Federer Still Better-er, But for How Much Longer?
by Sean Randall | September 11th, 2007, 11:57 am

By winning the US Open Roger Federer has again won three Slams in a single season for for the second straight season, and the third time in the last four years. That’s some pretty lofty tennis. ADHEREL

Federer has also reached 10 straight Slam finals and he’s won all 12 non-clay finals. Again, absolutely ridiculous numbers, far and above what his GOAT rival Pete Sampras ever did.

Sampras does still have Roger in finishing six straight years at No. 1 – Roger’s currently at three years and a fourth is now looking quite promising. Pete also won a Davis Cup title for the US. He also spent more time at the No. 1 ranking, and of course finished with two more Slam titles than Roger, though both those last two records will fall, it’s just a matter of when and where.

But what you have to take away from this Slam season is that indeed while Federer is still the best on the planet I don’t think he’s as sharp as he once was and I think that the challengers around him are getting better.

Rafael Nadal has been there with Federer the last few years, no doubt. But now you really have to look at Novak Djokovic as a serious threat to Federer. Even theugh Djokovic choked on the big points during that final you have to respect him for at least getting to that stage. At 20 years, I think he’ll learn from those nerves and inexperience and next time in a big match at a Major against Federer maybe he’ll overcome them and win those critical points.

Let’s face it, Novak should have been up a set if not two against Federer. That doesn’t automatically mean the Serb will go on to win that match but it does show he has the ability to go toe-to-toe with the Swiss.

You could also argue that Fed did not play his best tennis. But when has he of late? He’s had some good stretches – like against Feliciano Lopez – but then also some lulls as we saw against Davydenko.

Or maybe what we saw was Fed at his “new” best. Perhaps he’s no longer capable of bringing that game he had a year or two ago when he was virtually unbeatable. Hard t say either way.

Back to Novak.

There’s naturally a lot of chatter of just how great Novak will be. I could see maybe four Slam titles. Six wouldn’t surprise me. But with him it’s still far too early too tell. Novak’s developed far quicker the rest of his peer group – Andy Murray, Thomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils, Marcos Baghdatis, etc – so I will be interested to see what happens they also hit their stride that is if they ever do!

Right now Novak is clearly the best of that young bunch, but in five years, who the hell knows? Remember how many of us thought when Juan Carlos Ferrero reached No. 1 that he would be at the top for years to come? Or when Marat Safin won his first US Open that he’d win double digit Slams? Who would have believed back then that for both those guys that those moments were basically their crowning achievement?

It’s fun to speculate but in tennis you really don’t know. Injuries, burn out, motivation, mental issues, off court problems, girlfriends, boyfriends, coaches, etc., all directly factor into player performance.

Back to Fed.

I think his days of winning the calendar Slam are likely over and maybe also his days of winning three Majors in a single year. The French is not going to be any easier for him to win – unless Rafa gets injured – and the same goes for the Australian Open and the US Open, where I think Djokovic along with Nadal can be a legitimate threat. That said I still think Roger still has a few more “easy” Wimbledon titles left in him before things start getting difficult on the lawn.

He’s also starting to take the Sampras deceleration approach of focusing solely on the majors, which will likely mean more losses during the season like we have seen this year from Fed while maintaining those Slam victories. Sampras struggled with that late in his career, let see how Federer does midway through his.

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268 Comments for Federer Still Better-er, But for How Much Longer?

zola Says:

good analysis. Djokovic has lots of game. he is still very imature on court and can waste lots of energy. Let’s see how consistent he will be next year. However, he has showed that he can play on all surfaces. he still lacks a bit of fitness and a bit of personality.

I think a lot depends on Rafa’s health. If he is healthy, he will make the net wimbledon hard to get for Federer. AO and USOpen, I don’t know, but Djokovic, Gonzalez, Davydenko, maybe Gasquet and Murray caould be a threat.

I also like the point you made about Fed’s level of play. It has dropped comparing to last year. I think if he had a harder draw in USOpen , he could have lost early. Even in final, a healthy Rafa could have given him trouble. I agree that he is concentrating more on the majors and doesn’t care about master series and smaller tournaments anymore. I think it is very wise. I think Nadal should do something similar and shake off some of smaller tournaments and concentrate on winning majors.

John Says:

I disagree as far as Djokovic. I do not think he will be as good as everyone has been saying as of late. I think this is a tired chorus that was primarily drummed up by John McEnroe. I think
Berdych has the most potential…whether he ever realizes it is another issue. Murray is the absolute most over-hyped player I can remember.

Djokovic also needs to learn a lesson in graciousness from Federer. Federer played some of the worst tennis in recent memory in that final and I cannot agree that it was due to Djokovic’s play. Djoko’s groundies were steady, but there was nothing special about them. Federer simply had an off day. Quite frankly Davydenko played better than Djoko. Despite this Federer never said he played terrible, which was the truth. The closest he got was to saying that he had “played better.”

And as for Federer’s play dropping, I cannot agree. His performance at the Australian THIS year was incomparable. His play at Wimbledon on a grass surface that is SLOWER than the U.S. Open was amazing…he basically defeated Nadal on a grass court that is getting more and more similar to clay especially by the final week when the court is basically a mixture of dirt and loose grass.

As for Rafa…his career is on its last legs…It won’t even last as long as Kuerten’s with the way he plays…

SadSmiles Says:

Sean, I don’t agree with you that Roger will not other majors except for WO. Roger has proven that he has the tools and the above all the brains to out challenge the opponents.Roger is a very smart and has high IQ.He will the top guy for another 3-4 yrs easily. Djokovic is good but not great yet. And he seem to me Hewitt on steriods and let me tell you one thing, lot of guys on the tour can still hurt Djokovic – he is winning and lot of them are long matches. Same problem with Nadal – mileage counts and he is wearing down.I like Djokovic and it seem he is playing the mind game like Federer does , everything is always nice and keep referring to how young he is etc. Its a way to keep up the confidence I guess but he has to proove next year when he has to defend his points.
Lookout for Del Potro!!!

TPlayer Says:

It’s hard to say if the Swiss has 2 or 5 more slams in him. What’s certain is that he’s a magician capable of pulling out shots in crazy situations. He still hasn’t peaked in my opinion. His strategy to increase longevity may result in play that appears less talented than his previous play, but that doesn’t change what he’s capable of. I believe if Novak had gone 4 or 5 sets with him, we would have seen Roger pull out the big guns. That said, I’ve seen him crumble to Rafa before, but I don’t think that Novak has the same tendency to stay consistent throughout the match pulling out one outlier shot after another like Rafa does.

Overall, the competition is nipping at Roger’s heels, but the man has proved again and again that when given a target, he can meet it. He’s wiped out the generation of Roddick, Safin, Hewitt, Gonzo, Robredo, etc. This younger generation will produce the champion that succeeds him, but I think Roger will raise his game as he views what is coming. Areas of improvement for Roger: faster and better footwork, more tactical use of his serve and volley game, maintain a higher first serve percentage, and preparation for longer points even with his killer shots.

ross Says:

Fed is FAR fitter that what Sampras ever was, with almost as economical a game in terms of stress on the body.

If Sampras could win the US open at age 31 – its ridiculous to start building up the demise of Fed, especially soon after he won 3 slams this year!! he’s done it 3 times in 4 years (3 slams per year) – all the players put together in the open era have done it only twice (connors in 1974, wilander in 1988).

All Fed had this year were a couple of bad months when he went 7-4. That we know was due to his troubles with Tony Roche. once he got rid of him, he’s back. Did you watch his match against Roddick? Fed looked as sharp as he ever has. The semi and final were windy, so both players were making errors.

Lets see who’s right eventually. So far, ALL fed detractors have had to eat their words again and again and again, every year.

Fed will be at his peak at least another year (2008). After that, he will win at least a slam every year till 2012. He is very motivated to win the olympics in wimbledon, so he will work hard till then at least. Of course, unforeseen injuries is a different matter.

11 slams in 4 years!! Tiger woods would be happy to even come close to that.

Nara Says:

Great point about Federer’s “new best” vs. what we’re used to seeing from him. He seemed as sharp as ever against Lopez and A-Rod but was really terrible against Djokovic. Only think I can chalk it up to is the wind.

I think Fed has his A-game less often than in the past but has grown mentally stronger. I really think he needs a coach to shore up the few remaining weaknesses (2nd serve return, his own 2nd serve and forehand volley) and plan his tactics better. The gap is diminishing and he needs to start doing some new things to win as consistently as in the past.

jane Says:

I agree with Sean and Zola – yours is a good breakdown of possibilities while still allowing for x – factors, like injuries and other unforeseen issues.

Sadsmiles – I agree that Del Potro should be counted amongst the young up-and-comers for sure. I wonder if Isner will amount to anything, besides being a giant with a wicked a serve? If he could round out his game, he’d certainly be a threat.

John – I agree that Federer was playing fabulously at this year’s Australian Open, but he seemed less so at the Open, at least in those matches that Sean mentions above.

2008 should be a fun year for fans – lots of possibilities for breakthroughs like Djok’s had this year.

sg62 Says:

The whole concept of Fed’s “new best” is the key. In fact, this “new best” will surely continue to develop and evolve in the coming years. As he ages beyond the prime tennis years his ability to adapt, conserve energy, frustrate opponents with tactics, and turn everything up to full-out mental and physical on the critical points is now, and will continue to be for the next few years, what separates his genius from the rest. I’m not at all a Federer fan but it requires a certain type of “denial blindness” to not recognize his extraordinary ability to win just about anywhere against anyone (except v. Rafa in Paris). All the while he is raising the level of play across the board and the ATP is much the better for it, even in the face of his domination.

penise Says:

What I find mind blowing is that Fed wins three of the four slams even though he was down two break points in the fifth against Nadal at Winby and also faced seven set points to the Joker. In the final analysis he “dominates” but under the surface he just squeaked by. He is like michael Jordan finding a way to win.

I think the main problem for Fed against Joker and Rafa is nerves. Fed showed unbelievable game in the early rounds at the Open – – faster than ever, serve better than ever, etc. Then he got tight against Joker. It is not his skills, it is the nerves and the pressure that gets to him.

jane Says:

sg62 –

You make a great point about Federer: he does push other players to raise their levels, which can have fantastic results, say, with Rafa overall (a guy who will no doubt continue to improve if he stays healthy), or even Roddick, whose level of play against Federer at the Open was darn good. Lopez even came out blasting 2nd serve aces. So players who rise to the challenge in the next couple years should start to see results.

I predict Fed will still win – a lot – but that he’ll be pressured more, and lose more matches than in the past few years, maybe even at the Slams, possibly even before the finals.

Anyhow, it’ll be interesting to see how much Federer improves his already remarkable game (or if he does at all, which you’d think he will since he is eyeing various records and knows there will be more challengers), and by proxy, how much that motivates the hungry, younger players to improve – some will wilt; some will fight. Either way, it’s a good moment to be following tennis.

Ryan Says:

I do agree with sg62, Nara, Ross,Tplayer ,John, SadSmiles and penise.Like penise said nerves do get to Fed especially with opponents trying to close the gap with him.But now that his name is already in the records for wimbledon and US open i wonder if he’ll be more relaxed next year.A lot of people say that djok would have fed for 2 sets to love if he had converted those 7 set points.But my view is that if djok had won that first set Fed would have raised his game like he did in Montreal and won that second instead of giving 2 more break points to Djok.I do agree with the guys here that he is trying to be more economical in the way he plays since he wants to play atleast till 2012 olympics.This could mean he is taking a risk to see whether his opponent breaks down in his service games or if he has to bring his A game to beat him.Maybe he feels that whether he just inches past them or if he beats them 6-0 6-0 6-0 the money is the same and a win is a win.

John (1) Says:

Before the US Open these were my picks:

QF: Federer/Roddick, Davydenko/Blake, Robredo/Djokovic, Safin/Ferrer
SF: Federer/Blake, Djokovic/Safin
F: Federer/Djokovic
W: Djokovic

During the Open, my opinion shifted somewhat.

I was surprised that Nadal got as far as he did.

I no longer thought that Djokovic would win.

I thought the winner would be Federer.

The bottom line:

Many a good player have slowed their progress through injuries. I think Nadal will be the next. His knee problems, if not attended to, will only get worse.

Djokovic seems to me to be the new James Blake. Blake was expected to be great. That hasn’t happened. Before the Djokster wins his first slam, let’s not get too excited.

p.s. The next match that I’m really looking forward too, is Nadal vs Djokovic. My guess is that Nadal didn’t like the Djoker’s impression of him and will be looking to totally destroy him on the court.

zola Says:

I had no doubt that Fed would win over the Joker. THis is the final of a Grand Slam. very different to Montreal or any other tournament. Federer playing in a grand slam final would never surrender to anyone let alone the Joker.

fed plays very economically. Even confronting Roddick, he did not kill himself but won the match. One can argue that any of his opponents, say Lopez, Roddick, monaco, as well as Joker could have been a winner. The fact is that they are not because as you said Fed knows when to top up his game.

So far the best he has played has been against Nadal in Rome 2006, Shanghai 2006 and Wimbledon 2007. Because Nadal also plays exceptional when playing Federer. I also believe that in Wimbledon final, the result of the fifth set could have been different if Rafa was not injured, but that’s another story. For now the fact is that Fed knows when to play how. maybe another year or more till someone like Joker can break him in a final.

funches Says:

Fed actually played better this year than last, and the people who think otherwise are either watching with their hearts rather than their eyes or forgetting what Fed’s game looked like last year.

I’ll update this stat even though it never draws a response: In 25 grand slam matches against players not named Nadal this year, Fed lost four sets. That’s remarkable, incredible, extraordinary, choose your superlative here. He lost zero sets at the Aussie Open. He lost one set on his way to the Roland Garros final. He lost one set at Wimbledon. That’s pretty good since no one man gone through a grand slam without losing a set since Borg in 1980.

Fed is serving better than ever this summer and far better than he did the last few years, when his serve appeared less effective than in the first year he won Wimbledon. His only problem is that he gets tight in finals, something he did not do until the Aussie Open final of 2006. That, by the way, was the worst he’s ever played in winning a slam.

Djokovic is a real challenger for him, but Fed has more game than the Djoker. Nadal will always give him trouble, but it is becoming clear that Rafa can’t get far enough to play Fed in the hard court slams.

I’m at a loss to figure out how anyone can think Fed is slipping.

Ryan Says:

Does anyone feel that Novak was better this time against Fed than when they faced in the Australian open.Maybe a better first serve.Or is it that Fed made Novak look better this time around since he didnt play great tennis like in Australia?

funches Says:

And John, you’ve really hit on it. Just being a great player and trying to win Slams was not enough to motivate Nadal. He needed Djokovic to mimic his pre-serve delivery before he could get motivated to beat him.


funches Says:

Man, you were on quite a roll with that post, John. Djokivic is the new James Blake? Hmm. One, he’s much better than Blake. And two, no one thought Blake would be great. He was a freakin’ college tennis player for two years. He’s already exceeded every expectation anyone had for him when he turned pro. I’ve still never heard any tennis expert say Blake is a likely Slam winner.

jane Says:

funches –

Rafa had seen Djok’s impression before the US Open; Djok’s been doing that one for a while. Fed’s the newest addition to his act.

Has anyone read anything that suggests Rafa is angry? He just doesn’t seem like the type of player to hold a grudge or exact revenge. But I’d love to know more about which players are offended, as Federer stated in his p.c. interview

Rafa and Djok’s rivalry will be the one to follow in the immediate future I think. So far Rafa has the edge on all surfaces except hard.

sg62 Says:

To your specific point on Roddick’s raised level… Can you imagine his game without the “Federer factor”? He’d still be relying strictly on blasting serves and then working solely at the baseline hoping to line up a blistering forehand in between way-too-numerous slice backhands. Kudos to him for being willing to completely alter his game and work toward becoming more of an all-court player – knowing that is his only hope for possibly getting Fed. Though he lacks some touch at the net and isn’t as quick as some, he’s still a much better overall player, as so many others on the tour now are. As fans we are all witness to the increasing demise of the boring all-power baseline-only game on the Men’s Tour. And for that we should all be grateful for the “Federer Factor”.

jane Says:


I agree with your points about Roddick, and agree 100% with your point that Federer has caused all the players to look for winning solutions, and to not rely solely on 1 or 2 strengths (as Agassi mentioned during the Roger VS. Andy match).

I also think it’s great that game tactics are changing as a result.

jane Says:

Regarding Rafa being the least bit perturbed by Djok’s fun and games, there’s an article at the ATP website about Rafa sending Djok champagne after Djok beat him in Montreal.

Here’s a quote from said article:

“Despite being the No. 2 and No. 3 players in the world and sharing the same media manager, Djokovic and Nadal engage only on a limited basis, a deeper friendship hindered in large part by language barriers. Djokovic speaks four languages but not Spanish, leaving the players to communicate in English, Nadal’s No. 3 language and one in which he is not proficient. What connects them is business: a common goal to challenge Roger Federer for the ATP World No. 1 ranking.”

sg62 Says:

Regarding Rafa and any presumed ill-will… Thanks for that quote from the ATP article, Jane! Personally I think one of the best things our sport has going for it is that the top 2 players are indeed such downright classy men of character and sportsmanship. And I sense similar attributes in Djoker, notwithstanding his penchant to just want to make people laugh.

When you hear about Rafa buying congratulatory champagne for an opponent who’d just vanquished him, or about Roger offering seats for Rafa and his girlfriend on Roger’s private jet after hearing that Rafa was having trouble getting a flight between Montreal and Cincy… Heck, when you just witness the pure sportsmanship and respect that Rafa and Roger so obviously display toward each other after their brutal battles… These are the kind of good things that reflect so well on the sport of tennis.

Sean Randall Says:

As for arguing that Fed’s play isn’t slipping, he’s lost more matches this year (six) than he did in 2006 or 2005 (in 2004 he lost six), and he has just six titles.

Yes, you could argue that he’s stepped up in Slams, but this year, unlike past years, he was on the brink of losing the Wimbledon final and should have been down a set in the US Open final.

That said his serve has really come up big for him.

Sadsmiles, yes Del Potro is also in the group of young guns. Hope the kid can get some better court movement and use that height on his serve. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he’ll be the next Top 10 Argy.

John1, Djokovic the new James Blake? Wow! That’s quite a statement. From what I recall Blake was never pegged to be a tennis superstar or really even a Top 20 type of player. In my mind he’s the biggest overachiever on the circuit.

Funches, while set stats may make the argument that Fed’s played better this year in Slams, bottom line in the Wimbledon and the US Open finals he was pressured like never before. Even though Fed won the US Open final in straight sets is wasn’t as comfortable a victory as his win last year in four sets over Andy Roddick in the title match.

Federer also looked unusually ragged against Davydenko and against Roddick he looked a little flat.

It also seems to me like he’s having more trouble returning serves. (will have to dig into the stats to see any confirmation of that one!)

Ryan, Novak played pretty well and didn’t get much respect for it in his match against Fed at the Australian, but I think Novak played even better on Sunday.

Voicemale Says:

The only problem I have with Djokovic is that he’s an obvious Media Whore. He never met a camera he didn’t like, all so he can go “Politicking” in front of it. The imitations, overall, make him look like some sort of Lounge Lizard Tennis Player. And he’s got way too much drama on the court during his matches, e.g., all the exaggerated gestures as a “victim” of near misses or his own bad shots; the screaming & petulance. Big Big Drama Queen, that Djokovic is. Shame too, because he’s got a lot of game. He needs to grow up and understand HE’s not bigger than Tennis itself.

Roger & Rafa have demostrated not only a class between them on and off the court, but to others also. You can see the profound disappointment in each when Fed lost the French & Rafa lost Wimbledon, but each of them were nothing but gracious & full of praise for their conqueror. Contrast that with Djokovic, who retires at Wimbledon and then walks off the court smiling & waving to the crowd; and after losing The Open before the ceremony walks out onto the court for no purpose other than to oblige the crowd to applaud & cheer for him so he could lap it up, as though HE won the thing. He’s a Straight Up, Grandstanding Media Whore. But I LOVED Federer’s comment to him at the ceremony, said he felt bad that Djokovic LOST IN STRAIGHT SETS (subtext: scew you, you little Serbian Wannabe – don’t forget I’m the boss around here)!! What a brilliantly disguised mocking of Djokovic. Loved it.

Tejuz Says:

Voicemale.. well said… i couldnt have phrased it better. Thats my opinion about Djokovic as well.. just that i dint get the words to describe it. ‘Media Whore’ … or .. ‘Drama Queen’

Djokovic acted as if the match was on his racquet. We he certaionly lost those set points more than Fed won it.. But he has got those set points himself because Fed had lost those rather than him winning it. If it was a 5 set match and the had he choked in the 5th set he could have acted that way.. but straight sets is straight sets.. and its no different than the straight sets against roddick or Davydenko. Nadal has always put a better fight in the finals.. taking it to 4 or 5 sets atleast.. Also the slam finals that Fed lost were all 4-setters.

And Sean, if you remove the stretch between Indian wells and Rome(when Fed has trouble with his coach), Fed has been performing just as well as last year or even better. Credit to Fed that he responded back from that slump and won 2 more GS WITHOUT a coach.

Yeah.. we take it for granted that Fed doesnt need a coach… but what would happen to Nadal or Djokovic is they dont have a coach by their side??? Also… Fed’s struggles this year doesnt mean that he cant ‘UP’ his level next year. Probabaly he doesnt need to.. unless soemone else forces him to.

FoT Says:

Sean, when you had only lost 15 matche in 3 years – sure, you may not keep that up again, but to say Roger is ‘slipping’ is stupid, I think. Especially for a player to have made 10 straight grand slam finals. Maybe – just maybe – the other players are playing a little better? Instead of pulling Roger down – maybe give credit to the other players. Any way you look at it, his record is still amazing. Sure, he ONLY has 6 titles this year, but 3 are grand slams and 2 are master series titles! What player in the world wouldn’t trade places with that?

sg62 Says:

I couldn’t agree more with FoT. Why are we judging how WELL Roger won his matches? The ONLY thing that matters is who wins. Geez, are we forgetting something? The other players are changing their games and working their asses off to find a way. But at the end of the day, When it’s a Slam or even a Masters it isn’t about style points it’s about who wins on Sunday. (And, of course, even playing on Sunday means you had to beat a few decent players along the way.) Again, I’m not trying to come off like a Rog fan but it is laughable when people criticize him b/c his win wasn’t as dominant or beautiful as a year before or at some previous tourney or something. I guarantee that A.Rod would KILL for an ugly win v. Fed as opposed to being admired for yet another well-played loss. It’s all about the win. And Fed has some other-wordly way of finding a way to do so – especially when he’s in a final even on an off day (like last Sunday in NYc).

rjnick Says:

The problem for a player like Djokovic is that Roger and Rafa have set the bar insanely high.
They’re already future Hall-of-Famers. And they’ve never lost to anyone but each other in a Grand Slam final. It’s a lot to live up to.

But I think Djokovic’s bigger problem is the obnoxious hype that the American media so generously lavished over him for two weeks. If he’s not careful, his downfall will be his pretty clear belief in that hype. (Just ask Roddick or Sharapova how hard that fall can be).

Do you think for a second that Rafa or Roger would be caught dead performing stupid player tricks on a Grand Slam tennis court for the cameras and crowd? Not likely. And it illustrates why they are tennis gods and the likes of Novak Djokovic can only ever hope to be mere tennis greats.

(Seriously Novak? Maybe instead of mimicking Rafa’s butt-picking, mimic his game and his attitude. Maybe then you would have at least won a set).

ross Says:

Sean Randall and others,

yeah right, Roger’s game is slipping. After all he has lost SIX matches this year, and LOL, 15 matches in the last 3 years!! Sampras’s game never slipped, he ALWAYS lost about 14-15 matches a year, consistently, during his peak year. That was SO GREAT, SO MUCH CONSISTENCY, not like the SLUMP that Roger is in, with only 3 slams and 4 slam finals this year. Pete was SO consistent with NEVER more than 2 slams per year. Now that’s performance, isn’t it?

Take off your “American biased” goggles, and see what’s in front of you, don’t just keep denying it for the sake of it!

Tiger Woods has never played as well as Fed as over the last 4 years. Take that.

Tejuz Says:

:-) as per Sean …..

if others play well against Fed.. that means .. ‘Fed is slipping’.

if others dont play well.. then.. ‘This is the AGE of NO COMPETiTION’

So.. Sean.. what do u want from Fed???

Dancevic FAN! Says:

Eventually Fed’s days of winning 3 slams in a year will end, he is 26 now so getting to his peak on the tennis tour. Maybe that’s the case next year – he is going to change his schedule so it could do more harm than good but I’m sure he doesn’t expect to continue producing the same results now even if he holds the same schedule – he knows he’s only going to get older now.

A smart champion does only what he needs to win a match, or a tournament. I think Federer’s done quite a remarkable job of doing what he needs to win matches, even if each one is not at that incredibly high standard of tennis that he’s capable of playing.

Sampras still has better records and it is possible that Federer won’t break some of them…that’s alright, he’s already proven to me that he’s better than Sampras. On clay only Nadal can topple him – if it wasn’t for Nadal Fed would already have tied Sampras’ slam record.

Tejuz Says:

And pointing to Fed’s slipping.. the only time he slipped was during the time between Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.

Last year he won 3(GS) + 4(MS) + 1(MC) + 4(smaller tournaments) and runner-up at 1(GS) + 2(MS) + 1(Dubai)

This year he has won 3(GS) + 2(MS) + 1(Dubai) and runner-up at 1(GS) + 2(MS).
He has played just one tournament outside of GS and Masters series(as opposed to 5 last year)..so that is 4 titles minus from the 12 last year. He still has to play Madrid, Paris, Tokyo, Basel and MC. So that could still be 5 more titles for him.

Djokovic still has lots to be achieved before he can be called a genuine threat for No 1 ranking.
As of now.. he is more a ‘drama queen’.
Certainly one cannot imagine other tennis greats like Lendl, Becker, Edberg, Borg, Mc Enroe etc mimicking other playes on a tennis court to grab attention. Fed is right… he is walking a tight-rope. right now.. he is just a ‘Joke.. who choked big time’

sg62 Says:

Wow, Ross takes the gloves off with regards to American sports fans. Like me. But he’s also right. I’m amazed at anyone who tries to take down Fed. Just looking for actual cracks in his armour is a 24/7 job. I wish you the best. It’s like spending your waking hours trying to find little flaws in a Monet.

