Pete Sampras: If You Look At The Numbers, Roger Federer’s The Greatest We’ve Ever Seen
by Tom Gainey | March 25th, 2015, 11:31 am
  • 217 Comments

Speaking ahead of tonight’s 2015 PowerShares Series event at in L.A., Pete Sampras lit a fire in the GOAT debate, declaring Roger Federer as the greatest in tennis history, based on the numbers.

“I think he was the most complete player we’ve seen,” Sampras told Vancouver’s CBC Radio. “He’s won on all surfaces. He’s tough. He moves well. He’s got a big game. He’s got a huge forehand. He just has the whole package. I think he dominated the game a lot more than I ever did.

“You look at the numbers of what he’s been able to do, you have to say he’s the greatest we’ve seen. The statistics of doing all-around court play, he can do a lot of different things. He can come in, can stay back, and he can do everything. He would be a tough match-up to beat. He’s a great competitive. He’s been ambassador to the sport. He’s done it the right way.”

The 33-year-old Federer is enjoying a few weeks off after a second straight runner-up finish at Indian Wells. Federer is expected back in Monte Carlo next month.

“As you get older it gets tougher,” Sampras said. “You’re seeing that now. Roger is 33. He’s been out there a number of years and you can have a bad day a little more often and that’s what happened against Seppi. It gets tougher. I know. I experienced it. It’s just traveling and jet lag and it will wear you down. I just think you’re seeing that happening with Roger.”


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217 Comments for Pete Sampras: If You Look At The Numbers, Roger Federer’s The Greatest We’ve Ever Seen

SG1 Says:

Roger is a marvel. No one’s ever played better at 32 and 33 years old than he has (and is). Notice though that Pete didn’t go near the “I think Roger will another major…” deal. I think it will be a very tall task (not impossible) for him to add to his slam numbers at this point. I think this year’s Wimbledon is pretty much it for him in terms of a realistic opportunity to get No.18.

I think Roger wants to go out the way Pete did. I just don’t see it happening. But, Roger isn’t embarrassing himself out there by any means. If his legs were a few years younger, he’s be in the thick of things.

Wonder if he regrets making the racket change so late?


El_Flaco Says:

Fed is the GOAT right now and he could add another slam, but Nadal could have a few more Frenchies too. Then there is Djokovic. If he puts up 2 more slams this year all of a sudden he is on pace for 14 or more by the time he is 30.


jane Says:

” No one’s ever played better at 32 and 33 years old than he has”

i agree. he’s playing great.

“If his legs were a few years younger, he’s be in the thick of things. ”

given that he is number 2 in the world, we have to say he is “in the thick of things” on some level don’t we? but i guess if we’re talking solely about winning slams, then yeah, it’s different. he hasn’t won one for a while, and he’s made only 1 slam final in the last 2 years if i am recalling correctly.


Hippy Chick Says:

RF hasnt won a GS since W in 2012,if he is to win another i would think he still has it in him at any of the GS,although i think Wimbledon would be his best bet,he and Andy i would say have the games better suited to grass IMO….


Ben Pronin Says:

I, for one, hope the Reverse Flash never wins a slam.


Hippy Chick Says:

What do you mean Ben?….


Ben Pronin Says:

http://media.dcentertainment.com/sites/default/files/
GalleryChar_1900x900_ReverseFlash_52ab86f56acee7.57526472.jpg


skeezer Says:

Preach it Pete!


chris ford1 Says:

Somebody must have cornered Pete into having to make a GOAT remark, which Sampras wisely went with the easiest thing to say so he could return to his free meal,
Of course, based on the numbers, in the NBA, the best player ever was Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Followed by Karl Malone, then Kobe Bryant, then in 4th place, Michael Jordan.
And the best 100M sprinter ever based on number of track wins is Carl Lewis Jr.


RZ Says:

@SG1 – agreed, and even more impressive when you consider that Fed never took a lot of time off or had a major dip down the ranking during his career. Others who played well into their 30s, such as Agassi, either suffered a rankings downfall and/or took quite a bit of time off from playing. But Fed really hasn’t taken any time off and his lowest ranking since 2002 has been 8. I don’t think he gets enough credit for his consistency.


Ben Pronin Says:

Best player ever was Bill Russell.


Humble Rafa Says:

What did they feed him before he made these comments? Does he not know that I exist? Oh, this is the guy who never won the FO, greatest of all slams. No wonder.


Okiegal Says:

Michael Jordan gets my vote for the best, Kobe
next. Who’s the greatest short player??


Rich Says:

1. Federer is 10-23 vs. Nadal, and in my estimation faced a weaker set of competitors than did Sampras himself (Agassi, Krajicek, Becker, Ivanisevic, Rafter, Edberg, Courier, Stich, Kuerten). Regardless, I would pick Nadal (despite possible HGH and steroid use) over Federer.

2. Sampras had a winning record vs. Agassi, and was 6-0 vs. Agassi at Wimbledon and the US Open, the two tournaments Sampras cared about the most. I would pick Sampras over Federer.

3. Had Federer continued playing his Sampras-style serve-and-volley game after 2003, I believe Federer would have won 20 slams and be the clear GOAT.

4. Wilt was far more dominant, and greater than, Russell. Wilt averaged 50 points per game one year, grabbed 55 boards in one game, led the league in ASSISTS one year, etc., and precipitated many NBA rule changes. Russell was on some of the best teams in history.

5. Greatest short player – does Sidney Moncrief at 6-4 count; superior defender? Perhaps Mo Cheeks at 6-1; superior defender, passer and slasher? I’d go with Kevin Johnson – best Michael Jordan defender I’ve ever seen (great lower body strength and incredible quickness); great floor general, ballhandler and slasher. Smart.


SG1 Says:

5. Greatest short player – Some good choices. I’m thinking Isiah Thomas or even Vinnie Johnson (for a little while there). Adrian Dantley wasn’t a big by NBA standards but fashioned a nice career within the trees.


Rich Says:

Isiah Thomas is a nice pick, but he wasn’t a defender, and he played dirty. The Microwave was a horrible defender, just a flash scorer. If we’re talking Championship Pistons guards, then I think Dumars was far superior to Isiah and Vinnie, as Joe was a phenomenal defender, an excellent rebounder for 6-3, a good ball handler and excellent shooter (although a horrible GM for today’s Pistons).

Dantley was strictly a scorer, but I certainly respect your high opinion of him – he was fun.

Regarding Iverson – I’m from Philadelphia – and I respectfully disagree with Vagabond. Iverson was a ball hog, a turnover machine, a gambling, usually ineffective defender, a cancer in the locker room, dumb, and an atrocious shot selector. He was an amazing scorer with blazing speed, plus he had Larry Brown, 6-11 Theo Ratliff, 6-10 Nazr Mohammed and later 7-2 Dikembe Mutombo covering his rear. Again, a fun player who filled the stands, but I’d opt for KJ, Moncrief or Dumars.

Fun discussion, although nothing to do with Federer…


Wog Boy Says:

Peter Press “Pistol Pete” Maravich


One of the youngest players ever inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Maravich was cited by the Hall as “perhaps the greatest creative offensive talent in history”.[2] In an April 2010 interview, Hall of Fame player John Havlicek said “the best ball-handler of all time was (Pete) Maravich.”


Rich Says:

Maravich was 6-5. Too big???

John Stockton (although dirty) and Steph Curry (limited defender, but otherwise terrific) are two more. I also love Andre Miller.


Ben Pronin Says:

Going with TV and saying AI.


Okiegal Says:

@Wog Boy My high school basketball coach was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. I think she still holds the record in our state for the most wins and the least mount of losses of any coach. Her name was Bertha Frank Teague. She has been deceased for several years, but still an icon in Oklahoma. This info as nothing to do with Fed either.

I forgot about Pistol Pete……He was an amazing player. Loved to watch him play…….Havlicek was no slouch himself. I just love b-ball…….almost as much as tennis! :)


RZ Says:

@Rich – for your #2 point, what about the career slam? Sampras never even made a French Open final. Federer won the French Open and was a finalist several times.


Rich Says:

Career Slam is a significant factor, certainly, RZ, but to me so are (i) level of competition, (ii) dominance at key events, Wimbledon in Pete’s instance, (iii) head to head, in Nadal’s case and (iv) my eyeball test (who would win; who played at the highest level).

Many forget that Sampras (and Becker) were at their very best at fast indoor tournaments. Sampras was no clay courter, but I believe he would have beaten Federer (post 2003 version) many more times than not. Nadal already has proven such.

Agassi won the career Slam. So has Sharapova. Not enough by itself, for me.

Now a net-rushing Fed, which I always call “Sampras Fed”? That would be an entirely different animal.


skeezer Says:

Instead of comparing what Fed didn’t do, try and compare against the field what he HAS done. When you do this, especially against the body of work of a Sampras, Borg, Nadal, whomever. This is why Sampras is saying what he is saying. Look at his complete body of work, records and accomplishments and compare against anyone. There is no one that measures up to his all time records.


TL Says:

Had Fed really been playing great, he’d be winning majors. I suppose he is playing “great” for his age or playing well enough in the best of three format to collect sufficient points to be still number two. He is WAY past his prime and struggles physically to keep up with the best even in the shorter format. The hands may still be good but the legs have limited his options considerably. Fed could, in his prime, outrally the best of the baseliners but he is forced to rush to the net way too often now even if the situation is not appropriate to do so. That is a compromise he has to make for longevity but it simply limits him as a player and makes him far too predictable. The ability to recover suffers as well with advancing age. It is also quite clear that he can’t possibly have the same motivation or hunger now compared to 2004 or 2005 especially after achieving just about everything in the game.

The ATP tour has been in the doldrums for some time now with Raf and Murray not being the force that they should be in their prime. Ditto for Delpo and Tsonga to a lesser extent. Of course, they have their reasons but their absence or weakness has made it much easier for Djoko, Fed and others. It is a poor reflection on the rest of the field that Fed is number two in the world at this age and with around 1300 matches in his body. I wonder if any other player with so much top-flight tennis mileage has been number two at Fed’s age. I think Fed’d slide down the rankings once the rest of the field becomes strong and more consistent.


Markus Says:

I’d rather take Sampras word than any of the pseudo-analysts here.


Rich Says:

TL: I agree with everything you said, some of which supports my point that Federer’s competition has not been great. Nadal looks washed up to me, maybe this year’s French will be his last hurrah, Murray doesn’t look like he’ll ever overcome his chronic back issue, temper and loss of Lendl, Del Potro is finished due to injury, and Tsonga to me was never a serious Slam threat.

Also, the loss of Robin Soderling to injury also has hurt the men’s field.

Amazing that Federer has stayed this healthy and this high ranked for this long, but his odds of winning another Slam are very slim. He’d need the field to collapse, akin to what fell into a washed up Sampras at the 2002 US Open (including a Finals choke-and-a-half by Agassi).


