Tennis-X Funk/Trunk: Serena’s Trunk has Trophy Junk

by Staff | February 2nd, 2009, 5:34 pm

Who’s Got the Funk…

1. Serena WILLIAMS
Back at No. 1. In shape or out of shape, the younger Williams sister can seemingly do anything she puts her mind to. As Serena would say, ‘Sorry haters.’
2. Rafael NADAL
Finishes his Aussie Open run with two grinding five-set wins and yet another win over Federer, this time on a neutral hardcourt. Wow.

Collect 3rd Aussie Open crown and re-take the No. 1 ranking. Next up: vs. the Olympic gold-winning Federer-Wawrinka in Davis Cup next month.

4. Bhupathi-MIRZA
Sania Mirza becomes first Indian to collect a Slam title with Bhupathi, who was also runner-up in the men’s doubles. Take that Paes!

Has there been a better technological innovation in tennis? In all of sports?

…Who’s in the Trunk

Ever see anyone’s Q-rating plunge faster? From funny No. 1-challenging player-mocking “Djoker” to nasty crowd-barbing Slam match-tanker. Ouch.

Verboden to discuss out-of-shape female tennis players in the media, but getting tougher not to with the number of women that showed up in Melbourne chunky-style.

3. Jelena JANKOVIC
Will that be her only sniff of the No. 1 ranking? We say doubtful. Like Arnold, ‘She’ll be back.’

2. Dinara SAFINA
Just a bummer to see the Russian finally put in the hard off-court work and fold mentally in the Aussie Open final.

1. Roger FEDERER
What was with that fifth set in the final, playing like a whuss? Time to get a coach, get the killer instinct back and get Rafa out of your head.

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37 Comments for Tennis-X Funk/Trunk: Serena’s Trunk has Trophy Junk

Giner Says:

I thought you would have at least picked on Berdych, or Murray, or given some credit to Verdasco. Every year it seems we get a surprise finalist, and he was looking like the one.

And putting Serena as number 1 instead of Nadal? I think he earnt it more given that his opponent put up more of a fight, and was the guy that was about to ascend to sporting divinity. Nadal winning his first AO was a bigger feat than Serena winning her 4th against scant competition. And what about the 5 hour match he had to get through to make the final?

The entertainment value was infinitely higher in the men’s final (and semi) than Serena’s rout of Safina.

Putting Hawkeye as #5 made it sound like you ran out of people to credit.

And Federer for #1 trunk? That’s just insensitive. Stepanek or Del Potro deserve the (dis)honour more for being double bagelled than he does. He made a final, beating good opponents along the way and gave us only the SECOND five set final ever played in the history of the Australian Open. All against the current world no.1, no less. You’re being too harsh on him. Funny how much you pick on him when he’s a little bit down but the readership (or those polled at least) seem to so biassedly favour him.

Giner Says:

Williams’ victory comes with odd bit of advice

Richard Hinds
January 27, 2009

WHEN Serena Williams wins the Australian Open it is always an odd year. Decide for yourself why.

Because Williams has won in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Or just because Williams is a bit odd.

Whatever the reason, the least that can be said of the little sister is that the tournament is never dull when she is around. Which, until her opponent Victoria Azarenka became rather graphically ill early in the second set of their fourth-round match yesterday, inevitably having to retire while leading 6-3, 2-4, did not seem like it would be very long.

The harsh critic might suggest this was not the first time Williams had made someone sick. Particularly anyone who has endured the press conference pantomime in which she makes a game of talking herself up. (Yesterday’s act included her talent with a six-string guitar, her incredible ability to tape her own ankles and an encore performance of her personal version of the fishing story — the day I beat Andy Roddick.)

Understandably, not much about her tennis, though, given Williams had for a set-and-a-bit been at the mercy of a woman who, in her own words, was “throwing up all morning and feeling weak”.

Although — no surprises here — Williams had not even allowed the notion she might be in a bit of trouble onto her front lawn. “I mean, first set, if I lose it, automatic three sets,” she said.

“There’s nothing else. I’m thinking, ‘OK, this is what I’m going to do in the third’. I automatically try to assume I’m going to win the second.”