I’ve been a huge fan of Tiger since he was an amatuer phenom. And I still love the pall that a 3rd round lead of his can cast over the field. But the reality is that NO ONE in the present athletic world – where, thanks to exhorbitant money and uber-precise training, talent is FAR deeper than it has ever been – is so dominant than that dastardly Fed.

And that he takes it in such stride while also holding smartly to enough fear to keep himself on the right edge and motivated is all the more remarkable (navigating thru those “nerves” that some have the gall to reference like it’s a weakness).

Jeremy Says:

It’s getting more interesting now that roger doesn’t cream everyone who crosses his path (grand slams nothwithstanding).

both nadal and novak have shown that their bodies are prone to breaking down far earlier in their 20’s than roger so who knows how they will fare?

and it sure isn’t rocket science saying that roger can’t keep winning three slams a year. no one could ever keep up that level of play.

i have to say i was surprised to hear that novak’s mom told the media that she thought her son was ‘better than federer’ (in the final) and only lost due to his ‘long summer season and inexperience’.

i think we all can agree on the inexperience part (read: nerves) but it sounds like someone else other than serena needs to enrol in the ‘how to lose graciously 101’ course.

Sean Randall Says:

Tejuz, what I want from Fed is his forehand, backhand, footwork, serve, volley, mental awareness and poise. I can do without his dropshot and Mirka (no offense), for now.

No really, I do think that Fed is slipping a bit while at the same time his competition is improving. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m not criticizing Fed. It’s only inevitable.

Could it one more than the other – maybe Fed’s maintained and everyone’s catching up? Perhaps. You could make that argument.

But I say Fed’s slipping because he’s had some losses that I don’t think a few years ago he would have suffered – namely Canas twice and Volandri.

Fed also has played a few more poor matches. He should have lost to Baghdatis in Cincy, but Marcos choked. Fed also had a tough match with Hewitt.

And granted he now says he’s focusing only on Slams now, so maybe he’s not giving his full attention in those non-Slam matches. But eventually that attitude will bite him at the Majors. You can’t keep “flipping the switch” and expect to win Slams like you maybe can in women’s tennis.

And as I said earlier, at the open I thought he didn’t play well against Davydenko and again with Roddick, he really struggled with Roddick’s serve. And that’s not to say Roddick has an easy serve, but I’ve seen Roger handle it much better in the past than he did last Wednesday night. Andy did serve great but he’s served great against Roger before and Roger’s KO’d him.

Maybe some stats can back up my claim. I will try to look it up.

i get bored Says:

Sean, This is neither analysis nor editorial. It’s a shot in the dark. You are a potato head and troll. Read ross’ post eight more times and get a clue…

While Federer is the verge of completing another season that is arguably among the most successful in tennis history, your suggestion that his next season won’t be as successful doesn’t say very much interesting, compelling or new…

We would all appreciate seeing more articles with depth and insight.

Thank you.

sg62 Says:

I guess I’m not as astute a tennis observer as I thought. Roger didn’t handle Andy’s serve last Wednesday? I thought Andy did exactly what he had to do: Serve huge, hit big, and be all over the court. Roger was consistently returning 140+ serves to just get in the point. As well as Andy served in terms of both huge pace and terrific 1st serve consistency I have to ask: What did I miss?

Sean Randall Says:

Here are a few quick #’s i dug up:
From last year to this year Fed at the US Open
Sets Played was equal at 23 for both years
Fed played 2 more tiebreaks in 2007 vs. 2006
Fed broke the server 7 fewer times this year compared to last year
Fed hit 281 winners this year (in 13 more games) compared to 320 last year
Fed won 78% on his first serves this US open, compared to 81% last year
Fed won 65% on his second serves this US Open, compared to just 53% last year
Fed served 60% first serve this year compared to 62% in 2006

Unforced errors was not avail…

sg62, Andy did serve great last Wednesday night, but not until late in the match did Roger really get a good grasp on his serve. At least that’s what I felt, hence two tiebreaks in the first two sets. I’ve seen Andy serve great before against Roger, but I’ve seen Roger handle it better than what he did the other night. That’s all. My observation, maybe I’m wrong! I guess it’s neither here nor there as they say…

Tejuz Says:

Sean.. Federer certainly has played patchy tennis even last year or the year before that. Nothing new.. its just that he has player fewer matches this year than last yea. If you think he shuould have lost to Baggy at this year’s cincy.. he could have lost to many players last year at Halle and Totonto .. most of which had gone to 3-sets. he could have lost to Roddick at Master’s cup, lost to Murray in straight sets.

Probabably he did slip during the period of March-May when he lost to Canas and Volandri, but he did a damn good job of coming back strongly. Probabaly you should refer to your own posts back then.. when you said it would be very hard to come back after those defeats. But he did come back .. without a coach.. and very strongly. He answered Nadal.. he answered Djokovic .. he answered as to why he is the best and why the No 1 ranking is no cake-walk and remains a dream for most of them.

max619 Says:

Convincing Sean about Fed’s greatness is simply a useless passion.

Lenny Says:

No offence Sean, but those stats don’t prove much. Has Fed looked a tad less sharp this year? Maybe. But the point is a few percentage points here, a few less winners there don’t mean a THING. There’s a saying, ‘there are lies, damn lies and stats’ :-). Bottomline. In tennis you can win fewer points and games that your opponent and STILL WIN. In the end, as anyone who knows anything about this glorious sport will tell you, it doesn’t matter how many points you win, it’s WHICH points you win. And that, IMO, is where Fed’s genius lies. On his worst day (which, BTW, would still be a great day for most other players) he can still pull out the win. Unless his opponent is spectacular. Look back on the Wimbledon final. Rafa had him on the ropes, it came down to the couple of break points that he was facing and the magnificent serves he seemed to find at will. That was it – two points basically made the difference.

As for the Sampras v/s Fed for the GOAT debate, for me it’s already Fed for the simple reason that he’s just classier. With the exception of Agassi, Sampras NEVER gave his opponents credit for beating him. He only lost if he was having an off day. Real nice attitude.

Kara L. Says:

Federer is as good as he needs to be, no more and no less. He played the whole US summer hardcourt swing this year (as opposed to tanking a hardcourt MS) and by his own admission, he was mentally and physically exhausted by the effort. The fact that he dropped a couple of sets isn’t a sign of decline, that’s panic-mongering if I ever saw it. Guy’s probably got a couple of slams or more left in him. The question that really needs to be asked is how many slams are left in Nadal’s knees?

yellowballspanker Says:

Sean, have to agree with many of these posts. Suggesting Fed’s level of play is dropping just doesn’t add up. He is winning matches, especially the big ones and that is the bottom line. No one is going to remember his stats when he has 16 or 17 slams. And don’t forget, the other players are getting better.

He’s starting to play like Sampras, preserving his body for the long haul. That means exerting just enough effort to win a set. That’s all it takes, you just have to win sets.

Look at his effort during each mach, especially in this tournament. When did you ever see him really struggling physically? Meanwhile Djokovic was getting yanked around that court just like Rafa, Hewitt, Roddick, and everyone else who plays him does. Every now and then, Fed will really reach and stretch for a ball, but nothing like Djoko who was doing the splits out there sometimes.

Fed plays at 80 percent max, while everyone else HAS to play at 95 or more for every point to keep up with him. Fed won’t push himself to 100 percent effort because he knows you can’t consistently win matches week to week at that level. Canas did it for a short period… he killed himself to win those matches and now is gone. Rafa burned himself out again this year playing 100 percent. Djoko burned himself out during the Open. Roddick burns his shoulder out hitting those serves at 100 percent. That’s why his forehand gets slower and slower during a match… it turns to nothing more than spin which most guys can handle easily.

So watch carefully at Fed’s physical effort next time. You’ll see the genius of his game, and how he is playing even better than last year. And again, remember the other players are getting better, yet Fed continues to beat them all. I think he’ll need to go almost 100 percent at the French to win it, but if he does, that’s the year he’ll lose at Wimby.

Ryan Says:

I think as fed is getting older he is becoming a bigger and bigger mental monster.I was holding my breath in that US open final when djoko had those set points.His undying belief that he can win is more than anybody else out there.The losses to canas was because he was too focussed to win on clay.The volandri thing was because he was mentally upset over some fight with tony roche.People used to say that fed could crack if he was tested,that he was having cakewalk wins and all that bullshit.This year’s wimbledon proved it.Not only did he hold his own serve in the fifth set, he broke Nadal’s serve twice something he could never do until that fifth set.Some say it’s because Nadal was injured,he gave it up mentally and all that…but thats bullshit and people who say it know that themselves.Nadal is not someone who gives up mentally.Check out rome 2006 final.By the way Djokovic is just trying to be like fed in his all round game.There is only 1 fed and all the others who try to be like him are boring duplicates.All i can say is that djoko does have the all round fundamental shots but can never produce the kind of magic shots which fed brings out.I think gasquet has more of a chance to be like fed in his game but mentally i dont think so.If djoko ever thought that he could beat fed by copying fed’s style he should have known better. There is only 1 real slim shady………

Tejuz Says:

djokovic is more of a grinder with nice forehand and backhand. he isnt a natural volleyer like Fed.. and his service action isnt great to watch..unlike fed, sampras, safin etc. Berdych, Gasquet and Baggy time the ball more sweetly than him and appear more talented but less consistent. But they are forces to reckon.. and sooner than later they will ve vying for the top spot.

But there can only be one Fed.. and no other.

jluzu Says:

I’ve read all of these comments and it just made me laugh… First of all, how could you say that federer is getting worse (cause that’s sean’s thesis and some other guys in this forum…) if he just won 3 grand slams and 2 master series, how could you say he is getting worse when he is the only player that beat nadal in clay in the past 4 years when according to some of you he was in a “DOWNSLOPE”..? or did you forget about that?….. you all are saying that he is no longer winning as brilliant as he has done in the past… like FoT post: “Sure, he ONLY has 6 titles this year, but 3 are grand slams and 2 are master series titles! What player in the world wouldn’t trade places with that? “… thats the real greatness of roger he wins the titles that matters! the titles that go down in history not those titles that will only be remembered by the ballboy who had the pleasure to passed him the matchpoint ball before the serve…! sure he would problably not win 12 titles again but did you realize that federer is the only man in the open era to win at least 10 titles in 3 years in a row… do you realize that the 12 titles which he won last year are more that the number of total titles that for example: blake, haas, davydenko, djokovic, ljubicic, ferrer and berdych had won in their entire carrers… so don’t pretend roger do that every single year, although there are 5 more tournaments roger is going to play and don’t be surprise if he won those in a “ugly” fashion… roger appears that is getting bored for me, that he just doesn’t enjoy going every single time to a court and destroy opponents, i think he just let them get close and then when he wants to, he decides is time to put those guys in their places and he does it and make tennis more exciting for people like us to open a forum like this and discuss about “how ugly or pretty he wins”…. so stop talking a lot of bullshit, give him a break and realize that you have been blessed to be born in the Federer’s era, and be witnesses of the greatest athlete in the history of sports!!!

grendel Says:

Zola: once again, you suggest that Nadal’s injury may have affected Wimby result. The argument has been put against this, but you never respond to that, simply trot out the old injury mantra. I’ll repeat an argument I made earlier, nearer the time. If you think it’s wrong – and perhaps it is – why is it wrong?

In the first bunch of break points for Nadal in 5th set, at 15-40, Nadal returned a solid serve long, error of concentration perhaps. At 30-40, Nadal hits an aggressive backhand crosscourt which keeps very low – surely a winner (and thus the break). But Federer somehow scoops it up, but instead of defensively popping it over the net, which is all one might have thought possible, he somehow delivers a powerful forehand to the line which Nadal can’t control – deuce; Fed fans wipe their brows.

In next service game, Fed again in deep, deep trouble. He essentially Samprased (Oxford Dic: “to Sampras” – deliver unreturnable serves at break points) his way out of the pit.

Now for Federer breaking Nadal for first time in that 5th set:
0-15 (net cord)
0-30 (spectacular Fed winner on 6th stroke after saving an apparently certain Nadal winner to the corner).
0-40 (admittedly ordinary serve, Fed’s winner on 4th stroke)
15-40 (Fed beaten by serve)
Game to Federer. After a GOOD serve, which is blocked defensively, Federer wins the point with a stunning forehand on the 14th stroke!

It has been suggested that Nadal’s serve was affected by the injury. The analysis of that crucial first break does not lend credibility to this thesis.

I reckon Nadal was beaten fair and square in a magnificent match. Close, certainly. So what?
Over to you, Zola.

Sean: I agree that Fed was not handling Roddick’s serve as well as he normally does. I earlier posed the query: was this because Fed was not quite as good or, had Roddick himself raised his serving level? Must be one of those two, or even both. Any ideas?

grendel Says:


Once again, you suggest that Nadal’s injury may have affected the Wimby result. The argument has been put against this, but you never respond to that, simply trot out the old injury mantra. I’ll repeat an argument I made earlier, nearer the time. If you think it’s wrong – and perhaps it is – why is it wrong?

In the first bunch of break points for Nadal in 5th set, at 15-40, Nadal returned a solid serve long, error of concentration perhaps. At 30-40, Nadal hits an aggressive backhand crosscourt which keeps very low – surely a winner (and thus the break). But Federer somehow scoops it up, but instead of defensively popping it over the net, which is all one might have thought possible, he somehow delivers a powerful forehand to the line which Nadal can’t control – deuce; Fed fans wipe their brows.

In next service game, Fed again in deep, deep trouble. He essentially Samprased (Oxford Dic: “to Sampras” – deliver unreturnable serves at break points) his way out of the pit.

Now for Federer breaking Nadal for first time in that 5th set:
0-15 (net cord)
0-30 (spectacular Fed winner on 6th stroke after saving an apparently certain Nadal winner to the corner).
0-40 (admittedly ordinary serve, Fed’s winner on 4th stroke)
15-40 (Fed beaten by serve)
Game to Federer. After a GOOD serve, which is blocked defensively, Federer wins the point with a stunning forehand on the 14th stroke!

It has been suggested that Nadal’s serve was affected by the injury. The analysis of that crucial first break does not lend credibility to this thesis.

I reckon Nadal was beaten fair and square in a magnificent match. Close, certainly. So what?
Over to you, Zola.

Sean: I agree that Fed was not handling Roddick’s serve as well as he normally does. I earlier posed the query: was this because Fed was not quite as good or, had Roddick himself raised his serving level? Must be one of those two, or even both. Any ideas?

Jerseyboy Says:

I don’t think that Djokovic is copying Federer’s style. Novak has the ability to perform great tennis in his own style, and he is a great fighter and he got the mental Abilities. What more can one ask for? Sure, we don’t know in what way hes going to develop during the saisons to come. But hes 20 of Age, and he has all the great Prospects. And he works hard for his primary goal, to be the World No. 1. He mentions that in every single Interview. One year ago, he said that he will be soon in the Top 10 – and everyone was laughing, now he is the No. 3 of the World. In the beginning of 2007, everyone said that he is a fluke, and that he will go down as fast as he entered the Top 10. Meanwhile, he beat Federer, Nadal and Roddick in consecutive Encounters and he has 4 Titles and one Grand-Slam Final on his Vitae. To me, he is some kinda Muhammad Ali – People were laughing when Ali was young and predicting that he is the greatest, everyone said this guy is cocky and a Fluke and that he shows no Respect. And he made those People pay for it, coz Ali was the one who laughed at the end. The same with Djoko. Some people get upset, when it comes to such a Personality like Djokovic – To be honest, it’s great that he shows less Respect to Federer or Nadal. Everyone seems to move within their Slipstream particularly in Fed’s, except Djokovic – whos gestures and Imitations are not only funny but the show up some kinda message like: “Look, i know youre the Number 1, but that doesn’t impress me at all Buddy so you better call up your best tennis, or i will show you your limits”. And Fed’s Limits were stressed to the edge in both Encounters, Montreal and New York – and i predict even more to come, thats clear to see, as Federer is great Tennis player, but even he plays only as good as his Opponents approve it – for me that’s the Key Point. Novak has all the Shots, and hes improving constantly – he is 20 years of age and all his Talent he showed me with that genius Lob in the Final, after a long and great rally by both players. Federer came to the net, and Djokovic lobbed him from the baseline, Fed resigningly dropped his head as he new that this ball will clearly touch inside the field – that was the most beautiful Point of the Match and another prove for the chanting Audience. Next years is probably going to be one of the most interesting seasons ever in Tennis. If the self-proclaimed “Master” plays his game like he did this year, i even doubt that he will be able to win even a single Grand-Slam next year.

ross Says:

As per Sean’s definition, Sampras spent his whole career in a slump!!

The best Sampras did was to win 10 out of 24 slams during 1993-94. He was certainly losing a lot of matches in grand slam tournaments.

Fed has won 12 out of the last 18 slams.

Plus all the non slam tournaments – Fed has an even greater edge there.

Plus he has so much better results on clay – two french finals – Pete didn’t even have one.

I just don’t see how Fed is in a slump this year. He lost 2 sets in the entire US Open. That’s quite shabby.

zola Says:


I reckon Nadal was beaten fair and square in a magnificent match. Close, certainly. So what?
Over to you, Zola.

you have made the analysis and have reached the conclusion by yourself. Are you telling me that tendinitis in the knee will not affect one’s serve or concentration on court?

There is no doubt Federer played great. But I would have liked to see an uninjured Nadal in the fifth set.

Tejuz Says:

Zola.. if u want to see an unijured Nadal .. ask him to choose his schedule cardfully.

Tejuz Says:

Jersyboy .. the beautiful lob by DJoker over Fed is a bread and butter shot for Hewitt who does it more often. He is more of grinder like Hewitt. If Djoker made Fed sweat.. he lost in STRAIGHT SETS. If Montreal had given him confidence.. US Open finals might have been very hard to swallow. After making a big hype about him beating Fed he still got outplayed in STRAIGHT SETS.

surya Says:

Injury, Excuses, should have, Could have, Would have. I am better but not mentally strong, blah blah blah.

Not anything against nadal, but injury is also directly related to how you play the game. If you exert yourself you will tend to get injured. That cannot be an excuse. Just accept it, deal with it and come back again. Same goes for rain delay, draw, injury time outs, gamesmaships etc., Accept and deal with it.

Zola, Sean and others. If you don’t get u don’t get it. Being a champion is about having all coming together at important situation and that’s what Federer has been able to do consistently. His level never dropped. He lost some matches beacuse he was not mentally there. That’s all. have you ever seen huffing & puffing at the US Open (or anywhere) for breath? No. He just played efficient tennis and won. So stop your non sense.

Paddy Says:

What a silly yawner of an article. Obviously Fed’s dominance can’t last forever, but so much of what’s written is speculative. The conjectures are as sloppy as the spellchecking.

surya Says:

Forgot mention luck. Davydenko made some comments about luck. Hope he meant

that “Fortune favors the brave” and “Champions make their own luck”.

Nothing matters. At the end all is about the Big “W”.

zola Says:

I think Rafa’s team will revise his schedule for the rest of the year. But most of his injuries are because of the way he plays which mostly suits the clay court. He is gradually making some changes to his game. That allowed him to play more efficient on hard courts at the beginning of this year.

I agree that I would have not played Hamburg, Miami and Stuttgart if I was playing. He is still young with lots of accomplishments at a young age. So he has time to improve and adjust his game on the hard courts.

It took some time for Fed to do so as well. So, let’s see how Rafa’s last injury goes. I hope it is not too serious.

This is a sport and anything can happen. No one denies Fed’s win in Wimbledon. All I said was that The outcome could have been different if Rafa’s knee was not injured. I don’t care if you like it or not. that’s a fact.

zola Says:

one more thing on Nadal’s injury in Wimbledon,

everyone from the second half of the draw was out with injuries ( Gasquet, Djokovic), but Nadal. playing so many matches in a short time takes its toll on the body.I think Rafa’s injury was because he played too many matches in Wimbledon without enough rest. He was fine in Queens.

Seraphim Says:

Uh, Sean?

What you want? What you can do without? NO OFFENSE? Dude WTF?

LMAO. Just when I think I’m through with this site, you give me a damn good laugh and I stick around a little longer.

Well you do need me, because it would be downright retarded if you wrote and were the only one responding to your editorials.

surya Says:

Zola: Again you said “The outcome could have been different if Rafa’s knee was not injured.”

Could have is wrong word. I could have been a better tennis player if I had worked very hard. May be you could have won some slams. Why is Roger winning it all except French Opens? Because he is got talent and he has managed to keep himself injury free. Its all part of the Big Picture.

Federer’s losses at French Open are to a better tennis player on that day. (Nadal the past three Opens, Kuerten and some other South American player). No excuses there.

Federer lost the 2005 Masters to Nalabandian. Period. No excuses. So what if Federer was injured and playing with ankle protection bands. We can accept these illnesses if they are not related to Sports. Then there is an excuse for not playing better.

All these injuries happen beacuse of playing sports at a high level and how you play it and how one is managing the schedule.

So lets not talk about what could have happened and focus on what infact did happen. Bottom line is Federer had been dominant and there is nothing that suggests that trend will change. I may be wrong but no one can predict that for certain.

ross Says:

I completely agree with Surya.

Nadal is much more “DONE” at 21 than Fed is at 26. You think Nadal can play 10 more years? Fed might. For Nadal, even the clay domination may not last long. Who knows what happens at next years French.

annoyed Says:

It is quite funny how, now that the 14 majors record is in danger of being approached, Mr. Randall has turned to the 6-year No.1 record for consolation. This is a classic example of clutching at straws. Never mind that the 6-year reign was interrupted and that Sampras just about managed to squeak ahead at the year end. Never mind that Federer has been a world number one for around 200 consecutive weeks, unequalled in the men’s and women’s game. Never mind that tennis does not have an off-season, rendering the year-end number one an artifical record.

It is also disappointing that Mr. Randall thinks that Federer is not as sharp as he once was. The truth, as is apparent to any half-decent tennis player, is that the other players have raised their game: Roddick for instance is playing better than he ever has. Federer has raised the bar for everyone, and it is inevitable that the gap will close. But to say that Federer is less sharp is reflective of Mr. Randall’s meager understanding of tennis.

Ari Shuza Says:

Sean Randall…ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?

Your just saying that stuff cuz you want some attention, right?

So what if Feds has 6 losses this year (OMG), he is still miles and leaps beyond the next best player. Fed got into some tough matches earlier in the year, but he has recovered greatly. Why don’t you cheer that on?

In my opinion, if Fed were to retire today, I would not be hesistant to label him the GOAT just cuz he won so many slams in such a short pd of time.

echo Says:

sampras played extra tournaments at the end of year just to keep that number one ranking. roger is far and away the better and more complete player than pete. not trying to put down pete, but roger is just better than he was. 2 french opens finals lost to probably the greatest clay player ever. pete never made 1 french final.

grendel Says:

Zola, the question is, not does the knee niggle make a difference, but does it make enough difference to change the outcome of key games – that was the point of my observations, really, rather than analysis. Yes, of course the conclusions are my own – whose else could they be? But the evidence seems fairly clear. Nadal’s serves, for instance, caused about same level of difficulty as usual, and so on.

By the way, Gasquet was in Fed’s half. And as for Djokovic being injured, well……

Sean Randall Says:

Wow. Some of you Fed fans are indeed a tough crowd. The minute someone (me) hints that maybe Fed’s days of complete and total dominance are nearing an end it’s time to go on the full offensive.

Sorry to disappoint you, but if you had read some of my prior posts you would know that I am a big Fed supporter, and I am not a Sampras fan, never really was. And no, this is not a Sampras > Fed thing. Nor do I wish it to be. That argument is mute in my mind. So I’m not going down that road. Get over it.

The fact that Fed won the US Open without playing his best tennis (though some of you argue that he was at his best, hence his level has not dropped!) is testament to just how great a player Roger really is. His mental toughness and focus is second to none. Full credit to Fed.

But ask yourselves did Fed play best tennis at the US Open or over the summer? I really don’t think he did. And that’s my point. I’ve seen him at higher levels before – like in Australia this year – and in my mind that’s why I think he’s slipping a bit.

Am I nitpicking? Yes. I am taking a shot at Fed? No. When I refer to him slipping it also doesn’t mean he will not continue to reign supreme in the tennis world, it just means it will only get tougher for him to do so.

Many of you say I’m wrong in suggesting that Fed is slipping. Fair enough. Obviously what you saw from Fed at the US Open and during the two summer events was Fed playing at his very best. Again, I didn’t see it that way. I saw Fed playing somewhere less than the highest of levels where I’ve seen him in the past.

Ryan Says:

To Jerseyboy…..yeah its cool to see Djoko adopting a “i dont give a fuck” approach to Federer’s achievements.But he should be able to back it up with his victories.The way he played in the final shows the contrary.Besides even if he beats Fed after 2 or 3 years it still doesnt mean shit.Look at the age difference.It just means that fed has slipped downhill.Djok can never do a “safin on sampras” assault on fed any day of his life.The 2nd set in montreal final djok got thrashed 6-2.Who has done that to him these days.Coz with Fed,no man can beat him in 3 straight sets in a grandslam on his surface.And fed can win slams even if he takes this years US open form to next year.Maybe he has to raise his game with Nadal but otherwise its gonna be the same even next year.Fed is not a self proclaimed master.He never said that he is the master of today’s tennis.His fans,colleagues and former players say that.Djokovic may rule after fed is gone or is going downhill but that would mean that today’s generation of players havent realised their talents or they dont have the balls like Djok in this year’s US open final .For eg Berdych and Gasquet are more talented than Djok.So once Djok becomes and number 1 and wins 3 out of 4 slams like fed every year then maybe you can compare him to Muhammad Ali.Speculation is after all just speculation.There was a speculation that Safin could be the next big thing….that didnt happen.

grendel Says:

Sean – and the Roddick serve and Fed’s return of it – your conclusions? I mean why Fed finding it more difficult – him weaker, Rod stronger, or combi of both?

John (1) Says:

2008 Predictions:

Roger will win the Australian Open again. #13

Roger will win the French Open. Rafa will not play. #14

Then Roger will win the other two. #15 and #16

penise Says:

great thread; just want to add I like the fact that Joker has a personality

grendel Says:

Sean – sympathise with yr bemusement at hostility directed at you. Suspect some wires are crossed – people are singing from diff. hymnsheets and think they disagree when really they probably don’t.

