Poll: Who’ll Dominate On The Dirt? Will Nadal Resume His Reign Or Can Djokovic Breakthrough In Paris?
by Sean Randall | April 1st, 2014, 11:47 am
  • 168 Comments

The clay season starts in a week, so let’s ask the tough question, who’ll come out on top when the tour turns red?

Rafael Nadal is the head-and-shoulders favorite. He’s the standard bearer, but Novak Djokovic has beaten him three straight times and nearly ended his French reign last year. So can Nadal be toppled?

A look at the favorites:

Rafael Nadal
The case for…
* 8-time French Open champion and the King of Clay, no one is close, etc, etc, etc
* Healthy again (knees, back)
* Few real clay threats

The case against…
* Will turn 28 during the French
* Isn’t playing as well as he was a year ago
* A new back injury made an appearance earlier this year, might it return?
* Eventually has to lose again in Paris, right?
* Few wins over top rivals since the US Open (0-3 vs Djokovic since)

Novak Djokovic
The case for…
* Is back in form after a slow start to the year
* Has won three straight over Nadal, all in easy fashion
* Beat Nadal in Monte Carlo last year
* Arguably should have beat Nadal at the French also last year
* Has been injury-free
* Has been dominating his rivals (only 2 Top 10 losses since US Open)
* Won’t have to play Rafa until final this year (if rankings hold)

The case against…
* Has never won the French
* Clay is not his best surface
* Little that Boris Becker teach him about the dirt, Wimbledon yes, French no
* Is he really back to his fall form?
* What if he plays Wawrinka on clay?
* Might have to play Rafa in the French finals – career Slam, first French, beating Rafa all on the line at same time could be overwhelming!

Other contenders
* Stanislas Wawrinka: Maybe the biggest threat outside of the Top 2, and loves the clay. But has only made the French quarters once and since his Australian Open title hasn’t played up to par.

* Roger Federer: Former champion did make the Rome final last year, and he’s playing better now. At 32, though, hard to see him beating Nadal and Djokovic to win another French unless we see a lot of upsets.

* Andy Murray: Once reached the SFs but this year has to be focused on Wimbledon title defense.

* David Ferrer: Like Federer, at 32 (turns 32 tomorrow) will need help via upsets/injuries to make it back to the finals because even on his favorite surface it’s going to be tough for him to beat Nadal or Djokovic.


Also Check Out:
Poll: Who’ll Win More Wimbledons, Novak Djokovic Or Petra Kvitova?
Poll: Novak Djokovic Or Rafael Nadal, Who’ll Win Their French Open Semifinal Showdown?
Poll: Rafael Nadal Or Novak Djokovic, Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The French Open?
Poll: Roger Federer Or Novak Djokovic, Who’ll Win The Indian Wells Sunday Final?
Poll: Who’ll Win The 2014 Wimbledon Final, Roger Federer Or Novak Djokovic?

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168 Comments for Poll: Who’ll Dominate On The Dirt? Will Nadal Resume His Reign Or Can Djokovic Breakthrough In Paris?

nadalista Says:

* 8-time French Open champion and the King of Clay, no one is close, etc, etc, etc

Poor Sean, cannot hide his resentment, can he?

Oy, you forgot one thing, Sean, Rafa is the UNDISPUTED Clay GOAT. Add that to your “for” list.

For Novak? The quest for the holy grail continues…..good luck, mon cherie! Excuse me while I emit a big fat yawn……


Hippy Chic Says:

How many more times?Novak did not lose that match in the semis of the FO by a whisker,he was actually lucky to push it to a 5th set to start with,Rafa only lost the 4th set by a whisker if anything..


Giles Says:

Vamos Champ!
# ClayGoat


madmax Says:

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we were all wrong and saw someone like grigor or the dog win? Stranger things have happened.


RZ Says:

I’m guessing Novak and Rafa will split the big crowns (Rome, Monte Carlo, Madrid, French Open) though I could see someone maybe sneaking in for one of those Masters titles, especially Madrid. I would be totally shocked if someone else won the FO though.


madmax Says:

Good to know that Fed is back in the top 4, meaning that he could, imo have a good run during the clay season!

In such a short space of time, there have been quite a few changes! I fully expect Murray to get back to top 5 very soon. Where he belongs.

Roger Federer moved up to No. 4 in this week’s ATP Tour rankings, his highest position since last June. He trails No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka by 515 points.

Federer and his replacement at No. 5, Tomas Berdych, both passed David Ferrer, the 2013 Sony Open finalist who fell from fourth to sixth after losing in the fourth round in Miami. The fifth spot equals a career high for Berdych, who reached the semifinals last week before withdrawing with gastroenteritis.

Federer, who lost to Kei Nishikori in the Miami quarterfinals, joins No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic as so-called Big Four members in the actual top four. The fourth, Andy Murray, slipped from sixth to eighth after following up his 2013 Sony Open title with a quarterfinal loss to Djokovic last week. This is Murray’s lowest ranking since 2008.


James Says:

Nadal will dominate the clay season again. There’s a reason why he’s owned the surface for over 9 years.

Novak right now is the best player in the world. But come clay season, this would change. I don’t think he can defend his Monte Carlo title. Unlike Nadal, Novak’s problem on clay isn’t just one player (Nadal). He can lose to a Federer, Wawrinka or even a Dimitrov, Gulbis or Nishikori.

For Novak to win the French Open, he’ll need to be at his absolute best. I think he can do it this year. But my money would still be on the clay king.


Translated Age Says:

I cannot believe I’m the only one that voted for Stan. I see him winning the calendar slam this year!

But seriously, so many fedole fans praying that Nole can do what Fed never could.

What does a guy have to do beyond winning the last eight of nine French Open titles to be considered the favourite?

Tough crowd for sure, no?

Stay humble My friends.

Shammon!


James Says:

Translated Age, LoL just saw that Novak is leading the poll. Well, he’s playing great. But IMHO Nadal’s form and wrong tactic in the final made Djokovic look better than he was.


