Djokovic Is Still The Best, Beats Murray To Win Fourth Australian Open Title
by Sean Randall | January 27th, 2013, 10:59 am

The first big test of the tennis is over and Novak Djokovic proved he is still the best hardcourt player on the planet. Without question. Sunday night in Melbourne the Serb snatched his third straight and fourth overall Australian Open crown besting childhood buddy Andy Murray 6-7(2), 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2. The win puts Djokovic in rarefied air making him the only player in the Open Era to win three straight in Melbourne.

“Winning it three in a row, it’s incredible,” said Djokovic after the 3-hour, 40-minute duel. “It’s very thrilling. I’m full of joy right now. It’s going to give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, that’s for sure.”

The match, though, wasn’t an epic per se as we’ve become use to, and I won’t be re-watching it anytime soon, if ever again. I was ready, at times, to go back to sleep. For the most part it was slow and prodding, but it did pick up late in the second set and early in the third. That after two hours of tennis had already elapsed.

But curiously, considering these were two of the better returners in the game it was strange that early on neither player could break serve. In fact, Murray ended without breaking Novak at all.

Djokovic had opportunities in the first but failed to convert. Murray then had a few in the second, no luck.

Points were typical, though not as long and creative as we’ve seen from them before. A few long rallies, some oohs and aahs, but a lot of errors and lopsided service games. It was good tennis, just not great tennis. I guess we’ve been spoiled that way.

Murray, though, was the first to gain the upper hand. Novak played a sloppy first set breaker and in shades of their US Open encounter, Murray took the opening set in a breaker. It was going the Scot’s way.

And right off the bat in the second Novak slumped in a 0-40 hole in his first service game. At the time Novak looked fidgety and off key. He had a couple of scrapes on his knee and elbow from a first set dive and seemed to be still having shoe issues similar to what he had a week ago against Stan Wawrinka.

But somehow, someway Novak managed to escape eventually pressing a second breaker. Finally some real tension. If Murray wins the set to go up 2-0, it’s over. Djokovic just didn’t let him.

In a crucial moment with Murray serving 2-3, the “feather from God” fell down onto the court and interrupted Murray’s second serve delivery. When he resumed he double faulted giving Novak the mini-break. Whoops! Djokovic pounced and the set went to the 2-time defending champ.

From there it appeared Murray just ran out of steam. Maybe the Roger Federer win took something out of him. Maybe it was the two long sets they had played, but he looked cooked. And against Novak, aka Superman, good luck, because that guy’s not slowing down and giving an inch.

Djokovic comfortably cruised to victory taking the final two sets with relative ease. No shirt rip even needed. And it wasn’t just Murray letdown, Novak raised his level as the match went on. He just got better, stronger and more confident.

“There were a few turning points in the match,” Djokovic said. “Maybe one of them was the second game in the second set when I was 0-40 against the breeze. He missed a few shots. I managed to have that crucial hold. After that I felt just mentally a little bit lighter and more confident on the court than I had done in the first hour or so.”

To his credit, Murray played well at the beginning, really attacking Novak, breaking him down and serving well. He just caught a bad tiebreaker in the second and couldn’t recover.

“At this level it can come down to just a few points here or there,” said Murray. “Probably my biggest chance was at the beginning of the second set; didn’t quite get it. When Novak had his chance at the end of the third, he got his. When you go two sets to one down, you really need to get off to a good start the beginning of the fourth set because most of the guys at the top of the game, when they get a lead and momentum, it’s tough to stop them.”

Djokovic has now won six career Slams, which ties him with greats Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg. And it puts him just behind Mats Wilander and John McEnroe. He’ll reach or maybe even pass them by the end of the year depending on how Rafael Nadal’s return goes.

Luckily for the rest of the guys there are no more events in Melbourne. But I got a feeling Djokovic’s winning days are far from over.

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287 Comments for Djokovic Is Still The Best, Beats Murray To Win Fourth Australian Open Title

Nina Says:

Djokovic days are just starting!

grendel Says:

I think it is strange Murray running out of steam. He puts so much emphasis on training. Any other factros?

Margot Says:

Congratulations to SuperNole, much the better player today and congrats to his fans on here, especially Wog Boy and jane.
Will leave Nole and Rafa to slug it out at French Open…….but see you at Wimbledon Nole :) Hoping for sweet revenge there!
Andy, you didn’t listen to your T shirt: Prepare. Attack. Destroy. Right?

Margot Says:

@ grendel, blisters perhaps would stop him moving so freely, but having said that, I imagine they are an every day hazard for tennis players?

Mila Says:

I think we all know now who the undisputed best tennis player in the world is. It is Novak Djokovic from Serbia!

He has more endurance, more stamina, more courage (35/41 net approaches), more talent and more belief than anyone else. He is here to stay and we better get used to witnessing him win GS titles in future.

Congratulations to Murray’s fans on this site – a truly classy bunch… I do not like his tennis style but do like his personality and honesty. Great guy in loss as well as in victory…

vox777 Says:

Congrats to Nole and all Nole fans! Such a great day for us! Congrats to Murray fans as well, he gave his best and made this final a great event

vox777 Says:

Luckily for the rest of the guys there are no more events in Melbourne. But I got a feeling Djokovic’s winning days are far from over.

Thanks Sean for nice words, I hope Nole aka Teminator 2011 finally is back now and will stay for good ;)

Giles Says:

This is all Wawa’s fault!! Lol #BlewIt

Wog boy Says:


Thanks and commiseration. In the next few years it will be more finals, they are destine to play them. Good luck to both of them.

Jim Courier noticed something that makes sense, I never paid attention before on that. Andy doesn’t slide, he runs, returns the ball and then brakes or slides. His body is heavy and it takes toll. Nole slides, returns the ball and is already in position for another shot. Nole saves at least half a meter on each side of the court this way. Andy has to work harder to bring his body back to position for a another shot. This way he runs himself down faster than oponent. This is not the first time Nole wore him out, plus Federer two nights ago. Andy needed that second set in order to win.
It is 4am, time for bed and Nole is already on his way to Belgrade. Have a safe trip No1e.

Thomas Says:

@Wog Boy
They were some pretty good comments from Courier. He also said that whilst both Novak and Andy were good movers, if he had to choose he would rather have Novak’s movement due to the reasons you pointed out

Wog boy Says:


Courier is very fair and knowledgeable. I enjoy his comments.

Sorry, it is really time for bed. Celebration is over:)

Big Cheddar Says:

Sean, nice piece.Djokovic’s ‘escape’ was down to more than the ‘fester from God’ though. When he’s behind he has the ability to relax and go for his shots. The impress coaching blog describes this as how he won the mind game. Check out

subo Says:

nadal ‘s return i hope he is drug tested a lot he is the armstrong of tennis

alison Says:

Subo zzzzzzzz.

madmax Says:

Enjoyed the match. Thought it was a gritty display by both players.

Clearly the dreadful blisters which were shown on TV hindered Murray’s chances. Putting honey on them? that’s a new one on me. Nevertheless, I did think that Murray would sneak it out.

His game though has vastly improved, and it is only a matter of time before he wins slam number 2.

The best era of men’s tennis ever!

Congrats to Novak. Always shows the fighting spirit when he is behind.

mat4 Says:

Patrick Mouratoglou made a interesting comment on Eurosport about Djokovic:

Patrick Mouratoglou:
Quand on voit Djokovic au quotidien, c’est le joueur le plus rigoureux de tous sur l’alimentation, sur le travail de récupération et notamment d’étirement. Il est le plus souple du circuit. Il a une morphologie parfaitement adaptée au tennis, à la fois léger, tonique et élastique. Si on ajoute à cela un tennis de contres qui fait qu’il ne produit pas d’énorme efforts pour faire avancer la balle, on a beaucoup d’éléments qui font de lui un joueur physiquement prêt. Cela explique en grande partie nos constats d’aujoud’hui. Murray est plus lourd et moins souple et cela change beaucoup la onne. Imaginez un effort de deux heures et imaginez le même effort avec un sac de cinq kilos sur le dos. Cela fait une différence extrême. Djokovic n’a pas 500 grammes en trop.”

Humble Rafa Says:

nadal ‘s return i hope he is drug tested a lot he is the armstrong of tennis

You are obviously not very smart.

Humble Rafa Says:

Congrats the Egg Lover. When I return, I will be the best competition for him. Until then, midgets can fall at his feet and ask for forgiveness.

alison Says:

Humble Rafa LMAO i hope when you return,you are his best competition,looking forward to seeing you return soon anyway,missed you playing,not been the same without you.

Bada Bing Says:

He’s right. He has more weight on him and doesn’t move as well because of it.

Nadalista Says:

So guess Mouratoglou will be putting Serena on a diet soon………

Huh Says:

“Humble Rafa Says:
nadal ‘s return i hope he is drug tested a lot he is the armstrong of tennis

You are obviously not very smart.”

LMAO! ;)

the DA Says:

Bada Bing – “He’s right. He has more weight on him and doesn’t move as well because of it.”

Right, his movement in the Chardy and Federer matches just wasn’t there.

skeezer Says:

Blisters? How’d he get those? Oh, that’s right……..Fed.

Humble Rafa Says:

Please know that Mr. Lady Forehand is a 1-slam wonder and not a no-slam wonder because of my injury.

Huh Says:

for all the gloominess in that article, the author needs to undrstand that the match doesnt depend solely on murray, nole too has a say in it. morovr, the blisters r a good enough reason for the best of players to worry durin a slamfinal n perform less than their best. thirdly muzz just won the last slam that was played, so peopl need to cut him som slack. everybody knew nole has a great chanc of winning too. the result in the end may or may not be to the likin of peopl, dependin on whom they wer rootin for, but thats not to say the result is that surprising either, for muzz to push the panic button suddenly without takin the positives from the tournament.

jamie Says:

If Nadal never gets back to his previous level, Nole reaching 14 slams looks very possible.

Huh Says:


i think jmdp will win at least 1-3 slams mor. n i cant say with surety that fed wont ever win anothr slam. on the other hand i do believ muzza n nadal’d add to their tally.

mat4 Says:

In 2011 had a fair share of luck: his opponent in the AO final changed the tension of his racquet throughout the match, Tsonga eliminated Federer in Wimbledon, easing his path to the final and he saved two match points against RF in the semi of the USO.

Of course, this luck is of a special kind: it is well deserved. But on the other side, it is balanced – one day it goes one way, another day the other.

So, in 2012, the luck changed: the AO final had a very profound impact on both Rafa and Novak, and they needed time to recover. His grand father died in the middle of his preparations for the FO. The weather, there, didn’t suit his game. Finally, the wind, at the USO, suited more his opponents game, who has more punch and a better serve, than his, who plays usually closer to the lines.

And now, once again, luck had his word in the results. The draw took a terrible toll – first mental, then physical, on Federer, when the other two contender for the title had easier paths in front of them. Then, Fed fought to the bitter end in his semi, while Ferrer just folded. Novak had on supplementary day of rest. A little here, a little there decided, as it does so often, of the final result.

But I am still glad Novak won.

mat4 Says:

… Novak had a fair share of luck…


alison Says:

Congrats Mat4 on your favorites win,im very happy for you.

MMT Says:

I think Mouratoglou is full of it – that’s an easy explanation after the fact, except of course the fact that Murray moves perfectly well and Djokovic has always had these characteristics, but never (until 2011) had these results.

The reasons for his superior performance are the technical changes he made at the end of 2010 – fitness helps, but that just gives him an opportunity apply his technical superiority. There may be other players just as fit as him, but none have the sum total of his technique – Murray’s not far off, by the way, nor is Federer, but he’s obviously at the head of the pack.

mat4 Says:

I think that Novak would gladly give 2 AO for just 1 FO…

And I hope Rafa will win Wimbledon, or the USO this year. And, of course, Monte Carlo.

Thanks, Alison.

skeezer Says:

The top 4 are very lucky.

alison Says:

Mat4 your welcome thanks for that post too,DEAL TBH i would happily swap a couple of HC GS for 1 FO,i wish life were like that,unfortunatly you have what you have,i suppose i should be happy with that,and i am,well to a certain extent anyway lol.

mat4 Says:


The key sentence in that Mouratoglou’s comment was the first one: “Watching him [work] from day to day […]”. My translation is bad, but that is the meaning.

I also don’t quite agree that he is technically superior. What I see is that the top four players are the most improved players in the top ten in the last few years. Their work intelligence seems to be superior – they know what to change and where they need to improve.

Rafa, there, has perhaps the most problems, because of his unique style of play. But there is no doubts that he is a very complete player, and, IMHO, and I may well be wrong, he made the most profound influence on the last six or seven years.

Djokovic has improved his FH, his transition game, his volleying, his serve…

Roger also is continuing to improve technically – his backhand, he plays with more angles now, more spin when he needs to, he is more versatile than he was in 2008. And we shouldn’t forget that he, in fact, raised the level that high.

mat4 Says:


No, they are not. They are very unlucky to be… four. Why not only two… or one? I could live with two..

You two?..

Huh Says:


i rathr think it was fed who was lucky not to face the marauding nole in wim 11 or he would’ve certainly lost. nole was playin better than fed throughout wim 11.

mat4 Says:


Perhaps your are right, but I still have the impression that Roger would have been a much more difficult opponent than Jo.

the DA Says:

The 1-slam wonder tag isn’t surprising. As I recall Nole had the same question mark during the two years it took to win his 2nd slam. Journalists always resort to the same old narratives, i.e. Federer is done, Nadal might not ever be the same, yada yada yada.

The promising sign is Andy reached his 2nd slam final immediately.
Time will tell.

One thing is certain: humble rafa is a one-trick pony.

jane Says:

DA, it was 3 years I think for Nole 2008 – 2011 AOs.

And for Safin it was 5 years between slam titles.

And for Sampras it was almost 3 years.

So yeah: there’s often a space between first and second slams.

mat4 Says:


Congrats on your fav win. Hope you are happy. I certainly am.

El Flaco Says:

Djokovic just had more purpose with his shots. He hit harder and with better direction as the match wore on.

jane Says:

Thanks mat4. Yes, it was a good win for him to get a three-peat at the AO as something unique for him. I was so impressed with his efforts at net: 35/41! It bodes well for him shortening points if he keeps this up. Cheers.

mat4 Says:

I think his game will change a lot this year. I am not quite sure, but it seems that he generates more spin and more pace with the new racquet, and he will have to learn to control it confidently.

And he certainly has improved his transition game and his net game.

Tennislover Says:

MMT – I understand that you are a firm believer in technical solutions but I do not think all problems can be solved by just better technique. How do you deal, for instance, with a slow hard court with high bounce in the heavy evening/night conditions against someone like Djoko or Raf? Or Raf at the French Open? Surely, Raf hasn’t got the perfect technique and more often than not, his MO is to wear his opponent down physically, and ultimately, mentally. Physical superiority is a big advantage imho. In most situations today, this advantage leads to great offense being neutralized these days by unbelievable defense. I am not saying Murray does not move well. He is, when 100%, probably as good a mover as anybody and probably better in some aspects. His anticipation is excellent but he does spend quite a lot more energy doing so given his slightly heavier frame. Endurance suffers in the process. An incredibly elastic and lighter frame like Djoko’s suffers less in comparison. Fed’s game, despite some obvious issues now especially the ROS, still is imho good enough to do some serious damage but I don’t think he has the legs to do so anymore. There is a reason we talk about the physical primes of players and why they tend to do their best during that period. Otherwise, some technically superior player would still be playing with a lot of success well into their thirties and even beyond. I beg, therefore to differ with you on this issue. I agree with mat4 that Djoko’s game is not technically as superior as you think. He has improved many aspects of his game. I though his serve was excellent today. However, look at his slice for instance. It is far from being a textbook slice. His volleys are not the prettiest, are they?

Do you think, conversely, that technically superior players will find it difficult to apply their superiority if their fitness is inferior? I do not think these sides can be separated except probably in extremely quick conditions.

MMT Says:

mat4 – I don’t think we disagree very much to be honest – and maybe I shouldn’t have been so categorical because Djokovic obviously has an effective physique and physicality for tennis. And I agree with his assessment of Djokovic’s preparation – it is outstanding.

I just didn’t like his comparison between Djokovic and Murray because frankly, I don’t think anyone moves better the Murray. Just because Djokovic has beaten him more than he’s lost to him, doesn’t mean that he moves better and his body is better suited to the game.

There are a lot of reasons why Djokovic has had the better of Murray, but movement, in my opinion is not one of them. It just strikes me as a convenient time for this type of analysis, but perhaps I’m oversensitive.

Humble Rafa Says:

The promising sign is Andy reached his 2nd slam final immediately.
Time will tell.

One thing is certain: humble rafa is a one-trick pony.

1-5 in grandslam finals = perennial choker. Even Jana Navotna won Wimbledon…chokies have success too, just not as often.

mat4 Says:


To be more precise, since I am, because of my very basic English, very often misunderstood: I just think that their technique is different because they come from different tennis schools and have different built. And, as it has been noted many times before, the evolution of material (frames, strings, surfaces, balls) induces differences among players of different generations.

But I would like to repeat that the top four are the one that work the most on their game.

It is easy to improve when you have a weak serve at 20 or your backhand is subpar. Just like in athletics: it is easy to improve from 13 seconds to 11 seconds in a 100 m race. But to improve to 10 seconds is much more difficult.

And, finally, they have to do it against their affinities or physical aptitudes: Roger learned to rally aggressively with his BH; Rafa improved his net game and, for a while, his serve; Novak tries to learn to go to the net. All of this is not in their nature, but nevertheless, they try to change it.

mat4 Says:


I think that Novak is less explosive, a bit slower, but his lighter frame is really an advantage.

