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Burn Baby, Burn! 05/19/2009 - 1:39 PM

Rog by Pete Bodo

Okay, I understand that it's not all about me, all the time. But I need to write a little about me to put this whole Roger/Rafa rivalry thing in perspective. My boy Luke, who's six, was invited to a birthday party starting at 10:30 on last Sunday morning, I knew that if I took him, I'd miss the live coverage of the Madrid Masters, but I figured I could catch the highlights later. One disadvantage of my job is that any Sunday is, at least in theory, a work day for me. I've had to learn not to feel guilty about taking Sunday off.

Anyway. I took Luke to the birthday party, but not long after noon I found myself wondering how things were going in Madrid. Nadal was the favorite, of course, but in a recent post for ESPN I speculated that Madrid might present Federer with an interesting window of opportunity. Just how off-base would I end up looking? So I punched up the browser on my Blackberry and, after much navigating, I learned that Federer had won the first set, and they were even halfway thorough the second.

Interesting, I thought, wonder if he can make it hold up.

By the time we left the party and made our way home it was around 3 pm. I got right on the computer at the apartment and checked the final score. My immediate reaction upon seeing that Federer had won  was: Wow, must have been something to see. . .

Now, I've basically spent my entire adult match watching and writing about tennis matches. At this point, it takes an awful lot to make me feel like I might really have missed something, and even more to make me go out of my way at an inconvenient time to watch a tennis match. In my world, there's always another match, another player, another controversy, another icon; the down-side of a sport that rewards a player so handsomely and immediately is that the here and now quickly becomes the there and then. Meanwhile, the game inevitably coughs up the next big thing.  Think you missed a "must see" or "once in a lifetime" event?  Just wait a week for the next one.

Yet I found myself thinking, I've got to see this match. . .   And it wasn't just because I knew I'd have to write about it here.

So that's how I ended up watching Tennis Channel at 2 am on Monday morning, with a bag of chips in my lap and a cold beer. The network was re-broadcasting the Madrid final starting at 1:30 am, so I dutifully set the alarm. I bolted out of bed at 1:20 and flicked on the tube. The fact that I already knew the outcome meant nothing at all. And that's the greatest endorsement of this rivalry that I can offer: It can get you out of bed in the middle of the night, even if you already know the outcome. This Federer vs. Nadal thing is special. Even to a jaundiced eye.

It's entirely possible that one day we'll all look back on this match -  Federer against Nadal, fighting it out in the dirt inside the Magic Box, 2009 - as a career-defining moment. It could  go on to be the most critical victory of Federer's career. For Federer has introduced a big question mark in the Roland Garros narrative, and revived the idea that he may yet win the clay-court major.

if Federer wins at Roland Garros - whether his final-round victim is Nadal or someone else - Madrid will stand as the turning point: the moment when Roger Federer finally got some wind behind his sails and floated free of the shoals of self-doubt and a self-protective embrace of disappointment. We all know just how much that Roland Garros title means in the big picture; the French Open championship match could have a more profound impact on tennis history than any other major final.

A Federer win in Paris would also represent an impressive act of courage and will, for one of the more compelling (and, for Federer fans, agonizing) aspects of the Swiss champion's hunt for the game's golden fleece is that fate threw him a curve ball so wicked that even the most perverse spoilsport couldn't have dreamed it up. Fate didn't give Federer a couple of good players to beat, the way it did Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, and others. It gave him one exceptional one - a nemesis who is especially able on the clay surface that deducts the most from Federer's game.

This challenge has been, and continues to be, as difficult as it must be unnerving. Just think about it - wouldn't Federer's life be a lot easier if he'd lost a final to a Safin here, a Hewitt there, a Roddick somewhere else? The guy hasn't lost a Grand Slam final to anyone but Rafael Nadal, to whom he's lost five. What's a genius supposed to do when someone out there can taunt, Who's your Daddy?

This state of affairs has to be as irritating as it is unusual, as demoralizing as it is unambiguous. But on Sunday, Federer shook his head to clear the cobwebs, looked around at the landscape, took a deep breath and played just the kind of match he needed against the guy who made him forget how good he truly is. Oh, I know Nadal was tired and curiously passive, I saw him fail to reach shots that are usually fodder for his topspin cannon. But that doesn't really matter - do you think it mattered to Federer? Do you think it mattered to Nadal? You all heard what he said:  . .If I'm tired it's because I played longer than I should have yesterday. . .

Translation: It's my own danged fault that I had a semi-final war.

Let's look at Federer's accomplishment on the two fronts that most count, the strategic and the tactical. On the strategic front,  Madrid could not have ended up on the ATP calendar at a better time for Federer. Given Federer's age (27), experience, and record, it's safe to say that playing the Euro-clay events was important to Federer in only one respect: the degree to which it might help him win at Roland Garros. He had little to gain by knocking himself out in the run-up events, and even that little could be negated if Nadal managed to rack up a few more Ws at The Mighty Fed's expense in the process.

Federer needed just two things out of this clay-court season: to experiment with whatever new tactics he could think up, and to get adequately comfortable to playing on red dirt under competitive conditions. That means one or two events, preferably without meeting Nadal, for it's far more important for Federer to make Nadal wonder what he's thinking than the other way around. The demise of the Hamburg tournament and the addition of Madrid was a great logistical development for Federer, even though he notched up his last win on clay over Nadal (in 2007)  at the event Madrid replaced, Hamburg.

The combination of altitude and surface speed at Madrid helped Federer a lot more than it did Nadal, who had reservations about the way the altitude would affect his preparation for the French Open, and who made it a point note that the red clay in Madrid was, at least in relative terms, extremely "fast." Looking back, I now believe that Federer probably only played Monte Carlo in order to remain in the good graces of a key sponsor, Rolex (he lost to Stan Wawrinka and seemed not too upset about it). That means he budgeted two tournaments as a run-up to Paris: Rome and Madrid. Although TMF lost to Novak Djokovic in the Rome semis, he got the matches he wanted, on a surface well-suited to his game (until Madrid, Rome was thought to have the fastest clay). He got the same - and more - in Madrid.

So, while Madrid posed an unwelcome complication for Nadal, it was a boon for Federer, enabling him to accomplish three important objectives: He tuned up his clay-court game under ideal conditions for building his confidence; he got the competitive preparation he needed and, as an unexpected bonus, he beat his rival, on his rival's home turf, to plant what doubts or fears he could in Nadal's mind. It's funny, isn't it, what a significant change a tweaking of the calendar can represent.

Strategically, Federer is in better shape going into Roland Garros than he has been since the year he took out Nadal in Hamburg. And while the clay in Paris isn't apt to be as slow as ever (slower than Rome or Madrid), Federer will be playing on it with greater confidence  - especially if the weather is hot and dry, as is sometimes the case.