Fed is subject to the laws of biology and even entropy, that’s what yr really saying.

Others are saying the man is adapting and still gaining the big w.

Difference of emphasis, difference of style. But not necessarily difference of opinion.

So why the aggro?


Sir Loz Says:

Grendel I think the aggro is based on the fact that Federer has just won 3 grand slams in a calendar year for the third time, yet most people including Sean, focus on Federer going downhill??

The mans achievements are staggering in any era and in any sport yet the general trend is to ask how long will it last or are people losing to him only cos of his reputation rather than how good it actually is!

When he is gone tennis will be worse off and he will leave a huge void irrespective of the great talent coming through, and the true tennis fans should be looking to appreciate his achievemnets rather than to pick little holes in them.

It’s the same in most sports that the best will always be knocked by people until they have gone and people then realise what a legend has just been and gone.

Jerseyboy Says:

Ryan, it doesn’t matter what you say, or what i say – coz we both won’t change our opinions. Neither anyone involving in this discussion will. So let’s wait for the next Season.

The Prima-Ballerina from Bazel will have to chew on a lot of Swiss Cheese, to win a Grand Slam again. ;-))

echo Says:

who knows what will happen to djoker. wasn’t safin supposed to win numerous slams? it didn’t quite work out that way, did it?

rebecca Says:

who cares if roger never wins another slam? he has already proven his greatness with 12 slams.

FoT Says:

I agree with Sir Loz. The problem I have with the main post is that if you are a true tennis fan, seems like you should be really writing up the accomplishments of Roger instead of tearing him down. I mean, if tennis writers try to bring him down with negative articles – what are other writers to do?

It’s almost like when Tiger Woods won his grand slam of golf the writer would then say “Sure he won the grand slam but he only one the lasts tournament by 3 stokes instead of 5 like he did last year”.

Here is Roger (whether you like him or not)… But remember before 2004 the “standard” for grand slams in the open era was Mats winning 3 of the 4 – way back when. Then I believe he didn’t win another one since. Well, Roger won 3 of 4 in 2004; 3 of 4 in 2006; and 3 of 4 in 2007. Isn’t that a great accomplishment? I mean – 3 of 4 is 3 of 4… I don’t care if you had to go 5 sets in every match; or if you didn’t drop a set. Winning a grand slam shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Sean, if you say Roger ‘struggles’ and his level dropped… from last year to this year…. each year is different. What other sportsman gets criticized like Roger for beating the #3, #4, and #5 ranked tennis players in the world – all in straight sets. What else do you want the man to do? Amazing… He couldn’t meet the #2 player because someone else beat him.

Also, I looked at the Bud Collins wrap-up interview and since he picked Djokovic to win I gathered he was in a sour mood because instead of giving Roger credit for winning his 4th straight US Open, he (Bud) said the ‘real’ story of this year’s US Open was Djokovic! Uhm… Djokovic didn’t win… the “Real” story in the men’s game this year was and could be no one other than Roger. Even Bud didn’t give him credit.

Roger could win 17 slams, not drop a set, but if he win most of his sets by 7-6 or 7-5…then someone would write that he’s still slipping. Yet someone like the up and commer Isner (who wins or loses practically all his matches by 7-6) is the ‘next best thing’ in America! Interesting…

Tejuz Says:

Grendel.. also the aggro cuz authors undermine Fed’s victories with an additional sentence which suggests he is coming down. Look at the articles after every Slam finals this year..

Well.. no xblog after Au Open finals (atleast i dint find any)

After Hamburg win against Nadal –
“Roger Rocks Uninspired Rafa” ..

After the French Open final –
“Nadal Whacks Federer in French Final” .. dunno what does whacking mean?? it went to 4 sets and was highly competitive… much better than the whacking that Djokovic received.

After the Wimbledon final –
“Federer wins in five, but Nadal brings No.1 race alive” .. wouldnt argue with that.. but cud have given more credit to Fed for winning that thrilling 5-setter.

So how abt the use of word.. “whacking” .. here against Djoko. Instead .. using words like better-er .. and then addding an extra sentece to undermine the victory with ‘How much longer’.

Atkeast give credit to the guy where he deserves it.

Tejuz Says:

Too much hype about Djokovic.. he will be lucky even if he gets to win even 1/5th of what Fed has won. Probabably he will now understand that winning Grand Slams is not easy. Nadal is much better than him.. i bet he will be straight setted the next time they meet. Guess even Roddick will be keen to straight set him

Robin Pratt Says:

Federer’s tennis 2004-2007 is the best run ever in any sport. He is now being disregarded by his own impossibly high standard. We all forget that many tennis matches hang on a couple of points here and there. Most of the top players have considerable luck at the right time so maybe they have skill.

More importantly, is Federer slipping? I don’t think he is hitting the highs he did in 2004, regularly bageling players like Hewitt and Agassi. He seemed astonish and surprise himself often that year, a true joie d’vivre.

After that season came the discussion of GOAT and with it, the burden of expectation. 05 he cut out the bad losses, but seemed to be protecting his turf, with fewer zone moments. He has had a few since then (Roddick in one W final, AO semi this year and a few moments in 07 USO). But I think his performance against Davy and Novak suffered due to his nervousness. He has to fight not playing to not lose rather than to win. It gets to even TMF.

I am a firm believer that if Roger and the other top playes belonged to the same club and played each other for fun (but highly competitively as is their nature), Roger would dominate anyone. Surely Nadal could beat him 20% of the time and probably 50%-60% on clay, but Roger would loosen up and play that transcendant tennis we saw in 04. He could lose to several players, anyone in the top 10 occasionally and Djokovic could beat him probably 20%, when he was hot and Roger was a bit off as humans get, but Roger’s best is better than anyone I have ever seen (with exception of perhaps Hoad at his best). When he is on, he handles Nadal on clay, even, in every match except MC this year. But he rarely sustains it. Their best match was Rome 06, one that Roger had match points and should have been up the first two sets. Nothing will ever be easy against Nadal, but Roger’s best is wondrous. Perhaps their second best match was Shanghai when Roger player Rafa with “Wilanders.” And won, close but hit the big shots.

Will getting close to Sampras’ record free him or become more of a burden? Clearly playing the FO up against history and Nadal has taken a toll on Roger.

As much as I like his slice backhand and feel he should use it more often on clay, I wish he would attach service returns especially against Nadal. In the first set this year, he played beautifully to earn those 10 break points in the first set and then played tentatively to let Nadal back in. If he had won the first set (and then the second which he did win), he would have been up 2-love and have won four sets in a row on clay against Nadal. So Roger’s letting Rafa off the hook in the first set really changed history just as his missing his two forehands in Rome.

YOu can make the same case that if Nadal had won any of the 4 break points in the 5th set at W history would have been vastly different as well. {Give me a break that Nadal lost the 5th due to his knee–no evidence of that.}

Agassi as analyst and coach. None of us is really in a position to speak to these subjects as much as Agassi. Many people have raved about the insights he provided during the Fed-Rod match. He has played both of them recently as well as Sampras and McEnroe, etc. so he knows first hand of what he speaks more than those of us less skilled can possibly perceive.

So, how would Agassi be as Roger’s coach? Even for a few weeks each year and someone to call (which is what he said he needed from Roche). Certainly his strokes don’t need any changes.

And then a year or two from now, Roger and Andre could team up for a doubles grandslam just for kicks. Quite a story.

I know that Andre does not need the gig, but he and Roger could have conversations no one else could have and they certainly respect each other.

I know I would pay to listen in to their “coaching sessions” and to see them play. I would travel to almost anywhere to get that access.

FoT Says:

Tejuz…great post. I guess that’s my problem too. Instead of saying “Roger wins 4th US Open”… I’ve seen this added “but Djokovic steals the show”… Another one I saw when Roger played Roddick was “Roger Barely Gets by Roddick in a thriller”…. Uh? Didn’t Roger beat Roddick in 3 straight sets? And when Roger played Roddick in the US Open final last year – Collins wrote a big article on how Roddick was the star of the US Open. Uhm… Roger had just won 3 in a row at that point but Roddick was the star?

It’s like that all the time….Maybe I’m follow Roger closer than any other player, but I don’t really see headlines like that with a lot of other players.

echo Says:

people just don’t appreciate roger for some reason. i’ve read those articles too. and it just irks me that they never give rog his due. esp that clown collins. but collins predicated 3 grand slams wrong, so he’s a sore loser. but it’s never about roger winning, it’s always about someone else.

FoT Says:

One more note. I remember when Roger first became #1 he said he started playing better because the pressure was “off” of him once he became the #1 player. Right now I do feel he’s playing under a lot of pressure, but I think when he gets that 14th grand slam off his shoulder, he will start playing better. Look at Barry Bonds. It took him forever to get that record breaking home run but after that he loosen up and started swinging freely.

Once Roger get the record – with nothing else to prove, we might still see more amazing tennis from him instead of a ‘decline’ that so many people are predicting.

Kara L. Says:

Sean if you read my post and Fed’s postmatch interviews, Roger was talking about how tired he was after doing the consecutive US Summer hardcourt swing for the very first time. His standard approach is to take at least two weeks off by tanking an MS and then two weeks to play the Open (See Cincy 04, Montreal 05, Cincy 06). This year he didn’t tank Cincy because of his dismal results at Montreal so he had less energy by the time he got to Flushing.

Kara L. Says:

By the way, you should have seen the Federer-Baghdatis match in Cincy 07. It was a match where they both should have lost: Federer was tanking but Baghdatis wouldn’t let him with his Grade A choking. It was a match that nobody deserved to win. When all the seeds left, Federer had a change of heart and decided, “F*** it, I’ll just win it while I’m here.”

sonny fox Says:

but unlike barry, roger doesnt take steroids!! feel sorry for “hammering” hank!

johnnhoj Says:

Here’s something not many here (including Sean Randall) have taken into consideration. With 12 high-profile tournaments won by Federer in 2006, his 2nd-round (Indian Wells) and 3rd-round (Miami)losses in 2007 means he gets a significant boost in his ranking by winning them next year or simply by doing better than this year, just like the Montreal-Cincinnati tourneys this year compared to last. It seems Federer is definitely looking at the bigger picture. If he wins every tournament, then he’s not going to be number 1 for long because that’s just too many points to defend. He has to choose carefully which non-Slam tournament that year is worth losing and to which lucky moron.

penise Says:

If Roger wins Australia but not the French, then he could tie the record at Wimbledon and break it at the US Open.

I think that would merit a new, all gold lame outfit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kara L. Says:

He’ll probably have to wrestle Serena for the right to wear gold lame and will lose abysmally after he gets a Serena Slam right in the kisser. If he knows what’s good for him, he wouldn’t dare step on Serena’s gold lame turf.

JackOfAllBalls Says:

Fed: I guess he tried this year to adapt his technique to clay in some extraordinary ways – those whipping strokes he showed from Dubai till Hamburg – with the result being slowed movement and necessity to to return to his usual strokes. Those transformations took their toll and seriously hampered his play. Add to that some additional victims like Roche, completely blown clay season and very tough Wimbledon. Last time the guy played great (great by his standards that is) was this year’s AO.

I think discounting him as a potential calendar Grand Slam winner is far too early, though with all those changes in grass surface he is certainly going to have another difficult Wimbledon next year. Seems like his easiest slam tournament going to be US Open from now on.

Djoker: he will be a serious contender next year, though I don’t think he can threaten Rafa at RG. The guy seems to firmly believe he belongs to the top and he is not going to fold like Safin due to mental problems. With Rafa playing actually only half a season last 3 years he will be the strong #2 the rest of the year, though that does not necessary means he will be #2 in standings.

Voicemale Says:

Lots of people weighing in about Nadal’s future, but Carlos Moya is proof a clay court grinder can last many, many years. What Nadal needs is a Big First Serve, which is a challenge for him to acquire since he’s naturally right handed. But Nadal has learned to play at the net much more so in the last year, which helps a lot. I think these early epitaphs for his career are made by too many Armchair Tennis Coaches that post on blogs. Lots of these same Armchair Blog Posters predicted the same decline in 2007 for Nadal after his foot injury last year – and all he’s done is win 6 titles. For anyone interested, Bjorn Borg predicted in his You Tube interview that Nadal would win Wimbledon in 2008. Nadal will be fine, and have a Hall of Fame Career by the time he’s done.

If Djokovic is goning to be a force at the top for a long time, then he needs to develop a better Return Game. He has numerous score lines throughout the year that are Tiebreaks & 7-5 type sets. In The US Open this year it was as close as it was because Federer gave up a lot more errors in a match than he normally does & still won in straights. And by this time next year, a lot of guys that have played Djokovic & lost will know what to look for next time around – that always happens, such as Federer exposing the backahnd side in their Open Final.

grendel Says:

Kara L:

Fascinated with your confident assertions of Fed tanking various matches. With regard to Cincy 06, Davydenko (in a sneer at the victor Murray) has also called it a tanking, though an outraged Murray of course refutes this.

It’s actually quite funny, your reference to match with Baggy this year at Cincy, with both players, for different reasons, trying their best to lose. Couldn’t – er – Federer have tried a little bit harder…..

And then Roddick won’t be too happy either, will he. I mean, he is the proud possessor of 1 W, against, what is it, 14 losses now, he’s not going to be too happy if that solitary win turns out to be a tank.

How true are these things? Obviously, there are occasions when a player’s heart is not quite in it, even if his name is Nadal. But a conscious decision to lose (always assuming the other player cooperates by actually attempting to win)? Seems we’re in murky waters here….

With regard to whether Fed gets credit, I think this a complex one. Everyone really knows the score. Namely, that Federer’s record – 3 slams a year 3 years running – is unsurpassed and likely to remain so for as long as tennis is played.

Some people don’t like this, and try all kinds of manouevres, subtle and crude, to undermine it. Some just take it for granted, and genuinely forget the sheer improbable nature of the achievement. Then again, others have a sort of fascination as to how long the edifice can last. Any sign of weakness will be eagerly seized upon. Or it could be the other way. A decline in powers is inevitable, and the true fan anxiously inspects the runes, so to speak, dreading the day when the downhill slide can no longer be denied.

A journalist – a proper journalist, not some self-loving buffoon like Bud Collins – has to take all these things, and no doubt more, into account.

Nothing could be further from the truth than that the ascendancy of Federer leads to boredom.

Kollbster Says:

I stopped reading after some1 mentioned Fed has to work on his 2nd serve? JonnyMC would say: You cannot be serious!!!!

Check this out…

Hope you know what i mean…

Mahesh Venkatachalam Says:

Hi Guys,

Is it Federer’s level of play going lower or that guys like Novak have a better grasp of handling Federer toe-to-toe on ground strokes that seems to come out to us as Federer’s level having dropped. To me it is the latter as Federer’s game is as is like before.

Anil Says:

I disgree with Sean. Federer still have great potential to win atleast 5 more grandslams. It is a fact no one in professional tennis tour have enough energy to play against Federer in 5 set match. Federer is simply the great. Djokovic is most improved player in tour, but we will see how consistent he is going to be in next year or two. Ofcourse I would like to see Federer winning all the tournaments he is in, but don’t mind any other players winning except Andy Roddick. I hate that guy’s attitude and how much publicy he gets in US with no good skills. I love to see James Blake win some more tournaments and go ahead of Rodick in ranking.

John (1) Says:

Random Thoughts:

1) If Nadal impersonated the Djoker, all he would have to do is bounce the ball 4 or 5 hundred times.

2) There is a fairly good chance that this week’s final in Bali will have two players ranked 234 and 137, with the winner ranked 234.

3) When Patty Schnyder is on the other end of a player who takes an excessive amount of time serving, she walks away. I’m waiting for someone on the men’s side to walk away after 20 or more bounces of the Djoker’s ball.

grendel Says:

I taped a night match of Djokovic’s, so was able to rewind. One bouncing effort seeming to go on for ever, thought it ud be worth checking. 28 bounces. Is that the record?

Dancevic FAN! Says:

The #1, #2 and #3 ranked players to me are still ranked in the best subjective order (obviously the most correct mathematically!).

I still think Fed raised his game to the level he needed to win. It wasn’t his best, but it’s up to his opponents to raise their levels so that he needs to raise his. So despite his slumping numbers, he did all that was needed to accomplish more greatness so far this year.

Djok’s bouncing – at least he seemed to give an honest explanation for it, but it is a little funny / annoying to see so much of it!

I wonder who’d be in Fed’s box if Mirka wasn’t :P Just curious. Djok had Sharapova…Fed would have… ?

jane Says:

Sir Loz –

I read a lot of tennis press, but less so blogs, so if you’re referring to blogs suggesting Federer is heading downhill, then you may be right. However, as far as the mainstream press goes (which includes sports sites & mags as well as popular press & newspapers), you’re wrong.

Most of the press continues to praise Federer’s achievements and list the records he could possibly break in the future. After his US Open, most of the headlines were “flawless fed makes it four” or some such; after his Wimbie win, similar praise was sung: “fab fed makes it five” or some other alliteration saying the same thing.

So I’m not sure who you mean by “most people” focusing on fed’s downward slide – do you mean fans and bloggers? Because this thread of postings suggests the exact opposite. Clearly, like 95% of the people here disagree with Sean’s suggestion that Fed *may* be slipping a little. Similarly with the press: *most of it* continues to laud Fed as the greatest, with the odd exception to the rule.

andrea Says:

not too sure how getting into the montreal final equates to a ‘dismal result’???

not to mention making it into the final of the 3 consecutive events prior to montreal, which includes 2 grand slams?

roger, i guess you just have to start being perfect. no one seems to be satisfied anymore.

jane Says:

andrea – most everyone is satisfied with fed – did you read the postings here? they all praise him and his accomplishments.

jane Says:

Re: Djok as a “drama queen”

It may be true that he likes the limelight and creates drama during matches.

The same could be said of John Mcenroe – many people hated his hysterics at the time but now they love him for it. Similarly, Jimmy Connors was rather dramatic – on court and off. Even Borg, while often subdued on the court, was infamous off it.

Seems there is nothing wrong with “drama” in tennis, especially if it raises the profile of the sport in general.

What about Federer’s lucrative Gillette contract? Or his regular appearences during Fashion week? Those are both connected to the media, and both can be seen in a positive light as drawing more attention to tennis players of the court, and the game in general.

I just don’t see the “drama” or the “media” attention as a bad thing.

jane Says:

One more thing – re: Djok’s ball bouncing

Much was (and still sometimes is) made of Rafa’s water bottle placement, endless sock adjusting, not to mention short adjustments (which has not ceased since his switch from capris – but which don’t bother me the least).

Much was made of Maria’s screaming (and before her Seles’s grunts, and along with her, the WIlliams sisters’ shrieks)

Much could be made of Roger’s hair adjustments or racquet spinning.

All players have their idosyncracies, their tics and habits. But unless they go consistently beyond the time alloted between points, why does it matter? I don’t think players are complaining about Djok. Moya was asked about it in his press conference, for instance, and he said the only thing that bugged him was that Djok’s ball-bouncing was often followed by an ace.

As Dancevic Fan points out – Djok explained it (as just a matter of concentration, a thing he does) and even kindly apologized to those who find it annoying.

This much is true, however – he’s wide open for imitations. Those players irritated by Djok’s jokes have an easy target!

John (1) Says:

Dancevic FAN! Said

“I wonder who’d be in Fed’s box if Mirka wasn’t. Just curious. Djok had Sharapova. Fed would have?”

If I were Fed, any or all of the following:
Gabriela Sabatini
Jennifer Capriati
Anna Kournikova
Elena Dementieva
Natalie Gulbis
Ana Ivanovic
Maria Kirilenko
Nicole Vaidisova
Jelena Dokic

SosaysI Says:

Djokovic played as well as he could given the pressure of the situation. At the end of the day, he simply got tight at the important moments. Federer did not play his best, but was solid on the tight points. The guy has nerves of steel. The match could have easily gone 5 sets with the potential for an upset.

Nadal needs to change something in his approach to the game else he will not last long. Fed will win 1 of the next 4 French Opens – – if he doesn’t he never will ‘cuz the French is a young man’s tournament now. Too many specialists including Rafa. But Nadal’s style appears to be catching up to him.

And the Spaniards are catching up on the other surfaces. Moya, Ferrer, Rafa etc.

Federer will tie or break Pete’s record next year. He will win a minimum of 2 slams (likely Wimbledon and either the Australian or the US Open, maybe both). 1 of those could very well be the French.

I belive he is desperate to win the French. Wouldn’t you be. It would get the ‘monkey off his back’ the * off his name as the best player ever (never to have won the French).

Here is what he has to do to win the French IMHO:

1) Get physically stronger, weight room to be able to deal on the court.
2) Right after the Australian, get playing on clay early and often before the French.
3) Continue to import some lefties to hit against as he did in Dubai.
4) Pay Bjorn Borg as a consultant just through the clay season. Sure the game is vastly different since the days of Borg but do you know how many French Open titles he has? Plus Borg could use the money!
5) Improve the backhand on high balls to deal with Rafa if he meets him in the final.

Fed will likely end his career with 17 slams conservatively.

Nadal will win 1 more tops.

Djokovic has great potential but is not a double digit slame winner by any means IMHO. I think he would be luck to get 2 in his career. We’re just not seeing the potential for that kind of play even at these early stages.

There is so much to winning at tennis or in any Sport as others have pointed out. Timing (what generation you’re coming up in), motivation, injuries, mental toughness, physical ability.

What Federer is doing is truly amazing that is for sure. Let’s all appreciate what we are able to witness. The other thing to remember is that many of thes players are ‘kids’, under 25, and to deal and cope like they do is truly amazing.


grendel Says:

Re McEnroe – he doesn’t have hysterics now (so there’s nothing of that sort to enjoy) and I thoroughly enjoy him as commentator. But I remember how he used to cynically manipulate his rages at the expense of his opponent – contrast Safin, whose anger hurts only himself – and I like that no more in retrospect than I did at the time. Jimmy Connors seems a likeable bloke now; as a player, he was frequently obnoxious, and (as with McEnroe) that would often get in the way of my enjoyment of his remarkable tennis. It very definitely did not enhance it. That memory doesn’t dim particularly with time, either. I remember some people used to enjoy the McEnroe matches just for the explosions; they weren’t so keen on the marvellous skills on parade. Anyway, Djokovic is nothing like that, though he has certainly been manipulative.

What “raises the profile of the sport” is not gimmicks, or the commercial acumen/exploitation (take your pick) of players, or any other extracurricular activities you care to bring up. One may be mildly amused by Djokovic’s imitations, and give them, say, one minute max before attention starts to wander, but none of this is of any significance one way or the other.

What “raises the profile of the sport” is drama. And there is absolutely no more compelling drama than the spectacle of a uniquely gifted tennis player plying his art in our time. Leaving aside the sheer pleasure of watching him play (what he does with his hair, his clothes etc I leave for the consideration of those who seem to care about these things), it is fascinating to see how he deals with ever arising new challenges (including of course the very talented Djokovic),and not least the challenge of ageing. Biology dictates that he must adapt – or lose his throne. Can he, therefore, so do, and if so, how? It is a quite fascinating prospect even for a tennis armchair enthusiast like myself, how much more so must it be for those more knowledgeable.

If, on the whole, the tennis press, message boards etc are fixated on Federer, (sometimes to spew forth astonishing hostility), there is no conspiracy. It is just a reflection of reality. The uniquely remarkable attracts heavy attention, like it or not, that’s how it is. There’s nothing mysterious about it.

Incidentally, like should be compared with like. Sock adjusting, nervous tics generally, are one thing – mockable if you like, but of no importance. Endless bouncing of the ball might well be irritating to some, whilst screaming of the Sharapova/Williams variety is utterly loathsome to many, and can seriously distract from spectator enjoyment. Maybe it distracts players, too, I don’t know.

Sorry about another long post. Well, you don’t have to read it!

Sir Loz Says:


My comments were based purely towards the genreal tone of the blogs posted to start off the debates on this particular site.

Like yourself, I too read a lot of mainstream press and try to watch as much as television will allow me, but all I was doing was answering Grendels remarks about the amount of aggro aimed at Sean Randall.

I was merely pointing out the same thing that somebody else mentioned about all the posts regarding another Federer win are almost always followed with a negative.

I don’t believe there is a witch hunt against Fed in mainstream press, purely on this page.

However I do believe these articles are written sometimes with the intent to provoke debate.

silly really because the debates don’t need provocation, they are healthy debates and very subjective at best.

I am happy to see sanity in the form of us average tennis fans clearly backing Federers achievements and not looking to knock them.

With Nadal and Djokovic not too far away and some great talent coming through,tennis is at its most exciting for years and I’m really looking forward to seeing all the sub stories for next year such as

Can Fed beat Sampras record by the end of 2008?

Can Fed finally dispose of Nadal at the French?

Will Djokovic continue the potential shown?

If Murray stays healthy will he be grand slam potential?

Will Gonzalez finally start hitting the ball again!!

Can Hewitt get back to former glories?

There are many more but all eyes will be on Fed and I for one would love to see him win G.S. #14 at the French by beating Nadal and then breaking Sampras record at wimbledon.

Dancevic FAN! Says:

John (1) Said:

If I were Fed, any or all of the following (in his box):
Gabriela Sabatini
Jennifer Capriati
Anna Kournikova
Elena Dementieva
Natalie Gulbis
Ana Ivanovic
Maria Kirilenko
Nicole Vaidisova
Jelena Dokic

You know, on the women’s tour Federer has said that he likes watching Svetlana Kuznetsova’s tennis the most – maybe that would be in that list too!

And how about Anna Wintour!

Glen Janney Says:

What tripe. Federer wins three Slams this year again and this guy talks about him going downhill, and how Nadal would have given him a hard time in the final of the US Open. Let’s see Nadal get to the SEMIS of a hardcourt Grand Slam first, then we can fantasize about him actually getting to the final of one.
I doubt Federer thinks he is playing “worse” in the non-GS tournaments this year, especially since he beat Rafa on clay for the first time, at Hamburg. As a reminder, Fed has beaten Rafa 4 of the last six times they’ve met.
And those 3 losses to Canas and Volandri were flukes, inasmuch as neither of those guys went on to win the tournament (or anything else for that matter).

Dancevic FAN! Says:

grendel – do you still watch McEnroe playing on the senior’s circuits? He still rants and whines a lot when he plays.

