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Speak, Warrior 07/14/2009 - 4:56 PM

86262095 by Pete Bodo

Well, we had that conference call with Pete Sampras a few hours ago.Pete made himself available on behalf of the upcoming Los Angeles Tennis Open (title sponsor: Farmer's Insurance Group), where he'll be honored, as well as play an exhibition match against Marat Safin.

Most of you remember that the Sampras-Safin U.S. Open final of 2000 was a match of astonishingly high quality - at least from Safin's end of the court, although truth be told it wasn't as if Sampras, the no. 4 seed, was off his game. We didn't actually get to see enough of his game to come to any conclusions about that.

Safin, who was seeded 6 and on his early-career upward arc, simply bludgeoned Sampras off his theoretical home court in what remains a high-water mark for power tennis. It was a 4-3-3 whitewash, and Sampras himself was so impressed that he couldn't be bothered to work out what he might have done differently, or even indulge in a little bit of that hateur to which a stung champion is entitled. Jimmy Connors would have snarled words to this effect: Yeah? Let's see if this Commie with the head shaped like a can of dog food can back it up for a few years, and then get back to me about how great he is. . .

Sampras, to his credit, just shrugged it off with the proverbial hat tip: The guy played great, give him all the credit. He's got a big future in this game.

Watching that match led many journalists (and other pundits) to a Jon Landau moment. Landau almost single-handedly launched Bruce Springsteen's career when, after seeing the E-Street band perform, he wrote a blathering rave review containing those now immortal words: "I have seen rock and roll's future and its name is Bruce Springsteen." 

Well, Safin turned out not to be tennis's equivalent of Springsteen (although it would have been an appropriate analogy in many ways if he had). What we ended up with instead was tennis's equivalent to the Beatles in Roger Federer, and the more I think about the parallel the more it apt it seems. Let's stretch the analogy to the breaking point: in tennis we have the Beatles vs. Rolling Stones reprised in the Federer vs. Rafael Nadal rivalry. Almost everyone in the baby boomer generation fell into either the Beatles or Rolling Stones camp, although if you were insufficiently fanatical you got to enjoy both. Being more than adequately fanatical, I was a Stones man myself, and wrote the Beatles off for good after that much ballyhooed White Album.

So naturally, Pete was asked about the Federer-Nadal rivalry - specifically, if he felt that Roger could be considered the Greatest of All Time if he can't establish superiority over his career rival (as Sampras did in his rivaly with Andre Agassi). You'll see from Pete's answer that he was slightly flummoxed, but one of his outstanding qualities always was his determination to honest, even if it meant delivering his opinion or thoughts through clenched teeth.

"I do understand the argument as far as being the best ever. You have to be the man of your generation.  He (Roger) has come up short against Nadal. I can see the point. It's hard to answer that. I don't know how to answer it.You know, it's not done yet.  Roger's career isn't done yet. He's going to play Nadal a number of times over the next number of years, and he has to beat him. He has to beat him in the finals of majors. To be considered the greatest ever, he certainly in my book is (already that). But he has to figure this kid out.  He has to beat him.  He's lost to him a number of times. You know, you got to be the man of your generation. He certainly is the man of his generation; he just has to figure out Nadal."

Pushed to elaborate vis a vis his own experience wih Agassi, Pete added: 

"Well, God, you're giving it some thought, huh (laughter)? It would have bothered me if I had a losing record against Andre in majors. It wouldn't have sat well with me. Did it mean I was the greatest or not the greatest? I don't know. It's the debate of greatest of all time. We so badly want to pin it on someone.  With the numbers you have to give it to Roger.  His record against Nadal, okay, you might not give it to him. 

"I mean, if I was 7-15 against Andre and I was done, it's hard to say I was the player of my generation - just because he got the best of me. Like I said, the story's not over yet. We have another probably three, four years of these two guys competing against each other. If anything, I think Nadal is going to be hungrier now, seeing Roger getting back to No. 1. It's hard to give you a definitive answer when it's not done yet. I think Roger knows he's got to figure out this kid.  It's a tough, tough matchup.  Nadal is one of the few guys that believes in himself that he's better than Roger."

You may remember that in his Wimbledon press conference, Rod Laver took the position that in one match, on grass, he would pick Sampras over Federer. Laver wasn't the only one who took that tack. Just a few weeks ago, John McEnroe told me, "Watching these guys today, I keep thinking that if Sampras walked out there, he’d still drive these guys bananas. In my opinion he’s still the greatest fast court-player who ever lived. Where Roger is the greatest, period."

I asked Sampras about that, too. He said:

"Well, I think one thing Roger doesn't see on grass the last number of years is really a true serve-and- volleyer, someone that's willing to come in and put the pressure on and make him pass, make him return these big serves. I don't think anyone really scares him. I think my game would make Roger a little bit more uncomfortable. I would obviously come in on both serves and put the pressure on his backhand, sort of go from there. . . I would sort of dictate the play.  But, you know, he'd be a tough guy to break, especially when he's hitting 50 aces like he did (in the recent Wimbledon final).  It would have been a great matchup.

"If I would beat him?  If I felt my best on grass, I did feel unbeatable, especially in the mid '90s.  I was a tough guy to break, played well from the back court to have chances, and I moved well enough. It's a flattering comment.  Do I think I could have beaten Roger in my prime?  Sure. I don't think anyone could beat me in my prime on grass. I felt as Roger does now - he feels unbeatable."

