the beach with the nice weather and the alone time with Mirka, I definitely look back and go, ‘I can’t believe I was just in my 100th final, and it’s already my 70th title.’ That’s what I told her. I got together with her when I had zero titles, and we kind of went through all this together, and now we have a family. It’s been pretty incredible.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/sports/tennis/03iht-arena03.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2


Skorocel Says:

Hey guys, consider this:

If the courts at Wimbledon did indeed slow down (which may very well be true; remember Llodra once saying that if the center court at RG is dry, it plays quicker than the center court at Wimby – which pretty much says it all), then, wasn’t it EASIER for Fed & Nadal to win the career slam than for, say, Agassi?


Skeezerweezer Says:

^ absolutely! Agassi won from the baseline on the ole surface at Wimby, amazing! That trophy he got at Wimby imho was his best ever accomplishment.


Skorocel Says:

Michael: Don’t trust everything what those players, commentators & analysts say IN THE MEDIA. They mostly say what is POLITICALLY CORRECT (which, in today’s sports stuffed with billions of dollars, where every word, act or move which you do publicly SELLS, reads: Federer is the greatest).

Anyway, if Federer indeed is the greatest, then think of this: what if, say, 20 years from now, a NEW player emerges? A player who will be as smooth & silk as Federer (if not better, you never know), with the same resume as Federer (if not better), and, as a bonus, he’ll be probably even quicker, fitter & his shots will be even harder & crispier thanks to better training regime & racquet technology (mind you, the game still evolves). What then? Everyone and his brother will be saying he’s the greatest – just as they were saying it about Federer, Sampras, Borg, etc…

OR, what if Nadal breaks Fed’s slam record (which, I bet you agree, is the single most important achievement of Federer’s career, and probably in tennis generally)? What will happen then? Imagine that… A guy from the SAME era, his biggest rival by mile! What then? You never know… Fed will certainly NOT stop him – only a dreamer would think otherwise. The only guy capable of doing that right now is Djokovic – and (despite all those painful losses which he inflicted upon Federer) you may be only happy and 1000 times thankful that he’s there, because if not for him, he (Rafa) would be already in striking distance by the end of 2011… Mind you, he (Rafa) may not win another slam, who knows? But what if he ends up with 1 or 2 more than Fed? What then? The world will probably break for you…


Skeezerweezer Says:

^ Not to butt in Skorocel, but you lost me after “what if”. That is not “what it is” and until “what if” becomes “what is” then all is mute for now. ;)

What ifs are mostly whiffs.


madmax Says:

Skorocel,

There will be no one like federer, ever. He is one in a trillion billion zillion. Who else has ever played like federer BEFORE federer?…so why should there be someone like him coming along after he has retired?

Unlikely.

And if someone beats federers 16 grand slams records then thats what they are there for. Records. To be broken. Whether he would be regarded as the greatest ever, I suppose he would have to beat all his other records too, wouldn’t he?

For now, it’s Fed. In 10 years time, who knows?

The 16 slams. Doesn’t fed really have 22 slams? The WTF is known as the fifth slam.

16 + 6 = 22.


madmax Says:

I’ve been looking at some of hte matches between Tsonga and Federer and came across this one at match point; never before have I seen this!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=VSZvItWSRt4


Swiss Maestro Says:

to quote a great person who posted earlier,

” what if skorocel’s mom had balls, would she be his dad?”

madmax :

thanks for that link. this is what sets federer apart and gives him the x-factor in the GOAT race. he has all the records, but he also is a player’s player [7 sportsmanship awards in 8 years] and also a tennis fan’s player [atp fan fav in 9 successive years]. surely lendl was less popular than borg/mac or even becker. and sampras was certainly much less popular than Andre.

let’s see federer hater’s try to discredit these awards, now, coz their fav would never be able to match fed in records+peer approval + fan following.

skeezer :

great to see you be patient with fed haters. good on you mate!

michael:

i agree sampras is much a less complete player than borg,federer,mac,nadal, lendl, connors, laver and rosewall, but he has a compelling record on the surfaces he excels at. all considered, i would rate fed, borg, laver and rosewall ahead of sampras. rafa, if he wins a couple more slams gets the nod ahead of sampras. i have read incredible stuff about pancho gonzalez too, but if we start going down that road, we will end up with “rock the cave-man” as the GOAT.


Daniel Says:

I just have one comment: Sampras era was so dominant and his N#1 status as well, that Marcelo Rios was N.1 with no Slam final, 0. That is WTA comparison Ben and Skorocel?!


Daniel Says:

It’s like Ferrer, (giving Grendel some support) could have bing Number one in Sampras days. BEcause Today, at least, Berdych, Tsonga, Soderling, Baggy, Murray reached Slam finals.

Hah, I am mocking Rios (a player I used to love) which was a real talent, similar to Nalbandian, Haas, that player that everybody on the circuit knew had the hands.

What Federer did for the two hundred and forty something weeks STRAIGHT as Number 1 will never be repeated again. The previous record was not even half of that.

Skeezer,

I totally agree with you regarding Nadal, bringing his achievements into discussion as none ever do it in this weak era arguments. Nadal does’t have to face what Federer has, because he has the HxH and nothing more, nobody talks about him and weak era, no real clay greats, and etc. because he is under Federer umbrella, a spoiled one isn’t he?!


skeezerweezer Says:

Daniel,

Yes he is TSO ( the special one )
;)


Michael Says:

Skorocel, What if Nadal breaks Federer’s record ? Well that can happen but if Nadal wins about 10 French Open and breaks that record, isn’t that valid to be counted as a record ??? I think there must be an even distribution of slam wins, Federer has that – six Wimbledons, 5 US Open and 4 Australian whereas Nadal has Six French, 2 Wimbledon and 1 & 1. Not only that, Federer has come to the US Open finals a record 6 times consecutively and to the Wimbledon finals a record 7 times consecutively. Moreover, Federer has won six World Tour Finals whereas Nadal has won none. Therefore, Nadal to be counted upon as GREATEST should have an even record and not completely loaded in one surface.

Swiss Maestro: Glad you agree with my contention. The only thing where I would differ is that may be I would give Nadal the third place in the all time GREATS behind Borg because I will not bring Laver and Rosewall into the picture because they competed mainly in the Amateur era.

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