Can Novak Djokovic Catch Roger Federer’s Record Of 17 Slams? The Serb Says He Has A Lot Work To Do

by Tom Gainey | October 5th, 2015, 10:11 am

Novak Djokovic talked more about his chase of Roger Federer’s 17 career Grand Slam titles. In Beijing this weekend, Djokovic said it was a dream to reach double-digits at 10, but to reach Roger will take a lot more work. But he’s motivated to try.

“I still have a lot to work on and a lot to win in order to get to the level where he is,” Djokovic said of Federer’s 17. “So far I’ve had a phenomenal career. To be in the double‑digits of Grand Slam victories is something I’ve just dreamed of. To be actually winning 10 Grand Slams, it’s a great achievement. So I’m proud of it and I’ll keep on going.

“I’m 28, and I feel like there’s a lot more years in my legs and in my mind I still feel very motivated and very inspired to play this sport.”

Djokovic is 28 and at that age the odds are stacked that the Serb can win seven more – Andre Agassi and Rod Laver won five after turning 28. And Djokovic does have a wife and child plus a team around him, from which he draws added motivation.

“I think there are times when you’re tired,” Djokovic said. “There are times when you feel exhausted, when you played so much that it’s difficult to find the energy to keep on going again. But in those tough times, you obviously rely on the people around you.

Djokovic is 24-0 in Beijing as he seeks a sixth title this week at the event.

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145 Comments for Can Novak Djokovic Catch Roger Federer’s Record Of 17 Slams? The Serb Says He Has A Lot Work To Do

Gypsy Gal Says:

I dont know about calling this forum tennis-x,we should actually re-name it DEJA-VU ex,we had a very similar thread on the same topic only a couple of weeks ago?….

Giles Says:

Skeezer would know the answer to the question, no? 😉

jalep Says:

Time will tell if he can catch and pass Rafa, then Federer – certainly a distinct possibility considering his great physical health and mental strength — just wondering when there will be news of another baby Djokovic? Stefan needs a sibling playmate.

Gypsy…Deja-vu-X. Didn’t we have a thread just like this? Debated it into the ground – flogged it silly.

Gypsy Gal Says:

Jalep thank goodness there are posters like you,that see tennis away from the top players,a couple of years ago it was like a Rafa Fan club, no offence but its getting that way with Novak now,i guess some people only see tennis and only want to talk about their favorites,its just click bait boring….

jalep Says:

Well after being a fan-girl for Federer prior to FO 2009 and participating in Fedal Wars I began to tire of Goat talk and all of the Federer defending I piled on myself, Gypsy. Besides, Fedal has a ridiculous number of titles – can’t wrap my mind around cheering them on. Same as it is with Serena. There comes a point when I truly and actively want others to beat these legendary players. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just the way I am when it comes to tennis.

Have not reached that saturation point with Nole, yet. Really hate it when he loses FO — silly me — it’s Deja-Vu Federer 2006-2008 all over again when FO comes around.

Gypsy Gal Says:

Jalep would love Rafa to win a win a WTF at some point,but im a realist and know he aint that good indoors,same with Andy whos been in 4 AO finals,to parrot a cliche i suppose some things probably arent meant to be to?….

jalep Says:

WTF would be good for Rafa and I hate to say this because it’s a ludicrous amount of times he’d win FO and so hope it doesn’t happen but…Rafa has a better chance of winning a few more FO’s than WTF. But you never know…

Trade you an AO from Nole for a FO from Rafa?

Max Pinto Says:

A lot depends on how the players like Murray, Nishikori, Wawrinka and others play. And…if Del Potro stays healthy, you can fuggedaboutit!

These players may not win many slams but they can tire the Djoker, as Murray did at the French Open, and Delpo did at Wimby of 2013.

elina Says:

There is something unnatural about indoor tennis.

Even Wimbledon has a weird vibe with the roof closed.

The Ashe concept may work better.

All tennis should be played outdoors.

elina Says:

Del Potro is a far cry from staying healthy.

He needs to get healthy first.

Ditto for Raonic and Nishikori.

Novak can dominate for years to come just like Roger did in the mid-2000s unless somebody shows up like Nadal did.

So, in a word, yes.

Gypsy Gal Says:

Jalep yeah deal,i think its likely that Novak would win his first FO before Rafa would win the WTF,i would love another AO and 1 for Murray too,4 finals that is bad luck….

jalep Says:

Where do you live, elina…lol, you don’t have to answer me. But think about this: If you live in mountainous and slushy, rainy parts of the Pacific Northwest, USA or in Canada, Moscow, Russia, Sweden, the Baltics, Scotland ect…indoor tennis makes absolutely perfect sense!

I love WTF and October/November tennis :D

Gypsy Gal Says:

I love all surfaces in tennis,footballers only play on grass,how difficult could that be,tennis players dont have that luxury?….

Gypsy Gal Says:

I dont think Delpo needs to get fit or stay,i think Delpo needs to actually start playing first,before people get carried away predicting big things for him,and i still maintain that Novak has some other all time greats records to get through first,thats before even thinking about Federer,OK alot of them have retired,but Rafa as crazy as it sounds with his crappy year and all might still eek out a couple more yet,and whos to say Roger wont win another either?….

jalep Says:

Yeah, Gypsy, though I like tennis for players having to conquer all surfaces at different elevations, ect…the more variety the better when it comes to venues and being able to compete in all seasons.

Probably a lot of that comes from my own experience having to run, ski, cycle in all kinds of miserable to great conditions — it’s a feat to master all conditions. I’m really great indoors on a treadmill…(just bullsheeting, ya now)

Ben Pronin Says:

Indoor tennis is the only way to play tennis. It’s not natural playing with wind.

Gypsy Gal Says:

LOL Playing with wind,i think they need to see the Doctor if it gets to that extent….

RF fan Says:

Is this a joke, NOVAK will never pass Roger. That’s what GOAT means.

SG1 Says:

My inclination, which I’ve stated before is that I don’t see 17 happening. But, the next generation of guys just hasn’t stepped up to consistently block the Big 4 (…or is it 3 right now? 2 maybe?). Is it plausible to think that in two years from now, this could still be the case? If yes, 17 may not be all that unrealistic.

It’s going have to be the Rublev’s, the Coric’s, the Kyrgios’ (…cringe), that will need to ultimately step up and end the domination of Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Nadal. It seems clear that Dimitrov and Raonic will not be consistent threats to these guys in the near future.

Wog Boy Says:

To be honest, who cares, Nole is already a legend and with USO win climbed to top shelf of tennis greats or to use the words of my good friend “he cemented his place in tennis history”.

Ben Pronin Says:

Honestly, I don’t understand the whole “if it stays as it is” argument. The idea being that the young guys don’t step up, and the top guys continue dominating even as they age. I don’t really see how that would really help Djokovic in getting or passing 17. If everything stays as it is, then surely Murray or Wawrinka could prevent Djokovic from winning some slams. Or even Nadal or a crazy performance by Federer.

Wog Boy Says:

Agree with Ben, when Nole was stopped of winning GS he was stopped by exactly those players Andy, Stan, Rafa and Roger with a very few exceptions, and they are all quite capable of stopping him again for a few years to come, plus just one bad day in the office and anybody else can beat him too and as he gets older he might have those bad days more often then not, mother nature has it’s rules and doesn’t care about us…from TX.

SG1 Says:

Novak is not stopped by any of the top players very much anymore. He’s had the better of Rafa for a while, beaten Federer in their last three slam encounters and owned Murray since he lost to him at 2013 Wimbledon. Stan can beat Novak but can he do it slam in and slam out? Probably not.

SG1 Says:

Novak has evolved to a point where you are going to have to bring something pretty damn special to beat him. Federer tried to attack him…didn’t work. Nadal tries to run him around and wear him out…doesn’t work. Murray?..Novak is a better version of Murray… everything Murray does, Novak does a little better (except volleying). Stan is the one guy who can hit Novak off the court. But, not on grass and not on a fast hard court. And to hit Novak off the court over a best of 5? You have to play out of your mind. If Novak stays healthy and motivated and there isn’t some push from the younger guys, 17 seems possible to me(…big if’s of course).

Wog Boy Says:

That’s correct if we are looking at 2015 but I don’t think we can isolate one year and say that’s how it is going to pan out in the next few years. I am Nole fan and I still remember those nine losses out of twelve GSs in 2012,13,14…not really long ago, and they were painful losses to the very same players we are talking about, ask us Nole fans. Tables can turn around at any moment, such is life.

