What! Roger Federer Says He’s Better Now Than He Was 10 Years Ago!
by Tom Gainey | August 17th, 2015, 1:32 pm
  • 177 Comments

The now 34-year-old Roger Federer at one of his favorite, most successful Masters events on the Calendar this week in Cincinnati. The 6-time champion slipped to No. 3 in the rankings, but he feels better than ever as he begins his brief summer hardcourt swing.

“I think I’m a better player now than when I was at 24 because I’ve practised for another 10 years and I’ve got 10 years more experience,” Federer said. “Maybe I don’t have the confidence level that I had at 24 when I was winning 40 matches in a row, but I feel like I hit a bigger serve, my backhand is better, my forehand is still as good as it’s ever been, I volley better than I have in the past. I think I’ve had to adapt to a new generation of players again.”

Ten years ago when Federer turned 24 he had just won a third straight Wimbledon and was about to win another US Open. He finished that season No. 1 with 11 titles in 12 finals with an incredible 81-4 record overall.

With the bar set so high, Federer might have to beat his three biggest rivals Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in succession to defend his crown.

“It’s a totally different preparation this year for Cincinnati than I had last year,” he said. “Last year I came in tired from five straight matches in Toronto. I arrived late and wasn’t sure if I was going to play. Thankfully I did and ended up winning here. Now I’ve had plenty of time. I’m fresh and eager to play and can’t wait for tournament to start. Practice has been going well and I’m very happy with how I’m feeling.”

Federer, who hasn’t played in over a month since his Wimbledon loss to Djokovic, opens against the winner of Pablo Cuevas and Roberto Bautista Agut.

“I’m fresh and obviously eager to play and can’t wait for the tournament to start, really,” said Federer. “Practice has been going very well. I’m very happy with how I’m feeling.”


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177 Comments for What! Roger Federer Says He’s Better Now Than He Was 10 Years Ago!

MMT Says:

I agree with his (self) assessment – quite a complete analysis, by the way.


elina Says:

Federer is betterer than he was 10 years ago.

However Djokovic is even better. By quite a margin.


Sirius Says:

Does he really hit a bigger serve now?


jalep Says:

Don’t completely agree with him. How dare me!

Yes, he’s far more experienced and smarter with more arsenal. But, his youthful body and head of confidence was jet fueled. He doesn’t have that part. He’s finely tuned but doesn’t have the zip he had.


Wog Boy Says:

At least nobody can say that Roger is not consistent in talking up his chances and sending the message to other players…before AO, at the start of CC season, of course grass season and now North American HC season by the the time of indoor season we’ll have Roger at his career pick..


jane Says:

that’s one of his strengths wog boy; he always believes in himself. mat4 has often tried to argue that fed’s a better player now, and most people on here have attacked mat4 when he’s said it. so it’s interesting to hear it directly from federer;s mouth right now. especially when people jaw about the “weak tour” etc etc.


RZ Says:

Remember that the comparison here is Federer 2015 vs Federer 2005. A lot of the disagreement comes from the outside factors that have also changed (the big one being that Djokovic 2015 is worlds better than Djokovic 2005).


Wog Boy Says:

jane,
Agree, but we often read here that Nole’s success is due to Roger getting old and not good as before and Rafa getting injured. I don’t know whose fans they are but they definitely dislike Nole.


jalep Says:

Yes, I’ve read the various arguments that Federer is better than ever but I don’t quite buy it.

The important thing for Federer is that he keeps believing that he is.

He’s 34 and still in the top 3 – that’s a statement in itself. Tactically he’s better, but executing over 5 sets (Wimbledon) or even snagging a masters title? He might right here in Cincy, then I’ll shut up. No doubt he’s improved and rather better tactically, since he has to put more thought into what he needs to do to win than at age 24, 25, 26…

It’s there is flashes and spurts – the energy and confidence in moments on court. It’s not flowing as it was. Gosh, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted so much about Federer.

It’s arguable and debatable and there’s other tangents and theories. I trust my eyes and memory which is quite good for Federer’s prime and I don’t consider this his prime. He’s breaking new ground as a 34 year old with his genetics and mastery of the sport. But…it doesn’t compensate for what he had at his peak: youth and zip – young springier legs. Better recovery between matches, ect.


jane Says:

if you look at who fed’s lost to, when he has lost, it’s generally been the very top contenders in the world. obviously seppi at the AO was a slip, and he lost to la monf at monte carlo – which is not a bad lost, but otherwise fed lost to novak in the finals of IW, Rome and Wimbledon – and he lost to the eventual champion at the french in Stan. he won the other tournaments he played.

i get what you’re saying about youth and zip, jalep, but what i am saying is that many people wholesale attacked mat4 when he made the suggestion that fed’s a better player now – perhaps even only shot and tactically – now, essentially calling him crazy.

yet fed himself backs it up. i just wanted to point that out.


jalep Says:

jane and Wog Boy, I am not bringing Nole into this or making a statement that Federer is losing to Nole because he’s old. Federer is doing great. I’m not going down the path of Federer v Nole. Not going down the tangent of weak era v strong era.

My observation is that he doesn’t show the youthful confidence, spring in his legs, the speed, the ability to recover over constant match play that he did at 24. There is compensation and refinement: experience, using his brain, and flashes of the spring in the legs and confidence but he is missing the edge of youth he had 10 years ago.


jalep Says:

My original post had nothing to do with Nole.

You bring him up. Nole is a completely different story on his own. Born in ’87, so 28, no way to get around the age difference. Nole was better from a younger age. Nole is not inferior to Federer physically and mentally I give the props to Nole. Flat out think he’s a better #1 and is brighter on court and off. Now the Fed fans will shoot me.


Wog Boy Says:

That’s it, you are finished jalep:)


skeezer Says:

jalep,

$!@#$#@!@@@!!!!???!!!!!

:-)


jane Says:

jalep, ha ha. your posts are totally fair and make 100% sense – they are always some of my favourite to read. i am so glad you are here!!

don’t go changing! :)


Markus Says:

“Spring of youth”, that’s the key element that Roger cannot get back, and that is what will contine to blunt the effect of all the improvememts he claims he has over his younger self. Points to jalep!


jalep Says:

jane, we are good! Love your posts. A big reason I post here not elsewhere. Also like Sean Randall and tennis-x being dysfunctional as it is.

mat4 is priceless. Love diversity and differences. I even like the provocateurs that are here. They spice up the place. I come here to read what sienna might say or cdp…where is cdp, Andy just won.

My major beef with tennis-x is that there isn’t and EDIT option. I messed up the Cincy thread with a huge………link.

Vasek won, YaY!!


jane Says:

agree jalep – hey tennis-x staff? can we have an edit button?

and vasek, woot!


Daniel Says:

I said it before the argument agaisnt Djoko sucess right now: Fed old, Nadal in decline (to be knowm of it is permanent or a fase), Murray losing 1 year due to sirgery is all part of sports and it could be said to any other perido of domination by the other as well.

Many said Fed had a weak era in 03-08; in 2009 Nadal was injured, Djoko in lala land and Murray wasn’t a Slam champion yet.

Nadal in 2010 same case, Fed declined, Djoko still with no serve, racquet change and Murray still developing.

We hardly ever saw the 4 of them playing great at the same time and if we do it wasn’t more than 2 or 3 months.

So we must not pay to much attention to this because what matters is that a particular player is better than everybody else in a specific time. How long they do it and how many times it’s what separtes the great of the game from the pack.


Daniel Says:

This Fed talk is just to propel his confidence.

He knows that in his hey days he was almost unstopable, hence the “I created a monster comment”. He set the bar so high and changed tennis for good. Everybody else had to catch up to him. Had it not be for him maybe Nadal would never develop in an all court player with Career Slam; Djoko wouldn’t commit the way he did and shaped almost all aspects of his entoruage and now thinking long term on Fed and how he conducts himself.

He could be more experienced but no way better. As Murray said that he of today would beat the Mureay of old same thing for Fed, Fed of old would beat this Fed, easily. More powerful forehand, better serve with more aces, more agressive, faster and way, way more cocky, “arrogant” or self assured of hus game and status and confident, all things needed to be the champion he was/is


RZ Says:

If you look at Wimbledon this year, I would say from Fed’s semifinal performance that he was just as good, if not better, than he was 10 years ago. The problem is he hasn’t been able to sustain that form for every round, as he used to be able to.