The other facet of Federer's win in Madrid was the tactical - the specific things he did to beat Nadal. First off, he played with a confidence we haven't seen in some time. At the start of the match,  while the strains of Disco Inferno still echoed in the Caja Magica, (Did they really play that cheesy number  to warm up the crowd? What next, Ion Tiriac doing the frug?), Federer looked grim and distracted, the way he has so often in the past year or so. While it's nice to know that even The Mighty Fed sometimes hates to go to work, the furrowed brow and tight lips don't exactly convey or inspire confidence in what he's about to do. But by the time he hit that marvelous forehand drop shot and held comfortably for 2-all, it was clear that things might go a little differently this time.

Ultimately, Federer's win rested on a few critical and mostly subtle changes in his game, and his approach to what might be called "the Nadal Problem." Federer seemed for the first time in ages to want to attack - to take the game to Nadal and pressure him. He played right on the baseline or even inside it, looking to take Nadal's ball on the rise (Nadal mostly played from a good six or seven feet behind the baseline). Although Federer rarely took his aggressive posture to the serve-and-volley or chip-and-charge realm, he served and volleyed some, and even chipped and charged a bit.

Mostly, though, he seemed to be looking for the short ball to jump on, and Nadal obliged him. Federer's ability to attack was a function of court speed and his position on the court, but it was also a sign of confidence. Federer has always been a little reluctant to engage in problem-solving, and it's partly because doing so undermines the sense that he's a spectacular natural talent whose every move is inherently and casually elegant. But inside the magic box, he was willing to get down and dirty.

Rafa Federer also showed more variety and deception than he has in the past. He used the drop shot sagaciously, and he came up with a new solution to the ongoing problem of finding himself pinned in his own backhand corner - that was the forehand, hit down his own backhand line (inside-in?) after Nadal had already started his sprint toward his own forehand corner in anticipation of the devastating Federer inside-out shot.

This time, Federer also handled Nadal's lefty serve better, even though Nadal managed an 80 per cent first-serve conversion percentage. One of the elements that has always hurt Federer in his matches with Nadal is the Federer has never been an aggressive returner; he likes to get the ball back in play, because he knows he can take control of and dictate the terms of a rally. That's not good enough against Nadal, who will seize on any opportunity to take control of the rally, starting with his opponent's return.

Still, it was Federer's serve, not his return, that played the biggest role in the victory. Although his first-serve conversion percentage was a solid if unremarkable 63 per cent, his second serve had sting and penetration, and so much spin that one ad-court delivery pulled Nadal so far off the court that he disappeared from my screen. Mainly, Federer served with authority, and the threat that he might attack behind any serve had to be a constant source of concern for Nadal. Federer attacked the net 18 times, and won 10 of those points. That may not sound like a great statistic, but it doesn't take into account the overall effect his willingness to attack had on Nadal's comfort and shot selection. As Mike Estep once told his then-protege Martina Navratilova, "If you're not getting passed 25, 30 times, you're not coming in enough."

When you combine all these elements, you end up with a textured, nuanced game distinguished by an exquisitely controlled aggression - the only kind of aggression that might be effective against as formidable a marksman as Nadal. All along, Federer has been insisting that he doesn't need to make any major changes in order to beat Nadal, and on Sunday he showed exactly what he meant by that.

Whether he can duplicate the feat against Nadal at Roland Garros is an entirely different question, and one it would be importunate to ask unless the meeting became imminent. For different reasons, the big challenge for both men will be fighting through the field to get at each other.

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Posted by Carrie 05/19/2009 at 06:34 PM

*No wonder, Rafa-heads don't understand why good analysts, writers and enthusiastic purveyors of the game (No, Brad Gilbert is NOT one. And, never mind Gimblestob, please shush!) appreciate Rafa's athleticism, fighting spirit, focus and such and such attributes but hardly about the graces and nuance and flourishes of the game itself.

I have read analysts such as John McEnroe saying that Rafa has an underated net game with nice touch. But what does he know?

I undertand that Rafa's game does not have the balletic qualites of Roger's. But I disagre that if one thinks that his game is not just about fight and running and hey- he can make a good volley every now and then and not 100% of his game is ulgy and that he may have some skills it means that they have an inability to understand the game.

We can have different opinions about tennis. But that doesn't mean that because a Nadal fan may feel that not all of his game is horrible and ugly and just about strength they are somehow lacking in tennis knowledge. I have seen that implication before- that Rafa fans are ignorant about the game- but a good number of us have watched tennis for a long time. And also- even if someone is new to the sport- their opinions can be valid as well.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/19/2009 at 06:34 PM

Anne: glad you're posting! the first couple of times i saw your moniker i was like oh shit typepad again. now i know it's you!

Posted by imjimmy 05/19/2009 at 06:35 PM

""If sunday's result is evidence of a fully fit roger as opposed to a weakened roger last year, well that could change everything. maybe 14 and 15 will come at wimby and the usopen, no?""

The jury's out on that one. Especially at the US Open. Nole,and particularly Murray, are no mugs on hcs. I am just amazed how some of the Fed fans do a 360 after just one match.

""How about not getting to the 3rd and 5th sets of a match from the get-go - as Fed's game is indeed TMF's""

That's a disservice to Nole, Murray, Rafa and a host of other good players we have these days in the relatively strong ATP pro lineup.

Posted by Mr Rick 05/19/2009 at 06:36 PM

thanks Annie - I'll go read the SI article

the problem with most of these elite athletes of course is that they are so miserable when they can't play, so often prefer to play sick and/or injured against their own best interests.

Perhaps this is one more example of why Roger needs an objective 3rd party in his life (a coach, spiritual advisor, something) - to protect Roger from Roger. We all could use that actually...

Posted by Budour (Hot Mess for FO'09) 05/19/2009 at 06:36 PM

It doesn't stop to astound me that a lot of the posters who declared Nadal as unowrthy Number One because he took over 'due to Federer's illness' are now criticising the Nadal fans for excuse making. ;)
Oh, Nick, there was absolutely no need to remind me that Andy was *that* close and yet so far away from beating Federer. I was supposed to block that match out my memory ... but then again, I'm supposed to do a lot of things that I don't actually o, including learning how to stop caring about tennis...

Posted by TripleF-FedFanForever 05/19/2009 at 06:37 PM

That GOAT argument is silly at best (isn't Nietzsche who said, "if There isn't a God, create one"?). Still...

I am not old (definitely not like that silly clothed Bud Collins who talks about WG Grace and Bill Tildon in a personal way), but one logical and reasonable scale for the GOAT measurement could be about the duration (in calendar years) between a Pro's first GS and his last. Fed achieved 12 in hardly 4 years. Pete S achieved 14 in 13 years. And in that 4+ condensed years of TMF, he made himself a certain Sunday feature in every tourney he played and dominated (as that the best word we could find) like no other. So.

