Why Novak Djokovic’s 2015 Season Wasn’t As Great As So Many Think
by Sean Randall | December 13th, 2015, 10:38 pm

Yes, Novak Djokovic just wrapped up one of the greatest seasons in tennis history. There’s no denying that. It deserves its place among the best. But it’s not the best nor do I think it’s even his best. That’s right.

I personally think Djokovic had an even stronger in 2011 when he also won three Grand Slams and finished No. 1. The big different? Yup, the competition. Or in the case of this year, the lack thereof.

In my mind, this year and the last few years have been a step backward in the quality men’s tennis. Of course that’s coming off a high from around 2009-2011. I think the peak level of play was 3-4 years ago when Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and even Andy Murray were all at a very high level, all right in the mix for Slams.

At present, Murray’s still good, Federer is playing well, but Nadal is the real laggard. He’s been a shell of his former self as we know. And I just think the level of competition in general has declined of late.

that said, among the bigger names, let’s compare who’s better now vs 2011:
2 Andy Murray – EVEN
I don’t see much change in Murray. I think he has also benefited from the decline of Nadal and Federer.

3 Roger Federer – 2011
He’s 34 now, he was better in 2011 when he was 30. I know he had a great year in 2015 but I also feel like he benefited from a weak field. Yet he still was able to beat Djokovic three times.

4 Rafael Nadal – 2011
Nadal was a beast in 2010/2011. Almost unbeatable. Now when he plays Djokovic it’s an utter mismatch.

I won’t go down the ranking list. Point is, many top players had a “down” year in 2015. But to me the key guys are Federer and Nadal who I think we better back then, especially Nadal. And with them in decline it naturally is going to help those around them. Nadal not winning the French leaves the door open for someone else, and that someone else was Wawrinka.

Coincidence that Djokovic didn’t start winning Wimbledon until Federer was almost 30?

Speaking of Federer, in 2011 Djokovic went 4-1 (80%) against the Swiss. This year he was 5-3 against Roger (62.5%). Well if Djokovic is better now, then Federer to have gotten three wins at his age must be…well, ya know.

And like I said, while many at the top didn’t have their best season, some actually did.

Three I’d like to mention are the big guys, John Isner, Ivo Karlovic and Kevin Anderson. I call them “The Constants”. No matter what coaching they get, alleged improvements they make, what racquets they use, unless they are injured, they are who they are: Big servers. Their games stay the same. Injury aside, what changes is the opposition. And this past year all three had ranking-wise one of their best, if not their best, season.

Isner and Anderson both finished at year-end highs No. 11 and 12. Karlovic at age 36 – THIRTY SIX! – finished No. 23. (In 2011, Isner was 18, Anderson 32 and Karlovic finished 56.)

So why the big jumps? Is it really because these guys are so much better tactically? Or is because those around them just aren’t that good. I’ll argue the latter.

Now, back to 2011, look how strong Nadal was. He was going for his Rafa slam at the 2011 Australian. He then won the French and reached finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Federer may not have been in his prime, but imagine having to deal with both Nadal and Djokovic at their peaks. Roger still authored a 17-match win streak following his 5-set loss to Novak in the US Open semifinals. And he never lost to anyone outside the Top 20 all year. This year he had three such losses.

Let’s talk about Murray. Andy actually won Grand Slam matches in 2011 than he did in 2015 (21 to 19). And he finished 2011 winning 81% of his matches to his 2015 level of 83%. So not much difference. He was just as good of a player back then.

We’ve talked so much about guys being older. And that’s true. The Top 10, Top 100 are probably the oldest they’ve ever been. Why? As Rafa said, it’s not because of the physicality per se, it’s because the young guys just aren’t that good.

What happened to Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, David Goffin, Jerzy Janowicz, Pablo Carreno Busta, Thiemo de Bakker, Ernests Gulbis, Tomaz Bellucci and Sam Querrey who were at one point suppose to contend with the very best, but it hasn’t quite happened that way. Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic did break through and Raonic has been dealing with injuries, but they’ve been the exception. And Stan Wawrinka has become a threat – in part due to the decline of Federer/Nadal.

Meanwhile, the younger generation like Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios are all rising quickly.

Again why? Because the young guys are better than these middle-tier, B-level 30-70 ranked guys. And also now when facing a Roger or Rafa, there’s a chance to win (and Kyrgios took advantage last year against Rafa and then beat Roger this year). Four, five years ago there wasn’t that chance.

Back in 2011, Djokovic was faced with a peak Nadal (beat Nadal six out of six times!), a worthy – not aging per se – Federer and a competent Murray. And I still believe that had Fabio Fognini not withdrawn from that French Open quarterfinal, Novak would have won the French that year. He was playing that good. And yes, better than today (I think Novak 2011 beats Novak 2015. FWIW, Novak has better serve numbers this year but he had better return numbers in 2011).

Now before to blast me for being pro Federer (or simply anti-Novak), I was arguably even more critical of Roger’s peak years during 2004-2007. Coincidence that the last time Federer won three Slams in a single season was 2007, the year before Djokovic and Murray joined the big picture? Well, duh!

So again, my theory here is based on the eye test. And those chasing Novak right now are not as good as they were in 2011. That simple. So I say 2011 was a better, greater year for Novak than 2015.

Happy Holidays!

The tl;dr version:
* Novak had a great year, but not as great as 2011. Why? Because this year Nadal was crap, Federer is 34, Murray is Murray, Stan has or had girl problems and no one else is really worth a damn. Look what he had to deal with in 2011.
* The tour overall is weak right now. For proof, we suddenly see all these teens breaking through and the big men “Constants” reaching career highs.
* OK, if Fognini wins a Slam next year then you’ll finally agree it’s week, right?
* I’m not saying Novak’s a bad fella, I’m saying Novak of 2011 would beat Novak 2015.
* It’s the off season so I have to talk about something so let’s have some fun!

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176 Comments for Why Novak Djokovic’s 2015 Season Wasn’t As Great As So Many Think

Antartica Says:

If u look by competition … Federer’s 2006 & 2005 won’t even fit in top 50 best seasons … He had absolutely no competition whatsoever … Can 2006 fit inside Top 100 seasons? … Anyone tell me please…

danica Says:

Well, not everything is measured by Rafa, Roger and Andy. In 2011. Stanimal was still just “that other Swiss”. And no, he didn’t win his two slams by pure luck, he played damn great tennis to accomplish the feat. Andy upped his game this year big time. He was actually winning masters tournaments on clay. Five sets in the semis of RG against Novak shows how improved his game is. And Roger claimed himself he played better than in years that were considered his prime.

Novak may have played better tennis in 2011. That’s open to discussion. However, his numbers are what counts and those are way, WAY better this year. The best ever actually.

Chrisford1 Says:

As long as some people insist that we use a calendar year to assess feats in a year round sport – we have to relegate the best 3/4ths of a year ever into the “not the best year” category. Because Djokovic 2011 lost everything after the USO.
The competition factor is not to be overlooked. I agree. But all that does is put McEnroe back in the equation. He had several great players he faced and the marquee events, ALSO had another #1 in doubles year with Fleming – But he also skipped the Australian Open, some of the tougher Grand Prix (Masters) events. And had his 82-3 record pumped by winning several events where only 3-4 Top 15 players were in the draw.

If 2011 is dropped, since it wasn’t a whole year of great play…where to you put it in tennis the tennis Pantheon?
Waaay high up there. It was, as we remember, All About Nike’s Fedal boys at the start of that year. What people were calling then and some still do now – the co-GOATs. Both in their prime. At the start of that year, Djokovic was the owner of one Slam, which Fed fans dismissed as a fluke. Who then apparantly proved those fans right as he faded and was full of self doubt. A steady 2nd fiddle along with the likes of Berdych, Tsonga, Murray, Ljubicic.
What Novak Djokovic did that year, particularly to Prime Rafa, is one of the singular feats in sport, not just tennis.

To indulge in absolute wretched excess praise, Nole’s 2011 was the Saturn V moon rocket carrying Apollo 11 from the Earth and on the way to the moon. 2012, 2013, 2014 was the journey and The Eagle landing. 2015 is Djokovic on the moon. With analogs to the return trip, reentry, and landing to go to cement the brilliance of Djokovic’s career.

Without the excess praise, we can now see 2011 as signalling the rise of Novak – to the wildly improbable good fortune of tennis fans and the sport. Somehow, with Fed and Rafa as good as they have been, true Legends… 2011 marks the rise of a 3rd player as talented as they. Who began his own journey into being a Legend.

Chrisford1 Says:

And a nice pic from Djokovic to his fans from 4 days ago. Family vacation over – back to the work he and his wife love to be in..


Hard training block for him, a couple days off for the Roman Christmas, more training, then on to Qatar.
Time flies. Doha is less than 3 weeks away. Djokovic, Nadal, Berdych are signed up. The Australian Open is a month away..

jane Says:

sweet picture isn’t chrisford1? awww.

good points danica. 2015 is the better of the two, to me. but 2011 was awesome as well, for some of the reasons sean notes. but it was not as complete nor as record-setting as this year.

happy holidays – to all – i really hope everyone gets some much needed downtime, with family and loved ones.

Margot Says:

Oh very droll re Andy, Sean. ;)

Thangs Says:

Agreed. I said the same earlier, 2011 was steller than 2015.

Just like serena cherry picking , nole did in 2015…No competition..Its pure luck being there in right place, right time..

Gypsy Gal Says:

Two fantastic years,this one was better for me,as Novak made the finals of all four GS though,but havent we had this discussion before,if only every player had such problems,click bait….

Wog Boy Says:

I knew Nole is not Sean’s favorite, understatement, but I didn’t know he dislikes him so much, almost as much as I dislike Roger.
Regardless, thanks for this thread, you just gave seal of approval that 2003-2007 was week era, very weak one if one follows your logic in this thread, though I want to belive this is click-bait thread due to nothing else is happening around.

mat4 Says:

Sean’s post is based on preconceptions, and on a distant view on the things that happened on courts. He probably wrote it to fill the void on the blog and to stir some controversies. It’s good for traffic.