Daniel Says:

Yes RZ agreed. In the old days Fed coyld play a while tournament or Slam with average 10-20 Unforced Errors per match. He played sets with 3, 4 or 5 errors. Today this doesn’t happen.


jane Says:

true RZ. it comes in flashes now as opposed to being sustained.

daniel i agree with this comment especially

“So we must not pay to much attention to this because what matters is that a particular player is better than everybody else in a specific time. How long they do it and how many times it’s what separtes the great of the game from the pack.”

we could say that maybe, in a way, this is why #1 stats matter – and top 5 ranking too – because it shows players’ ability to sustain a high level for a long time, through changing fields, events and circumstances.


TL Says:

It is silly to compare Fed’s current capabilities to that in 2005 based just on whether his serve, bh or other shots have improved or declined. There are so many other factors, including emotional and mental, that have to be taken into consideration for evaluating a player as a winning package. There is a reason we talk of peak years especially in physically demanding sports unless one thinks that Djoko or other younger players would be contending for majors well into their forties. Scientific breakthroughs


TL Says:

…may make it possible but it seems improbable.


Markus Says:

I wonder who Federer is trying to convince that he is better now than he was ten years ago.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Anyone who says the same thing over and over is usually lying. People with confidence in what they are saying speak once.
Sorry Fed. You’re my guy, but… you blind. (a byproduct of age).


jane Says:

fed didn’t talk about the physical aspect though. but he openly admitted this – “Maybe I don’t have the confidence level that I had at 24 when I was winning 40 matches in a row” – which speaks explicitly to the mental aspect, so he’s not denying that (and it maybe implicitly addresses the physical part of his game, too, because he refers to “when [he] was winning 40 matches in a row”)

he is referring most specifically to his shots, and why couldnt they be technically better? MMT -one of the best technical analysts at this site, and i think a federer fan – believes fed’s self analysis is good:

“I feel like I hit a bigger serve, my backhand is better, my forehand is still as good as it’s ever been, I volley better than I have in the past.”

that doesn’t mean he does all of these things consistently better; as daniel and RZ point out, a product of age might be not sustaining his highest production, which seems fair enough.


Markus Says:

For Federer to say that he is better now when he could hardly win tournaments and no slams for three years compared to how he played at 24 when he was winning almost everything (of course he had to throw in that he was winning 40 matches in a row) makes me now understand why some people find him arrogant.


Hamza Says:

Pardon me for this long post, I’m commenting after months.

Assuming Federer is an honest man, I will believe in his self-assessment for now; however, this leads to an interesting question though (pardon me if I sound like Dr. Phil here):

(1) If Fed is playing better than he was 10 years ago, why is he not confident ? then why exactly is he not winning as much as he was 10 years ago ? Why the grand-slam drought ?

Potential Answers:
(1) He’s just fooling everybody which means he’s a dishonest person (i.e., he isn’t a better player than he was, he’s worse which means he isn’t as confident as he was).
(2) He’s right except that the top 3 does not include a Roddick or a Hewitt these days — in other words, no Free grand slams.
(3) He’s right and the competition hasn’t changed much (i.e., Roddick was equally talented as Nadal, Djokovic or even Murray), but he has gotten old — he can play great in one match but tires out soon. So he’s a better player for a match or two but then runs out of steam — or does he ?

(3) unfortunately leads to a contradiction: if you are a better player, and the competition hasn’t changed much, you should be winning with ease which would offset the aging effect.

So where do we stand with the Federer questions ? Well, we should probably go with (4) which is: Fed is a little bit dishonest (i.e., he isn’t necessarily a better player than he was 10 years ago; wiser may be; prudent yes, daring ? not quite; greater endurance ? not quite ), the competition has gotten tougher (i.e., Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal are simply better tennis players than the ones he was facing back then), and he has gotten older (nobody has ever defied aging).

All things combined, and Fed isn’t winning as much as he was 10 years ago. But I guess giving this sort of analytical answer will bore the journalists to death; I guess, I’ll just stop asking such nagging questions and believe Fed he’s a better player now than he was albeit less confident.


Margot Says:

“Roddick was equally talented as Novak/Fed/Rafa or even (here we go again) Murray.”
Um… no.


Margot Says:

And Wog Boy @3.36
Lol….and hope you have a good sofa to hide behind.


Hamza Says:

@Margot

I discarded (3) in my post. I hope you didn’t do a ‘tl;dr’ and rolled your eyes when you saw the sheer number of words I had thrown out. I warned folks it was a long post; it should be read with a muffin in hand and English tea on the side.


Jock-KatH Says:

Fed. has more experience and acquired knowledge in the process…..but the gain can’t quite replace the vigour of youthfulness. Don’t think he’s dishonest with his “better than before” statements – he wants to believe he is…he also wants his opponents to believe it too.

All of the above excellent comments – naturally, Margot at 1.45am the best…I would say that wouldn’t I!!!!!


Michael Says:

I definitely do not think so. Roger today is a pale shadow of what he was earlier and is not consistent too. He definitely has acquired experience/wisdom and that has come at the price of aging. Although at his age, it is incredible that he is still hovering in the top three.

But, due to his reputed legacy, the expectations from him are definitely much higher than he is able to deliver at his age. You can never accuse Roger of not trying. He certainly gives his everything on court. However, a major title still remains elusive. He is unlucky in one sense that he is not getting an opening. Almost every time Novak gets into the finals and then spoils Roger’s dream of collecting another grand slam crown. In 2013 and 2014, he was so close and yet so far. Particularly the latest loss would be pretty disappointing for Roger.

The need of the hour for Roger is to realize that his good days are over and he cannot remain the centrifugal force for ever. All good things have to come to an end by the vicious cycle of nature. It would be better if Roger contemplates retiring at the end of the year after playing at WTF. He can retire with a bang after winning a Master series title which would stand as a fitting tribute to this man who has maintain such incredible consistency all though his career.


roy Says:

check his serve stats over the years, and you can see he has been putting up the same numbers even as the players have improved. so it does suggest at least some aspects of his game have improved.


calmdownplease Says:

Fed,

retirenowplease


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Fed’s serve may be better than it was, and I think he has a more aggressive Edberg-style volley – but even that is not necessarily better volleying, as he doesn’t pick up the ball and respond as quickly as of yore.

His groundstrokes, especially forehand, are nowhere near what they once were in terms of consistency. Since ’09 or ’10, the shanks began creeping into Fed’s forehands, and they haven’t left in the many years since.


calmdownplease Says:

`(3) He’s right and the competition hasn’t changed much (i.e., Roddick was equally talented as Nadal, Djokovic or even Murray), but he has gotten old..`

Oh hahahahaha!
fed fans are SO hilarious…


calmdownplease Says:

`Fed’s serve may be better than it was`

Inm Wimbledon against Muzz it was astonishing
But again he er can’t keep it up
Another sign of old age no doubt
:)


Ronny Says:

Jeez, I know Federer is as arrogant and full of himself as they come, but now he’s reached a whole new level- a level of total delusion.I still don’t get why so many people- mostly his fans, hold this guy in such high regard and even have the nerve to say he’s humble and a “great ambassador for the sport”, blah…blah…blah. Seriously, just listen to what the guy says. So much of what he says is so unbelievable smug that it should make a normal person want to puke…


Ronny Says:

Elina, so true, hahaha. Federer is all but admitting that most of his MAJORS titles came during a soft era, and if Rafa and Djokovic were in their primes 10 years ago there’s no way Federer would have 17 MAJORS titles. 5 or 6, yes, but 17? No way…


Markus Says:

I think some people have taken Hamza’s “…Roddick was equally talented as Nadal, Djokovic or even Murray…” out of context. This was not a statememt of fact but they were Hamza’s theories (Hamza clearly stated them as “potential answers”) which may have prompted Federer to say what he said.


Markus Says:

I think some people have taken Hamza’s “…Roddick was equally talented as Nadal, Djokovic or even Murray…” out of context. This was not a statememt of fact but they were Hamza’s theories (Hamza clearly stated them as “potential answers”) which may have prompted Federer to say what he said.


Markus Says:

Oh there goes my double posts again! Can we have an edit button, please!