Another aspect: Pros (top 20 and rising stars) watch their current top-ranks and tune their game. In TMF's case, Rafa played *to* Fed's game to beat him in clay and in Wimby and AO. Remember, if you beat Fed you get to have a GS? This is true till now since '03. And others are trying to follow suit (except Novak in '08 AO, no one has come near him GS games) desparately. Given that, Fed played *to* Rafa's game and beat him in Madrid. Kudos to Rafa that he has set that standard on clay and of late on other surfaces. Bound to happen if you dominate so much for so long. As Fed was/is the gold standard (Laver) to beat, for that long (237 weeks yey), he is the GOAT.

Comments? thoughts? folks...

Posted by Andrew 05/19/2009 at 06:40 PM

Rosangel writes at 5:12pm: "I think someone like Andrew has a more comfortable way of dealing with the rivalry, perhaps because although he's a huge Federer supporter, he also seems comfortable with Nadal - I've no doubt that it's genuine."

Well, comfortable, I don't know. I can assure everyone that comfortable isn't the first emotion that comes to mind when Federer goes down 5 times in a row to Nadal... :-)

And I think I share another couple of things with Rosangel. First, there is no visceral connection between the way Nadal plays the game and the way I do. She describes what she feels for Federer's game as ennui: I admire Nadal's fighting spirit and athleticism deeply, and recognize his superb tennis skill, but there's no emotional attachment to what he does. So I'd never describe myself as a fan of Nadal (some people write that they are a fan of Federer/Nadal, but their next favorite player is Nadal/Federer - that doesn't apply to me). I play a lot of tennis, use a 1H BH, and for me Federer plays the game more attractively than any player I've ever seen.

Second, I think we both hold to the view that, irrespective of the numbers, the GOAT is an "expired equine" - you can't compare players across eras. It's very possible that Federer will be seen as the second player in the Nadal era, rather than the reverse - and I'm genuinely comfortable with that. The last sentence on the previous paragraph will still hold for me.

I do believe (as I think Rosangel does) that if you can watch a player win, you can watch him lose. I try to be honest with myself and others about the things I see - see, for example, my analysis of Sunday's match in the prior two threads. I don't think loving watching a man play tennis and thinking, if he wins, that he was a greatly superior player on the day, follow.

I would love to see Federer play very well for long periods of the next two to three years, which he hasn't done recently. But I'm also genuinely comfortable with Nadal playing well as well - and he is playing at a level (measured in ATP Ranking Points) achieved by only one player before him in the Open Era, his great rival. And I'd be happy if Murray and Djokovic continues to raise their games, while some of the other younger players continue their advance. Imagine the feasts of tennis that would follow tournament after tournament. That's a prospect of bliss, not just comfort.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/19/2009 at 06:43 PM

tripleF: got to agree with you about collins and his big bill tilden infatuation. there isn't a person on the planet still alive that watched that guy play. give it a rest buddy boy.

Posted by Mr.X 05/19/2009 at 06:44 PM

I have a couple of comments from the article, which is very good and it's no wonder it's focused on Fed, as he was the one who brought the surprise in that match:
-About Fed's strategy towards the FO, Pete says that he tuned up his clay court game. However, it looked to me that he played the whole Madrid tournament more with a HC game: play fast points, attack the net, force things. Most of the long rallies in the match went to Nadal (the thing is, there were few). That's why i keep thinking this match will help Fed more in Wimbledon and in HC than in RG, where the conditions clearly favour Rafa (after all he beat Fed there when he was TMF). What i'm trying to say is that maybe he tuned up more his HC game.
- I agree that he probably only played MC because of Rolex, but i understand that's the tournament where the conditions are more similar to the FO, so he is not really tested in said conditions.
- Fed's serve was very good (both 1st and 2nd) but let's not forget Rafa was the player who had more BPs. He did better against Rafa's serve, but only because he was perfect on BP (2/2). I dont think he came close to breaking in any other game, whereas Rafa got to 30-30 in many games he ended up losing. What i mean is that the big difference of this match was how they played BPs, the most important moments of the match. There's where Fed was better than in other occasions.
- All in all, i think Rafa is still the favourite for the FO, but Fed can be considered as a serious contender, which was doubtful before Madrid. However, he was a serious contender these past years, but he lost in the end.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 06:45 PM

Gee the Same Old Same Old Goat theory raises its ugly Head again.

To be even considered a Goat one has to win all four Grand Slams

Laver is the last male player to win the above

Also Agassi yeah remeber him? he holds all 4 Grand Slams not concurrent of course.

Talking Goat status at this present moment in time is Pie In The Sky.

Posted by Or 05/19/2009 at 06:45 PM

Gosh, too many posts for one day.

I just wanted to remind you all of Roger's words in Miami "Thank god the HC season is over, on to clay"

That sounded almost desperate from him at the time, but now...

Posted by Mr Rick 05/19/2009 at 06:50 PM

oh, wow, Or ... LOL... I forgot that

and he didn't even go on to play the clay season except for a few rounds in MC and then at the end Madrid

Posted by Sherlock 05/19/2009 at 06:50 PM

"Rafa got it because Fed clearly fell apart and lost his game"

It seems that ifs and buts have turned to candy and nuts. Merry Christmas in May, Tim.

But don't anyone dare speak of Rafa being tired Sunday. :)

Posted by Mr.X 05/19/2009 at 06:51 PM

I agree that i find it strange to be a fan of Fed and Rafa, considering how different they are (respecting them is a different story). Personally, being a fan of Rafa, i respect Fed (you are not a real tennis fan if you dont), but his game, although very elegant and talented, doesnt connect with me because i prefer watching long rallies where the drama keeps building up towards the end and playing exchamge deffensive and offensive shots while running from one corner to the other (see Saturday's 3rd set TB). I know Fed can do that, but his game in full force is not based on that mor on quick points closed with his tremendously skilled shots. Therefore, my second favourite player is Djokovic, who likes the long points i've just described and can do great things in them. Besides, i've always found his reactions on court quite funny, although they are annoying to others.

Posted by Carrie 05/19/2009 at 06:52 PM

*of course..looks exceptionally entertaining for kids and country-bumpkins alike...but a decent tennis "watcher", someone who has put some dog-years watching and following pros should know better. *

So should these qualities also be added to the characteristics of Rafa fans?

So- we are mindless, non-decent, classing bumpkinesque, neophyte, ignorant, infant zombies cheering for one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.

I am blushing by all the compliments. Now –whilst farting in a non-classy way- I must find some brains to eat and hail the tennis racket wielding Lucifer to the tune of "Dueling Banjoes."