Wog Boy Says:

I love your post @7:53pm, I hope (and pray) that you are rught🙏

chris ford1 Says:

I know the GOAT and Slams won as the only determinant of GOAThood debate continues…

But things shift. Once it was only Davis Cups won that mattered, once there were only 3 Slams as many top players skipped the Australian Open as a notch down as far lower paying than some USA/Euro tournaments. Once upon a time, total wins & championships were the measure of greatness.

We see new tools like ELO, and may see somebody with a lot of time and money devise a computer model that gives a holistic picture of all of a players attributes. Factors in equipment and new training&conditioning, competitive level a player faced, highest ranking and how long and how consistent they held their performance high from ratings points consistency. Accounts for retirement, and doesn’t excessively reward longevity. Aces, defensive ability, speed, net play, etc., etc.

And…that besides Slam wins….with wins and advancing deep or playing better than or equal to your peer group in rank obviously mattering most as the bottom line? You have to add more – Masters 500, 1000s, Davis Cup contribution, play in the Year End Championships. How many finals, semis, QFs were reached each year as a percent of all tournaments entered. Winning percent on all surfaces, indoors&outdoors, dominance in skill areas. H2H with peers.

Right now, on records, you would have to say Federer is the best with , even with adding other factors than Slam Count. In the past, you would, if looking holistically, add Pete Sampras, Connors, Lendl, Borg, and Nadal as having the highest, consistent performance.

The first 4, interestingly, have the most weeks at #1. (Djokovic is 5th in 6 weeks as he passes McEnroe) Nadal less weeks due to Fed & Novak competition, but he won #1 and held it for a decent time on 3 different occasions. Borg because he left at 26 and didn’t do pure ATP points events, skipped several ATP events consistently.

With Djokovic –

1. Only Federer has had such steady consistency going deep on all surfaces. And being the only two with winning % in the Top 10 in the open era, on all of them.
2. He seems destined to pass Rafa next year and have the most Master’s 1000 wins in the Open Era.
3. Certain skillsets, like return of serve, backhand, total defense, consistent performance – have Djokovic in a small group argued over on who might be the best.
4. Four end of year championships, within reach of Pete and Lendl’s 5 and Fed’s 6 wins.
5. Long way to go, but Djokovic may end up rank as good or better than Rafa in H2H against all top players.
6. A singular feat may be strong subjective reason why this or that player deserves more “GOAThood” creds. Djokovic is probably the only one at this point with a distant chance of a calendar year Grand Slam, a better chance of a non-calendar one. But he already has done something pretty singular in doing something very few predicted. He took on both ‘greatest players ever” as most fans and writers were of the opinion of, and surpassed Rafa & Fed in 2011 while both were still in their prime. And has remained the player with the best record overall , since.

And three caveats – I don’t think it will happen, but Andy Murray has a shot at really improving his game, given his level of talent, to give Djokovic major trouble. Rafa may get his mojo back. And you can never tell if injury or illness impact projections

chris ford1 Says:

Phew! An essay! Started writing and kept thinking of stuff to add on why Djokovic may not need to surpass 17 Slam wins in order to be considered in the GOAT debate. And I hold that Laver and Borg continue to have to be in the debate. And Pete.
I hope any that take time to read it find SOMETHING to agree about on points and conclusions I raised. Or take time to strongly disagree,in fact.

jane Says:

“To be honest, who cares, Nole is already a legend and with USO win climbed to top shelf of tennis greats or to use the words of my good friend “he cemented his place in tennis history”.

i second this post by wog boy. i mean 10 slams already! wow, i am thrilled with his achievements.

jalep Says:

Oh my gosh, CF1. It is what you want it to be: comparable over years, decades, eras and there’s an objective, unbiased, quantifiable method of making it all truth. Or… NOT.

Comparing Laver’s era to Borg’s, to Becker and Edberg’s to Sampras to Federer’s to Novak and Murray…way too many variables plus when evaluating competition over time so much is pure conjecture, subjective opinion and down to memory and reputation. There really isn’t a consistent way to quantify goathood or weak era. Can’t you foresee how CF1 junior and CF1 junior’s grandkids might scoff at trying to pump up the reputation of players who have been in the top ten in 2015? All you have is a bunch of guys who could get to top ten and not win the big trophies: guys like Berdych, Tsonga, Ferrer, Nishikori, you name it…as the time passes they look weaker and sillier – nothing to boast about unless you are somehow attached and bound to certain ones through nationality or some die-hard personal opinion.

But you are determined to sell a theory and you’ll have a lot of buyers with a similar wish to achieve a certain end. But agreeing with each other makes you what? Both right? Or, both wrong?

In reality, in the end, it doesn’t fly – it’s a dud.

For instance, say Wertheim gets his wish and GS’s dispense with the 5 set format because they are bad for TV and ticket sales, too hard on players, the sport should be easier, blah, blah. Suddenly tennis goes into an era where endurance means nothing. You can’t measure tennis player athletes that won in a 5 set format to those who never had to play a 5 set match. And I could go on and on. Why try to compare athletes in an ever-changing sport like tennis anyway? You can’t really do these completely different era’s justice – wooden rackets vs ?, the court surfaces, the balls, the formats, diet and training, science, changes in points structure for tournaments, changes in degree of difficulty…

It’s a dominantly self-serving idea at its core – a cult-like pseudo-science for the authors and their minions who agree on a certain criteria that’s actually opinion based and anecdotal in its essentials.

Really — best of a small span of time where you have mostly apples to apples is all you can realistically do. Lengthen the time spans and you get oranges, apples, bananas, then suddenly marshmallows, candied fruit, oops, now we’ve got celery, onions, and potato’s, garlic, bacon, nuts, pasta in something you try to sell as the original pure apples to apples. Such an act of faith to believe its apples to apples when it’s not even straight up fruit salad.

Right now, Novak is the best. Best ever all-time? No one can measure or tell the future. It’s a sports fantasy game at best. No one over time remembers what the h2h was between Becker and Edberg. What they remember is that Becker was a big name of his era and Edberg is an award given for sportsmanship, Laver is an arena in Australia…nothing much is remembered or apt to be believed as truth about the details of competition over time really.

Who still believes that Columbus discovered the New World? Really only the Europeans who want it to be true. North American Indians beg to differ. You can write history but not everyone is going to see the whole narrative as unquestionable facts. Sometimes you can rely and agree on a certain date and time such and such happened. But, buyers beware.


Joe Says:

Joker took 10 Slams from Fed and Rafa, that alone is massive…he can retire now.

peter Says:

Nole needs to win 3 slams next year to have a realistic shot at 17. That’s the caveat.

He will end up as one of the goats for sure, because it is very likely he will get 6 or 7 year end no.1s, even if he ends up having less slams than rafa, Pete.

There is really nobody who can challenge his no.1 ranking next few yrs, unless he injures himself.

jkhjh Says:

think of it this way. djokovic would have to accomplish what John McEnroe did over the course of his entire career, and Novak is already 28 soooooo, probably not gonna happen. However, Fed is becoming fainter and the field is dwindling with nadal dying off early due to injuries. Stan Wawrinka might be Novak’s only real challenge in GS now. Fed can’t go 5 sets anymore. I’d love to see him win one more because I called 18 back in the mid-2000’s but perhaps its not meant to be. Djok could pass nadal and sampras but Fed is a tall order. we’ll see

Porkbelly Says:

Very good post jalep.
But how I wish that Novak gets the grand slam!

elina Says:

Of course other players can stop Novak at slams. Sometimes.

Novak can average 2.5 slams per year over the next three years and then some.

Jalep, yes I play most of my tennis indoors due to a short summer season, and above average winds. Luckily my club has indoor and outdoor courts so we can play year round.

Indoors is perfect for recreational tennis.

Not a fan of it in professional tennis though. Seems artificial. Like artificial turf. It is almost like watching indoor football where there is no wind or sun or heat or rain.

Not a fan of indoor baseball either.

Gypsy Gal Says:

It doesnt seem like others can beat him at the moment,only on rare occasions,however i do hope all can raise their games,otherwise the games in danger of becoming a one man show….

chris ford1 Says:

1. If Djokovic *fails* to get 17 Slams, but wins a Non-Calendar Year Slam, 1st to get 4 in a row since Laver – how would people factor that in? Fed, Nole, and Rafa have come close. It is still possible for Djokovic. Win the AO again, try again for his holy grail in Paris…could happen. And the debate will alter a bit.