A detailed analysis, some watching and comparisons would show:

— that Nadal played at his best since Roland Garros at least, perhaps even since MC. In the last three years, he lost early in Wimbledon, and a good analysis of his draws in 2007, 2008, 2010, would reveal that there was a good part of luck in his results there; meanwhile, he lost three times to players ranked below 100, but who had big attacking games, well suited to grass,

— Fabio Fognini is a bad match-up for Rafa; and he played with abandon — and luck — his match at the USO;

— Rafa’s results indoor are the best he ever had;

— Rafa’s “confidence” is mainly shattered by his convincing losses against Novak. One has just to go to tennisabstract to see that they were even more convincing than the results show. One exception, RG 2014, and it’s time to ask ourselves, comparing with other matches, if Novak wasn’t ill that day.

— Andy Murray is playing at his best. He was probably a better player than Novak in 2012-2013, but Novak was the greater fighter. His win against Rafa in Madrid, his semi at RG, and overall his results shows that, gamewise, he is where he can hope to be. A change of approach, a more aggressive game, and he could have even better results, but it’s not a physical, nor a technical aspect of his game.

— Federer playes better than in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. He’s not at his peak, obviously, but his stats don’t show it. He had a great serving season, and played two major finals. His DR is better than in his peak years, and he, himself, stated that he played as well as ever.

— Stan Wawrinka has improved and he played a few great tournaments, not only RG.

I could go more in details, but I wrote about most of them on this forum already.

The simple truth is that Novak improved — a lot, in fact: his serve, his transition game, his volley, his FH. The level of the opposition hasn’t dropped, he just played better.

I can’t understand why it’s so difficult, if one doesn’t want to watch matches, to see at least some of Mark Petchey’s analysis, or to consult some good coaches.

I watch tennis for 40 years, and I have never seen a more complete player. He has the game, the guts, and the work intelligence a no 1 needs to have. He faced the hardest competition ever, and yet he managed to win 10 slams, 5 world champion titles, 4 WTF, etc.

And if he dominated so outrageously this year, it was because he was simply that good.

calmdownplease Says:

So Sean doesn’t see much change in Andy eh?
It simply isn’t Murray just being Murray (well, not entirely)
I think he was much more competitive prior to the surgery although I accept that his better results are due to the demise of Nadal.
Not, however, of Fed who has actually been playing better and halted Andy’s chance of another Wimbledon this year by being almost unplayable.
Still, his playing less tournaments made number 2 an easier goal, but he is definitely (Murray) an under-performing second from the top, that’s for sure.
Roger’s just old with about 1500 matches on a very competitive tour which is a HUGE amount!
Father Time’s cold breath has been on his neck for quite some time now. Perhaps he can consider some form of transplant or cybernetic implants next?
Or he could juice, I suppose :)
Personally I have only ever said that this year is nothing like 2011 in terms of Novak’s performance for roughly the same reasons.
Only the Fedovices go on and ON like this.
Needing, as the do, another slipstream of sycophancy and someone else to live through while they trundle through their pointless existences.

So Novak must have had the ultimate year EVER

fap, fap, and faaaap!

Well alright then…

Finally hoping for a (almost, I am realistic to a point!) completely drama free year from Andy once he is back after he has his kid
And yes a slam, at least one in fact.
Because that is what it should be all about now.
Maybe Oz will finally be the one.
Here’s hoping
As usual.

bojana Says:

Sean never liked Novak,I knew that long time.If he and Fed’s fans want to put Nole down so that 2006 is better than 2015 that is their problem.I know and many others know how good Nole was this year.

Markus Says:

Tiger Woods said he peaked at age 11 when he went 36-0 in tournaments. He says he has been trying to get back to that since. He did not pick any of the years when he won multiple slams, including that year that lead to his Tiger Slam. So it is really a matter of accomplishment, not who you beat because a competition is a competition. Djokovic’s best year is 2015. Much much better than 2011. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.

calmdownplease Says:

But it is not ‘much’ better when both years produced 3 slams, is it?
History will probably overlook it because yes the numbers for 2015 are better, but the competition simply wasn’t, not at all. The fact that Wawrinka was the only one to offer true resistance (in most favourable conditions, I may add) says it all.
2011 was the greater one IF one looks beneath the surface.

mat4 Says:

In 2011, Novak was in better form. This year, he was a better player.

At his worst, he lost two finals in humid conditions, with very difficult schedules, and still managed to win a M1000 and the WTF. At his best, he utterly dominated.

In 2011, he was very lucky at the USO. He should have lost in the semi. In the following years, when he wasn’t at his best, under difficult conditions, he lost many times.

In 2015, he won the AO although he fell on his wrist in the first set; despite fatigue, he rolled over Murray when he unleashed his shots (something he does more and more often these days). He beat Federer who was in godmode in Wimbledon, and, while playing subpar, he won the USO.

A concurrence of factors had to happen for him to lost the FO final: a Wawrinka playing out of his mind, a semi played on two days, the most difficult draw possible, very draining both on the physical and emotive side…

I know it’s hard to admit that Djokovic is simply better. That he beats Nadal and Murray because he is a notch above, and Federer because he is the steadier and younger player. I understand that some fans still have hopes — that Rafa will be able to turn the table, that Andy is ready for a great run… It could happen, perhaps. But certainly not if they face a Novak playing the way he did in Rome, or Shanghai, or Beijing, or IW, when he was at his best.

calmdownplease Says:

Saying he is a better player is almost irrelevant
They all get better year in year out
That’s a Fed argument more than a Novak one
i.e Is Fed playing better now?
In my view yes but he is also older etc
4 years on & without injuries to hold him back yes Novak is obviously a ‘btter’ player
But so were his circumstances.
As in ‘much’.
I don’t have difficulty accepting anything on tennis, its plebs like you that do :)

calmdownplease Says:


‘He beat Federer who was in godmode in Wimbledon’

He was in ‘godmode’ for one match FFS!
he certainly was not in the final
Your foaming again!
There was no Nadal to try and stop Novak in 2015
And also I didn’t say Novak wont go on and dominate the tour again, (although I hope not!)
You simply want to create a narrative where Novak was beating these amazing players because he is ‘so much better’ when the fact is that this year his opponents were so much worse.
Also 2011 showed us that even if they playing up to speed he still might have had 3 slams.
See, being objective is such an intellectual pleasure, you should try and see if you can attain it occasionally.

Wog Boy Says:

I said it before and I’ll say it now, 2015 Nole would beat 2011 Nole, he is more complete, more efficient, mentally stronger and at the perfect place on and off the court now than he was in 2011.

calmdownplease Says:

At least I’m not.
The point is his opposition,
What were they up to
and why?
Novak cut a swathe through an opposition that were in their prime in 2011
Relative to him!
In 2015 they were all over the place allowing Wawrinka to step in and Fed to continue in his delusion that he is just a little bit off his 18th
This really isn’t difficult to understand or accept unless emotions are getting in the way either.

mat4 Says:


Just noticed your post and last line, and I read, for once, your usual nonsense.

E.g.: “They all get better year in year out”

It’s false. Some players improve, some don’t. Murray, e.g., didn’t. Federer did. Nadal didn’t. Berdych didn’t. Dimitrov even regressed. Tsonga, for years now, refuses to address the weakness of his BH, etc.

“That’s a Fed argument more than a Novak one”

It’s also false. In the last year and a half, Novak progressed more.

“its plebs like you that do”

Yes, I know, and it’s the privilege of patricians to be illiterate and vain. Plebeians can’t afford it.

calmdownplease Says:

Without injury occurring or age, dim wit
Players or people doing something get better at it through experience.
Obviously Novak progressed more than a 34 year old!
Posting with you is painful, do you know that?
You are almost devoid of rational intelligence (hence a fan boy no doubt).
Brando was spot on about you.
But have your carefully laid out little fantasies to oil the wheels about unbeatable Novak (who will beaten again soon enough)

mat4 Says:

I had the unfortunate idea to read more of your posts…

It’s interesting how perception changes after the facts. Before the Wimbledon final, Federer was the clear favourite for most of the “pundits”.

Patrick Mouratoglou in “The Coach”, opted for Nadal in the QF of the FO — he almost proved that Rafa would win.

Before the semi of the WTF, on Eurosport, a big article favoured Nadal, “the man in form”.

There are so many examples like these. After the matches, of course, no, the hype is forgotten, wiped out. And it’s always the opposition… Just like in Federer case from 2004-2006. Weak era, no doubt. Now, it’s even weaker. Not the shadow of a doubt.

calmdownplease Says:

You don’t even make any sense
So what?
And for the record I didn’t say Federer was the favourite here, at least.
I knew Novak would win because Fed just had one shot, which was already expended on Muzz.
What the f**k has some people’s predictions ultimately have to do with what actually transpired, eh?
i.e Fed was right back to his poor old doubting self in the final again, regardless of how the ‘pundits’ saw it going.
You should stop posting NOW Mat4, the stupidity is coming on strong now.
Oh on second thought, just keep it coming :)

mat4 Says:

Brando knows very little about tennis. He was… what? I wrote my posts and didn’t read his for years, when I noticed that it’s just superficial speculations.

What are your arguments here? When I write that Djokovic improved more than Federer, it had nothing to do with Federer’s age, but with the physiognomy of his game. He improved his backhand a lot, but it remained a weakness. He’s more aggressive on the return, although he always had good reflexes — just check the stats for the previous years, or ask Ljubicic for his opinion about Federer’s return. He streamlined his attacking game, but he was always very good at the net, although some changes are noticeable under Edberg’s influence: he seems to be more incisive, although, twelve years ago, he played similar volleys on higher balls.

Djokovic improved his serve and the first shot after the return — this combo is very efficient now. He improved his sliced BH (he still sometimes return to the old placement and motion), his CC FH and, overall, his FH played with an open stance is better. His transition game is better too. From a baseliner he has transformed — and he is still transforming – in a complete, all round aggressive player.