Translated Age Says:

Yeah James, Rafa played “weak era” like tennis but Nole looked great too! Full marks to him He is a great player which is something I think everyone here agrees with.

Both Djokovic and Nadal will likely end up with more Masters titles than Fed at the end of their respective careers.

Now if only we could decide on whether Masters mattered or not.

Seems when Nole wins they do and when Rafa wins they don’t.

Tennis fans can be fickle I suppose.


nadalista Says:

“Now if only we could decide on whether Masters mattered or not.

Seems when Nole wins they do and when Rafa wins they don’t.”

Oh @TA, touché!


John Says:

Shame TA, still hung up on Federer are we?

”so many fedole fans praying that Nole can do what Fed never could.”

Life must be tough for you. Can’t you get your head around the fact that its Nole vs Nadal, not Fed and Nole vs Nadal. You need to come to terms with reality and stop drinking sour grapes.

When you have to mention Federer in every post regardless of the thread it looks kinda pathetic.

You can’t get your head around the fact that Nole fans exist can you?

”What does a guy have to do beyond winning the last eight of nine French Open titles to be considered the favorite?”

Can’t you read?

”Poll: Who’ll Dominate On The Dirt?”

Or do you translate that in your head to mean:

”who’s the favorite at RG this year?”.

Djokovic has been playing incredible tennis and Nadal has looked rather average in comparison. Is it so difficult for you to comprehend that perhaps that’s why people are voting for Nole?

I suppose not, cause it all comes down to your obsession with Federer doesn’t it. In your mind its all Federe fans voting for Nole to upset you and other Nadal fans isn’t it?

You need to find a new bone or a new thread, its getting really annoying.


skeezer Says:

Oh @John, touché!


nadalista Says:

Well, I never….

@skeezer and I have the same vocabulary! Now, if I could learn to swear…….


JB Says:

“Breakthrough” (one word) is a noun. When someone breaks through, we use two words.


Humble Rafa Says:

Can’t wait for the real tennis season to begin..now, everybody is my beach.

I just hand out bagels and breadsticks to everyone I see, I am just so generous.


Giles Says:

Yes @HR. You are so generous, feeding the hungry. Keep it up! Lol


Colin Says:

JB, you beat me to it!
Another solecism common lately is the adjective “everyday” written instead of the correct “every day”.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Of course Novak can beat Rafa. But to pick him as favourite? Y’all are smoking crack.
James makea a good point. Only one player threatens Rafa on clay. But a whole bunch could threaten Novak.

Rafa is in the Fed position: hoping someone else does the work of taking out his real threat before the finals!
(but not really, since Rafa is still the favourite!)

As far as Sean listing Wawrinka above Fed- PLEASE! Fed had bona fides no other player has. A French title and a hand-full of runner-ups, plus multiple clay masters. Federer is a very very good clay player.
No one is close to Rafa, but after the Big Three there is another Big Gap.


Okiegal Says:

Colin, our resident English major is back! Lol


A Tango Lad Says:

Well, I’ll personally donate nadalista’s iPad to charity should Stan even make it to the final.

Big Stan fan and amazing he won a major but he has no other titles of any significance. One slam SF, 0-2 in 1000 finals and 0-2 in 500 finals.

No, I’m afraid Stan has had his Andy Warhol moment unless lightening really does strikes twice.

To put him above Roger the Great? Well, as someone else here might say, pfft.


skeezer Says:

Fed back in the top 4 @32?
Friggin amazin old man! Keep it comin :-)


roy Says:

* Has won three straight over Nadal, all in easy fashion
* Beat Nadal in Monte Carlo last year
* Arguably should have beat Nadal at the French also last year

look, djoker has always played nadal close on clay and he always has a chance to beat him.
the problem with djoker isn’t just that nadal is slightly better in the clay matchup it’s that djoker is more vulnerable to other players on clay.

and winning 3 straight on hard court means nothing.
even 3 straight on any surface means nothing, people beat each other in patches all the time in these extensive h2hs, the ebbs and flows are very hard to predict.

nadal served for the fourth set at RG did he not?
so you should be saying nadal should have won in 4 rather than djoker ‘should’ have won the match.


skeezer Says:

“djoker has always played nadal close on clay and he always has a chance to beat him.”
Yep.Well said. However, the rest of the post sounds “wounded” from a biased Rafa Lover.

#sameolesameole


Dc Says:

Since 2011,when Nole turned into Nole v2.0,he has had a 14-6 record against Nadal.
The FO trophy is on Nole racket. He knows how to beat nadal at his best, but nadal ain’t going to give up so easily.


Nitesh Says:

On clay I put my money on Rafa!!! simply


tweener Says:

hmmmm. the hot topic in market!!

Well, as far as dominating on dirt is concerned, its hands down nadal unless he gets injured. Moreover, he has to play well to defend his 5000 odd points, with novak hot at his heels.

But its the possible RG outcome which is exciting me like no one else. well! Nadal has to be the favourite like fed was in wimbledon till 2008 and novak in AO till this year, but somehow i am having a hunch that he may fall short this time. not saying novak, could be anyone but not nadal this year.

I may be horribly wrong and nadal may win the entire tournament without dropping a set, but all great runs has to end somewhere. and i feel, that may be the case this year for nadal.


Colin Says:

I still stubbornly think Murray has the potential to do well in the FO, though I can quite see why most people leave him out of the reckoning.

What I’m hoping right now is that he performs well in Davis Cup this weekend. We’ll probably lose the tie, as the lower ranked GB players can’t always be expected to pull off upsets like Ward’s over Querrey, but if Andy can play well in his matches it’ll give him confidence, and confidence is what he needs at the moment.

By the way, Okiegal, I’m no English major; my formal education ended when I left school. I’ve always maintained that the greater part of our education should be what we pick up after leaving school. I left in 1953, so I’ve had plenty of time!


metan Says:

Hmmmmmmm!
Nole is the chosen one. Heavy yoke man!!!