Rich Says:

And Markus, Sampras ain’t no analyst. I met him a couple of months ago at a nearby Starbucks here in LA and asked him if he thought Federer would have won more majors emulating Sampras. Sampras said he’d never given it any thought. According to Agassi, Sampras doesn’t give many issues any thought, and I wonder if Agassi might be on to something.

But thanks for your insightful input, Markus, nonetheless.


Markus Says:

Rich, did you ever consider that Sampras was merely cutting you off because he was not interested in talking to strangers?


Rich Says:

Yes, Markus, I did, but before I asked him my question, I got he and his wife, and the barista, to laugh pretty strongly at something I opened with.

He was flattered and smiling when I “popped the question.”

Did you ever consider offering some constructive and positive comments here???


chris ford1 Says:

I threw out a couple other sports examples of the fallacy of going with the most points or trophies vs. who is the best player.
Kareem “accomplished more” than Jordan in points, wins but I consider Jordan the best of his time.

If you go in the past, 100M sprinter Carl Lewis loaded up on trophies. He is definitely the most “decorated” one. But is he really a better sprinter than Usain Bolt who has a lower count of trophies??

And you can’t go back too far. In American baseball was Cy Young the best pitcher ever because he has 511 unapproachable wins? Or just a statistical success, based on his times and throwing a light lighter to less well trained hitters? In tennis, the game is too changed to compare Rod Laver to Nadal. Everything is different. And you can’t play the numbers and Slam Count game because while Nads has 14 and Rod only 11, you sort it out that way. But Laver missed 6 years of Slams in his prime. And Slam Counting can get silly if it ignores things like Lavers banned from playing circumstances, or the Slam Count inflation from playing in a less competitive time when one great player feasted and padded his stats.


chris ford1 Says:

Rich – best comeback here in…..months!!
So what did you say that had them all laughing?
Saying you would pick up the tip for Pete, or something else??


Okiegal Says:

I think there is a big bag of wind in this discussion atm…… (other than myself) :)


Okiegal Says:

Rich says……”I asked him if he thought Federer would have won more majors emulating Sampras…..why wouldn’t you say emulating you if you’re talking straight to Pete……Sounds fishy to me!!


mat4 Says:

To compare players from the past with contemporary players is just like compare apples with oranges.

There were at least three technological shifts in the last 35 years, and each one has marked the end of the career of many players.

The only thing that we can really compare is the number of trophies, and especially of major trophies, because it shows how much a player has dominated his generation. The numbers is the only thing we have.

Here too, I notice fallacies in the previous reasoning: what is better — to have in your opposition four player that have won 5 slams each, or two that have won 10 slams each? What is tougher to achieve: to beat Edberg, Becker, Agassi in a row, or Djokovic and Nadal in a row? And just go to the Wiki ATP record page — to see how many times you have Nadal and Djokovic in the tables…

Then, the H2H. Let’s make a simple example: two players play the same 50 tournaments. One of them wins 35, the other 10. But in the finals of those 45 tournaments they faces only 12 times, and the one that has won 10 tournaments wins 8 to 4. Which player is overall better? I guess the answer is simple. Especially when we know that the conditions of play doesn’t favour the player that has won more tournaments (just to note: of the 14 major tournaments played each years, 7 are on surfaces slower than the average surface, 7 on surfaces faster than the avg; one third of the tournaments is played on clay, especially if you take in account the ATP 500…). The H2H makes no sense, especially when there is a difference of age.

Finally, just check the stats: Federer’s ratio of dominance for his career is higher than Pete for his best year. And Fed played in a period when there were more professional players than ever, when the technology advanced every four years, where physical preparation was the highest, and the players more complete than they ever were. (Just to write it down: Pete’s rd was 1.14 for his career, Fed’s 1.29, Pete’s best 1.28)

When one writes that he played against a weak field, we notice that many players from that generation, his main rivals/victims for years, are still at the top of the game, and that the “new generation” is not coming. Because the old one was terribly strong, but Fed just annihilated it. Go and check the stats on tennisabstract.com, it is not that difficult.

Finally, Sampras should know, don’t you think? The only thing that we can compare, really, are numbers. And the numbers don’t lie.


skeezer Says:

@mat4
Spot on.
—-
A buddy of mine met Pete In a Bar in OC one time also with his date, and asked him why he thinks Fed was the GOAT, he replied to go to Feds wiki page and it will tell you why. He also said to ask Rich.


mat4 Says:

@skeezer:

Just to add that I went to Fed’s Wiki page, as per advice… Humble Rafa had to read it loudly to me because it didn’t take my spectacles.

;-)


Okiegal Says:

@Skeezer 10:03

That’s hysterical…. I’m seriously laughing out loud!! Does OC stand for Oklahoma City? If so, I was there that night too!! :)


mat4 Says:

@Okie:

Yes, I remember. You were drinking with a blonde with a funny British accent, probably from Norfolk. Kind of hippy, or something…

:-)


Okiegal Says:

Chris Ford1 says @ 8:30 “Rich, best comeback here in months….. No, Skeezer’s comeback at 9:57 is better, imo! Lol


Okiegal Says:

@mat4…….Spot on!! Chick will appreciate these comments as much as I do!! She’s a nice gal, me thinks!!


jane Says:

mat4, i left a post for you on the “miami preview” thread; i hope you were able to see it. :)


Okiegal Says:

@mat4…….I’m the blond, bleached out to the nines. Not sure what color Chick’s hair is. I saw a pic of her on Kimberly’s bracket challenge, it didn’t look blond to me, but could be. We can change our hair color in the blink of an eye!! WOMEN RULE!!


Okiegal Says:

@mat4……I’m a bleached out old hussy! :)


mat4 Says:

@jane:

I’ve seen it, and read Yolita’s stats.

But, although in French:

http://www.eurosport.fr/tennis/masters-miami/2015/apres-indian-wells-les-5-stats-qui-montrent-que-novak-djokovic-marche-sur-l-eau-depuis-6-mois_sto4652397/story.shtml

@Okie:

I wasn’t HC. She put the picture of Monica Belluci…


mat4 Says:

@jane:

Another stat: from the 50 tournaments Novak won so far, 33 were major tournaments: slams, MS1000 and WTF. Best% ever.


jane Says:

thanks for the link mat4; i am off to read it now. hope you’re doing okay.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

I don’t know. Life is sometimes very complicated. But I feel fine right now. And skeezer made me laugh.


Wog Boy Says:

Okie, growing up and playing basketball (the best sport in the world) in Belgrade downtown, everybody wanted to be Pete Maravich the son of Serbian immigrants who added a touch of our mentality in his great game, nice homage;

http://youtu.be/go1gCKmvyg0

BTW, Real Madrid is the best football club ever (according to numbers) but never played football as good as Ajax did in the 70s nor any other club reached that level, that was the best football ever.
mat4, Monica Bellucci is mine, ok.


mat4 Says:

@WB:

Sorry, WB, but you’re too young for Monica Bellucci.

On a more serious note: there a few tennis blogs that, from time to time, make me freak out. Savannah writes the following:

“Some of the current world #1′s fans bristle when there’s talk of cakewalk draws but why do they get upset? Anyone who wants to can see that he’s had some very nice draws. Does that sound better? What can’t be made to sound or look better is that stunt he pulled in Australia vs Andy Murray. His supporters wonder why he doesn’t have more fans. They know why.”

If you want to be a tennis writer, the first thing you have to do is, at least, to check the facts that you can check: just a short look at tennisabstract would be enough to see that Novak’s median/average opponents are ranked better than anybody’s. So, what’s easy in his draw?

Then, Novak did something to Andy at the AO… a stunt… The first thing I remember is that Andy worked with Nole under the supervision of Marian Vajda before the AO 2011, when he was without a coach, for two weeks. Then he made the final. Novak helped Andy although he lost the three previous matches…

The same Novak also showed what friendship and dignity really meant in his press conference after this year’s AO.

She called Milos Raonic “a cheater”. Why? I remember when Rios asked Agassi if the ball was good, and Agassi refused to answer, pointing to the referee. In Agassi’s case it was a matter on principles, in Milos’, it happened in the heat of the fight, and I am certain that he regrets it. But, from now on, Milos will be a cheater… That’s how the rumour starts… then grows.


jane Says:

mat4, anyone can start a blog! hence the internet is laden with misinformation – & what can you do?

roll that boulder up the hill i guess.

glad to know you feel fine, right now. i am listening to sad piano pieces for some reason. maybe the rain.


Okiegal Says:

@wb

I wasn’t aware that Maravich had Serbian ties! That is good to know. He was quite the player in the
day. Thanks for the link. Enjoyed it.


Okiegal Says:

@Jane……Raining here in Oklahoma too. We had two tornadoes hit tonite in Tulsa and Moore, again. Watching old black and white movies…..thunder and lightening all around! Hate the spring weather!

@mat4……I’m not sure if Chick even likes Monica….. :)


Okiegal Says:

@mat4 @1:41

What was the supposedly stunt??


Margot Says:

@OK
http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Milos-Raonic-Cheated-Or-Did-He.aspx

This is the incident but the writer lays the blame on Lahyani. Who, in all honesty, has made some duff calls regarding Andy.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

In the centre for art therapy in Paris they assert that piano music makes the brain work 20% better.

I like Gilels very much, especially when he plays the Beethoven sonate, “Waldstein”, or my favourite, “Appassionata”. I recommend it to everybody when you’re in the mood. Appassionata is especially full of emotions.


mat4 Says:

@Margot:

It was a very delicate situation. But we could see that Milos was in the situation to win the point, and that he slipped a bit, and touched the net lightly.

What was he to do? Sometimes it isn’t that clear.

In the first set of the FO semifinal in 2013, the line umpires made two errors on BP: Novak ball was in, but it was called out, Rafa’s was out but it was called in. Novak didn’t check the mark, Rafa said nothing either. It decided the set first, and the match.

Most of the players — with Djokovic as an exception, who even gave his opponent a point to get to BP — just keep their mouths shut in these occasions. Why should Milos be different? Like Agassi said, it is a question of principle. Or is it?


mat4 Says:

And whoever one roots for, he has to admit that Djokovic is the fairest player in these situations. He gave the point so many times, applauded his opponent in so many occasions, that one has to believe that he didn’t know the rule when he got his racquet over the net in his match against Andy a few years ago.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

I’ve seen Novak, Rafa and Fed all give up points.

Milos should have behaved differently, but he made a mistake and hopefully learned from it.

However, I remember hearing third-hand Pospisil once complain that Milos had always been somewhat of a dirty player (as far as can be in tennis, which isn’t far!) Can anyone verify this?


Michael Says:

Roger is definitely in the league amongst the Greats of the Game. But is he the GREATEST ? That is hard to tell !? Nonetheless, many Tennis Commentators and contemporary Sports men acknowledge that he is indeed the GREATEST to have played the game and that is the biggest tribute to him.