Markus Says:

Oh there goes my double posts again! Can we have an edit button, please!


Markus Says:

I give up!


Markus Says:

I have to apologize to those “weak era” theorists who I often argued against. You are right. Federer himself has given credence to your “weak area theory”.


Markus Says:

“era” not “area”


Markus Says:

“era” not “area”


Gypsy Gal Says:

My computer laptop doesnt let me post things twice,it always says oops youve already said that,if i accidently click twice,the problem i have is my spelling errors….


Markus Says:

Hi, Gypsy Gal: Sometimes I get that duplicate warning sign but obviously not consistently enough. I have a flurry of double posts today…and all of them against Federer who I like a lot. I only hope he would just stop talking. He has been effectively diminishing his accomplishments. Who needs detractors when you can implode all on your own?


Gypsy Gal Says:

Hes ranked world number 3 for good reason,and thats because hes been the most consistent player on tour after Novak and Andy,hes not the player was, hes bound to lose a step,the simple fact is hes 10 years older,my husband went to the Dr this morning with a very swollen painfull knee,she asked him how many hours a week do you work?he said around 60/70 as ive always worked hard and been active,she said but your 54 Mr Hodge you cant expect to be as fit as you were 10 years ago,same as Roger,that said he still produces moments of brilliance,enjoys playing,enjoys the lifestyle,says hes no intention of calling it a day anytime soon,and he might have 1 more major title left in him who knows?talking about Roger here not my husband….


Gypsy Gal Says:

Hi Markus always a pleasure ;-)….


Markus Says:

I think most people go into denial as regards their physical limitations brought about this age. Somebody with a healthy brain (like your husband, I suppose), will wake up in the morning and the brain is as alert and as sharp as when he was a teen-ager and assumes the rest of the body has remained the same. So he subjects it to the same stress as he did as a youngster. But it is not the same, it is more likely to breakdown and the repair process is longer and often incomplete. But that’s often hard to accept until you get all these aches and pains.


calmdownplease Says:

`I think some people have taken Hamza’s “…Roddick was equally talented as Nadal, Djokovic or even Murray…” out of context…`

Oh yes (a quick speed read prompted by Margot)!
It was speculation and suggestion
I personally would have felt the need not to include that one as it is SO absurd even federer wouldn’t consider it.


Ben Pronin Says:

I think if you look at the individual strokes in a vacuum, then Federer is arguably much better. His serve is definitely better now. His backhand is stronger. And his forehand is still unbelievable. But he’s not a better player because strokes aren’t hit in a vacuum. He doesn’t move nearly as well. That’s not his fault though, everyone ages. And I think that’s part of why he’s not as consistent. But that’s the thing, when it comes down to the backbone of tennis, the more consistent you are the better you are. It’s why Djokovic is currently the best, he’s the most consistent with the highest level of play. Murray obviously isn’t far behind. When Federer was winning everything in site, his consistency was unbelievable. I mean that’s why people were pegging him as the GOAT as early as 2004, 2005. Because he was so incredible for so long with less than a handful of hiccups per year.

Ah the old talent argument. Who was the more talented server, Roddick or the rest of the big 4?


Gypsy Gal Says:

Not to mention hair loss,middle age spread and a beer belly,again talking about my husband not Roger but still?….


Daniel Says:

Guys, this great champuons have to motivated themselves. What you expect him to say, enter a press conference and say: “well I didn’t win a Slam in last 12, so I mostly irrelevent for Major trophjes now that I am 34, and my level will only drop bit by bit, day by day until I can’t compete in high lev anynore”.
Please!!!

Same good be said by Nadl this year. How many times have he said that he has “a lot of positives” gfor this year. C’mon the guy can’t beat a top 10 anymore, won 3 slmal tourneys where even he as #8-10 he was seeded 1 with no and can’t get pass Quarters in ant of major and masters this year, exception Madrid.

What you expect him to say: I don’t know of my level will ever return and right now I can’t beat the top players nor Have I won anttging significant sonce RG 2014, so yeay. I am in pretty bad place of my career right now but I will work hard to return”.

They will never give us a fully trul assessment of where they are at the moment. Mostly of waht they say in press conf is Polyana talk. What matters is what they do on court.


Gypsy Gal Says:

I dont know if he is better or worse,but i doubt he would care,the point is winning titles is what he really wants,the rest aint really relevant IMO my two cents?….


Markus Says:

Daniel: the “dialogue” you provided is on the other extreme and is as equally absurd as Federer’s comment.

cdp: to reach a tenable conclusion, one must include all possibilities regardless of how absurd it may sound.


skeezer Says:

Fed’s strokes are as good or better than they have ever been, but movement in tennis is everything. If you can’t get to the ball in proper time and get set up properly, you’re a goner.
Despite the negative comments here, the guy just finished runner up in a Slam. This is with Novak, Murray, Rafa in the prime years. Granted with his age the wheels could fall off at anytime now, but for now he is still a top dog to contend with.
Respect.


jalep Says:

Markus, wait a second, I just read Daniels post and thought it made perfect sense – he’s using sarcasm.

Hard to get stuff across on the interwebs.


Markus Says:

jalep, you may be right. I thought the sarcasm was directed at me! I must be getting paranoid. Well, anyway, Federer’s comment has become the theater of the absurd.

We’ll see in Cincinnati which is the more appropriate comment, Federer’s or Daniel’ s alternative comment.


jalep Says:

Daniel’s “dialogue” part of the post, Markus = meant to be read as absurd for Roger to say that.

Yes, we shall soon see again. Can he win Cincy and USO? Can he win one or the other?

My guess is that he will perform well. He’s been able to do that and remain near the top, so far.


Okiegal Says:

I’m not the least bit surprised Roger said this about himself. He would never say he’s worse than he was ten years ago. That’s Rog! What he failed to mention is Novak is better than he was ten years ago and Andy for that matter. It is amazing that he can keep the # 2 ranking at the ripe old age of 34 (oh to be 34 again)! I guess he’s 3 now, whatever. He could very easily win some more titles but I’m not sure he can a slam because of the “legs” thing. What’s great about being his fan is the fact that he can still get to the quarters and semi-finals……amazing! Fed fans can relish in this!

Oops I forgot, Fed isn’t my fav…….. LOL


calmdownplease Says:

`cdp: to reach a tenable conclusion, one must include all possibilities regardless of how absurd it may sound..`

Well, that depends how viable they are.
Some might be simply contradictory and there are also numerous other possibilities that could be expressed.
Still, there are SOME people that think Fed’s early years were met with a similar level of opposition that he has met more recently
(Magically, they all tend to be Fed fans ;)
So I think Hamza (and by extension yourself)
has a good point!


Georgy Gal Says:

No matter how we argue that Fed has improved his strokes blah, blah, it is clear Fed is 34 years old and NOT better than he was 10 years ago. His best is no less than Novak or Rafa or Murray’s best. Definitely GOAT material. If history crowns him GOAT I have no problem though I think Rafa has just as good a chance.
Novak and Fed have this in common: perfect bodies. So they are able to be consistently dominant in their prime.


Markus Says:

Of the Big 4, my favorite is Federer but I have started to yawn when he plays Djokovic and cringe when he makes some comments about how good he is. Nadal is my least favorite but recently, I have been feeling bad and sad when loses. Murray makes me feel really glad each time he wins. Djokovic is great but my response to his wins is more of a function of how I feel about the other guy. I’m think I’m due for reranking my favorites.


Daniel Says:

Markus,

Yeah, Fed would never say that right. That’s why we only get a glimpse of how they actually feel in press con. I think Fed tends to be more sincere regarding his assessment of there players and their level. He was the one forestalling we haven’t seen the best of Rafa yet back in 2008.

I am also with you. ref Fed as my favorite, and also disliking Nadal. But the difference is I am kind of glad he is using now, specially clay.
But I am mostly curious to see how he will go from now on and into his thirties. Fed had similar backslash when he was declining but manage to win a slam after 30, even return to #1 and now some finals showing at least in Wimbledon he is second only to Novak.