Bad Knee Rules Says:

Peter Fleming & Greg Rusedski:

http://www1.skysports.com/tennis/news/12076/9242147/novak-djokovic-produced-best-ever-performance-to-win-miami-masters

“I’ve never seen anybody play such a convincing match against Rafa. Djokovic made him look very average.”
Greg Rusedski


Hippy Chic Says:

Colin i look forward to the CC season,its not Andys best surface so hes not under a great deal of pressure,and has no points to defend so he can only gain,best of luck to Andy for the CC season anyway..


Rita Says:

Lets be honest…Rafa will most likely win it.

Even so, I’m really hoping for an underdog to pull through like what happened at the AO. It was so refreshing to see a new face winning a major!


Hippy Chic Says:

Rita a new face winning a major is indeed refreshing for the sport,tennis doesnt have to revolve around Rafa,Roger,Novak,Andy,there is indeed such a thing as overkill,as much as i love Rafa,who wouldnt have been happy to have seen Ferrer winning the FO last year,or Stan at the AO earlier this year??its probably the reason why you dont see fans of players other than the top guys bogging on this forum,they probably think they would be wasting their time??i dont think you will ever see fans of Berdych posting on this forum any time soon,such is the negativity he has to stomach..


metan Says:

Well, we all one to see new face to hold a trophy but it ain’t easy to get as the best players are still wanted to add up their collections. As RAFA fans I wanted him to win all the time. So who fight the hardest will get it. 😄😜♡


Michael Says:

Well, the Montecarlo Master result might be crucial as to who holds the aces ahead of the clay season. Novak should be yearning to defend his title that he won last year against Rafa surprisingly in straight sets. But apart from Novak, Rafa has not much to fear and he must be already dreaming about the unprecedented 9th title at Rolland Garros as well as Montecarlo. Novak too must be sensing that this is his best chance to conquer Rafa on Clay considering that he is oozing with confidence with a hattrick of wins. So, it is an interesting battle ahead for both the players.


Hippy Chic Says:

I wonder how people will feel should neither Rafa or Novak win the FO this year,all the silly bickering will have all been irrelavent??


Hippy Chic Says:

Michael i left you a post yesterday on the other thread,just wondering if you read it??


tweener Says:

As a matter of fact, if novak do win at RG this year, it will be a record in itself for completing his career slam earlier than both nadal and federer. It will be in the form of his 7th slam earlier than nadal in his 9th slam and federer in his 14th slam.


metan Says:

@tweener, soooooo nole is goat candidate, no.😜

@Michael, agree with your post. Real battle is Monte Carlo…too bad I won’t be there but I will be in Rome and Paris. Can’t wait for that day. My spring holiday is gonna be awesome!


Okiegal Says:

@Colin

Hey, you fooled me about not being an English major. You pulled a word out of the hat that caused me to go to the dictionary! Lol Hey, that’s all well and good……we should never get too old to learn! Just having a little light moment on TX……which I think we could have a little more of…….I’m still impressed by that word I never heard of!! Lol


Nirmal Kumar Says:

I’m not sure if this is the most dominating performance against Rafa. I have seen Roger’s WTF Semifinal in 2007, which I thought was much more clinical. I could be biased here, but somehow I felt Roger imposed himself much better against Rafa.


Translated Age Says:

Fed back in the top 4 @32?
Friggin amazin old man! Keep it comin :-)

Methinks there’s a Rafa obsession in your closet mirror.

Sure No. 4 at 32 not bad for BadBackRules but others have done it better. Not GOAT amazing by any stretch.

Agassi was No. 1 a year older than Vesterer lol.

Connors? No. 4 at 36. No. 1 @32.
Laver? No. 3 at 37 years young!

As far as MC being the great indicator? Well, I just hope history repeats itself from last year, no (especially since the Masters mean something when Rafa doesn’t win).

Y’all remind me of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown at the French. Deja vu all over again.

Keep on kicking at air all you Fed, I, I mean Nole fans! shammon!


Translated Age Says:

Yeah, Fed really managed to lay a beatdown on Rafa for a whole indoor match when Rafa was 21 ranked No. 2. Congrats. It brought their h2h to a temporarily respectable 6-8 against the youngster.

By comparison, Fed was No. 14 in the world at that age during the weak era.


John Says:

I see those sour grapes are still giving you lots of energy.

Get off the goon bag already.

”Methinks there’s a Rafa obsession in your closet mirror”.

You should look in the mirror, once you put the box wine down.


skeezer Says:

“Methinks there’s a Rafa obsession in your closet mirror.”
Your the one who brought up Fed in your last 3 posts, what are you talking about?


Brando Says:

@Tennis Vegabond:

Great post from arguably the best poster on here.


SG1 Says:

The FO is ultimately a two horse race as it’s been the last few years. I buy into the notion that even Rafa has to eventually lose again in Paris(doesn’t he?).

This just seems like it will be Novak’s time. I’m not disputing that Rafa is the favorite. Even if he loses this year, in my opinion, he should still be the favorite next year. His record at RG is astounding.

I’m picking Novak to get the deal done…which almost certainly guarantees he’ll lose.


SG1 Says:

The much more interesting and more wide open tournament will be Wimbledon. So many players with a shot to win there this year. Fed, Murray, Rafa, Novak, Berdych, Tsonga…just to name some.


Hippy Chic Says:

SG1 LOL Rafa losing this year,might fire him up into getting the title back next year,he did it once,so whos to say that he couldnt do it again??


Hippy Chic Says:

SG1 LOL So do you really think Rafa is one of the favorites to win Wimbledon this year?given what happened the last two years,i think i would just be happy to see him reach the 3rd round..


Translated Age Says:

I’m… actually at a complete loss for words for once.

Giles? Anything?


skeezer Says:

^best post ever.


Translated Age Says:

^You forgot shammon.