At 33, he is still the No.2 player and that I would say is his greatest accomplishment in a tough physically exerting and demanding sport. He has literally shamed the young guns with his exploits on court and even today beats very easily those potential players who have been hyped up in a big way.


Okiegal Says:

@Margot…..Thanks for the link!


Kam Retnasami Says:

Sampras is underselling himself. At least, he had a winning record against all his major rivals (unlike Federer). Sampras dominated Agassi. He dominated Chang. He dominated Courier. He dominated Ivanisevic. He dominated Rafter. Federer, on the other hand, has a terrible losing record against Nadal and has lost to Djokovic and Murray almost as many times as he has won against them. I am not saying that Federer doesn’t deserve to be considered the GOAT. He does. But so does Sampras. On a head-to-head basis against his major rivals, I think Sampras has been the most dominating player ever.


SG1 Says:

Every great player has their kryptonite and Federer definitely has his in Nadal. Without Nadal, Federer is unquestionably the best ever. However, the qualifier “Without Nadal” ignores that little niggling issue called reality. Federer has lost a lot of big matches to Nadal and not all of them have been on clay. For the moment, I’d be comfortable with someone calling Federer the best ever (though I personally believe a prime Sampras would beat Federer on grass most of the time).

However, I do think Nadal has a couple of more majors in him and I think that if he wins a couple more, I’d give him the edge over Federer. His game isn’t as pretty and even his numbers aren’t as overwhelming. But, to me at least, I look at it and ask myself “If forced to pick one player, for one match with everything at stake, who would I pick?” and it always come down to Nadal. The guys is a nerveless warrior who doesn’t beat himself. And his array of weapons are hardly meek.


SG1 Says:

On a head-to-head basis against his major rivals, I think Sampras has been the most dominating player ever.

—–

If it’s head-to-head, Nadal is the best I’ve ever seen. He just knows how to play those big matches against elite opponents. He’s lost his share but never because he beats himself.


SG1 Says:

And I’m a huge fan of Pete and how he played.


Hippy Chick Says:

Mat4/Okie to be perfectly honest with you both i had never heard of Monica Belluci,although i looked her up and i do hate her now,as she is absolutely stunning lol,she reminds me very much of one of our British actresses called Laila Rouass,who was in a cheesy TV series about a decade ago over here in Britain called Footballers Wives….

Anyway that was definetly me in that picture on Kimberlys bracket challenge,taken last summer on our balcony outside our flat last summer,overlooking the sea,my hair has been all sorts of colours over the years,now its long,permed and light brown in colour,but actually falling out through years of taking thyroxine….

Many thanks to you both for your nice compliments ;-)….


Daniel Says:

Kam,

Pete only dominate his rivals because he didn’t play them on clay.

He would lose 3 out of 4 against Agassi, Courrier and Chang easily, if not all the time.

SG,

The problem is, tennis is not 1 match decides it all. Nadal is not a GOAT number #1, in 2 weeks Djoko will be better than him and also, Nadal’s inability to win WTF against only top 10 players is odd, considering he has the most number of wins against fellow top 10. Hence his records is more clay oriented. He needs specific conditions and time of the year in order to win. He just can’t win all year long for 11 months, something Djoko and Fed done plenty of times. They all have gaps in their resumes, but Fed is the one who less.

Also, If we break Slam by Slam, as it is, Nadal is only a top 5 in RG where he is undisputed #1, in all other Slams there is more than 5 guys with better numbers than him, hence again, clay buffed records. Is not that we have to remove clay out of the equation but considering that Nadal has 51 clay titles out of 65 shows the whole picture. He is a monster on clay and decent in other Slams compared to other greats. His second best Slam total comes at 2. Sampras, Fed and Borg at least had 2 Slams with more than 5 titles proving they can really dominate in other courts.

Djoko also may not have 2 Slams with more than 3 or 4, but as the current #1 on top of his game, is safe to assume that he has the best chance out of all active players to win more Slams in all Slams. AO he is super favorite, US Open he is due for another title, even Wimpy not being his preferred surface he has excellent results last 4 years so can easily see him winning 1 more and RG as well.

As I always said Nadal needs to win Slams outside RG, he is 5-6 out of RG. And also, see if he will win Slams after 30, as Fed and Sampras did.

It all depends on what some consider most important but as Skeeze and mat4 said, Fed’s case (pros and cons) is the best against everybody else who ever played the game, the numbers, longevity, consistency, commitment, his game and his status prove it.


Hippy Chick Says:

SG1 i agree with your posts,its purely subjective but IMO it makes it difficult to say there is an actual out and out GOAT….


Hippy Chick Says:

IMO Rafa is more of an all round player than Pete and Novak as he has the CGS and multiple GS on all surfaces,the Sampras career of 14 GS i suppose one could say is better as he has more GS in three of the four,as opposed to Rafa who has only dominated RG,i would definetly takes Rafas resume over Novaks though who has 2 GS off HCs,as opposed to Rafa whom has 5 off clay,if one was been nitpicky you could say the only GS he has dominated has been AO,he won W in 2011 and it was another 3 years before he won it again,and hes actually lost 3 finals at the USO,and also in the semis last year to Nishkori,IMO and im not belittling the guy hes been more dominant in the Masters than he has at the GS,my two cents….


Hippy Chick Says:

Also what a player could win or is due to win isnt of any relavance unless it happens….


Ben Pronin Says:

I like what Daniel says. I don’t get who made up this “if I had to put all my marbles on one guy for one match…” thing. How does this preference determine who’s the greatest? Federer has been the most successful player of all time. The Nadal rivarly is the only thing that makes people question his claim to GOAThood. But that’s the thing. It’s not “Federer is not the GOAT because Nadal (or someone else) is the GOAT” but “Federer isn’t the GOAT because he loses to Nadal but Nadal’s not the GOAT either so we have no GOAT.” Federer is the GOAT until further notice. Accept it and move on.


Hippy Chick Says:

I thought this was an open forum,for fans to agree or disagree as they so wish,im not belittling Daniels post,some of it i agree with,and some of it i disagree with?….


courbon Says:

Wog Boy, you can have Monica-I’ll take Eva Mendes….


Hippy Chick Says:

Courbon im not letting the men have all the fun here,Mr Hugh Jackman is devine….


courbon Says:

Hugh is gay, darling…


courbon Says:

Ok, you can have Hugh…only this time.


Hippy Chick Says:

He has roots around the Norfolk area too….


chris ford1 Says:

No such thing as GOAT. All such talk is drivel.


courbon Says:

What you mean there is no goats?I just had goat cheese after dinner!I’m pretty sure it came from GOAT….


SG1 Says:

Ben Pronin Says:
I like what Daniel says. I don’t get who made up this “if I had to put all my marbles on one guy for one match…” thing.

——————-

Well Ben, I didn’t make it up but I do happen to like the concept.


kjb Says:

@SG1-(though I personally believe a prime Sampras would beat Federer on grass most of the time).

I will have to disagree with you here. If they played when Wimbledon played fast, Sampras would probably have an edge, but if they played on how the surface plays now, Fed would have a huge advantage. Not to mention Fed beat Sampras on a fast Wimby surface when he was just a young pup, and Sampras was 5 years younger then Fed is now and went on to win another slam.

All in all GOAT is useless to debate, with all the racket tech and surface changes that have happened over the years it impossible to compare, but to say Sampras would beat Fed most of the time is definetly up for debate.


RZ Says:

Somewhat related to this topic: Rafa says that Fed is one of the greatest players ever on clay. http://www.tennisworldusa.org/Rafael-Nadal-Roger-Federer-is-one-of-the-best-players-in-history-on-clay-articolo22987.html

Then Martina N. chimed in and said that Rafa is the clay GOAT and that Fed is second only to Rafa on clay (though she hedges on that a bit) http://www.tennisworldusa.org/Martina-Navratilova-After-Rafael-Nadal-Roger-Federer-the-GOAT-on-Clay-articolo23106.html


SG1 Says:

I dislike where Wimbledon has gone over the past 15 years or so. There was never any point to slowing down the courts and making the tennis so “democratic”. Grass court tennis used to be more about athleticism and aggression and less about hanging back. If you love players hanging back and pounding the ball silly than watch the French Open or even the Australian. There are already tournaments in place for this kind of tennis.

Grass should be a unique experience. Fast points, attacking the net, very few service breaks. Knife edge tennis with sets being won by the slimmest of margins.

If Wimbledon plays the it should (or at least as I think it should), I take Pete Sampras over pretty much anybody most of the time and I include Federer in that assessment. I think Sampras is the greatest fast court tennis player of all time.

And for it’s worth, the back end of Sampras’ years and Fed’s are essentially the same. Both have 7 Wimbledon titles. Both have 5 USO titles. Both have played in a combined 15 USO and Wimbledon finals.

There’s no doubt Federer would torch Pete on clay and there’s also no doubt that the front end of Fed’s years are much better than Pete’s but on fast grass, I’d take Pete over pretty much anyone.


Markus Says:

If Wimbledon plays the it should (or at least as I think it should), I take Roger Federer over pretty much anybody most of the time and I include Sampras in that assessment. I think Federer is the greatest fast court tennis player of all time.

There’s no doubt Federer would torch Pete on clay and there’s also no doubt that the front end of Fed’s years are much better than Pete’s and on fast grass, I’d take Roger over pretty much anyone.


mat4 Says:

@SG1, RZ:

I guess it is time to go to the site Heavytopspin and to read the articles about court convergence, about the number of aces, and to also remember that the balls have changed, and are now a little bit bigger.

Wimbledon isn’t slower than it was (a quick search will also allow you to find that WB is one of the fastest tournaments around). What they have done, is to improve the quality and the resistance of the grass. Nothing else, and nothing more. It allows the courts to be playable longer, with less false rebounds.

What is usually quoted is that famous ESPN comparison of Fed’s serve, but in the meantime balls are bigger by 8% == and that probably is the reason why they fly slower and rebound higher.

Then, you have the advance in string technology. Sampras used very fine natural guts that allowed him to put tremendous side spin in his serve, but now luxilon strings allows you to control such spin too. His second serve, served often at 140 kmh, that was once unreturnable would be a weakness today. Anyway, his downfall started precisely after Guga won Paris and luxilon became popular.

Most of the top players plays from the baseline because it is much more difficult to volley nowadays than it was 15, 20 years ago. Watch Fed volley in 2002 and in 2014 — last year, he had to make a lot of his volleys from below the height of the net, when, in 2002, the ball was usually flying high enough for an easy put down.