About the movement: Becker, if I am not mistaking, made a good remark about the difference between the two — it seems that Novak slides before the shot, and it allows him to make a step less almost every time. I’ll try to find the quote.

Anyway, Mouratoglou seems to be a big fan of the British player.

Tennislover Says:

mat4 – Congratulations on Djoko’s win. I don’t think he has ever been as heavily favored to win a major as he was this time and he didn’t disappoint. It seems your theory of Djoko’s evolution into a much more attacking player is gaining a bit more traction. He definitely surprised me with his serving and attempts to approach the net much more readily. It bodes well for his longevity in the game. I was disappointed that Murray did not attack more. He has the skills to do so but I don’t know why, under Lendl, he has generally tended to remain on or behind the baseline. I expected better from a tactician like Murray given his physical situation. He should have mixed it up a lot more than he did.

Agree about the different influences in the evolution of players/generations. Todays’ playing conditions place a huge premium on endurance and outstanding defense at the highest level and that, in turn, is forcing players to evolve so that they can last longer in the game.

mat4 Says:


Finally, I am also sometimes quick to react when Novak’s “new” fitness is emphasized. I think he improved a lot of things in 2011, but that he was very fit before already.

On the other side, other players are quick to react when somebody notice that they have bulked up a lot.

mat4 Says:



I could be very wrong, but I thought, watching the first two sets, that Nole’s opponent try to deny him two things: pace and angles, hitting often through the middle of the court, a bit left on Novak’s BH. Basically, it is a very sane strategy: since he hits flatter, he is able to hit through Novak’s defence. But he has to avoid Novak’s usual strategy — the Serb likes to move the ball left/right to open the court.

So, I believe that Lendl’s plan was to serve big, make good use of the serve/FH combo, and to deny any rhythm, any pace to Novak and wait for an opening to use with the FH. It worked quite well for two sets.

On the other side, with a racquet that give him more power and spin, Novak can defend more effectively far from the baseline, and that was perhaps a surprise. But he definitely made a lot of UE.

Finally, I think that the match was decided in the mental compartment: the semi against Federer wasn’t probably so taxing physically, but drained certainly a lot of emotions and focus. That decided the last two sets.

Of course, I can be wrong, and I would love to read your take on the match.

Wog boy Says:


Mouratoglu is not Nole fan, just recently he said few things about Nole not being complete player in todays tennis and blah… blah. That prompted usually calm Niki Pilic to react and question Mouratoglu’s credibility to talk tennis.

mat4 Says:


Glad you’re here. I hope you feel just like I do right now [I got a bottle of slivovitza from Kremna last week, and… cheers!]

I know quite well what Mouratoglou writes, and I mostly don’t agree. But he acknowledged Nole’s professionalism in his last chat.

mat4 Says:

Anyway, can you find me the link of Pilic’s interview?

Wog boy Says:


I am over the moon for this young man who is dedicated to this sport he loves so much, to his family and to his country, not necessarily in this order. This win is going to stop those questions (they were poping up recently) whether he deserves to be #1 since he didn’t win GS for a year, this win is going to give him more than good shot at #1 three years in a row. This win is going to give him peace of mind and take a pressure off him for next tournaments, particulary FO, though I think Rafa is going to come back big. It was hugely important win.

Good choice, Kremna brandy, I just woke up, Can you imagine what kind of celebration was last night in Belgrade and how much of Serbian tea has been drunk last night. It will be even more once Nole arrives in Belgrade. He can run for President and win with %80 votes:)

I am wrong person for links, I read it few weeks ago on RTS1 tennis blog. I will have to go back and have a look if it is stiil there. You know what RTS1 stands for?

mat4 Says:


Yes, of course. Not difficult to guess. And don’t worry: I read most of the Slavic language, especially with google translate.

MMT Says:

Tennislover: I think these are great points – I play 3 times a week, and I can assure you that the physical side is VERY important, no doubt about it. I used to take it for granted, but these days, I have no idea what aches and pains I’m going to wake up with, etc. so it matters. And I don’t mean to diminish that by way of my obsession with the technical (and it is an obsession).

Martina Navratilova is fond of saying, in the context of her rivalry with Chris Evert, and why she won so many more Wimbledons, that over the long haul, and all things equal, the better athlete prevails. The thing is that because everyone’s technique is different, the “all things equal” almost never occurs, and there are so many examples of players that appear to be lacking physically who make up for it technically.

Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Justine Henin, Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe. None of these players were considered physical specimens even when they were at their peaks, and yet they prevailed…often, and the reason is their technique. That is not to say that if they hadn’t worked on their fitness (with the exception of McEnroe) they would have had similar results. Fitness is an an enabler, of innate talent, athletic ability and tennis intelligence. Without fitness, you need relative extremes of one or more of the other three to have a shot at winning matches and majors. With fitness, your chances only improve. Is that fair?

It’s true that Djokovic isn’t suddenly a serve and volleyer, but the improvements to his technique, subtle as they are, were crucial. His return percentages are only slightly better in the last 3 years than in the preceding 3, but his hold percentage, particularly against the top players, is incomparable. The combination of the two make him almost unbeatable against most and superior to the very best. Something will have to change significantly for that to change any time soon.

And Djokovic’s forehand – a huge change, in my opinion – if you watch the final from this morning again you’ll see that his forehand was coming apart technically. But by the second half of the second set, he had sorted it out and was again hitting with an effective combination of spin and pace. Just because one has good technique generally, doesn’t mean it’s always good, it’s just going to be good more often, and thus you’ll win more. Anyway, that’s the way I see it, but I admit this is business about technique is almost religious for me.

And as to your last question, yes technically superior players will find it more difficult to apply their superiority if they’re up against someone who is supremely conditioned and employs the optimal technique to exploit that supreme conditioning. That’s not the case with Federer, but it is with Nadal. Nadal is excellent technically, but he doesn’t have the breadth of skills of Federer, therefore he doesn’t play Federer’s game. He plays his own game. And his technique is perfectly aligned with his strategic approach to the game.

Basically, nothing in isolation is predominant, they all go together to make a player what he or she is, but at the end of the day I still believe that more than anything else, technique is the key element.

jane Says:

For Nole’s fans, here’s an article on his long-term shift into becoming what he is now:

Wog boy Says:


Great article, hats down to Vajda. How many coaches would accept to stay in such circumstances, not many. At the end it paid off for both of them.
Patient is virtue.

MMT Says:

I’d like to make one last point about Djokovic’s improvements – his footwork is much improved. It really used to be all over the place, real raggedy, and sloppy, causing him to defend first and for too long during points and matches. These days his footwork is vastly improved, and you rarely see him flailing all over the place like he used to.

As a matter of fact, if you look at the few times over the last 2 years that he HAS lost matches, the footwork has been all wrong, which points to how much it’s improved. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who gives Djokovic as much problems with his footwork as Federer, and he also happens to have two of the most significant wins over him over the last two years.

Anyway, more food for thought…

skeezer Says:

“matches, the footwork has been all wrong, which points to how much it’s improved. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who gives Djokovic as much problems with his footwork as Federer, and he also happens to have two of the most significant wins over him over the last two years.”

Damn straight.

Its because Djokers Kryptonite is creative tennis, short, deep, chip, charge, variety, use all the court, not just the backcourt, which is vastly missing in this generation of tennis. Welcome to pong tennis, hit hard from the backcourt, keep the ball in the nuetral zone, stay back, play good defense, create angles from there and play. Not complicated. Cause all you need at this point is fitness. I kind get fitness from Zumba. But shotmaking? Thats an art, a few possess it.

Skeezer Says:

“Nadal is excellent technically”

Lol…really, what stroke is “technically” excellant? Can’t wait to hear this.

skeezer Says:


Aside from my above post, your post @ 9:20 was “no ka oi”.

jane Says:

skeezer, 35/41 net approaches – not pong.

skeezer Says:


The approaches are setup from Pong.

Wog boy Says:


How come that “creative” tennis didn’t manage to win more than 2GS out of last 13GS and is in negative in H2H against uncreative tennis players. Everything is moving so is tennis. You cannot live in the past.

skeezer Says:


Nole is the man he is so great he will be an all time great. Is that what affirmation you are looking for?


Living in the past? Who won the last Wimby at a “past age”? Is that too far back? Sorry,but been reading stuff here like all the newbies think Nole will be the best ever. Sorry, but those dreams are so far away….come back at 15 Slams or so and then the NEW generation can smack talk…but not now…that is laughable.

Look, Nole has won 3 AO’s in a row, rejoice in that on its own, but when posters start trying to compare overall stats against Fed, its frankly laughable, and I take offense. Sure, Nole may or can beat up on a nearly 32 old GOAT(Nole will be 31/2 one day), and well he should. But the totality of the mans career is unmatchable, and this is one poster that feels the need to respect that until further notice.

Wog boy Says:


I don’t have a problem with saying that Federer is GOAT, but saying that his game is Kryptonite for Nole’s game which is clearly not if we look at their results , nor it is Kryptonite for Andy’s or Rafa’s game. Same way you take offence for Nole being declared best ever (I agree with you) I take offence of playing down Nole’s achievements, and it is not three AO, it is six GS titles during GOAT time mind you, I know, it was mono, bad back, old ages, bad draw, how dare Tsonga plays five setter with 31 years old Federer before SF. He is the GOAT but he is not a best player on tour for three years now simply because the other two aer/were better.

alison Says:

Skeezer fantastic post,the best one ive read all day,yes Novaks an all time great,but like you say has some way to go yet,thankfully the sensible fans are just enjoying the Noles win and are just basking in the moment without the silly need to get carried away,some people need a bit of a reality check,BTW i have to say i agreed with your post on the other thread,in that the final was a bit of a yawn,the 1st two sets were ok,but after that it all seemed like a bit of an anti climax,i too miss the intensity of the Fedal finals,i thought the Murray/Federer game was the best match that should have been the final.

alison Says:

Wogboy Nole is an all time great already,he stands along side Becker,Edberg,Vilas,Keurtan with 6 GS,and thats already a fantastic achievement,just like them Nole is a legend of the game.

Wog boy Says:


Disagree, Wawrinka/Nole was the best match IMO.

Wog boy Says:


I am more than happy with what Nole achieved so far in this golden era of tennis, I said on the other thread that I don’t think that Rogers’s records will be broken anytime soon, so why take a credit from Nole’s results just because you don’t like his (or Rafa’s, Andy’s) game. To be what he is now he had to beat GOAT, not just once, he was pushed by the quality of GOAT to work hard to be where he is now, that can be only credit to GOAT.

jane Says:

“Nole is the man he is so great he will be an all time great. Is that what affirmation you are looking for?”

wot? i didn’t say anything re: “affirmation”? i don’t need it. his success speaks for itself.

i just disagree with your view of Nole’s, Murray’s, and Rafa’s styles of tennis. “pong” is a pejorative you frequently employ. but I generally find their tennis to be an exciting and creative blend of breath-taking defence and laser-like offense. Their movement is tremendous. i merely offered that stat because it shows how Nole continues to evolve; his net stats were truly impressive. to approach the net that many times – on avg 10 times a set – suggests creativity to my mind.

but to each his/her own.

Alok Says:

@alison, Most Fedal matches were exciting, except for those at the FO. The two guys keep you on the edge of your seats. I miss those matches where Fed used all of his shot making that Nadal would allow and no one has Rafa’s buggy-whip. Tennis without him is less exciting, and it’s who can return the hardest or get to the ball the fastest.

Nirmal Kumar Says:

It was not the kind of match you may want to see in a GS final, unless you are a fan of these guys. They did not play to their full potential. After that it was Novak who started playing the kind of tennis he is capable of.

Many times I felt these guys trying to play within the limits and wait for other to falter. Quite frustrating to see a player of Murray’s caliber, probably the best volleyer among the Top 4 miss so many opportunities to come to the net after taking Novak so far away from the court. Not sure if it’s his physique or he just got it wrong in the strategy.

Nirmal Kumar Says:

I’m surprised that people are not considering Nadal as contender to overtake Roger. What happens if he wins the FO-Wimby after his return. People forget that the guy was in some 5-7 GS finals in the last 2 years and his only bad performance was the Wimby 2012. He can still stop Novak on the natural surfaces and Andy and Roger on any surface.

This clay season could probably be the defining moment for mens tennis and may provide us some direction for next 2 years. If Nadal comes along as expected then we are back to square one and it’s the same pack. If Nadal falters, then maybe it’s a new era in mens tennis which would most likely be called as Novak’s. Pretty interesting.

mat4 Says:


Fully agree.

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

It’s funny how many were looking forward to Delpo coming back from a year ou with injuries to go straight to the top of the tree and now many are doubting that Nadal will even return to form after 7 months out.

Nadal is the one with the positive h2h against all of the top 4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tennislover Says:

mat4 – I am going by memory and I could be wrong but, FWITW and through my amateur eyes, I am afraid I didn’t quite see the match as you did. I think both players respect each others ability especially in defense and both were, quite understandably, tense and risk-averse. They didn’t want to give an early advantage and that is why Murray, in particular, seemed to be playing with greater margins. Djoko was overall the player who was going for it a bit more and that, along with maybe the new racket, resulted in more UEs. I thought, except for a period towards the end of first set and start of second set where Murray won 14 of 16 points, it never looked to me that Djoko was going to lose this match. Of course, this is a testament to Djoko’s recent record as also Murray’s physical situation. I do think that he was simply not there physically after the second set. Blisters and hamstring issues are bound to affect you. Let us not forget that movement/footwork is extremely crucial and even a slight disadvantage can impact the game dramatically against a player of Djoko’s caliber. Of course, in such situations, adrenaline can let you compete but, on this court and under these circumstances, there was going to be only one winner. I think he didn’t recover sufficiently to be able to play another long and physically demanding match but that is not an excuse. You just have to deal with it the way Djoko did last year. On the other hand, I think Murray has improved emotionally/mentally although he still has a long way to go. I think the fact that he won that first set in a TB says a lot about him in this department and, therefore, I don’t think the Fed match took much of an emotional toll.

This match, under the circumstances, was on Djoko’s racket and he cleaned up his game to produce the goods. I liked the fact that he was taking the initiative in most of the points and playing more offensively instead of trying to wear Murray down physically. I was surprised to see his average first serve speed better than Murray’s. Combine that with generally better placement, Djoko’s serve was excellent except in the first TB where he couldn’t find a single first serve. Some very uncharacteristic errors in that set, as also some timely offense from Murray, led to the match going to four sets. Murray probably cut down on his serve speed to get higher percentage but I found the ROS stats quite difficult to account for. I can’t understand why two of the best returners in the game just could not put much pressure on each other’s serve. The passivity on the second serves was quite strange. Murray’s second serve is not that good but he got away with it most of the time. I also thought Murray’s acutely angled cc fh, usually very strong, was misfiring. His regulation fh is still a work in progress. Murray just didn’t have the weapons to penetrate Djoko’s defense in these slower conditions although it appeared a bit quicker compared to the second sf. Djoko also goes for the lines with his shots much more than Murray does. As I have said before, I am a big fan of Murray’s variety but there was very little on display in this match. He should have been the one trying to end the points quickly at the first available opportunity. I think Djoko was given too much rhythm – another issue we disagree on – and Murray didn’t mix it up as much as I’d have liked him to.

I think you have a lot to be pleased about especially with Djoko’s serve and forays to the net. If I were his fan, I won’t mind the UE count because the intent imo was correct. This will most likely help him in the long run and his fans will be much the happier for it.

mat4 Says:


I don’t think that we disagree that much.

Yes, they were very tense in the beginning. But they almost always are, and I think that they dislike very much each other’s game. It is a bad match-up, but for both.

The emotional and mental stretch from the semi, in my opinion, impacted AM toward the end, especially after the first break, when he lost some focus. I didn’t mention the physical factor — they are always related — because it seemed obvious. At this level, 1% already makes a difference, and one mistake can be crucial. He kept fighting, but missed a bit more. I just wanted to emphasize that weariness doesn’t have only a physical dimension.

I think that the new racquet made some difference. In the previous few matches, AM was usually able to hit through Novak defence with a flat FH, but this time Novak managed to defend from a few feet deeper, and to get enough depth on his strokes not to be pulverized.

Plans often change in the course of a match. The physiognomy of this one changed also, and toward the end, it is true, Novak managed to force Andy running much more than in the beginning.

Yes, I am very happy the way Novak played in that match. It is the first time I had the impression he has the weapons to hurt Murray since 2011, and that the match isn’t on Murray’s racquet. And yes, the serve impressed me: he was very often in excellent position after the return, not only in this match, but in most of the previous matches too. About the average speed of serve: it is in the range of their previous matches, but both, in this tournament, had a superior % of first serve. I am also satisfied that he started to go more to the net not only against second tier players, but in crucial moments of a tournament against the very best.

If you’re opinion is one of an amateur, what to say about mine? since I always feel that you are infinitely more knowledgeable than I am.

Margot Says:

Completely agree with your analysis of Andy’s match.
It was very disappointing from a fan’s point of view.
I think quite probably he was not feeling A1 physically and therefore reverted back to his “comfort” game. Habits of a life time etc. I guess he’s got to be feeling very confident in himself to go for a more aggressive game, especially against the top 5.
Also, wish he’d spend a month at Llodra camp!

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

I would not actually say djokovic’s game is pong-like. He is an extremely talented shot-maker. Unfortunately, to take down ultra-defensive players like murray/nadal, you have to play the pong game.

That is the reason why novak does much better against nadal/murray than fed. Fed doesn’t also have the option to play pong, because his 1-hander is not the extreme grip that you need to play pong. Good luck playing pong with Fed’s grip!

If anyone is to be blamed, it is the ATP. they have slowed the courts too slow and that encourages pongers like murray/nadal. the only way shot-makers can win in such slowed down conditions is by out ponging these pongers, which is what Djokovic does.