Patson Says:

2014 shall be known as the year of the Serb, just like 2011.

If he does, you know who said it first. If he doesn’t, don’t remind me what I said :)


Giles Says:

Patson. Promise I won’t remind you!


Okiegal Says:

@Patson

Yeah, being a little too cocky can come back to bite you…….I don’t know about you, but I am positive I would not like the taste of crow!! LOL Bragging rights should come after the win, not before!!


Slice Tennis Says:

In the last 8 years only ONCE (2009) Rafa had a lead over Nole in the race points at the end of the first quarter. In every other year Nole had a decent to commanding lead over Rafa at the end of the first quarter. If you take out 2009 this is the year (2014) with the lowest lead Nole has attained over Rafa (a mere 95 points) in the first quarter.
Perspective !!!!


Hippy Chic Says:

Okiegal/Patson thats the reason i always play down my favorites chances,for fear ending up with egg on ones faces,this forum is notorious for people who have bragged about their favorites winning this and that,and those very same people have not been seen since when their predictions went pear shaped say no more,and its not exclusive to any one particular fan group either,its fine to make predictions but when people state them as bona fide facts then thats a slippery slope IMO,i dont know who will win the FO,but i would hope for an open and well contested year,with things been shared out,and i believe/hope Andys return to form is just around the corner too,domination is alright for a while,and id be lying if i said i didnt enjoy what Rafa did last year or in 2008 and 2010,but im not arrogant enough to expect him to do it all the time,surely a nice competitive year is also great for the sport too.


Ben Pronin Says:

Slice Tennis, that’s interesting. Does that include 06?

07 kinda makes sense although I’d assume it was close, 08 makes sense, 09 makes sense, 10 I’m really surprised, 11 makes sense, 12 makes sense, 13 makes sense. Wow. That’s pretty crazy.


Slice Tennis Says:

Ben,
No, in 2006 Rafa had a slender lead.
I considered the 8 years from 2007 till 2014.


Slice Tennis Says:

Rafa usually gets to No.1 in the race mostly by the end of FO. The exception was 2009.

This year he has a great chance to clinch it at MC.


Hippy Chic Says:

Metan April 2nd @9.06am if your going to Paris to watch the FO perhaps yourself and Courbon will bump into each other,and if you should see Courbon and Rafa,then give them both hugs and kisses from me lol :))..


James Says:

Nadal can’t wait for Monte Carlo ;)

http://i.stuff.co.nz/sport/tennis/9899523/Nadal-impatient-for-return-to-clay-courts

I think he wants to prove something, send a message loud and clear.


Slice Tennis Says:

Even way back in 2008 during the first quarter the discussion was all about when Nole will dethrone Rafa at No.2, but we all saw what happened after that.

If winning Miami against Rafa is a great booster for Nole for clay and FO then he should have won FO in 2007.

Rafa at FO >> Rafa at MC >> Rafa on Clay > Rafa on other surfaces.


RZ Says:

@Colin and @Hippy Chic – I agree that Murray has a good enough game to go deep at the French (not win, but the semis perhaps) but it all depends on how his back holds up on the clay.

In any case, I’m rooting for Team GB this weekend on the clay. It’ll be tough, but if Murray plays well and the doubles teams play well, they have a shot. Plus any matches featuring Fabio Fognini and to a lesser extent Dan Evans are always somewhat unpredictable.


James Says:

Like Nadal says, history is on his side in the clay swing, but he will need to be at his best to repeat his past successes.
Just because he is Rafael Nadal, he can’t just show up in Monaco and expect to win everything. He needs to be at his best to face the Djokovic challenge and to send a message to the rest of tour lout and clear that the king of clay will not be dethroned. Not yet.


Okiegal Says:

Rafa’s exact quote on James link he posted: ” I have a favorable history on clay, but history doesn’t help you much in the present”. Our ever so humble Rafa…….you’ve got to love this guy’s honesty and how he can be down to earth and humble regardless of all his many achievements.

Rafa, you da man……win, lose or draw!! Good luck in Monte Carlo…….git r done!!


metan Says:

@James 6.20pm.👍👍👍👍👍♥♡♥


Polo Says:

Djokovic’s recent win over Nadal should not give false hopes to all non-Nadal fans. Nadal is determined to have the French Open renamed after him.


skeezer Says:

Rafa-ites all of the sudden are puffing there chests with stats, all time greatness stuff, h2h’s, king of kongs, etc. etc. How immaculating impressive. What’s next, he’s better than Spain?

After all, after a devastating loss in Miami, and at AO, and at IW, now however he is on song. Why? Oh yeah, the Clay. Thanks goodness for that!
I’ll predict this. He’d better make some stellar performances in this season, or there will be lots of talk, guaranteed and certified. Expectations are HIGH.


martins take Says:

I think Rafa will continue to be the top dirt-baller as he has for years now. Nole will always be right there with him as will Roger, but I think Stan Wawrinka will be an impact player as well. He has continued to improve over the last several years and winning Australia had to be an incredible boost in confidence. He’s always belonged but now he KNOWS that he does. That makes him far more dangerous. He is no longer a second-stringer.
http://martinstake128.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/stan-the-man-can/


skeezer Says:

^I agree, it will be interesting to see if Stan can make in roads on the dirty ugly dirt. Surely it is Rafa’s home.
Rafa is the all time “pig pen” of the tour, owning the ugliest dirtiest surface on tour.

#cleanyoursocks
#why.youronclaystupid


Slice Tennis Says:

“dirty ugly dirt”

Sour grapes….LMAO


Slice Tennis Says:

“What’s next, he’s better than Spain?”

Nope. He is better than swiss.


skeezer Says:

“Sour grapes”.
Quite the contrary.
Look at your fav here;
http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2014-03-31/15364.php
Its obvious your still not over the wawa, the dolgo, and the nole.there is hope. The “pig pen” surface is here. Yahoo.