2. Same if Djokovic establishes a pos head to head over all his main rivals.

3. Revisiting Jalep on discovery of America…a counterargument is a discovery only exists if the person or animal realizes they have discovered something and passes it on. Woolly Mammoths, wolves were in N America before any human migration, but didn’t realize they had discovered anything. The “native Americans” similarly moved on and didn’t know they had found a new continent. Just unhunted new land attached to Asia, then more a days travel from that, more stuff to kill on their next hunting trip a bit further away that caused them to relocate their tribe. Unless thet were killed off by new waves driven to get easy food and found humans in the way. Nothing was communicated anything was discovered. Euros found most tribes were unaware of people existing more than a few days travel away.
Similarly, penicillin was discovered and realized for what it was by Fleming & Co in 1928. They are credited with that and making others aware they had discovered it. Even though it is well established that healers in the Dark Ages knew healing poultices of very certain kinds of mold on bread could be bound to a wound and help..

4. How do you look at a performer or athlete that rises because they are great students of predecessors and built their games after someone better than them showed them the way? Djokovic 2.0 was built on the shoulders of Fed and Rafa. With most believing he got more from Rafa than Fed – heart, building up stamina, mental strength. Novak repeatedly says he would not be the player he is without the inspiration of those two. But much came from his own unique talent, his coaches, the inspiration of Pete and Andre and the Serbs and Croats that had succeeded before him.

Felipe Says:

First, Djokovic need to stablish himself as a more accomplished player than Nadal. He is getting awfully close to actually doing it.
Then, he can start thinking of surpassing Federer.
As today, in this era, Federer first, Nadal Second and Djokovic third…..all time, Federer first / second (tough call with Laver), Nadal top 5 (with Borg and Sampras), Djokovic top 10 (Lendl / Connors / Mcenroe / Agassi)

elina Says:

Exactly GG. A one man show allowed Federer to win 11 slams over four years.

Not a stretch to say under similar conditions, Novak can’t win seven over the next same period of time, especially when you consider that the average age of professional tennis players is much higher than it was 10 years ago thanks to many factors.

The average age of the current top 10 in men’s tennis is 29.1. Three years ago it was 27.0. In 2002, it was 24.6; 1992 it was 23.2.

As Bobby D once said, the times they are-a-changing.

elina Says:

Felipe, we are talking about slam count, not to be confused with GOAT.

Novak can surpass Nadal and Roger in the great GOAT debate long before he catches Roger’s record 17.

calmdownplease Says:

‘Murray?..Novak is a better version of Murray… everything Murray does, Novak does a little better (except volleying)…’

Er, no, just no.
(And lazy, tone deaf bullshit to boot).
I grant you that Novak is the better player, by sheer accomplishments alone you have to give him that.
But he is NOT better than Andy on everything bar ‘volleying’
What nonsense!
There’s some things Andy does that Novak never does (and vice versa)
Despite their strong technical similarities, they are not the same player AT ALL (with Djokovic being better etc).
Wait till next year,
things will level up a bit.
Andy has nothing to lose now and everything to gain….

Ben Pronin Says:

“Er, no, just no.
(And lazy, tone deaf bullshit to boot).”

That’s my exact reaction every time someone says Murray is more “naturally talented” than Djokovic.

SG1 Says:

Joe Says:
Joker took 10 Slams from Fed and Rafa, that alone is massive…he can retire now.


Taking 10 slams from Federer and Rafa is an absolutely stellar accomplishment. I agree. Not so much about the retirement thing though…LOL

SG1 Says:

Well CDP, if I’m tone deaf, I’m tone deaf. But let’s look at the breakdown a little in terms of Novak and Andy:

Forehand? Novak

Backhand? Novak

1st Serve? A push

2nd Serve? Can I put 2 Novak’s here?

Movement? Slight edge to Novak

Return of Serve? Slight edge to Novak

Defense? Novak

Offense? Novak. Murray has become increasingly passive since him and Lendl broke things off.

Volleying? Murray

Mental Toughness? A couple of years ago I might have give this to Murray but now, it’s Novak hands down

Service Return? Novak by quite a bit even though Murray is an excellent returner.

This is of course my analysis but I don’t think I said anything untrue. So where does Murray really get a substantial advantage over Novak right now?

Look…Murray may be the more talented guy but talent in and of itself doesn’t win majors (…ask Henri Leconte, Gael Monfils…ah hell…the entire French Davis Cup squad of the last 30 years). Novak is simply the better player in all the departments that matter. It’s just hard to see this changing unless Novak’s drive and health go down hill.

SG1 Says:

Ben…I’d be interested in how you define talent. It’s a somewhat subjective word and yet we all know talent when we see it.

SG1 Says:

Oops…put Service Return and Return of Serve in there. My bad. But either way you slice it, Novak’s return is better.

SG1 Says:

And CDP, I never said Andy and Novak are the same player. They do play somewhat similarly and I indicated that Novak was better than Andy in most respects (for now at least).

Ben Pronin Says:

SG1, that’s sort of the problem. It’s very subjective.

Gilles Simon put it best here:

Basically, there are talents we recognize easily. For example, the reason so many believe in Murray’s talent is because we see him hit incredible shots that pretty much no one else can. But at what rate? Wawrinka also hits insane shots. So does Federer and Cilic and Tsonga and pretty much all of the top 100 and then some.

Murray has good hands and can hits with all kinds of spins that no one else can replicate. He’s also capable of playing brilliant offense and complimenting it with already brilliant defense.

But then there’s the idea that he loses to Djokovic because Djokovic is “mentally tougher”. If all of their matches ended 7-6 in the third/fifth, then you could say that. But that’s not the case. Djokovic has some straight forward wins over Murray. Hell even when they play 4 sets, it’s because Murray isn’t consistent enough to hang with Djokovic. And therein lies the problem. Is Murray more talented because he can belt out a 120 MPH forehand before dropping to an average of 70mph? Or is Djokovic more talented because he might not top 115 but he’ll consistently stay at 85-90?

But what really settles it for me is knowing how hard Murray works. If there’s one thing you can’t knock him for it’s his commitment to the sport. He works extremely hard, just like Djokovic and Federer. But whereas Djokovic has shown an aptitude for really improving his strokes (compare his serve and forehand now to 09/10 and it’s like a completely different player), Murray hasn’t. With Lendl he played more aggressively. But his strokes haven’t had significant improvement. And after Lendl left he fell back into his old habits. Everyone wonders why Murray isn’t improving his second serve. Do people really think someone with the tennis acumen of Murray doesn’t realize he needs to improve his second serve? And that he doesn’t try to? I think the reality is that he can’t. He doesn’t have it in him to hit a better second serve on a consistent basis.

Now compare Murray to a guy like Verdasco who is also clearly very talented but just doesn’t have the same level of commitment. With him, it’s hard to tell how could he could actually be. I bet every single player on tour has a day or even a few days throughout the year where they hit the zone. But what Djokovic and Federer and Nadal are able to do is set themselves up with a really high floor. Murray doesn’t have a really high floor compared to them. So in my opinion, that means he is less talented than them. Even if his ceiling is close to or higher than theirs.

elina Says:

Might just be a bad match up problem.

Not quite sure on dismissing the mental angle either. Nadal has beaten Roger every which way inside and out yet many still think it is all in Roger’s head.

Ben Pronin Says:

Everyone has a bad match-up against Djokovic. He’s much better against the field than Murray. It’s not even close at this point.

elina Says:

Depends on how you define “bad match up” of course.

One could equally claim that everyone in the top 40 has a bad match-up against one player.

calmdownplease Says:

Novak has had, almost, the ENTIRE last 2 years to himself with only one ageing has-been able to offer up any kind of resistance!
I’m definitely going to revisit these arguments with the lot of you
in the coming period, let’s sit tight and see who will have to make the most adjustments on their positions, shall we?
Anyway back to the RWC
Actually maybe not, sigh….

elina Says:

Andy has a better overhead than Novak.

calmdownplease Says:

Andy is the better tactician with a heightened court awareness, that’s one of the huge things. Tennis is not just about ball manipulation (although he is also superior in that).
Novak is more like Federer in the sense of wanting to play a more rhythmic game and leaving the thinking in favour of the instinctive approach.
Andy is more like Nadal in using cat and mouse tactics to draw you in, and even when you know it is happening you still can’t help it.
And he has done it to Novak many times.
Yes, Novak has the better FH, but the BH?
Or the even the Return, well, the differences are so slight that it might be that Novak has the edge due to having the better confidence right now.
Don’t agree that Novak’s movement is better if we abstract the last 2 years with recovery.
Despite the bendiness, Andy moves just as well but differently with more power rather than Novak’s flexibility
And who is better than Andy in retrieving seemingly lost causes at any part of the court?
No one that i can see anyway.
Anyway, I said I thought Novak was overall the better player and its for the reasons i think Nadal and Fed are better and have gotten (far) greater rewards for it.
I.e. They are all better mentally than he is.