Posted by TripleF-FedFanForever 05/19/2009 at 06:54 PM

One thing on the lines Andrew's:

The all pervasive interest and viewership in Tennis per se is because of the rivalry between two charismatic - yet absolutely different, in terms of style and tennis-personality that makes folks take sides, argue and fight - players. Given that, Bodo's words rivalry-not-a-runaway is very important (or in Rafa's words, "wery wery unbeliewable no?) given TMF's Madrid victory.

I don't think any of us would be here, opinionated and obnoxious (talking about me at least) and passionate at the same time. I remember sitting back enjoying TMF in '04 and '05 watching him annihilate everything...Sooner, I was like, Hmph, may be Rafa is a not a mow-over... to now being...boy TMF beat him finally...

Rivalry is very very good no? I won't trade Fed's 6th consecutive USO with Rafa for an RG...but secretely am afraid I want to...

Posted by Mr.X 05/19/2009 at 06:55 PM

About the GOAT debate, it's been many times said that it's very difficult to name one, as several players have different enormous feats that could deserve the name.
To me, there's a group of GOATS where i would put: Sampras, Laver, Borg, Federer and maybe Agassi (that last one might be the most arguable, but he was always a favourite of mine:)and he won everything you can win and had a very long career)

Posted by Mr Rick 05/19/2009 at 06:56 PM

...hands Carrie a six pack of Bud, can of chewing tobbaco, and keys to the mobile trailer...

Posted by greenhopper 05/19/2009 at 06:57 PM

[Getting to deciders, then saving match points frothing at the mouth rallying 30+ balls, playing defensively with very ordinary shots while grunting and growling to make it look like "awesome" ...sound like being castrated (both players on that silly "match of the year" semis) of course..looks exceptionally entertaining for kids and country-bumpkins alike...but a decent tennis "watcher", someone who has put some dog-years watching and following pros should know better.]

This my most favourite quote of all time. Excellent work.
Don't worry, now that Federer "pounded" Rafa on clay, in Spain, we can all sleep peacefully knowing that beauty will indeed save the world.

Posted by deeps 05/19/2009 at 06:58 PM


If Fed can roll over Nole, Murray and Rafa in straight sets 90% of the time - great for him. Right now he is not able to and when it becomes tight, he usually ends up on the wrong side of the score. Its not about what he has already achieved and it doesn't diminish that - it is about what more can he achieve.

And Rafa does his own share of beatdowns. Ask Tim, the resident Rafa expert, about the boring Rafa beatdowns.

Posted by Or 05/19/2009 at 06:59 PM

"Just saying - and maybe it won't always be this way. Nadal has been a bit vulnerable to certain players on certain days in the past, but the Youzhnys and the Berdych's don't have winning head-to-heads over him - he's solved quite a few of those "rivalries"."

Rosia -

When Roger was 23, the same age Rafa is now, Djoko and Murray weren't even on the Radar. Roger has issues with three guys 5 years younger with him, and while his h2h with Rafa is fair, a through analyze of his h2h with Murray would reveal that there are definitly a few curve balls in there.

The loss in Cinci, on the heels of a streak and fresh from winning Toronto. Roger played so listlessly there he was almost accused of throwing the match.

3 years later, first round, Dubai, first tournament on the heels of Mono. Madrid was fair and square, but the loss in the TMC, where he was so clearly struggling with his back - I don't know about that.

On the most important stage, in good health - he won easily.

So, the h2h is what it is, Murray did his part to make sure he gets the win, and there's no doubt Murray's game troubles Roger - but when I think of those 3 wins inside Murray's 5, I can't look at that h2h objectively. Just like I don't count Rafa's loss against Ferrero anywhere, with his legs sliced open.

There is no way for you to know whether in 4 years, when Rafa is 26-27, there won't be this guy who beat him a couple of times. Would you see that as a taint on his legacy?

Roger reverse negetive h2h against his peers, just like Rafa had done, and I dare say Nalby and Hewitt are a tad more more talented than Berdych and Youz.

Posted by Tim (Jaunty and Lovin it! 2009 Year of RED Rogie!) 05/19/2009 at 06:59 PM

i still wanna know why Rafa got so skinny, Mr Guns and Buns is skin and bone!

Posted by Mr.X 05/19/2009 at 06:59 PM

I forgot to write in my last post that i do thinf that if Fed wins the FO, he will be the undisputable GOAT, as he would have done everything you could ask from in a GOAT (the thing is, i honestly doubt he will win it)
As for Rafa, he's nowhere near GOAT level, although if he won the USO and a a couple more majors, he could fit in that group, as i think he would be at Agassi's level (however, that's still also a big IF)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 07:00 PM

Greenhopper LOL! cheeky you?

Posted by Or 05/19/2009 at 07:01 PM

Blah, something got cut. I meant that I can't look at the h2h objectively and ignore that all those 5 wins were healthy Federer vs. a Healthy Murray. They weren't.

Posted by Tim (Jaunty and Lovin it! 2009 Year of RED Rogie!) 05/19/2009 at 07:02 PM

every Rafa fan outhta thank Fed for putting some life into the clay season, and into tennis in general, because it has a buzz again, the best possible thing for the sport right now is the Fed Rafa rivalry, with history in the balance...

if Fed won Paris it would tear the roof off the joint and put tennis on the front page everywhere...sorry this is true, a Rafa win is nowhere near as significant at this point, a Fed win would shock and delight everyone, Id put money on it...

Posted by Sher 05/19/2009 at 07:02 PM

Interesting analysis, Pete, thanks. Also nice to hear that you got excited about the game :)

Posted by BlueDog 05/19/2009 at 07:02 PM

Mr. Rick-

Just a note. Fed did play Rome and lost to Nole in the SF.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 07:03 PM

Tim Alas he has been banned from eating his Fav Chocolate Ice Cream.

He is down to One Big Choc Chip cookie a day now.

Posted by Mr Rick 05/19/2009 at 07:04 PM

Tim - you are right, Rafa was looking quite thin - probably trainer's attempt to prevent wear and tear on his knees

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/19/2009 at 07:04 PM

Tim: mr.bunsnguns (love that!) is now lean'nmean :)

Posted by Mr Rick 05/19/2009 at 07:05 PM

Blue Dog - I stand corrected - thanks.

Posted by Mr.X 05/19/2009 at 07:06 PM

Maybe your last post was just a joke, but i dont think Rafa has los that much weight, and i will sound like Pete Bodo himself: it has to do with the attire. I saw images of him practicing with one of his sleeveless shirts and he looked as big as in previous years to me.

Posted by Or 05/19/2009 at 07:06 PM

Mr. X - in a classic Roger-Rafa match, Roger is the one with more BP, and RAfa is the one with more *converted* BP.

This time, it went the other way.