Sivaji Says:

I really fear the worst clay session going to come for Rafa. Rafa may or may not even one single title this year on clay. Rafa has got upper hand on Roger similarly Novak will get upper hand on Rafa. Rafa is really fear of Novak, his words for past year about novak clearly states that. With fear he can not win over Novak.


Klaas Says:

Conditions this spring will matter. Wind and heat help Rafa, heat puts more bite on his forehand and makes the court faster, wind prevents Nole for going for his shots with pinpoint accuracy, humidity will set up Rafa for hard hitting as Nole will have more time on the ball. Really no telling how this will turn out.


Ben Pronin Says:

In 2011, when Djokovic beat Nadal all 6 times they played, only 2 of those matches were actually close: Miami, and the 3rd set of the US Open. Outside of that, Djokovic pretty much man-handled Nadal. Then the 2012 Australian Open final happened, and then Nadal won 3 in a row. And then they went 3-3 last year, both getting wins over the other on the preferred surface, too.

As great as this recent run has been for Djokovic and his fans, there’s simply no way it can last. It never does. How many Nadal fans thought Djokovic could win 7 in a row after the rivalry stood at 14-4 at one point? How many Djokovic fans thought Nadal would ever beat him on hard courts (including me) after 2011 and even 2012? This rivalry is already at LEAST one of the top 5 greatest rivalries tennis has ever seen and could well become the greatest by the time their careers are over.

You guys can trash talk all you want. We don’t know what will happen. What we do know is that the dynamic is going to change down the line. It always has. Maybe Djokovic will win 4 more in a row. Maybe Nadal will win the next the 4. Maybe they’ll trade off the next 4. But we do know is that no surface is safe. Not clay for Nadal. Not hard courts for Djokovic. And grass is still kind of a coin flip.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Brando, thanks.
Many seasons Rafa comes into clay wounded and gets set right. Coming in as finalist at Oz and Miami is actually not a bad start for Rafa, historically.
I don’t think Rafa will dominate like he does most years. I expect Novak to take a masters. Maybe Fed will challenge in Madrid. But I think when the pre-French run is over, Rafa will have a commanding lead in clay points overall.
Then we get the popcorn.

Some other picks on clay to watch for: Ferrer (due for a last big run before he recedes into the night); Monfils, a hell of a clay player, loves the home crowd; Nishikori– great combination of speed and kill-shot, but don’t know how his endurance will stand the test. Gulbis. Gilles Simon. Get to your bookies now, people.


Hippy Chic Says:

Tennis Vagabond fantastic post,and just to highlight what Brando said i love your posts,never any trash talking of players,posters or emotional bias,just pure good old fashioned honesty about your love of the game,IMO there isnt enough of that here unfortunatly..


Tally Ho Says:

You’d be a fool if you were betting against rafa for clay season, but that said, djokovic is hitting form at the right time for another tilt at the French.

On a side note but still relating to clay season, I’ve been visiting a few tennis websites and noticing one major talking point on all of them: the goat debate and fed’s weak era. Here’s one for all the weak era/strong era theorists: have we witnessed/are we witnessing the weakest clay era since Borg?


Translated Age Says:

Ben sums it up very well but I’d put the rivalry right up with Borg/Mac and Sampras/Agassi.

Even above Fedal given the better match up.

Mac/Lendl, Mac/Connors were also great due to the animosity.

Honourable mention to Laver/Rosewall.


James Says:

Clay is the most important surface in Europe. Anyone who thinks clay doesn’t matter much most probably have never been to Europe.

When I was in Switzerland and Germany, I couldn’t find one grass court (there must be some though), and very few hard courts. But walk around in any city or town and you’d find several clay courts.


Hippy Chic Says:

James nice post,ive always thought if clay were such an inferior surface,then why does Nole want to win the FO so badly,otherwise why even bother??


Daniel Says:

James,

If you go to England you find several grass courts, specially London. I remember arriving by plane and looking around and seeing several courts spread all over town and surrounding areas. I thought: this is where I should live!:-)


Dan Martin Says:

http://tennisabides.com/2014/04/02/tennis-power-ranking-2014-miami-crowns-a-new-number-one/ I’ve got my latest power ranking up. Clay has been strange for me recently. I would expect some relatively young player 20-25 years of age to emerge who can run all day, who hits heavy shots and who makes few errors to not necessarily take the crown from Nadal, but to be a good bet for the semis or better at most clay events and the quarters or further at the French every year. That just has not happened. At some point a younger grinder has to establish some sort of cred right?


Okiegal Says:

@Skeezer Have you been on walkabout or just woke up from a long winter’s nap?? Rafa-ites are NOW PUFFING UP THEIR CHESTS WITH STATS……..I’ve been reading TX for a year now and read about the Rafa/Roger stats pretty much on a daily basis. No, it’s nothing new for Rafa-ites or Fed-sites…..the beat goes on and on and on………it will never end, imo. Wikipedia will never let you down, current updates too! Novak’s win at Miami was posted immediately after the win…..I checked…..and thanx for turning me on to Wiki, they present the whole package.


Giles Says:

It’s called selective memory!!


Okiegal Says:

Where have all the Stan fans gone? After he beat Novak and Rafa in Australia he was the new guy that was gonna turn things around. Lots of fans hopped on his band wagon……where are they now?? He can’t even get honorable mention now, it seems. Stan is very good on clay. Maybe he will get his mojo momentum going again. For the sake of tennis, I certainly hope so!


Giles Says:

The posters who were paying homage to Wawa after his AO win are by no means his fans but rather gloaters from the fed and joker camps.


skeezer Says:

Giles,
I laugh every time you accuse the whole tennis fan community of being in “camps”. Stan, on known Tour journeyman beat Rafa in the finals of a Slam. Get over it.
#childish


Ben Pronin Says:

Wawrinka was never a journeyman.

Regardless of camps, it was refreshing to see a new slam winner for the first time in half a decade.