Also want Murray to win more Slams and think Djoko and hi are a level above the others. Fed had a magical run on grass but we have to see if he will translate that level to fast HC as well. He have a bunch of tourney now where he had huge success: cincy, USO, Basel, WTF and to a lesses stand Shanghai and Paris so if he is fit, ever and sustain the level he showed recently,he ca grab a few of those. But not sure if he can get the two that matter most, USO and WTF (Djoko winning there will get closer to his record) and I bet he does;t want to see his records go this fast as he did to Sampras;-)


elina Says:

Hmmmm…who to believe…Roger fans who truly believe Safin, Hewitt and Roddick are the same as Djokovic, Nadal and Murray or Roger himself.

Look at his match stats including unforced errors in the first three or four rounds of any tournament in the last year and on a whole they are as good or better than ever.

Roger is right as usual.


Ben Pronin Says:

“Look at his match stats including unforced errors in the first three or four rounds of any tournament in the last year and on a whole they are as good or better than ever.”

Did you look? Is this confirmed? Just in the past few years, Federer’s been knocked out of slams earlier than the quarterfinals, something that never happened literally until 2013. That alone would have to bring his numbers down.

Federer has talked about comparing Hewitt, Roddick and the like to the current players. And he didn’t say they were worse, simply they were different. He talked about how that group of players was more specialized (big server, big forehand, human backboard, etc) whereas now everyone is more well rounded but don’t necessarily excel in one shot. Look at Murray and Djokovic, the current cream of the crop. They don’t really have stand out shots because everything works so well. Imo this is preferable. Besides they each have 2 of the best 2-handers of all time. But Federer doesn’t think this is worse or better, just different.

You can make excuses for this player or that generation, but the results will still stand. Federer is not a better overall player than he was 10 years ago. He’s less consistent now and in tennis that’s the number 1 thing that determines how good you are. I think, in large part, Federer himself didn’t expect to be so competitive against so many generations and his ability to adapt is probably second to none. In 04-06 he was susceptible to younger generations. Berdych, Nadal, Gasquet, Murray and a couple of those other guys got wins over him early on. But today he crushes the Dimitrov’s and Raonic’s of the tour.


madmax Says:

elina Says:
Federer is betterer than he was 10 years ago.

However Djokovic is even better. By quite a margin.

August 17th, 2015 at 2:56 pm

elina,

I love Federer’s analysis. He IS such a great player, and I do believe he is playing better than ever (than any other player), except Novak.

Novak is better by far, I think in terms of stamina and being able to stay in a match for longer; he’s fitter, not as many miles on the clock.

However, up until Murray yesterday, Federer also beat Novak in Dubai and when I see him play like that, I know that he can beat Novak on any given day,given the right deck of cards!

Love Roger’s confidence.

Good luck Roger. We love you!


elina Says:

Yes I have looked. He’s lost to Djokovic in the world tour finals, last two wimby finals and in the semis to the eventual winners of the French Open and USO.

That’s why I said on a whole that he has been better and that I chose to believe the man himself.


Ben Pronin Says:

Those are only a handful of results and completely ignoring your original statement. You said his stats are as good if not better through the first 3-4 rounds of tournaments. This is simply impossible.

Just compare his results from 2015 to 2005 up until August. He only had 3 losses in that time. 1 loss in a Masters QF, and 2 losses in slam semis. He was literally undefeated in the first 3-4 rounds of all the events he had played. This year, he’s had 3 losses prior to the quarterfinals in all events. That alone will knock down his overall numbers (surely he’s making more errors and hitting less winners in those losses). Now if you want to just look at the matches he’s winning, well that would take quite a bit of research. So I’ll ask again, did you actually look at the numbers?

Federer is not better now than he was 10 years ago. If want to say that Djokovic is better now than Federer was 10 years ago, then that’s a different argument. Djokovic is currently having a year comparable to Federer’s 2006. Basically if he wins the next 2 events and the WTF he’ll have matched or maybe even surpassed it. But just because Djokovic is better than Federer was doesn’t mean Federer is better than he was. It’s impossible considering he doesn’t move as well, doesn’t recover as quickly, and has show to be a lot less consistent from match to match, tournament to tournament, than he was 10 years ago.


Skeezer Says:

Well said Ben.


Gypsy Gal Says:

Unless your a fan,Rafa seems to be everybodys least favorite player out of the big 4 lol….


elina Says:

Match. Stats.


elina Says:

Tennis abstract has a fantastic wealth of information on match stats by year player and round etc. The data is all there.


Jurgens_Lotion Says:

No he’s not, but as a player you have to have the mentality that your best will beat anyone.


Ben Pronin Says:

If we go by the numbers tennis abstract give us then Federer has been almost exactly the same since 2004, no better and no worse. That’s illogical. Losses and dominant wins are basically outliers.

Just look at Wimbledon this year. Against Murray he played one of the best matches of his life. Then against Djokovic he was clearly the inferior player. The gap between Djokovic and Murray isn’t that ridiculous, is it? No it’s not. It’s because Federer’s body isn’t what it used to be.

I’ll say it again, his strokes are better and if tennis were played in a vacuum he’d be unbeatable. But it’s not. His movement comes and goes. Sometimes he looks unbelievable even against Djokovic (their recent Dubai and Shanghai matches come to mind where Federer’s defense was just jaw-dropping). And other times he looks slower, or as we like to say “more his age”. And of course a guy like Djokovic, and Nadal when he’s at his normal level, will exploit that lack of movement because that’s their general MO anyway.

Just look at the Fedal rivarly and how that’s changed. In the beginning the match-up issues existed because Nadal played relentless and impenetrable defense. But most of their matches were extremely close. As Federer got older and Nadal became a literal tank, the lopsidedness was extrapolated because Nadal because too physical for Federer. In some of their matches it really looked like Nadal was just beating him up. Nadal didn’t just get better, Federer got worse.


skeezer Says:

“Tennis abstract has a fantastic wealth of information on match stats by year player and round etc. The data is all there.”
Too bad some can’t decipher it properly.


elina Says:

All anecdotal.

The numbers (not to mention Roger) speak for themselves.

As I said earlier.


Ben Pronin Says:

Then what Roger says is anecdotal, too.


elina Says:

Yes it is.

But the match statistics are not.

As I said, look at his match stats in the first three or four rounds of any tournament in the last year and on a whole they are as good or better than ever.

Roger’s anecdotal statement is right.

As usual.


Markus Says:

How about the last two or three rounds? You cannot handpick your statistics to fit your conclusion.


tennisgirl Says:

@elina if you know of match stats then you know Fed and Djoker are 20 /20 head to head, that is not better by a mile. at 34 Fed stats compared to a 28 yr. Djoker is on point. I guess we will see how Djoker is at 33/34 yrs old before saying anything.


skeezer Says:

“As I said, look at his match stats in the first three or four rounds of any tournament in the last year and on a whole they are as good or better than ever.
Huh?
Too small of a sample size. You can take a period like that in other years or time ( pick one ) and create an argument. Failed as it may be.

You can go to Tennis Stats to make an argument, but there are also to many other factors to consider. Like movement, age, string and racket tech development, surface changes, etc.

Look at what Fed claims that he is doing better than ever. Did he mention movement? Is there a stat for that? Just saying….stats are great and do tell some things but it is not the catch all of determining these things in Tennis.

The stats in the end that matter are the big ones, Years @ #1, Slams. Titles , best match results vs the field, etc.


elina Says:

I picked the first 3-4 rounds because he never has to deal with the other Top 4 in those rounds (not because of some imagined vendetta lol).

Yes I’m sure that “only” 59 matches in the first four rounds for Roger in the last 52 weeks is too small a sample size. Actually, from a statistical standpoint, it is very significant.

The drop in “stats” you mentioned (titles, No. 1, etc.) are as a result of the rest of the Top 4, not because his service pct, 1st- and 2nd- service points, ace percentage, return pts won pct has dropped. For the most part, they’ve actually gone up.

Check for yourself. Even for all rounds actually.

I choose to believe Roger as his match stats support his statement and, besides, he should know which is what I said from the get go.


Rich Says:

Federer’s comment is one of the dumbest I’ve heard in ages.

In 2004, especially 2003 and previous, he was the best volleyer on tour. Up until Edberg, his volleying had deteriorated markedly, and even today, I believe Nadal (and Lopez and Chardy and Mahut and Stepanek) are superior volleyers to Federer.