Come wimbledon, USO and the fast courts and you will see djokovic and his wonderful shot-making in full flow. he just cannot play that on these slow courts and have a chance against the pongers.

Great on djokovic winning the GS. It is now, very likely that he will overtake rafa’s GS count – much more likely than rafa overtaking Fed’s GS count for sure. That is how it should be. Rafa works very hard, but Djokovic is the more gifted player. Djokovic is a much more talented player than rafa and I am positive he will end his career with superior numbers to rafa.

He already has better numbers than rafa at 2 of the 4 slams and the year end championships and the year end rankings. In the next 2-3 years, he will overcome rafa’s record at wimbledon. The FO has always never mattered to gifted players like becker, sampras or mcenroe anyway. it is meant for hard-working and single dimensional players. [with the exception of borg/federer/laver].

Well played Novak. keep up the good work!

Tennislover Says:

MMT – Thanks for the response. It is good to see a view from a “purity of technique” angle but the examples you have cited are from a very different tennis era with different demands and different court/playing conditions. Even Henin had to improve her strength, stamina and endurance and there were doubts raised about the methods used by none other than Clijsters. Hingis, who was a very skillful and tactically astute player, just couldn’t overcome her physical limitations although she tried very hard. In any case the women’s game is slightly different and they don’t play five sets. Can someone like Olivier Rochus have any hope? The men’s game is unrecognizable from the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s. The physical intensity and demands are just not comparable due to slowing down of playing conditions/homogenization as also ‘better’ technology etc. This is forcing really ambitious players to see the benefits of being a physical specimen. I am not at all suggesting a bad player can be at the top with superior physical fitness but I do get the feeling that an otherwise good player has very little chance in these conditions if he is not great physically. I think physical fitness has become way too important even in an athletic sport like tennis. Sometimes, it is incredibly difficult to find technical solutions to overcome this. Theoretically, of course, we can prescribe a solution to any problem but I wonder how viable that would be in practice. On the other extreme, if we put a relatively unfit guy with a massive serve and a huge fh on a very fast court, the best of the physically and even technically superior players may find it tough to keep up with them. I remember Sampras being puzzled by a 52-year old Mac beating him in a match a few years back when Pete was in his mid-30s. That can happen for a variety of reasons but, at the highest level, such a thing is inconceivable and even Mac could not win the FO for all his undoubted skills. I can not, for instance, even imagine a technically very good player even in his early 30s, say a Nalby, beating Djoko at the AO. His chances will improve a lot if the match were a best of three on a very fast court. It is ,of course, another matter that Nalby is not even playing right now.

I take your point about Djoko’s footwork and other improvements but the implications are true only for the slower surfaces although that means most surfaces anyway. I have myself stated here that, at his best, he is the most relentless of all the top players today. There is just no respite. Fed used to be like that in his prime years when his ROS was much better and he used to put his opponents under tremendous pressure. However, do you think Djoko’s unreal defense, which imo is a crucial factor in his success, would even be possible if he were not so unusually flexible. How many guys can stretch, slide and split on the hard courts the way he does and so frequently too without any obvious negative repercussions? Monfils does that and remains injured half the time. That is a genetic anomaly in many ways but one would count that on the ‘physical’ side. If you are confident that you will last five hours of brutal tennis but your opponent can not, it makes you extremely confident, calm and composed even if you lose the first two sets and, despite that, the mental battle, so important at the top level, is never lost. In fact, some players deliberately make it as physical as possible on a regular basis as a part of their overall game plan because they deem it be almost a guarantee of their eventual success. I am not blaming the players here. They will do what they think will work for them, but for many other players, even if technically good, such a route may simply not be feasible unless you think everything can be changed at any point of time in someone’s career.

grendel Says:

Nobody is a pong player as such, though some resort to pong more than others.

There was a clinical side to Djokovic, imo, but perhaps he needed to reside in the land of pong for a good while until such time as he had mastered his trade. Then he could expand into the glorious shot maker he now is. Doesn’t stop him doing a spot of pong from time to time. Nothing wrong with that – tennis, like anything good, is about rhythms, and pong is one of them. The trick is not to get stuck in pong.

So the case of Murray is strange. He is player of huge gifts who doesn’t seem quite to trust them. So whereas Djokovic is the master where pong is concerned – that is, he resorts to it when he needs to – pong sometimes seems to be the master of Murray. That is sad.

Nadal is a special case. I’ve never seen anyone quite like him. Even his pong – well, it’s not like, say, Volandri’s pong, where eternity beckons. All the time, if you keep your eyes open, you sense a panther probing for an opening. Nadal is an incredibly exciting player, but if you let hostility get in the way, you don’t see this. You just see pong, or imagine you do.

So pong is deceptive. A yawn inducer – or that lull which harbours a devastating storm….

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

You need both technique and fitness to be at the top.

What use is fitness, say like ferrer, if you cannot have the technique to put away short balls?

What use is technique, if you donot have the fitness to get to the ball on time. You are always reaching for the ball and never in a position to hit the ball.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:


maybe your hostility for federer and djokovic lets you see something that doesn’t exist in nadal.

stop being like jane, trying to act like you are the noblest sould that ever walked this earth.

We all have our personal agendas, so let us not get into what makes you see something and what makes me see something. Just talk about what you see. Unless you are freud’s 2nd coming.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

Why are we comparing Nadal to Volandri? What is Volandri’s claim to fame? Did he win multiple slams, that I have missed somehow?

Among the top 4, nadal is the most one-imensional and least creative. His weapons are different – hard work, mental strength, single mindedness and a never give-up attitude. [ though most of these are traits that people develop when they are endowed with less skills]

Margot Says:

Lol grendel: “the land of pong.”
Surely the greatest “match of pong” this tournament was Simon v Monfils?
Induced a kind of “pong coma” in yours truly, at any rate…;)
However, remember an even “pongier” one at a WTA match last year, featuring my much admired Kerber, no less.

grendel Says:

Brazil Federer Fan

I always hated Nadal. I came to understand how good (and exciting)he was (I always could see it, actually,but -such was my hatred, I refused to admit it)but I am still not sure if I can trust myself to watch him objectively.

Federer has always been my favourite player, although I dislike intensely the worship he attracts in some quarters. I tend not to comment on him any more – having done so a great deal for many years – as I am tired and bored of the controversies. Not keen on worship generally actually, am an orthodox Freudian on that front, if nothing else. As for Djokovic, I have very much come to appreciate him. Maybe I misunderstood him in his earlier period, I don’t know.

Not seen your posts before. I thought they were rather good, so your latest a bit of a shock. I would say this: I am given to analysing, always have been since a little boy, just a trait of character and personal history. But I do tend to base it on what I understand of myself – always a dangerous thing to do of course.

grendel Says:

“Why are we comparing Nadal to Volandri?” Oh, well. Suppose I’d better spell it out. I could have picked any of a couple of dozen names. My point was simply that Nadal is not a typical claycourter – he is not a typical anything, actually.

grendel Says:


“Can someone like Olivier Rochus have any hope?”

I have been anxiously watching David Goffin, a player of comparable size and talent, and the omens aren’t good. It’s a shame, because he’s real fun to watch. But who knows.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:


I see your point. I have never hated nadal, but tennis wise, he is more about persistence than mixing up shots. it is rinse, wash, repeat for the most part. He is single-minded and very focussed and can repeating plan A endlessly. That is his strength. Might be appealing to some, but never appealed to me.

As for him being a clay-court player, surely we all know he is not just a clay court player, having won 2 wimbledons and 2 hard court slams?

grendel Says:

Margot – yes, Kerber can overdo the pong side of things. Monfils, too. But he’s a special case. You get the feeling with him that half the time he is in a dream, and he’s just tapping the ball over the net as a sort of doodling, whilst he is contemplating the important matters of life – such as, should he make his move on that woman right now, or are there a few more preliminary manoevres to carry out? And then he’ll wake up, realise where he is, and pull out a ferocious winner. Strange lad, Monfils.

MMT Says:

Rochus has more to overcome than a bigger/stronger/faster player, but there is a limit, and it’s a moving target. You can be bigger and stronger, but you still have to be nimble. I guess Djokovic is a great example of that.

But you brought up the example of Monfils, who covers just as much court, also in the most extraordinary ways. He does get injured more often than Djokovic, but I think he also doesn’t have Djokovic’s technique and can’t impose his will/game on his opponents consistently, and thus has to defend more. That sounds a lot like Djokovic before he became #1.

The man was the king or retirements, and one could argue that much of it was in his head, but I have a feeling it had to do with over-defending and getting all twisted all over himself. It’s debatable. I just don’t accept that Djokovic is suddenly the perfect physique for tennis – maybe for his game, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and he will not be the last #1 in the game.

Someone brought up David Goffin and he is not alone: there are a lot of quality players who haven’t reached the pinnacle but have the potential to be very good. For ever Verdasco there’s a Ferrer. For every Berdych there’s a Simon. For every Tsonga there’s an Almagro. Because the little guys haven’t reached the pinnacle, the assumption is that there is something inherent in their physique that prvents that, but I disagree.

Agassi proved very successful without being particularly gifted in athletic ability – top shelf hand eye coordination, no doubt, but that is the result of a combination of training as a child and talent, and he overcame being (arguably) the worst athlete of the last golden era of American tennis to make quite a name for himself. He wasn’t particuarly quick, he was strong, but not freakishly, and that came from training, nor was he particuarly flexible. But his game evolved to match his physical qualities, and I think it will be the same for the next champion who comes along and disproves the theory of evolution in tennis.

Before Laver, Connors, Borg and McEnroe, there was Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzales, Roy Emerson, Ashe, McKay (okay maybe he wasn’t an all time great, but a very successful big guy) – lots of players who were big and strong (all of them were/are at least 6’2″) playing the “big” game, and at the time appeared to alter the balance of athleticism and technique towards better athletes.

But others upset the analysis with their own combination. I just don’t see it as a straightline evolution. Don’t you think it’s interesting that the range of major champions in height has remained, in the history of the game, between 5’10 and 6’3, very few shorter but fewer still taller, yet we hear all this talk about the evolution of the tennis champion becoming big strong athlete. You even continue to hear about how Americans need better athletes to play tennis, but I disagree.

At the end of the day, the common denominator between all the greats is technique – that’s the one thing that never changes.

the DA Says:

@ MMT – excellent posts. It’s great to read some opinions/analysis based on a wider historical context in tennis.

Regarding Nadal, I’d say his game is more Donkey Kong than pong. :)

Ben Pronin Says:

Are you guys referring to pong like the game where there’s two blocks that bounce the ball back and forth until someone scores? How are these guys playing pong? Murray and Djokovic don’t mindlessly hit the ball. Not even close. They use different spins and angles all the time. Djokovic’s ability to hit physics-defying angles is what has made him so good in the last few years (one of the things). Same with Murray. That super short cross court forehand they both attempt is nothing like pong. Same with their backhands. And slicing is definitely not in pong.

I don’t see how this doesn’t apply to Federer if it applies to Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal. Even though they’re generally more physical than he is, he lead the way. They all aspired to play more like him, they just do it in their own way. And how’s that? By having every shot in the book and no single glaring weakness. Great forehand that can be hit big with tons of spin, great back hand variety from dtl, cross court, slice, etc. Great serve direction and pace. And so on.

It’s not pong, not even close. Federer’s also been guilty of not approaching the net as much as he should. And he and Murray are the most talented net players of the top 4.

This idea that the guys aren’t creative and Federer is just doesn’t make sense. They all do the same thing when they’re in control of the point, hit forehands and backhands. And when they’re pulled out, yeah, Federer and Murray tend to come up with some odd shots you wouldn’t expect whereas Nadal and Djokovic tend to retrieve in a more standard way. But if they’re all playing pong then Federer’s just as guilty.

Ben Pronin Says:

“He wasn’t particuarly quick, he was strong, but not freakishly, and that came from training, nor was he particuarly flexible.”

MMT, you say this about Agassi. He definitely wasn’t quick. If you read Sampras’s book, he talks about how he knew Agassi was going to challenge him or even beat him on a day when he was moving well. He wasn’t the fastest guy, but when his footwork was clicking, he was extremely tough to beat (not unlike Djokovic, based on your analysis).

But as for his strength, he wasn’t freakishly strong as far as, I guess, a guy like Tsonga who trains but also has a big natural build. But I talked to Gil Reyes at this past US Open and he told me that when Agassi rededicated himself in the early 2000s, he was, by far, the strongest guy on tour. He definitely trained for it, so I guess it wasn’t freakish, but he was very, very strong.

MMT Says:

tennislover – I realize in my last post it may have seemed that I attributed some opinions to you that you didn’t express. That post was less than precise in response to you, so don’t take it personally, because it literally wasn’t. I don’t think we disagree on this point: Djokovic’s physique and physicality are an ESSENTIAL element of his game, and a unique one. Nobody on tour has the combinatio of ALL of his qualities, and they play a large role in his superiority.

But as you’ve noted, I am a stickler for the philosopy of “technique is everything”, and I think that at the end of the day, the deciding factor for him has been improvements in his technique. His physical qualities have enabled that technique, and in many ways, perhaps have formed the basis around which that technique has developed.

But Jane posted a great interview of Marian Vajda (a guy who I had very little regard for for a very long time) who goes to great length to explain how changes in Djokovic’s technique were the key factor to his improvements. There’s a youtube clip of another interview with an italian journalist, Ubaldo Scanagatta where the journalist insists that, belief is one thing, but you have to have the game to have the belief. And then he goes through a very detailed explanation of the changes and the work they did.

Well anyway, if the horse isn’t dead, he is in a terrible coma, so I’ll leave it there.

the DA Says:

@ ben pronin – “It’s not pong, not even close.”


MMT Says:

You know Ben – I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read Sampras’ book, and with your comment shaming me into submission, I think I will. I guess I assumed that because Sampras was so boring that his book would be too. Bad assumption.

But you’re right, Agassi’s physical presence, particularly in the third incarnation of his career, was the strongest in the world – I would agree with that.

But you know me with this technique business!

Huh Says:

“To be what he is now he had to beat GOAT, not just once, he was pushed by the quality of GOAT to work hard to be where he is now, that can be only credit to GOAT.”

hard to find a better tribut than this to fed from a nole fan. nicest thing any nole fan could say about fed. kudos wogboy! :D

Huh Says:

i completely agree with DA that nadal aint pong but donkey kong, lol ;)

and i certainly dont think rafa, nole or muzz as not creativ or pong players. while fed is the most creativ n aggressiv, these guys too have won many important mathces playin aggressivly. rafa certainly hits back if u attck him, that too in n aggressiv way; same for nole n muzz.

order of aggression thou in reality:




muzz(thou muzzman shoulda been the 2nd most aggressiv as he’s so wondrfuly giftd)

skeezer Says:


Ben, u managed to dissect the meaning down to a nub so that’s all that it means. When u see a Rafole Murovic match vs a Fedal or a Fedovic, you’re not seeing a difference? Sorry maybe I am alone on a island, but I see a player that uses the whole court, not mainly the back court creating angles. I see a player who pick a ball up immediately after the ball hits the ground and flick it back for an impossible angle winner. I see a player hit an overhead, off an overhead that was hit to him, I see a drop shot that was bounces like a buzzing top after it it’s the ground, I see a player utilizing every shot there is in the book, and the som. I see the intensity and creativity of utilizing impossible angles and shots others are just chasing to create. An some have, but no, it’s not the same game to watch when the other 3 play each other.

Pong is referring to the style of game, not that it is THE game.

Ben Pronin Says:

MMT, you’re completely right when it comes to Djokovic and his improvements relating to his technique. Let’s not forget how he couldn’t serve worth a damn in 2010. He fixed that, big time. And he made minor but important improvements in his forehand technique, and also did exercises with Vajda to increase his racquet head speed. Now he has one of the most feared forehands on tour, something he never even came close to prior to 2011.

MMT, we touched on this on another thread, but the lack of proper volleying technique is a big reason why no one tries to volley. Honestly, look at Nadal. When he came on tour, it was like the only shot he ever really learned how to hit was a forehand. But over the years, he learned how to drive through his backhand, he learned how to flatten out and accelerate through his serve, he learned how to volley well enough to feel comfortable to finish points at the net, and a ton of other shots he probably never knew existed in real life until he joined the pro tour.

But most pros aren’t as willing to tinker with their games like that. And a lot of them come in with a serious deficiency whether it’s their backhand or their volleys or whatever. And so they’re left with their skill set and their results end up limited.

It’s not secret I’m not a fan of ESPN commentary. It always annoys me when there’s a match that features one of the top 4 and they always have to say “blah works harder than anyone on tour.” I think this applies to Ferrer, too. So over the course of 2 days, you’ll learn that Ferrer works harder than anyone on tour, Djokovic works harder than anyone on tour, Murray works harder than anyone on tour, etc. Obviously they can’t all the absolute hardest worker, but it is true that they work harder than everyone else. And it’s not just physically, which is what ESPN is implying. It’s that these guys are actually willing to tinker with their games and technique in order to improve. That’s why they’re the best.

MMT, I don’t know your taste in books so I wouldn’t say Sampras’s book is particularly thrilling. It’s certainly not like Agassi’s book. But I enjoyed both for what they were. It’s called “A Champion’s Mind” and it’s just that. He lets you in to his thought process and the general practices he put in to become a great player. So, if you’re into that, you should definitely give it a read.

grendel Says:


“And slicing is definitely not in pong.” Not at all. There is no stroke that pong does not embrace. Pong is, as much as anything else, a metaphysical concept. Ask its originator, Skeezer. Actually – and I think, after the third beer Skeezer would concede – pong is essentially a term of abuse. Pong represents a state of mind. Now, conveniently, it may be thought of as a ball pinging backwards and forwards in a metronomic fashion. This is high Pong, however, and very rarely achieved. No player is immune from pong, but some are pongier than others.