Tejuz Says:

Prize money – W/L record
$7,063,620 – 52/6 – Federer
$4,344,435 – 62/11 – Nadal
$3,057,150 – 58/14 – Djokovic

Fed is way ahead in the prize money classification for this year.. more than double of No 3 player.

I guess he has the record highest earned in an year.. he earned more than 8 mil last year.. seems like he will break that again.
He also has consistently been getting over 6 mil a year the last 4 years, which is again a record. Not even Sampras had exceeded 6 mil in a single year.

Dancevic FAN! Says:

Interesting sound byte – Nadal and Canas are the only active players that have a winning record against Federer :P

Tejuz Says:

Dance Fan..

Dominik Hrbaty has a 2-0 H2H record against Fed in his favour.

Tejuz Says:

And both the times he has come from behind to beat Fed.

Dancevic FAN! Says:

Good catch Tejuz

jane Says:

Grendel –

I agree 100% that the drama which takes place on the court – players competing at the highest level, ideally – is the most sublime drama of ALL.

Still, any “drama,” or hype, if you prefer that word, created off the court about up-and-coming players is not a bad thing either. Personally, I find Mcenroe’s outbursts funny (and Dance-Fan, you’re right – he still does them, even if his most recent commercial suggests otherwise). I liked the way Connor brought the crowd into his matches too.

I was talking to someone recently who said he had stopped following tennis in the 90s because he didn’t know or particularly like any of the players (he missed borg, mac, lendl, etc). However, he became interested again because of Nadal – his firey personality, his desire to win at all costs (which, unfortunately, may have included his knees). But he told me it was the press and hype surrounding Nadal that brought him back to the game, and after he watched the French Open this year, he was hooked. Even more so after he saw the SUBLIME Wimbledon final.

So that’s all I am saying. Sometimes personalities -like the one Djok exhibits- can draw in new fans or re-interest old ones. Seems fine to me. Ultimately, they will be won over (or not) by what’s happens on the court.

As to your comparison/contrast point – the ball-bouncing is the same as the sock adjusting and short adjusting. Both are things the players do to focus themselves before they serve. So I am comparing like-to-like there. Admittedly, the screaming is another issue, but all of these habits share this – they are just something that tennis players *do* while playing their game.

Tejuz Says:

well.. someone like Soderling would really get pissed with Djokivic’s ball patting.. he might even get nasty during the matches just like he was during his 5-setter with Nadal.

jane Says:

Oh – and I didn’t say there was anything “mysterious” about the press focusing on Federer, or praising him. I was only pointing out that in fact the opposite of what Sir Loz is true. Most of the press is not emphasizing Federer’s impending downfall (if it is indeed impending); the press tend to be more focused on his impending record-breaking (if challanges allow) and his achievements thus far. Fact not conspiracy – that’s what I meant.

I agree anyhow, with both Sir Loz and yourself, Grendel, that the next year or two will be fascinating years for tennis fans.

I am also interested to see how these Federer vs. Sampras exo-matches go…

jane Says:

Tejuz –

You’re right – but I thought Soderling came across as the suck in that exchange. So far, I’ve heard of no player complaints about Djok’s ball-bouncing. Initially, there were a few who were frustruated by Nadal’s adjustments and slowness to serve, but after he ran them around the court for, oh, a 29 shot rally, they weren’t complaining too much anymore; they were gasping for air. Haha.

FoT Says:

Guys, have you notice how many players really pull for Roger in matches? Roger, more than any other #1 player recently, seem to be really liked among his peers. Look at this article and look at how many said if they didn’t win The US Open that they would want Roger to win it:


So someone would say if Mirka wasn’t in the box, who would be… practically everyone! I even saw Justine at the French sitting in the stands and when they interviewed her and ask her who she was pulling for she said she hoped Roger would win.

He definitely has the respect from his peers. Not only respect, but a lot of them seem to really like the guy. Which is tricky when you’re the one beating them to a pulp all the time.

Sean Randall Says:

Tejuz/FoT and others, sorry to undermine Fed’s greatness. I guess you folks didn’t read the first two paragraphs of my post. Did you? Or maybe I just didn’t shower enough praise on Federer in accordance with the “How to Properly Commemorate and Praise Federer Following a Slam Win in your Blog” memo which I never got from Fed Fanatics HQ.

Yes, I could have written “Fed’s wins another Slam. Mirka Bakes a Cake. Happy Happy Joy Joy.” But to be honest I really didn’t see it completely like that. I’ve seen him play better tennis before. And i saw his recent victory – albeit it was a Slam win and an incredible cap to another brilliant season in Majors – evidence that his domination is closer to an end than a beginning.

Don’t worry Fed Faithful, Roger will still go down as the greatest ever, he will crush Pete’s record of 14 Slams by at least four (that’s 18 if you can’t do math), and I’m sure he’ll break a few more records along the way. That’s my honest, American, pro-Fed, anti-Sampras belief.

Based on what many of you guys have posted you seem to see him stronger now and a better player than ever. If that’s what you think, fair enough. I just don’t see it that way. Sorry.

Grendel, to answer your question and at the risk of further getting flamed (why should I care at this point!), I thought Fed’s reactions were a tad slower than what I’ve seen from him in the past. I can’t prove that to be true, just like you guys can’t prove it to be otherwise…

Tejuz, you are correct in one regard. Fed has set the mark for most prize money earned for a single season, however you fail to mention that there was no US Open Series just a few years ago so players who won the Open could not earn the extra $1.4M and inflate their earnings like Fed just did.

Plus Slams and top tournaments have increased there prize money allocations making it unfair to compare between generations. Back in 1997 when Pete Sampras won Wimbledon – the same year he earned $6.4M – he won a little over 700K. Fed earned 1.4M this year at Wimbledon. For winning 1997 Australian Pete took home 457K, whereas Fed this pocketed $1M. And for the record and only because I feel I have to mention this in such a sensitive thread, I am NOT saying Pete > Roger. I’m just telling you, Tejuz, get your facts straight. Pete did exceed $6M back in 1997. Look it up, and who knows what else you might unearth (hint hint).

Glen Janney, I would really like to know where I said “Nadal would have given [Federer] a hard time in the final of the US Open”??? If you had read my US Open predictions, which I fully admit were horrible sans Fed winning, you would have noted that I didn’t even have Nadal reaching the semifinals. And as a friendly reminder, Glen, Rafa has beaten Fed in eight of their 13 career meetings. SFW…

Again, many of you know when you come at me in my section of this blog with your numbers and arguments I will often fire back and on occasion I will have to correct you. I don’t mind it if you are against my beliefs and you are more than free to state your case(s). Just come correct.

jane Says:

Sean Randall –

Doesn’t seem anti-Federer at all…

But do you really believe there is such a thing as “greatest ever”?

Shouldn’t you say “so far,” or given the variables, or something to qualify such a statment? You rightly bring up the point that it’s unfair to compare money earnings between generations; isn’t the same true of other comparisons between generations? Even slam counts would be different since all players didn’t used to play the Australian, say, in Borg’s & Mcenroe’s era.

At least there’s the Open & pre-Open eras to differentiate some of the records.

Tejuz Says:

Sean.. thanks for correcting me. Sampras did make more than $6M in 1997, his record then were 2GS 6(ATP titles) 8(total titles) Earnings 6,498,311.

Compare that to Rogers 2007 year..
3GS 3(ATP titles) 6(total titles) Earnings $7 M – not to mention Runner up at FrenchOpen, Monte Carlo and Montreal.

So Sampras didnt do anything more exceptional to have received his $6.4M, so where did the prize money come from?? if you claim he received around half of what the current winners receive @ GS tournaments.. he needs to have those extra titles to show as well.. where are they.. Probabaly you can shed some light into this with your facts.

Kara L. Says:


I totally think that Federer does engage in the practice of tanking, I think all the players do at one point or another in their careers. I’ve seen at least a hundred matches of Fed’s and you can totally tell when he’s not into it, he wanders through the match in even more of a sonambulistic daze, making half-hearted attempts to chase down balls.

The difference is that Federer doesn’t tank the small tourneys like Doha or Dubai because they pay him a cool 1.1 million (up from last year’s asking price of 500,000) just to show up, whereas AMS tourneys will only give you that much moolah if you win the whole thing and they’re mandatory.

surya Says:

I am catcching up on the entries after a long time. I am glad atleast the “could have, should have, would have” point is moot.

Sean: Nadal is 8-5 against Federer beacuse Federer keeps his side in balance and reaches the Finals in every tournament (almost) including clay. Nadal is a monster in clay and we all know that. Untill Nadal reaches Finals of other tournaments, the record will not favor Federer. Federer has kept his winning record against Nadal in other surfaces. Lets not forget that clay season is very long and that is where Nadal collects most of his points and also the winning record. Nothing wrong with that though.

Tejuz Says:

BTW.. i was at the Au Open 2007 this year and i got to witness the Fed vs Djoker 4th round match from close quarters (5th seat from the front).

Great match by Fed who was out to stop the big-mouthed Djoker … most of us in the stadium were amazed at the jaw-dropping shots from Fed’s racquet. Its even better than watching on TV. Clean hits, can hardly hear sounds of his footsteps as he glides around the court. I am more than content to have witnessed the Greatest Player of All Time perform. Also the look of resignation on Djokovic’s face.

Tejuz Says:

dunno why my post got submitted but not showing on the screen

Tejuz Says:

well. Sean.. why the davis cup was thrown in when talking abt the GOAT??? its a team game, and something which is not entirely depends in 1 person. The max that Fed can win is 2 of his matches. Rather look at Olympic gold or French Open wins if you want to.. i guess Agassi will win that one.

Tejuz Says:

Dunno what you saw.. and how does it predict that Fed’s domination is coming to an end.. The only difference this year is that a No 3 has come out of the pack below Fed and Nadal.. and that doesnt make Fed’s doimination any less. He still OWNs djokovic and has fared better against Nadal this year than last.

What we saw in the final this year is a STRAIGHT SETS victory.. which was easier for him than 2005 or 2006. I thought the Au Open 2006 final against Baghdatis was much closer in the 1st 2 sets till Baggy started cramping and had bouts of nerves.

A 5-set final or tie-breakers doesnt suggest less dominance… Be it a 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 win (against Ljubicic @ Miami finals 2006) or 6-0, 6-0 (against Gaudio @ MC 2005) it is still a win.. and its number of wins which defines domination.
His six losses this year still much better than any of Sampras’s years or Nadal or anybody

Erwin Says:

The funny thing is that nobody talks about Nadal declining if he has several 5-setters at Wimbledon or loses in the fourth round at the USO.
The same with Djokovic who had several 5-setters in the slams this year. This shows how complete nonsense it is to claim that Federer is declining.

Daniel Says:

Well, Mr. Sean Randall, we can correct you too!

The extra prizemoney for the US Open Series was $ 1 million and not $1.4 as you mentionen. The prize for the US Open itself was $ 1,4 million.

Erwin Says:

Sean, go back to the USO 2005 or AO 2006. Did Federer really play that great?? I don’t think so. He was struggling in quite a few matches. Was it the beginning of a decline, No. Federer will have to lose matches in grand slams before we can talk about a decline.

monterey Says:

Does anyone know what the spoken or unspoken protocol will be for the Fed/Sampras exos? Will they go all out to try and win as though it’s a real competition or will the guy who wins the first set let the other take the second and then play it out in the third?

It’s all a bit awkward considering Fed is in his prime and Sampras, well, is far from it at age 36. A blowout by Fed won’t look so good for a great legend like Pete and can you imagine the shock if Pete actually manages to win? I know both of these guys are ultra competitive so I can’t imagine how it’s all going to play out so that nobody gets embarrased out there, not that in-his-prime Fed would deliberately embarrass Pete.

The dynamics of this thing will be interesting, that’s for sure.

jane Says:

monterey –

Good question: I was wondering what those matches would entail as well. Imagine if Pete is squashed / blown off court in Madison Square Gardens? Don’t think N.Y. crowd will be too pleased.

What is the protocol is this sort of situation, with a dominant player in his prime (or v.close to it) and another who has long been retired? Seems weird.

grendel Says:

You’re splitting hairs, Jane. You make it clear enough, in between the lines, what you think of all the focus on Federer. And your distaste is o.k., by the way, each to his own.

You may have found McEnroe’s antics funny – players often didn’t; it was a form of pretty outrageous gamesmanship.

Ball bouncing (which is, actually, rather funny to WATCH) taken to a certain extreme is clearly not the same as sock adjusting etc. Time matters. You don’t know what players think, they are not necessarily going to say, as many don’t wish to court controversy etc.

Screaming is not just something that players do. Commentators have noticed that with Sharapova in particular, her patterns of screaming/not screaming are unintelligible. Furthermore, if the will was there, it could quite easily be stopped, and players would just have to find other ways to focus, wouldn’t they, poor dears.

FoT, I was glad to see that in the website you mention, among other players rooting for Fed are Santoro and Schnyder – two absolute one offs. Henin too is a fan. The gifted recognize their own.

John (1) Says:


I read or heard that Fed played differently in the Andy/Roger exhibition that Andy won. I think it came from a commentator (maybe John McEnroe). The impression that I got was that Roger used the exo to practice some things that he wouldn’t do during a match that counts.

John (1) Says:

Differences in current ranking points:

Fed over Nadal +2220 (e.g. 7605-5385)
Nadal over Djoker +1090
Djoker over Davydenko +1040
Davy over Roddick +715
Roddick over Blake +250
Blake over Gonzalez +105
Gonzo over Ferrer +245
Ferrer over Berdych +15
Berdych over Haas +45
Haas over Robredo +5

Henin over Kuznetsova +1420 (e.g. 5200-3780)
Kuz over Jankovic +415
Jankovic over Sharapova +130
Maria over Chakvetadze +295
Chak over Ivanovic +15
Ivanovic over Serena +534
Serena over Petrova +125
Petrova over Venus +51
Venus over Bartoli +148
Bartoli over Mauresmo +5

grendel Says:

Actually, Jane, there is a feeling around, reflected a bit in the press, that Fed is, perhaps, just perhaps, losing his grip. All those set points have created a frisson – the natural itch to see a change at the top means that people forget, as Erwin points out, we’ve been here before.

A lot of people found McEnroe’s antics funny. I never did, I just saw someone practising tedious gamesmanship which didn’t exactly thrill his opponents,and I was nauseated by the bullying – McEnroe knew very well he could get away with anything, his dollar pulling power being what it was.

Ball bouncing (which actually is rather funny to WATCH), when taken to extremes is clearly not the same as sock adjusting etc. Time matters. You don’t know what players think, Jane, they are not necessarily going to say, as many don’t wish to court controversy etc.

Screaming is not just something that players do. Commentators have noticed that with Sharapova in particular, her patterns of screaming/not screaming are unintelligible. This suggests deliberation is involved. Furthermore, if the will was there, it could quite easily be stopped, and players would just have to find other ways to focus, wouldn’t they. It boils down to choice, really: what do people want? I’ve no idea.

FoT, I was glad to see that in the website you mention, among other players rooting for Fed are Santoro and Schnyder – two absolute one offs. Henin too is a fan. The gifted recognize their own. This is a good place to point out that GOAT, which keeps being raised here, mainly by Jane, is too formal, and Jane’s points against it (whatever her motives)are valid i.m.o. Informally, though, players from different generations do seem to opt for Federer as the best. That’s not anything exact, but it does tell you something

4 Hand Says:

FED—-There are people who love him and want to see him keep winning matches for ever and ever.There are people who hate him and want to see his decline. Unfortunately they are waiting and waiting and waiting all this time and it hasnt happened till now.But facts are facts whether we love it or hate it.12 slams, 10 consecutive grand slam finals with 3 out 4 slams repeated 3 times and 2 french finals.If there is anyone worthy of standing next to him in tennis it has to be the “iceman” bjorn borg.At an age where it was the toughest task to win both wimbledon and french he did it so many times.Plus there were 4 US open finals to his credit.All this done within the age of 26 is incredible.After that would be Lendl with 94 singles titles and 19 slam finals to his credit where he won 8 of those.He had the toughest competition I guess in terms of having hall of famers like becker,edberg etc.The rest can only come afterwards IMHO. Winning all the 4 slams is given too much of importance.If it happens well and good but if it doesn’t happen it still doesn’t mean that the player cannot be the greatest ever.Agassi won all the 4 slams but does that mean he has to be in the GOAT list???

zola Says:

It is amazing how sports can become so personal. I am by no means a Fed fan, just because I don’t like his personality. But his strokes are great. watching him on slow motion, you can think he is out of a science fiction movie and each move has been coreographed. but when he brags about how amazing he is and how he wins easily etc….I just can’t take it. but to “hate” a player is just nonsense. what have they done to us? I guess those who “love” or “hate” identify ourselves as a player or their opposite in person, which is wierd!

Still, trying to be objective here ( and I can do it about him because I have no sympathy for Fed!), he played and won much easier last year. This year, things were a bit rough, but he still won. He came up with the shots when it mattered. He won over Roddick and Joker in straight sets. a win is a win. wether he is declining, or he is playing more mental than physical, it is another story. but with 7600 points, he is nowhere near retirement.

I think Sean ( which by the way is more of Fed fan that many here imply), is just stating a fact. that Fed’s wins were different this year. he did not win as easily as last year , which is the truth. what is going to be next year? we will see.

Sir Loz Says:

I have to say that just because Fed isn’t winning as easily this year as previous years doesn’t necessarily mean he is waning.

On the contrary I think he is a better player than ever before. I think the standard of the rest of the field has increased mainly due to Fed raising the bar and certain players (such as Djokovic) coming of age.

I think Fed has now learnt how to grind out tough wins against players that generally don’t just crack when he goes a set up. In previous years this was the case and as a result Fed won a lot of tournaments without getting into top gear.

His ‘tougher’ year IMO is more down to the chasing pack improving to a higher level than in past years and pushing him all the way in each set.

The point is that Fed is better now than last year because he now has the capability to do what it takes to win against top players playing at their peak. This can’t always be pretty but it is more enthralling and he continues to prove his greatness by winning even when it’s not easy for him.

This is what true champions do and this is what Fed so obviously is.

jane Says:

zola – I agree with you. I don’t “hate” or “love” Federer, but he does tend to generate strong – often personal – reactions. This may be because of his personality or perhaps because of his consummate abilities and the achievements those have resulted in. The personal element may where being or not being fan comes in – i.e., having a favorite player or players in addition to being a fan of tennis.

jane Says:

grendel – I would still argue that the bouncing is the same as the sock adjusting. And I remember how players were initially visibly put off by how long Nadal took to serve. No, I didn’t hear them say “this is irritating” but you could see it in their reactions, hear about it through the commentators, and occasionally Nadal was called on a time violation. I don’t think his sock adjusting is different than the bouncing; I don’t think either player should be forced to change, nor will they.

As to the screaming, Sharapova has tried to stop, has played matches without screaming, and her level of play dropped. This has been commented on too. Besides, many of the men grunt. I can see how it might be annoying, but I think it’s for the player on the other side of the net to deal with.

jane Says:

John (1)

I noticed Fed isn’t playing Bangkok but several of the others in the “race” for Shanghai are, including Rafa and Djok, who’ve already qualified. Be interesting to see what transpires there, the race for no.2 being the tighter one – in terms of rankings it’s tighter than anyone touching Fed’s top spot too. Hope Rafa not risking his knees in the process…

FoT Says:

If you want to look at ‘scores’ to base his “decline” on…then last year was a very tough year. Remember all those 3-set matches at the Toronto event; remember all those match-points saved in the Halle event? Remember all those 3-set matches at Halle? I mean, Roger is not going to win every match by blowing out opponents because the guys on tour can play!

And Sean, the only thing I really took offense to was that “BUT” in your heading. As a Federer fan, here I am on a high with him winning his 4th straight US Open over the #3, #4, and #5 ranked players without losing a set after coming off his 5th Wimbledon title in a row. The last thing I would like to read is “But for how much longer”. I mean, talk about a pin busting your bubble!

It was like you just received all As on your report card (99, 93, 95, 97, 98) and you’re so proud of all the hard work you’ve put in, all the studying that paid off, then you hear your your parents say “We’re so proud that you got straight A’s, but why the low 93?)! That’s what got me with your heading and maybe that was the reaction you wanted since so many folks have posted over here.

zola Says:

I don’t think Rafa is playing Bangkok. He has to rest for two weeks and I think his next event will be Madrid.

**The last thing I would like to read is “But for how much longer”. I mean, talk about a pin busting your bubble!***

C’mon FoT! You can’t be offended by that. The first thing that came to my mind reading your comment was that this bubble is so big and Fed is so successful that it will take ages to burst. Sure One day Fed will not be winning every match. that’s a fact. But I think right now you can sleep well. He is not going anywhere anytime soon.

FoT Says:

You know me well, Zola! lol!

funches Says:


Good stuff backing up your contention on Fed. I still don’t agree with your take, but you make a solid case with sound reasoning behind it.

Tejuz Says:

Well.. infinite ball bouncing could be more irritating that sock adjusting. Atleast with Nadal you know how much time he takes to adjust his socks and start his service motion. Ball bouncing is a part of service motion.. and the returner is more or less on their toes ready to pounce on the serves. But if the ball bouncing keeps varying from 3 to 15 to 28 .. i guess its sure to affect the concentration of the returner. Also it looks rather funny and not at all classy.

Kash Says:


Why are we expecting “class” from djokovic? as some-one aptly put it, he is a media whore. i would not be surprised if he plays naked just to get more people to notice him. i am sure his fans will be ok with that because it gets “more fans” to tennis. Maybe I am one of those few people who might think “more” is not always good. At some point too much of anything becomes bad. That happened when joker exaggerated nadal’s butt picking in his impersonation after the qf match.

I donot know how it is different from what soderling did at wimbledon. Atleast soderling did it in the heat of the moment. (adrenaline and all). Joker had no provocation except that he had an immature audience thirsty for “drama/humour” or whatever that nonsense could be termed. It would have been funny if he kept the imitation honest enough without all that vulgar exaggeration. He has crossed the line from entertainment into paris hilton/britney spears category. I guess nadal is too classy to slam joker for this, but that does not make this right. Hope joker can learn a little class from that kid.

About the article itself, I agree with sean that fedz level has slipped, but then at the end of last year I imagined federer solving the nadal puzzle and winning the GS so I guess the future will always surprise us. If fed brought his peak game last sunday, joker would not have won more than 10games. and there would have been zilch set points for joker.

Tejuz Says:

Probably his fans will again come up with an argument that he is a 20 yr ol kid.. lil immature to some that ‘Class’ .. But Nadal was only 19 when he won his 1st French Open and he was always focussed on tennis.

Probabaly he might be a lil embarassed when he watches these videos after few years down the line.. or who knowz.. he might still remain the ‘Joker’ imitating other players 5-yrs younger to him.

grendel Says:

Good point, Tejuz – I mean about the variation of the ball bounce, hadn’t occured to me. But obviously 28 bounces, we’re not talking sock adjustment, more like removal of shorts, quick change of underwear and shorts back on. Like I said, time matters.

Sharapova hasn’t seriously tried to modify the scream – that has to be done, clearly, over an extended period. As for the player on other side of net having to deal with it, that’s reasonable if it’s just annoyance.(What about the spectators?) But what if the shrieking drowns out the sounds of the ball – I have heard this raised as a problem, don’t know whether it’s true. One thing about screaming, Dementieva has a particularly irritating shriek, and she does it BEFORE she hits the bloody ball. Why is that?

zola Says:

I think Federer gave an appropriate answer to Joker in his press conference. He said he is walking on a tight rope! that should be enough for him, but we will see.

What I always like about Rafa and later on Federer, was that they are friendly and they never speak in a provoking way. Rafa won a GS when he was barely 19 ( one or two days into his 19) and as his forst year as No 2, he won 11 titles even missing the season after MAdrid. He never said he was going to be a danger or dethrone Federer or whatever. What I read from Joker is that he is in the mix and he can be dangerous for Rafa and Federer and all that %@.

I have no doubt one day Rafa and Fed won’t be 1 and 2. Nothing is forever. but I wish to see more “class” from up and coming ones. let’s not forget that he is only one year younger than RAfa. So it is not strange to expect him to act more maturely. Rafa has been No 2 since 18 and he never acted up like that.

jane Says:

zola – it’s very true that Nadal has always been extremely professional from a very young age. Different personality entirely from Djokovic though.

Kash – I agree that Djok’s Nadal impersonation is a bit much, with the short picking. I think Djok does it all in fun though (unlike Soderling, who was deliberately being mean and doing it DURING a match); I mean judging from press conferences and whatnot, he seems like a fun-loving person who means no harm. He seems to come from that sort of family – one that’s been through a lot and now want to enjoy themselves. The Nadals, by contrast, seem more strictly focused on athletics and competition – a different bunch altogether. I guess the players come by their personalities honestly as someone else once posted on another thread.

Tejuz – true about the ball-bouncing; it does vary. But the same with Nadal- sometimes he takes longer to serve than other times.

All the players serve at a different pace, and I don’t think they’re always consistent. IMO, Djok’s bouncing isn’t gamesmanship – like Mcenroe’s explosions or possibly some of the screaming – it’s simply something he does when he’s deciding where to place his serve, etc. I think eventually people will stop making a big deal about it, just like most have stopped talking about Rafa’s pre-serve & changeover habits.

Bottomline is that players have to play at the server’s pace: some speed through (Roddick, Agassi); some are slow (Rafa); some vary the time it takes them to serve depending on the situation (Djok, and others, I’m sure).

jane Says:

zola – according to the atp website, rafa’s next listed event is bangkok (see the “atp 2007 race to shanghai”).

jane Says:

Kash –

Class is admirable, but so is humour. I guess we all have our faves, but I’d hardly compare Djok to Hilton or Spears! He’s visiting the Met Opera and having dinner with Robert DeNiro in his off hours, not driving drunk or having tawdry affairs. Like or hate him, he’s not *that* bad.

It would be boring if all the tennis players acted the same, had the same habits, played the same styles. It’s good that there are Connors, and Beckers, and Djokers to shake things up. Least IMO.

grendel Says:

I don’t think Federer brags, Zola. He strikes me as a man who tries to talk objectively about his game, and if that has on the day been often outstanding,so be it. What’s he supposed to do, pretend? He could so easily fall into the kind of grotesque false modesty which just begs to be contradicted. He definitely does not revel in these descriptions – I always watch him very closely on these occasions, because this is very interesting, and here is where you can find out what type of man he is.