But it is still possible to go to the net, when, like him, you have a great transition game. In 1995, you didn’t need any transition game. You just rushed, knowing that the ball will return high most of the time. Today, the same ball will be with a lot of spin, very angled, falling right at your feet. It is not a question of slow, converging courts — here too, stats shows that we can’t conclude that there is any convergence at all, and the game is much faster that it was, with FH flying in average at 120 kmh — but of improved racquet and string technology and overall technique of the players themselves.

So, enough with common places and misconceptions.


mat4 Says:

@RZ:

Take Rafa out of the picture and Fed would have probably won 5 RG. Without those five loses to Rafa at RG, he would have a winning ratio there of 85%, and would be second on the list (I don’t count Borg, who has retired at 26).

In the global picture, Fed is no 10 with a winning ratio of 78%, but here, we have to take in account that he has won 63% of his tournaments in major tournaments, and on clay especially, he has played almost exclusively major tournaments. There was no ducking, playing second tier tournaments, the way clay specialists did in the 70s and the 80s.

So, yes, Federer is a great clay player.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Mat, I have to question this, as there were clear directions for Wimbledon in the end of the 90′s and early aughts to slow down the courts. It was constantly talked about. Whether it was done through balls or grass, I don’t know, but it was a conscious public decision. As well, regarding the strings, its not the hight so much as the placement. Rafa is one of the “highest ball” players on tour, but he’s been very successful against Rog at the net because his precision is incredible.

SG1, I also have to disagree. Its true that Wimbledon is “too slow” now in that there is SO LITTLE net play compared with the old days- but by old days I mean ’80s, because by the ’90′s the servers were so strong that there was no play of ANY kind at Wimbledon. Goran vs Pete were the most boring championship matches imaginable. Pure serving contests.

I guess I’m just in a disagreeable mood!


mat4 Says:

@Daniel:

Good post, as usual. Enjoy reading them, even when I disagree.


mat4 Says:

@Courbon:

I am so disappointed by your choice. Both my wife and my girlfriend look better than Eva Mendez…


chris ford1 Says:

Navratilova will have to reconsider Roger as the 2nd best on clay in a couple years.
There is another great clay player in this era. The one Rafa calls “his biggest nightmare”, the only one to concern Uncle Toni. The only one to beat Rafa at the 3 clay Masters, and who was a net touch away at RG in 2013.


mat4 Says:

@TV:

“As well, regarding the strings, its not the hight so much as the placement. Rafa is one of the “highest ball” players on tour, but he’s been very successful against Rog at the net because his precision is incredible.”

Here we don’t disagree, like I wrote a bit further in my post. The control of the ball is so much better now, that you can retrieve balls from impossible positions, you can direct them where you want, and you usually put a lot of spin on it, so they fall abruptly. An example was a Novak CC passing shot from the BH in the last WB final: he was able to play a very sliced ball, rebounding about 20 cm, the angle was incredible, and the ball fell 1,5 m behind the net. In general, the control of the ball is much better.

About the slowing down of the courts: first, the people taking care of the courts in WB maintain that those courts didn’t change for 13 years already. You can look for some stats here:

http://heavytopspin.com/2013/11/19/the-speed-of-every-2013-surface/

This is also an interesting article, based on stats:

http://heavytopspin.com/2013/04/08/the-mirage-of-surface-speed-convergence/


mat4 Says:

@TV:

I had to cut in half my answer because of the links.

Rafa plays high when he wants, but when he plays his passing shots he keep them very low, because he controls the ball so well. You just didn’t have that kind of control with natural guts.

Just compare Agassi’s returns with Novak’s. Also compare Andre’s returns in 1994 and in, let’s say, 2001. There’s a world apart, just because the racquet technology has made a major shift.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Mat, quick question, when you say “for 13 years” what period are you referring to?


mat4 Says:

Unfortunately, there are stats that could answer all of those questions but that I can’t find:

- the average speed of the FH and the BH by decade; the overall speed of the shots;

- the avg distance run by players by set by decade;

We write all the time about the courts being slower, but in fact the game is much faster now. Just compare visually the RG finals in 1978, 1988 and 2014. It’s a completely different sport.


mat4 Says:

@TV:

“Mat, quick question, when you say “for 13 years” what period are you referring to?”

Give me a few minutes to find the link. It was an interesting article.


Okiegal Says:

@mat4…….Don’t Rafa out of anything…..especially the “picture”!! Lol :)


Okiegal Says:

^^^Oops……”Don’t take Rafa out of anything…..
should say….


mat4 Says:

@Okie:

You know that I have to hit Rafa under the belt once a day, otherwise I feel frustrated…

;-)


jane Says:

rz, the fact that article says “peeked” on clay instead of “peaked” rather makes me inclined to ignore it altogether. ;)


jane Says:

mat4, sad piano music? this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JzYr1T-OoQ
it’s sunny today, but the cherry blossoms are falling.


Okiegal Says:

Chick….I didn’t know who Monica was either. I googled her and as you said, she is a
very pretty lady……so is Eva Mendez. The guys on here have good taste in women………

I will say for the umpteenth time, no GOAT debate from me. There’s just too many ifs, ands, and buts to add to the argument! I thought Sampras was pretty awesome in his day and Connors too! Different eras….10, 20, 30, years from now…..we can’t see what the future holds and what greatness awaits us.


Okiegal Says:

@mat4……Yeah, I understand, that h2h is what’s frustrating…..huh? Lol. ;)


skeezer Says:

@mat4
Excellent link @ 10:32. Such a great read.
Problem is, the uneducated will not read it. They will just say Vamoose.


skeezer Says:

mat4,
Re;9:51 post
You did not mention the change in the bounce @WB, not speed/slowness. This has definetly changed with the re-doing of Wimby. The old surface traditional bounced very low, which is mis understood as “faster”.


courbon Says:

Mat 4-When can I come for a dinner, please?


Daniel Says:

Didn’t Wimbledon did something different with the foundation, below grass, which slowed the courts? I remember we had this discussion before and people posted the links.

But I agree that racquet technology and strings plus different balls affected the most.

I remember when I changed my strings and the return were awesome, basically every ball I could get my racket in made the soft curve up just enough to pass the net and you just don’t need to generate power as before. Wimbledon is still fast, but not as it used to be, that is cristal clear.

What mat4 said about volleys is spot on as well. Old days they hardly ever did a low volley and when they did we were all in awe because how difficult it was, a short low volley, sublime. Nowadays they are hitting low volleys all the time and the angles and control of passing shots are insane.

But players adapt and the use whatever technology is available at the time. Sampras was the greatest of his era (90′-2002) in those conditions, as Federer is the Greatest (so far) of this last 13 years (03′-15′) with current conditions.

We can virtually compare how would they fare, just how they did against the filed they were playing against, where everybody has the same conditions and technology. Only intangibles are age gaps as some peaked in different paths inside a same “generation” or era. Unless we break it down by generation and compassion within age variations of +2 or -2 years. Compare Fed with Nadal with 5+ years is never going to be fair, as Fed with Djoko. n the end, Fed could finish his career with losing records to Djoko and Nadal (almost sure) and even Murray, but that won’t diminish his resume because he will have played top tennis for more than 13 years, with changing fields and several generations.


Daniel Says:

We can’t virtually compare…


mat4 Says:

@Skeezer, Daniel:

The height of the rebound and how the rye affected the ground below is detailed in the third article (the best of the three), at 10.42. I thought I mentioned it, but anyway, it was in the links.

Let’s not forget that the balls rebound higher too.

Of course, most of the posters won’t read the stats, the analyses, but continue with the same old stories.

I understand the difficulties of the organizers to find the balance between speed, rebound, durability of grass… to obtain the kind of tennis they want. IMHO, with natural guts, we would have today a kind of tennis similar to the one played in the 80s, a bit faster, with much more volleying. But I guess it is too late to change the rules. Nobody predicted what could happen with the synthetic strings: pundits saw a way of increase durability, nobody thought it would change completely the very shots.

@jane:

Why don’t you listen classical piano? It helps, you know. Try Clara Haskil and Dinu Lipatti. They are so tender.

A link for you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-g2X8NVVK4

It won’t make you feel better — quite the contrary. But it is a beautiful song nonetheless.


jane Says:

i love tom waits mat4; one of my favourite live concerts! thanks. i meant to send you think like last time, for some reason it didn’t come through right.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_UDzUeb7qQ


jane Says:

*this link* (not think like) – sheesh, can’t type.
anyhow, i should leave this space for goat & grass talk.


mat4 Says:

@Chick, Okie:

In the middle 70s, a reform of education started in Europe, something that destroyed the conception of l’uomo universale, something that was in the heart of the education system for centuries.

It was a concerted plan, of course, and one of the great idea of the Tavistock institute to increase population control: destroy the family cell, destroy education, destroy religion…

When I first went to Eastern Europe, I was in awe how educated the population was. Everybody knew who Anna Magnani was (not to mention Gina Lollobrigida), you could converse about Bertolucci’s films, everybody watched John’s Ford classics… My students read Freud, Jung, Hesse, Tolstoi, Dostoîevski, but also Shakespeare, William Blake, Bayron, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Aragon.,, Miguel de Unamuno… Cervantes… Hemingway…

The English speaking world shows, unfortunately, a deep ignorance of the culture and history of other nations. I was shocked when I watched “300″ and “Troy” by the historical inaccuracy of the films. Unfortunately, in my own country, good education is now reserved to the rich people too. It makes me feel very sad.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

And a bit of poetry…

And Thomas de Quincey drinking
Opiate poison sweet and chaste
Of his poor Anne went dreaming
We pass we pass since all must pass
Often I’ll be returning

Memories are hunting horns alas
whose note along the wind is dying


mat4 Says:

I have and almond tree in my garden, and my walnut in front of the house. The almond blossomed last week, but my walnut is old now, and I am afraid his end is near.

When my father died, his fig died the previous winter.

O’Halloran is depressive.


jane Says:

thanks mat4. apollinaire. and what about de quincey, and his suspira, etc… crazy. An almond tree? That sounds amazing.


mat4 Says:

With Apollinaire, the rhythme is everything, and the meaning is sometimes difficult to understand, even when we have the references.

I found some English translations.

http://www.pierdelune.com/apollin1.htm

Here are some verses that goes with the music you sent me, but in French, since the translation is son… unpoetic.

J’ai hiverné dans mon passé
Revienne le soleil de Pâques
Pour chauffer un coeur plus glacé
Que les quarante de Sébaste
Moins que ma vie martyrisés

Mon beau navire ô ma mémoire
Avons-nous assez navigué
Dans une onde mauvaise à boire
Avons-nous assez divagué
De la belle aube au triste soir

Voie lactée ô soeur lumineuse
Des blancs ruisseaux de Chanaan
Et des corps blancs des amoureuses
Nageurs morts suivrons-nous d’ahan
Ton cours vers d’autres nébuleuses

Juin ton soleil ardente lyre
Brûle mes doigts endoloris
Triste et mélodieux délire
J’erre à travers mon beau Paris
Sans avoir le coeur d’y mourir

Les dimanches s’y éternisent
Et les orgues de Barbarie
Y sanglotent dans les cours grises
Les fleurs aux balcons de Paris
Penchent comme la tour de Pise

Moi qui sais des lais pour les reines
Les complaintes de mes années
Des hymnes d’esclave aux murènes
La romance du mal aimé
Et des chansons pour les sirènes


mat4 Says:

Why moderation now? It’s just French poetry!