What, you might ask, is a pong slice? A pong slice is one which is delivered as a means of carrying on the tennis conversation. No goal, other than communication, is intended. A pong slice is a way of passing the time in a sophisticated manner, and both players tend to get lulled into pongdom as they slice to and fro. They smile at each other, the crowd laughs, and this delightful activity is only curtailed when one of the players suddenly snaps out of pong and delivers a killer blow. This is sometimes seen as ungentlemanly.

What is a pong volley? A pong volley is one which is delivered correctly but without venom. The deliverer of the pong volley is hopeful rather than expectant.

However, all this is merely scratching the surface of pong. Part of the trouble is, it is not clear whether pong represents a legitimate strand of thought and activity or whether it is merely a bizarre sideshow in the history of human pathology.

Ben Pronin Says:

Skeezer, you’re looking through some weird Federer-colored glasses. A pair that I apparently don’t own. Not everyone is capable of hitting an overhead off an overhead and, seriously, how often does he do this anyway? It’s not a regular occurrence by any means. Flicking it back for a winner? Ok yeah this happens, but again not everyone has that ability. That’s what makes Federer so good, so great. But how is taking the ball early and angling it any different from Djokovic taking the ball early and angling it? Or Murray? Admittedly, Nadal doesn’t hit the ball on the rise as well as the other 3.

I don’t know what you’re watching. As soon as I find the video, I’ll post a drop shot Djokovic hit against Murray that spun completely sideways. It was something I actually would never expect from him and would expect from Federer. But he’s the one who hit it. So he can do it, too.

You’re right, others are chasing to create these same angles. And they’re doing it. Federer set the standard and these guys are following suit. As of right now, no one hits a better cross court angled forehand than Djokovic. Or 2-handed backhand (the one-hander lends itself to a better angle, based on my observations).

I don’t see the pong from these guys. Of course there’s a difference. Murray-Djokovic is different from Djokovic-Nadal which is different from Nadal-Federer which is different from Djokovic-Federer and so on. That’s what makes it so exciting. I know a lot of people prefer Fedal. I personally prefer Fedovic (Djokerer?). But all of the match ups are different because, for the most part, their styles are different and so obviously the clashes produce different results. I’m not disagreeing that Federer is the most creative. Murray isn’t far behind but his mindset isn’t as creative. He tends to play a much more straight forward way, for whatever reason. Which is ironic because Djokovic and Nadal aren’t as naturally capable of that kind of creativity but work hard to attain it and have become very capable. But no, I don’t see any pong style.

skeezer Says:


My glasses are fine. Problem is I don’t wear them. I should.

Yeah me too the past few years Fedovic has been great.

Djokerer? NOoooooooo!! Wrong name.;)

skeezer Says:


Sorry didn’t post earlier but I was delayed from trying to get off my floor from laughing so hard. Have not read a funnier post in a very long time. I am going to take that post, buy a nice frame, and put it in my man cave. Totally awesome stuff there grendal!!!!

skeezer Says:

^grendel, not grendal, how dare i mis spell that! ;( oops

Huh Says:

hahahahaha, what a ping pong grendel post, its so funny!! n grendel, u r surely creativ with ur pong slice n pong volley, lol lol ;)

Ben Pronin Says:

Now this is pong. Also the worst rally I’ve ever seen. I understand Simon is a stick, but what is Monfils’ excuse for pushing?????

jane Says:

Well, skeezer, I have to commend you insofar as your pong comment has lead to some very interesting discussion.

Also loving to read exchange between MMT and TennisLover, obviously to very knowledgable players/scholars of the game.

MMT, in the link I posted Jan27th at 9:20 pm, Nole’s coach discusses the turning point for Nole. He doesn’t get into technique so much as when a player is actually “ready” to be coached and open to doing what needs to be done. He sees the turning point as Nole’s loss to Melzer at the FO 09, when he was up 2 sets and a break and lost the plot. I like Vajda; he’s a cheerful, supportive and seemingly wise coach.

jane Says:

^ Sorry, FO in 2010.

LOL, grendel! :)

alison Says:

Off topic but i would just like to congratulate Bob and Mike Bryan,on winning the AO,their 13th GS title,making them the most succesful mens doubles pairings of all time,nice one.

Margot Says:

Really enjoying the comments, exchanges and sheer knowledge on here.
Keep the faith with our Muzza. One of these days he’ll wake up and realise how talented he is.
I remember watching a match where Andy was playing amazing, amazing magic tennis and, wait for it, smiling. The commentator said something like, “When Andy is so pleased with the way he’s playing, he can smile, the other players better watch out.” So true. So rare.
One of the reasons I was initially sceptical about Lendl’s appointment – too dour. I felt Andy needed lightening up on court, needed being pleased with his skills instead of endlessly pursuing endless perfection. Off court he’s fine.

MMT Says:

Jane: It’s (perhaps not all that) ironic how reading the same article we’re focused on different things, but I view Vajda as going into detail about Djokovic’s technical problems:

“He asked Todd Martin to help him improve his serve, because at that time he had no serve, and his forehand was short. But if you are somebody who can win matches without a serve and without big powerful strokes, it shows that you are so mentally strong.”

So in his view, Djokovic was ALREADY mentally strong, and there were techincal issues with his serve and forehand. Later he alludes obliquely to small changes:

“…I was waiting [for the experiment with Todd Martin to run its course]. I didn’t want to leave because I understand that coaching is a process. I stayed patient because I know with Novak’s talent he wanted to try so much, and he is open. He had a great base but he just wanted to adjust some small things.”

I know I said I’d leave this alone, but I just can’t. And I know in the article they both make reference to mental turning points, but these were turning points that convinced Djokovic that he needed to work hard to make some technical (and apparently fitness) changes to his game and routine, so I still really believe the changes are/were technical.

Well, two sets of eyes, two sets of interpretations – but fascinating stuff.

bada bing Says:

“When Todd came it was counter-productive. We were splitting the weeks between him and me. This process didn’t go well. Somehow Todd didn’t recognise Novak as a holistic person

I believe Novak IS a holistic person and very spiritual. He reads the Four Agreements regularly and does hatha yoga.He doesn’t run but for cardio rides a bicycle to prevent wear and tear on the knees. When he slimmed down in 2010 I was afraid he was becoming a skeleton but I see now that his physique is perfect for tennis-nice and Federer-like. Light-weight, slender, and elastic is the key for him. He was an allergy-prone person and the removal of toxic gluten helped him. When your body is not fighting allergies 24/7 it can begin to heal and you can feel better. I had positive IGG IGA gliadin antibodies and gave up (most)gluten a couple of years ago and slimmed down myself. I feel much better day to day.

grendel Says:

Margot – you might be interested to know that Simon Reed (I think)said that Lendl had told him Murray was the most awesome talent he had ever come across. Frew Macmillan interjected a sceptical note – how familiar, he asked, was Lendl with Federer’s game – but even so, it is an interesting perspective.

It does raise one question in my mind. We have all heard of players who cannot reproduce in competitive conditions the form they display in practice. Considering how compulsively competitive Murray is known to be, he seems an unlikely candidate for the role of genius who can’t perform at his best when it counts. But who knows how these things work.

Ben Pronin Says:

Honestly, Djokovic is almost disgustingly skinny. He has strong legs but his upper body is pretty skeletal. I think he maybe put on a little more mass since the US Open. He looked bigger after that Wawrinka match. But at the Open, when I touched his back, I was surprised by how skinny he was.

Margot Says:

grendel- I often think Andy doesn’t seem to enjoy his tennis. Too much of a perfectionist? Who knows.
Interesting Lendl said that, unnecessary too. Doesn’t seem the type to say what he doesn’t mean.
Frustrating for him though.

Courbon Says:

@Ben Pronin:
I completekly agree with you about Federe-Djokovic matches-I personaly think they are the best-Federer brings best in Novak.And I would also ad, that to me, Novak is trtying to be like a Federer in last two years.His service gets better, his net points are getting better-he is becoming offensive player.Also Novak can see Federe being great at 31 of age,and he knows that he can not play only physical tennis-because his body will break eventualy if he continues…
@Skeezer;I know you are bit pissed off because Fed did not get to final, but to slag Novaks game is not in your style, if I can say so.Off course Novaks game is not great as Feds, and he is very far in his achivments comparing to Federers (and Nadal )-every sensible Novaks fan knows that.But he is the best player right know and if you give him a chance I think you will notice his game is getting better and more versatile (apart from his backhand which is misfiring a lot recently…)Anyway, good luck for you guy at Roland Garros-I think Fed is great on clay and will be dangerous who ever plays him.

Ben Pronin Says:

How’s this for creativity? Falling-slice-followed-by-drop-shot combo? Gotta be the first time anyone’s done that.

JayC Says:

Let’s face it, Djokovic was the better rested player going into the final. He had target practice against Ferrer (no offence intended David) and an extra day to recover. I think that if both players had entered this match on an even keel it would have been a 5 setter, down to the wire match type of match.

skeezer Says:


Thanks for taking it easy on me. Of course i am pissed, lol. But that is mostly Murrays fault. He knocked my man out, dang.

I actually like many parts of Noles game, and have learned he has a different mentality of tact depending on who is is playing. When playing with Murray and Rafa, its about being physical with patience and endurance, outmanuvering from the backcourt, waiting patiently to take control of the point. With Fed, it gets to more first strike tennis, which Fed probably initiates, but ….imo it presses Nole into trying to be more aggressive also. Makes usually a fun match to watch. I have noticed Murray is starting to get more aggressive. This is all going to be very interesting when Rafa comes back on the playing field, as both Murray and Djoker continue to improve while he has been away……

alison Says:

Courbon granted Noles the best player there is ATM,i like the guy,and even though hes not my fav he is still great to watch,and i did give my congrats to all his fans,they deserve it,however the thing i found irritating was when some of his less than sensible fans,were all of a sudden assuming that Roger/Rafa are done,and that its a foregone conclusion that Novak will mop up everything from now ,especially as the year has only just started,and while i think theres many possibilities and it would seem like the skys the limit for Nole,and theres question marks over Roger/Rafa,i do think that one or two posters are getting rather carried away,personally i dont see these people as proper fans of tennis,just merely hero worshipers IMO

alison Says:

I like all the rivalries between the top guys,the Fed/Nole is great as i can watch it as a complete neutral,as i like both but im not a fan of either,the Rafa/Nole rivalry is like a war of attrition,the Fed/Murray is about two players with flair,my favorite rivalry is Fedal,due to such contrasting styles of play,however thats just my opinion.

grendel Says:

It occurs to me – not sure why now, presumably lots of people thought of this ages ago – that Wawrinka must be really kicking himself for not pulling out the win against Djokovic. Because next in line would have been Ferrer – admittedly, not easy, but even so, not a terrifying semi-final prospect. And then Murray beat Federer. No way Wawrinka could beat Federer in a slam final. But Murray? Fact is, Murray has often struggled with Wawrinka, even when beating him. Of course he’d have been favourite but, this would surely have easily been Wawrinka’s best chance of getting a slam.

It’s those “nearly” situations which must hurt most at three in the morning when the whole bodily/psychic system is geared up to experience the heebie-jeebies, the Hoo Ha Ha and the Knock Knock Knock.

contador Says:

Hi everybody. It has been a long time since I have posted but finally read this entire thread comments and really, it did make me cry – tears of laughter, lol!

So, I have not been keeping up as usual with tennis so could someone tell me if the rumor I read on fromsport chat is that when Rafa comes back he is going to the challengers?

I love tennis. Ole Nole! for winning AO! Sorry for the Murray fans. But the good news is Murray’s performance vs. RF in the semi’s. Muzzman was supreme. One of the problems with a Murrovic has been their similar style of play and their brotherly love, is what I call it. Neither one do not exactly play to their best when play each other; but that is improving in GS events.


contador Says:

apologies for not reading and editing my post before posting. Hope it was somewhat coherent.

contador Says:

One more comment about the Australian Open. For any Federer fans that get edgy when he is being beaten, like me during the Murray match, Craig Willis on AO Radio app is a breath of fresh air. He loves fed but can call the play by play with a dry humor inserted (without being annoying) and make me relaxed and put me in a good mood even when Federer is losing. :)

Milos Says:

Will someone update Funk/Trunk part of site already? :) We want to see Funky Nole again :)

contador Says:

Djokovic vs Stanley was definitely the best match of the tournament. And I agree grendel with your “what if” scenario. Would have been interesting.

But our #1 just has that extra something in the end.

mat4 Says:

Hi, Conty. Glad you’re here again.

contador Says:

Yes, I think my life is reasonably under control now and I can get back to reading tennis-x. Thanks and nice to read you here.

contador Says:

^^ to Mat4

jane Says:

Hi conty!!!

“Wawrinka must be really kicking himself for not pulling out the win against Djokovic. Because next in line would have been Ferrer – admittedly, not easy, but even so, not a terrifying semi-final prospect.”

I agree about the “kicking himself” part.

But you forgot the little matter of Berdych. I am not sure how Stan makes out against him.

grendel Says:

Nice to see you again, Contador. My life is never under control, reasonably or otherwise. But one ploughs on, endeavouring to keep the catastrophes to a minimum. It’s all very well saying triumph and disaster are just the same. I’ll happily agree to that, but when proferred the choice, I think I’ll go for the triumph option – after all, they’re just the same, so can’t call it selfish, eh?

Off to bed now, wondering what manner of heebie-jeebies awaits me. Quite exciting, really – you just never know what kind of show you’re going to get…..

skeezer Says:

U are missed! :-)

skeezer Says:

Conty…..that is!

Nina Says:

I largely agree with Ben on this thread, not so much with skeezer…

skeezer Says:

@ Nina,

Well of course you do. Ben said more glorious things about Nole than I did. But trust me, Ben is not all about a fav, he is pretty good about being about tennis. One day he will say something negative about Nole, and I will watch your response if I am still around….will you largely agree?

Those glasses everyone seems to be wearing, hard to be objective, no? I mean… know..with those things on.

courbon Says:

@Skeezer:I agree.I said other day ( to some Nadals fan ) that I’m waiting for nadals reuturn.And I mean it!As a tennis fan first, less as Novaks fan…We will see.I’m excited going in to 2013 ( but thats mostly that my man got the first slam)
@Alison;Hi, there (I’m affraid to call you honey, ’cause I’ll be accused of sexism!).I know what you mean.Some Nole fans think he is bigger then Borg now…How ridicilous.I’m verry happy that he is in the same group with Edberg-which I loved watching as a kid.Thats already remarkable.
Remember last year?Novak won AO and then?People have a short memory…I would know even to where to start, about who can spoil the party for Novak-Murray for sure, New Rafa, always Federer (again, we said last year he was finished and then?Slam number 17th….),resurgent Del Potro?Bedrych?Tsonga?some new guy? or he just get injured?Ignore those treads honey…(f…k it, they can sue me for sexism…)
Regarding the Wog Boy-what can I say about that guy?He maybe a Serb, but he is Australian now.And all I want you to remember when Del and Rodney go to Miami how people call them? (You maybe to young to watched ‘Fools and Horses’?)…Thats all I have to say.(I hope he reads this post).

Wog boy Says:


Just watching you, just watching …

BTW, which Belgrade suburb you are from?


I told you, be careful, he is trying to chat you up.

courbon will do anything to please you,he will write a novel, a poem anything, he will sing under your window … just anything. I worned you!

Wog boy Says:

“I WARNED you! “

moam Says:

Last years’ champs prevailed again. I suppose that proves, at least to some extent, their wins were not flukes.

Margot Says:

Surprising from Cash, not a big Murray fan:

Lovely 2 c u, conty darling…*waving.* Bet you’re only posting cos you’ve got 30′ snowdrifts outside your door and r stuck in front of your lap top….;)

Huh Says:

welcom back conty!!! :D

alison Says:

Agree with everyone,its great to have Conty posting again.

mat4 Says:


But Nole is indeed bigger than Borg. By two inches..

mat4 Says:

I have to add that I am utterly confused by the British press.

The few Brits I know are just like in films about their middle class: reserved, discreet, objective… I know it is a distortion: I know people for my own profession, it is a class apart, but the way they behave is so… British? (as a continental cliché).

And then, I read their press, of course, mostly about AM. It starts from “the Brit won; the Scot lost”, all kinds of bashing when he loses, every hyperbole possible when he wins.

I completely understand the second thing: to be optimistic, to congratulate for wins, to predict a great future, for me is OK. All the cultures I know well accept this.

But the first part — the terrible bashing, I don’t have a good word for it — I have real troubles to get it.

alison Says:

Mat4 unfortunatly thats quite typical of the British press,build them up to knock them down,when Andy won the USO suddenly he became British,he lost the AO and Wimbledon and now hes Scotish,i think they give the guy alot of unfair critisism,ok not saying some of it aint justified,but the guy works hard and is out there doing the best that he can,and he happens to be the best male tennis player we have had since Fred Perry.