Which is the sort of statement that can prompt you to either marvel at Williams’ boundless self-confidence or tap Azarenka on the shoulder and ask if she has finished with the vomit bucket. However, with Anna Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams eliminated and Maria Sharapova a no-show, Williams’ survival can only be considered a good thing for those with expensive quarter-finals tickets who were threatened by the prospect of an Azarenka-Svetlana Kuznetsova showdown.

Instead Azarenka swooned, enhancing the perception the only highly rated women showing any staying power on Rod Laver Arena at the moment are Jelena Dokic and Pink, who will soon break the record for the most sold-out concerts at the venue.

As for records, Williams did threaten one unofficial mark after losing the first set when she screamed what was almost certainly the most audible obscenity in tournament history, her frustrated cry of “F—ing first serve!” heard by old pensioners in row ZZ with their hearing aids turned down.

“That’s a hefty fine you’re going to get there,” James Blake told Williams in the corridor after the match.

“I know,” replied the serially unabashed Williams. “But did you see my first serve?”

At first blush, Azarenka had looked like one of the eponymous blonde, tall, pig-tailed, giraffe-legged Tennis Barbies who are so common in the corridors of Melbourne Park they make no more impression than the pictures of the top five ranked Australian men and women outside the locker-rooms.

However, as she briefly put Williams on the endangered list yesterday, two things were obvious. She can give the ball a whack and has the vocal register of a top-notch soprano. Which meant when Williams also tried to scream her way out of trouble, things got loud.

Usually on Australia Day there are complaints from tennis fans about the intrusive music from nearby rock concerts. During the Williams-Azarenka match, you half expected an irate concert promoter to storm into Rod Laver Arena and tell the players to shut up because they were drowning out his death-metal revival gig.

As Azarenka succumbed to illness, Williams finished the match with her ankles heavily strapped but — not surprisingly — with her self-regard still healthy despite her spluttering serve. This is, after all, a woman who would have seen the Roulettes fly overhead earlier in the day and genuinely believed she could have flown in a much tighter formation.

“I can do it all,” she said. “I cook, I clean, I write, I make jokes, I tape (my own ankle). You know, I just pretty much do everything.”

If stomachs turned, on the tennis court the statistics tend to agree. This will be the 30th time in 38 attempts Williams has made a grand slam quarter-final. That is a phenomenal achievement for a woman who divides her time between peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, medical research and winning Australian Opens in very odd years.

tennisontherocks Says:

Venus-Serena team deserves a spot in top 5. They may be the best doubles team of all time (unless Martina Navratilova had teamed up with Hingis).

Roger definitely belongs in that trunk after that miserable five set choke to that lousy dirtballer. Instead of crying he should have enacted the climax scene from Madame Butterfly to entertain the bored crowd.

Dan Martin Says:

Fed should maybe hire Muster as his coach.

Von Says:

Verboden to discuss out-of-shape female tennis players in the media, but getting tougher not to with the number of women that showed up in Melbourne chunky-style.”

It’s not a matter of being ‘verboten” to discuss women players who are on the “pleasingly plump” side. It’s just how often you mention it — you sound like a broken record. I only hope you remain on the svelte side way into your eighties or else you’ll have a coronary attack one day when you look into the mirror and see the beginnings of a more rounded version of yourself, with the lumps and bumps in the all the wrong places. Then payback would surely be a “b”.

I support all of the American tennis players, and the Williams Sisters keep the US competitive in the tennis world, but I’m sorry to say they are the biggest hypocrites with respect to their religion.

Venus when asked about Obama and her political views responded that her religion (Jehovah’s witnesses) prohibits her from talking about politics. I happen to be acquainted first-hand (my neighbors are Jehovah’s witnesses) with the many rules of that religion and one of the laws surround women dressing modestly. In fact, the women are supposed to be covered and refrain from wearing revealing apparel. Sorry to say that both sisters fail miserably in this department. True, playing tennis makes it awkward to cover up every body part, but why is it that Serena and Venus wear these low cut, to short and too tight outfits, when they know it’s against their reigion to do so? A simple top with a collar and sleeves and a skirt that actually covers their bottoms would work admirably. I don’t understand the incongruence.

am Says:

what the heck??? RAFA should be #1 here!!!!! putting serena above rafa? are you freaking kidding me. the less than an hour women’s final was more exciting than rafa’s incredible 5 sets win on HARDCOURT huh. haha.