Mark Says:

It’s possible but it depends on the up and comers. Federer is still at the top but he’s not the best right now due to his age. Can Djokovic keep playing like this for another 4 years? Federer is proving that it is possible barring any injury and the next generation isn’t looking any better. Perhaps when Djokovic is in his 30’s others might just take the initiative but it’s going to take way more dedication than any of them are giving right now. Djokovic’s tennis is boring. Him and Nadal have made this computer pong basically, watching baseline to baseline with the point being won when one gets tired. Boring tennis is what we have to look forward to.

Ben Pronin Says:

“ENTIRE last 2 years”

I don’t understand the write-off here. Nadal played a helluva French Open last year when he won it, on the heels of an Australian Open final. Wawrinka has a slam in each of the last two years, beating Nadal, Federer, and Novak twice to do it. Murray may have been recovering last year, but give me a freaking break if you’re going to pull out that excuse for 2015. The idea that Djokovic hasn’t had competition, and some believe will continue to not have competition, blows my mind. I must have been dreaming that Djokovic was playing and winning matches because apparently there has been no tennis played, just trophies handed out to him.

“Andy is the better tactician with a heightened court awareness”
Prove it. I agree that it’s a huge part of the game and shouldn’t be overlooked. But it’s BS if you think Djokovic is a mindless ball basher or ball machine or whatever you want to call him. Just watch how differently he plays his rivals, Murray, Federer, and Nadal. He doesn’t play them the same way at all. He has different tactics he applies to individual players and it’s a huge part of why he’s been so successful. Hell, there’s a reason you still hear the commentators say “he’s trying to use the Djokovic tactics of blah blah blah” when someone’s playing Nadal. Or several other players, even.

Now while I disagree with your overall assessment of who’s rhythmic and who’s a cat, I don’t even see how it matters. The stylistic approach is almost completely irrelevant if we’re trying to determine who’s better. Federer zipped and zapped his way to 17 slams. Nadal bludgeoned opponents to near death to 14 slams. Hell, Sampras cannon balled his way to 14 slams. Are you going to tell me Sampras is overall better than Nadal because he served and volleyed? Or Nadal is better overall than Sampras because he hit crazy top spin forehands?

“Mentally better than he is” and “he’s more naturally talented” are the most vague statements you can make and they’re basically cop outs. I was a huge Safin fan and I felt he under-achieved. But he under-achieved primarily because he didn’t have the same level of commitment as Federer or even Roddick. We really have no idea how much he could have achieved if he was more committed, or if he actually was capable of achieving more than he did. I think it’s why a guy like Roddick can probably be content with his career. Everyone blows matches and opportunities. But he made the most out of himself. Same goes for Murray. He’s making the most out of himself. Even if he’s blown some matches, overall, he just isn’t as good as the 3 all-time greats he plays with. If he retired today he can sit back and be proud of what he’s done because you know he didn’t hold anything back.

J-Kath Says:

It makes me wonder why such a lengthy debate on Nole v Andy takes place at this stage Nole is No. 1 and Andy is No. 3 – says all at this time.

jane Says:

i actually disagree with your tactical point CDP. novak is a great student of the game, and he’s constantly thinking out there, adjusting spins, angles, etc. i don’t think people give him enough credit for how he adjusts his tactics. a case in point is how he turned around his h2h with rafa in 2011. that was all about “heightened court awareness” and his understanding of how important it was to blunt rafa’s defensive skills by opening the court.

Ben Pronin Says:

J-Kath, because it’s fun.

calmdownplease Says:

Oh dear, we have really scarred you with the ‘Andy is more naturally talented trope’, haven’t we?
It’s probably not going away however, but I’ll be careful not to use it when you’re around at least
Oh thats right, I didn’t say it.
Prove it you say about court awareness?
Ive seen Andy lead Novak up the garden path on numerous occasions through tactical shot selection and point construction.
The evidence is in numerous matches where he has become the mouse.
He’s done it to everyone however, bar Nadal who also likes to do it.
Even the Montreal match was an exercise in tactically putting an opponent under pressure from the start.
I didn’t say Novak was a ‘mindless ball basher’, that’s just a silly straw man argument
I would never say that.
When Im talking about these things it is a given to me that we are only talking about slight % here and there.
Oh and you misunderstand tactician if you think Novak’s (Or Vajdar’s, more accurately) Nadal tactics are similar to Andy’s on court awareness of constructing points in real time.
He just has a more intellectual approach and combined with his ball skills makes him intriguing to watch for some of us.
How is it not relevant to mention this? Im talking about it in the context of who’s more of a court tactician. Not which approach is the more successful.
I don’t see how anyone can claim that Novak is not a rhythmic player, its obvious he is.
And I can use 2015 and the surgery as an excuse.
Why would all of a sudden a player with whom he had an near level H2H for 6 years all of a sudden streak ahead 8 matches, but for that?
What other explanation is there (and I’d like to see you WRITE it at least :)?
Nadal is in the wilderness without even having had surgery what for 18 months now?
I won’t use it going on however, but Andy had to prove himself both mentally and physically to be able to return to form, and its only happened recently.
Oh And I can assure that Murray will NOT be retiring anytime soon, and he certainly has held quite a bit back in the past.
Novak definitely had reduced competition if one compares his 2015 season with the 2011 one!
It’s undeniable, when you had the likes of Cilic and even Wawa stepping in to fill the void left most by Nadal Murray and a still young enough Federer.
Why is ‘mentally better’ ‘vague’ to you?
Okay how about ‘maintaining optimal intensity under increased duress’ is that better?
There’s not one sport or commentator that doesn’t appreciate or mention this and often.
Good Grief, are we to explain EVERYTHING from scratch with you?

J-Kath Says:

Ben Pronin

OK – strikes me as an acceptable reason – just seems somewhat irrelevant…..

Ben Pronin Says:

Nadal does not employ the same cat and mouse tactics that Murray does at all, so I have no idea what that’s about.

“He just has a more intellectual approach”
How? I understand that’s why you like him. But how is he MORE intellectual in his approach? Is standing 12 feet behind the baseline and bunting the ball to the middle of the court a more intellectual approach? Especially if you keep doing it as your losing?

The implication here is that Djokovic is mindless. Maybe not a mindless ball basher, but a mindless player. And he’s not. He makes mid-match adjustments, mid-point adjustments even. Things that are super easy to overlook.

And yet somehow Andy is better than him here. But based on what? They both have numerous comebacks. But Novak is a lot better at winning matches when he’s far from his best. That can be seen in the results. And that is the biggest indicator of tennis acumen and court awareness. Not that Andy is bad in this regard, but to say he’s better is pushing it. Djokovic has made a lot of finals this year and they weren’t all dominating strolls through the park.

2015 competition is only reduced at the top as compared to 2011. His biggest rivals are a much older Federer, Wawrinka, and Murray. In 2011 he had prime Nadal, a younger Federer, and a younger Murray. I think prime Nadal outweighs the other players by so much I don’t even care to compare the rest. But, when a random player like Cilic can win a slam, that makes the field more dangerous. And I don’t think it’s fair to lump Wawrinka in with Cilic. Wawrinka has proven he’s a contender at every slam.

What has Murray held back? When has he not put in 100% effort? Is he slacking somewhere that only you know about?

So let me get this straight, when Murray wins in Montreal, it’s because of superior tennis tactics. But when Djokovic beats him 8 straight times, it’s because he’s recovering? Sure, that’s fair.

I think the mental aspect of the game is extremely overrated. And the commentators make way too many references to it. Sometimes the player’s stroke simply isn’t good enough to clip the line instead of sailing out. Not every shot is mental. Tennis is the ultimate muscle memory sport. If you’re losing sets 6-3 and 6-4 and 6-2, it’s not mental, you’re just not good enough to win.

elina Says:

^^ just no.

jane Says:

why elina? while i am enjoying this debate and can see points on both sides, surely ben makes some valid points that don’t deserve to be roundly dismissed with “no.” no?

mat4 Says:

The adage about Murray the talented tactical genius vs Novak the mechanical ball basher is old and quite stupid.

Ben has just written a good assessment of their mutual standings here, and a good read could be Juan Jose’s article about Novak’s game. It’s here:

I think jane already gave this link, but it’s a must read.