I try not to offend other posters, and usually I don’t read posts from certain posters. I don’t lose my temper when arguing, because I have arguments, and I try to explain what I saw, and what I know. I also check the data often.

Finally, ignorance is not an opinion.

calmdownplease Says:

blah blah blah
Novak was great, almost everyone else was not up to par for various reasons, no one is disputing the clear improvements, again that’s not the issue.
I feel we are chasing out tails here.
You can’t possibly accept anything other than Novak was perfect against very (!) good opposition, yes they were very, very, VERY good but didn’t stand a chance against Novak, because he was perfect,
In his perfect year.
The end.


Ben Pronin Says:

Sean, what would you consider the best season then?

I don’t disagree with the overall assessment. Nadal was twice the player in 2011 compared to 2015. Murray was more or less the same. I do think there’s some debate with Federer, though. While he did have some more shock losses this year, I thought his overall play was better in the latter stages of tournaments. Only against Novak did he really falter. And Novak’s highest level in 2011 was probably higher than anyone’s has ever been. But he couldn’t sustain it. And it’s not like he never red lined this year.

But to say 2011 was a better season? What is the criteria? The level of play which can really only be assessed by the eye test? It’s just too subjective. I always considered 2006 the best year because it was as close to perfect as anyone’s ever been in a single year. But Novak’s 2015 was even closer to perfect, considering how ridiculous he was at all the important events.

You make an interesting point regarding “The Constants”. Although I think Anderson is a more well rounded player than the other two, but that’s irrelevant. But do you then think it’s really not a big deal that over 30% of Djokovic’s wins this year came against the top 10? 7 of the top 10 in 2011 are still in the top 10 in 2015. And instead of Fish, Tipsarevic, and Almagro in 2011 you have Wawrinka, Nishikori, and Gasquet in 2015. I’d pick the latter 3 over the former.

mat4 Says:


I don’t agree about Nadal. In 2011, he started serving better, but after the disaster in Miami, when he couldn’t connect with his first serve, he reverted to his old motion again. But this year, after the slump at the beginning of the year, he played better from month to month. He was good at MC, the FO, he had a bad day in Wimbledon, but here he has bad days for years already. The big surprise was his loss against Fognini at the USO. After that, it was clear that he played quite well.

I don’t see his problems in relation with it’s game itself — although he has been shattered by successive convincing losses to Novak — but, like he said himself, it seems to be mental, confidence wise. He just doesn’t play key points the way he did.

On the other side, the gap between Rafa and Novak seems to be wider than it ever was.

mat4 Says:

To make myself clear — you wrote: “Nadal was twice the player in 2011 compared to 2015.” The difference wasn’t that big.

mat4 Says:


“The end.



Ben Pronin Says:

Mat4, there’s just no way to argue Nadal was better in 2015 than in 2011. He wasn’t just worse against Novak, he was worse against the field. He didn’t round into form until later in the season, and even that’s kinda questionable since players are generally fatigued by the end of the year and Nadal was relatively fresh since he didn’t have as much mileage.

Nadal’s serve was horrendous almost all year. Even in the last few months, it’s just serviceable. But his ground game has always been the key. His forehand and backhand were much better in 2011. Not just the bite on the shots but the consistency. This year, Nadal had to go full-Gonzalez in a lot of matches, standing in the deuce doubles ally to avoid hitting backhands. And this lead to a lot more misses.

Nadal has to be at his best to compete with Novak, this has been the case for a few years now. But he’s never struggled against the field this much. For the first 3/4s of the year, he wasn’t Nadal, he was just another player trying to win some matches.

jane Says:

ben, sean already voted that novak’s 2015 is better than fed’s 2006…


so i guess he thinks 2011 is better than both of those seasons.

jane Says:

for me 2015 is better because of this list


the records he set and achievements – plus the completeness of the year – capping it off with the WTF outdo 2011.

to put it in perspective via comparison (these are all great seasons!! but just in rebuttal to sean’s argument), there are 14 elite events: 4 slams, 9 Masters, 1 WTF. here is a list of wins/finals for great years

2004 7W+0F
2006 8W+3F
2007 6W+4F
2010 6W+1F
2013 7W+2F
2011 8W+1F
2015 10W+3F

Gypsy Gal Says:

This thread seems quite puzzling,im scratching my head,only weeks ago we had a thread on a list of Novaks amazing year of achievements,and now we have one saying it wasnt all the great,i just wonder if the writer is having a wind up?….

Giles Says:

This is getting reeeeaaaalllly boring. Next!

jane Says:

probably two different writers gypsy, but yeah sean could definitely be trying to stir up…debate?

Ben Pronin Says:

Giles, you read then commented on a thread you find boring. Is someone forcing you to do this?

Giles Says:

Ben. No need for me to read the contents, the title said it all!

RZ Says:

@Gypsy and Jane – I think it’s a headline issue. The article is more about how/why Novak’s 2011 was better than his 2015 rather than why his 2015 wasn’t great (which is what the headline makes it sound like).

django Says:

Bottom line Nole had a year any of these tennis players would want.

Sean Randall Says:

Wog Boy, gave approval? I did a whole post on it back in 2006: http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2006-10-25/104.php

Bojana, as Jane pointed out, I voted Djokovic’s 2015 season better than Federer’s 2006.

Mat4, you say the level of opposition hasn’t dropped this, that’s where you lost me. Just with Nadal struggling, the tour is a much easier place than it was in 2011.

Markus, yes, numbers alone says Djokovic 2015 is better than 2011. No ifs, ands or buts!

Ben, best season ever? I don’t really know. Maybe McEnroe in 1984 was it? And yes, Janko, Almagro, etc were no world beaters back in 2011. But in my mind in 2011 Novak was up against Nadal and Federer who were better than they are today. And Nadal was coming off his best season and very much in form. Rafa went 3-1 v Federer that year, 4-1 v Murray but was 0-6 against Novak.

I just remember seeing those points between Novak and Rafa and my jaw would drop in disbelief. Even Rafa couldn’t believe in Miami. And then extending to the 2012 Australian final when Novak beat Rafa in six hours. To me, that’s just another level I have not really seen since…

Ben Pronin Says:

Sean, seems like we disagree on what defines “best season ever”. I think you have to go with results. But I agree that the level of play in 2011 and 2012 was some of the highest level tennis ever seen.

Honestly you can even point to the 2014 Wimbledon Final as being of higher quality tennis than anything Djokovic and Federer produced in 2015, despite playing so many times.

skeezer Says:

^Novak’s service game in 2015 was significantly better than 2011. And you also have to take in consideration the state of their game, not just the competition.
That said, I would vote for 2011 simply because of the Rafa factor. As Sean mentions, this was a guy in top form and Novak beat Rafa in every final he faced him (6,7?). Novak grew some new big ones that year. 2015 was a year of maturity.

Chrisford1 Says:

Thanks for coming back in and responding to a few comments, Sean.
My point is if we dispense with a yearly calendar criteria for a pro sport with no finite annual season, we could look at the best 365 day stretch or the best 3/4ths of a year ever played…
And Djoker 2011 was the best 3/4ths of a year ever, but not the best entire year, as he exhausted himself and lost the last 1/4th the season.

You may be aware that after his 2011 collapse, Djokovic does what he always does – recognizes a problem and seeks to fix it. 2011 was him learning that he just couldn’t redline it for a full year, that dazzling play on top of just enough to win..was excess loss of energy and mental strength waiting to happen. One thing that helped him alter that was chasing down Pete Sampras after pursuing Pete for a few weeks in LA. Sampras relented and had some sitdowns with Nole, presumably with Nole paying for the lunch or dinner Pete and his party had.
Sampras scheduled well, told Nole the key thing was to not overcommit to too many events, try to recharge during the season, and for what Nole could take from it – “Play just enough to win, but win fast. Save energy. Play the percents. Work more to shorten the points.”

And Djokovic, by all accounts, a very good student and listener, went with a lot of what Sampras said was helpful once he himself became the top player and sustained it for years.

mat4 Says:


I watched some Nadal this year, wary that he could regain his form, and, frankly, I remain in dilemmas. He would play a great match, but the next one was suddenly abysmal. Overall, while he wasn’t in the lofty form he was in 2010-11 or 2013, he wasn’t that bad. He seemed to be a bit slower, but I am not quite sure.

We should have a close look at his defeats.

In the 20 matches he lost, he was 1-7 in TB. Some of them — against Stan, recently — were shocking. Rafa usually wins at least half of these TBs, but this year, he choked, statistically speaking.

Here is the list:


You can see that since the beginning of the clay season, he had only unexpected losses on grass, a surface where he didn’t fare well since 2011. He lost to Djokovic four times, to Murray, Federer, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Tsonga. All those players beat him even when he was at his peak, especially on hard.

Your thesis that he played better at the end of the year because he was fresh, I don’t know if I could agree. He played 81 matches this year, about the usual number he plays since 2009. We usually thought that he was tired at the end of the season — and it could be quite true — but I believe that he has improved his attacking tennis, that he plays closer to the baseline, and that he is more efficient on hard. It can be debated, though.

Already in Paris, he looked beefed and his game was, in my opinion, very good.

But, yes, since 2011 his serve is very bad. Against Novak, it’s even worse. His court positioning on the return isn’t good either. Even on hard, he wasn’t able to flatten his FH the way he did in 2010. A lot of players have discovered that he struggles with high bouncing balls on his backhand, and the right strategy against him has become clear since 2013 — the short reach of his BH is a weakness, and players attack his FH first, then go to the deuce side.

So, a conclusion isn’t easy to make.

Ben Pronin Says:

He was mortal this year. It’s definitely hard to pin down why. He was healthy all year. I don’t even think he’s that much slower. It’s not like he was wilting at the end of matches. As you say, he was choking. I still don’t get why. He went from being 14-time slam champ Rafa Nadal to just “another” player.

Even in being “very good” at the end of the year, he made 0 strides in closing the gap on Novak. He was torched all 4 times they played. Twice on Nadal’s clay and twice on Novak’s preferred surface.