Milo Says:

Serena could join the Taliban and still easily beat Safina in the always stylish “bee-keeper burka.” Of course she’d have to throw Allah a bone in her “bling bling” speech, instead of Jehovah.

anonymuos Says:

Wow people here sure hate Federer..just because he lost to Nadal doesn’t mean he’s nothing and people start writing him off.

Milo Says:

For the most part, it’s not hatred of Fed — more like hatred of Fed because he can’t seem to use his majestic talents to beat Nadal. Murray, Novak, Nalbandian, Monfils and a few others, all play Nadal with more skill than Roger (lately), eventhough Roger seems best equipped to take a ton of game at Rafa.

Dan Martin Says:

If I were Roger and I am not (I know like 1/100000000000000000000000000000000000th about tennis as he does) I would either try to work with Muster or maybe head to Vegas and work with Agassi. I think Andre, love or hate his style, was a real pro about scouting people the last 6 or 7 years of his career. A nuts and bolts detail guy to go with Federer’s big picture game might be the right synergy to summon his best tennis on break points and set points versus the human wolverine that is Nadal.

I like tennis bullies Says:

WHOS IN THE TRUNK: tennisx staff

Giner Says:

Jehova’s witnesses are actually not allowed to associate with anyone who isn’t also a witness, even friends or family, unless they live under the same roof. There’s a lot of things they can’t do actually, but it’s hard to keep it up as a celebrity I guess.

Dan Martin,

What Fed needs is probably a sports psychologist. He’s done a great job coaching himself when you think about what he’s achieved in the last 5 years. People have hired coaches to help them beat Federer and it hasn’t worked, so hiring a coach for the specific purpose of dealing with Nadal may not work either.

The thing stopping him is more likely mental than anything, so a psychologist should help.

Here’s a comment posted on Peter Bodo’s blog:

“To me, this rivalry has become more about just tennis and in some ways symbolizes fundamental struggle. If you’ll bear with me for a second, I can try to explain. From 2004-2007/2008 Federer was not just a great player, he was the most dominant player we’ve ever seen, and not just in tennis but maybe in any sport. He would trounce his so called ‘rivals’ (Roddick, Hewitt Nalbandian etc) and leave them in the dust. In many ways, he seemed to exude the belief that he was above having a rival, because simply put he was so great. When Nadal came on the scene midway through 2005 and started to put a hurt on Federer, it was obvious that in some ways that bothered Federer. But the way I see it, Federer was so damn good against all other players not named Nadal, that it didn’t matter all that much that he couldn’t beat Nadal. Sure it was a slight thorn in his side but what’s a thorn to a giant? And Federer had truly become a giant. So in many ways, he never had to alter his game for Nadal because as Pete said, he could basically still win Wimbledon, the Australian and the US Open. With Nadal usually susceptible in hard court slams to early losses and Federer’s dominance at Wimbledon, Federer’s legacy still seemed safe and secure.

Call Wimbledon 2008 a brief hiccup on the part of Federer, which Federer apologists might rightly call it and Federer still had the same view as ever, which was that he was ‘above it all’. The rankings didn’t matter because of what he had achieved in the past. The only thing that mattered was being #1 and how many slams he could shatter Sampras’ record by. This last goal has become his holy grail because I think it’s dawned on Federer that winning Roland Garros might not happen. But again, because Federer was so damn good in the previous few years, most, including himself would probably annoint him GOAT even without a French Open title.

Now Nadal comes along and finally starts to realize his potential on hard courts. For the first time, Federer has to consider the possibility that if he doesn’t change his attitude he may not ever win another slam. In a way, it’s the ultimate test of a champion’s resolve, coming back from adversity. And when Pete calls it quite possibly the most interesting part of Federer’s career, I think he’s hit the nail on the head. Federer’s mark on the game will now be measured by how he responds to this adversity. He’s never really had it before which to some extent probably hurts his psyche now. In a way, he never had to mature and deal with tough losses because they never happened. We are finally at the time of reckoning where we’ll see what Federer is made of.