Posted by Tim (Jaunty and Lovin it! 2009 Year of RED Rogie!) 05/19/2009 at 07:08 PM

lol as opposed to getting beat for the sixth straight time, Pierre?

now THAT is a brilliant strategy, for sure, going into a Slam...cmon!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/19/2009 at 07:08 PM

boy, i'm out of it. there's an exho in paris tomorrow that fed, rafa, muzz and 5 others are playing in? here i thought rafa was on the beach in majorca getting some rest! grrr.

Posted by Carrie 05/19/2009 at 07:10 PM

Tim- if I recall correctly Rafa's trainer mentioned about wanting him to lose some weight last year. All part of trying to make sure that they don't put too much pressure on his body. With the running and what nots.

And when I have seen Nadal in person- he really looks a lot leaner than how he seems on TV. Rosia and numerours others here have attested to this. My family friend who has worked at the Miami tournament a few times have remarked so as well. But he maybe has lost a little bit of weight. And with his new outfits- that can make him look even smaller. I remember being struck by how much leaner looked in his purple t-shirt in the trophy pics after the 2005 FO.

As for legacies being tainted by losing to player A or B- I don't really buy into that. Through its history tennis has been filled with many rivarlies and many excellent players who did not match up well with another great player for one reason or another. That helps enrich the sport imo opinion and not detract from it.

Posted by Mr.X 05/19/2009 at 07:11 PM

That's exactly right. This time, Rog was the one able to win those points (even the ones he wasnt dominating). And not only that, he won all of them, which was exactly what he needed to win the match. If it had been 4-2 for Roger in those 6 BPs, he still would have won more (that is probably the most obvious statement i've made in my life), but the result could have been different.

Posted by Tim (Jaunty and Lovin it! 2009 Year of RED Rogie!) 05/19/2009 at 07:12 PM

marg i eat ice cream and um, the results do NOT go to my biceps, sadly...

rafa's bod has shrunk and I want to know why! he didnt do any weight training, he must have changed his diet, and he does seem to tire rather easily these days :)

Posted by Tim (Jaunty and Lovin it! 2009 Year of RED Rogie!) 05/19/2009 at 07:14 PM

well anyone could see that Fed's losses this year have been him falling to pieces in the final set, far more obvious to any viewer than 'fatigue' in the Madrid final, Rafa looked pretty normal to me, and again, he played poorly in the quarters and semis in large patches, was that fatigue too?

he played horribly in the first set vs. Djoker, the worst Ive seen in ages...Djoker let him back in the match

Posted by Carrie 05/19/2009 at 07:15 PM

*and I dare say Nalby and Hewitt are a tad more more talented than Berdych and Youz.*

I think all four are very talented but Hewitt is the one who did the most with his game before injuries and all that jazz. Nalby is incredibly talented.

But I must give some props to Misha- I feel that he is one of the more talented players in the game but- talent isn't all there is. Roger once said that Youzhny was probably the best practice player on the tour- But with Misha he is one of those players who can't bring it always on the mtach stage. But I do think he has great talent.

Posted by Pspace 05/19/2009 at 07:15 PM

I play a lot of tennis, use a 1H BH, and for me Federer plays the game more attractively than any player I've ever seen.


Posted by CL 05/19/2009 at 07:15 PM

Tim - i saw your complaint about the NY Times headline -the 'weary Rafa' was indeed, 'meh. But did you see the picture that accompanied the article? Fabulosa!!

Annie - actually there was a LOT of comments about the Fed/Rafa time management wars in the previous threads. Just not so much about the SI article that said how sick Fed was.

One thing I noticed, time-wise, that when Lars Graf did his little spiel at the net, he made a specific comments...can't remember the exact words,...about enforcing the time between points rule..and he glanced over at Rafa when he said it. I don't mean he gave him some sort of big stare down or anything, it was all very brief and casual...and then Lars just continued with his spiel. But I did notice that Rafa was a bit quicker between points than EITHER he or the Djoker were in the semi. Other than holding up his hands, a la u-no-who, when Fed was serving a couple of times late in the second set, Rafa was downright 'brisk' ...for him.

Posted by imjimmy 05/19/2009 at 07:17 PM

Steve's new piece about the final is up. Please comment there too :)

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/19/2009 at 07:18 PM

Carrie: you're on fire today! OMG. I don't know who posted what you're referring to but that's got to be the most ridiculous assessment of a rafa fan yet. And WHAT AN INSULT to the World #1 and 4 players who are working their fannies off out there. The grunting is for show?? the comments around here are getting more farfetched by the minute.

Posted by Ruth 05/19/2009 at 07:21 PM

"Pete doesn't give himself enough props for his pre-Madrid prediction. Spooky accurate." (Andrew)

A few other people have expressed similar sentiments about Pete's reaction to the Madrid final result vis a vis his ESPN piece on May 4 (?). This allows me to pop in and say that one of the many things that I like about Peter Bodo, writer and blogger, is that, as far as tennis is concerned, he never gets excited or -- God forbid -- gloats when something that he forsees actually happens, nor does he go into paroxyms of agony or apology if something he predicts or hopes for does not occur.

I like that -- a lot.

Posted by Carrie 05/19/2009 at 07:21 PM

Geeze- some of the pot stirring has taken a a nasty tone.

How do you mean Rafa gets more tired these days? Although there is this idea that Rafa has always been a machine and can go on forever he has not always been fresh as a daisy druing his whole career. In the Miami 2005 final I remember when they were talking about what Rafa needed to do in the fifth set Mary C quipped that what he needed was a nap.

Why do I feel like you are trying to drag his name through the mud here?

I fail to see how he gets more tired these days.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/19/2009 at 07:25 PM

CL: rafa was holding his hands up, i thought, to ask the crowd to quiet down, no?

Posted by Rosangel 05/19/2009 at 07:25 PM

Or: I honestly don't think you can amend Federer's H2H with Murray any more than you can Nadal's with Murray. I mean, he was injured in Rotterdam, but that's just how it was. He still managed to take the second set - the loss is what it is.

And if we're going to bring up the Cincy loss, how difficult was it for Murray to close that one out, given Federer's aura at the time, and his relative inexperience?

In Dubai, Murray served really, really well - no breakpoints against him in the match.

Anyway, my entire post wasn't intending to disrespect Federer's record, it was to correct someone's misconception that Nadal's H2Hs with the rest of the tour are somehow significantly inferior to Federer's. There's another case to be made, in other words. I did say that things can change.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/19/2009 at 07:27 PM

seriously, the reason for the weight loss is to protect his knees. and it appears to be working. the tape's gone for one thing.