A few years ago Federer mentioned, almost as an aside, that he felt he was fortunate because he had always been at home on a tennis court. It was a disarmingly simple comment which somehow explained a lot.

If Federer showed disrespect to other players, then we’d see the conceit behind the mask. But unless the man is a consummate actor, you never do see that. He is always courteous about the other player, however lowly ranked, and is nearly always quick to admit he might have been beaten – as, for example, he nearly was in Dubai a couple of years ago by a player in the 400’s, I think.

When he first felt threatened by Nadal, he showed weakness, which I assume he has come to regret. To me, that was just human, I’m not interested in saints.

It was reported after the Roddick match in u.s.open that Federer had said “piece of cake”. Now, if he did, and meant it (it is quite possible to have said something like that in satirical mode – i.e. the match was anything but), then that would truly have been a monstrous piece of conceit, not to mention falsehood. My understanding is that he didn’t say it. Does anyone know for sure – and where did the rumour arise from?

grendel Says:

Of course Djokovic’s ball bouncing isn’t gamesmanship. That’s not the point. It’s about time. As a matter of fact, umpires are notoriously inconsistent on this matter of time. Does it have to be a grey area?

jane Says:

Grendel –

Yes, Federer said “piece of cake” – but the way I understood it was that he was replying to the on-court interviewer’s question about his training routine, which the commentors were discussing because Federer is never injured. So it wasn’t in response to the match as far as I could tell. It was the press afterwards who tried to goad Andy into getting upset, but he didn’t take their bait, from what I could tell.

As far as zola’s comment, to me, Federer can sometimes seem uncouth in his press conferences, particularly when he refers to how fabulously he played, or something, but he doesn’t seem to be bragging. It’s just the way he talks.

jane Says:

Grendel –

I’m not sure I follow your question – does what have to be a grey area? The ball bouncing or the umpires’ inconsistency?

The time factor of player’s serves is precisely the point I made above, but it varies from player-to-player and even from serve-to-serve, so it seems a moot point (i.e. Agassi always rushed, Rafa’s always taken his time). You said yourself that the umpires are inconsistent in calling violations, and obviously the players serve at different paces too. So what’s the issue? Djok bounces the ball a lot, sometimes more than other times. So what. It is a grey area because it comes down to idosyncracies.

Maybe I’ll just agree to disagree with you on the issue.

jane Says:

Grendel – re: “piece of cake”

This from Roger’s interview:

“Q: There was a comment you made, sort of a throw‑away comment: “Piece of cake.” Andy came in and seemed to take offense to that. He said, “piece of cake, I hope he certainly didn’t think this match was a piece of cake.” Was that just taken out of context?

ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. You saw what we talked about or not out on the court? We were talking about my training, so it has nothing to do with the match. I didn’t think it was a piece of cake at all. I could have been down two sets to love. No, no, not at all. Misunderstanding, I guess.

We were talking about my practice. Even in the end, threw in the word “piece of cake.” I just repeated it because I guess he thought it was funny (laughter). So, yeah, I guess that’s what it was about. Nothing about the match.”


This from Andy’s interview:

“Q. That “piece of cake” remark, that’s what Michael said first before Roger. Do you take that personally?

ANDY RODDICK: No. I just hope he didn’t mean it was a piece of cake.

Q. He was being sort of sarcastic about hard work, that you’re an overnight sensation by working hard.

ANDY RODDICK: That’s okay. Is that a question?

Q. It is a question, yeah.

ANDY RODDICK: Well, what was your question? Are you going to ask the same thing he just asked?

Q. My question still stands. Did you take it personally?

ANDY RODDICK: No. I know Roger has more class than that. I was just making the point contrary to what was said out there. I didn’t think it was a piece of cake. You guys can take that and run with it however you want and make something of it, but that’s not the case.

I’m just saying contrary to what was said, I hope it wasn’t a piece of cake. It certainly didn’t feel that way from my end.”

Just seems to me like the press trying to stir up controversy, as always. Likely most tennis players are savvy enough not to fall into the trap.

Sorry for the monstrously long post – just trying to settle Grendel’s question.

grendel Says:

Thankyou, Jane. Yes, I remember now. Must be getting older even faster than i thought.

Dunno what you mean by “uncouth”. If Fed feels he has played “fabulously”, then he may well say so. Some people regard this as bragging, I think he is simply reporting. Not being a gifted person myself, I don’t know what it’s like, but I have an imagination and also like to observe, and I think gifted people, in any area, do regard their gift as something almost apart from themselves – which in a way is factually true, since they didn’t acquire it, they were “gifted” it at birth.

Umpires’ inconsistency is the grey area – perhaps it has to be, for the reasons you outline. I understand what you’re saying, Jane, but there is an objective point to be made about “time”. There comes a point when even Djokovic’s most ardent defender will say, no, that’s too many bounces. Let’s say he/she says, 35 bounces, 40? A Djokovic critic might say, 15 bounces, 20? A neutral might say…..

andrea Says:

and to solidify whether or not this ‘piece of cake’ thing was a slag or not: i was fortunate to attend the US Open and was there in person during this interview.

The words ‘piece of cake’ first came from the interviewer and it was indeed a reference to roger’s training and how he manages to stay injury free. it started when the interviewer said to roger that andre agassi was curious what roger’s training regime was.

roger then described his regime and how he manages his tour schedule etc etc. the interviewer then added “Piece of cake” at the end of roger’s reply (in a light hearted way, knowing full well that it’s not a piece of cake) and the audienece laughed at this comment so roger laughed and said “yeah, piece of cake”.

why the press would manipulate this so much is beyond me. it’s a real shyster move.

jane Says:

Grendel –

True – sometimes Fed does seem to talk about his tennis as though it’s separate from him, like a gift, as you put it. Makes perfect sense. But maybe people don’t think of it like that and perhaps that’s why he’s misunderstood sometimes or could come across as arrogant or whatever. I’d never thought of it like that before.

Tejuz Says:

Jane.. Nadal is always slow during his service motion, so the opponent(ex Fed) noramlly relaxes till he comes to service line and makes his adjustments. Positioning of bottles is irrelevant cuz its not directly affecting the opponent during change overs. Agassi or Roddick or Fed are fast .. so no problems there.

But ball-bouncing is something which is a part of service motion and because it keeps varying it might bring in extra amount of alertness in the opponents game. Imagine its a break-point and the opponent is ready for Djoks serve..

Ball bouncing:
1,2,3 .. will he serve now.., 4,5,6,7,8 .. guess now for sure .., 9,10,11,12,13 .. Grrrrr … , 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 .. oh plz.., 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, zzzzzzzz, 26, 27, 28 .. ACE :D

Seriously, it cant go to lengths of 20+ bounces.. even if it varies .. somewhere between 3 to 10 is still ok.

FloridaMan Says:

I disagree that Federer is the greatest player of all time. I think that if he played the players of the 90’s, he would have won less slams than he did today.

The top 20 players of the 90’s were simply way better than the top 20 today. Simply put, their games were better and they were mentally stronger. They had the game to really take away Federer’s timing, something that today’s players largely don’t do. Plus, compared to today’s players, the top players of the ’90s had better volleys to be able to knock off against Federer. They definitely wouldn’t beat Federer every time they played him, but they would have taken him out of at least a few of the 12 slams he won.

That is why I regard the argument of Federer being the greatest of all time with a good degree of skepticism, especially given the state of top players today vs. top players of the previous decade.

zola Says:

The “piece of cake ” comment was taken completely out of context by the media. I watched Fed’s interview after the match. He was judt talking about his training and the commentator said “piece of cake, yeah?” and Fed repeated ” yeah, piece of cake!”. I am surprised those people who try to feed the players with wrong questions to stir sontroversy never get fined for doing something like that.

but there many other that Fed has tried to bring something negative about his opponents in his interviews while saying something positiveabout himself and he does it very subtly. Maybe that’s part of the mentality training. I just don’t like it.

About Djoko’s ball bouncing, I think it is completely the umpire’s fault. I agree with Tejuz. How would the opponent know when the ball is coming? but how long Djoker can win by tricks like that?

zola Says:

Florida man,
Rosangel has a nice article on tennis.com ( simply the best?) and produced statistics regarding tennis greats. you might want to look at that.

I don’t like the GOAT argument eaither. you cannot compare players from different eras. there were times when USOpen was played on Grass…

but I don’t agree that today’s field is worse than the 90’s. Each generation is different as are the equipment and training etc. If you watch tennis matches from 80’s or 90’s you will see the played much slower than today’s players. I think this is a very strong field. Of couse we might have used to names from 90’s, but that doesn’t mean they were better. there is no way to prove it.

Erwin Says:

People were also complaining about the 90’s as a weak era when Sampras was playing. The past always looks better in the eyes of humans. We have an incurable condition called nostalgia. We remember only the great matches from the past. How many people remember that Krajicek,Martin,Stoltenberg and Washington reached the semifinal of Wimbledon in 1996 ?

In 10 years time people will claim that the Federer era was much better than the current era. That’s the way things work.

Colin Says:

I’m a bit puzzled by the attacks on Djoker’s comedy and dramatics. Until a year or two ago, what popped up on most forums, particularly from American fans, was criticism of Federer for his LACK of personality. At least Jock-Itch usually seems good-natured, which is a nice change from the adolescent whining for which McEnroe was so widely admired. Regarding the imitation of Nadal’s butt-picking, I’d have thought it’s the original that is off-putting, not the mimicry. Would you want to shake hands with Rafa after a match?

zola Says:

you can’t be serious. What RAfa is doing is a tick . He also arranges his bottles in a certain way and adjusts his socks in a certain way. and no way his hand is inside his pants. He adjusts his pants from the side. should someone bounce a ball 50 times because Joker bounces it somewhere between 10-30 times before a serve?

you are turining this to a revenge game. It is not like that. This was supposed to be fun and as long as it is not done in the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam , I was OK with it. I like his impressions too. He has been doing these for more than a year. What was silly, was the CBS commentator, who made this an official act. Joker is obviously an attention-seeker. he does anything for some more camera time. look at his Desperado video on youtube when Antonio BAnderas was visiting Rafa in the locker room. In the BAckgroung Joker is stealing the camera with some moves. It is ok. he is only 20. some people don’t mature as others do ( look at DelPotro 18 and Gulbis 19 or justa year ago when Rafa was 20))…..but bringing this to the QF of USOpen was a silly mistake.

Fed’s response summed it up. “he is walking on a tight rope”.

zola Says:

congratulations to Lindsay for the great comeback..

grendel Says:


“but there many other that Fed has tried to bring something negative about his opponents in his interviews while saying something positiveabout himself and he does it very subtly.”

For instance? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it’s quite a serious charge, and it would be good to have some evidence. In particular, once you say that a person is being SUBTLY denigratory you have to be really careful that that’s not just in your mind. I know from my own experience that once you have it in for someone, you’re liable to start seeing things which aren’t necessarily noticed by others. Of course, you’re not alone, Zola, and you’re comparatively restrained. To some people, Federer is the very devil. A very strange phenomenon.

Samiracle Says:

Hi, I am new to this forum so forgive me my redundance of afore mentioned topics.

In regards to the comments about Roger Federer:

“Fed was not handling Roddick’s serve as well as he normally does. I earlier posed the query: was this because Fed was not quite as good or, had Roddick himself raised his serving level? Must be one of those two, or even both. Any ideas?”

I think Federer was handling Roddick’s serve as well as he ever has. i was truly mesmerized by the number of times he not only got a racquet on those serves, but put them back in play in a way that keeps him in good position to hit the next ball better than any other player would have been able to do. In all honesty, I thought that was the best match of the tournament: the highest quality of play from two competitors in the whole fortnight. 40+ winners for both players and far fewer errors on both sides of the net. I think Andy was really serious when he said he wanted another chance against Federer. He gave this match everything he had, every ounce of mental acuity and physical strength he possessed, and Federer was prepared for it. They weren’t playing nerve-addled, tentative, passive tennis either. They were both going for the jugular, and making few mistakes. One elegantly so, one flailingly so.

I don’t think Federer is slipping by any means, and no statistic can definitively prove otherwise. He’s human, so he makes mistakes. There are times when his powers are shining brighter than others; I liken it to the way an artist channels when creating in their given medium. Sometimes the words, the music, the imagery, comes at you in intermittent fits and bursts, and at other times for extended periods when the artist almost seems to exist on another plane of reality. Is Roger having the same results this year? No, but change is natural, and he has still excelled superbly this season. Having different results doesn’t automatically mean less significant, less remarkable, or less awe-inspiring.

Considering the vast expanses that his level of skill and talent can reach in the annals of sports history, not just tennis history, every GS Final must be utter torture to deal with, and thus this year’s 4th successive wins at Wimbledon and the USO, are even more impressive than last years. Surely at some point the fear that this incredible record-making run must end, weighs on him. The knowledge that NO ONE in tennis has done what you’ve done can be both a great boon during those tight 5-all sets, and a curse when you walk out onto the court to begin play because you get the feeling that if it ends here, where does it begin again? Will it begin again? So every GS forms a new link in a chain that grows heavier with every new victory, the pressure to continue doing that to which you and the observing world have grown accustomed, even if it’s the kind of tennis that boggles the minds of the greatest players new and old in the sport. Sometimes it takes a while to adjust to the heaviness of expectations. That’s why so many players have a relatively poor season following a breakthrough year. If Djokovic has this great a season next year, then we can expect great things from him someday.

Remember that hindsight is 20/20 and we need to look back on Roger Federer’s completed career to see where this season and it’s results fit into the grand scheme of things, before we make any type of statement that amounts to more than the bilge upon which cyberspace grows fatter. If, (or is it when?), he wins 25 majors by the time he is done with tennis as a competitor, we will all be laughing at ourselves for contemplating his “decline”, or the fading of his incomparably sharp tools at this stage in the game.

Skorocel Says:

Dear author! To claim Federer is slipping or declining is simply laughable. Man, what would other players give to have 3 out of 4 slams per year?! If I’m correct, no one except Laver (a complete slam in 1969), Connors (3 out of 4 in 1974) and Wilander (detto in 1988) did it in the Open era – and that says it all…

Do you really think Fed’s game worsened to such extent that we could claim he’s declining? Come on! If we look at sheer numbers, then the previous season would clearly be Fed’s best, as he’s won 12 titles, 3 of which were slams, 4 MS events + the Masters Cup… That’s of course pretty impressive, isn’t it? Now you claim he’s slipping because he’s lost more matches this year (six) than he did in 2006 or 2005 + he’s won “just” six titles. Uhm… Do you really think that one or two tournaments make a difference (I mean mostly those 2 losses to Canas in the spring)? Personally, I don’t!

When we compare this year with the previous one, well, he maybe already has one more loss than the grand total in 2006 (and “only” 6 titles), but there’s still Tokyo, Basel, Madrid, Paris and Shanghai left for him… That could well be 5 more titles (or most likely 4, as I believe he will skip either Paris or Madrid) and another season finished with 10+ tournaments won… I know, it’s only “could be”, but we already know from the previous years that Fed’s not used to lose that many matches in the post-US Open season, is he? And btw, last year, the guy played (and won) both Doha and Halle, which he skipped in 2007…

It’s true that you can’t deny the age. Fed’s slowly but surely getting older, and he can’t be as quick and sharp as he’s been in these last 3-4 years forever… BUT he’s also more matured and experienced player as well! His backhand (labeled as a weakness) improved much over the last 2-3 years, and his serve (often overlooked) became one of his best weapons (let’s face it, which player has better serving technique on the Tour than Fed?). Not to mention his mental strength in important situations, which hugely contributed to the success he’s enjoying now…

As his former trainer Tony Roche once said, he’s still got some areas he can improve in (I mean mainly his game at the net), and indeed, the guy’s still improving… Personally, I don’t think his game worsened even a bit compared to the previous years. Surely, he’s had those two bad losses to Canas and then to Volandri, but my personal opinion is that the guy was already thinking of Paris in these matches (again, it’s only my personal opinion)… Anyway, he rebounded perfectly from the supposed “slump” by whacking (you really like that word, do you?) Nadal in the Hamburg final. If not for the Spaniard, Fed could have had 3 RG’s (together with SW19 in the same year, which would’ve repeated Borg’s famous feat) + 2 consecutive calendar slams… Really, it’s undoubtedly a sign of decline when he loses to such players like Nadal in Monte Carlo and RG finals, isn’t it? Come on! The guy could well be the best claycourt player in the history of the game! So Fed’s in decline, right? The guy’s won 3 out 4 in the current season – and it could’ve been a clean sweep if not for that aforementioned guy from Spain… Really, I don’t know how you can get any closer to perfection in this sport?

Do you really think Fed’s chances of winning a calendar slam (or 3 out of 4) are over? How can you be so sure that Fed’s (supposedly) “new foe” Novak Djokovic will be (at least) as successful as in 2007? In sports (especially in tennis), one thing is to get there, and the other is to stay there – even Fed will confirm you this… Djokovic is maybe enjoying his breakthrough season, yet Fed beat him 3 out of 4 times they played together in 2007 (the overall h2h is a clear 5-1 for Fed)… The Swiss has won 6 tourneys this year (despite being in a “decline”, isn’t it?), which is Djoker’s grand total for his whole career – need I say more? And Fed doesn’t even need a coach…

Yes, the Serb could’ve been 1 or 2 sets up in that US Open final, but it’s the IMPORTANT POINTS that tennis is all about. Who wins them usually wins the match, no? There wasn’t any controversy (except maybe that Djoker’s 2nd setpoint in the 2nd set, where one of Serb’s shots was out only by a whisker, but it was OUT!), and it was Fed who won the important points! I would rather say “Fed tested, but still better-er”…

Skorocel Says:

In my opinion, Fed played really an excellent tourney at this year’s US Open. And overall, the whole US hardcourt summer was even better than in the previous year in my opinion. I thought he played pretty good in Montreal (in Cincy it was slightly worse, except the final). Compare this to the 2006 Aussie Open, where Fed REALLY struggled almost throughout the entire tournament…

You claim he’s not as sharp in returning serves as he once was? Uhm, beating such “poor” servers like Isner, Lopez and then Roddick really adds something to this “fact”, isn’t it? Come on! Who cares if he couldn’t create one single BP for the first 2 sets vs Andy – he won the match (in three, despite Roddick probably playing as best as he could vs Fed), and that’s all what counts! His stats could have worsened a bit, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s won the US for the 4th consecutive time…

Speaking about Fed’s rather “poor” returns, name one player who can return a 140 mph bomb apart from the Swiss – I will listen! I bet he holds the world record for the fastest service ever returned… He had some lulls against Davy? When Fed slowed a bit (that is in the 3rd), the match was already decided… He maybe lost his serve 3 times in that set, but he always knew he can break the Russian – seemingly at will…

Finally, I don’t think this year’s final was any harder for Fed than the previous one against Roddick. Last year, Andy at least won 1 set off Fed and then held till 5-5 in the 3rd, which is still better than to have 7 setpoints and not convert even one of them. But again, that’s only my opinion.

Anyway, I guess by writing such an article, your main goal was to create a passionate discussion, so I’m only happy we can have one such here at tennis-x.com. Indeed, that’s what all those blogs are about, isn’t it? Some fans may think Fed’s in decline, some not (including me), and that’s okay…

P.S. You’re right that there wasn’t any US Open Series back in Sampras’ heydays, but on the other hand, there isn’t any Compaq Grand Slam Cup nowadays as well (you remember that one, don’t you?). I’m not quite sure, but at the ATP website they claim Sampras gained full 2 millions for winning it (he won in 1990 and 1997), so I guess it wasn’t that bad for Pete either:-)

Skorocel Says:

I guess ross really nailed it when he said that “per Sean’s definition, Sampras spent his whole career in a slump!” Ha ha! That pretty much sums up the whole article!

Also agree with Erwin, who said “the funny thing is that nobody talks about Nadal declining if he has several 5-setters at Wimbledon or loses in the fourth round at the USO.” You know, that just shows how unfortunate it is for Fed to be such good in what he’s doing as he really is…

John, you’re absolutely right about Murray! After his win over Fed in Cincy last year, the media (especially the British ones) hyped the poor guy to such extent it’s simply regrettable…

grendel, your definition of delivering unreturnable serves at break points made me laugh! “to Sampras” – really hilarious!

Jerseyboy, do you really think the best shot of that US Open final between Fed and Nole was that one Serb’s lob? Try this vs Isner (as Roger once did in their match), and then we can talk about lobs:-) Btw, did you see the last game of the final? Fed played that one unbelievable overhead BH volley there, then literally “threw” Djokovic to the stands with a fabulous crosscourt BH… Even the biggest Fed hater would admit that THOSE were the points of the match!

Jane, you can’t be serious! “Much could be made of Roger’s hair adjustments or racquet spinning.” Really? Just tell me how it affects the receiver (?)… What about Rafa doing all those silly hair adjustments when he’s ABOUT to serve (not when he’s receiving the balls from the ball boys, as Fed does) – that’s something we can talk about, don’t you think? As for Rafa, I don’t mind if he’s picking his butt 1000 times per match or inscribes a swastika with those bottles – as long as he doesn’t do any harm to the opponent, it’s okay! You said: “But unless they go consistently beyond the time alloted between points, why does it matter?” You’re right with this one, but let’s be honest, is there a player who takes more time between the points than Nadal? He’s doing it all the time, but when someone gives him a warning, he then suddenly acts as if he didn’t do anything (even appearing offended by the umpire’s decision)… In addition, the guy’s used deliberate medical timeouts in the past (just remember last year’s Monte Carlo final) and is still making those stupid mind-games before the match… He always lets the opponent wait prior to the coin toss, and does silly things even before they’re on court. For example, did you see this year’s SW19 final? When he and Fed were entering the centre court, Nadal (walking ahead of Fed) suddenly decided to lace up his shoes, which almost caused Fed to hit the Spaniard’s “famous” ass and made him look like an idiot… That’s fair play, isn’t it? No wonder Soderling made a mock of him! Tell me one such example of gamesmanship from Fed and I will listen!

P.S. Please stop making those stupid comparisons with Tiger Woods! After all, shall we consider him as a real athlete? I doubt…

sensationalsafin Says:

i dont even know why im posting cuz everything i would want to say has already been said by the last few great posts. Skorocel and Samiracle, i couldnt agree with u even a tiny bit more. ur both 110% right. im just gonna add a sampras comparison here. federer’s best season by far was 2006, im pretty sure everyone agrees. his 4 losses to nadal were all pretty much very high quality matches despite losing and his loss to murray was one of the worst matches hes ever played and it was due to a pretty much empty tank. this year he had 2 bad losses to canas and one to volandri. his other 3 losses came to the number 2 and 3 players in the world, and those matches were pretty damn close. and yet, he was 2 sets from a calendar slam for the second consecutive year. when, in his 6 years at number 1, did sampras ever accomplish such a task? how many bad losses to lowly ranked players did sampras have every year? how many times did he lose on clay AND hard every year. imo federer’s main focus this year was really the french despite what he or anyone else says. the pre-french losses were cuz he was distracted and the post-french was against djokovic who played a helluva match. maybe he will end up with even more losses next year, but i doubt itll be more than 1 at the grand slams. and so what if its a decline, sampras’s peak years were from 1993-1995, but he was still number 1 for 3 years after that. who knows what’ll happen with federer? he might be number 1 for another 4 years in which he’ll win ATLEAST another 9 or more slams. federer-doubters are out of their minds.

grendel Says:

Samiracle: Generally,prior to the Open, Federer seemed able to pick Roddick’s serve, and nullify its power by blocking it, often awkwardly to Roddick’s feet. He didn’t seem able to do that this time until middle of 3rd set. Furthermore he did, I believe, comment afterwards that he couldn’t pick the serve. Considering how many times he has coped really effectively with it, that is a slightly surprising fact. Definitely a tense match, for nearly 2 sets anyway. Bodes well for future encounters.

Interesting what you say about the pressure Fed is under. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s him, or his fans who feel it to this degree!

Tejuz Says:

Nice points Skorocel and Samiracle

Sean Randall Says:

After three days of being away from my laptop I see this discussion remains quite spirited. To answer some, no, I did not write my original post with the intent of inciting such a debate. But I stand by it.

To your queries…

Tejuz, as Skorcel brought up, Sampras’s extra cash in 1997 came from the Grand Slam Cup, which according to the ATP records awarded $2M back then. So you could cancel the earnings from that event with the Federer’s US Open Series bonus and make things a little more level.

Jane, I regards to “greatest ever”. I see what you are talking about. Very true how the players in the 80s and even earlier passed up on the Australian Open. The Australian Open didn’t really become part of the Slam culture until the late 80s, early 90s. So who knows how many more Slams Borg, Connors, Jmac would have won if they had played.

So yes, it is tough to compare different era/generations, but the what Fed has done is unparalleled and insane in my mind. Ten straight slams finals, 14 straight slams semifinals and a few years ago he had that stretch of winning 24 straight finals and 23 straight or so over Top 10 players. Remarkable. Regardless of level of competition, be it great or subpar, those are hefty numbers that cannot be ignored.

Tejuz, as far as the Davis Cup goes. I do include in the equation of a player’s overall “greatness”. As it is team competition Fed’s at a major disadvantage since he’s from Switzerland where top tennis talent is thin. So it wouldn’t be a strike against if he were to never win it – and if he were to ever win it, wow!

Regarding Fed’s “slippage” again. A lot of you point out that Fed maybe isn’t having as great a year as he did last year or even in 2005. Well, isn’t that in some ways “slipping”? Or maybe he’s not as great or playing as great as he previously did.

Samaricle, Skorocel and others, show me a statistic that indicates in some fashion that Federer is having a better year this year than he did last year or even in 2005. Can you come up with one?

Erwin, the difference is Nadal/Djokovic are exceeding their prior Slam results, so you could certainly say Djokovic has improved over last year, and to some extent Nadal, as well, with his hard court titles at Indian Wells and Miami and his near-win at Wimbledon.

I wrote a long time ago how I though Nadal could win Wimbledon before Roger wins in Paris. I never really believed it could actually happen, but Nadal came so close to pulling it off in July.

When you break it down, on the surface it’s not far fetched to say Nadal is closer to winning Wimbledon then Federer to winning the French. Fed has not shown to me that he can beat Rafa on the French clay whereas Nadal has definitively shown that he can take out Fed on the Wimbledon lawns. Scary.