In a way, it’s easy for a champion to waltz in and take everything given to him. What’s hard is actually changing, adjusting and adapting to make yourself better. “

Giner Says:

am Says:

“what the heck??? RAFA should be #1 here!!!!! putting serena above rafa? are you freaking kidding me. the less than an hour women’s final was more exciting than rafa’s incredible 5 sets win on HARDCOURT huh. haha.”

I think the fact that Nadal beat an opponent who was far greater in stature than Safina (a guy bidding to be annointed as the next GOAT) is a more noteworthy achievement than beating some hapless nervous girl who scored 3 games and has no slams to her name.

Nadal had to play 10 sets of tennis in his final two matches to take the title, Serena only 4. He spent 9.5 hours on court in those last two rounds, and Serena about 2.5. Equal pay anyone?

The fact is women get paid more than men do per hour and they still have the stamina to play doubles and even mixed, whereas top mens singles players don’t play doubles because they need the rest. Even saying that women’s bodies are built differently is hard to swallow when a lot of top 30 players have the energy to enter doubles events and make finals in both events.

Even if it wasn’t about time on court, the entertainment value isn’t the same. The quality of the tennis doesn’t compare.

andrea Says:

call me crazy but this AO loss might be the big wake up call that fed needs.

rather than pretending to paint the ‘pretty picture’ (like his PR team likes to spin out) the harsh truth is that roger has to fess up. nadal is on his case like white on rice and Fed needs to mentally buck up or he’ll continue to have fifth set meltdowns. (the scariest part of that whole match, in my opinion).

so hopefully now that the truth is in the open, that his tears were a signal to the world how much everything means (winning, getting #14, having nadal constantly trump him) maybe, just maybe, we can start getting some truth. you might not be #1 ever again. deal with it and focus on getting your competitive grit back.

jane Says:

Movers and shakers: Roddick up 3 spots, Verdasco up 9 spots, and Tsonga? Down 7 ranking spots. I wonder how Tsonga will make out this year, if he’ll make the year-end “great 8” again?

Also this question was asked before but I am not sure if it was answered: on what service will the year-end Masters Cup in London be played? Is it still indoor hardcourt/carpet?

jane Says:

Duh – “service” should be “surface” in the above post.

tennisontherocks Says:

Roddick tried every coach available, worked hard on his fitness, shored up the backhand, started coming to net more…but kept loosing to Roger. Chang tried bigger rackets to get bigger serve, added muscle mass to take down Sampras and it did not work. In fact both of them started loosing to lesser guys who they used to beat previously.

On the other hand, Agassi did not make any sampras-specific changes to his game, but polished his own baseline game, improved his fitness to outlive Sampras and nicely filled up the trophy cabinet. In the later years, Chris Evert kept loosing to Martina in finals, but kept working on her game/fitness, still had good record against most other players and picked up slams whenever her main rival faltered.

so Roger should change his game or life that has worked well and still works against 99% other players to deal with one nemesis, who by the way is 5 years younger and improving literally each day or accept these losses against Nadal and wait for his chances???

ovi Says:

Fed needs to call Brad Gilbert.

grendel Says:

excellent point, tennisontherocks – but if Nadal and Murray (another nemesis in the making?) start to win everything, what chances does he have to wait for?

The point Andrea and, in a more roundabout way several others, have to make is interesting, but I wonder. Who is doing the waking up? Federer – or his fans on his behalf?

I see little evidence that Federer accepts the need for drastic change. He’ll look back on the del potro match and think – not bad, eh? And Nadal? Well, 5 sets, could have gone either way (actually, no, it couldn’t given the prevailing mind set – seriously think Federer will concede that?). Pity about the poor serving – but that happens. Actually, no, leaving aside the illuminating remark of Samprazz (that Fed’s serve loses its edge because of all the running Nadal makes him do – never thought of that, but I don’t think it could be just that in this match; Nadal has acknowledged Federer’s serve to be among the most difficult to deal with – I doubt if he thought that the other day), it’s the mental thing again. Will Federer admit that? I don’t get the feeling he’s good at owning up in this manner, and habits of mind, manylayered as they are, are hard to break. I speak with feeling….Story of my life, you know…

So a sports psychologist is suggested. Well, there is a school of thought that holds that’s all pure bunkum, and I confess to being at least a fellow traveller of this school – especially for a seasoned campaigner like Federer. For an impressionable youngster, possibly for a bit – that’s all, I think. This aspect of psychology is not a science, you know, for all its pretensions – I speak with a little bit of knowledge here.