Either way, he was still way better in 2011.

elina Says:

And here I thought all this time you could only play who was on the other side of the net and there could never be any such thing as a Weak Era.

I never knew that even Sean thought so and he’s a Roger fan.

Sean was even right way back in 2006 about Nadal winning Wimbledon before Roger won the French – difference being that Nadal beat Roger in his own house.

Kudos to Sean who waaaaaaay back, prior to the ’06 Wimbledon final, wrote:

“Bottom line is I hope you now can all see that I wasn’t all that crazy in suggesting that Rafa would win Wimbledon before Roger the French.”

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Sean nailed it. Shamon indeed Sir shamon!

Ben Pronin Says:

I just re-read Sean’s weak era article and everything he wrote can be applied to today. All you have to do is change the player names (Agassi -> Federer, Mirnyi -> Ferrer, etc).

Is tennis actually just in a huge decline that’s been masked by Federer, then Nadal, and then Djokovic?

Jeez my mind has just been warped. Federer comes in a cleans house for so many years. Then Nadal hits his prime and does the same. And then Djokovic replicates Nadal. Hell, this explains why Nadal is able to take such lengthy breaks and still come back and dominate. This explains why Federer is reaching multiple slam finals in his mid 30s. It explains why everyone thinks a 28 year old Djokovic is still in his prime. It also explains why Wawrinka has not 1, but 2 slams. And it makes Murray look so much worse.

So I guess the real question is why does anyone think this is going to change? Everyone’s going to be a year older and the young players still suck.

This also validates Safin’s comments a few weeks ago. Outside of the top 5, everyone sucks.

Holy crap, glass shattered.

Skeezer Says:

^and mic dropped!

elina Says:

Agree with Ben and Sean.

Difference between then and now is that 2015 is a single year while 2001-07 was an Era.


elina Says:

Also Today it’s outside of the Top 5 but as Sean points out, his Weak Era was defined by a Top 1.

Wog Boy Says:

Sean, thanks for your replay and thanks very much for your article from 2006, I really like it and looking at it from this distance you were pretty much right, and you even predicted rise of Djokovic:) mind you, that was 2006 and Nole was yet to win big title.
I wish Nole’s 2015-2019 is like Roger’s 2003-2007 and that Nole wins his next 10 slams against same quolity opponents as Roger’s first 10 slams, I wouldn’t mind if in the ten years time we talk here about 2015-2019 as the week era of tennis, wouldn’t mind at all..

mat4 Says:


I wrote about Rafa in the previous posts, but let’s also mention that Rafa’s difficulties against Novak started right after the USO 2013. Since then, the dominance ratio in their matches has been (from Novak POW): Beijing 2.81, Tour Finals 1.43, Miami Masters 1.97, Rome 1.39, Roland Garros 0.84, Monte-Carlo 1.44, Roland Garros 1.65, Beijing 1.50, Tour Finals 1.91.

It’s an average of 1.41 — it means that Novak wins about 3 points of 5. It’s a beatdown, in other words. And don’t tell me that he wasn’t in form in 2013, or that he was that bad in 2014. The only bad match he had was RG 2014 — and when we study the numbers, we can ask ourselves if Novak wasn’t ill, back then, as it seemed he was.

In my opinion, it was the trigger to his “mental injuries”, and his struggles against other players.

Overall, I don’t think that Rafa played that bad. The difference is that Novak has a better serve now, that he hits his FH harder, and he has changed his game plan against Rafa since 2011.

Wog Boy Says:

Difference is that Nole had to fight throu two best players of all time at their prime to get to #1 spot and he did it, Rafa has to battle best player ever to became #1 and he did it, Roger didn’t have any of these to fight to became #1 and he did it:)
I already said, I really don’t mind if no new talent tutns up in the next few years and if Roger is getting older, Rafa is getting more tired and Andy is staying Andy..

Ben Pronin Says:

Wawrinka is a true product of this weak era. He’s not a one slam wonder but a two time slam champ. But where was he before the last 2 years? No where. His rise coincides with the aging of the top 4. Look at how little the top 10 has changed over the last 5, 6, 7 years. It’s uncanny.

This is why there is no golden age. Just a handful of adults playing beating up on children.

Just a single season? Take out Djokovic and Nadal and 2013-2015 look the same as 2000-2003. The only years all 4 guys played well at the same time was 2011 and 2012. But even then, Federer was already on the wrong side of 30.

It’s all smoke and mirrors. Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic don’t hit double digits in any other era.

elina Says:

Aaaah revisionism and moving the goal posts.

Regardless, while 2011 remains the greatest first eight months of all time, 2015 remains as The Greatest Year of All Time.

Nole vs. Nole.

How good is that!

Ben Pronin Says:

Federer was not in his prime in 2011.

Who else did Djokovic compete with besides Federer and Nadal in 2011? Murray. He was the only other player worth a lick from Djokovic’s generation.

At least Federer was beating up his own generation.

elina Says:

And Ben, from the comments section in this 2006 article, turns out you were quite the Roger fan after all back in the day indeed!


When did you switch your allegiance to Novak? Was it after twilight and the remaining effects of mono decided the ’08 Wimbledon final?

Sean Randall Says:

Ben, coincidence that Wawrinka only started winning when Roger and Rafa tailed off? Though I think Norman really helped a lot as well.

Wog Boy, history repeats. These young guys like Zverev, Chung, Rublev, Tiafoe, Opelka, Coric, etc, of them one or two will become multiple Slam winners and we’ll likely have a new GOAT candidate. Until that time – maybe two more years – Novak, Murray, etc will continue to dominate before they too get overtaken.

What happened was the Big 4 were so strong that a whole generation of players were passed over or are in the process of being passed over.

Mat4, would you agree Novak’s wins over Nadal in 2011 were more impressive than any wins he had this year over say Murray or a 34-year-old Federer? I would.

Ben Pronin Says:

I don’t get why you posted that link. I don’t see any comments from me on it.

Novak became my top guy after Roger broke Sampras’s record. I think 2010 US Open final was the first time I was firmly pulling for Djokovic over Federer. Up until then I still leaned towards Federer.

Ben Pronin Says:

Sean, nope, not a coincidence at all. Yes Norman is a great coach but this weak era literally birthed Stanimal.

Sean Randall Says:

Mat4, here are numbers serving numbers:

Aces 471
1st Serve Points Won 74%
2nd Serve Points Won 60%
Break Points Saved 68%
Service Games Played 1,082
Service Games Won 89%
Total Service Points Won 70%

Aces 343
1st Serve Points Won 74%
2nd Serve Points Won 56%
Break Points Saved 65%
Service Games Played 899
Service Games Won 86%
Total Service Points Won 68%

So I agree and as I wrote above in my post, his serving numbers were better this year than 2011. But then again, against weaker competition it should be.

That said, why would his return numbers be better in 2011 vs 2015?

1st Serve Return Points Won 34%
2nd Serve Return Points Won 57%
Break Points Converted 44%
Return Games Won 34%
Return Points Won 43%
Total Points Won 56%

1st Serve Return Points Won 36%
2nd Serve Return Points Won 58%
Break Points Opportunities 692
Break Points Converted 48%
Return Games Won 39%
Return Points Won 45%
Total Points Won 56%

Ben Pronin Says:

He won more service games so he didn’t need to break as often to win.

mat4 Says:


I think that Novak’s victories against Rafa since 2013 are more pleasant to watch than his matches in 2011/12. He has widen the gap, and I like it better that way.

I wrote above that Novak, in 2011, was in better form, but that he is now a better player. I believe that Murray, in 2012-13, as I already wrote too, was better than Novak, although Novak was the better fighter on court. In 2012, Roger was still better on grass, and Rafa was better on slow clay.

Finally, a word about WEAK ERAS:

It’s very relative, and hard to measure. The only way to do it is to use Jeff Sackmann’s rating — and it shows that Sampras’ era, the second part of the nineties, was in fact the weak era.

Sean Randall Says:

Ben, had Stan been at his very best during 2009-2012, I doubt he’s winning any Slams.

He won the French this year b/c Nadal wasn’t up to par. And he won the Australian similarly.

Luck has a lot to do with results. Had Federer been 5-6 years younger, there’s no way he’s racking up double digit slams.

Federer won 12 Slams before 2008, 5 Slams after. Federer was 26 at the start of 2008. At the peak of his powers.

What changed? Murray, Djokovic got involved and Nadal got better.

Just think had those three been born a few years later, then Fed would have cleaned up another 6-7 Slams.

Luck is a big factor. Just ask Andy Roddick.

Chrisford1 Says:

Maybe it’s just me, Ben, but I can see Rafa, Fed, and Nole flourishing in any part of the Open Era. Even in the boring serve, 1 return, 1 putaway era – you had baseliners like Agassi doing OK. Old tech wood or metal rackets, less conditioning training and put any of the 3 in play in the 70s, and they would be forces. Maybe Rafa would not have been able to transition off clay, but he would be the King of Clay in any era.
Andy? Remove the other 3 and put Andy back in 2001. He’d destroy that 75 straight weeks #1 Leyton Hewitt.

***I’d also like to add that walking into a weak era like that which started with Hewitt ruling tennis is one thing. But breaking down a great rival and making them weaker and more likely to lose in future matches with you is a different thing.
Rafa didn’t just walk in, same Rafa as before, and find that tennis went into a weak era in 2008. Nadal MADE his foes weak, unsure. Especially Federer.
Djokovic entered 2011 with both Rafa and Fed in their prime years with a lopsided win-loss record with him and Andy even – and beat them. And kept improving and sowing doubt in his rivals – that has now created this 2015 phase of dominance.