Giles Says:

Yes skeezer, camps. I am in one camp and you are…..?


skeezer Says:

“Yes skeezer, camps. I am in one camp and you are…..?”
No camping here.
—–
Ben,
What would you classify on the ATP tour a “journeyman player”?


skeezer Says:

“Journeymen players are usually distinguished from an elite or “star” player”. Stan isn’t a journeyman anymore, he just won a Slam, an an elite star player, he’ #3 in the world.

But surely before that he has been outside the the top 10 most of his career.


Ben Pronin Says:

Someone who’s been on tour for a while but never cracked the top 50. Think Michael Russell.


skeezer Says:

Michael Russel lol ..good one. And what was the other guy…Rochus?


Ben Pronin Says:

Both Rochus’s cracked the top 50. Another guy I can think of but retired long ago was Paul Goldstein.


Giles Says:

skeezer. You referred to Wawa as a “journeyman” and Ben corrected you. You obviously don’t know the meaning of the word. Hope Ben has educated you.


skeezer Says:

^good knowledge. I actually remember him. Wasn’t he highly touted coming out of college?


Hippy Chic Says:

It took Murray a while to crash the Roger/Rafa/Nole GS party in 2012 by winning the USO on his 5th GS final,Novak won the AO in 2008,but it took him another 3 years to win another,Delpo won the USO in 2009 and hasnt made a final since,Stan who knows where he goes from here?


Okiegal Says:

@Skeezer

I was just getting ready to ask what a journeyman was. Is it a person who is on this long journey to attain the highest honor in his sport……being ranked number one…….and he fails to do say?? Tell us Ben.


Okiegal Says:

Gang…I’m a slow poster, the question has been answered……delete that last post from your mind!! Lol


skeezer Says:

Giles,
Stay out of it. That is why I asked the question. It’s subjective. There is no “Line” of top 50 or below, it’s an opinion. When you read the description, you can determine what YOU think a journeyman player is. A journeyman player is for sure NOT an elite player( imo is top 10 )


Hippy Chic Says:

Personally i have always believed a journeyman as been a male tennis whos made very little impression in the tnnis landscape,one that we have heard very little about??


SG1 Says:

Great post from Ben at 8:09….


SG1 Says:

I tend to think of a journeyman as a player who’s played through all the mini-tours and gone to tennis hell and back with end result being that he makes a relatively meagre living on the ATP tour over a decent number of years.


SG1 Says:

I would a consider a guy like Daniel Nestor a journeyman singles player.


contador Says:

A journeyman (in sports) is someone technically competent but unable to excel.
( retrieved from a simple online dictionary search )

Wawrinka, if not for his AO title, could almost be called a journeyman – he was headed in that direction it seemed before the AO title.

Juju Benneteau is a journeyman – technically competent but unable to win one title in his career – yet.


skeezer Says:

contador!


contador Says:

hi skeeze! thought I’d return for clay season ; )


contador Says:

You have been holding down the fort admirably, my man. :D

yep, I have checked up on you now and then.


contador Says:

You know, just so I can have the full on mind numbing experience of Nadal owning another clay season. The excitement of another French Open staring Nadal is not to be missed.

And some poster wrote about the possibility of renaming Chartrier to Nadal. That got my goat – lol


skeezer Says:

contador,
“Chartrier to Nadal”
Do you think the French will let that happen? lol.


contador Says:

lol, I know, right. As if…


Slice Tennis Says:

The journeyman is ranked above the goat.
LMAO.


Okiegal Says:

Yeah, a tennis player on a journey but never reaches his destination!! I had that figured out all by myself, as per post @ 12:12. Contador>dictionary…….Mine>pure old Oklahoma logic!! Lol


Polo Says:

A journeyman is one who enters a tournament, usually loses early then journeys on to the next tournament regardless of the quality of the tournament as long as he is allowed to play. Elite players, who often reach the later stages of events, have the luxury of not having to move constantly from one tournament to another to make a decent income.


contador Says:

Is that a personal dig already, Okiegal?


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Tally Ho, I’ll take your bait: Yes!
There used to be clay specialists who percolated UP into the discussion of contenders at clay season.

Now, by contrast, the field DROPS in clay season, and remaining (until recently) were Rafa, with Fed a distant second. Challengers have come and gone on every surface, but on clay, two players (now, with Novak, three) OWN the surface. No one else is in the game.

Look, Rafa is the best clay courter ever, and Fed is probably top five. But even Borg and Lendl had guys who could compete with them, and steal the Masters (equivalent) events.

To me, the field is a lot more wide open these days on hard courts than clay. Grass is similarly specialized, but the Big Hitters get automatic entry as dark horses (Berdych, Tsonga, etc). On clay, the contenders club is quite exclusive right now.


contador Says:

Kubot is a journeyman in singles but is he thought of as a journeyman in doubles? he has been very successful there. Too bad
he can’t translate that success into singles.


Okiegal Says:

@Contador

Oh, no…..I am sorry you took it that way….just a little humor, I thought. When I saw the journeyman comment, wondered what that really meant. Lots of good comments, of course Daniel, as in Webster, is always the best go to guy! Didn’t mean to sound tacky! Thanks for the input! Glad to see you posting again!


contador Says:

I voted for djokovic, of course.

But aren’t these poll daddy polls useless? People can vote as many times as they want, lol


Translated Age Says:

Who did you vote for last year and the year before that?


contador Says:

Well, I might not be the brightest bulb in the box, but I know what a journeyman is. Tennis Journeyman, Okiegal is what I gooogled.

already had Kubot and Bennet in mind .


Slice Tennis Says:

“People can vote as many times as they want, lol”

How do you know that ?
LOL


contador Says:

To whom do you ask, TA?


contador Says:

aw, Slice Tennis. i have changed my ways. And you? lol..i’d guess you use all your fingers and toes – at least.