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!!) 05/19/2009 at 07:37 PM

carrie > " We can have different opinions about tennis. But that doesn't mean that because a Nadal fan may feel that not all of his game is horrible and ugly and just about strength they are somehow lacking in tennis knowledge. I have seen that implication before- that Rafa fans are ignorant about the game- but a good number of us have watched tennis for a long time."

it always interests me how this can go both ways carrie, unfairly so imo... you feel that rafa fans are i mocked because rafa's game is so based in his speed and athletism.

Fed fans are mocked because they like fed's coolness, and see no reason why a smooth, 'conventional' tennis game can't be as powerful or effective as one where the effort is more obvious.

Neither should be looked down upon, imo. Both styles are perfectly valid, imo, its the execution that brings the results. execute well, you're holding a trophy. don't and you're packing for the next tourney.

but both sides catch some grief, and its too bad. at the risk of sounding like a broken record, i'm just pretty freakin' happy we have 2 such stellar examples of BOTH types of players. they're both good guys, they love the sport and have a hail of a lot less angst about their games, competition and 'rivalry' than a good chunk of their fans.

pete - IF you should read this far, nicely done. The write-up, the prediction, and the getting up at 1:30.... :)

Posted by CL 05/19/2009 at 07:38 PM

Annie - I saw it as asking Fed to wait, but I may be of the few Fed/Rafa matches, (;-)) I look forward to REviewing, so i'll see what I see the next time around. But in any case, the rule is 'at the pace of the server' so even if Rafa wanted the crowd to quiet down, it is really up to Fed when he wants to serve, crowd noise, or no crowd noise.

Posted by Carrie 05/19/2009 at 07:41 PM

I am thinking that with all of this talk about how this win shouldn't count in the head to head between various players all matches should come with a disclaimer.

This match does not really count because (you may check more than one)
* Fatigue
* Injury
* Sickness
* Luck
* Player B is in Player's A's head
* Player A is better than Player B and anyone who likes player B is a bumpkin
* Player B won the Edberg award 5 times in a row!
* Player A was distracted by the cast of Entourage in the audience
* Personal problems, no?
* The wind was only on one side of the court
* This &*% new racket
* The match was dark and one of the players has an unfair advantage of having cat-like night vision while the other player has the eyesight of a bat
* Self inflicted head trauma
* Player B had a case of the trots after a big steak the night before
* The player was focused on the upcoming Argentina football match
* Player B has the power of Satan on his side
* The shorts didn't fit right
* Her dress was ugly
* Nobody should ever lose to del Potro!

Posted by greenhopper 05/19/2009 at 07:42 PM

Bless you, Carrie.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 05/19/2009 at 07:50 PM

Carrie: ROFL

CL: agree it's the pace of the server. let me know after you review the match.

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!!) 05/19/2009 at 07:53 PM

Elfs a top 5 player, he didn't get there through the goodness of someone's heart.... he's also very young still, he's got a lot of growing up to do. He's come along nicely, getting his form back from last year. I think he'll be able to do some damage again this summer...

just sayin'...

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!!!) 05/19/2009 at 07:53 PM

PS - Pete - lurve the pics you chose. Very cool of both players.

Posted by Rafafan 05/19/2009 at 07:59 PM

JMac's views on RG and the significance of Madrid:

"Despite the results this past weekend on clay in Madrid — Novak Djokovic testing Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer beating him for the title, the question in Paris is not ‘Can anyone beat Nadal?’’s ‘Can anyone take a set from him?’ That’s what it’s come to at Roland Garros," McEnroe says. "The fact that he has improved so much on the other surfaces has actually helped his clay court game. Others in the past who made adjustments to better themselves on faster surfaces — Lendl, Wilander and Courier come to mind — saw their clay court play suffer. Nadal is serving better, being more aggressive with his backhand and coming inside the court more often. He’s absolutely steamrolling people. He used to win on clay with his defense, now he is as good an offensive player. It’s scary to see he’s so much better than he already was. We’re watching history — he’s on his way to surpassing Bjorn Borg as the best ever on clay, and he has a serious chance at the Grand Slam this year.

"As for Federer, the most common question I get asked is ‘What’s wrong with Roger?’ Well, until he loses early in a major you can’t ask. He has been in the last four Grand Slam finals and has an amazing streak of reaching at least the semis in 19 straight majors. So you can’t write him off. What he did Sunday was impressive; he played the right style — was aggressive and didn’t get into many long rallys. It’s the first time I’ve seen him adjust his game on clay versus Nadal. But the biggest factor was the altitude in Madrid, which helps a big server. He is capable of losing to a number of people and that streak is in jeopardy. Even though Nadal defeated Djokovic in the semis in Spain, in a best-of-five match he still has the best chance to upset the reigning four-time champ."

Posted by BlueDog 05/19/2009 at 08:00 PM

Steve is still picking Rafa to win RG!

That's pretty much a lock for Fed to win then.

Carrie- Excellent!!

Posted by Red⁺ = Legacy Solidified 05/19/2009 at 08:02 PM


I play a lot of tennis, use a 1H BH, and for me Federer plays the game more attractively than any player I've ever seen.

Ditto 3!!

Posted by Tfactor 05/19/2009 at 08:05 PM

I play a lot of tennis, use a 1H BH, and for me Federer plays the game more attractively than any player I've ever seen.

Not for me though, and I use a 1H BH too (and had a pretty good serve back in my day)so count me out from those who think that anyone who plays a similar style or has watched tennis for many years would find Federer's game more attractive.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 08:05 PM

Gee I have played tennis since I was ten years old

Being a leftie too,

The backand a most over rated shot in tennis.

Hey what more can I say

I suffer like Nadal with his 2hb/hand Sigh!

Posted by Flyer 05/19/2009 at 08:09 PM

This is all making my head split and what little brains I still possess spill out all over the kitchen floor - glad no longer have a dog to lap it up.

Super glad Federer won Madrid.

Very sure it will have very little relevance to how the French plays out.

Many opponents - not just Nadal - in Fed's way to the final - all can do evil on the clay to my fav.

This Fed fan will try very hard to be worried sick only about the match on hand - and will NOT look ahead to any round especially the final 'cause the way things have gone the last year & a half - who the "H" knows what will take place when Roger is on the court.

Did Roger play better in Madrid - you betcha.

Did his serve seem to gain new life - you betcha and thank the gods!

Do I really really really hope he continues on this positive path and continues to improve - you betcha really really!

But - I'm still nervous as hell to even dream he might reach another final where, as the day follows night, "The Nadal" will surely be waiting (yikes).

So no day dreams for this Fed fan.

(But - when asleep who can control their dreams? Surely not this one - so come on Red Rogi! Make the dreams of sleep a reality....)

Posted by Rosangel 05/19/2009 at 08:10 PM

Carrie: well done.