Sachin Says:

To all those who say 2004-2007 is a WEAK ERA.
You F**kers think it is a weak era because you don’t know anything really about tennis and even life. yes Really.
You are one who just have CLAY IN YOUR BRAIN.
just think.
Is 2004-2007 a weak era? IT’S NOT…..NEVER…..Coz
Its because ROGER FEDERER outplayed everyone.
NADAL and DJOKOVIC were in professional tennis in all of Federer’s
17 SLAMS. Why didn’t they win?
Because they didn’t ripe yet.(NADAL is an exception who is only a CLAY expert during that period).
You may ask then who is thy competitors then?
Why didn’t they win as many slams as NOLE and NADAL.
Because FEDERER outplayed them EVERYTIME.
Whenever they played Federer he absolutely SMOKE them.
FED dominated all of them.
So their CONFIDENT level goes down deeeeeeep that they couldn’t recover. ( Remember 2009 wimbledon final . How devastating was it for Roddick to loose that match)
When FEDERER destructed them they couldn’t recover.The problem is not with their GAME not in their TENNIS . It is in their MIND.
FEDERER not only defeated them in court but their MIND. Their MENTAL STRENGTH( As NOVAK is doing for FEDERER now ).
Thus for them FEDERER is a man from DISTANT PLANET .
So just understand 2003-2007 is NOT A WEAK ERA.

mat4 Says:


He played 41% of his matches, this year, against top 10 opponents. The median and mean avg rank of his opponents were 20 and 36. It’s unheard of.

He played 8 times against Federer, against Karlovic, Raonic, Muller, Anderson, and they are all great servers.

Stats here:


mat4 Says:

I also agree that luck is very important. Novak had his fair share in 2011, but lacked in 2012 and 2013. But you can’t have it all.

Sean Randall Says:

Mat4, how many times did Djokovic play Raonic this year or Ivo? And were there no big servers back in 2011? I had no idea.

Chrisford, imagine had Hewitt been born 10 years later he would never had won a Slam. Maybe he cracks the Top 5, but he’s not winning any. He took advantage of a great situation.

Even Agassi stuck around longer because he saw there was just Hewitt then Roddick then Federer to deal with. There was opportunity there.

And good point on guys making their opposition weaker. Federer did just that, weakening Roddick, Hewitt, etc. I feel like Djokovic is trying to do that right now.

Sachin Says:

Novak’s LOSSES 2015 :
ROGER FEDERER ( 34 ) – 3 Times
5 of his 6 loss came against 30+ players.
He still can’t beat the EXPERIENCE.( Especially THE INVINCIBLE FEDERER)

Wog Boy Says:

“You F**kers think it is a weak era because you don’t know anything really about tennis and even life. yes Really.”

It wasn’t me, Sean started it..

mat4 Says:

“Sean Randall Says:

Mat4, how many times did Djokovic play Raonic this year or Ivo? And were their no big servers back in 2011? I had no idea.”

Sean, here you forget that in 2015, he played the complete season after the USO, played mainly on faster courts. By the law of avgs, the opposition should serve about the same, but Novak’s results on fast courts mean that chances that he played a great server were at least as high as in 2011.

That’s why I noted that he played a very tough field, and mentioned some of the big servers he played against, to show that luck wasn’t a lot on his side.

mat4 Says:

My previous post is indecipherable.

I meant: he played more on faster courts, where the serve is more efficient.

Then, he played against a good field, where a lot of players serve quite well.

Finally, I mentioned a few great servers he faced, to show that he wasn’t particularly lucky in that aspect.

Sachin Says:


Sean Randall Says:

Here’s what I thought about Novak in April of 2007:
Novak Djokovic, Leader of the New Pack in Tennis

I admit, I missed badly on Monfils!

Ben Pronin Says:

Sean, what’s ironic is that, in your article criticizing 02-06, you say the biggest problem is how weak everyone was mentally.

Federer, since 08, has been horrible mentally. While Nadal and Djokovic have certainly proved to be huge roadblocks, Federer has blown a ton of matches he could’ve won, not just against those 2. He’s become a ridiculous choke artist in the second half of his career.

CF1, there’s no way to make Murray look good here.

I don’t even care to dissect who would’ve done what, I just don’t think any of them reach double digits in slams.

mat4 Says:

A concrete comparison, Novak against the best servers in 2011/15 (I had to made a choice based on aces and serve points won, but it’s just an illustration):

2011: Karlovic 0, Isner 0, Raonic 0, Federer 5, Muller 0, Anderson 3, Lopez 2, Tsonga 2.

2015: Karlovic 1, Isner 3, Raonic 1, Federer 8, Muller 2, Anderson 1, Lopez 2, Tsonga 1.

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m gonna say mat4 got you there, Sean.

mat4 Says:


Federer, even in his prime, while he was excellent in TB, was average in deciders (3 of 3 and 5 of 5 sets), with about 64% of wins (from the age of 23 to the age of 28). Nadal is at 69, Murray at 70, and Djokovic at 75%.

I didn’t calibrate the opposition, and we can’t really assume that it was the same for different reasons, so such stats should be taken with caution. But it seems that Fed was always a bit below in tense situations.

Sean Randall Says:

Ben/Mat4, ok, but by playing these “Big Servers”, then doesn’t that inflate your own serving numbers since guys like Ivo, Isner and Raonic can’t return worth a lick?

Point is, unless something significantly stands out – which nothing really does – it’s a wash.

And Ben, Fed has been horrible mentally since 2008? Hasn’t he still won a few Slams, like 5 of them and done so with Nadal, Djokovic and Murray all in the picture?

Choking would have been him losing the 2009 French after Nadal had lost.

Let me ask you this, since the start of 2010 has Federer had a bigger choke than say Djokovic’s loss from a set up at the French this year against Stan?

mat4 Says:

“Ben Pronin Says:

I’m gonna say mat4 got you there, Sean.”

It wasn’t my intention, but I still appreciate your comment.

Ben Pronin Says:

Why since 2010? In 09 Federer blew a ton of set points to go up 2 sets to 1 against Nadal in Australia. He was up a set and a break and had a ton of chances to win in 4 against Del Potro at the US Open. He DID almost choke at the French in 09, twice!

2010 he blows 2 match points against Djokovic at the US Open. 2011 he’s up 5-2 and has a set point on Nadal’s serve in the first set of the French Open final and proceeds to lose, I think, 7 straight games. 2011 blows a 2 sets to love lead against Tsonga at Wimbledon. 2011 blows a 2 sets to love lead and a 5-3 40-15 lead in the fifth set to Djokovic. 2012 blows a few more set points in the third set in a 4 set loss to Nadal in Australia. 2015 blows almost 20 break points in a 4 set loss to Djokovic at the US Open.

Are any of them as bad as Djokovic’s choke at the French? Probably not. But that doesn’t excuse them. 5 slams since 2008. No slams since 2012. Is this Roger Federer, the guy everyone was calling GOAT as early as 2005, we’re talking about?

Wog Boy Says:


“It wasn’t me, Sean started it..”

Ben Pronin Says:

WB, why are you even bothering…

mat4 Says:


“Ben/Mat4, ok, but by playing these “Big Servers”, then doesn’t that inflate your own serving numbers since guys like Ivo, Isner and Raonic can’t return worth a lick?”

Sean, I don’t understand your point now. Why are you arguing that Novak isn’t serving better this year?

Anyway, I lost my way here since you posted the stats from 2015 and 2011, since they won’t change my assessment of the 2011 and 2015 seasons — in 2015, Novak dominated whatever his form was; in 2011, he was very good, he played great matches, but he wasn’t so much above the field, and he was very lucky.

I don’t think that 2011 was a great year for Federer — he probably played better in 2015; Murray was in a slump after the AO; the only real difference was Nadal.

So I thought that the question was: could a great Nadal have changed the outcome of this season? I thought that it was your starting thesis. I tried to answer that no, even the best Rafa wouldn’t have made a difference — because he is utterly dominated by Novak since September 2013 — 8-1, with a DR of 1,41.

mat4 Says:


“Mat4, would you agree Novak’s wins over Nadal in 2011 were more impressive than any wins he had this year over say Murray or a 34-year-old Federer? I would.”

I perhaps misunderstood your question here. If by “impressive” you mean “difficult to achieve” — not “pleasant to watch and be impressed” — I would probably agree with you.


Another thing: great generations of players don’t flourish every year, not every decade. It’s a misconception. We didn’t have a new Borg, or a new Mac in the nineties. The impression that they were taken down by a new generation was most probably because of the technological shift that happen when they were already mature — and JMac clearly didn’t manage to adapt. But Edberg, Wilander, Lendl, Becker, also didn’t manage to fully adapt to the development of new racquets, the way Sampras’ couldn’t adapt his game to the new strings. They were three great shift of that kind: about 1985, about 1993, and about 2000.

But in an age where technology didn’t change, we saw players remain at the top in the later years — Laver, Rosewall, Pancho Gonzalez, just to mention a few.

I don’t see why Federer, Djokovic, Nadal or Murray wouldn’t be successful in their thirties.

Chrisford1 Says:

1. Few things fire up the Fed fans anymore, for understandable reasons….but say “weak era” and out they come from their nests looking for something to plunge a stinger into.

2. Can’t call Nole-Stan in the FO final a choke in any way. 60 frikkin winners! 60 frikkin winners! Nole’s losses to Nadal in the N American hardcourt season of 2013 were a series of chokes that Djokovic got stronger from suffering. Andy had a epic choke at the Australian Open, 2015. And the grand-daddy of recent chokes has to be Fed failing open against Nole in 2011 at the USO after the most important single shot Nole ever hit (so far, at least). Fed was flustered and butt hurt for days and days after that discombobulation.

Ben Pronin Says:

Mat4, they will be because everyone else is terrible.

mat4 Says:


I guess that this generation of players is probably very good, and the conditions on the Tour are very demanding.

We recently had a big debate about it, and I believe we summed up all the factors that played against young players. In two to three years we will have a new excellent generation, although I don’t believe that there will be a new Federer, or a new Djokovic among them.

Ben Pronin Says:

Which generation do you think is probably really good?

mat4 Says:

87 and around.

elina Says:

“Is 2004-2007 a weak era?”

No Sachin, 2001-2007 was.

Old Sampras and Agassi winning slams not to mention Thomas Johansson. Seriously? Thomas Johansson? Don’t think Thomas Johansson would have won a slam in 2015 but I could be wrong.