Okiegal Says:

@mat4 March 26 @ 6:59 AM

When I first glanced at this post I thought you said you liked Giles very much….I think to myself this cant be right. Sure enough…Gilels. It was an honest mistake…. LOL


Okiegal Says:

@mat4

What do you teach? You mentioned your students.
English literature maybe?? I flunked that course in college….too busy with basketball. I was a PE major, but hated college, quit and got a job at our county courthouse and got into politics instead!! I was quite the politician…won an election unopposed….and that turned out to be my career.


Hippy Chick Says:

Mat4 @2.18am March 27th your post made me cry….


mat4 Says:

@Okiegal:

I started as a “lector” of French (it is title that doesn’t exist in western Europe) in the middle eighties, and I worked in different eastern European countries. I worked for the Alliance a few years, too. I still live in eastern Europe, where I married.

My field is history of French language and comparative grammar in general.


Ben Pronin Says:

SG1, I don’t dislike the concept, it’s fun to discuss, but I don’t think it’s the best way to determine who the GOAT is. Honestly I’d take Sampras in a do-or-die match. His mental tenacity is up there with Nadal but he has that nearly unstoppable serve and no matter what, the serve is the most important shot in tennis. But Nadal would be my second pick easily.

I also agree that Sampras was the best fast court player ever. Ever. Not just on grass, but indoor hard and the long gone but not forgotten carpet. Speaking of surface changes, why did they get rid of carpet? Too much variety, ATP?

Where’s MMT when you need him? He made one of the best points regarding determining the GOAT. Tennis is all about the last man standing. Every single tournament from the 12 and unders to the slams. It’s not “oh well this guy played so well so maybe he was the best one in the tournament”. No, it’s about who won the event. He’s the best. So with Federer having won so much and so many of the biggest events more than anyone else in history, how can he not be the GOAT? As of right now, he’s the last man standing. Nadal is definitely close. And maybe he’ll end up surpassing Federer. And if he does then we can say he’s the GOAT. It’s not about who’s your favorite or who plays the most appealing tennis, it’s about who’s won the most. And before people say “well Nadal won more Masters and the Olympics”, well. Federer has more WTFs and more slams. And slams carry more weight than all the other events. So he’s the GOAT until further notice.


mat4 Says:

@Okiegal:

Indeed, it was Gilels, not Giles… :-)

But I’ve got nothing against Giles. I believe he’s young, so it makes him write the way he does. Brando too. I have to admit that while I didn’t care much about his offensive posts, Brando’s apologies touched me, and I usually avoid to write about Rafa the way I did a few times, because of Alison, you and Brando now.

It is not worth it: I spend a pleasant time here -= I work a lot on my computer now, so it is a way to keep in touch with people while I work — and I made a few ethereal friendship here. It is much more important. And we all love tennis.


Hippy Chick Says:

Mat4 nothing wrong with it but i think Monicas had surgery,where as Eva hasnt so shes all natural,anyway Okies right in that the tennis-x male posters have great taste,as both are beautiful women anyway,Mr Hippy was always a fan of Shirley Mclaine in her younger days,gorgeous legs and an elfin look about her he would say,BTW i liked how you called me Chick ;)….


mat4 Says:

@Ben:

It is so difficult to compare. Pete was my favourite player in the days too — not that I like his game, but he was a handsome young man (La Rochefoucauld… nothing has changed since then), and I liked his behaviour — but when you watch now his running forehand, an exceptional shot, even Berlocq plays it better nowadays (joking a bit, of course). The game has evolved too much.

Then, Pete showed an inability to adapt — although the game was changing rapidly in the second part of the 90s — he never changed his racquet, his strings, and while his game evolved (he went ever more to the net at the end of his career, chipping his returns), he sunk in the rankings because of this. Agassi, Federer, and in general players with a more complete game, showed an aptitude to evolve and grow with the game, and this, too, is a quality to take in account.

And his serve… Would it be so efficient now when the returners have much more comfortable racquets and control the ball more efficiently?

Numbers is all we have, unfortunately.


Markus Says:

It would have been nice and sort of conclusive to determine who is better between Federer and Sampras had they played against each other on their best surface during the time when both were playing competitively. That would have resolved that question as to who would win had they played each other.


mat4 Says:

What makes Federer the SHEEP (since there can’t be a GOAT), IMHO, is the folowing:

- big titles won: he won 46 major tournaments, where all the field was present; a stunning 55% of all his titles;

- longevity, adaptability and work intelligence: he reshaped his game twice, with the changes of racquet technology, surfaces, and with age; he improved a lot of his shots and worked on his weaknesses;

- universality: he was excellent on all surfaces, clay, grass, carpet, hard, indoor, outdoor, slow conditions, fast conditions…

- quality of opposition: he won his titles obliterating in the process Roddick, Safin, Hewitt, Nalbandian, and playing against Nadal and Djokovic when both were in their prime. While his successes against his own generation distorted our perception of those players, Rafa and Novak will probably both be top 5 players in the Open era.


mat4 Says:

@Markus:

Which racquet and strings would they use? On which surface? With the difference in technology, Federer at 33 would have won all the matches except perhaps the one on old grass at WB.


Ben Pronin Says:

Sampras’s serve wasn’t simply big. He’s not an Isner or a Karlovic. Better yet, he’s not a Roddick. Roddick had a bomb for a serve. Yet Federer had no problem defusing those bombs for a decade. A while back when Federer and Sampras played the exos, although they were exos, Sampras was able to hold his own for the most part. Sampras didn’t just have a bomb, he could put that serve anywhere he wanted. With today’s technology, Sampras would have the MPHs and even better placement.

Berloq doesn’t hit better running forehands. The champions of the past would be champions in any era.


Markus Says:

Exhibitions don’t mean anything.


mat4 Says:

@Ben:

Sampras sliced serve rotated at 3500 rmn. It was exceptional for those days. I wrote that he used very fine natural guts, stringed loosely to get more spin. I knew this. Recently, I rewatched a few matches against Agassi to see the effects of his second serve — although hit sometimes at 135, 140 kmh, the returns flew wildly from his racquet.

No, there is no way to know if champions of the past would have been champions today. We could perhaps compare the players playing in the 90s, but not before that. How could we assert that Connors (my favourite player) would have been a champion today? He had no big serve, his FH was a liability for most of his career, and his net game unnatural. He was a fighter, yes, but he lost tamely to Borg so many times — was he a bigger fighter than Rafa, or Novak?

But then, since it was relatively recent, there is no doubt for me that Agassi in his prime, a champion who has won 8 slams, a golden career slam, wouldn’t be able to beat Rafa and Novak 2, or Federer, EVER, in a row in a GS. He said it himself.

So, here, we can just utter an opinion, based on wishful thinking. There is really no way to know with confidence.


Markus Says:

@mat4: You are so knowledgeable. I love reading your arguments because you always support them with facts. They’re more scientific than mere conjectures. I learn from you which I am grateful for.

Even your poems are nice. Now I have to raad more by Apollinaire from the link you provided.

Thanks!


mat4 Says:

SteveG’s opinion:

http://www.stevegtennis.com/top-10-greatest-tennis-players-of-all-time-2/

Rod Laver made two lists, a few years ago:

http://www.news.com.au/sport/tennis/photos-fndkzym4-1226535202277?page=1

As you can see, opinions differ. I guess that Laver’s approach was the most natural.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Mat, apologies for not following up on your posts, especially with the efforts to find all those links. I’m just too busy with work right now (just launched book, The Flood by David Sachs on Amazon!) but looking forward to continued kibitzing.


mat4 Says:

@Markus:

Thank you, you just made me feel so joyful.

But, no, there are a lot of posters here who know much more than I do.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

And one match FOR MY LIFE? Depends on surface of course!
Pete on grass
Rafa on clay
RF hardcourts or indoors

Seconds would be Fed on grass, Borg on clay (duh), Connors or Novak on hard, Pete or Boris indoors.


Ben Pronin Says:

It’s complicated and yet every single one of those lists has Federer at number 1. Why is that not enough to admit he’s the GOAT?


mat4 Says:

@TV:

Don’t worry about it, it’s ok. And I know about your book. Although I can’t buy it from where I am, I’ll find a way this summer, in France, just to have the pleasure to read it.


RZ Says:

@jane – maybe he did peek. :-) Actually, there’s so much junk out there on blogs that I’m okay with a spelling error here or there. There was one yesterday that said something like “Nadal is finally taking Wimbledon seriously” in response to his decision to play Queens again. Obviously I can’t speak for Rafa, but I would guess that he’d be offended at the notion that he wasn’t taking Wimbledon seriously the last few years. And the officials at the Halle tournament should be offended by the notion that playing there is not considered serious prep for Wimbledon. The guy who wrote that had so many ridiculous blogs that I didn’t bother commenting.


mat4 Says:

@Ben:

I don’t know. I recapitulated at 9.29 why I think he is — but, as usual, the one that don’t think so never answer to those kind of argumented posts.


mat4 Says:

@Alison:

Sorry for “Chick”, I am not always sure in what context you can use some words.

Monica Belucci is all natural. On my list of most beautiful actress of all times, you have, in no particular order:

– Susan Hayward, in the Snows of Kilimanjaro,

– Ava Gardner, in The Sun also Rises,

– Rachel Ward, in The Thorn Birds,

– Monica Belucci, in any film,

– Irene Pappas, in Zorba the Greek

– Ashly Judd in Eye of the Beholder,

– Isabelle Adjani in Mortelle randonnée (the same film)

– Gina Lollobrigida in La Romana,

– Francesca Dellera in La Romana,

– Danielle Darrieux in any film

– Sophia Loren in many films.


Okiegal Says:

@mat4……Pleasant post @ 8:41……Thanks!


Okiegal Says:

^^^^ Sophia Loren…..a bona fide beauty!! Liz Taylor in “A Place in the Sun” didn’t make the list….maybe not the best actress, but a gorgeous woman.


mat4 Says:

^^ Indeed she was, a beautiful face, with big, expressive eyes.

But there are so many beautiful women, and beauty is such a complicated thing. Emotions too. But, what would life be without emotions, and beauty?


NK Says:

Surprising that the GOAT discussion does not explore how the champions would have fared in previous eras — 70s-mid 90s (wooden rackets, faster courts) versus today’s era (slow courts, high boucing balls, lightweight rackets whose potential for power and spin is unrivalled), etc.