Slice Tennis Says:

“i’d guess you use all your fingers and toes”

Is it possible ?
How do you know that ?
LOL


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Welcome back Contador. Bring Grendel with you?


contador Says:

Thanks TV. I have been reading off and on. Stan winning the AO was spectacular :D that woke me up!

oh man, I wish i could bring back Grendel, jane and others!


contador Says:

ST

Must cost too much money to get a proper poll added. It would be fun to have one that only allows one vote per IP address and the monikers of who voted for what or whom was viewable to the public :D


Bad Knee Rules Says:

According to this video, from the other forum, it doesn’t seem like Novak’s too worried about CC season:

http://youtu.be/G-a-vd-qqIk


jane Says:

Ducking in and then out … only wanted to wave a big “HELLOOOO” at contador, who has been sorely missed. Hope all is well with everyone on the board. Old-timers, new-timers, life-timers and so forth. Still reading all the fun and insightful comments and articles. Enjoying it as always, albeit from afar. Super big hugs to Nole’s fans. ;) Cheers all.


Hippy Chic Says:

Jane hi and hope everything is well with you too,just a thought though if Contadors posting again then why dont you?everybody misses your fair and wise comments,and i know with the new guidelines in place theres not the bullying that there used to be,it would be lovely to have you back posting again :))..


Tally Ho Says:

@TV
Yep, agree with everything you wrote, and can I add maturely put – it’s these types of discussions that are few and far between on forums these days. Wilander, Brugera, Nastase, Vilas, Muster, Noah – even courier was no slouch if we want to stretch the timeline that far – just to name a few. I guess my point was that it’s nigh on impossible to name a single player as the greatest over so many eras when there’s so many variables and stats to dissect.
Cheers TV, hopefully others will take your lead and not let pure emotion hijack a perfectly good debate


Hippy Chic Says:

I know many are saying Rafas not the same player he was last year?and hasnt won anything of note since the USO last year?well maybe not but he has made 4 finals winning two titles,and two RU spots losing only to the world number 2 and 3,and Dolgo is a top 20 player,last year he tailed off towards the end but still made the finals in Beijing and the WTFs,so its not as if hes losing in the opening rounds,and hes still been putting himself in contention for titles,surely one cannot be expected to win every title every week?so with that im mind thank goodness for posters like Tennis Vagabond who understands words like perspective,context and objectivity,which is sadly lacking these days on this forum..


Michael Says:

Alison, I am sorry I couldn’t respond to your post. My apologies !!

Metan, It is great to know that you will be in Rome and Paris.


Michael Says:

Alison @ 7.00 am

It is all relative. For a Champion like Rafa, even when he makes finals, it seems not enough as people expect him to win the title and that is the price to be paid for any celebrity – be it Roger, Rafa or Novak. Roger once used to say that he created a monster of himself when he was chided by critics for any let down during his prime years. The same syndrome is haunting Rafa today and he has become a victim of success.


Hippy Chic Says:

Michael no problem,to be honest i cant even remember what i said anyway,something along the lines of i dont believe Rafa and Novak are the best of friends,going by what Novaks dad said last year?


Hippy Chic Says:

Michael yeah i get that,but its not humanly possible to win everything evertime surely??


Hippy Chic Says:

Putting oneself in contention by actually making a final,shows you are still in with a chance of the title,the day you stop making finals is the time to start worrying IMO??


Klaas Says:

Journeyman, that sounds really demeaning. Can anyone who makes a decent living playing protennis, about 1 in every million tennisplayers, be called that? Somebody like Kubot is a big name in his own country. The least they should be called is competent craftsmen.


Margot Says:

Hey Conty! Welcome! *waves and shouts.*
Have been thinking about you as your “pogoserve” is doing so well :)


Ben Pronin Says:

Kubot has cracked the top 50 before, so by my understanding he’s surpassed the “journeyman” status. But he also has a career losing record. So, just because he’s a big name in his country doesn’t mean the standards change. I’d still call him a journeyman.


Translated Age Says:

contador, I was humbly asking you who you predicted would take top honours during the clay season the last two years given you say you obviously picked Djokovic this year against The King.

If it’s obvious this year, perhaps it was just as obvious, if not more so, the last two years.

Well, I just hope that you not comparing hard court results with clay against Rafa. Don’t you? Or do you.


Translated Age Says:

Anyone never seeded in a major (i.e., Top 32) are, by definition, a journeyman.

Prior to winning AO, Stan was a journeyman. Still is IMO. Just lost the 1st set to Golubev in DC.


Ben Pronin Says:

TA, you completely contradict yourself. Wawrinka has never been a journeyman. He cracked the top 10 as early as 2008. Just because he’s getting blasted off the court by a lesser player doesn’t suddenly make him a journeyman.


skeezer Says:

jane!


Translated Age Says:

Ben, if you read my post carefully, you should see that there is no contradiction.

Thomas Johansson was a journeyman.

Hope this helps.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

TH,
definitely Courier, and Muster was the definitive clay court specialist. Also Kafelnikov and JCFerrero, Marcelo Rios, Guga, Magnus Norman, Andrei Medvedev. And of course the great Harold Solomon. Even Chang could be said to have elevated above his ranking in clay season.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

God, remember that Edberg Chang final? Heartbreaking! Chang had defeated the unbeatable Lendl in the semis serving UNDERHAND.
He was a no name cripple. We Edberg fans could already taste it!


Ben Pronin Says:

“Anyone never seeded in a major (i.e., Top 32) are, by definition, a journeyman.”

Johansson wasn’t a journeyman either since he was in the top 20 before winning the AO.

You provided the definition then made claims that went against it. This is a contradiction. Do you want me to define contradiction for you?


Translated Age Says:

No I didn’t. Please read more carefully.

I can spell it out for you if you’d like.

Let me know.

Cheers!


Translated Age Says:

Nah I’ll play nice (in hopes you’ll stop moderating me one day).

I’m saying if you’ve never been seeded in a major, your automatically a journeyman. No need to look any further.