Gypsy Gal Says:

IMO Both players are very talented and very solid players,both move very well,both can retrieve balls others cant get to in a million years,i just think Novak does things that much better than Andy,does that make him more talented,personally i dont know,but whats more pleasing to the naked eye to one person aint necassarily so to another,surely its a matter of opinion and preferance?

BTW Did any other posters have trouble getting a connection to this site?….

J-Kath Says:

@ Gypsy Gal (9.33am) – Yes, I did – I had to go right back to re-set – seems OK now though.

Margot Says:

Go away! Andy is lob maestro also BDL maestro and this stroke was mucked up pre op by pain and post op by slow recovery. Couldn’t rotate.
Go Scotland! Hope to see you in the quarters.

elina Says:

Jane, to say that the mental aspect of the game is extremely overrated shows a fundamental lack of understanding of an individual sport like tennis IMO.

It has been Nadal’s downfall for the last year.

Roger and Andy failed to get their respective games back long after injury due to the time to get their confidence back.

A large part of Novak’s turnaround in 2011 was mental.

How many times do you see an underdog play freely and get a lead only to surrender it when they start to think they could actually win.

Or a good player tighten up when serving for it.

So yeah, shouldn’t even need to be said really, just no.

jane Says:

“A large part of Novak’s turnaround in 2011 was mental.”

i think it was largely tactical, and i think vajda would agree, as he has spoken on this. novak was always 50-50 in his match up with fed. but he couldnt get past rafa. the turnaround in 2011, being able to go that final step, was because of the tactical adjustments they made to beat rafa, hence winning 7 finals in a row.

sure, some of it may’ve been mental. and some of it may’ve been his new diet. but lots was also strategy and getting his serve back,which had been awol in 2009 second half thru first half of 2010 due to martin experiment.

ben is merely saying it is “overrated.” he is not saying it’s nothing.

MMT, one of the strongest longtime posters here, would echo ben’s sentiments.

many could say rafa’s issues have been related to court positioning and an ineffective serve, too. so it’s difficult to say.

but ben made some valid points in his posts here.

SG1 Says:

Ben…I completely agree with your 4:34pm post. Novak is the consummate technician. His shots are better than Murray’s because over the last 5 or 6 years, he’s gone to work on improving them as Ben was saying. For this reason, he often plays better at crunch time than Andy does. There are occasions when Andy’s level is very high and he can beat Novak. I think the reality is that most days, even pros don’t play their very best. Novak’s technical superiority therefore wins out on those days when Murray isn’t in the zone. In other words, Novak’s average day is a little better than Murray’s average day.

Ben Pronin Says:

(I can’t log in to my normal account right now).

“How many times do you see an underdog play freely and get a lead only to surrender it when they start to think they could actually win.

Or a good player tighten up when serving for it.”

These are very specific examples. If you lose 7-6 in the third, the mental game probably played a much larger role than if you lost 6-3 or 6-4. And that’s my point. Not everything is mental. It’s a part of the game, not the entire game.

Federer and Murray dealt with physical injuries. They didn’t need time to get their “confidence” back, they needed time to get match fit and get their basic timing back. If you don’t play tennis for a while or you have to adjust your game in some way to accommodate an injury, you’re timing is going to be off. Timing is by far the most important part of the game. Slightly early? Bottom of the net. Slightly late? 10 miles out. Timing and muscle memory are the biggest parts of the game. Not the mental mumbo jumbo.

Nadal has been hitting balls short all year. His serve has been hot garbage. So all he needs is a little dose of confidence and he’ll be serving like Isner, right? It’s such a ridiculous notion. Just no.

Novak’s turnaround was largely mental? No. No it wasn’t “largely” mental. It was largely physical and technical. On his forehand side he improved his racket head speed. He always had the great backhand. He started to bend lower to slice or to return slices. And, I mean c’mon. He had no serve in 2010. In 2011 he had a serve. That alone was huge. It’s really not that hard to understand how the number 3 player in the world hitting 10 double faults per match became number 1 when he stopped double faulting.

Tennis isn’t some mental aptitude test that everyone seems to claim it is. It’s a sport. It’s physical. It’s also a very, very difficult sport technique-wise. No other sport requires you to master so many different strokes. Forehand, backhand, serve, slice, volley, overhead. 6 basic strokes with very different requirements. Then there’s open stance, closed stance, cross-court, inside-out, inside-in, approach shots, lobs, topspin lobs, safe topspin, risky flat, etc.

It certainly doesn’t help that guys like Djokovic and Nadal are always yapping about confidence and whatnot. But at that level you have most of the strokes mastered, anyway. And they will most likely end up in that third set tiebreaker where both guys are trading bombs. So yeah, that becomes more mental. And staying focused match in and match out, that’s mental, too.

But if Murray is consistently making semis and finals and putting himself in the position to play Djokovic time and time again, and still losing to him more often than not with final sets of 6-1, 6-0, 6-3, and so on, that’s not mental. That’s one guy being a better player than the other. That said, I am surprised at the lopsided h2h. I always felt these two would have an epic rivalry and I’m pretty “confident” that Murray will get a few more wins before they both hang it up.

elina Says:

Yes he has but I don’t see many views that are overrated about the importance of mental strength in tennis.

You can have all of the skill in the world but it will mean nothing without mental strength.

Nadal hitting the ball short and camping behind the baseline is mental.

Djokovic up a double break in the 5th set at the USO and almost losing that advantage was mental.

Nothing physical about it.

“To win a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of this sport, as well as being No. 1 of the world. Not many players are able to do that,” said Djokovic “If you kind of keep on trying for many years, you start doubting yourself if you really can do it. All the people around you keep on telling you that you can. In my case, in my personal experience, when I won in 2008 my first Grand Slam (at the Australian Open), two years after that I wasn’t managing to win [another major] title. People started doubting my abilities [to win] another Grand Slam title. I did have also my own dilemmas.
“In the end I figured out it’s a matter of obviously a lot of things together, but mostly self-belief. Because it’s a mental game and you need to be mentally tough and be ready to commit and sacrifice many things in life to achieve that.”

SG1 Says:

Ben…as for talent, I like to keep things simple. To me at least, there are some signs that tell me a player has an innate talent for tennis and they are:

1) Easy power. Can the player hammer a ball but look totally within themselves while doing it?

2) Can you make something as difficult as pro tennis look really easy?

3) Does the player move effortlessly and speedily around a tennis court without actually looking like they are expending a ton of effort?

4) Does the player have the ability to anticipate where to be next?

In a sense, 3 and 4 go together for me. There are quite a few players out there that exhibit many of the skills above.

elina Says:

It is why he hired Becker. He felt he was mentally losing in the big moments.

After his Wimbledon win in 2014:

Novak Djokovic knew all along that his game was good enough to win more Grand Slam titles. It was his mind that was the problem.

And so after failing to convert a match point against Roger Federer in the fourth set of the Wimbledon final, and after losing five games in a row to get pushed to a fifth set, Djokovic left the court for a bathroom break so he could give himself a pep talk.

What Djokovic needed right then, he explained Monday, was “positive encouragement,” a way to confront the “disappointment that is bringing with itself the fear and the doubt and all these different demons inside.”

It worked.

“I managed to have my convictions stronger than my doubts in this moment,” he said, “and managed to push myself the very last step and to win the trophy.”

elina Says:

‘There were a few things he said that were important but most of all is the mental toughness and the self belief.

‘I took some time to refocus and forget about what happened in the fourth set, forget about the missed opportunities and move on.
‘I had this positive encouragement to say to myself, and even though you go through different emotions during such an important match and there are times when you have doubts, and especially after the fourth set the disappointment that brought with it the fear and all these different demons inside.
‘When you start fighting them that’s the biggest fight that you can have. That’s what I experienced and I managed to have my conviction stronger than my doubts and managed to push myself the very last step to win the trophy.’

Read more:

Sometimes overrated ok sure but “extremely” overrated in general. Just no. It’s simply not the case.

That’s one of the things that makes tennis so interesting to watch. It is the best reality TV.

Ben Pronin Says:

SG1, I feel like, based on those 4 points, Nadal is the least talented player you’ve ever seen. Or at least one of the least.

“Djokovic up a double break in the 5th set at the USO and almost losing that advantage was mental.”

Do you mean 4th set this year? Nothing physical about it? Yeah, it was Djokovic’s mentality that allowed Federer to go balls out all over the court and hitting crazy volleys and winners. What a mental cupcake Djokovic is.