We might add
+ Poor scheduling by Player X meant too many tournaments played in a row
+ The match was fixed
+ Player G's coach was shouting "Ajde!" too loudly
+ Player N unfairly distracted the opponent by pretending to choke on a banana
+ The tour expects Player S to play even if she has a broken leg and a hernia, and will fine her if she doesn't, so she turns up grumpy
+ Player F tanked the match
+ Player D's family own the tournament
+ Bad linecalling
+ Haweye malfunctioning
+ Player K's mother said "the King is Dead"
+ Player K's family were wearing cheesy matching T-shirts with their son's name on, which distracted player G.
+ Player G told player K's family to be quiet, and distracted player K
+ The umpire was Cedric the Terrible
+ The grass was slippery and player M was wearing the wrong shoes
+ The clay was blue
+ Player Z has a strange eye complaint that makes it tough to see white lines on a purple court
+ The roof was closed
+ The roof was open
+ Player L had an accident when waxing his legs earlier in the day, and they itch like hail
+ Player V's hair gel became toxic because the heat policy wasn't applied as it should have been
+ Player Q is over 30 years old and shouldn't be playing that well
+ Player K distracted the opponent by squeezing sweat out of her hair
+ Player I's serve shouldn't be allowed because it's too good

Posted by imjimmy 05/19/2009 at 08:16 PM

""The backand a most over rated shot in tennis.""

AM: That hurts! moi a dh bh - but it's def my strength. I switched from 1 h to 2 h when I was 10 years old.

And I like both Rafa's and Fed's game..but most of my WTF moments were watching Nadal's fh on court. It's really a sight!

Posted by charles 05/19/2009 at 08:17 PM

Pete, you nailed it:

"Federer has always been a little reluctant to engage in problem-solving, and it's partly because doing so undermines the sense that he's a spectacular natural talent whose every move is inherently and casually elegant."

Andrew at 6:40
Very well said!

My opinion: if Fed can avoid being distracted by expecting to win, (he had the right mentality on Sunday), he has a chance against Nadal.

Nadal could face serious challenges from both Djokovic and Federer at the French, and their one-two punch may be deadly... but I still expect Nadal to prevail.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 08:19 PM

imjimmy Tough cookies? lol!

I have a most wonderful serve,hey I am a leftie remember

My kicker serve will knock your little socks off

Also my f/hand is just loaded with top spin

Not to metion my f/hand volley shot?

Posted by TripleF-FedFanForever 05/19/2009 at 08:19 PM

TMF plays the game in the most attractive, stylish, graceful way ...both aesthetes and bumpkins alike would agree unanimously no?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 08:20 PM

Pfft Who needs a b/hand anyway.

Posted by frances 05/19/2009 at 08:21 PM

AM - thanks for answering my question about the drop volley a while ago. My mom mentioned it that Roger used it a couple of times in the match as well as Djokovic. Glad to know that Rafa has been exposed to this tactic

I had to leave work early due to cut in my gum (really ouch no idea how i got it) and now a developing soar throat that will no doubt give me fever tonight .. so sorry for the late reaction:P

IMJIMMY- Glad you pay attention to percentages as well. And yes I expect the opposite camps to be frazzling on this now that TMF found his grove back. Good for Tennis, good for, good for media.

MASTER ACE or ROSANGEL or anyone - are there any Roger Federer classic games which did not involve rafa as an opponent? (classic in terms of quality and drama)?

Thanks in advance

Posted by frances 05/19/2009 at 08:21 PM

AM - thanks for answering my question about the drop volley a while ago. My mom mentioned it that Roger used it a couple of times in the match as well as Djokovic. Glad to know that Rafa has been exposed to this tactic

I had to leave work early due to cut in my gum (really ouch no idea how i got it) and now a developing soar throat that will no doubt give me fever tonight .. so sorry for the late reaction:P

IMJIMMY- Glad you pay attention to percentages as well. And yes I expect the opposite camps to be frazzling on this now that TMF found his grove back. Good for Tennis, good for, good for media.

MASTER ACE or ROSANGEL or anyone - are there any Roger Federer classic games which did not involve rafa as an opponent? (classic in terms of quality and drama)?

Thanks in advance

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 08:22 PM

To Carrie and Rosangel,

You both woman Just Rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Ross 05/19/2009 at 08:22 PM

I understand GR's "root for your fav's primary rival to lose" philosophy, but I will never understand Ros's "ennui" her fav's primary rival. Actually, it's kind of sad.

Posted by BlueDog 05/19/2009 at 08:23 PM


I agree. Madrid was the most pleasant win I've watched, just because I assumed up until the last point that Rafa would come back to win it. I avoided the normal angst. Throughout the match I kept telling my daughter "I know he's up a set and a break, but that doesn't mean anything. He's still going to lose." When he actually won, it was shock followed by happiness.

Is that not high praise of Rafa?

Posted by Rosangel 05/19/2009 at 08:26 PM

Oh, and
+ Player E should have won the match, but wasn't playing as well as she can, so it wasn't the real her
+ The opponent hit some "lucky shots"
+ There was a letcord that nobody heard when Player J was serving at match point and produced an ace, and when the point was replayed she served a double and went on to lose
+ Cedric the Terrible gave Player O unsolicited advice on how to serve
+ Player R's water bottles were tampered with

Posted by Frances 05/19/2009 at 08:31 PM

Tim - you never fail to make me laugh of your comments- you of all people just Satruday ASSURED US HOW BORING CLAY SEASON IS BECAUSE THE WALL ALWAYS WIN and now suggesting totaly how GOOD THE CLAY SEASON NOw:P because TMF Just won:P

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 08:31 PM

Rosangel Thank goodness for you.I was wondering when Cedric The Terrible would come into play.

Posted by Rosangel 05/19/2009 at 08:31 PM

frances: maybe Federer vs. Sampras, Wimbledon 2001?
Or Safin beating Federer, AO SF 2005

Posted by imjimmy 05/19/2009 at 08:34 PM

""Also my f/hand is just loaded with top spin""

he he..Now I know why you like Rafa so..

""Pfft Who needs a b/hand anyway.""

You've got to stop saying that. Think of Muzzah (or even Nole) :(

BTW...It's amazing how much excitement Fed's lone win has generated here. I'm sure even he himself is not that excited :)

Also for the sake of Nole and his chances at the F.O, I earnestly hope that he does not land on Rafa's side (yet again). He's been incredibly unlucky to run into Rafa every time before the F. He deserves to get at least a runner up to his name.

Posted by BlueDog 05/19/2009 at 08:35 PM


Is there an inconsistency to that? Rafa wins = boring, Rafa loses=not boring. I don't agree with the boring part, but Tim's consistent (and funny).

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 08:38 PM

Gee leave Tim alone

He is Gas

Clearly misunderstood around these parts for sure.