What about that panacea for all things sorry in this vale of sadness and tears – a COACH! Well, alright, providing (1): he’s a tough bugger, and cares nothing for Federer’s reputation. (2)He doesn’t particularly like Federer. (3) He has no interest in Federer’s records. (4). He likes money.(5) Because he likes money, he’ll do anything to ensure Federer’s success – especially he’ll tell him exactly what’s what, and at the first sign of Federevian rationalisations, he’ll tell him instantly that if ever he hears any of that type of crap again, he’s off. Federer has got to absolutely loathe this man, and yet be strangely reluctant to lose him. Does such a coach exist?

That could work.

tennisontherocks Says:

‘but if Nadal and Murray (another nemesis in the making?) start to win everything, what chances does he have to wait for?’

well, answer to that depends on how dominant Nadal (or Murray/Djokovic) can become and for how long. In tennis, things change quickly. 2 years ago, people were betting on if Roger can win 20 slams or if Rafa can ever win a hard court slam/become #1 etc etc.

Mary Says:

Grendel: You described Brad Gilbert!

bobby Says:

Nadal should have been on the headline rather than serena.In one of the best australian finals nadal defeated greatest ever!.Both nadal and federer has transcended sport.Casual sports fan watch tennis because of them.Maybe tennisx is ignorent of facts.

Milo Says:

Roddick on Roddick:

“Sometimes I tell people that I’m the best bad player of all time.”

Polo Says:

Federer should realize how good a tennis playerhe is and that he has achieved so much during his career. He should rest assured that he occupies a place among the best who ever played the game and stop aiming to be the best of all time. That is such a lofty goal, almost impossible, because being the GOAT is really a matter of opinion. The greats never really played each other in real tournaments. Each of them have different rivals during their time. Equipments change. Even surfaces they play have evolved through the years. Records will be made and broken. He has broken records of others and new players will eventually break his. There is no shame in that because that is the reality in sports. He should just enjoy the game. Try the best he could and always keep his head high, win or lose. He deserves to derive pleasure from the game the way he has given us the pleasure of watching him. No more tears, please Roger. You don’t deserve to feel sad.

Noel Says:

“Also this question was asked before but I am not sure if it was answered: on what service will the year-end Masters Cup in London be played? Is it still indoor hardcourt/carpet?”

As far as I know,it is indoor hard. The insertion of “still” in your question suggests that the surface hasn’t been finalized yet or a change has been proposed but I am not aware of any such development.

jane Says:

Hi Noel,

I meant “still” as in reference to the surface in Shanghai – I was wondering if the surface would still be the same, even though the location/venue of the event will have changed to London this year.

Thanks for your answer!

MMT Says:

Dan Martin: I think a good question to ask is what in the world Jose Higueras was doing for him? He lost to him twice last year while Higueras was working with him, so what gives?

If I were to coach him I’d tell him this:

1) Force yourself to stay on the baseline – chip and loop if you have to, but for god’s sake, don’t back up. And if you do back up on any shot, make sure you next step is forward

2) Attack every second serve with deep returns into the direction he’s serving from – it’s very hard to stop your momentum, change direction and pickup a deep return and put anything on it – the next shot you’ll have the initiative to take control of the point.

3) Change your positioning on the service return to force him to think about where he serves the second and press him into a double faults or weak serves

4) Try a couple of looping approach shots as well – it’s very hard to make a passing shot from above the shoulders

5) Step into the court on any cross court to your forehand and approach with a deep approaches – the shot doesn’t have to be that hard if it’s deep

6) Do not guess on the first volley – make him hit more than one pass to win the point if you have to, but don’t take yourself out of the point by guessing wrong on the first volley.