Many of you bring up Hamburg where Fed finally beat Nadal on clay to end his win streak. A great win no doubt, but Fed really didn’t get any lift from it in the French Open final, which I though Nadal won pretty comfortably after they split sets. I thought Federer played better against Nadal in the 2006 final, but maybe that’s just me!

Daniel, I stand corrected. Thanks!

Fair points, Skorocel. But honestly I thought Fed was pretty flat this US Open. I didn’t see all his matches in full, but I was surprised to watch him drop a set to a recent US college grad (that’d be John Isner), and then go down a set to Feliciano Lopez, who was lucky not to have choked to Donald Young a round earlier. Fed also looked like crap at times in his match against Davydenko (when was the last time Fed got broken three times in a set on a hard court??), and he really didn’t light it up like I’ve seen him do in the past against Djokovic. I really felt like in his last two wins both Davydenko and Djokovic somewhat imploded, that is to say they did more to lose the match then Fed did to win. The match was theirs for the taking, they just couldn’t take it.

Full credit to Fed, though, he didn’t play his best and he still won, dropping just two sets along the way. But in prior US Opens/Wimbledons and even the Australian Open this year I recall Fed not really needing his opponents to self destruct to ensure victory.

Thanks for the great comments and intelligent discussion. If I ommitted a question from anyone, fire back at me. Off to write another post…

sensationalsafin Says:

i dont see how this year is worse than 2005. he has more slams this year than in 2005 and that says a lot. Sean u have a point in that davydenko and djokovic imploded and i was also dissappointed to not see federer really take off in the final like he did against agassi and roddick the last 2 years. i think a lot of that credit is due to djokovic being a lot better than the 2 former finalists. i think that since we are talking about roger federer we cant forget that he has the ability to lift his game when needed. if davydenko had taken the first set, is it really unsafe to presume that federer wouldve raised his game like he did against lopez who completely owned federer in the first set of their encounter? same against djokovic. so many ppl say djokovic shouldve been up 2 sets to love, but should have been really? if djokovic had taken the first set, dont u think federer wouldve raised his game? same if djokovic took the second set. and the reason i think federer didnt take off is because djokovic was seriously outplaying him the whole time and federer was always playing catchup. while u talk of his dominance slipping, during the australian open this year tony roche said that he thinks federer has a lot more game to use and his best years r still to come. maybe federer is just working on things right now which is y he isnt playing as well as we’re used to. maybe by next year he’ll have figured out what he wants to do and enter an untouchable realm again like he did last year from the us open up to the australian open where he was just in a godly zone.

zola Says:

I think it is fair to say that Fed is not as good as last year. first look at the number of defeats and second look at the number of sets he gave away against likes of Lopez, Isner, ( Monaco? I am not sure). Sure, he won Roddick and Djoko in straight sets but he pushed himself to do it.

What will happen next year? who knows. but it is quite common to have a not so perfect year after a phenomenall year. Next year Fed will be 27. Perhaps mentally he will be stronger, but physically not. which one will prevail, we will see.

Still, he is so far ahead that even slowing down for a bit wouldn’t harm his ranking and status. right now his only competetion is himself.

Erwin Says:

Yes, Sean. Here you show your true colours. Never give Federer credit for anything: Davydenko and Djokovic imploded, that’s the explanation for Federer winning. Federer served for the first set against Davydenko at 5-3, won the second set 6-1 and somehow this match was Davydenko’s for the taking. Sure, Sean, sure.

Tejuz Says:

Sean, I dont know if we saw the same matches this year.

Fed vs Isner – He lost that set because of one unfornced error in the tie-break and Isner acing past him later on. But look at the reply from Fed.. he took him apart in the next three sets wherby at one point he had ‘NO’ unforced errors for a period of 2 sets. (has anybody done that before?)

Fed vs Lopez – He has taken sets from Fed before as well, so nothing new.. He just outplayed Fed consistently getting his big 1st serves in and big forehands. Fed cooly weathered the storm in the 2nd set and from start of 3rd set til the end of fourth he never lost a point on his serve. (is that Flat???)

Fed vs Roddick – I guess it was Roddick who raised the level. But he was more close to beating Fed at last years Master’s cup. Fed played far worse in that match. Here, he had much more winners than unforced errors…

Davydenko.. by any means is no push-over .. he has won a Masters Series, been No 3 or 4 for quite some time. And he has had these kind of matches with Fed even before.. like last year’s(2006) Au Open.

Finals.. i agree he dint play as well as we have seen him play before… but then he was never forced to. Had Djokovic won the 1st set, we could have seen a higher level from Fed. Who knowz??? or probabaly someone like Jane would say, Fed would have been beaten in straight sets… but well.. whats the the final outcome.. A STRAIGHT SETS victory for Fed.

Erwin Says:

Davydenko had 6 setpoints at the AO last year to take a 2-1 lead against Federer. Roddick had several breakpoints in the third set in the USO final last year against Federer. They were both a lot closer in those matches. But I don’t expect Sean to acknowledge that.

Erwin Says:

It’s time for a different perspective. Federer earned 4050 out of a possible 4500 points since he sacked Roche. He’s on course for a new points record around the time of Rome 2008. These are the cold, hard facts.

Daniel Says:


I agree with you that last year French final was much more close for Fed. He broke Nadal in the 4th set when Nadal was serving for the match, and went to tiebreak. There, Fed missed a volley into the net that made him lay down his head and than I thought, well, that is it! He couldn’t put himself together and Nadal sensed it and never looked back.

I also think that Nadal are having success on Wimbledon because he is in such a winning streak that only Fed can stops him. He basically wins from March to June.

As for Fed, I agree that this year he made me more nervous with the possibility that he could loose than past years. But I also agree that he improve his game and emerged when he needed to.

SG Says:

I don’t think there’s any question that Federer is one of the best players of all time(…maybe the best ever). But, I do continue to be nauseated by the Fed-folks who continue to play apologist for the era he plays in.

Djokovic choked like a strangled dog in that final. Djokovic knows it, every one who watched the match knew it…and most importantly, Federer knows it in his heart of hearts. I mean, when was the last time anyone can remember a guy having 3 set points on his own serve in major final and not come through to win that set. I swear, Djokovic must still be kicking himself. Did you ever see Connors choke in a big match? How about Nadal? Let’s face it…one of the reasons that Nadal has success against Federer is his mental resolve. He never back down. And I see Djokovic’s game as more potent than Nadal’s. Especially on a hardcourt.

Djokovic and the rest of the lot have to believe they’re going to beat Federer when they step on the court, not hope they beat him. This is where Nadal excels and the others fail. Not to mention an unwillingness to get in Federer’s kitchen and pressure the hell out of him.

yellowoctopus Says:

Federer’s playing pattern can be described as streaky–meaning there are ups and downs of his level of play throughout the match. His ‘ups’ are just untouchable. I believe his domination is due to a constant effort to lengthen the ‘ups’ and ability to stay in the match during the ‘downs’. Djokovic is the same.

Contrasting to this pattern is Nadal. Nadal minimizes his downs and keep his level of play pretty much constant throughout. This is how he wears his opponent down. Keep in mind this is different from when he throws a set or two to reserve his energy for the next set.

My observation of Fed at this year’s US Open is that his approach to managing his pattern of play is slightly different. He still cope with the downs the same way (patiently keeping up with his opponent), but his Ups is now tiered–meaning there are multiple levels of Ups that he is able to go to. I think his highest level of play will always be there, but he is not reaching that as often as he used to. It’s now all about managing the higher levels of play…being able to bring it on when needed. It’s what separates the great ones from the rest–just ask Connors.

DivineFed Says:

* Fed looked divine thru AO-07.
* After he returned from “vacation” he looked out of touch, even a bit heavy, as though under a cloud or conflict.
* Then he eliminated Roche and burst free in Hamburg.
* Did very well in RG. I believe he would have beaten Rafa playing Rafa’s game if he didn’t have that groin / upper thigh issue. I didn’t see him hit one inside-out forehand (except just one where he had to do it completely jumping off the ground) and so many points were begging to be finished with the forehand into Rafa’s open FH corner.
* Recovered from that soreness quickly and took Wimby. I believe he used the Wimby F to practice and finetune his B game with Rafa. He was not planning to give the 4th set, just a break down and break points for second break, but Hawkeye robbed him.
* Developed his B game further in the hard season with Djoko and Davydenko.
* Proved to himself (and everybody) that his A game is live and well and accessible anytime anywhere, on tap as it were.
* Is rested, injury free and on course to smash everything else this season in B mode.

Bottom line, he rested after 3-4 years on the run, had some errors while rebooting, but auto-corrected and is on course for another great run. Enjoy!

Tejuz Says:

Well Djokovic did choke in that 1st set.. but that is not the turning point of the whole match. Even if he had won that 1st set he still had to take 2 more sets off Fed.. but he took NONE. There are a lot of guys out there whose game is more potent than even Djokovic. Probabably he just got a taste of his own medicine there. He scraped through Hewitt and Baghdatis beating them only in tie-breakers in 1st 2 sets at wimbledon.. then he beat Fed @ Montreal as well in 2 breakers where it was Fed who choked when he was 40-0 up, 3 set points and serving for the 1st set. Its just that Fed repayed it back in a Grand Slam final.

Also Fed won consecutive tie-breaks against players who had a much better tie-break record than him this year (Roddick and Djokovic) without losing any. Thats commendable.

SG Says:

Fed did not play well in the Open final. He was outclassed and outhit for much of the match (definitely the first 2 sets). And Djokovic’s serve seemed to baffle Fed until the final set when Djoko’s serve slowed down quite a bit. All that being said, you have to win big points to win a big match and Fed did what Djokovic could not.

I do remember the early part of Agassi’s career when he lost Courier and Gomez in the FO final. Does anyone truly believe that if Agassi would have played to his capabilities that either Courier or Gomez could beat him? He was young, a little flaky and yes…a bit of a choker. If Agassi wasn’t a choker, he would have beaten Gomez and Courier. He didn’t lose because Courier or Gomez were better ball strikers than him. Would anyone dare to say that Gomez or Courier were really better players than Andre?

My point is, we are so quick to give Fed the credit for his win at the Open because he is such a great player. But, even great players will sneak out a win or two that maybe, just maybe, they didn’t deserve to have. This year’s Open final was a clear case of Djokovic losing the match, not Fed winning it. This was Fed’s best opponent yet in the Open final. And despite this Fed, won in straight sets. Something he hadn’t done in any of the other Open finals. And in reality, this was the first Open final where he was outplayed for most of the for most of the match. The result didn’t really match the reality because on the key points of the match, Djokovic ceased to play like the Djokovic that got him to those key points.

Hey folks, there was some serious luck for Fed to escape in 3 sets. Even the most ardent Fed fan had to be wondering what was happening to their guy for the first 2 sets. He looked to be on the defensive for a lot of the match.

SG Says:

And Fed’s propensity for handing out bagels seems to have taken a dip. He also seems to be very dependent on his serve these days. This was always a huge knock on Sampras. “Take away Sampras’ serve and he would have been an average player, whereas Roger’s game is more well rounded” is often the line that is stated. Perhaps this statement is true. But, if Roger doesn’t have his serve going in the big moments, he loses to both Nadal at Wimbledon and Djoko in the Open final. Fed plays strangely. His serve is touted as great and yet it was broken a surprising no. of times by Davydenko and Djoko. Not sure how he gets away with it as his return game often involves blocking the ball back deep and drawing his opponent into a baseline rally. At least some small part of it has to be related to the tactical ineptitude of his opponents.

SG Says:

Erwin Says:
Yes, Sean. Here you show your true colours. Never give Federer credit for anything: Davydenko and Djokovic imploded, that’s the explanation for Federer winning. Federer served for the first set against Davydenko at 5-3, won the second set 6-1 and somehow this match was Davydenko’s for the taking. Sure, Sean, sure.

Erwin…come on man! At key points, Djoko was throwing in double faults. That’s the worst possible tennis sin. And it’s not like Fed is going to give you 20 chances to beat him. You don’t win 11 majors giving away big points.

Nadal has beaten Federer because Nadal does not beat himself. Hitting a bunch of DF’s on key points is beating yourself. How about calling a spade a spade here huh? There was some choking by Djoko. It wasn’t all the brilliance of Federer.

sensationalsafin Says:

DivineFed made an interesting point about federer playing in B mode. no one really argues that federer hasnt looked as sharp as he has in previous years, thats where this discussion of his decline roots from. itd be one thing if he was having a few more off days than usual which caused several losses, but that isnt the real reason hes on the decline is it now? the decline is “mostly” evident in his last 3 slam finals. at the french he played the right game plan but still got flat out outplayed by nadal. was it becuz of the injury? i doubt it. then at wimbledon he was thoroughly outplayed by nadal from set 1-4. how did he get through that match by only winning a few points on his serve? i have no idea. and against djokovic at the us open he was being outplayed the whole time until djokovic choked each set point. and yet, here he is at the end of the slam season having a record of 23-1 in grand slams this year. and for a lot of those 24 matches he was in B mode. he was playing defensive a lot but lets not forget roger federer is an amazing defensive player. his B game is still good enough to beat most players playing their A game. hes won 12 grand slams and atleast at this point everyone has to admit all that experience will definetly be a factor at all of the future slams. agassi had an amazing summer in 2005 and the guy could barely move, yet he took a set from nadal and federer in 2 very close matches. federer is still fairly young and he can move. so he might be outplayed more but he has the ability to really grind it out and i dont think there is anyone on tour who has the mental resolve federer does. how often does federer go away in a match when hes down? sure he gets pissed (4th set at wimbledon) but he bounces back. he grinds like crazy and that can really get into an opponent’s head. hes said it himself when hes not playing well he just tries to keep up with his opponent and wait for an opportunity. it is very possible that federer has peaked and we will see less and less of his A game and even less of his S game that we saw him play during his 41 match win streak. its one thing to have all the shots, richard gasquet has all the shots, but federer is a tactical genius and even though djokovic and nadal are figuring out how to really outplay him and even beat him, federer will still find a way in the end. i still believe that federer will end his career with a winning record over nadal. he might be on the decline judging by his standards, but if he ends up owning the career golden slam by the end of next year, i hope u all feel ashamed of urselves for doubting the great federer.

sensationalsafin Says:

just to make it clear, i dont believe the usopen final was a very high quality match. djokovic played very well then choked. and federer was just there watching djokovic miss or hit winners. its not that it wasnt the brilliance of federer that won the whole match, federer really showed no brilliance other than not missing before djokovic. federer played a mediocre match without any OMFG HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE shots and djokovic shanked his first grand slam final. really the analysis of that match is a simple as that. djokovic sucked and federer sucked but djokovic sucked just a little more.

Erwin Says:

You have to win 3 sets to win a match SG and Djokovic only choked in the first set. You probably don’t realize that because you haven’t followed the sport that long. If you had followed it, you would know that players choked against Sampras and Borg ALL the time. Borg could have been defeated in the first week of Wimbledon several times, but the players choked against him.
The same with people like Ivanisevic and Rafter in Wimbledon finals against Sampras: they both had the chance to take a 2 sets lead, but choked.

Joanne Says:

Very interesting discussion.
I found the US opens exploitation of Djokers impersonations very unprofessional and wierd,actually.Djoker isn’t even very good ;watch Roddicks impersonation of Agassi and others at a charity event,much better.Djokers’ remind me of a 10 year old trying to make the teachers laugh.I guess there are some very immature folks who like it.Can you imagine this happening in pro golf or baseball.Tennis is desperate for attention like Djoker.Djokovic also brought a lot of attention to his loss too.
I agree with those who said that the pressure of all his success is causing Roger to be nervous.He also said so himself.How could it not;he said in the press conf ‘the more I win the more I question myself’.How will he handle this pressure?

Tejuz Says:

I dont think Fed sucked in the US Open final.. but he wasnt also at his best. Had he sucked he wouldnt have had a more winners-2-unforced errors ratio.

Fed has 42-34 (winners-Unforced errors ratio) compared to 32-40. He had better win percentage on his 1st and 2nd serve (78 and 64 compared to 71 and 56). And i dont think he was outplayed by Djokovic from the baseline, but yes.. he did suck compared to his high standards but he still hit some of his unbelievable shots towards the end. I agree he was outplayed by Nadal in wimby final for the 1st 4 sets.. but not the finals of US Open.

And yea.. Djoker sucked big time though.

zola Says:

No way was Fedrere outplayed in the final. He just played well enough to win the match. Of course he could have dismantled Djoker the way he did to Roddick in AO . He just didn’t and Djoker has to thank his lucky stars.

I also agree that Djoker showel lots of immaturity by bringing a locker room fun to the center court. I don’t get the excuss on his age, lamguage, etc. he is just an attention-seeker. I also blame CBS for initiating it .

Tony Says:

Sean: I think about one year from know — if you look back — you’ll find that some of your speculations and theories about Federer will go the way of earlier doomsayers, since 2004, on Roger’s future performance. Other things you mentioned are insightful.

Federer will likely be very motivated to perform as well as possible in next year’s majors. He must have realized for some time that 2008 would probably be his home run year — winning the Olympic gold, breaking Pete Sampras’s record, and possibly the calendar year Grand Slam (or French) — that will seal his legacy if he can pull it off. I believe that Federer still has the ability to win one calendar year Grand Slam for at least the next two years. And once Roger passes Sampras’s record, the pressure is going to be lessened and we’ll probably see a more relaxed Federer playing some of his best tennis, whereas he has tended to play not to lose and tight in some of his recent matches.

Based on Pete Sampras’s 1994 results, one might also claim that Sampras was slipping in 1995 and 1996; yet Sampras’s results improved in 1997 at 26 or 27 years of age. Thus Fed’s play this year could be a blip that humans inevitably go through. His play going forward could easily go up, stagnate or slip. For now, I feel it’s impossible to assume that he might be slipping on the basis of his past six months’ performance. The indoor season will indicate where he’s going but next year will be more representative of his form.

Federer will likely win the French Open within the next two years, and he will beat Nadal on clay a bit more. Federer knows that he can prepare earlier for the 2008 clay season, since the loss of Indian Wells and Miami has not hurt his ranking this year (thus, if he wins the next Australian Open, he could ‘sacrifice’ his results at Indian Wells, Miami and Dubai by playing with clay court practice). Even Bjorn Borg believes Federer has the game to beat Nadal at Roland Garros. Federer has probably been the world’s second-best clay courter the past three years. Some of Roger’s strategy and tactics against Rafa have been questionable, but nothing impossible to fix with Roger’s talent. We’ve seen Federer trouble Nadal on clay, e.g., Hamburg 2007 and Rome 2006. Federer whipped Nadal in the first set of the 2006 French Open, then his game went south after he mis-hit a simple volley early in the second set. In the 2007 final, Roger generated 17 breakpoints by mostly taking the initiative to outplay Nadal, many in the first set, but then squandered by mostly playing not too lose or playing tight on the breakpoints. Roger played the French final as if he had massive pressure to win the final leg of a Grand Slam, which he did, and moved poorly in parts of the match as if he was injured, which he later claimed in withdrawing from Halle. His experience should serve him better next year, and motivate him to prepare and deal with the stress better.

Federer may have lost six matches this year — two more than his best in 2005, when cries of Roger’s decline were also heard after losses at the Australian and Roland Garros — but he tends to go on a tear at this time of the year and is still on course to win ten titles. He has six titles so far this year, just two down from the eight titles he had at this stage last year (he finished with 12 titles in 2006).

Nadal has lost four of the last six matches to Federer, and has only beaten Roger on clay after Dubai 2006. Nadal also lost an indoor exhibition to Roger in Korea last November. Nadal will be at a disadvantage against Federer at the 2008 Australian Open, which will no longer be played on the slower Rebound Ace, but on a surface similar to the US Open. Nadal will have problems reaching the semis of the Australian and the US Open, unless he makes a few changes to his game. At Wimbledon, contrary to popular opinion, Federer was not on the brink of losing this year’s final to Nadal. Federer won more of the big points in the first three sets of the match and when it mattered most in the fifth set, Federer was able to change tactics and raise his game — like champions do at big moments — while Nadal was shell-shocked and had no Plan B. Federer should have won the match in four sets, if he didn’t sloppily drop his serve from 30-0 at the beginning of the fourth set and then allow himself to get upset by Hawkeye. I’d be surprised if Nadal reaches the final next year, given his struggles against Soderling, Youzhny and, for one set, Djokovic, and the loss of Nadal’s intimidation factor outside clay.

As for Djokovic, Federer has proven that he doesn’t need his best to beat the Serb at the US Open. If Djokovic had won the first set it would have probably forced Roger to raise his game until balanced was restored. Lopez arguably played a better first set against Federer than Djokovic did. As well, Djokovic struggled more against Stepanek and Juan Monaco, even though Federer’s opponents were higher ranked. In Montreal, Djokovic played well against Federer, but was only able to squeak out a win through two tie-breaker sets against an off-day Federer who made 56 unforced errors over three sets on a windy day, even when Novak did nothing special on some points. Federer showed better form in Canada this year than in previous years (according to respected Canadian tennis analyst Peter Burwash), except in the final, even though it was tough to develop rhythm against players like Karlovic, Fognini and Stepanek. In Cincinnati, Federer beat James Blake convincingly and, while he didn’t play his best in earlier matches, showed his resilience relative to the younger players Djokovic and Nadal… as well as Stepanek. At the US Open, Federer probably didn’t want to embarrass his colleague Roddick under tremendous pressure to play well in his house. Federer did not seem too motivated on a very windy day to take out the troubled Davydenko, for whom Federer had made supportive comments in the wake of the gambling scandal (and Fed even went on mental walkabouts on a number of his service games). Or maybe Federer felt the anxiety of trying to match Bill Tilden’s record, as he initially claimed after the match and then downplayed at the presser.

Yes the competition is certainly improving. Regardless, if Djokovic, Nadal or someone else manages to beat Federer in one GS here or there, it does not matter much to Federer’s legacy. Roger’s only human and has to lose some time, and even Sampras won at most two GS a year only in 1993, 94, 95 and 97, and never won three GS in any year. Federer is a more dominant player than Sampras mostly was when he was number one. Federer will most likely end 2007 in his fourth year as number one, with his record consecutive week streak still intact. It’s considered the most dominant four years in modern tennis history by McEnroe and others. In his six years as the year’s number one, Sampras was number one throughout the year only in 1994 and 1997 (he was weekly number one for part of the year in 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998). The final year Sampras was number one was 1998, but he won only four tournaments (Wimbledon plus 3 international series events — Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Vienna) and lost about 8 times in the first or second rounds. With legendary tennis superstar Marcelo Rios chasing him, Sampras played about 7 tournaments after the US Open to get the points to protect his ranking: “Sampras went on a European tear the likes that had not been seen before or since by a top American. After the US Open in ‘98 Sampras played six events in eight weeks before the year-end championship — including Basel, Vienna, Lyon, Stuttgart-indoor, Paris-indoor, Stockholm — before reaching the semis at the year-end championship, finally clinching the year-end top rank when Rios withdrew after one match with injury. Talk about an effort.” Today’s #2 Nadal, given his performance so far this year, might have been the number one in 1998.

I agree that generally Federer hasn’t been as sharp since March this year, an understandable blip after such a long period of unprecedented dominance. The odd thing is that his dip in form started just six weeks after the Australian Open, where he was relatively sharp (against Djokovic he won 58% of the points in less time than he took to beat Gonzalez, Youzhny or Robredo). It’s too sudden for his game to be graying. Did he take too much of a break after the Australian Open? Was Roger more interested playing Sampras in March than he was Indian Wells and Miami, where playing Sampras would not have been the best pre-tournament practice against the likes of Canas? Or was he more interested in watching Tiger Woods golfing in Florida? Did the pressure of winning the fourth leg of a Grand Slam get to him? Did the firing of Tony Roche upset his game? Is he now trying to win without putting in too much time into preparation so he could enjoy life more?

We’ll know by the end of next year whether Roger is taking the “Sampras deceleration approach” or whether the last six months were a bit of a blip. As well as how Federer is responding to deal with his improving competition or if indeed he is slipping. In any case, only in 2004 has Federer played and won more matches in the summer up to the US Open than this year.

In the meantime, two articles put Roger’s year in context:

– Without Peer: Roger Federer left little doubt that no one in the world does anything as well as he plays tennis

– Even in down year, Federer is peerless

Ryan Says:

I think Fed will not going down completely even if he loses a slam next year.Fed is a guy who wont back down and he believes that his train will keep moving.He could have gotten upset when Safin beat him in AO 2005 after winning 3 slams the previous year but he doesnt stop.He kept winning even after that.So even if Djoko or somebody beats him next year(which is unlikely) it still doesnt mean he is going to nosedive from there.He can bounce back and will bounce back to prove his point because thats what he does.Think about it: 2 opportunities to catch a career grand slam down the drain(2006 and 2007) and he’s still playing an winning slams.It is heart breaking even for his fans to lose these opportunities and if it was someone else they would have lost even Wimbledon. This year he’s not playing as freely as before but maybe thats because he gave too much energy trying to change his backhand for the french that now he finds it hard to return to his old ways.His backhand was letting him down quite a lot.Or maybe he is mentally exhausted because the pressure is getting to him with new guys constantly improving and threatening him.His generation like ferrero, haas, hewitt are falling behind in the rankings and maybe he feels lonely up there with a bunch of youngsters.The reality is nobody knows whats going on in his head except him and he will never admit his insecurities.But I think he will break Sampras record next year and might complete the career slam.

sensationalsafin Says:

i have a feeling federer might lose a few more matches before the season ends, including at the masters cup where i have a feeling djokovic will exact his revenge should they meet (which chances r they will cuz they r the 2 best hard court players). if hes able to call upon his best tennis then he’ll probably create another 20+ winning streak but who knows really. lets say this isnt a blip and federer is on the decline, so what? i mean seriously, this year has been fairly shitty compared to previous years and like i said before for the second consecutive year he ends up being 2 sets away from a calendar slam. for all those who feel federer is declining dont forget that his declining years will still be amazing compared to former number 1s. mcenroe starting his decline after 1984 and never won another slam. sampras barely got the number 1 spot in 1998 and was titleless from almost 2 years before he retired. there r a lot of tournaments that federer really owns. as of right now its the AO, dubai, hamburg, wimbledon, halle, uso, tmc. and by owns i dont mean hes the defending champ i mean hes been dominating these tournaments for the last 4 or 5 years now that hes basically got the trophy on his case before he even steps on the court. even indian wells and miami he really owns despite the 2 early losses this year. so when hes not gonna be playing his best hes still gonna be winning atleast 1 major a year and 2 or 3 other titles outside the majors. this is when hes gonna be like 33 and 34. so if hes declining maybe hes gonna only win 2 slams in EACH of the next 3 years with 6 other titles including mastets. OMFG!! what terrible results!! lets all criticize him for having an occassional off day and losing to a player ranked 30. his “declining” should be considered historic becuz hes still gonna be amazing compared to everyone else even when hes past his prime.