As for Wimbledon, again, that’s a very specific example. And when you lose a set after holding match point, then it becomes extremely mental. But that doesn’t make the whole game mental.

And I don’t care what Djokovic says about why he hired Becker. The self-belief nonsense barely helped him in 2014. It’s the small improvements he’s made in his game with Becker that helped bring about the results this year. Djokovic is more complete now than ever and that’s a big thanks to several things Becker was able to provide to his game. Everyone wondered why Becker was hired at all. Well, in hindsight it makes perfect sense. Djokovic was already a defensive wall before. He was a great at retrieving every shot but he wasn’t as consistent moving forward. With Becker, his shots have more sting, his volleys are way better, and his serve is much improved. All of which allow him to be more aggressive.

Again, small changes and improvements in technique. It’s hard to see on a TV screen, but it’s there.

You know what makes it really easy to hit a forehand into the corner when it’s 5-5 in the third set tiebreaker? Muscle memory. If the muscle memory for the shot is on point, your chances of making the shot improve exponentially. And it looks like you have lots of confidence but it’s really more attributed to how well you practiced. If you have to think about the tough shot and how to hit it you already messed up. Overthinking in tennis is a horrible thing. Your best bet is to rely on your muscle memory to hit the necessary shots.

elina Says:

Uncle Toni says:

“For me it’s a good possibility to show a good Rafael now at Wimbledon,” he said. “I know when you arrive at Wimbledon without a Grand Slam title—it’s the first time in ten, eleven years that we arrive there without winning a Grand Slam—then the confidence is not the same. The confidence in tennis and more in grass is very important, because all changes in one moment, and when you have confidence you hit the ball and the ball goes on the line and when you don’t have confidence you hit the ball and the ball goes outside.” – See more at:,-but-Sti.aspx#sthash.MBCBhguI.dpuf

elina Says:

2013 Federer says:

“Confidence takes care of all the things you don’t usually think about,” he said. “It’s been a difficult last three months. Maybe my consistency is just not quite there yet. Maybe on a daily basis, on a set by set or point by point basis, maybe that’s something that has been difficult for me.”

2012 Federer says:

The former No. 1 last won a major title at the 2010 Australian Open but denies his form has been in decline, instead attributing that to “a bit of confidence not on my side and on my opponent’s side.”

So extremely overated? No. It’s not.

elina Says:

Yes a combination of muscle memory and confidence.

One is no good without the other.

Ben Pronin Says:

Confidence is a by product of being a good player. You don’t gain confidence by telling yourself you need more confidence. You get it by going out to the practice court and drilling every shot into your body until you are the proverbial robot. If you know how to hit the shot, you know you can hit the shot, and you’ve practiced it billions of times to the point where the racket is just there as a requirement of the sport, then you will have the confidence to hit the shot.

What Federer said in 2013 goes along with what I’ve been saying. He had physical limitations that didn’t allow him to play as well and as consistent as he normally does. When you’re less consistent, you’re less confident. When you’re more consistent, you’re more confident. This isn’t a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” scenario. If you’re playing well, you become more confident. That confidence helps in specific situations, like when you’re down in a match, or at the tail end of a tight match. You’ll have the confidence to continue playing well because you developed your game to that point. Why shouldn’t you make that forehand you’ve made 10000000 times before?

What Federer said in 2012 was stupid and you can pull up a thousand more quotes and it won’t change anything.

elina Says:

The two are intertwined.

Nadal, Murray and Federer have all suffered from lack of mental strenght loger than it took for them to recover physically.

Mental strength is simply not “extremely overrated” generally speaking.

The quotes from the best players in the game simply support my opinion.

You are right in that sense. It doesn’t change a thing.

Ben Pronin Says:

“Nadal, Murray and Federer have all suffered from lack of mental strenght loger than it took for them to recover physically.”

How do you know? Just based on what they say?

Federer had back issues for almost an entire year. How do you know how long it took him to shake off what was bothering him and get back to his peak physical condition?

I don’t know what’s going on with Nadal right now. But he had like 3 straight injuries last year. Even if he’s not currently injured, that doesn’t mean his body and game have recovered to what they were before. He had a wrist problem last year. Do you know how vital the wrist is in tennis?

And then there’s Murray. According to CDP, his back surgery is still a viable excuse for 2015. I don’t really agree because he looks fine. But Margot mentioned that his lob and backhand DTL have suffered as a result. I haven’t heard about this before but I’m sure she’s noticed this more than I have and even if he’s capable of hitting those shots without pain or anything, doesn’t mean the consistency and timing are going to be what they were before.

Did you know that Andy Roddick had a shoulder injury in 2008? Did you know his serve was never the same after? Yeah it was still a good serve, but he lost some pop on it and became a bit more conservative in his placement. Hard to tell casually but it was noticeable if you watched him play a lot and watched for it. Are you going to tell me he simply couldn’t recover his “confidence”?

elina Says:

“How do you know? Just based on what they say?”

What they say and watching many matches like the match case I’ve provided above.

How do you know it is extremely overrated?

“Are you going to tell me he simply couldn’t recover his “confidence”?”

Strawman argument. I’ve never said confidence is the only thing. I am saying that I’ve seen very few cases where it is extremely overrated as you have stated.

Ben Pronin Says:

Why isn’t Fernando Verdasco a grand slam champion?

elina Says:

Why didn’t Djokovic win his second slam until three years after his first?

(Hint: A fun drinking game would be to take a drink every time he said the word pressure and expectations during that time.)

elina Says:

But I will bite at the Verdasco bait.

He’s not talented enough.

However, mental strength is a big weakness for him.

He would be top 20 for much more of his career if he had better mental strength.

He has blown many leads and failed to close out matches he should win because he gets tense after playing freely for most of the match.

After beating Verdasco in Australia in five sets, Davydenko said “He’s strong physically, but not mentally. For sure he was strong. For sure he can play five, six, sets. But concentration you can’t holding all five sets the same. That’s was I know he have power in the fifth set, but he can make mistakes.”

Sorry for another player quote. What do they know anyways.

Ben Pronin Says:

Because he wasn’t good enough. He won Australia beating Federer and Tsonga. Before 2011, Djokovic’s game wasn’t offensive enough and Federer was able to get through him more often because he took advantage of that passivity. As did Berdych in 2010. Nadal was too consistent for Djokovic, especially on clay.

Passive play plagued him for 2 years. And he didn’t have all of the tools he needed to beat the guys who really took it to him (something that can still, sometimes, happen, as we saw at the French Open). In 2011 he had a good serve, his forehand became a weapon, his stamina was greatly improved and allowed for him to play with more patience and consistency, he became a great champion.

Attributing the mental game to Djokovic’s 2011 transformation is lazy and wreaks of ignorance. He was nearly a completely different player when compared to prior years.

Ben Pronin Says:

Not talented enough? I’m done going in circles. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

elina Says:

Nor do you.

Saying I said that is lazy and wreaks of ignorance.

It was a big factor though.

elina Says:

“Tennis is a mental game. Everyone is fit, everyone hits great forehands and backhands.”

“I stopped thinking too much about what could happen and relied on my physical and mental strength to play the right shots at the right time.”

“I think luck falls on not just the brave but also the ones who believe they belong there.”

“In terms of playing ability there is nothing to choose between number one and 100. Instead, it’s a question of who believes and who wants it more? Which player is mentally stronger? Which player is going to fight the hardest in the big points? These are the things that determine who is the champion.”

Is Novak being lazy, ignorant or both when he said these things?

Please. Educate me.

J-Kath Says:

Thanks Margot (@ 11.33 am.) – Wales very comfortable – congrats. Had hoped SA would lose to USA today (living in a rainbow I think). So Scotland must face up and kick ass ……

calmdownplease Says:

I’m SO sorry Ben Pronin, SG1, and the other one
But Elina blew your asses out of the water, this time
Ah well

calmdownplease Says:

But if Murray is consistently making semis and finals and putting himself in the position to play Djokovic time and time again, and still losing to him more often than not with final sets of 6-1, 6-0, 6-3, and so on, that’s not mental..’

What a stupid, deluded thing to say..
He only managed this kind of thing after Andy had surgery
It’s OBVIOUSLY mental in the sense of maintaining belief and mental stamina which takes a long time to recover.
You do know the 4th set of the FO was won by Andy with considerable flair?
Oh Andy will get one or two wins against Novak you say?
F**k you Ben Pronin, and prepare for a reality check!

Ben Pronin Says:

All Elina did was blow smoke as always. Just like with her stats, she just listed a bunch of quotes and proved she has no understanding of the game itself. It’s the internet. Anyone can find anything they need to confirm their arguments no matter how wrong or stupid.