7) Step forward before and after your volleys – if he lobs you, he lobs you, but he won’t always be able to execute if the approaches are good and it will press him into passing errors, even if he hits 5 successful lobs in a row, the first one he hits out will force an error on the next passing shot he tries, because he’ll be forced into it rather than lobbing.

8) Serve wide in the deuce court until you see him cheats to his right, and then (and only then) jam him instead of burning it up the T. Tactically, if you serve wide on the deuce court all the time, the next time you’re at 30-all or deuce, he will naturally anticipate a burn up the T, so a jam serve will work well.

9) Serve hard up the T in the ad court until he cheats then a kicker wide on your first game point – it will interrupt his rhythm and keep him off balance on the return and take some pressure off your serve from his returns.

Mechanically I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his serve – it’s just that Nadal gets a beat on it sometimes and that puts pressure on him. He’s got to jam him more often by hitting straight at him to prevent him guessing right on the serve, and that will alleviate some pressure on his serve and help him hold after he’s broken Nadal’s serve.

Von Says:


At last I’ve found you. Ha,ha.

When Fed initially hooked up with Higueras, I remember reading an article which was an interview done with one of the former champions, whose name escapes me now, however, he stated that Higueras is instructing Fed to play the exact opposite of how he should, to beat Nadal.

“Try a couple of looping approach shots as well – it’s very hard to make a passing shot from above the shoulders.”

Jimmy Connors employed the use of those loopy shots. While Roddick was working with Connors I saw him use that shot often and it was very effective.

It’s obvious Fed needs to make some changes in his style of play, simultaneously playing more within himself whenever he faces Nadal, play his game, not Nadal’s game. While he may be practising different shots and approaches etc., unfortunately, when he’s faced with the reality of the situation before him and nerves come into play, everything goes through the window due to the brain’s inability to follow through in crisis situations. Theirs – Fed/Nadal’s is just a very bad matchup and Nadal is cognizant of this — he’s in the driver’s seat.

“Mechanically I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his serve – it’s just that Nadal gets a beat on it sometimes and that puts pressure on him. He’s got to jam him more often by hitting straight at him to prevent him guessing right on the serve, and that will alleviate some pressure on his serve and help him hold after he’s broken Nadal’s serve.”

Doesn’t this scenario seem familar? Roddick/Fed — not much wrong with Roddick’s serve, however, Fed has been able to block it and deny Andy the cheap points he’d normally earn on his serve, ren dering it somewhat effective. Nadal’s able to figure out where Fed will serve and position’s himself correctly thus rendering the serve ineffective at times. And, even if Nadal isn’t positioned with the exact precision, his speed allows him to get there very quickly. I’ve stated before that it’s a matter of nerves when Fed faces Nadal, but many claim it’s timikng, etc., but until Fed’s able to master those nerves, Nadal will always have the upper hand.

Noel Says:

Hi Jane,
You are most welcome! And sorry for missing the more obvious interpretation. I don’t know how I didn’t even consider the other possibility. One’s mind can certainly get very unidirectional at times.

kenny todd Says:

Nadal is not in Federer’s head, his is in his grill! For some of you who dont’ know it means he is in his face. The athlete that Nadal is is like something we have never seen before in tennis. He is going to be the g.o.a.t. when its all said and done barring injury.

Mina Says:

Good points Von regarding the Federer-Nadal match-up and how ultimately because of their strengths and weaknesses, Federer will almost always be at a disadvantage. Aside from the mental advantage, which is astronomical now, given Nadal’s huge wins over him at Wimby and now the AO, there are a couple of other issues that work against Federer.

The first would be his stubborness – is he actually willing to change his game in order to beat Nadal or is he so hung up hung up on proving to the world (and himself) that he can beat Nadal by sticking to his usual game which has worked so well against virtually all other opponents? I think hiring Higueras was a hint that he was willing to this…whether he actually listened to him as intently as he should have, I’m not sure.

And second, if he truly is willing to change his game (and for goodness sakes, Federer better hire a coach that can help him with this, and fast!)…would he be able to actually use it during crunch time. Muscle memory is a very powerful thing – the body becomes accustomed to moving and hitting shots a certain way and falling into certain patterns when the chips are down – it can be very hard to continue with whatever “new” strategy he has against Nadal, when the body and mind are subconsciously reverting back to his “old” game again.