We already know that when you look at the numbers, in terms of sheer consistency and longevity — GS titles, consecutive GS finals, SFs and QFs, WTF titles, number of weeks as #1, etc. — it is hard to argue against RF as GOAT.No one even comes close.

But then, when you look compare different eras. RF comes on top again. Honestly, I have a hard time believing Nadal would have won a single non-clay slam on grass and hard courts in Sampras’ era or when they played with wooden rackets. But Federer…he would have been just as great a champion in any era. The conditions are tailor-made in today’s generation for Nadal, and he has made the most of it. Federer is the only one I can think of who would have excelled in past eras as well.


Okiegal Says:

@mat4……You are definitely a romantic! That’s a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say! :)


Okiegal Says:

Why do these threads always end up with which GOAT floats your boat?? :)


Giles Says:

NK is obviously a fed fanatic!! Nothing more to say! Geez!


Ben Pronin Says:

NK, I agree about Federer. His talent and style of play would have translated pretty seamlessly to any era.

But with Nadal, it’s tricky. I really do believe that champions of any era would be champions in any other era. Nadal is unquestionably one of the 5 greatest players of all time. Probably top 3, and maybe even second. Hell, some people think he’s first. So it’s hard for me to think that he wouldn’t have been successful even with a wooden racquet.

At the same time, he’s clearly a product of the current generation and technology. The way he plays, the way he hits the ball, he encompasses today’s technology more than anyone else. But his ability to adapt is remarkable. He wasn’t half the player he is today when he started. No one thought he’d win Wimbledon, or any slam outside of the French at all. But he worked hard and made the necessary changes that allowed him to excel on all other surfaces. In short, he’s a complete all court player. Maybe he wouldn’t have 14 slams, but he’d still be one of the greats in another era.


brando Says:

@Ben Pronin: An excellent, well measured and intelligent post Ben. Well done and good read!


Okiegal Says:

@Ben 2:58

Good post! :)


brando Says:

‘re Pete’s comments: he’s just stating the obvious here. Fed’s numbers are public record and right now no one comes close to them. So unless that happens in some meaningful way there isn’t even a single seed in the ground to initiate a debate. I think it’s brazenly obvious that Fed is 1 and then it’s a toss up/ debate about 2,3,4 and 5 between the only sole contenders: Pistol, Bull, Iceman and the wizard of oz. That’s about all there is to it at the moment.


brando Says:

@Okiegal: lmfao okie, talk about great minds thinking alike at the same time!


Okiegal Says:

@NK…..You don’t have a clue what Rafa would or could do with a wooden racquet……There were awesome players in that era too…..The Rafa of today would have been the same Rafa 30 years ago…a natural born athletic fighter……imho!


NK Says:

Ben, your comments are well taken. I agree Nadal has made remarkable adjustments to his game and I commend him for it. I also agree some champions are made and some are born. Nadal belongs to the former category, which does not make him less of a champion, but you’ll agree conditions have to be just right for Nadal to execute his game. Take Madrid blue clay of a couple of years ago. Just that one change and he lost early while Federer won the title. How many times have we seen Nadal disappear in the second half of the year? In my book if you are GOAT you should be consistent throughtout the year and not just excel when the
“conditions are right.”
Giles, I am not a fed fanatic nor a Nadal hater. I just look at the GOAT debate differently than you do.


NK Says:

Okiegal, You are right, I have no clue what Nadal could do with a wooden racquet. I am just speculating as you are. But based on what I know of his game, he generates the kind of spin that is unheard of, the kind of spin that is unplayable. I have a hard time believing he would be able to generate that kind of spin with the wooden racquet of bygone years. Again, I am speculating, but the GOAT discussion cannot be just based on GS titles. You have to speculate on how each champion would have fared in previous eras and I am using what I believe is an objective measure.


Okiegal Says:

@NK…..Likewise, in my book if you are GOAT you should be consistent throughout your career beating your biggest rival consistently and not just occasionally. I really didn’t want to argue that again, but the devil made me do it! I mean, it works both ways. I’ve said this before, Federer is probably better than everyone else, just not Rafa!

(Sending…..here we go) :)


Okiegal Says:

@NK…..Oops slow again…..I probably wouldn’t have sent the post 4:01, had I read this one of yours first…sorry. It’s all speculation……no one really knows for sure. I’ll leave it at that. Have a good day!


Okiegal Says:

@Brando…….Me with a great mind?? Well, some would take issue with for sure! But yeah, we do think alike on lots of issues……especially our fav!!


mat4 Says:

About how modern tennis players would do with wooden racquets:

http://www.liberation.fr/actualite/2007/06/22/tennis-des-joueurs-d-aujourd-hui-testent-les-raquettes-d-autrefois_13496

It’s in French, but there is probably an article about this experiment in USA Today.


mat4 Says:

Here is the original article in English:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/2007-06-20-raquet-tech_n.htm

With comments by Djokovic, Ginepri, Hingis, Robredo…


mat4 Says:

This article is very interesting too:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/2007-06-21-racket-sidebar_N.htm

You had the link in the first article, but just to notice.


NK Says:

“I’ve said this before, Federer is probably better than everyone else, just not Rafa!”

Based on current H-H, you might say that, but tennis is an individual one-on-one sport and match-ups matter. Federer matches up so well against Dkokovic but not Nadal…something about the left-handed high-spin high-bouncing stroke against Fed’s one-handed backhand.

Then again, while we are speculating, I might say that if during 2004-2007, Nadal had entered as many hard court and grass court (and WTF) finals as Fed did, the H-H might have been different. Speculation, of course, but each of us tends to look at things based on our biases, right!


Okiegal Says:

@NK…..Right! I think Novak is the best ATM….how about that??


NK Says:

No arguments there.


SG1 Says:

Markus Says:
If Wimbledon plays the it should (or at least as I think it should), I take Roger Federer over pretty much anybody most of the time and I include Sampras in that assessment. I think Federer is the greatest fast court tennis player of all time.

There’s no doubt Federer would torch Pete on clay and there’s also no doubt that the front end of Fed’s years are much better than Pete’s and on fast grass, I’d take Roger over pretty much anyone.

———————-

Just wanted to congratulate you on your lack of creativity and ability to cherry pick what suits your argument. Good job.


Hippy Chick Says:

Fantastic post from Ben @2.58pm….


Jada Says:

If you don’t look at the numbers, Roger Federer’s the greatest we’ve ever seen


Jada Says:

Oh quit projecting Sampras, you big baby. Heaping those insecurities on the GOAT. He keeps likening Federer to himself. There’s no comparison. Federer is just better. He’s simply the best.
That’s all.


mat4 Says:

@hippy:

No, it isn’t a fantastic post. It is a fair post, but there isn’t much to corroborate his assessment that Rafa would haven been a great champion in the past.

First, we have to decide: what past, which period?

In the period that started about 1990, he probably would have been an excellent clay specialist. The courts were faster, and he doesn’t serve particularly well. His peculiar game would be impossible to play with natural guts, so the rebound would be less. Since the control of the ball was more difficult, he wouldn’t be able to defend the way he does, nor to pass players at the net so often. His forehand, played with a lot of top spin, would be much easier to defend, because he wouldn’t be able to hit it so hard. I see him as a kind of Thomas Muster of that period.

Let’s go further in the past. I gave the links to two articles about what modern players think of wooden racquets and technological changes. As usual, nobody read them. But the few that did, noticed that with such a racquet, Rafa’s game would only translate on clay, and would look a bit like Borg’s. The weakness of his backhand would be made more obvious by a racquet that isn’t forgiving, his ineptitude to learn to play a slice, his lack of real net game, all of this would be liabilities. He would have even more difficulties to defend, to make all those gets he is able to make, and, on hard and grass, he would remain very vulnerable to serve and volley and flat shots. He would play a kind of game similar to Vilas’.

Could he overcome all these problems and still become a great champion? Perhaps, perhaps not. We just can’t know. But he certainly couldn’t play in any way similar to what he does now. It would have to be a completely different Rafa.


SG1 Says:

mat4…rafa doesn’t have a net game? You sure about that? His net game has looked really good to me for years. Federer is clearly the best volleyer now, but before Federer and Edberg started working together, I thought Rafa was the best volleyer on tour.

Rafa’s game would have evolved differently with different technology but to me, this is irrelevant. Rafa doesn’t beat you with his strings or his tennis racket anymore than else does. He beats people with his mentality. That mentality would translate into any era. Connors won 8 slams and he, in my mind anyway, is Rafa’s historical counterpart. Connors, despite having a game that on paper looked inferior to his contemporaries, essentially willed himself to victory. Rafa, with a mind I think believe surpasses Jimmy’s, would carve out a double digit slam total in almost any era he played in.


mat4 Says:

Imagine Thomas Muster playing now, with luxilon strings. His FH was devastating in the time, and would be even more devastating now. His backhand was better than Rafa’s, a bit like Wawa’s. He was also a physical beast. Make some hypothesis. Or not.


Hippy Chick Says:

Mat4 lol ive gone from Alison to Chick to Hippy,anyway ok fair enough its a fair post then,the rest is pure speculation,i just enjoyed the way Ben gave Rafa such alot of credit in his post….


SG1 Says:

mat4 Says:
Imagine Thomas Muster playing now, with luxilon strings. His FH was devastating in the time, and would be even more devastating now. His backhand was better than Rafa’s, a bit like Wawa’s. He was also a physical beast. Make some hypothesis. Or not.

——————

Agreed. He would be a beast of a player with Luxilon and today’s tech. Sans knee injury, I think Muster gets two or three more FO’s. Maybe even another slam on another surface. Have to love any player with the nickname “The Red Clay Menace”. He only won one FO, but I think he’s one of the best ever on red dirt. A ruthless competitor with a really wicked set of groundstrokes. His backhand was not better than Wawa’s though. I think Wawa’s backhand may be the best ever. Maybe in a tie with Justin Henin.


Hippy Chick Says:

I m not as clever and knowledgeable about the game of tennis in this year or any other year,in fact my knowledge is very basic,so i wouldnt know where to start when it comes to comparing one era with another or different strings etc,i only enjoyed Bens post for what it was,and that was because he gave Rafa alot of credit for been an all court and all time great player,which is something so rare on this forum,especially the all court bit anyway?….


SG1 Says:

Ben…agree with your post at 2:35. As I think I’ve said many times before, Fed is the GOAT in my eyes. I’ll change that opinion if Rafa wins one more major (no matter which one it is). It’s my arbitrary opinion that 15 slams makes Rafa the GOAT but I just don’t like the lack of resistance Roger had in winning his first 7 majors. Roger’s
winning % in slams has dramatically fallen as the competition of the era ramped up. 7-0 in his first 7 slams, 10-8 in his last eighteen. Like it or not, there is something to be said for the weak era argument at the front of Fed’s career.