However, this is just one definition of a journeyman just like words have multiple definitions.

So, to summarize, I just gave a single definition of a journeyman. Nowhere did I say that being seeded means you are not a journeyman. Just that never being seeded means you are.

See the difference yet?

Never winning a 500/1000 level tournament and going on a hot streak, outperforming and winning a single major doesn’t mean you are not a journeyman. More like a Cinderella story.

Same as Thomas Johannson.

Hope this helps.


Translated Age Says:

Well, Thomas Johansson, while definitely a journeyman, wasn’t that much of a Cinderella Story (the way Stan was) given his win was just a harbinger of The Weak Era.


Translated Age Says:

What was Stan so upset with the referee this time?

pic.twitter.com/TgwEquqylH

Journeyman wins a major and instantly transforms into a prima donna.


Translated Age Says:

No more brown M&Ms permitted in Stan’s locker now that he’s a Star.


Ben Pronin Says:

TA, what you say makes no sense. So everyone who isn’t winning Masters and slams is a journeyman? You’re wrong.


contador Says:

peeps! jane, margot, Kimberly! hello. sorry, I don’t mean to make a fuss – you are all too sweet. Remember, I am not all that sweet!!! lol
I still love tennis and cycling, and Berto Contador ; ) vamos, Contador!

Pogoserve the magnificent, jane and margot! omg it was so great to watch him go deep at IW. That was big news for me. Andy Murray, well, he is on track to defend his Wimbles title. Dear Nole ole ole wow, talk about display of dominance – which has me hopes up for clay season. Delpo out again :( sheesh.

Kimberly, I still like Rafa, mostly the off court Rafa. Can appreciate his accomplishments but but probably your hubby and I could have a interesting talk about tennis in general. I think Rafa, whether he wins this RG , or not, whether he needs another time-out for rehab’ing an injury, will continue on until he passes Federer – they would never straight up admit it but imo the whole greatest ever legend is inspiring and motivating them on. ha! you know I have mixed feeling about all of that. Still rather see others winning the slams. oh well… at a certain point it is just OTT/enough!

Maybe if all of us are around in a week or so we can get a masters bracket going, hey? That way we can all catch in a friendly comment section. Hope to see you peeps here – cheers, conty. : )


contador Says:

Hopp Suisse!! Go Federer!

What was up with Stan today? :O ???


Hippy Chic Says:

Contador hi the bracket challenge appears to have finished for some reason?


Hippy Chic Says:

I hope Murrays best form is right around the corner,and he has a good crack at the CC season,been a Brit i would love to see him defend his title at Wimbledon too..


Kimberly Says:

The atp no longer has a bracket challenge but the WTA does and of course we can do our own for grand slams.

I broke my ankle in October and was out for 6 weeks and since I returned I have been playing every tournament league match in sight and going to every sporting event conceivable although I missed tonights heat game.

I stopped in for some short notes on the Sony but I have more for anyone who cares.

The Sony was Awesome except for Default Day and the final of course, was not good for me, although some might argue it was great. They are renovating the stadium and the grandstand hope it doesn’t interfere as two of my leagues are out of Crandon Park, so it is my home court techinically right now.

The Rafa match I got to watch live was v. Istomin so naturally I was a very happy camper on that one. We kept seeing istomin on the practice courts and colin, being 8, said “istomin is practicing so much because he has a hard draw.” Well he went up 40-0 in the first game and colin goes, “maybe all of istomins practice paid off.” He managed to squander the lead and dump serve. Five minutes later Colin says I guess Istomins practice did not pay off.

I have to say at this point I believe Rafa is the most popular player in South Florida. The energy in the air before a Rafa match, or a Rafa practice is just different than anyone else with the possible exception of Federer (whose fans are often the more subdued conservative type). And the ticket prices for the sessions he played reflected his presence directly. THe stadium would be half empty all day but before his match all of a sudden it was full.

Really enjoyed watching Hingis and Lisicki play doubles. Also enjoyed Radwanska/Svitlina match immensely.

Anyway, going into the clay court season I will try to post more, especially since I see many familiar people back.

Vamos Rafa and hi to Jane, Margot, Contador, Hippy Chic, Skeezer


A Tango Lad Says:

First GOAT and now journeyman debates?

These are subjective terms which means one man’s elite player is another’s journeyman.

I don’t think however that it’s unreasonable to consider a player who’s never been seeded or ever won a tournament a journeyman.

It is not an insult.

That’s the problem with the world today. Unless you are elite, you are somehow having a rewarding career? Pure nonsense.

I consider even a player like Kohlschrieber to be a journeyman but I respect his game and career at the same time.


A Tango Lad Says:

Correction. Should read “somehow not having”


contador Says:

It’s true, A Tango Lad, about the journeyman definition. I think of Kubot and Benneteau as journeymen and it is certainly not in a disrespect. Maybe I can be a pro tennis journeyman in my next life!

The term journeyman gets used in many ways and like skeezer, had stan never made the top ten or won a masters or GS, I may have thought of him as journeyman, in time. Gilles Simon, 29, is turning into a journeyman or seems like he will join teammates Benneteau, Mahut, Llodra, ect. in being extremely competent and very gifted but unable to translate those skills and gifts into the biggest wins. However, Simon, it can be argued, that he made the Tour Final in 2008, a top ten player is definitely NOT a journeyman.


contador Says:

Kimberly, thanks for the fun notes on Sony Open live! Nothing beats being at a big tournament sitting there live watching :D

Colin08 is so smart. And fun to take to a tennis tournament, I imagine. Happy to hear he is as into tennis as ever. Tell him contador says “hi” miss hearing from him in the brackets.

Wow, a broken ankle in October. You are doing very well now, apparently…sounds like.

Would have loved to be courtside and watch Lisicki/Hingis and Radwanksa live!

I’ll sign up for a WTA bracket and the GS’s. But is it possible through the bracket site you use for GS’s to create one for ATP masters? hm, wondering?

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