Has nothing to do with Roger winning all of the slams

No one from his era could even consistently make it to the finals to play him during that period .

Face it. Sean’s right. That’s why he writes the articles.

Ben Pronin Says:

“No one from his era could even consistently make it to the finals to play him during that period .”

Well this is flat out wrong.

elina Says:

Only three players, Roddick, Hewitt, and an ageing Agassi (not exactly Roger’s generation but we have to reach here) each made four finals over those seven years out of 28 opportunities.

I wouldn’t exactly call 14.7% that consistent when we’re talking about the tennis “elite” at the time.

Compare that to 2008-2013 where Nadal made 50% of finals, Roger made 42%, Novak made 46% and even Murray made 25%.

Wog Boy Says:

“even Murray” you just landed yourself in a deep s..t:)

Lodhi Says:

Go Skeezer & Ben combo ! The Greatest of All Time Tag team tennis-x partners.

Sean, did you think these two will just accept your argument ? No, these two are the legends of tennis-x and the ultimate authorities of tennis; however, I would rate skeezer slightly ahead of Ben because of his ruthlessness and loyalty to Federer whilst as far as I can tell, Ben has not displayed that sort of loyalty to Fed over the years. He has swayed and started praising Nole off-late.

elina Says:

LOL WB, just because he is fourth yet still almost twice as consistent as any of Roger’s peers during the dark days.

vox Says:

No one ever taking into account the number of matches played against biggest opponents? It should show the quality of opposition and “weak” and “strong” era..because a high number of the same opponents would suggest extremely strong era in my oppinion, guys that other players rarely beat on big occasions..and now please crunch the numbers and conclude..on all surfaces.. And just one point, all of them are much better now because of the opposition..all of them improved..that is why you don’t have younger players, they will need a lot of time to improve and learn and reach the level..if it ever happens..

vox Says:

Against not of, sorry

Yolita Says:

This definitely looks like a VERY INTERESTING thread to read through, when I finish work in a couple of days. I appreciate a good discussion. Sadly, I am to busy right now to do it justice.

J-Kath Says:

Wog Boy – Why should Elina land herself in deep “sh.t” EVEN Murray can beat Federer who says “I’ll think more of the finals when I beat him (AM) rather than a first round match which you sort of erase from your memory.”

Only an exhibition match …well yes, but EVEN Federer seems to be counting them – as well he might as he was also beaten by Nadal.

Of course – I forgot – EVEN different rules for different players.

Source: The Sports Review.com
Andy Murray downs Roger Federer


Wog Boy Says:


Don’t tell me evenyou didn’t see it as a joke, you are just teasing me, aren’t you?

Daniel Says:

Good thread to read, a lot of insights.

I kind of agre with almost everybody. 2015 Novak is better, 2011 the competition was greater only due to Nadal at his peak, The others were not.

To me 2015 is the greater year because Novak won easier and more impressive and he look more compose. 2011 we can have a bunch of matches that was kind of luck. This year the only one could be the Wimby versus Anderson (the only time Novak was threaten). The guy just made 13 Finals (all major, 8 Masters and WTF). This tops everything because he was great all year, against everybody, multiple times.And overtime a player was hyped with a chance, bang, when it comes to the match he showed why he was #1. Against Nadal in WTF, Fed in Wimby USO and even Murray in AO where many were considering him the in form player of the tourney. The way he beats his opponents shows.

Wog Boy Says:

^^ “even Murray”..

BTW, Nole made 15 finals.

J-Kath Says:

Wogboy – between us Murray made 15 EVENS…..
Good going in one thread…yes sometimes a joke but automatic with some No? Yes?

PS: I’m punchy tonight – hospital came to take hubby away at MIDNIGHT …decided they’d take him tomorrow…..don’t know what’s wrong….


Dave Says:

Federer of 2015 is better than Federer of 2012 the last time he won a major let alone 2011. I just watched the 2012 Wimbledon semi-final between Federer and Nole. The quality of both players wasn’t even close to the 2015 final. Not even close. There were barely any consistent rallies. There were a few spots where the quality was high. But overall, It wasn’t even close to the same level of 2014 or 2015. Federer having a bigger racquet head helps in that department for sure. I agree that Nadal was at a higher level in 2011. But Federer? no way.

Dave Says:

One thing I forgot to add was that Federer’s movement looked slower in the 2012 Wimbledon semi-final and final than in 2015 as well. The training that he does now that was talked about during the U.S. Open, where he focuses more on explosive movements on his training is definitely showing.

funches Says:

Just based on the eye test Federer is playing better now than he was in 2011.

Other than that I agree with Sean. Strong column.

calmdownplease Says:

`and even Murray in AO where many were considering him the in form player of the tourney.’

Even Murray…
Do you mean Even Murray was considered the favourite for that?!
I hope not Daniel, because nobody I remember said that.
Why would they say such a thing!

lakie Says:

Djoker’s 2011 was definitely better. Players like Federer who were already focused and training hard from a young age aren’t going to become better in their thirties than they were in their prime. The competition in 2015 has been weak. Younger players aren’t focused or dedicated enough. Tomic and Kyrgios are representative of the new talents. Fed, Nadal, Djoker and Muzz are all not just super talented but also focused. They work incredibly hard, are disciplined, don’t waste their time in other diversions, have only one girl friend, no controversies or scandals.
As Sean rightly said, the competition’s become weaker because the old ones are aging and young ones are not coming up.

Ben Pronin Says:

Elina, those are interesting percentages.

From 04-05, Hewitt’s slam results were 4R, QF, QF, F, F, DNP, SF, SF. 5 of those losses were to Federer. I don’t think you can say that’s inconsistent or bad results by any means.

As a comparison, look at Murray’s results from 14-15: QF, SF, QF, QF, F, SF, SF, 4R. All but 2 losses were to either Federer, Djokovic, or Nadal.

But again, on the surface those are very consistent results for any player not named Nadal, Federer, or Djokovic.

This is why I’ve always had a hard time accepting the weak era argument. Is an era weak because the top players are prone to more upsets? That’s what you and Sean are saying. Or is an era weak because only 3-4 players win everything because they are so far ahead of the field? In this case, it points to a lack of depth in the field.

Roddick, for all the limitations in his game, made 5 slam finals in his career. He’s not an all time great, but he’s an obvious hall of famer. Are slam finals now the ultimate measure? Because he was also stopped by Federer in numerous slam quarters and semis, just like Hewitt. And hell, so was Agassi for a time.

When it comes to Djokovic and Nadal, they happen to be on Federer’s level. So they also made a ton of finals and won a bunch of slams, just like Federer. But the field really hasn’t changed that much. From 04-06 you had Federer and a developing Nadal and the rest. Since 07, Nadal and Djokovic and I guess Murray came into their own and began competing with Federer. But the field is the same. There is an alarming lack of quality from everyone ranked 6 and lower.

funches Says:

I think these people dismissing Federer because he’s 34 don’t actually watch tennis because it’s beyond comprehension how you could compare his form now and then and think he was better then

His racquet switch made a tremendous difference. He no longer shanks every fifth ball and gets overpowered like was happening with regularity against top players in 2011, when Tsonga made him look like a pusher in the final three sets of their Wimbledon quarterfinal. He won five games against Nadal in Miami. He lost seven out of his first eight sets to Djokovic and was overmatched.

Age has taken away some consistency, which explains the losses to players outside of the top 20, but the way Federer played at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, he would have beaten the Federer from 2011 in straight sets or four sets max.

Instead of coming up with rules (no one can possibly be as good at 34 as they were at 30), use your damn eyes. When he was on this year, Federer was as brilliant as he’s ever been, looking like a guy playing a different sport than his opponent.

jane Says:

great point about the huge decrease in shanking from fed.

Ben Pronin Says:

But are you a better player if you are less consistent?

funches Says:

Yes. It’s not like his consistency fell apart. He was good enough to beat Djokovic three times, as many times as the rest of the tour combined, and in two of those he was magnificent (I did not see the third), basically hitting and volleying Djokovic off the court.

And that was the only part of Sean’s take I disagreed with. That Federer beat Djokovic three times, in my opinion, does not diminish Djokovic’s year because Federer at the top of his game clearly was better than Federer at the top of his game in 2011. But I agree that Djokovic played at a slightly higher level in 2011 than he did this year, when for large parts he just played solid and let his opponents beat themselves. His backhand down the line in 2011 was unbelievable. It’s a close call, though, because as Sean pointed out, his serve has improved.

elina Says:

Ben Pronin Says:
“No one from his era could even consistently make it to the finals to play him during that period .”

Well this is flat out wrong.

My numbers were interesting as they proved my statement was flat out true.

Just because Roger may have stopped one player, doesn’t mean he could stop them all in each slam. If he drew and stopped Roddick prior to the final, it means another top player such as Hewitt should have consistently made it to the final.

Or maybe better put, even the No. 2 seed (or the 3-4 seed drawn into the opposite half as Roger) who by definition, Roger couldn’t meet until the final, couldn’t consistently get to the final.

In other words, Sean was right and my statement was not flat out wrong (as you had flat out wrongly claimed).

jane Says:

it’s almost like novak’s return and backhand were better in 2011 but his serve and forehand were better in 2015.

as for fed, hasn’t he been even more consistent in 2015 than 2011? results-wise? his longevity is amazing.

Ben Pronin Says:

Roddick made a slam final in each year from 03-06. That’s consistent for 99% of the tour.

But why do you criticize the 2-4 seeds for failing to reach finals rather than crediting the deep for being that tough?

Ben Pronin Says:

Should say crediting the field not the deep.

elina Says:

Because it wasn’t.

Thomas Johansson, Arnaud Clement, Rainer Schüttler and Martin Verkerk weren’t tough by today’s standards yet they all made slam finals.

No point going around in circles as neither of us will change the others opinion.

When you hear it from big supporters of Roger though, you know there’s some truth in the matter.

Sean was right.

elina Says:

Why is my post above awaiting moderation? Commonly happens in discussions with Ben.


elina Says:

I’ll try to respond to Ben again.