His forehand is nowhere near as good as it was 10 years ago, mainly because he’s lost some balance and 1.5 steps, and is not able to get into position like he did then. His backhand stroke may be better now, but again, his balance and loss of footspeed diminishes his footwork.

He was so much faster in 2004, and such a better volleyer, and so brilliant in Slams, than he is today.

Credit to him for staying so healthy and fit for so long, but his statement is koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs, in my estimation….


jane Says:

of course stats can be and have been interpreted in various ways and contexts, but i think it’s great that elina’s brought them into the conversation because they are, nevertheless, concrete and factual numbers on the likes of “service pct, 1st- and 2nd- service points, ace percentage, return pts won”. stats can’t capture intangibles like speed and/or confidence – or opponents! – but they can support what roger has to say if we don’t take it too literally and consider all the other elements as well..


Skeezer Says:

@Rich,
Solid post, spot on.


FedExpress Says:

WOW. By reading some comments i ask myself if some practice with fed to know all this sh!t.

yeah nadal is a superior volleyer who rarely comes to the net. Even if he does its a put away over the net volley. How difficult.


courbon Says:

It would be so funny if Fed beat nadal, Muray and Novak and win Cincy…


Daniel Says:

Fed Express,

This “notion” that Nadal is a better volleyer than Fed is one of the most bizarre repeated statements ever. Sometimes I wonder if people actually believe it?!


jalep Says:

He won’t, courbon. If he does, I want a full detailed explanation about the real Fountain of Youth.

Imagine 5 years from now, Rafa is still claiming he’s better than when he won Wimbledon 2008 or AO 2009; better than the years he swept the clay seasons…but in reality he’s hanging on performing well, in the top 5 getting decent results but nothing like his prime. It really is absurd.


FedExpress Says:

Rich does it, it seems. Hahaha.

and the mention of chardy gave me the rest.lol


jalep Says:

Edit: nothing like his prime is a misstatement. to be ranked highly, performing at that level, Rafa would have to be partially telling the truth as Federer is partly right but not wholesale better than 10 years ago.


courbon Says:

Jalep, I got you.But it would be funny, no?


jalep Says:

yes courbon, it would be…..unfreaking believable :O


jalep Says:

Nadal having the best volley in the game is something I’ve heard claimed by, I don’t recall which one(s) on Tennis Channel or ESPN. But that’s where it comes from. During a Rafa match it gets said.


skeezer Says:

Yep Nadal has the best volley in the game. If you look at all the first rd losses in the past 1.75 years, combined with the amount of times he has not missed a volley with the racket strung @56lbs, not the when its strung @ 54lbs, minus the times he arranged his water bottles during that time, he is now clearly better than he was during the 4.35 yr period when he wasn’t playing. Its all in the stats.


Wog Boy Says:

The best OH in the game is Nole’s without the doubt…just check Andy’s match..


FedExpress Says:

today the best volleyers we have in the game are playing against each other. chardy vs nadal.


Markus Says:

This has become Federer vs Federer.


elina Says:

No such qualifiers necessary.

Fed’s match stats are simply as good or better than they ever were.

Tennis abstract has them all.

No need for emotional subjective fan bias.

Fed is simply stating he is a better player. He’s not talking about his competition which clearly is getting missed here.

At least Fed’s opinion is backed up by his own match stats .


Markus Says:

The statistics that really count are the tournament wins. The Federer Now who is supposedly better than the Federer then has less tournsment wins, especially in the majors. Why is that? This only gives credence to the “weak era” theory. The Federer Then would not have amassed 17 majors if he had the competition that Federer Now has: Nadal and Djokovic. Federer has devalued his careerwith this preposterous claim that at age 34, he is playing better than at 10 years younger. fc


Markus Says:

I don’t know how “fc” got in there, just in case somebody misconstrues it.


Ben Pronin Says:

If we’re talking about Federer’s game, then the results don’t actually matter. What elina is saying is that Federer’s as good as ever, just the guys in front of him are even better. In other words, send Djokovic back to 2005 and he’ll be beating Federer 1 and 2 every time. This isn’t true though. Not by a long shot. Because while Federer has improved his ground strokes, his movement is still no where near what it once was and that makes all the difference in the world.

Tennis abstract doesn’t have everything. Where are the winners/errors per match? You don’t need to look at the numbers to see that Federer isn’t as consistent as he used to be. How do you go from only facing 1 break point against Murray to dropping 4 service games against Djokovic? Is Djokovic THAT much better than Murray or did Federer’s level dip from one match to the next? That consistency is something Federer can never get back. It’s something he had in spades in 05 and his other peak years.

Federer is like Tim Duncan. The guys defy age and time. But you’d have to be crazy to say Duncan is better now than he was in his physical prime when he had the athleticism to match his fundamentals. Federer is the same. His game is stronger and technique-wise he’s better. But he’s not nearly as athletic as he was 10 years ago and that makes all the difference. That’s why he struggles against the top guys who are more athletic than he is.


Okiegal Says:

@Elina……What is surprising to me on this thread is that all of Fed’s faithful followers are calling him a liar! Shocking really…..As I said the other day, Fed certainly isn’t going to say he’s worse than he was 10 years ago, that’s just not how he rolls…… :)


elina Says:

The stats shown are as a result of his movement factored in along with everything else (e.g. racquet/string technology, etc.).

Winners/errors (subjective and not consistently recorded) are also factored in to %points won/lost on 1st, 2nd serve and receiving as is the abstract term consistency (not a match stat).

Struggling against Murray and Nole just supports my point.
Saying that Nole would beat federer 1 and 2 everytime is a straw
man argument.

As is calling Federer crazy .(See what I did just there?)


Ben Pronin Says:

No one’s calling Federer crazy, just disagreeing with him.

But look at what he said, specifically:
“I feel like I hit a bigger serve, my backhand is better, my forehand is still as good as it’s ever been, I volley better than I have in the past. I think I’ve had to adapt to a new generation of players again.”

Which supports the point that his strokes are better. No where does he mention movement or his declined athleticism.

Stop saying the stats are shown and show them to me. Show me the numbers that support your point. I haven’t seen anything to support it. And going solely off stats is nonsensical anyway. It’s part of the equation but not the whole thing. Federer is not as good as he was 10 years ago because it is physically impossible.


elina Says:

Okie, it’s not that surprising.

I suspect because it is self serving as a fan to do so and keep Roger’s legacy protected when his legacy certainly requires no such attempts. This is not a criticism, just a normal response from those fans that love him.

Roger understands that he doesn’t need to defend his legacy and isn’t threatened by recognizing that he is a better player the way that his adoring fans seem to be.

He is very honest and candid.


elina Says:

Ben, these numbers are easily obtained on tennisabstract.com. Just select the years of interest.

His ace %, 1st serve %, 1st serve points won is higher in the last 52 weeks than it was any year from 2003-07 so this completely supports his statement that his serve is better for example. His other stats in the last 52 weeks all fall within the range of the years from 03-07. None are lower.

I think it is amazing that he has improved or maintained every match statistic shown over this time.

Roger is right.

http://www.tennisabstract.com/cgi-bin/player.cgi?p=RogerFederer&f=A2003qq


skeezer Says:

Now some are trying to theorize it more by saying its about protecting Feds legacy. LOL.


elina Says:

By comparison, these same statistics show that Nadal’s level has definitely dropped in the last year compared to his best years in 2008, 2010 and 2013.

His ace %, 1st serve points won and 2nd points won are the lowest.

The other stat I hadn’t mentioned is dominance ratio (DR) which is the ratio of receiving points won over your opponents receiving points won.

Rafa’s is way down at 1.24 compared to 1.32-1.35 in his best years,

Roger is at 1.4 which matches or exceeds every year from 2003-07 with a range of 1.31-1.4 over that time.


Ben Pronin Says:

If he’s winning more points off his serve and his overall percentage of points won falls in the same range as before, then it proves that his bigger serve plays a big part in how he’s winning matches now versus back then. Against Djokovic, who’s the best returner and incredible off the ground, he will obviously struggle more. Why? Because Djokovic is able to neutralize the serve to an extent and he’s able to get the better of him off the ground.

We also notice that Federer’s return numbers are worse than they used to be. Also supporting that his overall points won being the same as it was before is a result of his bigger serve. Federer has a much better serve now than he did 10 years ago. But the rest of his game is worse.