One other thing. Fed’s 5 set record, while not bad (23-19), it isn’t what you’d expect of a GOAT. His skill set should give him the edge in almost any situation but it seems that in crunch time, his mind has let him down more than it should.


mat4 Says:

SG1:

I am sorry, but there is nothing that can prove or disprove you. Your assessment is not falsifiable in any way.

What do you know about Edberg’s winning mentality? It’s not because Connors acted like a maverick on the court that he had a tougher mentality than Edberg. Borg was without any doubt tougher than Jimmy, and he never showed anything of his feelings on the court. Becker was probably a tougher player too.

About Rafa’s net game: please stop with this myth. How many times does Rafa go to the net by match? He has a great overhead, yes, but we know very little about his volleying. There is 72 Rafa’s matches described here

http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/meta.html

and you will see that he makes just a few net approaches by match. So, almost nothing about his transition game. Then, just watch a selection of his best volleys, and you will notice that he just defends at the net. I have never seen him (sorry, I saw him once) hit a deep attacking volley. And the day he will chip and charge…

“Rafa’s game would have evolved differently with different technology”

How do you know it? Borg played a similar game — except that he served and volleyed at WB. If we search for similarities, he would have probably played the way Spanish and Argentinian players of that time played. Manolo Santana was a different kind of player, and Manuel Orantes won the USO on clay. Rafa, most probably, would have been a clay specialist.

But, of course, just like you, I can’t prove it.


mat4 Says:

Finally, it’s nice to be nice toward Rafa, but the truth is that the conditions and technology in contemporary tennis suits him quite well.

The rebound is higher, due to strings and surfaces, and he is a lefty. Defence has improved, also due to new technology. It all suits very well to the Spanish tennis school.

Rafa, with his peculiar, unique technique, is a product of his time. There is no way to assert that he would have been as good as he is in an other tennis era.

SG1:

Don’t forget that you couldn’t put so much spin in a singlehander, so you had to hit it with more measure. Muster’s BH was a great weapon, but it is not easy to compare it with Wawa’s, who plays with a more advanced racquet and better strings.


mat4 Says:

The H2H means nothing. I explain why above, but nobody reads it, as usual. Since 2011, Rafa has a losing H2H against Novak. Does it make Novak the better player? Imagine Novak ducking Rafa on clay, or simply not making all those finals, the H2H would be 8-2 for Novak. So, if Novak wins two more slams, I will consider him the GOAT.

If Novak wins the AO, the USO, WB, and four masters on hard without playing against Rafa, but loses to Rafa in MC and RG, will it make Rafa the better player?

The H2H between Rafa and Fed is 13-2 on clay in Rafa’s favour; 6-2 in Rafa’s favour since Fed is in his thirties. Doesn’t this distort a bit the stats, especially since we know that Rafa was a precocious player?

Just go on the wiki tennis record pages, and everything will be clear…


NK Says:

SG1: “I’ll change that opinion if Rafa wins one more major (no matter which one it is).”

Again, everyone is looking only at the number of GS titles. There is much more to the GOAT debate than just that. Unrivalled consistency, longevity, winning on all surfaces, etc. This is where Fed triumphs.

Take out Rafa, and you would arguably have Federer with possibly 5 FO, 7 Wimby, 5 USO and 4 AO titles. That’s 21 GS titles.

Take out Fed, and you would have Nadal with possibly 4 Wimby, 9 FO, 2 AO and 1 USO — 16.

Take out Wimbledon, Fed has 8 GS titles on three surfaces. Take out FO, Nadal has 5 GS titles on three surfaces.

Fed has defended every GS except FO multiple times. Outside of the FO which Nadal has defended multiple times, he has not defended a single other GS title even once. Nada. Zilch.

You say Fed’s five-set record is not what you’d expect from a GOAT. Remember, Fed’s 5-set losses have come more in the last three years, when he was past 30. More critical for me is the fact that Nadal has never ever defended a grand slam title outside of clay. Not what I would expect from a GOAT candidate.

Point is, there is more to the GOAT debate than GS titles. Consistency, longevity, consectuive streaks in terms of final, SF and QF appearances in grand slams, number of weeks at number one, and just as importantly, the perceived ability of a champion to transcend eras. As mat4 points out, technology and conditions are important. Nadal is clearly a product of the current generation. Big credit to him for capitalizing on it. By the same token, his GS record would have been (speculation) much less stellar in previous eras.


mat4 Says:

@Alison:

I am sorry — I don’t know if to write “Chick” is indecent or not. My grasp over English in not that good. I guess Hippy is OK, but I don’t know about Chick. Choose a name and I shall stick to it, the one you prefer.

Ben was very nice in that post. But it is very difficult to know how players whose game is adapted to the current conditions would fare in the past. They’d probably be good, but would they be as good as they are now?

Basically, there are two kind of players in the history of the open era: those whose game was the “complete package”, like Wilander, or Becker, or Borg, and those whose game was tailored to the conditions when they started.

Compare Connors and Lendl. In the era of wooden racquets, Connors was clearly the better player. He had a better backhand, and was steadier. But when the shift to graphite racquets occurred, suddenly Lendl was better: he could use his power, being 188 cm tall, much more effectively. Graphite racquets with bigger head were more forgiving, and his backhand improved (he almost always sliced at his beginnings).

The same happend to JMac. His touch, his precision, all of this was relegated to the second plan when he came back to tennis: everyone used graphite racquet (Mecir excepted), and had much more power. JMac just couldn’t adapt.

Pete Sampras couldn’t adapt to the new era of luxilon strings, while it helped Agassi.

So, it is very, very difficult to make any valuable conclusion.


NK Says:

One last point: Fed has 6 WTF titles, where the best of the best compete every December. He has been finalist five other times. Nadal has zero titles and has been a finalist twice. Again, not what I would expect of a GOAT candidate.


mat4 Says:

@NK:

You summed it up. I did it too at 9.29. Peine perdue!


SG1 Says:

SG1:

I am sorry, but there is nothing that can prove or disprove you. Your assessment is not falsifiable in any way.

—————-

Obviously. I just happen to think Rafa’s getting the short end of the stick here. Sampras too.

As for those who say Rafa does not have any WTF titles, I say…WHO CARES! I’m a huge Sampras fan and I can’t tell you how many Masters 1000 tournaments or WTF titles he has. In 30 years from now, no one will care how many WTF’s Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have. When they’re 50 or 60 years old and playing some exho somewhere, they’ll be introduced as the winners of “X” number of major championships first and foremost. Perhaps number of weeks at Number 1 will be mentioned. WTF titles won’t even make it to an after thought.


SG1 Says:

The same happend to JMac. His touch, his precision, all of this was relegated to the second plan when he came back to tennis: everyone used graphite racquet (Mecir excepted), and had much more power. JMac just couldn’t adapt.

Pete Sampras couldn’t adapt to the new era of luxilon strings, while it helped Agassi.

———————-

Sorry mat4 but you’ll need to check your facts. In ’84, Mac beat Lendl and his graphite racket at the USO and was very close to beating Lendl on clay as well.

As for Sampras, I doubt that Luxilon existed in 2002 and even if it did, it wasn’t around long enough for you to conclude that he couldn’t survive in an era with it. Sampras was for from his best in the 2000′s.


SG1 Says:

I think Mac’s game unraveled for personal reasons. There was a great deal of turmoil in his personal life in the mid 80′s and he just couldn’t balance it all and maintain his drive for being the best at tennis. I think Mac, like Lendl, had the talent to adapt his game but never actually committed himself to doing so. Lendl made the adjustments, Mac didn’t.

Sampras made adaptations but for different reasons. Given his blood condition he knew that he could no longer play matches like the one against Corretja. He set out to shorten the points and prolong his career. It was Sampras’ all court game that initially set him apart. Ultimately, he had to give some of that all court game up so that he could achieve his goals. I think this is one of the reasons his backhand became a bit of weakness at the end of his career.


Okiegal Says:

@mat4……You and Skeezer spend way too much time on WIKI. They makes mistakes….just ask Vilas! Lol


mat4 Says:

Okie:

I write the articles on Wiki myself. Pure objectivity…

SG1:

“Sorry mat4 but you’ll need to check your facts. In ’84, Mac beat Lendl and his graphite racket at the USO and was very close to beating Lendl on clay as well.

As for Sampras, I doubt that Luxilon existed in 2002 and even if it did, it wasn’t around long enough for you to conclude that he couldn’t survive in an era with it. Sampras was for from his best in the 2000′s.”

Luxilon strings exist in tennis since 1994. Guga used them to win his first FO. I checked my facts, so sorry.

In 1984, JMac used the Dunlop Max 200G, a graphite racquet. I checked this fact too, so sorry once again.

Why don’t YOU check your facts?


mat4 Says:

SG1:

“I think Mac’s game unraveled for personal reasons.”

Of course, everybody knows this. It had an impact, in 1985 and 1986 perhaps.


mat4 Says:

@SG1:

“In 30 years from now, no one will care how many WTF’s Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have.”

How do you know this? In the seventies, nobody cared about how many slams a great player had. Things change. It is just your opinion.

Tennis has changed every ten years. The only thing that doesn’t change is the prestige of Wimbledon. I can imagine at least ten ways tennis could change in the following decades, the way it already has changed in the previous years.

The difference between you and I is that I try to write about facts, and you write an opinion. It is not the same thing.


NK Says:

“In 30 years from now, no one will care how many WTFs Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have.”

True, but for the top players qualifying for WTF — and perhaps winning it — has always been the biggest goal next to winning the grand slams. It is the ultimate end-of-the-year exclamation point they would love to put on a great season.


skeezer Says:

“WTF titles won’t even make it to an after thought.”
This must be an oopsie.


Sandy Says:

Rf is the greatest tennis player the world has ever seen…i dnt hav the faintest idea why u ppl are not taking Rod Laver in the assessment..he is undoubtedly the second best in the game,not rafa or sampras..


Daniel Says:

Actually if we think about it, Masters already has more relevance as we mention t time and again as they are more established now. And we all know how many the top dogs have. So as Year End #1 and other records.

Slams are most used to compare with past champions, when you increase the range, so in this way SG is right, as of now.

Regarding the Nadal could be a great champion in pass time due to his mentality I don’t agree completely. He is only able to be the super force he is today mentally because technology and how he trust his game and what he can do in today’s condition allow him to. If he weren’t able to defend the same way he may not be able to create that aura that Nadal will run you down and defend everything back forcing you to make an error. Which essentially is the core of his game. Work with percentages, not miss and what the other guys mistake.

I am with mat4 completely on the “myth” that Nadal is a great volleyer. He is a decent volleys who only goes to the when there is basically a sitter. Yes, occasionally he will get a defense low volley, put we hardly ever see him there and he lacks transition game. You can almost see him saying to himself: damm, I have to come in for a short ball!