Wow, CDP. Is Murray your brother? Such strong reactions because I said Murray will win a few more matches against Djokovic, instead of all of them, I guess?

Dude, Murray is not as good as Djokovic. They’re not even in the same league. Get over it. The only thing that’s obvious is your delusion.

calmdownplease Says:

Let’s see how 2016 plays out my little Novak super fanboy
To me its tennis TALENT over balkan bloody mindedness.
But if Novak owns Andy next year….
Yeah, I’ll hand it all to him here and everywhere, eat my hat and give you all the props even.
You bet!
But I don’t see it coming to that at all.
Aww BP
His most loyal little hybrid-fan like EVER
It’s almost as if Marit Safin never existed
Isn’t it just?

Ben Pronin Says:

I have no idea what you’re saying. Unless Murray wins all 4 slams next year, nothing he does will make him better than Novak.

elina Says:

jane Says:
why elina? while i am enjoying this debate and can see points on both sides, surely ben makes some valid points that don’t deserve to be roundly dismissed with “no.” no?

Jane, in hindsight, Ben has proven that this is exactly what they deserved.

calmdownplease Says:

Let’s face it BP, you don’t have much of an Idea about ANYTHING really……

SG1 Says:

SG1, I feel like, based on those 4 points, Nadal is the least talented player you’ve ever seen. Or at least one of the least


LOL! My definition could lead somebody to believe that Nadal isn’t very talented. Quite true. Given the fact that after last year’s FO, I believed that Nadal was in fact on the verge of being the GOAT, it’s all the more ironic.

So…do I believe that Nadal just isn’t very talented? Of course I think he’s phenomenally talented. And he does do well in some of the criteria. He anticipates well and he is inherently powerful. Does he make the game look easy? Not really. Does he glide around the court like a Federer or a Miloslav Mecir? Not really. Is he as talented as a guy like Federer? I don’t think so. Is he better than most guys I would classify as being more talented? Definitely and without doubt. Talent doesn’t always translate into legendary greatness (…Rios, Nastase, Safin, all the French Davis Cup team members of the last 30 years).

It’s ultimately how you use the talent you’ve been given. This is where guys like Djokovic, Nadal and Connors stand a league apart. These guys have squeezed every ounce of achievement out of what they’ve been given.

Wog Boy Says:

“F**k you Ben Pronin..”

Was that really necessary?
And then you say:

“To me its tennis TALENT over balkan bloody mindedness.”

What was that supposed to mean?
I don’t know what are you on, but slow down with using whatever you are using, you are too agitated, you might harm yourself or somebody else.

Ben Pronin Says:

That’s why I don’t like the whole “natural talent” assessment. Flair is often mistaken for talent. Nadal doesn’t make the game look easy. Federer makes it look simple. But you’re not going to be able to replicate either guy. Just ask Dimitrov.

Everyone thought Gasquet was so talented because he had a pretty backhand. But where is his talent? His movement sucks, his court awareness is awful, his serve is okay, and his forehand is mediocre. Nadal also had a lot of holes in his game that he shored up throughout the years. He didn’t have that distinct flair in his shots when he was coming up. And even now, outside of his forehand, his game isn’t exactly beautiful. But his aptitude in improving his technique and being able to add to his success while tinkering with his game speaks volumes about how talented he is.

cv. Says:

Am glad Uncle Tony is now open to another opinion.
Good Idea for all concerned particularly Nadal’s Adoring Fans.

Nadal needs a Specialist to work with Him on His Serve. His serve does not allow for free points. He cannot serve Himself out of difficulties.
He is not as fast on his feet as He was years ago.( I think He has a long standing problem with his feet)

Nadal under the proper conditions is capable of winning more slams.
Please make the necessary adjustments now and
win more tournaments.

We love & Adore You and want to see you achieve
to your full potential. GO FOR IT. Thank you,
Uncle Tony, and Your Team.

calmdownplease Says:

Yes it was necessary!
And I’ll decide what’s necessary also when it comes to my posts.
But there’s no ‘harm’ here anyway,
It’s only the internet, after all.
So, I can see the Novak fans are the Fed fans in waiting
(or so they think)
Never mind, it’s going to be fun!

skeezer Says:

The more complete game a player has the more chances of success;

Technique in all strokes, athleticism, talent ( including eye/had cord. )
Confidence factor, steel nerves( or lack thereof ), tactics and strategy.

When at times, you combine all these, you are “Novakish” or “shhhGeneniusatwork”, or “Beastmode”. It happens. However…… the most consistent at them all usually wins the most.

skeezer Says:

“Never mind, it’s going to be fun!”
No, don’t think its fun when you attack someone with that phrase. Surprised you’re not moderated already. Chill.

Wog Boy Says:

“So, I can see the Novak fans are the Fed fans in waiting
(or so they think)”
Where did you get that one from?
I am still waiting for you to elaborate on that “TALENT over balkan bloody mindedness.” What did you really want to say, spit it out.

jane Says:

initially novak had the better of the andy/nole rivalry, winning their first 4 matches easily; then it shifted in around 2008 and andy & novak started winning more evenly – often in tight final sets (7-5, 7-6 etc) – they were 2-1 in 2011 for novak; 4-3 in 2012 for novak and 1-1 in 2012. then novak pulled away again when andy was struggling with his back. but some of novak’s lead in the h2h was established v. early on in their rivalry. their matches were tight this year; it’ll be interesting to see how they develop going forward.


” balkan bloody mindedness” – yeah, that’s kind of a low blow CDP. no need to bring nationality or whatever into it, imho. meh … : /

jane Says:

i thought there were some interesting points raised in the discussion re: talent, technique, mental strength, success and so on. i just don’t get why it has to devolve into swearing, name-calling and such.

it’s true ben, about reeshard. i often call him talented but then i watch him play and he stands 9 miles behind the baseline whacking those backhands sometimes with no clear intent. indeed he has a powerful shot there, and his serve can be great on grass too, but is he really so “talented.” hmmm… dunno. starting to wonder.

maybe the talent notion partly comes from how players played as kids?? it is a nebulous and somewhat subjective concept to analyze though.

elina Says:

Jane agreed. It’s in lieu of a valid argument.

chris ford1 Says:

SG1 – Not sure if I would place Djokovic and Rafa as inferior to Federer in raw talent. Or Mecir, Reeshard, Monfils….
Surely the two of them had something special that no one else had, the way they rocketed up the rankings. Pre-Nole 2.0, Djokovic became the youngest player to reach all 4 Grand Slam semis. From the start, he was spotted as gifted. Tremendous speed, ability to learn, a natural ball striker with exceptional hand – eye coordination. Mental toughness, ambidexterity, speed, hitting power strokes anywhere (on the run, jammed, even moving backwards on his heels), ability to focus relentlessly, and stamina were Nadal talents he came in with – that got him into the GOAT discussion with time.
You would agree that there is more to talent than gliding on the court. Or hitting a gorgeous Reeshard/Fed one-handed backhand.

Wog Boy Says:

Forget about tennis for a second, this link made my day:

RF Says:

Ben Pronin reminds me of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.

“you can’t close the leads you’re given you can’t close sh**. You ARE sh**.”

django Says:

Balkan bloody mindedness?
Sounds like Kim Murray and her fecking Czech flash feck.
CDP why don’t brits like Balkan people?

J-Kath Says:

Dangerous times to comment here, me thinks. However, to Django, nobody said that Brits. don’t like Balkan people so please don’t make such broad assumptions about all four nations that constitute GB because it simply isn’t true.

elina Says:

Isner takes the 2nd set. Millman must be kicking himself, he served for the match and a DF did for him.

Just another example of an underdog lacking mental strength to close out the match. Seen it hundreds of times.

As Novak says, “In terms of playing ability there is nothing to choose between number one and 100. Instead, it’s a question of who believes and who wants it more?”

Preach it Novak.

elina Says:

Millman didn’t face a break point until he served for the match in his 11th service game.

Millman made three unforced errors including a double fault when serving for it and Isner broke to stay in the match on his first break point.

Nothing to see here folks. His muscle memory simply forgot.

Ben Pronin Says:

Elina, do you really believe that? Do you really believe that, in terms of playing ability, nothing separates Djokovic and Yen-Hsun Lu?

Gypsy Gal Says:

J-Kath@5.16am exactly,its most annoying when posters like to assume what other posters are thinking,especially when its throwing accusations around about other nations,race and nationality mean nothing to me coming from a Brit….

elina Says:

Ben, do you really believe that? Do you really believe that’s what I said or is that just another straw man argument.