There’s nothing abstract about consistency. We can see this by looking at his numbers from match to match. Unforced errors vs forced errors is subjective, but just total everything and there’s nothing subjective about it, a miss is a miss. And a winner is a winner. So those numbers matter, too. But we don’t see that here. We also don’t see how many winners/errors Federer’s opponents get by him. Why is this overlooked?


FedExpress Says:

Feds return game was and is still good. it is the converstaion rate of break points which has haunted him back then and is haunting him now even more now.
so many matches/tournaments he lost because he couldnt convert break points or take advantage of 0-30 openings(AO 09 final, FO 07 final, US 09 final, US SF 10 and more)
against lesser opponents he gets away with it but not against top players


jalep Says:

elina says:

“I suspect because it is self serving as a fan to do so and keep Roger’s legacy protected when his legacy certainly requires no such attempts. This is not a criticism, just a normal response from those fans that love him.

Roger understands that he doesn’t need to defend his legacy and isn’t threatened by recognizing that he is a better player the way that his adoring fans seem to be.

He is very honest and candid.”

Please elina, I was enjoying my coffee and a breakfast cookie until that – now feeling sick.

Your tennis-x fans can’t take this kind of cloying sweetness and sincerity coming from you.

You are above this. I know you are.


Markus Says:

Why is Nadal being dragged into this? He never said he was better now than when he was younger. This is Federer vs Federer.

Why don’t we wait until the US Open to see if Fededer is right. He’s better now than the young Federer who won 5 of them. By his and the Federer-better-now league’s standard, should win this! If not, this whole thing is just bravado from a fading star.


Markus Says:

Federer is my favorite and I dearly hope he really is better. But I just can’t fool myself into thinking that he is, seeing that he has not won a major in 3 years and except for Wimbledon, can’t even get to the finals.


Ben Pronin Says:

“Feds return game was and is still good.”

No it’s not. It comes and goes. This isn’t even about the numbers. I’m sure we’ve all seen matches this past year where Federer looked like Djokovic out there on returns and then other matches where he looked like Raonic. I’m not sure what it’s a consequence of but he was a lot more consistent on returns in his peak years.

Best example of this is his h2h against Berdych. During his peak years Federer had no trouble handling Berdych’s serve or power. But nowadays he can be caught looking weak against him. Other times he “rolls back the clock”. It’s a symptom of declined athleticism and less consistency in his game. If this isn’t a sign of being a worse player then nothing is.


elina Says:

“We also notice that Federer’s return numbers are worse than they used to be. ”

No, they are in the range from what they were.

The winners/UEs are included in the points won/lost on service and received.

I brought Nadal into this because he admits his game is not where it was which is supporter by the same set of match statistics.


Ben Pronin Says:

What is your arbitrarily defined range?

If numbers are the only thing that matter then admit that Federer is the unquestionable GOAT.


Okiegal Says:

At 34 he can still make some fantastic saves and looks like to me he is moving pretty quickly to do so. Common sense will tell he’s lost a step because of his age……and then I will watch him play and he looks and plays like he’s 20! He will beat many players on the tour now, but will have problems with Novak and Andy because they’re better now than they were ten yrs ago. He and Stan’s match meetings are iffy. I think it’s 50-50 for them. In my books, he’s still movin’ and
groovin’. Dropped to #8 back up to #2 now #3….who does that at 34 yrs of age???? Yeah, he’s still got it!! Who would know the status of their game better than the player??? You know Rafa knows his game sucks atm and he’ll be the first to tell you….just saying.


Sirius Says:

The site is not all that much accurate!

It says Federer served 7.7% aces and had 51.4% first serves in on the USO 2009 final. In the link below you can find that it shows the numbers are 6.6% aces and 49.7% first serves in

http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20090912-M-US_Open-F-Roger_Federer-Juan_Martin_Del_Potro.html


Ben Pronin Says:

The same crowd that wants to take Federer for his word is the same crowd that was furious when Federer said every match is on his racket except Nadal on clay.


elina Says:

2003-07 when most consider him to be at his peak prime years. That arbitrary period.

You know, the period when every match was on his racquet other than Nadal like he said.

He was right then and he is right now.

He no longer makes this claim despite recognizing that he’s a better player now.


Ben Pronin Says:

He made the claim at the end of 2013, his slump season:
http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/11/federer-its-more-my-racquet-anybody-elses/49688/#.VdShyvlVgs8

I wouldn’t include 03 since his game clearly went up another level in 04. But that’s not my question. You said the match stats are in the same range as they were. What is the defined range? I said his RPW is lower than it was in 05, which it is. But you’re saying it falls in some range. What is the range? And how are you defining it?


Okiegal Says:

Rafa and Roger on clay??? That’s a no trainer! I’m a Rafa fan but not furious about Roger’s legacy. I’m very happy with his and Rafa’s results whether it be clay, grass or hard courts. They are both amazing athletes……having said that about Rafa, he’s definitely in a downward spiral, but he’s been there before, but at a younger age. I’m hopeful he can get get some of it back, but looks doubtful. I will accept it whatever the outcome shall be…..no other choice, no??


Sirius Says:

Another inaccuracy

http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20090705-M-Wimbledon-F-Andy_Roddick-Roger_Federer.html

http://www.tennisabstract.com/cgi-bin/player.cgi?p=RogerFederer&f=A2009qq

in the first link it shows that 1st serve in % is 65, 1st serve won % is 88.3 and the 2nd serve won % is 60.9. and in the second one it is 64.5%, 89% and 60% respectively.

that’s .5%, .7% and .9% of differences and that’s in the same site in two different pages. Which one is the correct one??


skeezer Says:

“Which one is the correct one??”
Ask elina.


elina Says:

Range defined by each year end from 03-07 inclusive as selectable onTennis abstract

Okie, exactly. Nothing cloying about it. Just honest.

Like Rafa and Roger.


Ben Pronin Says:

Federer’s RPW, 2nd serve points won, win/loss record, and tiebreak record are all worse in 2015 than they were in 2005. These all point to a declined ground game. His first serve percentage, percent of aces, and first serve points won are higher in 2015 than in 2005. This indicates a better first serve. No argument there.

Elina, you want to agree with Federer now. But do you agree that in November of 2013 that all of his matches were on his racquet barring Nadal at the French?


elina Says:

Sirius good question that should be directed to Jeff Sackmann, the respected sports statistician who runs the site.

http://www.jeffsackmann.com

But I suspect the stats representing each year should be more accurate than any one match as more data trends to average out singular inaccuracies.


elina Says:

Ben to answer your question, it would depend on what Roger meant by the word “it” and more to the point the context and question he was asked which is all too commonly left out in today’s sound bite journalism that looks to generate a story where there is none. See above for example.


rogerafa Says:

In the same ATP article, Roger had this to say about his generation and the two generations that followed the Rafa, Novak and Andy generation:

“With more than one-third of players in the Top 100 30 years or older, he admits that he is surprised the next generation has not yet taken over.

“We definitely had a very good generation of players,” he said. “I still remember my junior years. My year, 1981 and also 1982 and 1980, we were all very strong. It’s nice to see that so many actually made the Tour. Personally, I’m surprised to see how many of them are still hanging in there and still playing.”

The 17-time Grand Slam champion puts it down to two main reasons. “Number one, it was a good generation,” he said. “Number two, the generation that usually pushes players out wasn’t as strong as maybe other ones. I’m talking about the players who are 25 years old right now. That generation only had a few players and the same thing for age 20 right now. There are some good ones, but not like 30 of them when we came along. I think those are usually the guys that push the older guys out. So we’re able to hang on. It’s nice to see because in a few years, many of them won’t be around anymore.”

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/cincinnati-2015-sunday-federer

The certified Roger buffs, who are showing extraordinary and touching devotion to hang on to every word of his as the gospel truth, may now like to abandon their deep appreciation and admiration of Roger’s honesty and candor. I think some may now come to the conclusion that he is dishonest, delusional or positively senile. The part about his game focuses only on a few limited aspects and, therefore, gives a very incomplete picture about his current inability to win majors and the many other factors responsible for it. However, the statement about some of the generations he played against seems rather clear. The insinuation is that he had a tough generation from his own age-group but the Rafa, Novak and Andy age-group has not faced much challenge from the two generations that followed their generation. This has also helped the really old Fed generation but the biggest beneficiaries are from the Rafa, Novak and Andy generation. The weak competition for them seems set to continue unless someone from the current 15 year age-group makes a mark in the coming years.