DivineFed Says:

We will see Fed playing B game almost all the time. And for a reason.

Initially he had a great ‘high’ game (A) but a mediocre ‘low’ game (basically a C, say not more than top 50).

The last 3 years he has tuned that low game and taken it from C into B range. It varies from B- to B+.

This year after his shut-down post AO, he regressed briefly back to C (remember Volandri match? ugh!). After he eliminated Roche he fixed that issue and he is back to the B- to B+ range.

The big news for me is he has started trusting his B game more, even to the extent of declining to use his A game to grab RG and Montreal.

Already his B/B+ is enough to get the job done in Slams. Fed will keep tuning his B and next year it will be enough to win at RG.

Maybe we’ll see him finish with a set of A at USO 08 as he clinches the GS… I’ll leave you to ruminate these lovely thoughts.

sensationalsafin Says:

so what ur saying is that federer purposelly played worse than hes capable of? i highly doubt it. he elevates his game when he needs to if hes able to, which he usually is. biggest example of this was his match against lopez. he really stepped it up from B to S and then down to A by the 4th set. at montreal he just had a bad day. i mean he didnt play terrible but djokovic played extremely well and the better player won that day. and at the RG he really seemed to be unable to step it up. theres no way he told himself to just keep playing a losing game to nadal and accept it. he was extremely pissed after he lost. if he was able to play his A or S game he definetly wouldve. maybe ur right and maybe he will stick to his B game most of the time, but i doubt itll be enough to win RG against nadal or even wimbledon. well, i mean he did beat nadal playing a B game at wimbledon but the 5th set was A+ to S calibre so he definetly needed to step it up to win.

SG Says:

Erwin Says:
You have to win 3 sets to win a match SG and Djokovic only choked in the first set. You probably don’t realize that because you haven’t followed the sport that long. If you had followed it, you would know that players choked against Sampras and Borg ALL the time. Borg could have been defeated in the first week of Wimbledon several times, but the players choked against him.
The same with people like Ivanisevic and Rafter in Wimbledon finals against Sampras: they both had the chance to take a 2 sets lead, but choked.


I’ve likely watched more tennis than you have Erwin (…though I don’t know that for sure). I’ve been watching tennis for the better part of the last 30 years and I’ve been to see the pros live on many occastions. You are correct when you say you have to win 3 sets to win a match at a major. But, the flip side is, you can also play poorly enough on the big poinsts to lose 3 sets at a major. I just find it throw-upish that every time Fed loses, there some excuse for it and every time he wins (… no matter how the victory tranpsires), its as if the match was always within his control. This is a fallacy that is proven by Nadal. Nadal gets after Fed’s backhand. Nadal doesn’t flinch under pressure. And Nadal can take it to Fed on grass on a surface that is supposed to be custom suited to Federer.

Wanna’ beat Federer? You have to wear him out mentally. Fed fans look at Nadal’s ugly game and can’t come to terms with the fact their guy struggles against the Spaniard. They desparately want to believe that Fed just keeps running into Nadal on the wrong day (…his stomach is hurting, it’s too hot, he’s tired, blah blah blah…). As long as Nadal stays healthy, it’ll take a lot more than Roger’s B game to beat him. He has 5 more years of youth on his side.

Anyway, double faulting in tie-breakers and on set points is nothing less than a Djokovic chokovic. I cannot remember another match where a player had so many set points on his own serve and just had melted down in crunch time. It wa saddening. Agassi-Andreev FO final was the closest thing I could think of. Andreev was taking it to Agassi and then lost his nerve. Same thing happened to Djokovic. Hopefully, this will be a learning experience for him and not a sign of things to come.

jane Says:


Very good essay on Federer’s continuing dominance in the future.

Have you seen what Borg has to say about Wimbie in 2008; he predicits Nadal will win it.


Any thoughts on his analysis? Sure be interesting if Roger won French and Rafa won Wimbie. But who will win the hard court slams? Can anyone beat Federer on hard court – any thoughts?

SG Says:

And I am not saying that Fed is in decline. The guy was in the final of all 4 majors this year. He has dominated the sport in a way that no one else ever has. His greatness is beyond dispute. And yes, he would have been great in any era. With this in mind, why can’t people just be a little more balanced about evaluating the guys he’s played to tally all the wins. So many of today’s top 10 players have glaring weaknesses. Bad backhands, slow afoot, lack of power, lousy serves & no net games to speak of, poor conditioning (…Bagdhatis), etc.. Nadal competes well because he has no weakness. This is also why Djokovic plays well against Fed. Perhaps, if Fed had played a few more guys like this the last 4 years, his major number might be a little lower (say 9 or 10 majors?).

By the way, anyone find it a little self-serving that Fed had 3 Swiss flags on his shoes representing the number of Opens he’d won? It’s flat out arrogant. Borg didn’t do that. Sampras didn’t. Connors and Mac were self-serving and they didn’t do that kind of stuff. Yuk… It’s distasteful. And for some reason, he seems to get a free pass with the press and everyone else too. I can only imagine what would have been said about Ivan Lendl had he decided to do that. He would have been eaten alive. And Lendl was a class act. The guy didn’t stay in court after his loss to Nadal in Paris and still he got a free pass on that. Nadal gave his interview at Wimbledon after what I sure was a very heartbreaking loss. I think that the ATP tour brass has hung its hat so firmly on Federer that no matter what he does, its not questioned. Marketing Federer as the “GOAT” as means of packing the tennis stadiums when in reality, Fed’s number have been mildly inflated by the era he plays in. Fed may in fact be the “GOAT”. But it’s just so over done that it actually takes away from his accomplishments.

sensationalsafin Says:

i dont think anyone needs to make excuses for his losses cuz whether or not he was playing bad or good he still got outplayed by the player on the other side of the net and its really as simple as that. but he does seem to run into nadal on bad days. i hate nadal mostly for this reason, he brings out the mediocre in federer. when they play its never really a clash of the titans with both players playing their best and playing high quality tennis. its only happened a few times (rome 06, wimbledon 07, part of wimbledon 06). most of the other times they played federer was shanking half his shots forehands and backhands alike. y is it such a crime that hes a little arrogant? u forgot to mention his whole ensemble at wimbledon with the suit and the 4 rackets or whatever to represent his wins. i dont understand it either y he gets a free pass on this. i mean its one thing to have it on ur shoes but a whole friggin suit?? and idk but federer was pretty pissed after the FO and collins asks some ridiculous questions. props to nadal for sticking around at wimbledon but i dont think he shouldve. but u gotta stop downplaying his competition. i agree that a lot of the top 10 have major weaknesses but its really the players outside the top 10 that give federer more trouble. but the current top 4 have very few weaknesses. davydenko’s game is outstanding, good on both sides, quick. hes only mentally weak and his volleys suck but he doesnt really need volleys all that much now does he? which top 10er lacks power??? only roddick has a bad backhand. nadal has plenty of weaknesses. he cant really handle pace and he has a weak serve.

jane Says:

SG & sensationalsafin –

i agree that federer is sometimes excused for things he perhaps shouldn’t be, or that he might not be excused for were he a different player-including what some might consider a fashion faux pas. i think you make a good point that had any other player worn flags on shoes, crests on jackets, even tuxedo shorts, it would be seen as bad taste. i’d never really thought of it before.

i am rather indifferent to fed as a fan, but am cognizant that he’s *one of* the best tennis players to ever grace the courts. he plays amazing tennis when he’s playing at the top of his game (and even not)

what type of person he is, we can’t really know, as arguably, we can’t know if he’s arrogant, for instance, unless we know him personally. at times he seems not that way at all, and as someone else pointed out, it may even be language issues that make him seem that way at times.

but his fabulous tennis and his classy personality don’t mean he’s beyond criticism for some of his choices – for example, wearing “badges” to indicate his achievements. maybe the reams of trophy inscriptions and numerous lofty bank deposits are enough, eh?

Tejuz Says:

Even though i am a Fed fan.. i agree that sometimes its overdone like Blazers at Wimbledon etc. Dunno what it would be next year when he comes back as 5-times defending champion. Hope he comes back in the attire that he wore in 2001 or 2003, that looked pretty decent.. even 2005, and without the blazer. Regardless… hope he comes up with his ‘A’ game.

Regarding glaring weaknes of today’s field.. who do you think had a complete game without weakness in 90s or 80s apart from No 1s (even they had a few). Agassi had a weak serve, Sampras had a weak backhand especially from back of the court, Ivanesevic has nothing else but serve..

jane Says:

sensationalsafin – don’t you think davydenko needs a stronger serve? had he been able to hold ONCE in that semi he might’ve taken a set. seems he can’t hold a lead, which may be mental but if he had a bigger serve, he’d’ve done better in that match and against Fed in the semis of RG this year – whether he’d of won isn’t the issue. just wondering what you think about his serve.

DivineFed Says:

sensationalsafin, you make some good points.

Let me try to explain what I see:

Fed’s A is beyond mind, it is not easy to control and get to that paradise state. You are there or you are not. In a way it is a gift or a blessing from the Divine, a tidal power that cannot be harnessed. It is intuitive, involves the 7th chakra (energy center) at the crown of the head.

Fed’s B (thru B+) is concentration, conscious effort. He makes it look easy but it is deep, intense work. It is not so intuitive but thought out. Involves the 6th chakra at the forehead.

In Wimby final set, Fed may have reached A (beyond conscious mind). I think in all the other cases including USO it was just a B+ or even some lucky B+ stretches (hitting the Roddick 140 serve so perfectly).

In addition to this, Fed has become very strong recently in his lower chakras, the animal instinct. I believe he gained this from Rafa (he attains union with his opponent and integrates their qualities), and in particular the Wimby 07 final. This aspect is what he used to break Djokovic’s nerve (and serve) at 6-5, 40-0 in the first set. I used to dislike Rafa for this quality but when I see Fed himself using it, he seems so much more complete.

Beating Djoker in USO with 6th + lower chakras is similar to beating Rafa in RG at his own game (granted Rafa is stronger in the lower chakras). This is why I believe he will take out Rafa in RG without needing to go to A. Take this year’s final and add some big point oomph and see what I mean.

Erwin Says:

SG everything is clear now: you totally dislike Federer. No problem. I just don’t take your complaints seriously. Players have choked much worse than Djokovic in their first Grand Slam final: remember Rios, he totally froze at the start of the match against Korda.

jane Says:

Erwin –

In defense of SG, who writes “[Federer’s] greatness is beyond dispute. And yes, he would have been great in any era.”

Then you write “you totally dislike Federer”.

I just don’t see how, from what he wrote at 8:37 Sept 18, you arrive at such a simple conclusion.

Did you “read” SG’s posting? Seems to me that all he’s asking for is a little objectivity when it comes to analysing Federer, which he shows plenty of in his posting.

jane Says:

DivineFed –

Interesting chakra analysis.

But I have to ask – did you SEE Rafa in the Wimbie final this year? If that level of play wasn’t divine, or intuitive (7th chakra), then I don’t know what is. I mean Nadal BLEW Mcenroe away, and if you see my posting above (sept 18 8:19) there’s a link to Borg’s prediction that Rafa will take Wimbie next year. Rafa hit a winner from the back of the court SITTING DOWN – how’s that for out of this world?

I have yet to see Roger produce similar divinity at Roland Garros.

jane Says:

By blew McEnroe away, I mean John, because he was commentating on the match…and he was clearly shocked by how well Rafa was playing.

Tejuz Says:

But Nadal’s divinity wasnt enuf to beat Fed at wimbledon. But if we see Fed’s devinity at Roland Garros, he will surely beat Nadal.

jane Says:

Tejuz – hmmm…I wonder. Only the matches will tell, I guess.

SG Says:

Jane…Erwin is somewhat correct. I don’t like Federer very much. My dislike is based on things like the shoes, ducking interviews, etc. I can’t accept that a guy will show up and do all the interviews when he wins, but disappears when he loses.

There was a great saying about Jack Nicklaus who was a runner-up in 19 majors… “Jack is even more gracious in defeat than in victory”. This is another reasson he was so revered. Class all the way. Borg didn’t walk around with 5 swedish flags on his shoes. Sampras didn’t have a shirt that counted up his majors. They played tennis and most times they won, and once in a while, they lost. From my mind, its too late for my view of Fed to change becuase I’ve seen his som of his colors shine through. But, for the next generation, it’d be nice if he could tone down the self-agrandisement a little.

SG Says:

And I think I did already say that he’d have 9 or 10 majors at this poinit in his career regardless of the era he played in so I respect the guy’s game. He is a phenomenal ball striker.

But, not being challenged by the Beckers, McEnroes, Krajicek’s, Stich’s, Rafters or Edbergs on grass has been a boon for him. There isn’t a player in the world today who could attack on grass the way those 6 players could. He did beat Sampras in 01′ but didn’t win the tournament. He captured lightning in a bottle for one match against an older and certainly less confident Sampras.

sensationalsafin Says:

i think that the fact that federer did beat nadal at wimbledon cannot be overlooked. there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that nadal played a phenomenal match. he did, he was playing some of his very best tennis, not just grass court tennis. and yet federer’s B game beat him. idk how, i really dont, it amazes me, but it did. and as for dissappearing after losing? for the amount of time and energy and focus he put into the FO and to lose it the way he did, its perfectly understandable that he was devastated. he is still human. sure nadal lost a tiebreaker but he didnt spend months and years preparing for that one wimbledon.

DivineFed Says:

Jane, Rafa does not play from the 7th. It is all conscious effort and remarkable at that. His Wimby 07 play was a champion human, full of focus and dedication.

7th chakra is not a joke. As I mentioned it is Divinity pouring in. Extreme perfection in human achievement does not even begin to tickle the feet of Divine will. Fed in the latter half of the 5th set, or more clearly vs Blake in TMC 06 or vs Roddick in AO 07. That is a glimpse of 7th chakra.

McEnroe used to pass between 6th and 7th a lot. The anger reveals 6th chakra blockage. When Mac was not angry and playing well he frequented his 7th. You would gasp at the clarity of his shots. I never saw that with Borg, who was all 6th and below.

The only hope for guys like Borg and Rafa is to ensure their opponents do not stay in their 7th chakra. The trick they use is to put fear into the 4th, and thereby influence the 7th. I remember Fed saying he used to “panic” but does not anymore. He figured that out. Which does not bode well for Rafa, Djoker and the like.

jane Says:

As I say, it’s an interesting analysis; I just don’t agree with your assessment of who does or does not play from the 7th. Besides, how can you say Nadal’s sit-down winner is a “conscious” winner. That is pure intuition, IMO.

I like your take on McEnroe’s anger blockage, though – perfect.

FOT Says:

Fed was not “penalized” for not doing the interview at the French. That was not a mandate interview. He did all his interviews that were mandated by the ATP – not only in English, but in French, Swiss German, and High German.

For someone to hold him not doing a spot right after the French is just plain stupid if you ask me. But I can understand that if you don’t like Roger, you’ll find anything to feed your dislike.

Ryan Says:

To DivineFed…..instead of writing all about chakras and everything why dont we shorten it up.It’s called fate.What you believe could be what other people say is your fate.Fed had to win 3 slams a year and Nadal had to win 1 slam.These 2 players probably believed in their fate even before the tournament began and it happened somehow regardless of how these players played and how their opponents played whoever they were.It could happen even next year.

To SG…….The whole point of Fed is that he plays to win.So if he doesnt he just moves on to his next tournament or wherever.Why should he stick around in the same place where he loses like Sharapova did in this US open.He is much better than the william sisters for eg serena said that henin made a lot of lucky shots.Federer does not say these things and does give credit to his opponent.

I do agree on some points like sometimes Federer is dressed up like as if he’s the man who invented tennis itself.The wimbledon blazer was a little over the top.He’d rather have a tattooed t-shirt that says “I’m the king of grass and y’all can kiss my ass”

Sometimes he could be slightly arrogant even though he tries not to be….For eg when berdych said that Fed will wimbledon 2006 for sure fed said that its easy to compliment and that berdych doesnt know what it takes to win a grandslam implying that berdych hasnt won a slam and he’s won many.

After his french open semi in 2005 eventhough he did give credit to nadal he said that it was mainly his lack of match practice on clay that caused the loss…In 2006 again he said somewhere that he’ll never play like the way he played in the 2005 semi and that was his worst match on clay and blah blah.Again he got beaten in the final.After hamburg he declared that he knows how to beat nadal on any surface and then he got thrashed in the FO final 2007 and got a run for his money on wimbledon.Probably nadal got pissed after he heard that.Sometimes Fed gets overconfident and speaks too soon.
I guess from then on he began to really give the respect that nadal deserves especially in this years US open.

I’m a big Fed fan ,but these are some of the issues that i would say is his negative side.As for the positives i dont need to say it coz this blog is full of that anyway……..

Erwin Says:

SG, be honest here, you would dislike Federer whatever he does. It’s no problem as long as people are honest about it. Until now you’re not.

grendel Says:

I remember when Lendl won his first U.S.Open, he said he felt as if he were flying. He felt he could do anything he wanted with the ball. Yet he has commonly been seen (not least by McEnroe, who hated him) as the ultimate grinder. Where’s he in the chakra stakes, Divine Fed? At his best, I mean?

When McEnroe beat Connors at Wimbledon, I think you’ve got to say he invented a chakra all of his own. He was in the 8th chakra. He kept it up for the whole match, too, which I don’t think Fed has ever quite done. Only time I’ve ever seen Connors look shellshocked. When he reached up to serve, you had this feeling: why’s he bothering? You know what’s going to happen.

After that amazing exhibition – hard to call it a match – McEnroe just disappeared from Wimbie, just when you thought he’d win about the next ten. Moral: keep away from that 8th chakra.

The reason Fed won’t disappear like the Mac is that he is a grinder as well as a divine. And the reason Nadal can handle Fed on equal terms is that he is a divine (well, nearly) as well as a grinder. Assuming Nadal keeps his health, it is impossible to forecast who will beat who at RG and Wimbie. (It seemed obvious earlier in year that fed could never beat Nadal on clay – forget hamburg, an anomaly for lots of reasons – but a certain steel seems to have entered Fed’s soul of late, and you get the feeling he’s in with a chance).

jane Says:

Grendel –

There is something about Federer of late. I don’t know, maybe he knows his time is ending (however slowly – don’t freak out people). But he does seem to have a different, grittiness or something, a willingness to sweat a little? He *was* sweating after the match with Roddick, well, and some others, at the US Open.

I also think Rafa knows he has to notch up (racket up) a little to take the title on grass. But he knows he’s close; and he plays divinely on grass. I’d almost say more so than on clay, where he grinds more. Some of that stuff in the Wimbie final was so surreal.

Anyhow, you’re right: it’s impossible to predict. But it’ll be fun to watch.

Now how about the Masters? Who’s hitting 7th there?

DivineFed Says:

Lendl was really excellent. I totally enjoyed watching him and have the utmost respect for him. But he had a 2nd chakra blockage. Tended to be repetitive and run out of ideas / intuition. So not much could flow thru the 7th.

Rafa has an enormous 1st chakra. This gives him tremendous self-belief. However some of the other chakras are a bit starved. Actually a bit like Lendl but with more 3rd chakra fire. More like Borg, but not as bottled up. Now that Rafa is exploring new shots and possibilities e.g. hitting flat, he is developing more and it becomes more interesting for us. Rafa is a superb natural athlete. But those stunning shots you see are reflex, they are not intuitive lightning bolts framing the entire point, like the point that Fed broke Rafa with in the 5th set at Wimby. Maybe a nit I’m picking, because Rafa has amazing situational understanding and response.

Mac used to do a lot of those lightning bolts too. I really loved watching him play. But Mac had a lazy / stubborn side to him.

Laver was probably the only one similar to Fed. I’ve seen only a short clip of Laver but even now when I see his aura, his back and his facial expression, I can tell he must have been awesome. What a combination of straightness, strength, purpose, and creativity.

Mac himself might only be a poor imitation. But probably more creative. Much as I hate to admit it, Laver was probably the best, the most ruthless and accomplished. He was probably sheer Divine Will at work. Fed though is the most beautiful, imaginative. He is Divine Will at play and that’s why it’s so easy to love him. I mean… why work hard when you can play and why watch a struggle when you can watch Grace?!

SG Says:

Erwin Says:
SG, be honest here, you would dislike Federer whatever he does. It’s no problem as long as people are honest about it. Until now you’re not.


I think I’ve been very honest. I’ve said that I don’t particularly like the guy and I’ve explained why. I’ve expressed my disgust at the ga ga way the press handles him which also doesn’t help me like the guy. I like tennis players who are all about tennis. Connors, Becker, Edberg, Sampras, Wilander. These guys played tennis without the three ring circus. They were passionate about the game but you never had the feeling they thought they were bigger than the sport.

Even the whole affiliation with Tiger Woods. It’s nasueating. Not that I like Woods all that much either. But, at least Tiger doesn’t have 4 (…or is it 5) little green jackets sewn on his shirt at the Masters.

Quite frankly, I think I’ve been far better about this than you. It seems that no matter how Federer acts, how he wins (…or how he loses), you Fed fanatics find some reason to justify the outcome in a manner that favors Federer. Hardly balanced at all.

You want to see great matches? Don’t watch Fed stay back on the baseline at SW17 playing like he does on any other court in the world against players satisfied to rally with and take the runner-up plate. Watch the Edberg-Becker Wimbledon trilogy. Two great, classy, very talented champions attacking each other, playing positive tennis. Watch Laver, watch Sampras, watch McEnroe. These guys didn’t wait around for things to happen. They made them happen. They forced the issue. If they lost, hey, they lost. But they lost taking it to the competition. McEnroe wouldn’t try to stay back and beat Lendl or Connors from the baselne. He knew he’d just be wasting his time trying to do that. So why are so many of todays players satisfied with staying back and trying to beat possibly, the best baseline player in the history of the sport at his own game? It’s unconcsionable but explainable. Players often model their games after certain players that they liked when they were young. A lot of today’s players like Andre Agassi a lot and you can sort of see it in their games. Cemented in the baseline trying to blast through opponents. And in here lies the problem. While a lot of these players can hit the ball harder than hell, they don’t have Agassi’s eye-hand coordination. He may have also arguably been the best pure ball striker of all time. His hands were lightning fast and he hand uncanny vision you have to be born with. So, you have a bunch of baseline Agassi wanna be’s who lack the gifts he was born with. End result….they don;t have Agassi’s ability and definitely not his results.

If your gonna pick a player to model your game after, don’t pick a freak of nature like Agassi. Sampras admired Laver. Fed admired Laver and Sampras. Sampras and Fed modelled their games after classic players. Players who could play every part of the court. As a result, they developed games that allowed them to play any part of the court. This is why these two players have dominated the sport for the last 15 years. They have classic games that transcend time. Fed and Sampras would have been great in any era because their games are so portable. You can’t say that of a lot of players that are playing today. It’s sad that Federer doesn’t have to change his game at all no matter what surface he plays because pretty much everyone stays back. Even Borg, the comsummate baseliner, went to the net at Wimbledon.

grendel Says:


re S.W.17 – youre forgetting something – courts and balls have changed. Fed DID serve and volley v.Sampras, successfully too. He claims he still wants to but doesn’t seem to think its possible any more. I suppose he knows what hes talking about. McEnroe reckons grass – as presently constituted at Wimbledon – now suits claycourters. Ferrero more of a handful at W than at RG. Nadal obviously likes it. You note even Borg went to net at Wimbie. That was then, wasn’t it. D’you think he would today? D’you think even Sampras would on such regular basis? Also,what’s “positive tennis”? Surely there’s more than one route. b.t.w., silly to say “McEnroe wouldn’t try to stay back and beat Lendl or Connors from the baseline”. Of course he wouldn’t, that just wasn’t his game. Mac an s and v man thru and thru. regardless who he played.

Still, don’t get me wrong, you’re generally very interesting & informative to listen to. And Sensational Safin – very enjoyable posts. Just one point: you say Nadal seems to bring out the mediocre in Federer (usually). It is noticeable, and is a puzzle. Or is it? John Lloyd, for instance (British Davis Cup Captain) reckons that Nadal is just better than Fed on clay. That’s all there is to it. Of course Lloyd has forgotten more than I’ll ever know about tennis, but I still can’t help thinking thats a bit of a simplistic answer. After all, Fed was brought up on clay and is clearly a great claycourter. Is it just what SG says, Nadal relentlessly pounds Fed’s backhand (“is easy, no?” Nadal quipped with interviewer), and never gives an inch? In the last analysis, is it mental – Fed unaccustomed to coming up against someone as strong as himself; or is it the nature of Nadal’s game – where he might play aggressively, he’s often defensive, like a cat watching for the opening; where you’d expect rearguard defence, from a hopeless position on court,you get an amazingly aggressive response to set up an easy winner. Incidentally, apart from mind numbing skill, it takes enormous strength to do the last kind of shot. So when people talk about Nadal needing to change his game (to protect his health), they may be asking him to suicide in a different way.

sensationalsafin Says:

its pretty easy to go into an in depth analysis of why nadal beats federer. but it could be as simple as hes better. going into the wimbledon final i felt that nadal was the heavy favorite because at RG, federer played the right way but nadal still came out on top fairly dominant. and i doubt its by accident that nadal has beaten federer on clay like 6 out of 7 times or something is it? SG the one thing u seem to overlook is that ppl have different opinions on what makes a great match or what tennis is more fun to watch, net play or rallying. i no ppl who watched tennis back in the day and said how boring it was when everyone came to net cuz it was either a quick put away or a quick miss. whereas nowadays u have some fun and really exciting tennis to watch from the baseline. u talk about edberg vs becker. well how often would u get a spectacular match from the number 15 and 25 players in the world? nowadays its very possible. how good of a match was ferrer vs nalbandian? or ginepri vs wawrinka? or even santoro vs blake? it was much more rare to see high quality tennis from lower ranked players back in the day. some ppl prefer to watch baseline rallies where they see points develop and r always wondering how or when will this point end. u prefer attacking tennis, thats perfectly understandable. i wouldnt mind seeing more attacking tennis to be honest. i want to see federer and djokovic trying to win the net first. but unfortunately u dont wanna see net play from every player becuz some players have aweful net games (davydenko sucks, blake is an idiot, and so is roddick). but stepanek coming in and attacking federer? thats great stuff!

jane Says:

one thing to note about mcenroe and his commentary on federer’s game, particularly in finals against nadal:

mac always chastises federer for not coming to net – always. he is constantly lamenting the fact that federer doesn’t seem to change his game plan against rafa, and when he does put away a quick one at the net, mac is thrilled.

mac has called fed “stubborn” on numerous occasions, noting that champions have to be stubborn, to a degree, but not when it costs them the match – or the chance for a calendar G.S.!!