Nothing I’ve said supports that statement.

elina Says:

I believe that there is a lot of truth in what Novak implied with this statement.

More to the point though, I believe that mental strength is not extremely overrated, as do the players I’ve quoted yesterday.

As was my original instinct, I should have obviously left it at just no.

Ben Pronin Says:

Calling everything a straw man argument does not make everything a straw man argument.

Djokovic is number 1 and Yen-Hsun Lu is number 100. You continue to blindly quote players without expanding on your point.

It’s still extremely overrated. It’s not 90% of the game. It’s not even 50%. You mentioned Millman screwing up the tiebreaker. Tiebreakers are a different animal. They’re a crap shoot. There’s more luck involved in winning a set 7-6 than winning a set 7-5 or anything lower.

Most matches don’t have the scorelines of 4-6 7-6 6-4. Most matches, and sets, are more straight forward. If a match ends up 6-4 6-3, the most common score in tennis, the mental aspect had little do with it.

Keep in mind how PC Djokovic and a lot of other players are. Djokovic hasn’t insulted a fly in like 5 years. Whether it’s how he really feels or if it’s for PR purposes, I can’t say. But blindly quoting him doesn’t enhance your point.

Okiegal Says:

Ben says…..”Confidence is a by product of being a good player”…..Well, you can go out to the practice courts and work on every facet of your game, but when you get in a real tight do or die game in a match, nerves take over…the heart racing 90 miles an hour…..then comes the pressure a whole different ballgame… happens to the top ranked players sometime….May be not as often….
because they are at the top of the rankings all the time………but they’re only human, and will falter once in awhile…

jane Says:

^ lol, and i think players tend to be really general in their pressers, in part because they do like 9 million of them a year – specifically the top guys.

when players talk in specifics, like about one other player, or a particular shot or their own, or whatever, i find it most compelling because it seems most honest.

the mental aspect of the game seems to apply to specific situations more that anything – serving out big matches, tiebreakers, closer deciders. that’s where the confidence or lack thereof seems to be an issue. but not in the day-to-day plays as much, i don’t think.

and by “mental aspect” i mean confidence or similar.

as for tennis acumen, awareness of the court/ opponents, making adjustments, etc, i think that is something all the top guys have, although some maybe work on it more than others. but that’s not usually what pundits/commentators refer to when they speak or write of the mental part of the game.

jane Says:

oops, my ” lol” was in response to ben’s point about “PC” pressers.

elina Says:

“You continue to blindly quote players without expanding on your point.”

Another straw man argument.

“You mentioned Millman screwing up the tiebreaker.”

No I didn’t. Misquoted again.

Okiegal Says:

I’m so lame when it comes to European history I don’t even know what constitutes the Balkan countries….I do know about the UK, however. The USA, we’ve got the north and the south (Yanks and Rebs) There are activists that play the North/South game today! It’s a big deal in the southern states….they’re serious…. It’s like it happened just yesterday……

Okiegal Says:

Why can’t we just all get along….life is too short….

Ben Pronin Says:

Okie, you’re not wrong. But that’s where match toughness comes into play.

Nadal this year has been saying he’s been practicing well but it hasn’t translated into the matches.

Federer, after 2013, said he lost some confidence in his matches.

Mental toughness, resilience, awareness, etc, can’t be lumped in with “believing in yourself”. If you’re going to say the mental game encompasses your court acumen, your in-match intelligence, then that’s one thing. But when Djokovic says the difference between number 1 and number 100 is who wants or believes it more, it’s hogwash. It’s just bland statements for the sake of a statement.

Murray is praised for his high tennis IQ, as he should be. IQ is mental, no? So that means he’s mentally strong, right? His tennis IQ is apparently higher than Djokovic’s mindless ball-bashing. So then Murray is mentally better than Djokovic? See how none of this makes sense?

If you’re at 5-5 in the third set tiebreaker, then it’s all nerves at that point. Mental strength is pretty important.

But if you need to shore up your second serve or beef up your forehand to avoid being broken frequently, then that’s clearly physical. Believing you can hit harder forehands won’t help you hit harder forehands if you physically can’t.

Ben Pronin Says:

Cool beans, Elina.

elina Says:

Cool beans indeed, Ben.

SG1 Says:

Ben…I basically agree with your 7:20pm post. But, I don’t remember anyone ever saying that Richard Gasquet was a mega-talent relative to his peers. I’ve heard some people say he has the best backhand in the world and that he is a talented player. I happen to think that he has the 2nd or 3rd best one handed backhand in the world and is a very talented player.

I tend to still buy into the premise that Wimbledon rewards the players who are most gifted. Grass is more of a shot maker’s surface than the others (though not that big a difference anymore). Interestingly, Rafa’s made the final 5 times and Roger 10 times so based on my belief, these two may in fact be the most talented guys on tour. I think Rafa’s recent Wimby struggles are related to injury more than anything else.

Ben Pronin Says:

I agree about grass and Wimbledon. All of the greatest champions in tennis have had great success at Wimbledon. And the US Open to a lesser extent, which is generally the second fastest of the slams.

I think it’s because of the timing. The more talented players have the better timing. As I mentioned before, every split second counts. The more talented players have impeccable timing and can do more with less time, if you will.

The surfaces are more homogenized nowadays. But in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, there’s a reason why we saw surface specialists. It’s not that Sampras or McEnroe were incapable of playing well or winning on clay, but they were much more prone to upsets from lesser players.

elina Says:

You guys, if Sampras was much more prone to upsets from lesser players, then why more so on clay?

I don’t agree that Sampras was more prone to losing to lesser players when he was No. 1 in the world for six straight years.

That doesn’t hold water.

The slow clay (slower than it is today BTW) just took away a lot of the bite on his serve.

Sampras would have won at least one French had he been in his prime from 2001-2005.

Okiegal Says:

@Ben….Yes I realize the thing about match toughness……but there’s been times when that hasn’t helped……I felt like Novak was match tough at the Frenchie when Rafa beat him the last time….just saying…..

Gypsy Gal Says:

LOL And i thought it was such a simple question?….

jalep Says:

How dare you try and revise me, CF1! hahahaha… that was my masterpiece…so, joking.

jane Says:

“Interestingly, Rafa’s made the final 5 times and Roger 10 times so based on my belief, these two may in fact be the most talented guys on tour. I think Rafa’s recent Wimby struggles are related to injury more than anything else.”

not sure i agree about rafa’s recent struggles on grass being injury related.

after all, even in 2013, when he steamrolled on clay and hard courts, he STILL lost early at wimbledon. he hasn’t gone deep in wimbledon for 4 straight years now.

that said, it’s an interesting point about talent and surface, timing and grass and so forth. given that nole’s reached 4 finals, it makes me glad if it’s true.

but i think it’s probably debatable, no?

guys could win that event based on big serves alone (almost) for a while there. it doesn’t involve a lot of point construction in the same way clay does, so can we conclude it takes the most talent?


i’d say each surface brings out DIFFERENT talents.

thus, the most talented are the ones who do well across all of them.

django Says:

Cdp and Kim Murray are brits, no?

jane Says:

stats for novak fans:

Career Finals W/L vs. Top 5:
Djokovic 29-21
Federer 27-29
Nadal 27-22

Career Finals W/L vs. Top 10:
Djokovic 37-23
Federer 31-23
Nadal 36-25


Wog Boy Says:

And out of 55 titles, 38 are major titles only 11 are 500 ones and 6 are 250 ones.

jane Says:

cool one, wog boy. *thumbs up*

SG1 Says:

elina Says:
You guys, if Sampras was much more prone to upsets from lesser players, then why more so on clay?


I think Ben explained it well. During Sampras’ time there were players that basically committed all their time to clay. Other did the same for grass. Yes, Sampras was a better overall player than many of these surface specialists. But, in a one match shootout, on clay (Pete’s worst surface), a grooved clay court specialist could take him out. Could Pete have won an FO between 2001 and 2005 in his prime? Perhaps. But not in 2004 or 2005 where Federer was in his prime. I believe that prime Pete could beat anyone on grass. But, even prime Pete couldn’t beat prime Federer on clay.

elina Says:

Prime Roger lost in the third round in straight sets at the French Open in 2004 so I think that Prime Sampras would have contended for the title.

Prime Roger could beat anyone on clay except prime Nadal.

But even prime Roger couldn’t beat prime Sampras on grass.

skeezer Says:

Well said👍

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