Sirius Says:

Rogerafa,

well said!


elina Says:

Yes rogerafa well said indeed.


addicted Says:

Federer’s movement has dropped so much that all that even if all the other aspects of his game are indeed better (which I really doubt) it is irrelevant. He is also far less accurate and makes way more mistakes than he did 10 years ago (both also probably affected by his movement, since he can’t get into as good position as early as he did in the past).


Skeezer Says:

^well said.


elina Says:

Maybe but then he’d also have equally or more winners to account for his improved overall match stats.


Skeezer Says:

^backpedaling, give it up.


elina Says:

How so.


Gary Says:

It’s impossible for Fed to be better than 10 years ago. Technique wise he will have improved, but the speed and explosiveness he possessed, together with the consistency and shot making on demand is not as it was.
If you watch matches around 2005-2007 his movement and speed were peerless.The decline really started at the Aus Open in 2008 when he contracted Mono. Although not career ending, it just took the edge off his strength and speed. Also from 2008 the rise of the much slower Plexicushion surface definitely favoured the baseline grinders like Nadal and Djokovic.


Ben Pronin Says:

His match stats didn’t improve overall. They’re more or less the same except that his serve has gradually improved over the years.

You seem hellbent on using stats to determine how good a player is. It’s like saying Carmelo Anthony is a better player than Lebron James because he shoots better. It’s not the case. Federer isn’t as consistent as he was 10 years ago. His consistency has degraded over time due to age: reflexes not as fast, legs not as fast, recovery not as good.

A couple of times Gulbis lost to Nadal he said he felt like was the better player. But he wasn’t since he lost, right? And he lost because he was less consistent. Because consistency is what determines how good a player is. And Federer isn’t as consistent as he was 10 years ago. Therefore he’s not as good as he was 10 years ago. Regardless of the percent of points he’s winning, if he’s losing more matches he’s not as consistent as he was when he was winning 40 straight matches.

Not only that, but in 2005 Federer never lost in straight sets. From early 2004 to late 2006, Federer never lost in straight sets. Nowadays if he loses in straight sets then it’s just another loss.


jane Says:

“consistency is what determines how good a player is” – one of the key factors, anyhow. i’d say it determines how successful a player is.


Georgy Gal Says:

How is consistency determined? Is it determined by results? I don’t think so.
Say a guy runs 100 meters in 10 sec and wins the race but 10 years later runs it in 9.9 secs but is 4th. Looking at the time we can say he has improved. But if we go by results, we will say he has worsened which clearly isn’t true.
In tennis, the problem is made difficult by the fact that there is no absolute measure of performance.
To prove or disprove that Federer is as good or better than ever, we have to agree on what are the acceptable stats. Elina maybe picking stats which support her bias but to counter her, other stats should be produced, not the claim that results prove otherwise. As in the example above, results depend on level relative to the competition.


Ben Pronin Says:

Wouldn’t you say the more successful players are better than the others?


elina Says:

At any point in time, yes. But not at different points in time necessarily (which should be obvious).

10 years ago Fed was undeniably better than others. By a large margin.

Today he is not better than the best in the game, nor is it what he said.

He is simply better than he was, not better than Nole over the last five years and not better than Nadal for much of the last seven.

Better than he was. Which is what he said.

Nadal is worse than he was. Which is what he said.

Both are supported by match statistics. Which is what I said.


Margot Says:

Not getting this at all. In 2006 Andy and Rafa were the only two players to beat prime Rog.
so where were the challenges to him coming from in his own generation or the one above. Always thought a generation was 10 years too.
Top players are consistent yes, but also able to play the clutch points better. How often have we seen a younger/flashier player really take it to the top players. Then along comes the tie break and….oops!


jane Says:

i don’t know ben. i think someone can be a good player but not very successful because not consistent.


skeezer Says:

“Better than he was. Which is what he said.”
He is not better than he was.
His movement is not as good, which can overmatch most other statistics. His serve is the only thing that is better, and that can help other stats as well,(which is another stat cannot be computated).


elina Says:

^backpedaling, give it up.

Nadal’s movement is now poor as is reflected in match stats.

Federer’s movement has slightly dropped but he has made up for it in other ways as he has listed as is reflected in match stats.

Break points aside, very rarely can you not be able to tell who won the match by simply looking at match stats. All of the subjective intangibles come out in the wash.

Federer’s statement is far from outlandish as hard core fans want to believe.

It speaks volumes to his unrivalled longevity.


skeezer Says:

Never said Feds movement is poor, you did. Never said Feds statement is outlandish, you did.
Just don’t agree with some of his statements. His movement is NOT as good as it was during the time periods you try to cherry pick. The serve dictates more the just BP’s. Elina, do you play tennis? Just curious…


jalep Says:

Ben is spot on. 10:15 am …also his other posts about Federer here too make sense. He’s followed Federer, actually watched the matches all these years; at least since 2009 when I first started reading this blog. I trust his analysis over fans who have a bias or pour over statistics with a motive to make them fit into a preferred narrative or theory.

Personally, I don’t believe Federer is physically better than 10 years ago — it defies reason. Perhaps Federer’s own deficit in self-examination plays a part in him not seeing it –combined with his improved serve: that one I believe as to accuracy; also believe experience has made him much more savvy. His change of racket gave him a boost. Add it up and he can claim he’s betterer.

But he’s not. As I said, it’s important that he believes he can win more himself. Believe in yourself, right? But he does admit that he doesn’t take to the court with as much confidence. Bingo…age will do that to you, inevitably. The better and faster a body can recover after performance and stress, the more advantage you have. Aging removes that advantage. He’s remarkable in terms of recovery but not 100% alien. Alien-like performances…yes – all of them Rafa, Andy, Nole, Federer and at age 29, Wawrinka. We love them!

It’s the athletes recovery time that takes the biggest hit with aging.

Just wait and see when your favorite is 34 and see if he’s better than 24. It actually might be possible but simply training harder, altitude training, a better diet, a new racket, ect. are not going to give someone a young body. I think science is working hard on it though.

It is just absurd to me when he says he’s better now than in 2005. Simply Nutz

And it’s more fun to focus on other players anyway, in my case. So…just putting down where I stand on Roger Federer. I’m done with this. Plus need some sleep.

Another thing, thanks to Rogerafa posting the ATP article where this thing originated.

Federer’s insight and analysis of the competition over the years is interesting and I tend to believe him there. But him being better now than 10 years ago? No. In some aspects age and experience add. Yes. But the added age and experience does not compensate for youthful strength, speed, energy…

Still looking for that miracle.


FedExpress Says:

at the end of the day Fed is still in contention for big titles and knows better what he is talking about than we do. its his body after all.


elina Says:

“Never said Feds movement is poor, you did. Never said Feds statement is outlandish, you did.”

Never said either of those things, you did.


elina Says:

FedExpress nailed it.


skeezer Says:

elena,
So you don’t play Tennis then?


jalep Says:

skeezer, I don’t think the biggest % of fans on this site have attempted to keep a high level of performance over 2 decades and that is key to getting it.


Ben Pronin Says:

Federer knowing his body better than us makes no difference at all.

Can we please look at what Federer specifically said?
“I hit a bigger serve, my backhand is better, my forehand is still as good as it’s ever been, I volley better than I have in the past.”

Does Federer have a better serve than 10 years ago? Yes. Is his topspin backhand better now? Yes. Is his forehand still as good? Yes. Is he volleying better? Yes, contrary to what some might say, his technique has improved a lot under Edberg. In his prime years he used to drop the racquet head too soon on forehand volleys. He’s a much crisper volleyer now. We saw an analysis during Wimbledon that showed Federer’s ball toss is way better than it was 10 years ago which means his serve is harder to read than ever.

So what we have here is a guy who’s technique has definitely improved. And as I said originally, in a vacuum, his strokes are better. But that’s not all it takes to be a better tennis player. His movement isn’t as good as it used to be. It’s not so much that he isn’t as fast, it’s that his recovery has taken a hit. And so he could start a match playing amazing but as it goes on his level drops. In 2005, his level didn’t drop (almost) ever. If he was playing well in the beginning chances were he’d be playing just as well if not better towards the end.