Regarding SW17 – yes much has been made that the court is more suited to baseline play, and even to claycourters. however, rafa does not play like strictly like a claycourter there, nor did ferrero this year. both attacked. rafa attacks way more and even comes to net. borg has commented on this and has said that rafa will win next year because he is willing to do what it takes.

regarding modelling games – djokovic, as has been publicized, has said he wants sampras’ serve, agassi’s return (you’re right sg – no one will ever have andre’s eagle eyesight!), and edberg’s volley. seems smart to me – rather than modelling after one game or one champ, he’s looking to the individual bests. therefore, he has a great all-round game, which, granted, needs work still. but he’s definitely got the right idea. and the kid can play on every single surface – well.

jane Says:

and regarding baseline rallies – yes, they are exciting, and again, i think djok’s got some great stuff from the baseline too. when he hits a backhand down-the-line or a flat forehand winner, they are beautiful shots.

but no matter what type of tennis one prefers, players now, i think, have to try to have a fairly well-rounded game to compete with roger and rafa (to a degree of course; I agree with sensationalsafin that some players just suck at net).

look at roddick – he’s got that great serve and forehand, but it’s not enough. jimmy’s trying to round out his game and there’s evidence that it’s working. roddick’s last match with roger was one of the best. he didn’t come to net too much (like at the A.O.) or use too many lame backhand slices, but he did mix things up a bit (stronger approach shots helped) and he used his weapons effectively.

funches Says:

Tennis between two net-rushers always was and always will be boring. Those Becker-Edberg matches were entertaining intermittently, but the reason people remember them fondly was because of their contrast in personalities.

Contrast is the key word. What we’re missing in modern tennis is the the perfect match-up of a serve and volleyer and a baseliner going at it on a big stage. The Rafter-Agassi Wimbledon semifinals in 2000 and 2001 were beautiful tennis, easily two of the 10 most exciting matches I’ve ever seen. Unless another freakish athlete with great hands like Rafter comes along, we’ve lost that dynamic forever with the current rackets that give players the ability to hit passing shots from 15 feet behind the baseline while on the full run.

Stil, given a choice to watch two baseliners play each other or two serve and volleyers play each other, I’d take the baseliners every time. The last two years HBO televised Wimbledon, the producers thought men’s tennis was so boring, they decided to show women’s tennis almost exclusively, even in the early rounds, because there were no rallies in men’s tennis.

There is much more variety and nuance in a match between two baseliners than two net-chargers, but the best tennis matches almost always have been between a net-rusher and a baseline-hugger. I’m sad we don’t get that anymore.

And for the guy who thinks Nadal is simply better than Federer, you need a little more evidence than H2H on clay. Fed’s beaten him three times in a row on surfaces other than clay and his results on hard courts aren’t even close to Fed’s.

Tony Says:

Jane (September 18th, 2007 at 8:19 pm): It’s good you brought up Borg’s prediction that Nadal could win Wimbledon next year. In fact, Nadal’s official website (see link) proudly — or boastfully, if you are an antifan of Nadal, the undisputed king of clay — displays Borg’s comments and video clip: ‘Speaking at the Blackrock Tour of Champions, Swedish tennis legend, Bjorn Borg has been talking up Rafa’s chances of winning Wimbledon in 2008 and analysing his matches with Roger Federer at SW19. The pair have met in the final the previous two tournaments, with this year’s encounter being particularly outstanding with Federer just edging it in five sets… So impressed with Rafa’s performances at the All England Club is Borg that he predicted “If I had to pick a winner for next year’s Wimbledon I would pick Nadal, actually…” …And that, coming from a five time Wimbledon champ is as solid a prediction as you’re going to get!’

I didn’t mention this to avoid complicating my point about Federer’s ability at Roland Garros, which was: “Even Bjorn Borg believes Federer has the game to beat Nadal at Roland Garros.” Incidentally, I believe Borg had predicted that Federer would win the French Open this year and later Borg also suggested Federer could win the French next year. I believe Borg is right about Roger’s ability to win the French, but the value of his predictions are another issue.

Getting back to your point on next year’s Wimbledon, there are a number of ways to consider Borg’s analysis. First, we have only a partial clip of the interview, lasting less than two minutes. We need to hear what was left out in case Borg’s comments were taken out of context in response to a specific or leading question, or context was left out (such as Borg describing one of a number of scenarios). Hypothetically: Perhaps Borg had responded to a question such as “Sergi Bruguera, Pat Cash and Thomas Muster felt that Nadal could win Wimbledon and the US Open, what do you think?” Or perhaps the Nadal group has hired Borg as a consultant or has forged other new ties.

On the day Federer beat Nadal at Wimbledon, the Wimbledon site reported Borg suggested that Federer could follow up his fifth title with another win Wimbledon next year and after: ‘Borg Tips Federer to Break Record… the man Borg describes as “the complete player” (Federer) needs targets to aim for. The next one is obviously to extend this run to six Wimbledon titles and then go for a seventh to match the number collected by Pete Sampras, another player who reigned for nearly a decade at these Championships. And one shouldn’t put it past him. As Borg said. “Federer could win Wimbledon six, seven, eight times. He can play on any kind of surface, he is so complete. And if he continues the way he has been doing and stays away from injuries and still has the motivation, he will be the greatest player ever. I think the motivation is the key thing and he has the motivation to continue to play for another three or five years.” That could well be bad news for the players, even ‘Rafa’, the one player who this year came close to derailing the Fed Express. But he has discovered, Centre Court remains Swiss property. And it looks like it will be that way for some years yet.’

There may or may not be some motivation behind Borg’s possible flip-flopping. For example, a cynic might say that Borg wants his legacy to remain intact by (a) encouraging Rafa to stop Federer from breaking Borg’s Wimbledon record next year and (b) encouraging Federer to stop Rafa from equaling his French Open consecutive titles record next year or breaking it the year after. In the meantime, Borg benefits from the public exposure the hoopla will generate for him, as he visits Wimbledon next year and possibly Roland Garros as well. All fits in with his emergence at the Blackrock Tour, and possible lucrative commercial deals. All conjecture, of course.

Or Borg may truly believe that, based on what he saw, Nadal will improve further and has a better chance of beating Federer next year. Besides, Federer is only human and may have an off day, injury, anxiety attack or whatever. Besides, Nadal benefits from a Wimbledon surface that is no longer as fast as it once was. It’s been likened by some as another clay court type event, except with grass on it. As John McEnroe suggested: “If the courts were as slow as they are now when I was playing, Borg would have won 10 Wimbledon titles…”

My view is that, barring an off-day from Federer, he’ll probably win Wimbledon next year. The big picture ignored is that Federer still won this year’s Wimbledon even with Nadal playing his best and Federer below his best for most of the match. The match was close because Nadal played his A/A+ game and was uncharacteristically aggressive (his injured body probably forced him to use this aggressive strategy, which appeared to put additional pressure on Roger, who was mostly trying to soak it up while waiting for the big points and moments) while Federer played most of his Wimbledon matches this year like a man with a heavy weight around his neck, under tremendous pressure to equal Borg’s record and salvage his spotty clay-court campaign. As underdog, Nadal had far less pressure to win his first Wimbledon. Only the loss of a set to Juan Carlos Ferrero and Nadal’s breakpoint chances in the fifth set jumpstarted Federer for a short while out of cruise mode. Federer played Wimbledon by managing his matches to win efficiently and win the tournament, not to show off his A game. Meanwhile Nadal struggled to get to the final, I think taking an extra 9 hours longer than Federer (e.g., Nadal took 138 minutes against Mardy Fish and 241 minutes against Soderling, while most of Fed’s matches were 92 to 104 minutes long). Next year Federer will feel less pressure, although he has the one-time opportunity to break Borg’s record, and will likely play more freely.

Federer will still feel tremendous pressure to win Roland Garros — especially if he wins the Australian Open and thus to complete the ‘Roger Slam’ and equal Pete’s Sampras’s record (so he has an ‘incentive’ to lose the AO) — but you would expect that he will not repeat the same mistakes between the AO and FO this year (even I wondered what the hell he had been doing when I saw his form since Monte Carlo this spring, but we probably don’t know all the factors that ultimately contributed to his FO loss). As I expected, Federer appears to be preparing earlier for the French Open, starting his campaign at least in Portugal instead of Monte Carlo. Of course, if he wins the FO, Federer being Federer might give himself a longer break as a reward while a more motivated Nadal would put in more practice for Wimbledon and play better on grass.

I think Federer has realized that he gets more publicity (and therefore commercial opportunities) when he doesn’t play his best and matches are close rather than if he creams the competition and is taken for granted. Besides the way Federer played against Nadal and Djokovic in the slam finals puts Wilander’s theory about Roger lacking balls to rest.

As for who will win next year’s hard court slams, we should consider that next year’s Australian will be played on a surface similar to the US Open, no longer the slightly slower Rebound Ace. The potential winners would probably be hot players at the time who have done well at the US Open and have Australian Open experience, meaning. . . Federer. Those who have the best shot at challenging Roger are Djokovic, Roddick, Nadal and Hewitt, with predictable results mostly unless Federer has an off day. Other challengers are a revolving door that depends on who happens to be a hot player at that time: Stepanek, Davydenko, Haas, Blake, Gonzalez, Youzhny, Gasquet, Ferrer, Safin (with mountain-top meditation), Berdych, Murray. One or two from this group might step it up with four more months of training and get surprising results: Lopez (if only he plays like he did for two or three full sets), Monaco, Baghdatis, Tsonga, Dancevic, Simon, Canas, Nalbandian, Del Potro, Almagro, Isner, Querry, Tursunov, Robredo, Chela, Verdasco, Malisse, Wawrinka, Ferrero.

Regardless, it would be interesting to see what happens over the indoor season until the Masters Cup, to get an idea of who is stepping up his game. Also whether Federer can win TMC and three more events to make it another season with at least 10 titles. My expectation is that Federer will be more relaxed and will play well in one or two tournaments.

Ryan Says:

People say that Federer is the best techniquer of all time.Then why is sampras’s serve, agassi’s return and edberg’s volleys set as the benchmarks for new players like Djokovic?Cant they just say they wanna be like fed?

jane Says:

Rafter vs. Agassi semis were amazing (and are now available on DVD)…

Still, nostalgia aside, it doesn’t seem that today, against Roger in particular, any player can simply bring a baseline game or a net game. Stepanek against Roger may be fun to watch, but Stepanek hasn’t beat him since 2002. Nor have strict baseliners, like Davydenko, for example, had much success.

Rafa has had to change his game to beat Federer. A case in point is on hard courts at Dubai in 06. In the first set, Federer swept through by attacking, coming to net. But then in the second set, Rafa started to come in too; but his passing shots were still on. In other words, he had to have an all-court game, and when he did – he won. On top of that? He had to be extremely consistent, one of Rafa’s great strengths.

That’s why the younger players on the rise will have to have a full repertoire to continue to move up and challenge Roger and the other two up there; that’s why Rafa and Djok are 2 and 3 and Davydenko and Roddick, less rounded players, are 4 and 5.

Players have to get past Fed-phobia, too, which really does exist, according to the players who mention it (Hewitt, Baggy) and they’ll have to have the stamina of Rafa.

One contrast that still exists, and always will, are the different personalities – like Becker and Edberg, Borg and Mac, and Roger and Rafa another good example. Roger, Rafa and Djoker too. Thank god for that. More boring than two net-rushers IMO? Two cool-headed players who don’t show any emotion on the court.

jane Says:

Ryan –

Some people say Federer is the best techniquer of all time.

Others don’t.

Some even point out that Federer could work on some areas of his game, and that he has already done so – for instance, his serve.

So while I have no idea what the answer is as to why Djokovic – and maybe his coaches? – decided to look to people who have succeeded at particular techniques, to the point of greatness in that one area, rather than looking only to one other player’s game for all the techniques, it makes sense to me.

Why try to be like one champion when you can emulate several champions, paying specific attention to each one’s strengths?

sensationalsafin Says:

regarding federer’s technique, who says he doesnt have perfect technique? if djokovic or any other player for that matter had the option of picking only ONE player to play like, itd be federer. but when it comes to emulating players, u wanna emulate multiple champions. edberg had the most amazing volleys becuz he volleyed the most so all the practice and experience plus his sheer natural talent combined produced the most amazing volleys. sampras’s serve was unbelievable but his technique wasnt completely right. agassi had to become a great returner becuz a) he was always at the basline becuz b) he cant volley to save his life.

Erwin Says:

SG, your whole post shows I’m correct. It seems you’re just jealous that Federer has it so “easy”.
That he gets so much attention and praise. Too bad you can’t handle it.

Tejuz Says:

By Just saying that you want to have a serve like Sampras, return like Agassi and volley like Fed doesnt really make you one.. rather it would result into a poor imitation of all of them (and he is just that when he tried to imitate Sharapova and Nadal). Currently djoker doesnt have any of them.. the closest he comes is having a good return game similar to Agassi. He volleys ok.. but he still has miles to go before he can become an accomplished volleyer. Service is no where similar to Sampras.. neither the style nor the accuracy.

Guess Fed is the only player who comes closest to the combination of the above mentioned players.. + a few more like Borg etc even though he doesnt imitate them.

Nadal is his own person.. not trying to imitate anybody.. something different and unique

jane Says:

Tejuz – I agree, in that I didn’t say Djok *has* all of those shots at present, but just that the idea of trying to learn the best techniques of several champs seems like a good one.

sensationalsafin – Re: Fed’s technique, obviously he’s a near-perfect techniquer. But I have read/heard people critique certain clay-court techniques, like his drop-shot and his backhand over-the-shoulder return on clay (which could result in wear-and-tear, maybe even injury, unlike most of Fed’s accomplished technique). Seems to me I’ve also heard McEnroe say on one or two occasions that Federer could improve his serve & volley. It seems errors have been an issue too – mainly on forehand side – which doesn’t necessary mean technique.

jane Says:

Federer doesn’t come closest to agassi in return games – for instance, this year, he’s #16 at returning 2nd serves and #29 at break point conversions. Rafa or Ferrer have had much better return games.

In fact, if you just looked at “match facts” it would seem rafa is a better all-round player, except in terms of 1st serves & aces, as he bests Federer in all other categories. I am not saying rafa *is* a better all-round player, but the stats suggest as much.

grendel Says:

You always have to be careful with stats. For example, Ferrer has best stats as a returner – but think why this might be so (apart from the obvious fact that he is a wonderful tennis player). Ferrer’s serve is relatively weak, and there’s not a thing he can do about that. But he can concentrate on finessing his return game, in fact he absolutely must if he is to get near to the top. Federer, on the other hand, has, like Sampras, the luxury of a wonderful serve. He doesn’t need to worry too much about breaking (as Sampras didn’t – once enough). If Fed’s serve lets him down, his return game suddenly improves – it’s uncanny. Take that Davydenko match – Davy kept breaking Fed, so Fed returns the compliment. Nor was this unusual.

No, you’ve got to have stats, of course. But they are not necessarily remotely easy to interpret. On this particular thread, a lot has been talked about Fed’s A game, his B game, not to mention B+, B-, even S (but strangely, no C or D). Now how do you think stats can take that sort of thing into account? Answer: they can’t. Stats are indeed vital, but limited in scope.

sensationalsafin Says:

serve and volley is a strategy not a technique. when was the last time u saw federer’s D game? his C game was evident in his losses to canas and volandri.

jane Says:

You’re right Grendel – and I was implying as much by saying the stats suggest one thing, but in reality it’s different. There are too many other factors, like how to create stats for mental strength? You can’t – and Federer has proven that it’s possible to pull out a win when his game isn’t at its A level and his opponent’s is.

Not to harp (can’t resist), but that’s another reason why there is no such thing as a G.O.A.T.

sensationalsafin – you obviously know more about tennis technique than me, but I do know serve & volley is a strategy and not technique; I tried to delineate as much by beginning a new sentence, but guess I wasn’t clear enough. I don’t know if you’re asking me re: C or D games; but I don’t think I’ve seen Federer play below a B, or maybe B-.

grendel Says:

Er-Jane, you didn’t quite say that, did you – (“the stats suggest one thing, but in reality its different.”) Have a look again at your 1.32 post.
And it’s not just about mental strength.

Federer, rather like Sampras, wins his return games when he needs to. It’s called conserving energy.

Put it this way. Suppose Federer and Ferrer have a competition as to who breaks serve the most – let’s say they each face 3 of the best servers on tour (and the same ones). And lets’ say everything is riding on it. Don’t lets’ muck around. Life of a loved one, let’s say – so no frivolous betting. Who’s going to be in your corner? There can’t be any doubt, can there?

And if it was Federer and Nadal? Federer and Agassi at his best (we have wizards on hand who will render this possible)? Well, here there is room for doubt, and a case can be made for any of the three. The stats are totally irrelevant here, and so is the question of mental strength. On sheer, unbridled ability, who would you go for? And remember that loved one, knee jerk decisons not appropriate here, you go for who you believe will win, not who you want to win… (I am happy to report that in my case, there is no conflict….)

sensationalsafin Says:

rafael nadal proves better than anyone ive ever seen that u dont need picture perfect technique to win, or win a lot for that matter. federer’s technique is beautiful, but then again so is blake’s. how many times have u heard a commentator say blake has a textbook perfect forehand. and he does, but he didnt make the quarters of a single slam this year. basically, if u can hit the ball hard and over the net, then it becomes more than technique that matters. federer’s S, A, and B games are all based on how much he misses, r they not? when we talk about his B game we’re saying hes playing well but hes still missing a little more than he should. his A game is when hes not missing much. and his S game is when hes not missing and hitting impossible shots from everywhere. but the reason he wins so much on his B game against an A game opponent is not becuz he lifts his game all the time. becuz quite frankly he wins sometimes playing like crap from beginning to end. the reason hes been so dominant and beaten everyone so much, the reason roddick plays his best against him and still loses is becuz federer really is a tennis genius. he knows what shots to play and when and how to play them. he can be missing but the shots he doesnt miss he’ll play correctly. his C game, the one he played against canas and volandri, was basically him playing bad AND stupid. as for who will return better, federer will return better than ferrer, agassi will return better than federer, and id say its pretty even between nadal and federer given the circumstances.

Ryan Says:

Now i have a bad feeling whether Fed is heading for a burn out like Borg…..The same thing which happened against Djokovic in the US open final happened against Berdych in the Davis cup.Berdych had set points in the first and second set.Fed escaped just like he did against Djokovic.Score 7-6 7-6 6-3. Could it be that he’s physically and mentally weakening just a little bit?

grendel Says:

Ryan, bear in mind that Federer has always had the greatest respect for Berdych – and that means he knows Berdych has the game to beat him, just as he (obviously) has the game to beat Berdych.

I think he’ll be well content with beating Berdych in 3. When Berdych gets his act together, he’s capable of rolling over anyone.

Federer has a very long vision, and that will entail taking some bumps along the way. Really can’t see burn out.

And was Borg burnt out? More likely he didn’t feel he could handle upstart young genius McEnroe, and wasn’t prepared to settle for number 2.

My (utterly uneducated) guess is that when the time comes, Fed will settle for #2, 3, 4 – won’t just go off into a suky retirement. He’ll still have goals worth pursuing. We’ll see.

SG Says:

Erwin Says:
SG, your whole post shows I’m correct. It seems you’re just jealous that Federer has it so “easy”.
That he gets so much attention and praise. Too bad you can’t handle it.


what’s the big deal? i don’t like fed. i don’t like tiger either. you mean that if i don’t like a guy i must be jealous of him? i just wonder if you were hanging around someone and that person was flaunting their success in your face if you’d like it. it’s unsportsmanlike. un-nickluas like, un-sampras like, un-borg like. technically, by your very rudimnentary analysis, i should be jealous of every tennis player and hate them all because they all play tennis better than i do and make it look easy. i will say it again…i like class acts. not showboats.

SG Says:

i liked becker, edberg & sampras very much. and there were times when they made tennis look easy and blew away great players. i’ve never been jealous of these giyis or any pro tennis player. tennis players don’t really change the world all that much. they run around and hit a tennis ball incredibly well. that’s about it. maybe, if rog recognized that, he wouldn’t be so full of himself. he’d be better off if he stopped reading his own press clippings.

jane Says:

Grendel – in that case? I’d go for Agassi, hands down, loved-ones saved.

jane Says:

And no, grendel, I didn’t quite say that, nor did I say I did – I claimed to have “implied” it. I;ve re-read my post and I said it would “seem” Rafa’s better all round than Federer if one went by stats alone, so by that I meant to imply that one can’t go by stats alone. Maybe the implications weren’t clearly stated enough.

Obviously there is strategy and instinct and mental strength and conditions and surfaces, and all sorts of other factors that simple stats don’t take into account, as has been my beef with g.o.a.t.

grendel Says:

It’s a matter of emphasis, Jane. Having reread your post a few times, I don’t really think it is the case that your point was that one can’t go by stats alone. The impression I have is that you were trying to slip in, by the back door, as it were, the notion that Nadal might after all be the better player. It was not one of your more candid posts, imho.

jane Says:

Grendel –

Candid or not, I know what I meant: Rafa is not the better all-round tennis player, but if one looked at the “match stats” alone, the stats could suggest that. For example, I am well aware that Rafa doesn’t have a great serve (although it’s consistent); he’s not great at the net (although on the grass, he played well at net); he stands too far behind the baseline, especially on fast, hard courts which leads to too much running and maybe will lead to future injuries if he’s not careful. I still think that Rafa is a better returner than Roger – or at least equal to him.

I’ll also certainly admit that I find Rafa (and other players) more fun to watch than Roger, especially those who are more expressive on the court, but their rivalry is fascinating to watch, too, since, imo, it’s such a study in contrasts.

You tend to dig into most of what I say on this blog from a certain perspective; you think that I am anti-Federer, which I am not. I give credit where it’s due, but Roger is not my favorite. Isn’t that allowed?

I’d also like to see other players challenge Roger more, and the number one spot contested for, as you know. But again, this doesn’t mean I “hate” Roger. Gawd.

jane Says:

And Grendel – Given that you know my argument against g.o.a.t., you should also know that I am not one to think that stats stand alone. I am candid about my opinions and never try to, as you accuse, slip something in “by the back door” – not my style. I’m a front door kind-of-gal.

SG Says:

Jane…the Fed fanatics want to make you feel like crap if you don’t think he’s the GOAT. Don’t bother trying to reason with them too much. Fanatics and radicals very rarely have clear view on anything.

grendel Says:

of course it’s allowed that Fed not your fav player, Jane. What a nightmare world if everyone favoured the same fellow. I don’t think you’re anti-Fed so much as anti whoever’s on top, especially if he’s massively on top. That’s o.k, why not. I’ve kind of taken that position myself in the past. I just happen to like Federer more than any other player I’ve watched. I’d be surprised if I find myself supporting a #1 again. But with me, the issue is not really theological. Incidentally, I think all that “expressive” stuff you go in for is baloney – but I’ve rabbited on about that on the other thread.

But – having read yet again your 1.32 post, I still think you were backdooring it. Stands out a mile to me. That’s not to say you aren’t generally a front door type. Not on this occasion. We all have our lapses…….

Incidentally, on the question of Agassi being best returner – perhaps; without trying to sound falsely modest, I’m really not qualified to say. But certain things I notice. When Fed needs to return outstandingly, he often seems to manage to do so, even against impossible people like Roddick serving well. Agassi is more consistent, but can he match Fed’s best returning? I doubt it, simply because Fed is a much better player -and produces when he needs to. More importantly, I suspect Agassi himself would concur with this. Still, I happily concede that I may be entirely mistaken on this one.

jane Says:

SG – Yeah…realizing this the hard way, while having to front ad hominem attacks on another thread. Sheesh! I try to be reasonable and fair in voicing my opinions.

grendel Says:

SG – Jane was addressing me on the question of GOAT. I may or may not be a Fed fanatic, but unfortunately for you, I have accepted her position on this – that is, from a somewhat different perspective, I share her views on the GOAT question. Whilst on the subject of fanatics, I find your idea of “class acts” pretty risible. Edberg was a genuinely modest guy, one of those very rare, unassuming champions, Rafter was another. Sampras, Borg and Becker had, in their very different ways, absolutely massive egos, – so far as the tennis court is concerned, I don’t pretend to know what they are like off it. I would certainly put Federer with them rather than with Edberg and Rafter. You cannot have the kind of success these people have had without having a hugely developed ego. Note that this is not the same as arrogance.

Meanwhile, this stuff about about tennis players just being about hitting a tennis ball very well is just specious rubbish. Ultimately, you can say something like that about any activity in life – and some do, of course (but that’s not your position). Meanwhile, Becker, Sampras et al no more believe that about tennis than Federer does.

Unlike Erwin, I couldn’t give a tuppeny toss whether you like Fed or not. And if you want to explain a visceral dislike in moralistic terms, why not. It’s pure humbug, of course, but we’re all susceptible to that from time to time.

Having said all this, I still think you had interesting things to say earlier. And, whilst it doesn’t work me up as it does you, I’m not keen on the Fed/Woods scenario – something pretty treacly about that, but also naive. People are sometimes more innocent than you think.

Ryan Says:

Fed should not have played in the Davis cup.I guess he is just wasting his energy out there.The swiss team lost to the Czechs.What do u say fed fans?

SG Says:

grendel, you’ve missed my point. i never said that pro tennis players don’t have big egos. i think most of them have huge egos. my point is that most of them don’t have their egos manifest themselves in swiss flags on shoes or utterly pretentious post wimbledon vistory ensembles. not to mention the disappearing act fed did after losing in paris.

noname Says:

federer isnt better-er he’s just luckier with the choker-ers and the current weak era

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