Wog boy Says:


I realised now that you can understand my 2:29am post as aiming at you since I said ” … just because YOU don’t like …,”
I often translate directly what I think in my first language to English. When I (we) say “you” that is imaginary “you,” not the person I am talking with at that moment, in this case you, alison. I don’t know if this makes sence to you but just to clarify. If reread the post you will understand, I hope.

alison Says:

Wogboy LMAO hilarious post @ 11.15pm Jan 29th,i would not mind that at all,and err doesnt Margot call you honey too?what do you think about that lol?;)
Courbon lol nah that would be fine,i wouldnt mind that at all,not sexist at all,TBH i call most of the old dears that i look after honey,love,darling,sweetheart etc,alot of them are deaf anyway,so it doesnt matter(joke),anyway yeah i think some posters although just certain ones suffer with selective memory loss,and your right get completely silly and OTT with their enthusiasm,in that last year was an open and well contested one with the GS been shared out,and i hope this one is the same,i enjoy competition not domination, BTW Only Fools and Horses is my favorite comedy ever,come to think of it its my favorite programme ever,Miami Twice that episode i have them all on DVD,they were reffered to as limeys by the Americans if i remember rightly?classic tv.

alison Says:

Wogboy no problem,i never gave it a second thought to be honest,i just had a look back and when you said you,you were meaning an overall generalisation,not me personally;)

allcourt Says:

Am I mistaken or did this site not have a single post or thread on the Azarenka-Stephens debacle? I’ve ben catching up after being away for a while, and I’m definitely getting that “Was it all a dream?” Dallas feeling on seeing nothing about that lively story. LOL

Huh Says:

@mrs margot in the January 28th, 2013 at 1:31 pm post

u r so correct! muzz does seem much of the time in pursuit of endless perfection, n he indeed gotta b hapy about his blessed skills n njoy. that way he would b so hapy n tension free n his “second to only fed” talent will beautifully expres itself.

jane Says:

Margot – good article. Andy and Nole, woot! ;)

Mat4 – maybe it’s Rupert Murdoch’s fault?! But a good portion of the UK coverage that I’ve read after the AO final has been actually quite positive about Andy’s efforts this time, noting his breakthrough at a slam against Fed, his more composed attitude after the final, etc, so it was pleasantly surprising and good to see. Perhaps now that Andy has broken the 76 year slam drought they are finally prepared to cut him a little (well deserved) slack!?

the DA Says:

Jane – your’e right. The UK coverage has been extremely positive compared to previous years after losses. They seem to have turned a corner since the USO. Hpwever, they might revert to their overly critical ways at Wimbledon but we’ll see.

Lucky you. You only have to wait a short while to see Nole in action again. Muzza fans have to wait 5 weeks :(

courbon Says:

@Alison-Don’t listen to Wog Boy.I know you have lovelly husband…come to think maybe he is trying to serenade you and I’m spoiling that for him.Who knows…you know those Australians can be funny.In Miami twice episode. Americans are keep calling them Australians because the way they are dressed and how they talk…enough said (reading Woggy?)
Well, AO is finish and lets get your Spanish Bull back to tennis so we can watch some great matches.
I also want to ad, that all Murray fans on this site are really down to earth-I think between us (Novaks fans ) and your guys (I know you are firstly Nadals fan ) we will not have bitter fights like Fed-Nadala fans.It gets too much sometimes….Nice writting you, writte to you soon…
@Wog Boy:Kanarevo Brdo, izmedju Banjice i Miljakovca-sa prozora sam video Kosutnjak i Titov dvor…

contador Says:

Thank you, thank-you, peeps *humbly bows*

lol, Margot, you are partially right. We had a blizzard here yesterday but Jane remembers how much I like “Snow.” (i keep that poem nearby)

grendel, just what might this mean? ;)
“Off to bed now, wondering what manner of heebie-jeebies awaits me. Quite exciting, really – you just never know what kind of show you’re going to get…..”

Jamie – thanks for the picture of Nole and I quite agree with your Jan. 28, 6:22pm post.

I think Andy enjoys the tennis he hates losing more and it was frustrating when he couldn’t break Nole – he did have chances, too.

Wog boy Says:


Good to see you back, we missed you.


Are you calling me Skippy?

Kanarevo Brdo, you don’t do handshakes in your suburb since you have to count your fingers afterwords;)

grendel Says:

Contador – sorry, bit cryptic, I suppose. You never come across the midnight blues? Really, they should be called the 3 a.m.blues. The world can look different,then. You can come up with some quite amazing conclusions about life,meaning, your own place in the scheme of things – that sort of thing, till it seems the only reasonable thing to do is to seek out the nearest monastery and hope they’ll take you in. Fortunately, things look rather different after a couple of hours as the sun peeps through the blinds. You abandon your putative monastic career, and get stuck into the eggs and b.

Funny things can go on at night, though, including of course in dreams. Winston Churchill relates that he once had a dream which appeared to be of earth shattering importance, possibly solving the riddle of life itself. He thought he had to get this down on paper, otherwise, he was sure to forget.

In the morning, he remembered this incident, and groped around for the bit of paper, eager to re-acquaint himself with his discovered profundities. On the paper was scribbled:”hankerchiefs are generally crumpled”.

jane Says:

The DA, the good thing is that he’s recuperating & preparing. I kind of wish Nole wasn’t playing DC, but I guess he’s filling Tipsy’s shoes. I don’t really care how far he gets at Dubai either.

contador – oh right – “Snow”! I do remember. :)

courbon Says:

@Wog Boy;I hit the nerve did I?
Joking aside,lets just aknowledge one thing-Our man gave us the best possible start of 2013!I can’t wait American hard court swing…

courbon Says:

@ Mat 4;He is-you are right.
By the way, I can see you are French and I’m pissed off that I can not read your French posts-’cause I’m just learning French.But France is my new adopted country so when I don’t have Novak, I try to support French players.I like Gasquet a lot,but not enough strenght.And Tsonga?- I just can not see Tsonga breaking in top 4.He does not have killer insticnt.Whats your take on that?

Wog boy Says:


No, you didn’t hit my nerve it is all in good spirit. BTW, just five minutes walking down the hill where you lived in Belgrade there is basketball&tennis courts called “Wimbledon”, well my home was and still is just around the corner, that makes us neighbours in old country.
I want to see him too in IW and Miami, I don’t like Tipsy pulled out off DC so Nole has to play, very likely, both matches, but he was eager to go to Belgium, that is why he was allowed to leave Australia before Monday morning, when usually winners of AO are taking the photos on Yarra river in Melbourne.

courbon Says:

@Wog Boy;I know that court!Thats where I played tennis for 6 months (then I discovered girls and my tennis carrer was finished….)
I think I’m becoming tennis geek.I just looked last years Roland Garos draw and came to terrifying conclusion-I know that RG always puts 1 and 3 in one part, and 2 and 4 in other part of the draw.I wondered where they put number 5 (which is Nadal currently ).In the first group!So, on todays ranking in first part of the draw will be Novak, Murray, Nadal,Del Potro…Other group Federer,Ferer,Bedrych.Shhhhiiiiittt.We have to support Nadal big time, to get to number 4 ranking as soon as possible, otherwise it would be to tought for Nole to get to final.

Wog boy Says:


Don’t worry, by the time RG comes, Andy is going to overtake Roger;)

Wog boy Says:


Did you hear that, “then I discoverd girls …), what did I tell you about courbon? I was right, wasn,t I?

courbon Says:

@Wog Boy;Isn’t time to go to sleep down under?

courbon Says:

@Skippy:I don’t think you understand mathematics my firend.Even, if Murray overtakes Federer (doubtfull about that ),you still get Nadal in quaterfinals, then Fed in semi and then Murray in final?O yes, that would be easy…I guess, if nadal is back to his best, with couple of good clay tournaments he can overtake Ferer.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

That is not how the draws work. You need to spend some time on how tennis draws are done.

alison Says:

Wogboy and Courbon LMAO at your posts to each other,love it when you bring my name up in your discussions,as it always puts such a smile on my face,and love Courbon calling Wogboy Skippy lol,i can see why you both love to watch OFAH,as you both sound like charicatures of Del and Rodney Trotter,Novak has some of the best,funniest and fairest fans on this forum,im staying clear of the Rafa thread for now,as i think its about to turn into another food fight,just a feeling.

alison Says:

^Sorry guys meant to put a smilie at the end of my post;)^.

courbon Says:

@Alison:I think Wog Boy maybe a Triger….

courbon Says:

@Brazil Federe Fan:You are probably right.How it works then?(I’m actually curious to now)

skeezer Says:

1 is at top, 2 is at bottom. That is always set in stone. 3 & 4 go to bottlm of top half and top of bottom half respectively. Note: 3 & 4 are SUPPOSE to be drawn blindly as to where they go ( top/bottom ), not chosen. However, this has proved suspiciously rigged( How many times have Nole/Fed met in the semis? )

courbon Says:

@Skeezer:Thank you for that.I was not sure…Well, I guess there is not a point speculating and see what Frechies gonna do…

mat4 Says:


There is a fundamental problem with top French players: it all comes too easy for them. The FFT pays their coaches, they have all the facilities they need, usually they obtain more money from sponsors than, e.g., American players. So, I feel that they lack — not of killer instinct — but they are not hungry enough.

It is never (you should understand) “ça passe ou ça casse”, they don’t have to fight with teeth and nails to get where they are in the first place.

There was, of course, a lot of exception to the rule, most notably Noah in parts of his career, Forget perhaps too, Pioline (but I am not sure about him, although I like the guy), but for the most talented, it was simply to easy.

It doesn’t mean that they don’t mature. They do, but it takes time. Tsonga, Benneteau, perhaps Chardy are fine examples. But usually it comes a bit late.

Great talents don’t come every year — Britain had to wait decades for one, there is a void in the American tennis right now after so many great generations, and it is the same in France: you have a potential no 1 player once in ten or twenty years, and if his development goes wrong, you have to wait.

After so many years, France finally has a great generation. But I feel that too many mistakes were made in the first place, and, on the other side, they arrived at the same time as an exceptional generation of champions.

Gasquet is the most talented, but he doesn’t cope well with pressure, and there was always too much pressure on him. He has finally found an excellent coach, but he needed him ten years ago.

Monfils was a potential no1. He won three GS as a junior, but the boy is simply nuts.

About Tsonga: I honestly do think that he could make it. But he has lost too much time — two years because of injuries, two other years without a coach. The competition is so fierce today, and we can see that the likes of Federer, Djokovic and Murray improve their game year after year. Jo has to work on his movement (and I don’t think Rasheed knows anything about it; Djokovic had to hire G. Phil-Gritsch to relearn to move; anyway, we can see that the top players have teams around them, just like in racing), on his backhand, his shot selection, and on his fitness. But he has a big serve, a big FH, and he is born to be wild. Perhaps, with some luck, it will be good enough.

courbon Says:

@Mat 4:Thanks for great educational post.I remember Novak saying exacly that about British players (couple of years ago in one interview )-they have things handed to them to easily so they lack hunger (exeption of Murray ).I can see you have great knowledge of tennis-I watched since age of 10 (OLD NOW,41 ) , so grow up watching McEnroe and Connors, later Becker,Noah,Edberg (Completelly missed 90’s-moved to London,worked hard and partied hard in rave scene,,,)but never went to understand more technical and historical side of it, so I really appreciate post like this.Merci.

courbon Says:

@Mat 4;Great article about Novak (I know somebody who worked closely with Nole and this article is absolut true about Noles mental aproach

Brazil Federer Fan Says:


To add to Skeezer’s post. 1 and 2 are on opposite sides of the draw.

They then “draw” [randomly choose] 3 and 4 to be placed in each half of the draw. So, mathematically speaking, 1 could play 3 or 4, depending on the “luck of the draw’.

They then “draw” 5,6,7 and 8 to be placed in each quarter of the draw.

when they draw 17-32 to pair up with top 16, 25-32 are used for drawing players who play the top 8. This means the highest seed no.1 player can play, in the 3rd round is no.25. I am not sure if they follow a similar rule for 4th round as well! [anyone can confirm?]

after the seeds are done, it is random pairing. which means if the no.1 is unlucky, he could end up playing the 34th ranked player in the world in 1st round and 33rd ranked player in the 2nd round. equally, if he is lucky, he might get wildcards/qualifiers in the 1st and 2nd rounds…

so, yes, there is some luck in draws, but you need to be good enough to make use of that luck.

just a few examples :

In wimbledon 2012, nadal had the easier SF opponent in murray, but guess what? nadal was nailed much earlier.

In olympics 2012, federer had the easier SF opponent in delpotro, but he ended up going 19-17 with him in the decider and there by giving the “freshness” advantage to his younger opponents who played less than half the time federer-delpotro spent on court.

In USO semi-final, djokovic had ferrer the easier semifinalist opponent, but well, federer didn’t make even the semis.

In AO, djokovic had the easier semi-final opponent and he made it count.

in 3/4 of the last 4 big events, the easier draw didn’t really help the player who was given that easier draw….. ofcourse, i oversimplified things, but I hope you get the essence!

courbon Says:

@Brazil Federe Fan-I got it!Thanks for that, much appreciated.I just assumed that 1 and 4, are always on one side, because it was most of the time like that in the last 3-4 years (Fed-Novak,Murray-Nadal ).All clear now-thanks once more

skeezer Says:

“They then “draw” [randomly choose] 3 and 4 to be placed in each half of the draw. So, mathematically speaking, 1 could play 3 or 4, depending on the “luck of the draw’.”


would like if you could chime in on this. I know you have your theories. Wasn’t there a tremendous streak where Rafa ( wether seeded 1 or 2 ) hardly ever met Nole in a Semi? There were numerous tournies where Fed and Nole met in the semis and Rafa was in the other half.

This was my point about 3 and 4 seeds NOT being randomly drawn, but being PLACED…

Brazil Federer Fan Says:


Glad it helped. It appears Fed-novak and murray-nadal because, fed novak and nadal have been moving about their rankings a lot. murray has also been in and out of the number 4. I remember soderling was no.4 seed for AO 2010 or some other slam.

Ofcourse, there could still be rigging being done, but the patterns are not very clear. I read some analysis last year and in the past 20 slams or so, 1 played 3 in 12 slams and 1 played 4 in 8 slams. [so not a lot of deviation] but unfortunately for fed and djokovic, they were busy moving in the rankings and in a very strange coincidence they kept meeting each other in semis.

Another thing to remember is federer and djokovic have the 2 longest semifinal streaks in slams. [fed =23 and djokovic = 11 and counting]. With consistence such as their’s, they are most likely to keep up their semi meetings than rafa/murray.

here is an example. from 2011 USO to 2012 wimbledon, fed and djokovic made all 4 semis. where as murray did not make french semi and nadal did not make wimbledon semi. hence we had fedkovic in 3 out of those 4 slams, in the semis. but nadal and murray played against each other in only 1 slam. [USO]. In AO, they both made semis, but there 1 played 4 instead of 1 VS 3. hence we got the other match-up.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

Skeezer :

Here is another example. In wimbledon 2011, 1 was drawn against 4.

guess who was 2 and 3? djokovic and federer. ofcourse tsonga knocked out federer, so the match up did not happen!

In USopen 2011, 1 was drawn against 3 [ which is fair because, in the last slam in wimbledon 2011, 1 played 4, right?].

but guess what? djokovic became number 1. so again we have fedkovic.

so, the draw was fair! but djokovic moved from 2 to 1, so we still had the same match-ups.

Again, the conspiracy theories do not have mathematical/logical basis. Federer/djokovic have been just unlucky to keep running into each other in too many slams. while nadal was lucky that he faced djokovic in semis, mostly on clay. [except 2007 wimbledon]. Then again, nadal could use this luck mostly on clay [2011 FO and 2012 FO and 2010 USopen]. the other slam surfaces, it did not matter as either fed/djokovic won that slam or in the cases they did not, they did not even make the final. [only exception being 2010 USO where djokovic beat fed in semis and lost to nadal.

courbon Says:

@Brazil Federer Fan:I understand,and I have to ad ,that I almost never belive in conspiracy theories.
My knowledge of history is much greater then of tennis, so to quote one famous general:You don’t need conspiracy, when you have so many incompetent people…
Also,mathematics and statistics (as you puted in your post ) usualy show that thinga are usually in the midle.Off course, there are exeptions but in very small procentage.Thanks once more, I have to go to work-speak to you later

skeezer Says:

Since 2010, 11 semis, 4 finals is the H 2 H.

Slams, all 5 when they were drawn since 2010 was in the semis. Why is that again?

Lucky? Yep…Rafa was. He always had to face a too young Murray, the weakest of the 4.(if he made it)

jane Says:

It is amazing how often Fed and Nole have met at the slams, mainly in the semis (only 1 final and I think 1 quarter final). As a result, they have the biggest grand slam rivalry; they’ve played even more that Fedal in slams.

the DA Says:

@ “Again, the conspiracy theories do not have mathematical/logical basis”

Precisely. Plus, every draw is held publicly with a guest picking the 3rd & 4th seeds out of a bag or bowl. Most draws are streamed live. I’ve watched many of them, it’s *impossible* to have planted the 3 & 4 seeds when they’re picked blind out of a bag.

Every year at every slam commentators like Cahill and Gilbert get bombarded with tweets about rigged draws. They both patiently explain how it’s virtually impossible. It’s amusing how otherwise rational & intelligent people lose it when it comes to draws. It’s like the conspiracy theorists who need to believe there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll. Similarly, rigged draws is here to stay.

Hell, I WISH they could be rigged. Or that the Slams came to a mutual agreement to alternate the 3 & 4 seed placements regularly – just for balance.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

Here it is:

2010 AO – 1 VS 3
2010 FO – 1 VS 4
2010 Wimbledon – 1 VS 4
2010 US open – 1 Vs 4
2011 AO – 1 Vs 4
2011 FO – 1 Vs 4
2011 Wimbledon – 1 VS 4
2011 USO – 1 VS 3
2012 AO – 1 VS 4
2012 FO – 1 Vs 3
2012 Wimbledon 1 VS 3
2012 USO – 1 Vs 3
2013 AO – 1 VS 4.

so last 13 slams, 8 have 1 playing 4 and 5 have 1 playing 3. [ the most “fair scenario” is 7 1-4 pairings and 6 1-3 pairings, still it is not as unfair as to suggest a conspiracy theory. i mean if it was 13-0 or 12-1, we can cry foul]

Nadal’s been lucky, when he was seeded no.1 in slams, he got the no.4 seed, murray – definitely the weakest of top4, in 5 consecutive slams. sweeeeeet! In 2010 USO, murray didn’t even make the semi! In 2011 AO, nadal drew 4th seed soderling, but soderling and nadal both didn’t make the semis.