So I guess it comes down to how you define a better tennis player. If you think having good strokes is all that matters, then Gulbis, Berdych, Dimitrov are all really good and better than anyone has ever been.

Except that’s not how it works at all. If you’ve ever watched a junior player develop, you know that it’s consistency that matters most. By the time a player is 15, he’s developed the technique that he’s probably going to have for most of his career. There’s tinkering, of course. And in some extreme cases there could be revamps (Mardy Fish and Gulbis forehands, Djokovic’s serve somewhat). But from 15 to 18 it’s the players that develop consistency in their shots that puts them ahead of their peers. Djokovic is ridiculously consistent. At 20 years old he had all the shots. But at 28 he’s able to maintain his shots throughout matches, tournaments, seasons in a way that puts him above everyone. That’s what Federer had in his peak years, too. Unrivaled consistency. Roddick did well on hard courts. Nadal did well on clay. But no one could match his consistency throughout a season. Today? He still has all the shots, but he has lost that consistency.

Jane, if a good player isn’t as consistent/successful as the guy above him, then the guy above him is a better player. Margins might be close but Djokovic > Berdych, for example, and the results show this. Berdych is still good, but Djokovic is better. He’s more consistent and therefore has better results.


Gypsy Gal Says:

The only time ive ever played tennis was when i was at school,never cared for it much,i was always a big netball fan,i did love watching it though,although my knowledge is pretty basic,and it probably shows in my posts on this forum,all i know is better or worse than he was 10 years ago,i would doubt very much Roger cares,i would think the thing he cares most about is winning titles,he was 10 years ago,but not so much now,simply fact is hes 10 years older now….


elina Says:

Preach it jalep


skeezer Says:

Preach it Ben.
elina, you play Tennis?


jalep Says:

you too, elina – preach it hard.

Get back to me after Federer wins US Open, AO, several masters 1000 goes on a streak and gets to #1, Wins gold in the 2016 olympics. I’ll be posting about that in those performances in a place called – “the Cinic”


skeezer Says:

jalep,
You’re post for the most part was spot on also. The realization is that Fed MAY think he is a better player, and when you think about it, you need to feel that way to still compete as well as he does, tells a story. How else would you think? There must be self belief to compete( ask Rafa ).
My beef is that someone studies a bunch of cherry picked stats and wants to show everyone that they are the in-facto status of a players game. Not.


elina Says:

skeezer nailed it.

Except I never said a bunch of cherry picked stats are the in-facto status of a players game, you did.

I said that match statistics support Roger’s claim that he is a better player than he was 10 years ago.

He would beat that player more often than not with experience, improved serve, backhand and volley along with the same forehand along with better string/racquet technology and a larger frame.

So would Nole.


Daniel Says:

If anything this whole argument just proves more and more that Fed is the GOAT and Nadal is a long shot. Fed at least is able to sustain a high level, “if not better” than 10 years ago, while Nadal, as it is, only had a 6 years Spam where he was on top of his form 2008-2013.

Consistency and longevity is part of it and so far Federer is delivering it since 2003.


TL Says:

The problem is we are going only by Fed’s remarks about some of his shots. Can we really expect Fed to say that those shots have deteriorated or not evolved? He is quite exuberant at the worst of times anyway. The racket change appears to have slowed down his decline somewhat but he needed this change several years back when he still was relatively young. His coachless years proved to be detrimental as the game passed him by with more and more slow and bouncy surfaces coming up. Before the racket change, he was getting frequently overpowered. However, despite the new stick, he simply can’t play the kind of game which is needed on most surfaces these days. The recipe for success is not serve and volley as there is hardly a surface with enough pace or low bounce to consistently make it a viable venture even for a player of Fed’s skills. Consistent and aggressive rallying from the baseline is the primary component of that recipe and that requires great athletic ability. If you can grind and last for four to five hours, you are at a great advantage. Fed just can’t do that. He was never an athletic beast but it is difficult for him to play even two grueling sets now. Physically, he just does not have it. Not surprising after 16 years of almost non-stop top-tier tennis approaching 1300 matches. He is now forced to compromise and play a game which won’t work against the best baseliners especially if the match goes long. That is why I think he is done winning majors. That does not mean he can’t bring it all together for one odd match like the one against Murray at Wimby despite Murray serving 74% first serves and playing at a very high level. I wanted Murray to go through to the final since he had a good chance of beating Djoko on grass given the form he was in and his capability on grass. Fed played spoilsport and virtually gifted the title to Djoko just like he gifted it to Raf by beating Djoko in the 2011 FO sf.

The problem for Fed now is that he has to ensure that the match does not go long and that requires a very high level from the start and sustaining it for the duration of the match to close it out preferably in straight sets. Had Murray been able to somehow snatch the third set, he would have been my favorite to win in five.

I think a detailed questionnaire is needed and skillful and nuanced probing is required to understand more clearly what he meant especially in the context of his game’s effectiveness now as compared to 2015. I think he has cut down on speed for a higher first serve and to protect his back. He can hit the occasional hard serve but his serve was never about power anyway. Can he serve as well in pressure or crunch situations? Can he hit the lines or place his serve just as well and as frequently? Can he produce a huge inside-in or inside-out fh at will and without shanks? The bh is more consistent but he had more pop on it even in 2004. Maybe, he hits a good fh or bh when the ball is in his strike zone but, on the stretch, he is not as good. Is he as hungry, motivated, focused and concentrated? Is he training as hard? What about his movement, foot speed, court positioning and shot selection? Gameplan, tactics and strategy? ROS and its related aspects? Stamina, endurance and recovery? Reflexes, eyesight and consistency? Ability and confidence to take more risks or raise his level for big matches or pressure situations? Career targets? How hungry can a player remain after he has achieved whatever is there to be achieved? And a whole lot of other factors which go into the making of a great champion. He has himself said in the past that fatherhood changes perspective and tennis is not your only life anymore.

Undoubtedly, experience and skills can help a lot but there is a reason Laver, Sampras and other greats are not playing pro tennis. I am sure Johnny Mac still possesses great skills. Fed has had a very normal career curve up until 2013 although I think he has underachieved somewhat. The racket change and some weaker competition over the last year have helped him appear better than he should be at this stage of his career. Murray’s long-delayed recent resurgence has rightfully put him in a position where he should belong now. Djoko obviously is the undoubted number one. Rafa’s struggles and Delpo’s absence have also helped Fed. It is still a remarkable achievement but deep inside, even Fed probably knows that he has an extremely tiny shot at any of the majors and that is what REALLY matters.


skeezer Says:

“Except I never said a bunch of cherry picked stats are the in-facto status of a players game, you did.”

I know you didn’t SAY it, but you did DO it.


assia Says:

Sorry, but this is a pretty silly argument. We all know that Fed likes to talk up his game regardless and that’s all he’s doing here. The language he uses doesn’t actually have much to do with reality.
ALL the ex players, ex greats say that it becomes harder to win when you reach 30 – Laver has said this repeatedly emphasising that consistency is the first thing to go as you start to have far more off days where your game just isn’t there. Mentally it’s just more difficult and concentration comes and goes. And we’ve seen this with Fed over and over in the last few years. There’s no way he’s the player he was when he was younger (also in 2011 during Novak’s great year Fed in his thirtieth year was still his biggest threat and probably would have won that 2011 USOPen match if he had had the concentration he had a year or 2 before – although then he would have lost to his perennial nemesis RAfa)


skeezer Says:

“Sorry, but this is a pretty silly argument. ”
Agreed!


elina Says:

jalep, how about I get back to you when Federer wins Cincy this week for the second year in a row.

skeezer, no I DIDN’T, you DID.


skeezer Says:

elina,
This how you in try to end an argument? I didn’t …you did?
You know what parameter rules you based your argument on, so I am not going back and forth ( again ) with petty talk. Failed.


elina Says:

You mean when I pettily said, “Never said Feds movement is poor, you did. Never said Feds statement is outlandish, you did.”

Oh wait. That wasn’t me.

Fail again. Fail better.


skeezer Says:

elina,
For the last time for everyone to see.

Your post:

“Federer’s statement is far from outlandish as hard core fans want to believe.”

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