Posted by Sherlock 05/19/2009 at 08:38 PM

I can actually see Tim's point regarding the clay season. Though I think his reaction would be a TAD more muted if Nole had beaten Rafa and Roger last week, instead of Roger winning. :)

I can understand those who find the dominance boring. I used to feel that way about Roger's hardcourt dominance.

But what I don't get is people finding Rafa's game boring. Win or lose, I love to watch him play. Even when Roger dominated the hard courts, it never made sense to me to think of Roger's game itself as boring.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 08:39 PM

Imjimmy I just live by what I say

B/hand Pfft.

Posted by frances 05/19/2009 at 08:39 PM

AM, Rosangel and Carrie with your options LOL luv it-- fand always have excuses!! onyl the players admit that they lost fair and square

Posted by lilscot 05/19/2009 at 08:45 PM


Sorry I just now caught your earlier shout-out to me about now being an official regular blogger here! I was away for several hours and it's always so hard to catch back up, especially when there's several stories being commented on. I'm still getting used to jumping back and forth from Pete's stories to Steve's stories, etc.

I noticed and entry by Frances at 8:31 p.m. Is that you too? I only ask because normally your moniker comes up with a small "f" and this one has a capital "F".

If that was you, I loved your comment. I've heard that a few times actually from people. "Oh, I'll be so glad when clay season is over." Suddenly and magically it's now the "best season ever."

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 05/19/2009 at 08:46 PM

Gee I admire and say "Love" I use that term loosely lots of different tennis players over the years for thier different abilities on the court.

Gee people need to get out of their "Square" and think their has ever been only one player to do this and that.

Tennis in its game has evolved over the years.We now have new technology in the game.

For example these new racquets for one.Bringing more power to the player.

Players too evolve their games if not they will be the last man stading so to speak.

Posted by Mr.X 05/19/2009 at 08:47 PM

Rosangel and Carrie,
that's too funny.
JMac certainly loves Rafa.
You know, Steve is right sometimes. He was right in IW, and in every single tournament till Madrid.
Classic matches from Fed: what about Masters Cup Final 05 against Nalbandian?
Probably he doesnt have so many classic matches because that adjective usually goes to very long dramatic matches. His domination in the TMF era was so big that none of his opponents could make those matches happen. In his case, classic matches would probably be absolute exhibitions of his multiple skills.
And with that i'm off to get some sleep.
See you tomorrow, everyone.

Posted by lilscot 05/19/2009 at 08:47 PM

As Aussiemarg said, don't let Tim get to you. You can tell by his tone that he is saying most things with tongue firmly planted in his cheek. Of course his love for Fed is very real, but his Rafa jabs are only designed to get a reaction from people, and it's obviously working. It worked on me until I figured it out.

Posted by frances 05/19/2009 at 08:50 PM


I dont remember Steve Tignor writing about a SEMIFINAL MATCH(twice this year) instead of the Final victory because it was boring:)

OH is the WIMBLEDON '08 is so boring? I heard it was JUST ARGUABLY hailed as the best match ever...

OH WAIT did you mean ROME '06 ? Gee Roger was up 5-2 in the last tie- break

Or was it ROME '05? ooh hugs to CORIA

OOOOHHH my bad you meant the French '08 final? yes that was definitely BORING:P



Posted by frances 05/19/2009 at 08:55 PM

Rosangel Thanks- I heard about the Safin match in Ausie- I was considering of buying the game it was apparently really good.



Posted by BlueDog 05/19/2009 at 09:01 PM


I think you misunderstood my post. Stop yelling, and go read it again.

There's a part in there where I say "I don't agree with the boring part". As in, I don't agree with Tim, but he is consistent.

I love the clay season, always have, and love all tennis.

Posted by frances 05/19/2009 at 09:01 PM

Mr. X thanks for you thoughts- I think Nalby won that 'classic' match with Fed? and you are right TMF was simplt dominant at that time.

Posted by Game lover 05/19/2009 at 09:02 PM

Andrew: I'm in total agreement with your 6:40 post and although I am a Rafa fan, I'll take Roger's shots over his :) Agassi put it best: Rafa is freak and please show me another player that imitates his style? But I do love his fighting spirit and even his style has its own charm.

AM: Don't tell me that you let the likes of Tim full of Starbucks get to you?

I didn't follow the whole argument, but he said about Rafa losing weight, it's actually a good thing! And I was happy when I saw Rafa looked slim, mind you...

About the article: Well, at the risk of repeating myself, Rafa invited Roger to attack and let him keep the points short, with those weak return, folks. Ok, the good serves from Roger had something to do with it, but Rafa was as returning as bad against Nole as well.

Rafaelissmo will win Roland Garros hands down and may Nole be in Roger's side of the draw- that will teach him. :)

As for Madrid, glad to see glimpses of "Roger of the past"!

Posted by frances 05/19/2009 at 09:03 PM



Posted by BlueDog 05/19/2009 at 09:05 PM

Mr X,

It was a joke. I know Steve gets it right sometimes, but a few times it's seemed like the kiss of death.

Posted by BlueDog 05/19/2009 at 09:07 PM

That's OK frances,

I found my head in the corner, and have managed to tape it back on.

Posted by frances 05/19/2009 at 09:09 PM

lilscot- yes Frances and frances are the same:P

AND yes you finally got used to Tim:) he just makes rafanatics life interesting that's all... getting us all fired up.

And you can always rely on Steve Tignor writing beautifully about rafa and his endeavors (Im almost sure he loves the kid:P) and pete Bodo has a heart for Fed:P

and it's tough to balance real world with the surreal world in TW!!! hahhahaah

Posted by lilscot 05/19/2009 at 09:15 PM


LOL! Sometimes the TWibe world seems more real!

Posted by Campi 05/19/2009 at 09:19 PM

re: the earlier question about who would end up with more slams, Fed or Rafa. I posed the question to a few tennis connoisseurs on Twitter including Jim Courier, Jon Wertheim and the representative from "Champions Tour" (I like to think it's Sampras just because his picture is used as the icon), and @ChampionsTennis had this to say:

"Roger - 16, Rafa - 13"

Pretty consistent guess with that we've been saying, I think. I also think Roger would agree to that in a heartbeat ;-)

Posted by Master Ace 05/19/2009 at 09:23 PM

"if Fed won Paris it would tear the roof off the joint and put tennis on the front page everywhere...sorry this is true, a Rafa win is nowhere near as significant at this point, a Fed win would shock and delight everyone"

Agree with the first part of the statement as it would not only stop Rafael from 5 peating the French Open breaking a tie with Borg, it would let Roger tie Sampras in Slam titles won by winning the only Slam he could not win.
Disagree with the second part as a 5-peat would let Rafael break a tie with Borg(6 titles overall but not consecutive) and stand alone.

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