Djokovic has had a much fairer run as no.1 at slams [definitely unluckier than nadal]. He drew the no.3 player 3 out of his 5 slams as no.1 In 2012 wimbledon, fed even knocked djokovic out.

Again, much rarer things have happened. So all we can claim is that fed/djokovic have been rather unlucky [not so much federer as he would prefer to play djokovic over nadal anyway as he matches up better against djokovic], and Nadal has been good enough to make lemonade out of the lemon thrown to him.

as for rigging draws, who knows? once you go down that slippery road, you must also suspect matches are fixed, yes? and then doping and the whole pandora’s box.

jane Says:

DA, I think USO is the only one not done publicly, at least not entirely; a computer plays a role in things, behind the scenes.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:


I like your last point. That would be the best way to go about it.

As I said, so far this too much of fedkovic in semis hasn’t really affected their legacies. [ except 2010 USO, fedkovic match-up hasn’t adversely affected the winner. even in 2010, djokovic would have had a fair shot at nadal, but he was yet to transform to godkovic of 2011.

From here on, I hope murray keeps up his new-found level and consistency. Ironically that will only ensure that the imbalance of the draws continues. This time, the culprit is nadal and his running game that brings injuries by the loads.

I like courbon’s quote. way too many incompetent people, you really don’t need conspiracies.

the DA Says:

jane – yes but you can see Kim Clijsters picking the seeds out of the trophy. And the press are always present. Surely one of them by now would’ve picked up on anything fishy regarding the 3 & 4 seeds placement. The articles seems to focus on 1st round draws compared to the other slams.

the DA Says:

@ brazil fed fan – As a Murray fan, I think I have reason to complain as much as other fans: especially considering Andy’s draws in 2011. Three out of four slams against Nadal!! My first impulse is to think “unfair” or “fix” but the rational side of my brain takes over knowing the facts.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

Murray/djokovic will always have tough draws because of being later entries into Big four circle.

Djokovic had nasty draws till he became top-dog. It’s even nastier for murray because he will have to avoid not 1 or 2 but 3 already established guys.

He did that to some extent in wimbledon olympics and USO.

wimbledon – he got tsonga instead of nadal. he couldn’t make use of it. [you could say the roof negated this advantage]

olympics – he got tougher draw, but delpotro kept old man fed way too longer. [well, fair enough since roof helped fed at wimbledon]

USO – he got fed, but berdych evened the field by taking fed out. and murray made this one count!

AO – got fed and I am sure a lot of people think fed might have tired murray way more than ferrer did to novak.

Again, you have to be good enough to make the lemonade and murray has proven that he is good enough in 2 out of the 3 cases he was thrown a lemon. [olympics, USO]

I guess the best way to avoid nasty draws is to become THE top dog like djokovic has done.

mat4 Says:

@Brazil Federer Fan:

The draws are fixed, and there are mathematical proves for that. I wrote some long posts about it here with numbers, and you still can find them.

The point was to have the “most entertaining final”, which meant, for long, a Fedal. But since 2008, you had Murray with a positive H2H against Fed and Novak with a positive H2H against Rafa on hard. So… the rule of thumb was never a Rafole semi, nor a Roger-AM semi on hard, and never a Fedole semi on clay.

Some examples:

Since AO 2008, until the AO 2011 (included), Rafa never had Novak in his half on hard. At RG, where Djoko was a threat to Roger, he landed always in Rafa’s half, with 2009 as an exception: that year, there was MC, Rome, and especially Madrid, and the organisers wanted an epic Rafole final (Roger won, BTW).

In Rome, e.g., Novak is never in Rafa’s half. He had an Italian coach and then, there was ST. And Italians like him…

In MC, where the tournament director is Croatian (and Novak’s mother is Croatian, if I remember well), Novak is never is Rafa’s half too.

The year Sod was no 4 and Murray no 5, Murray landed in Sod quarter at the AO.

I made some calculations: the probability for Novak and Roger to land in the same half so many times in a row was 1:1024, if I remember well.

The first to break the pattern were the Australians. After the USO 2011 there were so many stories that there won’t be new Fedals, that, for the first time, Fed and Rafa landed in the same half (they were on opposite sides at the FO, USO and WB when Novak was no 1).

But then: at WB, Roger needed to beat Novak in a semi to become no 1 again: and again, they were in the same half…

Novak can make a record winning three AO in a row: Murray and Roger are in the same half, and his draw is a piece of cake…

The only GS where I didn’t understand the pattern was the USO 2012: Fed and AM in the same half, Berdych for Fed and DelPo for Novak in the QF… it didn’t make sense.

About DelPo: for a while, he landed every time in a different quarter: first against Fed, then again Rafa, then against Novak… to change a bit?

IW–Miami: the draw seems to be almost always the opposite at those two tournaments: but we know that Rafa was protected in one, and Fed in the other.

I wrote that tennis history would have been different had Murray played Federer in the semis and Djokovic played Nadal. But it was impossible for years.

mat4 Says:

To be more explicit (+ means the pattern of the “most entertaining final” is respected):

Planned semi:

AO: Federer-Djokovic +
FO: Nadal – Djokovic +
WB: Federer-Djokovic +
USO: Federer-Djokovic +

AO: Federer-Djokovic +
FO: Federer – Djokovic ++ (after the war in Madrid, a Rafole was planned)
WB: Federer-Djokovic +
USO: Federer-Djokovic +

AO: Federer-Djokovic +
FO: Nadal – Djokovic +
WB: Federer-Djokovic +
USO: Federer-Djokovic +

AO: Federer-Djokovic +
FO: Federer – Djokovic +
WB: Federer-Djokovic +
USO: Federer-Djokovic +

Chances: 1:65000

mat4 Says:

How do they do that? I don’t know. But I think it is not difficult to do. In the 18th century, the lottery was fixed in France: a boy with covered eyes draw the balls with the numbers in front of a big crowd, but the balls with the “right” numbers were warmer…

And the easiest way to imagine it is: Ana Ivanovic take the paper with the name of the seed, gives it to the organisers, who reads what he wants to read. Didn’t David Copperfield pass through the Chinese Wall, make the Statue of Liberty disappear?

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

If you believe draws are fixed, you must also believe matches are fixed?

You are on very shaky ground mathematically speaking, if you talk about players without refering to seeding.

I listed out the draws as per seeding and mathematically, it is not at all improbable. It is far away from impossible, for sure.

As I said, draws could be fixed, matches could be fixed, djokovic could be doping and so on.

For a djokovic fan like you, it will be hard to see sense in arguments that talk about his doping. Similarly for a nadal fan, federer or murray fan.

Yet, as Mr. Armstrong proved, everything is possible. Eventually, it is what you want to believe. You can take these draws and any person with a sound knowledge of mathematics will tell you they are far from being unfair!

It doesn’t mean draws are not fixed, but as I said, if you go down that road, you should be ready to accept every other argument. Atleast for me, it is innocent until proven guilty.

mat4 Says:

I reread my posts:

… proofs…

… Ana Ivanovic takes… who read …

Anyway: it is not a conspiracy theory. These are numbers, and the numbers are so clear that you cannot oversee them.

And, I forgot the role of IMG in all of this. Novak has signed for them, and since then… it seems so easier.

And, at the FO, just to check the pattern: Rafa will land in Ferrer’s quarter if he is the 5th seed. And he won’t land in Novak’s half. Not only this — I have another completely crazy conspiracy theory — I will lose the final…

mat4 Says:

… he will lose the final against Djokovic …

volley Says:

“a boy with covered eyes draw the balls with the numbers in front of a big crowd, but the balls with the “right” numbers were warmer”

“Ana Ivanovic take the paper with the name of the seed, gives it to the organisers, who reads what he wants to read.”

lol, now we’re entering the realm of cloud cuckoo land. to suggest such a scenario would infer collusion between players doing the draw and organisers. in this day and age they couldn’t keep such practices covered up. frankly, this kind of argument makes the birthers look like sensible people.

mat4 Says:


The story of the French lottery is well known. Sorry that you didn’t know it.

“in this day and age they couldn’t keep such practices covered up”

I am not sure about it.

“collusion between players doing the draw and organisers”

The organisers care about money first.

Then, what about the numbers? Would you care to comment the probability of such draws?

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

mat4 :

2009 AO . no.2 fed drawn against no.3 djokovic [djokovic retired against roddick in quarterfinal]

2010 AO – no.1 fed drawn against no.3 djokovic. [djokovic lost to tsonga this time]

even if you have a fair system, in 2009, it had no.2 playing no.3 and in 2010, it had no.1 playing no.3. That is exactly what happened. If fed remained no.2 in 2010, he wouldn’t have been drawn against djokovic.

similarly 2009 USO – no.1 fed draws no.3 djokovic.

2010 USO – no.2 fed draws no.3 djokovic.

The system has actually been fair. It cannot adjust itself in 2010 because fed is no.2 then. It would be, mathematically speaking atleast, suspicious if federer DID NOT play djokovic in 2010.

mat4 Says:

@Brazil Federer Fan:

“If you believe draws are fixed, you must also believe matches are fixed?”

The first thing do not infer the second.

“You are on very shaky ground mathematically speaking, if you talk about players without refering to seeding.”

I am not on shaky ground, because I took in account the seeding. The seeding was the same for three years. Every time, there was the probability of 1:2 to have Fedole, or Rafole at RG. We don’t have the possibility for a Fedal semi. Make your calculation yourself. Mathematically, THIS IS OVERWHELMING PROOF!

“I listed out the draws as per seeding and mathematically, it is not at all improbable. It is far away from impossible, for sure.”

You started from 2010. Start from 2008.

“As I said, draws could be fixed, matches could be fixed, djokovic could be doping and so on.”

I completely agree. But since I watched most of those matches… It is difficult to believe that the matches were fixed.

“For a djokovic fan like you, it will be hard to see sense in arguments that talk about his doping. Similarly for a nadal fan, federer or murray fan.”

You are quite wrong about it.

“Atleast for me, it is innocent until proven guilty.”


Brazil Federer Fan Says:


you must have heard about djokovic and his egg, then? your stories of fixing are as credible as the stories about djokovic and his egg. or nadal and the 6 month ban.

You can believe it, but no lawyer in his right mind will take your case up. It got almost 0 chance of convincing the jury.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

“I am not on shaky ground, because I took in account the seeding. The seeding was the same for three years.”

I am sorry! that is an obviously wrong statement. Please mention the 3 years when seeding was the same?

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

mat4 :

refer to my post above about 2009 AO and 2010AO and 2009 USO and 2010 USO.

Please tell me how a fair system would draw in those 4 slams? Please talk about seedings and not person, because the rankings as i mentioned changed from one slam to another.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

If you do not have mathematical/logical proof, fixing draws is the same as fixing matches.

I mean, if players/organizers are in collusion, as you claim, what is preventing them from fixing matches?

Nadal/fed have common sponsors and nadal/djokovic had same agent and so on and so forth.

volley Says:

“The story of the French lottery is well known.”

i’m not disputing the veracity of the french lottery story, i’m questioning it’s tenuous link to 21st century standards.

“The organisers care about money first”

undoubtedly. but you’re asking me to believe that players with reputations for fairness and honesty such as kim clijsters would knowingly participate in a fixed draw ceremony. sorry, i can’t.

“Then, what about the numbers?”

as the great Mark Twain once said: “There are lies, damned lies and statistics”

or even your compatriot Jean Baudrillard:

“Like dreams, statistics are a form of wish fulfillment “

mat4 Says:

And it is not a question of no 1 vs no 3 or 4. We don’t speak of the same thing. It isn’t a pattern with seeds, but with players.

Even if you don’t take in account slams on clay and grass, Fedole was drawn on hard from 2008-2011, 8 times in a row. The probability is 1:256. When you add WB, the probability is 1:4096. The problem is that there are no exceptions for four years!

OK, it can happen. I agree. If you trust my judgement that in 2009, the French organisers wanted a Rafole final, it is 1:65536. But it can happen too, I have no doubts.

mat4 Says:

Impossible is nothing…

mat4 Says:


I wrote that the organiser reads what he needs to. It was a guess, because I don’t watch draws. But there are certainly other ways to trick the players making the draw. Don’t ask me how, I don’t know.

To quote Twain and Baudrillard is poetic, but irrelevant in this case. It is not a tiny deviation, and numbers do matter.

We had a story, two years ago, that the no 1 seed at the USO had an easier draw in the first round, and the numbers taken in account were less obvious that those ones.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

Again, your facts are half-cooked.

You cannot choose a draw saying djokovic against federer or nadal.

You draw 1 and 2. then you flip a coin [or randomly choose, both are same]. if it is heads, 1 plays 3.

You next move to another slam and repeat. Ideally, coin should show tails now and then 1 plays 4. but if in the mean time no.1 and no.2 players exchange position, then you will get a repeat match-up.

how does this show any mathematical or logical fallacy?

Brazil Federer Fan Says:


your understanding of probability theory is rather half-baked. You can go to any mathematician and they will tell your calculations are majorly flawed.

the USO draws research was about 1st round draws not the top of the pyramid. as I said, they could still be messing it up, but these numbers donot prove it. they actually prove the other way, that the system is as random [ or fair, in layman talk] as can be. [I mean, a little deviation, but not far off the ideal scenario]

mat4 Says:


“refer to my post above about 2009 AO and 2010AO and 2009 USO and 2010 USO.

Please tell me how a fair system would draw in those 4 slams? Please talk about seedings and not person, because the rankings as i mentioned changed from one slam to another.”

It is not about the seeds, I repeat. Who was no 1/2 and 3/4 didn’t matter. In theory, we should have a random draw: 3/4 should have the same chances to land in with 1/2. But, it was always Federer vs Djokovic on hard and grass, and 3 times of our on clay.

With the match-up between Djokovic and Nadal on hard, it was a bit too convenient. Then Murray became a part of the equation: potentially, he was a threat to Roger: he had a positive H2H, but, on the other side, he didn’t fare well against Rafa. It was a way to maximize the probability of a Fedal final, or a Rafole final in 2009.

Then, look at the coincidences in 2012. Are they really coincidences? Is it really random that Djokovic signs for IMG, Roger quits IMG and, in the last two slams, Murray is on Federer’s side?

Is it really a coincidence that, when Djokovic can make a record, he has the easiest imaginable draw? With players who had never beat him in his quarter?

mat4 Says:


I WENT TO A MATHEMATICIAN! (The easiest thing to do.) My facts are not half baked! I predicted the draw a few times before WB 2011 on this same site (OK, I was lucky, I guess).

Ok, let’s say you need to have 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, 1-4, 2-3, 1-4 to always have a Fedole semi, or, in a another scenario you need to have 1-4, 2-3, 1-3, 1-3, 2-3, 1-4 and you get it also. What is the difference? Statistically, it is not the seeds that count, but, even harder, the players represented by those numbers.

Change the numbers with names: it is just another way of representing the same reality: how can you explain 12 in a row? 15 out of 16? 16 out of 16?

And it makes things worse: even when Novak was no 1 seed, he continued to play against Roger in the semi. It just makes it more obvious.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:


You asked me to look at hardcourts before 2010. And I showed you the numbers.

How can you dispute a 1-4 and 1-3 in AO in consecutive years and similar draws in USO in 09 and 2010 as being unfair?

According to you, since 1-3 in AO 2009 gave us a fedkovic draw, you want the system to throw up 1-3 again in 2010 so that federer and djokovic are on opposite sides? God forbid, the system gives you a 2-3 draw and fedkovic play again in semis, you call the system unfair?

How the hell is it unfair? because it did not meet your expectations?

Same holds for 2009 and 2010 US open.

I am putting up numbers and trying to explain here and you are sticking to the same thing about fedkovic shouldn’t happen so often. Please show me the numbers. and show me how they are unfair?

2009 AO gave us 1-4 draw. Please tell me what should a fair system draw in 2010 AO :

1-4 or 1-3?

1-3. right? that is exactly what it gave. how is this unfair?

similar thing happened with 09 USO and 2010 USO too.

What happened here is fed and nadal swapped positions, so even though the system is fair, you have repeat match ups. are you disputing this?

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

“Statistically, it is not the seeds that count, but, even harder, the players represented by those numbers.”

You are absolutely wrong. Statistics don’t care for whether 1 is representing federer or nadal or djokovic.

2009 AO, 1-4 semis was drawn. in 2010 AO, statistics or probability says, 1-3 should be drawn. That is exactly what happened. except that in 2009 1 was nadal. in 2010, it was federer. what does that mean? it means federer VS djokovic 2 consecutive years. It is the fairest decision, any other decision means, there is a chance of foul play.

I have explained everything clearly, and your mathematics and logic is clearly flawed. Any other stats/combinatorics guys?

mat4 Says:


Let’s say you throw a coin and expect a head every time. What would be the odds to obtain head 12 times in a row? Try another thing: you have to chose the side of the coin before throwing. What would be the odds for you to guess right 12 times in a row? The same.

You write here about system. There shouldn’t be one. 1/2 draws randomly 3/4. So, after a 1-3, 1-3 is fair in the same measure as 1-4. Anyway, when debating, the first trick is to try to deviate from the main topic. You write about seeds and fairness, but it is completely off topic here.