Because it wasn’t.

Thomas Johansson, Arnaud Clement, Rainer Schüttler and Martin Verkerk weren’t tough by today’s standards yet they all made slam finals.

No point going around in circles as neither of us will change the others opinion.

When you hear it from big supporters of Roger though, you know there’s some truth in the matter.

Sean was right.

Ben Pronin Says:

None of those guys made finals or anywhere close once Federer won his first slam, even.

01-03 weak? Absolutely, but it got tougher in 04. Federer was definitely a few notches above his generation but Roddick and Hewitt were consistent players. Nadal was rising and Agassi was still kinda around. And while in hindsight Baghdatis was a total bust, he showed a ton of promise when he came on tour. He was a number 1 junior in 2003 and took a set off Federer at the 04 US Open. His run in 06 was high quality, not just happenstance. That he turned into another Nalbandian, who was also an extremely good player when he was on, doesn’t take away from the level of tennis he achieved in that brief time.

RZ Says:

Nole fans: The New Yorker has an article on why Djokovic had the best year among all athletes in 2015. The author did a nice write-up (though I did find a couple of errors when he talked about ranking points). http://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/no-athlete-had-a-better-2015-than-novak-djokovic

jane Says:

cheers RZ. yep, saw that one. he made lots of great general points (but i noticed that about ranking points too.)

mat4 Says:

IMG is finally doing a good job.

elina Says:

The era of softness didn’t begin nor end with Roger.

My numbers stand correct. As does Sean.

Dave Says:

Unless my eye sight has completely failed me, Federer of 2015 is better than Federer of 2011 or 2012. Watch some of the matches and compare for yourself. Start with the Wimbledon 2012 semi-final and final. Federer looks slower than now. The shanks was a very good point. I actually forgot about how much he used to shank the ball because he doesn’t do it even close to as much with the bigger racquet head. The age 34 gets brought up a lot. If you are playing better, than you are playing better. Age isn’t that relevent if your movement or power or accuracy isn’t hindered. Federer definitely hasn’t lost desire or motivation. He has mentioned it many times.

Dave Says:

One thing I forgot to add is that Nole’s accuracy is better now than in 2011. That makes Federer have to play more consistent to even stand a chance. Nole has made Federer better in some ways because of it.

mat4 Says:


I compared Fed matches from 2007 with some he played in 2015. I had the impression that he is better now. The racquet is a big factor, the fact that he worked a lot on his backhand too.

He just started too late, at the beginning of 2011, and he refused to fully commit himself to the changes Annacone asked of him. It’s only now that he is where he should have been four years ago.

So, your eyesight, IMHO, is quite good.

jalep Says:

I’d agree Federer in 2014 and 2015 is a better tactician, has more shots, he’s more thoughtful and experienced and the racquet change helped as well as a healthy back to improve his movement and cut down on shanks.

But 2006 level ground strokes? Nope, sorry. His backhand was way better in his prime – also his running forehand, as he was simply a more supple and explosive athlete on the court. (his confidence was still sky high back then too)

The serve has always been fantastic but the last couple years, he’s fine tuned it.

Watch his backhand starting at around 3 minutes in…the confidence and power he had. His forehand at 7:10…no contest, imo. I was watching those matches back then…it was spectacular.


jalep Says:

Novak is the best, most well balanced athlete I’ve ever watched, however. Mind and body – full control.

lakie Says:

It is really absurd saying Fed is better now than in 2006. Fed is human and whether the posters here believe it or not, he is aging. He is not Dorian Gray.

jalep Says:

Well, we agree lakie!

But I do think Federer revived his game in certain ways – finally updated his racquet. Big improvement in many ways 2014, 2015 – but Nole keeps fine-tuning his game too. Who else in the ATP would you see using a yoga swing!

Nole’s set the bar even higher, imo.

lakie Says:

All elite players are fine tuning their game constantly. As in Alice ” through the looking glass” you have to keep moving to remain in the same place. But that doesn’t mean every year they keep becoming better. After sometime the physical decline is more rapid than the improvements and the player moves backward. Otherwise an 80 year old chap who keeps updating himself on use of technology, adds more variety every year etc would be the champion, not a young guy whose arsenal would be limited by his few years.

Dave Says:

It will be clearly evident when Federer loses a step. But to this point he hasn’t lost a step. At the U.S. Open Brad Gilbert and others said they had never seen Federer move so well. Until he loses a step, his game will not start to decline. If he had lost drive or motivation, I would say that could be another factor, but he has said he is as hungry as ever. The age thing still isn’t a factor for me. I just don’t see it.

Dave Says:

Thanks for the link Jalep. Your right about the running forehand being better in 2006. I’m still not totally convinced about the backhand, only because having the bigger racquet head in the past few years. 2014 was definitely not as good as 2006 backhand wise. But there were some periods this year where his backhand was so consistently good.

Wog Boy Says:


“It will be clearly evident when Federer loses a step. But to this point he hasn’t lost a step. At the U.S. Open Brad Gilbert and others said they had never seen Federer move so well. Until he loses a step, his game will not start to decline.”

Couldn’t agree more, he even slides into the shot almost as good as Nole, and his BH is more aggressive than ever before!
Of course, when Rogers wins , he is in the Gods mood, when he loses, the father time is catching up with him…broken record;)

Sirius Says:

Why would federer ever lose a step? He’s playing better than ever! He must be faster than ever! Heck, he could be the red costumed guy from the justice league!

Wog Boy Says:

^ according to you Federer is in denial, no?

Dave Says:

Wog Boy. You said it perfectly.

bojana Says:

Wog Boy,
Even Federer’s father said at US open that he never did see Federer playing so well.
After he lost fans have different story.

lakie Says:

There are are many aspects to tennis. Having a complete game or a dazzling aresenal of shots is just one part of it. Athleticism is another part. To the first part you can keep adding which all elite players do so every year they “improve”. But the second part follows the rules of mortality. Inevitably the inexorable forces of aging are bound to impact performance. Despite all these oohs and aahs from Djoker fans about Fed playing the best ever, the fact is Fed has won only one slam after he turned 30. This reminds me of a joke. A dying patient was being told by his family and friends how much improvement he was showing. His cheeks were rosier, his eyes were brighter etc. He smiled and said, thank you, I will die cured!!!

Dave Says:

Lakie. That’s why when someone: Murray, Nole or Nadal, doesn’t matter who, starts winning more slams in their 30’s than Federer ever did, it’s going to throw this logic out the window and show that age doesn’t matter.

Dave Says:

But because it’s Federer and people talk like what he does is untouchable, many Fed fans can’t see past this and say he is aging. So Federer his dad and all the professional announcers commentating on matches are all wrong when they say he is playing better then ever and are all in deniel. And all of the Fed fans are right? I have to totally disagree.

jalep Says:

Federer, his dad, the media, and I don’t care who else – yes, they are wrong but they have to believe it or at least say he’s better than ever. They aren’t about to come out and say blah blah blah he’s worse. But I can certainly see it clearly and say it: he can’t whip that backhand as freely and confidently as he did in 2003-2007 – particularly down the line and right into the corner. Cross court he’s not as good either. He can’t make those running forehands. I believe it was partially his back interfering for much of the time off and on between 2009 and 2013 when he was simply not timing it right/wasn’t moving into place quick enough. It would have helped him to switch racquets sooner but he also struggled with his back – seems strange to say but he used to sometimes show up with too much fat, yes belly fat! He looked leaner and meaner last summer, especially at the US Open. Hopefully he’s following more of a Novak Djokovic diet and experimenting with the yoga swing!

Lean, strong, and flexible is the best physique. Helps to have a clear mind not traumatized over the years by Rafa Nadal, too. Nole has that :D

jalep Says:

Dave, it has been a long, long time since I’ve thought Federer is untouchable. By summer 2007, I had stopped thinking that. There were a couple years… untouchable though? no.

I’m being forced into defending Federer’s prime this past year – I don’t do it because I still cheer for Federer, think he’s the goat, or idolize him – I do it because I think it’s quite wrong to say he’s better than in his prime – people are seeing him spot serve better than ever; he’s had to adapt in many ways and done well. My opinion from years of following his tennis – his prime was more fun to watch and more athletic, faster, supple, agile – he not quite the athlete he was, sorry.

I’ll say this again. Novak Djokovic has set a new bar for fitness which I believe will translate into even better longevity than Federer’s. It’s incredible to watch!

mat4 Says:


Dear jalep,

Here, you don’t take in account other things, that are not so obvious.

First, it’s the evolution of the game: Novak used to hit his FH at 110 kmh in avg, e.g. at the USO 2007, but at the last tournament I’ve seen this stat, it was 128 kmh… At Dubai, a few years ago, his FH flew faster than DelPo’s — I don’t remember the precise numbers, but I was quite surprised, since HMDP has such a potent FH.

I gave that number because these are not the exceptional shots and direct winners we don’t see so often, but the meat and potatoes of his game. And while it was the product of his work in the last two years, it was also a reflection of technological improvements: his racquet head speed has been improved 4% without changing the overall feel of the racquet — same weight, same balance, same specs. We saw how Novak struggled with it in 2013, before embracing its new qualities.

jalep Says:

Dear Trigger darling,

Yes, I do account for the evolution of the game. Federer lagged behind – the belatedly has tried to catch-up – and done quite well but he’s not the athlete he was mentally – confidence-wise or physically.

We’ll never agree on the topic if it is about Federer better tennis athlete now than in 2003-2007.

We can agree to disagree – which would be nice.

mat4 Says:


Then, I kind of agree that he is not better than in its prime — relatively speaking. In a match between Federer 2014/Wimb. final and Federer 2007, I am certain the older man Fed would win. Note here that I wrote “2007”, although I could add “AO 2005”, because it’s what I compared, what I analysed, not 2006.

But Federer in 2004-06 played with the technology he had, against the opponents he had, and he was at the peak of his physical prowess.