Mina Says:

Sorry, wanted to clarify my above post. I’m not saying that Federer needs to completely overhaul his game…after all, it works against 95% of the guys on tour just fine, but against Nadal it seems like he’s going to HAVE to in order to beat him. This makes it even tougher for him – to go through an entire tournament playing one style and having it work effectively, and then making adjustments if he ends up meeting Nadal in the final – it’s tough to do, especially under pressure.

Voicemale1 Says:

These “Advice to Federer” columns, essays and commentaries that keep cropping up every time Federer loses to Nadal are getting real thin. They’ve been infinite in number and have piled up in a dusty drawer for the last 4 years – and they come mostly from the Tennis Media Establishment, the ones who bestowed GOAT status on Federer long ago. There’s an implicit subtext to all of this “Advice to Federer, which is he shouldn’t be losing to Nadal, period. After all, once established by The Tennis Media as the GOAT, it looks really bad on them when one guy keeps beating you time and time again – and now on every surface. Maybe its time to stop the hand-wringing over Nadal’s alleged inferiority & simple tactical execution as a riddle Federer needs to solve to set the universe right again. It might be time to consider Federer as over-rated. Federer’s timing has been exquisite in terms of forging his career. He’s spent 6 years building his stellar reputation, but one could say he’s done so on the backs of a weak generation of his own, which enabled him to ascend to where he is now.

Tennis Magazine’s Executive Editor Steve Tignor posted recently he didn’t like getting into the aspect of the GOAT discussion as to who had a tougher group of rivals, stating, “… after all, Sampras had his Pioloine’s”. Well, I contend many of Federer’s generation of players (the 25-30 set) aren’t even as accomplished as Pioline – who managed to reach the Final of two different majors on two different surfaces. Here’s a list of guys from the Federer Fraternity who’ve been in the Top 20 at some point (many in the Top 10) who’ve never even been to a Major Final (some not even as far as a Semi): Davydenko, Ljubicic, Ferrer, Verdasco, Lopez, Ancic, Robredo, Blake, Haas, Canas, Youzhny, Kiefer, and Mathieu. Talk all you want about Federer’s talents – he’s only in one half of a draw. When you consider that over the last 6 years none of these guys managed to get through the non-Federer half of the draw into a Major Final speaks loudly to their underachieving as a group.

Federer’s vanquished in his 13 Majors is worth scrutiny. Two of them were against guys who were already into their 30’s (Phillipoussis, and Agassi – who’s back went out during the match so badly he could hardly stand upright during the ceremony); another two were against guys that had a dream run through a Major & have done nothing subsequently to back it up (Baghdatis & Gonzalez); three of them came at the hands of his hapless whipping boy Roddick, who continues to prove that nothing in his game hurts Federer; and a past his prime Hewitt. Only Safin from Federer’s generation has lost to Federer at a Major and then returned the favor – and might have done it more often had he owned the commitment to the game Nadal has. Both Nadal & Djokovic have also returned the favor to Federer – defeating him in a Major after losing to him in a Major.

Federer has been much like Hingis, another who capitalized on timing in regard to Majors. She racked up 5 just prior to completion of the metamorphosis to the Power Game of Venus, Serena, Davenport and Capriati took root. Even at that, Hingis owns more Majors than either Davenport or Capriati. Federer’s been a bright light in a generation of peers who shone much less brightly than him. It’s just a fact that the younger generation of today, spearheaded by Nadal, and closely followed by Murray & Djokovic, will be making Federer look more ordinary than a most guys from his own generation have been able to do.

Von Says:


My apologies for not responding to your above post. Truth is, I never saw it. There are so many threads.

Back to your post, a lot of what you say is so true, but the only problem there is that of Federer puting into action that which he knows he should do, but doesn’t. His stubbornness is very real.

Mina Says:

No worries, Von. I know that there are always multiple threads going on. I’m sure we’ll post back and forth again at some later point, anyway :)

And, yes, Federer’s stubborness is probably what has made him very successful in the past and is also what his holding him back from attaining that next level that is needed to beat Nadal and the other younger/faster/smarter/stronger guys coming up.

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