The randomness of that system should translate also to a randomness of players playing in the semi. So, to have Federer vs Djokovic in two, three, four, even five semis in a row is possible. The chances for that are 1:2 by event. But in a row, you have to multiply the numbers. Twice in a row, the chances are 1:4, if Federer remains seeded 1/2 (it doesn’t matter if is no 1 or 2), and Djokovic 3/4. For three times in a row, you have to multiply the odds three times: 1:8. Statistically, it is still normal. But… 1:256 doesn’t look normal. 1:65536 doesn’t look normal.

mat4 Says:


You made your points, I made mine. We disagree, but on this site, we always had the right to disagree. It’s ok with me.

Enough about it, anyway.

Thomas Says:

Sorry, but you have proven no one guilty, as when all is said and done, there is still amall chance of everything you say occurring. You have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the draws were fixed to have a fedole semi. Your evidence suggests there could be some suspicion, but suspicion does not even come close to proof beyond reasonable doubt. I tend to agree with BFF and his posts about seedings.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

Sorry, but the fairness of the system is determined only by the seeds. As I wrote so many times, randomness of seeds cannot get translated to players because the players are moving in rankings. federer, nadal and djokovic have changed ranking in the past few years. There is no way the randomness of the seeds can translate to the player. That is the wrong assumption your whole theory is based on.

If you throw a fair coin 12 times in a row? how many heads should it show and how many tails? Assuming complete randomness the answer is 6 and 6. If you have 12heads and 0 tails, you probably have a biased coin. With our system, in 13 tosses it gave 8heads 5 tails. which is not entirely fair, but it is far off from the flawed and skewed 13heads and 0 tails. So, mathematically you cannot argue that the draws are unfair, as they threw up 8 heads and 5 tails. If the system was unfair, you would have got 13 heads and 0 tails or 12heads and 1 tail.

In your last paragraph, you are tossing the coing 1,2,3 or so on.

Say, you toss 8 times. you will have 256 events each with a probability of 1/256. so any which way the pattern appears, you can argue that particular sequence has 1/256 chance. The flaw in this argument is, even if fed-djokovic and nadal-djokovic match-ups were 4 each in 8 consecutive slams, that probability of that happening is still 1/256. so whatever happens, you can claim “oh this sequence had only 1/256 chance, hence it is suspicious it has happened”.

where as, the truth is, one of the 256 sequences had to happen, which ever way they happened, the probability is still 1/256.

Look at another example. I say pick a number from 1 to billion. Irrespective of the number you pick, the probability that that particular number will be picked is still 1/billion. You say “wow! what a miracle” if you are one of faith. if you are a skeptic you will yell “hey, that is suspicious! how could an event happen when its probability of happening is only 1/billion”. [I am sure you will agree 1:billion looks much more suspicious than your 1:65536! but yet, whether you pick 1, 3, 400, 800, or any number, the probability is still 1:billion]

I hope you see the flaw here. If not, please google miracles and probability, you will have a ton of articles explaining the fallacy you are committing here!

Thanks for the discussion! I am out. I hope you can see the mistake in your math/logic. If not, I hope someone who is well versed with probability/combinatorics can explain your mistake better than I did!

Brazil Federer Fan Says:


It is not even suspicious, the draws themselves. As I said, federer was unfortunate to run into djokovic but he is unfortunate like someone who loses a toss 6 times.

Look at this similar scenario. Say federer and nadal are tossing a coin, say federer wins if he gets heads, nada if it is tails.

now they toss and federer calls heads! it shows tail. next time federer calls tail, but coin shows heads [remember it showed tail last time, so a fair coin would most likely show a head this time]. so federer loses the toss 2 times in a row. it is unfortunate, but you can’t blame the coin and say the coin is biased/rigged. the problem here was federer moved from calling heads the 1st time to calling tails the 2nd time. If he had just stuck at calling heads, he would have won 2nd time.

A similar thing is happening. the coin is the “draw system” atp/itf uses, federer/nadal winning toss means they avoid djokovic.

stuff like this happens. I am sure there are a lot of people who lose tosses 5 or 6 times in a row. maybe even more.

Anyone who is more interested, google miracles and probability.

There is a lot of things wrong with atp/itf. Maybe there is even something wrong with their draws, but just by the draws in slams, you sure donot have enough leverage to call them out on it!

mat4 Says:

Fair enough. Except that I didn’t make a mistake.

jane Says:

volley, props for quoting Baudrillard. ;)

As for the rest, I didn’t have time to read it but it looks like some interesting discussion.

Ben Pronin Says:

To be fair, 1-4 and 2-3 should be the standard. It shouldn’t be lottery. Regardless of who the players with those seeds are. That’s how it is in every other sport. That’s how it should be in tennis. Instead everything is random for some dumb reason. Makes no sense.

Wilfried Says:

@ Brazilian Federer fan
Well, I have a probability-problem for you as you seem to be quite strong in calculating probabilities.
First the facts.
There were only 9 players outside the top 4 who managed to beat Rafael Nadal between the US Open 2010 and the 31th of march 2012. These players are :
– Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Bangkok – 2010) ;
– Jurgen Melzer (Shangai -2010) ;
– Nicolai Davidenko (Doha -2011) ;
– David Ferrer ( AO – 2011) ;
– J.W. Tsonga (Queens -2011) ; Barclay London RR 2011
– F. Dodig (Montreal – 2011) ;
– Mardy Fish ( Cincinnati -2011) ;
– Florian Mayer (Shangai -2011)
– Gael Monfils (Doha -2012) ;
I looked at the draws of the tournaments that Rafael Nadal participated in during that period, and compared them before and after such a loss (to one the above mentioned players).
Take for instance the case of Nadal and Tsonga.
Nadal lost to Tsonga in Queens 2011.
Before this loss Tsonga and Nadal participated 6 times in the same tournament, whereby Nadal and Tsonga were drawn 3 out of 6 times in the same quarter of the draw:
– Indian Wells 2011 : in the same quarter and Tsonga loses in the 3d round from X.Malisse ;
– Miami 2011 : in the same quarter and Tsonga loses in the 4the round from Dolgopolov ;
– Monte Carlo 2011 : in the same quarter and Tsonga loses in the 3d round from Ljubicic ;
– Madrid 2011 : not in the same quarter
– Rome 2011 : not in the same quarter
– Roland Garros 2011 : not in the same quarter
After his loss to J.W. Tsonga, they were participating 5 more times in the same event before they both were playing the Barclays in London (November 2011), but 0 out 5 times were they drawn in the same quarter of the draw.
-Wimbledon 2011 : not in the same quarter (1)
-Montreal 2011 : not in the same quarter(2)
-Cincinnati 2011 : not in the same quarter (3)
-US Open 2011 : not in the same quarter (4)
-Shangai 2011 : not in the same quarter (5)

Problem to solve here: what’s the probability of such an outcome of draws ? First 3 out of 6 times, and afterwards 0 out of 5 times. I’d like to be instructed in the matter, and would be grateful to hear your insightful comment on this

Wilfried Says:

@ Brazilian Federer fan
Another case-problem with regard to improbable outcomes is Mardy Fish’s case.
The red hot Mardy Fish manages to beat Nadal in Cincinnati 2011.
Preceding Mardy’s victory, they were drawn 3 out of 5 times in the same quarter of the draw when they played the same event:
– Madrid 2011 : not in the same quarter ;
– Rome 2011 : in the same quarter and M.Fish loses in the 4the round from M.Cilic;
– Roland Garros 2011 : in the same quarter and Fish loses in the 4d round from G. Simon;
– Wimbledon 2011 : in the same quarter and M. Fish loses from R. Nadal in the QF ;
– Montreal 2011 : not in the same quarter
After Nadal’s loss in Cincinnati, and making abstraction of the Barclays in London, they were drawn 0 out of 6 times in the same quarter of the draw:
-US Open 2011 : not in the same quarter (1)
-Tokyo 2011 : not in the same quarter (2)
-Shangai 2011 : not in the same quarter (3)
-AO 2011 : not in the same quarter (4)
-Indian Wells 2011 : not in the same quarter (5)
-Miami 2011 : not in the same quarter(6)
What’s the probability of such a sequence of outcomes: first 4 out of 6 times drawn in the same quarter (including Cincinnati), and after the loss 0 out of 6 times ?

Ben Pronin Says:

It has nothing to do with the players, provide the rankings of each guy to determine the most legitimate probability of such an occurrence.

It’s certainly interesting, though. It looks fishy, sure. But until we look at the rankings and see how reasonable it is, we can’t make any conclusions, only speculations.

wilfried Says:

Preceding Mardy Fish’s victory, they were drawn 3 out of 5 times in the same quarter of the draw when they played the same event (with the rankings between brackets):
– Madrid 2011 : not in the same quarter ; ( rankings: Nadal 1 – Fish 11)
– Rome 2011 : in the same quarter (rankins: Nadal 1 – Fish 11)
– Roland Garros 2011 : in the same quarter (rankings: Nadal 1 – Fish 10)
– Wimbledon 2011 : in the same quarter (rankings: Nadal 1 and Fish 9)
– Montreal 2011 : not in the same quarter (rankings: Nadal 2 and Fish 8)
– Cincinnati 2011 : not in the same quarter (rankings: Nadal 2 and Fish 8)

After Nadal’s loss in Cincinnati, and making abstraction of the Barclays in London, they were drawn 0 out of 6 times in the same quarter of the draw:
-US Open 2011 : not in the same quarter (1) (rankings: Nadal: 2 – Fish 8)
-Tokyo 2011 : not in the same quarter (2) (rankings: Nadal 2 – Fish 8)
-Shangai 2011 : not in the same quarter (3) (rankings: Nadal 2 – Fish 9)
-AO 2012 : not in the same quarter (4) (rankings: Nadal 2 – Fish 8)
-Indian Wells 2012 : not in the same quarter (5) (rankings: Nadal 2 – Fish 8)
-Miami 2012 : not in the same quarter(6) (rankings: Nadal : 2 – Fish 8)

Wilfried Says:

correction to my last comment:
Cincinnati 2011: both in the same quarter (rankings: Nadal 2 – Fish 8)

Ben Pronin Says:

So when Nadal was ranked 1, he drew Fish 3/4 times. When he was 2, he drew him 1/8 times. Except Fish’s ranking fluctuated.

From my understanding, all of the seeds are placed randomly, right? Except for 1 and 2, any seed can be in any quarter or half. It certainly seems odd, though. And there’s too much math that maybe someone else is willing to do to make sense of this.

wilfried Says:

The seeds are supposed to be placed randomly. I’m not an expert in calculating probabilities. I think the sequence of draw-outcomes such as displayed above, are randomly possible, but very very improbable.

skeezer Says:


Not sure what random you mean. The 3/4 seed is suppose to be drawn randomly to determine where they will be placed in the draw…that is
the 3 and 4 seed MUST be in the bottom of the top half of the draw and top half of the bottom draw.

One only has to look at the ATP h2h area to see how many times (mysteriously) Fed and Nole have met in A semi(oh…thats right, it was just randomly “lucky”). It should not matter if Fed was #1 or #2 during this period as it shouldn’t matter. Nole was always 3. Go figure.

I guess it was just REAL lucky they drew each other TO meet in that many Semi’s, where Rafa on the other half had to play…..who? I don’t see any convincing posts here otherwise.

skeezer Says:

Should have said drawn each other in the same qtr. They obviously have to win through that half of the draw to meet up.

Ben Pronin Says:

Like I said, 3 should always play 2 and 4 should always play 1. Tennis is stupid.

Well Rafa would play Murray.

Wilfried, it’s only improbable if each draw is somehow dependent on the others. Every time a draw is done, the probabilities reset. Just like when you flip a coin. No matter how many times you flip it, each flip is independent of all the others. So every time it should be 50/50.

skeezer Says:

^”in the same qtr”, meant half. sorry!

skeezer Says:


Sounds good to me. At least I would take out the speculation or suspiciousness of it all.

Wilfried Says:

Ben, I agree with you about the coin flip. But that’s just an argument to have doubts about the genuine randomness of the draws.
Because when you flip a coin an infinite number of times, you will have half of the times the coin-side, and half of the times the other side of the coin.
Same for the draws: when you make random draws an infinite number of times, you will land – on average – 1 out of 4 times in the same quarter with another seeded player (if your ranking didn’t change in the mean time).
In the example that I offered you, Nadal’s and Fish’s ranking was quite stable: there were exactly 7 draws in that sequence above mentioned in which Nadal and Fish were ranked respectively 2 and 8 in the ATP-rankings.
Nadal lost in the second match of those seven draws (in Cincinnati 2011). The next 5 draws with that same ranking variance, Nadal landed every time in another quarter than Fish. True such a scenario is theoretically possible, but with a very low probability. Landing 1 out of 7 times in the same quarter is not very normal if you’d ask my opinion about it.

mat4 Says:


Yeah, you’re right: it was just pure LUCK. 14 times out of 16. 12 times in a row on surface other than clay. They were so lucky that I was ready to bet that they will play a semi even if ranked no 1 and no 2.


Ben Pronin Says:

7 draws isn’t a big enough sample. When isolated it certainly looks like a trend but if you made the draw 100 times and it came out 70-30, then yeah that’s a little odd.

There’s also the fact that you’re talking about a quarter. The probability changes a good amount. It’s even more rare for them to land in the same quarter. You’re look at a 25% chance instead of a 50% chance. Although that’s not even the actual number since Fish one of several top 10 seeds who could land in Nadal’s quarter like that.

jane Says:

For coin-flipping probabilities, please refer to “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” You may choose the play or the film; it’s up to you. Maybe flip a coin and see. ;)

mat4 Says:


I watched the film..

mat4 Says:

But I’ll chose perhaps to throw the dice. Just like in “The Devil and the Good Lord”..

Ben Pronin Says:

I feel like sometimes it’s too easy to assume that the draws are fixed. Or that they protect a player. Maybe it’s true. I hope not, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

At the same time, we gotta remember that the rankings really don’t move that much, even though it seems like they do. Over the course of something like 10 events, Nadal moved 1 spot and Fish fluctuated between 3. It’s just not huge.

And you ever notice the draws for Indian Wells and Miami are almost identical ever year. Seriously, identical. Because the rankings never really shift, so, the draw stays virtually the same. It’s weird.

skeezer Says:


Re read mat4 post @ 3:44. That seems too easy to assume otherwise? Ahemmmm….

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

Wilfried and Ben:

Ranking changes matter, even if it is by 1, because each ranking represents an outcome of a random experiment.

If you are drawing 3 and 4, if the guys in 1 and 2 swap positions, or if the guys in 3 and 4 swap positions, your experiment has changed and is no more random.[ ofcourse, if both groups swap positions, then it wont matter.]. but in this case, from 2008 through 2011, we have never had the same guy rank no.1. they kept changing the rankings. 1st federer was no.1, then rafa, then federer again, then rafa, then djokovic. so about 4 changes and for 16 slams, that is a LOT of change.

Similarly, you are drawing 5, 6, 7 and 8 and 1,2,3,4 or 5,6,7,8 if either of the groups move positions, your experiment has changed.

I will give you one more example. Even if fed, nadal and djokovic didn’t change rankings, the probability that federer djokovic semi-final happens in 16/16 slams is the same as the probability that federer-djokovic semi happens in 8 and nadal-djokovic happens in other 8. Even if federer-djokovic happend in exactly half of the slams, going by mat4’s logic, you can still claim that is unfair, because the probability of that event is the same as fed-djokovic playing in semis 16/16 times.

It is the same 1:65536 that mat4 used to argue that 14/16 is a fallacy.[which is based on another fallacy of looking at players and not seedings]

wilfried Says:

You didn’t really give an answer to my question and I don’t expect you to do it anymore either, as you are entitled to believe what you want to believe and see what you want to see. It might be more convenient for you after all to deny things and keep your eyes and mind closed and not reflect too much on this matter.
Anyways. For those who are interested in the matter I’ll add some more relevant information to reflect on, regarding the same sample of tournaments and players (Nadal and Fish).
What’s the probability that Mardy Fish draws respectively the 3d quarter and 4th quarter of the draws in Canada 2011 and Cincinnati 2011, and, after having beaten Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati, draws every single time – and I mean every single time- the 2d quarter of the draw in the next 6 tournaments that they participate together in:
-US Open 2011 : Nadal:4th quarter – Fish 2d quarter
-Tokyo 2011 : Nadal 1st quarter – Fish 2d quarter
-Shanghai 2011 : Nadal 1th quarter – Fish 2d quarter
-AO 2012 : Nadal 4th quarter – Fish 2d quarter
-Indian Wells 2012 : Nadal 4th quarter – Fish 2d quarter
-Miami 2012 : Nadal 4th quarter – Fish 2d quarter

mat4 Says:


The ranking 1/2 and 3/4 doesn’t matter!

The no 1 draws randomly 3 or 4. Then no 2 gets the other one. Just like a flip of the coin.

E. g., in a sequence of 4 draws, you have 1/16 to have 4 times Federer vs Djokovic in the semi, but 15/16 chances NOT to have 4 times Fed-Djoko in the semi. Can’t you just understand that?

And NO, 8 times Roger vs Nole + 8 times Rafa vs Nole has not the same probability to happen as 16 times Roger vs Nole. It can happen 1/2 the time!

So, 12 times in a row on surfaces other than clay?

volley Says:

this year’s rankings changes (and assuming nadal regains no.4) will of course turn this theory on it’s head. if djokovic and federer remain 1 & 2 they can’t meet until the final. likewise, nadal & murray can’t meet because they’ll be on opposite sides of the draw. so what will be the new conspiracy? that draws are rigged so that djokovic meets nadal too frequently and federer vs murray? or vice-versa?

too funny.

mat4 Says:

There are two things, here:

1. The statistically almost impossible odd for Federer and Djokovic to play 12 times in a row on surfaces other than clay; they have been drawn, in a stretch of four years, 14 times out of 16 in the same half. Those are the facts.