Meanwhile, a new generation of players arrived — not that they were better, but they grow up with new strings, and made better use of it. They learned as junior that they could defend at will, use the rebound effectively, and facing similar opponents, they learned early not to miss and to open the court. It was the case with Rafa, Novak and Andy. They understood, too, the new value of defence — it was enough to reach the ball to put it back into the court.

Roger belonged to the previous generation, I’d like to call it “the Sampras generation”. He adapted partially, first, to the new strings, when he stopped rushing to the net, circa 2002/3, in a measure like Agassi did (Sampras refused to try, although he had an excellent baseline game, and could adapt easily). But he didn’t have to adapt more immediately.

You write that his BH DTL was better, but he had to face much less lateral spin in 2005 (although Safin used that kind of spin) and it was easier to control the ball. Then, there is also the optical illusion: while he had to hit hard then to make winners, he doesn’t have to do it now. The racquet speaks by itself.

So, it’s very, very difficult to compare. What we can see, it’s that Federer, on a good day, is still able to beat easily anybody on the tour. Hopefully, he has a penchant for choking on big occasions, and it allows Novak to win this much.

mat4 Says:


Sorry, first, I post also on French fora, and it’s usual to write “Chere (chère) Pat/Kenoe/Apo/Lapin”. I write in a hurry, so I forget from time to time that here, we don’t do it. Sorry once again. I certainly didn’t want to disrespect you or your opinion.

Then, I checked Fed’s stats in deciders. Career wise, he won 66% of the 3/3 or 5/5 sets he played. But from 2004-2008, it was 64%. I couldn’t check the median and avg opponent in those matches, nor the median and avg rank of opponents in TBs, where he fares quite well, but he was never good in money time.

mat4 Says:


First, I can’t agree to disagree, when I am right and you are wrong. I can agree to disagree only when you are right and I am wrong.

Here are the numbers I posted on a French forum, where I am the only nolefan, and everybody else is FFF:

Results in 5/5: Federer: 23-19 career wise, 4-12 in semi and finals, 7-13 against top 10 players.

In deciders, Nadal 69% (we should check on clay), Murray 70%. Djokovic is the best, here, with 75%.

jalep Says:

Yes, darling mat4, I see what you mean about racquet technology, spin, ect changing, tennis morphing into a different game…that’s why I also can’t get on board with GOAT, weak era/strong era definitively and best ever pronouncements.

Back to Federer, just for a moment, please look at that link I posted to Dave above, if you have a moment – there’s also quite a bit of footage vs Rafa in 2007 and Federer handled spin quite a bit better with his backhand. Astonishing how much better, imo. (I loved the Trigger link you posted btw). Federer became mentally traumatized v Rafa maybe as early as Wimbledon 2007 — you saw it coming. To strike the backhand like he did in 2004,5,6, he must have confidence and a clear mind. Think about Rafa’s trouble with Nole – I think truly Rafa’s been affected mentally. Maybe Rafa’s coming out of it – recovering enough? I think so. Much more worried about him than Federer at this point. Especially if we see Rafa pictured upside down in a silk yoga swing in the near future.

Federer finally came around to changing the stick and preparing better…no more fat bellied Federet. But the confidence will never be what it was – in moments maybe but not overall.

Fed is not able to easily beat anybody on tour as he was – he’s got to be ready, as we saw in Paris. On a good day, yes, he’s can produce.

haha, yes, I fully believe Federer will continue to choke on the big occasions – we agree there!

RZ Says:

I agree with the sentiment that Fed 2015 is not better than Fed 2006. (And Lakie, I love your Dorian Grey line). Part of the problem is that vintage “Maestro Mode” Fed makes the occasional appearance, as he did in the Wimbledon semis this year, and gets Fed fans’ hopes up. But while in 2006 the Maestro could show up in consecutive matches, we haven’t seen that in years.

jalep Says:

Thanks RZ – you understand the difference.

mat4 Says:


I watched the link yesterday. But I made the same mistake when I watched his semi against Safin in 2005: I watched 45 mn of HL and was in awe. Then, I find the whole match. And there, the impression is completely different.

Then, of course he is older, and has problems with recovery. At this age, you still can play at your best, but not day in, day out. And, in physically demanding matches, sometimes even from the second set, Fed doesn’t move the way he used too.

It’s not really a question about when Fed was at his peak. Give him his actual racquet in 2006, make him play the way he does today, and he would be clearly be better than Fed 2014. I just think that, at his best, his game today is generally more mature and better, that he has improved and adapted _a lot_.

And most players don’t manage to do this, whatever one may think.

mat4 Says:


Et tu, Brute…

jalep Says:

There’s no way to erase the 6 year difference, mat4. Tennis changes, athletes, even the most efficient, are in the business of punishing and putting miles on their bodies. Federer has managed, improved, and adapted well. A little late to adapt, maybe stubborn or whatever…

Agree most players don’t manage to grasp what they need to do – they can’t manage it.

Nole has grasped, managed and put it all together like no one I’ve seen. I hope more players do adopt a similar approach but Nole is ahead of the curve and he lives it so well. That’s hard to teach or coach. Nole simply ‘gets’ it.

RZ Says:

@mat4 – I’ve been burned by my hopes of Fed winning a slam too many times over the last 3 years to join the bandwagon.

mat4 Says:

Here we can agree to agree. Because I am right and you are not wrong…

“There’s no way to erase the 6 year difference” — I didn’t precisely understand your thought here. But, whatever you meant, in general, yes, it’s an important difference.

“Nole has grasped, managed and put it all together like no one I’ve seen. I hope more players do adopt a similar approach but Nole is ahead of the curve and he lives it so well. That’s hard to teach or coach. Nole simply ‘gets’ it.”

Here I agree at 100%. But let’s not forget that he had Fed and Rafa as an incentive to improve. And he made mistakes in the process. I believe that Vajda’s influence was critical, and it’s now clear that Becker fitted well in the team, giving fresh blood.

The hiring of Becker was providential — an exceptional move, in fact. I’ve heard rumours about how Novak hired him, but it’s irrelevant now.

And, yes, most players just don’t get it. I had long discussions about it with an experienced and devoted coach on this topic. From a certain level onward, it’s very difficult to make changes.

mat4 Says:


He had a good shot at the USO, this year. He played clearly better than Novak. But 17… is a decent number ;-)

mat4 Says:

And there’s Reoger’s game, too. It’s brilliant, flamboyant, but requires a lot of virtuosity. After three hours of play… you just can’t hit the way you did at the beginning of the match. Novak’s game, here, is more solid. Rafa’s even more. We just have to compare the numbers of UE and winners to see it.

J-Kath Says:

Isn’t it the case that Federer is having to work very hard to have “really good days” in a way he didn’t even have to think about in previous years? Kudos for trying, but trying too hard which is what he seems these days to do and referring to it as “he is excited” is tantalising worrying – if you are a very committed fan –

He’s still going to be around but…different than before e.g. he could indeed win 2 Olympic golds with Hingis and Stan – but very high odds on him winning the singles gold – this time it belongs to Nole. Yes, there are other 2016 goals – but who would bet that he could overtake Nole?

elina Says:

Sean explained way back in 2007 why Roger didn’t have to work so hard back then.

As for Olympic Gold, you never know – to Roger’s advantage, it’s been confirmed that the hard court will be fast, where Roger had his multiple wins over Novak in 2015.

Dave Says:

If Federer has to play Nole in the Finals it’s best out of 5 sets and he will be 35 years old at this point. I don’t see Federer beating Nole for the Gold no matter how fast the courts are in a best out of 5 set match. He will have to hope to meet Nole in the Semi’s

Dave Says:

Jalep there is one thing about the mental aspect that you talked about after 2007 when he started to let Nadal get in his head and Nole get in his head. Federer slipping mentally and letting people get in his head is his responsibility and has nothing to do with his prime. Nole overcame this when he was younger and lost some prime years because of it but has learned from it. Federer has lost some prime years because of not dealing with these mental complexes against players like Nadal and now Nole. Federer hasn’t dealt with them and they are getting worse because of it. That is all his choice. IF you don’t deal with stuff mentally, it only gets worse over time. One of my favorite quotes is: You can evade reality, but you can’t evade the consequences of evading reality. Don’t think Federer doesn’t have a choice in this. Because he does and did in the past 6 years if that’s how long it’s been going on for.

Dave Says:

I totally agree about Federer and his weight Jalep. Recently watching the 2012 Wimbledon match with Federer and Nole, Federer looked bigger and less mobile than now for sure. That was the first thing I noticed. He has lost at least 5 pounds or more since.

Okiegal Says:

I have gained Fed’s 5# he lost….Christmas goodies!!!!! :)

Okiegal Says:

Maybe the gluten free diet cleared Novak’s head. I think when Novak got his stamina problem under control, assuming the gluten free diet took care of that, he could hang with everyone, regardless of who it was. I am not an authority on him, but I think he always had game he was just too sickly to bring it. There are some who don’t think that gluten could even be a factor saying it was a lot of bull. But I believe it to be true. I know people who have had allergies to gluten and it was miserable, according to them. Messed up their respiratory system. He could always play, just not long. Sure, he as improved…..playing Roger and Rafa helped that along.

Now lets see what kind of discussion I can stir up with this comment…… :)I I’ve been on a roll lately…..cheerio to all of my fine feathered friends!!

django Says:

I heard of a few people on GF diets that claim it changed their lives especially with the dairy elimination too.
I don’t think I could do it unless I absolutely had to.

Hope you are feeling better, okie.

Wog Boy Says:

I can live without meat, but not without cheese.

RZ Says:

Bethanie Mattek-Sands is another player who had issues with gluten and dairy. She said she was always feeling tired and fatigued until she gave them up.

django Says:

Also, Sabine lisicki went gluten free

Okiegal Says:

@django……Thanks! Another rough holiday coming up….but I will push through it.

There has got to be something to it…..Novak’s illustrious career is proof!!

Okiegal Says:

@Wog Boy…..Know what you mean about cheese. Seems like I am continually cooking something cheesy…..good stuff……but I like a good juicy steak too….

jane Says:

oh wow, i am totally with y’all on the fromage. yummmm!

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