NK,

One correction in your post, if you take out Fed’s Wimbledon and he has 10 Slams (all other 3) outside his best one. That’s is the true benchmark of greatness. Only he has double digit if removing his best. Nobody will ever repeat that.

Nadal may finish with 10 or 11 RG, and no other Slams outside it, what that will prove? What we already know: that he is the greatest on clay.


chris ford1 Says:

Have to side with Mat4 on what will or will not be relevant in the way of records many years down the road. It does change every 10 years or so. Slams aside from Wimbledon were not as prestigious as Davis Cup at one point. Then at some point the remote, bypassed to some extent Australian National Championship became considered a worthy Slam alongside the other 3.
Mac says one of his regrets is not going for the Olympics. He underestimated how much players now want it.
The Masters grow in prestige and I don’t notice the players in contention playing any less intensely because it isn’t “the 4 older Events” .
And the WCT? Its great ratings, a packed venue and something curious – 4 of the 5 players with the most WCTs are the same ones that will have the most weeks as #1, assuming Djokovic passes Mac’s 170 weeks mark. (Which he could – this year – as well as getting his 5th WCT trophy.)

And some of the stuff down the road could change the sport profoundly if it happens. Not that it will…IF!
The ATP might determine betting is not entirely evil and brings in huge extra ratings. And allow a little.
Jack up Indian Wells to 1500 points.
The sport may confront the fact runaway equipment and coaching costs are hindering the game spreading and try lowering those costs in a variety of ways.
Hopman Cup, right now a relaxed fun tribute to one of the best coaches ever could get elevated into a 3rd team competition along Fed Cup and Davis Cup. I find it appealing that the best man and women in a nation have to win together – or not!


chris ford1 Says:

We just don’t know whats’ coming. 10 years may see more interesting rule changes. We just don’t know!

Ending the “let” – which would speed up the game, and add excitement as people scramble to adjust and return the serve. With a certain penalty perhaps to discourage people trying to get lets on their serve. Allow 5 a set. 2 in a tiebreaker. More than 5 and its a point deduction each time.

The end of female shrieking ordered at the end of the Sharapova cash cow’s career. (WTA lacks the guts to do it before that).

Time limits on warmups also enforced. Play the darn match!

Find a rationale to keep some defeated players around a few days rather than the tournament becoming a ghost town. The future may bring a little extra pay for defeated players to do some fan interface time. Safin after he lost in earlier rounds, hung around in NYC a few times because he liked to party, then sweat it out doing practice matches, greeting his legions of fans. It worked! Maybe a no ATP/WTA points at stake – betting match staged with two players.


Margot Says:

Andy would’ve been very good with a wooden racquet. The variety in his game would’ve carried him through.
How I’d have loved to see Mac and Andy playing each other! My two favourite players, EVER! I think Mac would’ve won tho.!
I kind of wish Andy hadn’t gone to Spain to train. I think it over-developed his defensive skills and under-developed his volleying skills. He gr8ly admired Rafa so that influenced his decision of where to go.
However, as the alternative was probably staying in rain soaked GB under the wing of the LTA *spits* it really wasn’t too hard a decision to make, in the end.


Margot Says:

@chris ford 1
I agree about ending the “let” rule. It is soooo tedious.
Interesting idea about “keeping some of the losers around.” As far as I can see most of the players, outside the top, rush off to play another tournament.
Am always surprised to see the speed with which their names turn up elsewhere. And some top tenners like Ferrer and Berd seem to play every tournament going.
I guess they’d have to make considerable financial incentives to get them to stay.


Zubair Says:

I personally agree with Sampras. Top GS record, top WTF trophies, No. 1 for the longest duration, most weeks as no. 1 in continuity, All surface record, Consistency on longest continuous streaks of QFs, SFs, Finals, close 2nd on masters, Davis cup win, Olympic gold n silver medals, court coverage and movement, all kind of playing styles in his arsenal, a positive H2H against all major players (with exception of Nadal whose style of play doesn’t allow Roger to play his natural game). He has faced quality players in his career like Nadal, Nole, Murray, Roddick, Ferrer, Del Potro, Wawrinka, Hewitt, etc. in addition to some very strong serving bots. …..

Maybe we can say that Djokovick hasn’t met good quality players when he peaked since 2011. He has only 3 strong names to mention i.e. Roger, Nadal and Murray. However, Federer was 29, Nadal is not consistent and has injuries since 2010, Murray has back problems, Del Potro is not consistent also due to wrist injury, Ferrer is also close to 30s, etc. … So in reality, Roger has faced much more tougher opponents than Nole including peaks of Nole, Nadal, Murray. … To me, Roger is clearly the GOAT as a player and as a humble sportsman.


mat4 Says:

@Margot:

I believe that you would interested about Cedric Roelant comments on Andy, Novak and Rafa. He was the same generation as a junior and played against them.

http://www.reddit.com/r/tennis/comments/2jw3qe/c_roelant_ama_60_itf_atp_player


mat4 Says:

Anyway, I believe that that AMA could be interesting to many. He mentions Wawa too.


Margot Says:

@mat4
Cheers, I did find that very interesting, apart from the spat! Shame about his shoulder. Was it a coaching decision to make him play with a too heavy racquet?
Was intrigued, he said something like, “If you want to preserve your tennis body, play like Murray.” This is post Andy’s op too. He didn’t elaborate which was a shame. I was surprised, I wouldn’t have thought Andy will have as long a career as Fed eg.
Interesting too he tips Kei as a future No 1. Wouldn’t have thought so myself, too prone to injury.


chris ford1 Says:

Mat4 – Thanks for linking to that cool Belgian guy Roelant. Add his comments on Serena and Fed. Beats Serena 1 set played back in 2004, still hits with Fed at Indian Wells, thinks the best match he ever watched was Federer-Djokovic at the French Open semi in 2011. I agree that one was one of the classics. Djoker actually played great, but Federer was in a zone playing out of his mind tennis (even by his standards). What I remember was a couple Fed fans I know that instead of praising Feds magnificence, were actually irritated with Roger. “Why couldn’t he play just ONE friggin’ final with Nadal at that level??”
It was a consequential game. Novak had turned Rafa into a headcase, on the ropes, totally unsure of himself against Novak going into the French Open. I think Roger tore Nole’s heart out and saved Rafa’s A$$ from playing Djokovic. Which made the USO payback Djokovic did on Fed that year all the better.

On Rafa – the PEDs? Another insider that thinks he likely did. But those rumors should not be accepted – if he tests bad or some Spanish doctor testifies and gives a list of names for leniency or an existing list is unsealed and Rafa shows up, only then will I accept it. Interesting he thought as a junior Gasquet was clearly the best, Rafa was skinny and in the middle of the pack, Murray was gifted and would win any prolonged rally and Novak was a bit better than Murray, even then.

His equipment tips were good.
Much appreciated, Mat4


mat4 Says:

CF1:

That semi changed the history of tennis, most probably. Novak would probably have won that final, and the dynamics with Rafa on clay would have changed for good.


SG1 Says:

mat4…all I can wish for is that one day, I’ll be smart as you are. Forgive me for challenging your all knowing ways.


SG1 Says:

skeezer Says:
“WTF titles won’t even make it to an after thought.”
This must be an oopsie.

—————–

Not an oopsie so much as incorrect use of an acronym. LOL…anyway, I don’t think anyone will remember how many YEC’s (better acronym yes?) Fed, Nadal and Novak will have.


SG1 Says:

mat4 Says:
SG1:

“I think Mac’s game unraveled for personal reasons.”

Of course, everybody knows this. It had an impact, in 1985 and 1986 perhaps.

——————-

didn’t you say that mac’s game was a victim of the new power game and graphite rackets?

mac beat lendl when lendl was playing with graphite. in fact, 84 mac torched lendl and his graphite racket in 84 uso final. one year later, mac suddenly forgot how to play tennis? I don’t think so.

mac was never the same after 84. the statement that “everybody knows it was his personal life” as the reason for his drop off is silly. how do you know what “everybody” knows? “everybody” is you.


Skeezer Says:

@SG1
Lol, it is important for those who evaluate it so, no? It is an “earned” competition, only (usually) the best 8 play, and play each other twice. Why isn’t that worth remembering? I get that it is the end of the playing year and all that, but haven’t read where any player who earned it thought it wasn’t important.
—-
Anyways moving on…..So what is your take on Rafa nowadays?. Will he come back to dominate or has the competition caught up?


jane Says:

“TL” and “Zabair” say very similar things here about weak eras and such, but when you introduce one weak era you open the door to a whole lot of other arguments about the level of competition, when, whose, in what shape, on which surface, et al.


jane Says:

“I don’t think anyone will remember how many YEC’s ” … hmm, not sure i agree about that. we hear about this stat now, re: people in the past. i happen to know that lendl won 3 in row, like novak. but i wouldn’t know that if it wasn’t remembered and reiterated. it’s the same with year end number 1s or weeks at number 1. we hear this a lot now, via commentators.

in the past – pre-internet – these sorts of stats were not repeatedly disseminated online and during television broadcasts. now they are. commentators are fed stats during matches and so we know WAY MORE now the historical significance of wins, matches, rivalries and so forth.

i think things have changed due to technology and now we will know more and remember more because of this shift in the proffering of information, stats, etc.


skeezer Says:

This all brings up an important point, what titles are important? With this site, it seemingly depends on who your favorite is.
In the end, it will be the totality of achievements and records through ones career, and not in the singularity of one type of Slam, but all Slams, all titles, all surfaces, all conditions, all types of balls, all types of colored surfaces, etc…and all types of players.
WTF represents that no?


SG1 Says:

Skeezer Says:

Anyways moving on…..So what is your take on Rafa nowadays?. Will he come back to dominate or has the competition caught up?

———————

I do think he will come back but I don’t see him dominating as he did in 2010 or 2013. Rafa’s at that point where age and injury have to start creeping up on him. I can see him winning another FO (perhaps 2) and maybe another AO because it’s at the beginning of the year when he’s the most fresh and healthy at that time.

He hasn’t looked convincing on grass in several years and I think by the time he gets to the USO he’ll be too beat up to contend at that tournament anymore. Of course this is Rafa and seems to take pleasure in proving the naysayers wrong so I wouldn’t totally write him off for Wimbledon or the USO.


Giles Says:

“I think Roger tore Nole’s heart out and saved Rafa’s A$$ from playing Djokovic”. Too true. Wasn’t that fun especially when fed wagged his finger at the crowd and let out a scream. Good old Fed. Am forever grateful to him for that act of kindness towards Rafa. If not for fed joker would have definitely walloped Rafa that year. Thanx fed!


Giles Says:

PS. Forgot to add “still laughing at the finger wagging”!

Top story: Zverev Upends Federer, Will Face Dominant Djokovic For ATP Finals Title Sunday