2. Our theories why that happened.

You can always argue what if his was pure coincidence or not, what could be the reason for this, but you can deny the facts.

The sample seems to small to be confident, but it gives a lot of reasons to be very, very suspicious.

mat4 Says:

Sorry, I am working on a text and I make so many errors trying to write faster…

… You can always argue that this was pure… (or not)…

Ben Pronin Says:

“E. g., in a sequence of 4 draws, you have 1/16 to have 4 times Federer vs Djokovic in the semi, but 15/16 chances NOT to have 4 times Fed-Djoko in the semi. Can’t you just understand that?” – mat4

Is that right? I don’t think it is. This means that the draws are dependent on each other. They’re not. The probability that the number 3 player (Djokovic) is drawn in the same half as the number 1 OR number 2 player (Federer, Nadal or vice versa) is 1/2. Every single time, it’s 1/2. It doesn’t matter if he was drawn in the number 1 half the tournament before or 12 tournaments before, the probability is reset every single time.

And the surface, obviously, doesn’t matter in the slightest.

And 16 still isn’t a big enough sample size to say there’s something weird going on. It only seems big because there are only 4 slams each year so yeah 16 SLAMS is a lot, but it’s not a lot of outcomes. But if you add in all of the other events where the top 3 played together then that would probably tell us more.

Wilfried, with a ranking of 8, the probability Fish lands in any quarter is always 1/4. I think it’s the same even if he’s ranked 9-12 but I’m not entirely sure. I feel like I’m missing something. But again, technically, the players should not have any affect on where they’re drawn, it’s random. And it’s random every time. Not random the first time and then, oh, let’s make sure it’s mixed up the next time. Again, at least it’s not supposed to be that way.

The Fish scenario looks weird when you isolate it. But like BFF said, you’re looking at it based on play names. That’s not how the draw is made. It’s made based on the rankings/seedings. The name next to the player is irrelevant.

That’s why, especially, it’s wrong to look at Djokovic and Federer being in the same half 14/16 times. What were their respective rankings in each of the draws?

mat4 Says:


Here are the possibilities, in 4 draws (F: Fed, N: Nole, R: Rafa)

1. FN, FN, FN, FN (4 times Fed vs Nole)
2. RN, FN, FN, FN
3. FN, RN, FN, FN
4. FN, FN, RN, FN
5. FN, FN, FN, RN
6. RN, RN, FN, FN
7. RN, FN, RN, FN
8. RN, FN, FN, RN
9. FN, RN, RN, FN
10. FN, RN, FN, RN
11. FN, FN, RN, RN
12. FN, RN, RN, RN
13. RN, FN, RN, RN
14. RN, RN, FN, RN
15. RN, RN, FN, RN
16. RN, RN, RN, RN

As simple as that. 1 possibility 4 x FN, 15 others possibilities.

mat4 Says:


You multiply 1/2 by 1/2 by every consecutive draw. In a sequence of 2 draws, you can have:

1 FN twice in a row (1/2 x 1/2 = 1/4)
1 RN twice in a row
1 RN then FN + 1 FN then RN = 2

mat4 Says:

@Ben, again:

The surface is very important. What would be the point of fixing the draw? To obtain the “most valuable final”, the one the public wants.

In France, the most valuable final was Nadal-Federer for years. But Djokovic was a relevant factor on clay, and that was the reason he landed in Nadal’s half.

But there, there were two exceptions: in 2009, when Nadal and Djokovic played the Madrid final, and in 2011, when Djokovic was no 2, so he couldn’t land in Rafa’s half of the draw.

Ben Pronin Says:

No, the surface is only important if the draw is fixed, the way your saying. In terms of randomness, it has nothing to do with anything.

mat4 Says:


“No, the surface is only important if the draw is fixed, the way your saying. In terms of randomness, it has nothing to do with anything.”

Of course.

Ben Pronin Says:

But as far as your calculations go, they do make sense.

I’m not saying the draws aren’t fixed. I hope they’re not. But it does seem fishy. Remember the article from a few years ago that pointed out how the rankings of the first round opponents for the top 2 seeds at the US Open is improbably low?

Maybe Nadal is protected. Maybe Federer and Djokovic are protected. Honestly, it sucks. When someone upsets one of my favorites, I can’t wait for the rematch. Aren’t Nadal fans just dying to see the rematch between him and Rosol? I mean c’mon, I think we all know it’s going to be an incredible bloodbath.

Point is, I believe in corruption in these organizations, and it sucks, but I think someone would need to really look into it. Again, we’re just speculating right now.

wilfried Says:

@ Mat4
@ Ben Pronin
My last post ( at 3:42 am) mentioned a sequence of 6 matches in which Fish was drawn 6 out of 6 times in the 2d quarter of a draw, after having beaten Nadal in Cincinnati. I checked these data once more to be sure and discovered two errors in my résumé with regard to the quarter in which Mardy Fish landed.
Nadal and Fish were drawn the following sequence:
-US Open 2011 : Nadal:4th quarter – Fish 2d quarter
-Tokyo 2011 : Nadal 1st quarter – Fish 2d quarter
-Shanghai 2011 : Nadal 1th quarter – Fish 3th quarter
-AO 2012 : Nadal 4th quarter – Fish 3th quarter
-Indian Wells 2012 : Nadal 4th quarter – Fish 2d quarter
-Miami 2012 : Nadal 4th quarter – Fish 2d quarter
Ergo, Fish landed 4 out of 6 times in the second quarter of the draw, and 2 out of 6 times in the third quarter. The probability of such a sequence is 0,7 % in case the draws are made in a random way.
I don’t have the necessary time right now to explain you why I believe this percentage is so low, but I hope to be able to post it this weekend.

mat4 Says:

Finally, the odds for Federer and Djokovic to land 14/16 in the same half are 0,18%. The sample is indeed small, but if we could discover other abnormal examples things could be clearer.

Sidney Says:

It just hit me that we’re probably in the middle of the Djokovic era. I didn’t realize until today that Nole has been in 8 of the last 10 major finals! Wow! And of the 8 finals he’s been in, he won 5!

It’s not close to Roger’s numbers during the Fed peak years, but still pretty darn good numbers for Nole.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

“That’s why, especially, it’s wrong to look at Djokovic and Federer being in the same half 14/16 times. What were their respective rankings in each of the draws?”

Well said Ben. You are on the right track. This is the basic mistake both mat and wilfried are making. It is about no.1 drawing 3 or no.2 drawing 3. I have already given 2 examples which mat will not respond to.

AO 2009, 1 drew 4, so nadal drew murray/ whoever was no.4 and fed got djokovic.

AO 2010, 1 drew 3, but fed was no.1, so even though it was a fair draw, djokovic ended on fed side both sides. but you cannot blame the draw. it gave us the fairest possible scenario.

You can see the same thing for 2009 and 2010 US opens too.

If you are not talking in terms of seedings, you are making a major mistake.

Even in those 16 times mat speaks, I would like to see the rankings. I am sure 1 did not draw 4 14 times like mat says. I will put up those numbers.

Mat, what are these 16 slams. 2008 AO to 2012 AO?

Another thing, even if 1 drew 4, 14 times out of 16, the probability that such an event happens [you know the same sequence that gave you 14 times out of 16], it is the same as 1 drawing 4 8 times out of 16.

why? because the probability of an event happening is the same as the probability of the event not happening. [=0.5]

In wilfried’s case, these probabilities are different, still if you look at the sequence in which an event occurs [again, you need seedings and not player’s names]

Then ofcourse, as you say, even 16 is a very small sample space. the probability of 16heads is not really THAT low. much lesser probable things have happened. The odds of being struck by lightning is 10 times lesser than 16heads in a row and it is an event that happens [quite often, you can say].

This is because

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

Most of these “draw-fixing” arguments are incorrect mathematically. [You know looking at players and not seedings, is a basic mistake. Any mathematician will point that out, straightaway].

Even with these wrong assumptions, 1:65536 is not really that “unlikely”. As I said, chance of being hit by a lightning is around 1:700000. That is 10 times unlikely. And I am sure you have read about people being hit by lightning.

People like mat4 [knowingly or unknowingly] have the advantage that most people are afraid of math and are not so competent. This helps because they wont be seen like trolls who accuse nadal of doping or djokovic of cheating [using the egg]. They throw some numbers at you and you think they have some proof. The fact is they have misused those numbers and have exploited your lack of competency in math.

Fixing of draws is as much a propaganda driven topic as doping by players. Maybe both happen, but we can’t be sure of either unless someone from the inside comes out and turns approver. The math that I have seen from all these “fixing of draws” mongers is cooked up and incorrect.

courbon Says:

…and all I asked, how the draw works…

skeezer Says:


Swiss Maestro Says:

I am with BFF and Ben on this one. You just cannot talk about djokovic/federer or tsonga/nadal, when talking about draws, without mentioning their rankings.


Great examples. Do you have a degree in maths? I am in finance, but I really love listening and watching mathematicians at work. I would like to see how the seedings worked for those 16 slams that mat4 is referring to. If 14/16 times 1 played 4 or 1 played 3, then there maybe some possibility that draws are fixed. if the numbers are close to 50% instead, obviously you cannot claim any suspicion.

I also agree that 16 is a small sample. I work in finance and we really need loads of data to find patterns. 16 is not really a significant sample size. Next thing you know, people are complaining some one got 2 heads in a row. LOL!

Great posts BFF.

Ben Pronin Says:

I think doping is much more likely than draw fixing.

mat4 Says:

I have to admit that I am amazed by such lack of logic, and such ignorance of elementary maths.

It is a binomial distribution, just like a coin flip: the only thing that is done is draw 3 or 4 to play against 1. You can name 3 and 4 x, y or Djokovic, Federer – the reality and the maths are the same.

To say that 1:65536 is not such an unbelievable odd is risible. Let’s see the odds:

8-8: 19,6%
7-9: 35%
6-10: 24,5%
5-11: 13,5%
4-12: 5,6%

There is 98,2% chance that the draw will be one of those. The odds for 14-2 are 0,2%.

My maths are OK, and I really don’t enjoy to be called a troll, stupid, and that somebody so easily dismiss my knowledge, experience and logic.

The sample is not big enough to say that it is a proof or not, but there is a lot of place for suspicion.


I don’t see why doping would be more likely than draw fixing. I think that both are possible, and we have good reason to be suspicious in both cases.

Wilfried Says:

I read your posts, perhaps not well enough, but I obviously read them, if not I wouldn’t have reacted and addressed my comment to you.
By the way, BBF, I’m not so sure you read my comments well enough either, as you’re claiming things I didn’t say at all in my initial posts.
For starters I didn’t mention anything about rankings or seed(ing)s in my first two comments (cfr. January 31st at 12:10 pm, and January 31st 12:51 pm). I was only prompted to do so by Ben’s reply to my comment, while you, as the person to whom my comments were directed, didn’t respond at all. Ben’s reply to my comment went like this: “it has nothing to do with the players, provide the rankings of each guy to determine the most legitimate probability of such an occurrence. (…) Until we look at the rankings and see how reasonable it is, we can’t make any conclusions, only speculations” (january 31st at 1:06 pm).
Second in those comments I gave only player-names by way of illustration to make my view on the matter clear with an example (which is the that I think the draws are not entirely made in a random way). I don’t have nothing against Nadal or any other player and I’ve never said either that those names are important as such to examine the topic of randomness of draws. But it is clear to me that, if one wants to look for any evidence, one needs to focus on the draws in which top players are involved. I share Mat4’s intuition that tournament organizers don’t want to see the top-players (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray) being Rosol-ed in the earlier rounds of their event. And among the actual 4 top players I think you need to orientate your focus more on Nadal and Murray than on Federer or Djokovic, because the latter two players very rarely lose to players outside the top ten. They are to date less vulnerable than Nadal and Murray to lower ranked players.
Third it is clear that Mat4 and I can’t prove our view, as we haven’t been put in the position to do it. But nobody can prevent us from having an independent mind and reflect on the things we see. I look at the draws with the angle of the theoretical notion of probability. That’s also the reason that I’m convinced that we don’t necessarily need a hundred draws to be sure about the validity of the calculus and the results obtained (see more about this in the fourth point). Whether the results of my calculus are relevant is another matter and depends of your point of view a bit, which always has some subjectivity to it. Results have to be considered in their context and be compared with the probability of the occurrence of other possible outcomes in that context. A certain value for a variable may be acceptable in social science and applied economics, but not acceptable in medicine.

Fourth my theoretical approach – without being a mathematician – is apparently very similar to Mat4’ approach as we both are thinking in terms of discrete probability distributions. Indeed, why do you think I was emphasizing so much the quarters of the draws the players were drawn in in my two examples? Well, I tell you why. Because it allows me to look at the draws in the same way as looking at the results of throwing a (perfect shaped) dice. The analogy between throwing a (perfect) dice and making random draws is (1°) the independence of the experiments (the first throw doesn’t influence the next throw… and one draw doesn’t impact the chances in the next draw) and (2°) the even chances for each outcome. The only difference between throwing a dice and making a random draw is the amount of possible outcomes of the experiment. When I throw a dice, I have 6 different possible outcomes with an equal chance of 1/6 to occur, whilst when I make a draw in a random way, I do not have 6 but only 4 possible outcomes: landing in the 1st, the 2d, the 3d or the 4th quarter of the draw. Once the first four players are allocated to each quarter of the draw, the rest of the players should have an equal chance of being drawn in each of the four quarters (with a chance of ¼ for each) regardless of their ranking or whatever other quality they might have. This approach –with focus on the quarters of a draw- doesn’t require a high number of experiments either. Because it is perfectly possible to calculate the probability of every combination of possible outcomes when you throw a (perfect) dice only a couple of times. We can calculate the probability for any number of experiments without being uncertain about the validity of the approach. For instance, when you throw 5 times a (perfect) dice, the probability of throwing twice a ‘2’, twice a ’3’ and once a ‘6’ can be perfectly calculated by making use of the “loi multinominal” : 30 * (1 / 65) = 0,38 % . (example taken out of my textbook “Éléments de statistique – author: Jean Jacques Droesbeke – Editions ELLIPSES – Paris – edition 2001, page 246).
The same applies in my eyes to randomly allocating players to a quarter of a draw. We can calculate the probability of every combination of possible outcomes by making use of that same “loi multinominale” which is a complex variant of the binomial distribution.
In my example, Fish had been drawn 4 times out of 6 in the 2d quarter of and 2 times in the third quarter of 6 consecutive draws in which Fish and Rafael Nadal participated together. These 6 draws can be considered as a series of 6 independent experiments with for each experiment 4 possible outcomes for the player (in this case Fish). With the number of experiments (6) being higher than the number of possible outcomes (4), at least one of the outcomes will appear more than once in this sequence of draws.
I believe we have the following possible combinations of outcomes for such an array of draws:
1) 6 times in the same quarter
2) 5 times in the same quarter and once in another quarter
3) 4 times in the same quarter and twice in the same other quarter
4) 3 times in the same quarter and three times in the same other quarter
5) 4 times in the same quarter, once in another quarter and once in a third quarter
6) 3 times in the same quarter, twice in another same quarter and once in a third quarter
7) Twice in the same quarter, twice in the same other quarter and twice in a third quarter
8) 3 times in the same quarter, once in another quarter, once in a third quarter and once in a 4th quarter
9) Twice in the same quarter, twice in another quarter, once in a third quarter and once in a 4th quarter.
In my own calculus, and if I’m not mistaken, these 9 possible combinations of outcomes shoudl give the following probabilities:
1) 1 * (1/46) = 0,24 %
2) 6 * (1/46) = 0,15 %
3) 15 *(1/46) = 0,36 %
4) 20 *(1/46) = 0,49 %
5) 30 *(1/46) = 0,73 %
6) 60 *(1/46) = 1,46 %
7) 90 * (1/46) = 2,20 %
8) 120 *(1/46) = 2,93 %
9) 180 *(1/46) = 4,40 %
The probability of drawing 4 second quarters and 2 third quarters should therefore be 0,36%.
Is 0,36 % enough to be suspicious about the randomness of the draw? Maybe , maybe not. Depends of how you look at those results. It’s a low probability in comparison with the probability of the other possible combinations in that résumé, but a high probability compared with Mat’’s percentage of 1:65536.

Wilfried Says:

The blog changed the format of my text.
30 * (1/65) should read 30 * (1/ 6^5) = 0,38%;
1 * (1/ 46) should read(1/ 4^6) = 0,24%;

mat4 Says:


It is very difficult to track all the draws and make the needed calculations. Especially since it seems that the logic of tournaments in various places are not quite the same, and I could change from year to year. That’s why I focused only on the four top seeds, where it seem so obvious.

I took my results from a simple table of binomial distribution, so there can’t be any mistake there. What would be interesting is to calculate the deviation.

But I was not the only one on this site to notice how certain seeds seemed to have a very easy draw from GS to GS. Of course, it has to be documented.

mat4 Says:

BTW: I read your posts, but my problem is time — just hadn’t enough to check your facts.

wilfried Says:

@ Mat4
I don’t have much time either, certainly not enough to come to the blog daily and read all the comments here. And it was late at night when I wrote my last comment.
Appreciate your response btw. I intend to ask second and third opinion of members of my family and friends who are competent mathematicians, but I’ll have to see when they have time to look at it too. So it won’t be for immediately. I realize that my approach is susceptible of critic as the tournaments of my example are taken in a “ciblé” way (not random) and they differ in size too. But is there really a need to look at it in a more generalized way? I don’t feel such a need anyhow.

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