In terms of this discussion, Sampras also made an interesting observation about Andy Roddick, appended to his evaluation of how much Roddick seems to have improved: "(Andy's) backhand driveup the line is better and he's slicing a little better.  His transition game has gotten better.  As you saw on that set point, 6 5, he's still a little uncomfortable, but he's getting better at it. (But) I was sitting up there watching, (thinking) just serve-and-volley one time on your second serve because all Roger does is chip it. Put something in his head."

This is to me an endlessly interesting if unresolvable discussion, and it's what tennis players talk about when they gather to jaw about the players and game of today. But let's wrap it up with a bit about Safin, the player whose personality is as big as his talent, probably to his long-term detriment as a player. Surprisingly, the two men (Sampras and Safin) were friends - at least to the degree that anyone as soulful as Safin could be friends with someone as coldly realistic as Sampras. Sampras explained:

"Marat and I always got along very well when we were playing. He's a really nice guy, great player, showed what he could do especially at the US Open the one year, he tuned me up pretty good. He's an expressive guy on the court, shows emotion. Off the court, he's a happy-go-lucky guy. I was pretty reserved when I was playing, to myself.  For whatever reason, he and I seemed to get on really well.  We practiced quite a bit together. 

"You know, he's a champion. He got to No. 1. He won a major, I think two majors.  It's sad to see him go because I think he brought a lot to the sport. Haven't sort of kept in contact with him.  But certainly when I see him, we'll talk about some of our matches.  When Paul (Annacone) was coaching (Tim) Henman, Marat would ask Paul, How is Pete doing?  He was always just a personable guy, really nice guy, and someone that I've always gotten along really well with."

One day, Federer will be talking about guys -  Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, maybe even Nadal - just like this, just like the tired warrior that he will no doubt have become.


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Comments
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Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/14/2009 at 10:22 PM

You learn something every day! LOL!

Posted by BlueDog 07/14/2009 at 10:22 PM

That's funny NP. I was thinking in terms of her 'music', not her effect as a spouse.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 07/14/2009 at 10:24 PM

Methinks time I was out of here too. Goodnight everyone.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Winner of Wimbledon Suicide Pool) 07/14/2009 at 10:27 PM

Roddick is more like Blink 182.

Posted by NP 07/14/2009 at 10:28 PM

BlueDog, can't think of anyone in this era who's so brainlessly avant-garde. From the past I'd say Nastase.

Posted by TripleF-FedFanForever(Fed's Second Reich - We are in it!) 07/14/2009 at 10:28 PM

NP,
np, NP, listen to me, we leave children and women out of Tennis players alone. Here. Right? No more Yoko talk here.

Rock bands and rock stars compared with Tennis Stars ....very very bad idea.
Ok. Blame it on Oban! One too friggin' many!

Roddick = REM
Only, only if you consider the record sales compared to U2. Just saying...

Don't drink and compare Tennis stars to Rock stars. Please don't.

James Blake = Van Morrison
Only, only if you consider the lyrical wonder compared to Bob Dylan. Just saying...

Don't drink and compare Tennis stars to Rock stars. Please don't.

Mardy Firsh = Kiss
Only, only if you consider the record sales of Van Halen. Just saying...

Don't drink and compare Tennis stars to Rock stars. Please don't.

Sam Querrey = Ted Nugent
Only,one if you consider the guitar and vocals of Black Crowes. Just saying....

Don't drink and compare Tennis stars to Rock stars. Please don't.

Posted by NP 07/14/2009 at 10:29 PM

But then Nastase actually was brilliant in spots. Can't think of any1 else.

Posted by NP 07/14/2009 at 10:31 PM

3F, I was just obliging BlueDog.

Posted by Mia 07/14/2009 at 10:31 PM

Darn Roger for making it to 15. Now how the heck am I supposed to continue selling a book on someone who made 14?

Posted by Maplesugar (at home) 07/14/2009 at 10:44 PM

Cripes, Pete what the hail did you just do? I'll tell you---you opened up the which came first debate--the chicken or the egg?
I'm not playing.

Posted by BlueDog 07/14/2009 at 10:45 PM

NP- Perhaps you missed me answering my own Q: Ono = Larcher de Brito. Or maybe a match between Azerenka and Brito.

3F- This comparison thing is actually on topic for this post. Mr. Bodo started it! We all were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Don't blame yourself.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 07/14/2009 at 10:48 PM

geez some of you, can you possibly say Rafa hasnt been elevated in stature because hes beaten Fed 5 Slam finals, as opposed to other players?

its a compliment, but i dont think he'd be remotely in the GOAT discussion without getting Fed in 3 French finals and 2 others, but if you wanna believe otherwise, say if he beat Gonzo and Roddick and a few others instead, thats cool with me... its my opinion

Posted by CL 07/14/2009 at 10:54 PM

maplesugar - the best way to not play, is to play the other game....tennis star as rock n' rollers.

Posted by NP 07/14/2009 at 10:58 PM

BlueDog, I was feeling unisex. If you wanna cull from the WTA, I'd say Gisela Dulko. A close equivalent in terms of fame, and similar effects on her former beaus.

Posted by L.Rubin 07/14/2009 at 11:12 PM

Tim,

Don't be ridiculous--it's unbecoming and, worse, unattractive. Grant and Co demolished your argument on the previous page, and you won't lose any TW cred if you acknowledge the silliness of your argument. Really, Tim.

--Liron

Posted by Nikycel 07/14/2009 at 11:36 PM

Pete,

with due respect to Pete, he never was a factor on clay. Think about it. If Roger also was like Pete, virtually absent during european clay season, played Rafa only on majors, the H2H wouldnt be so. If Pete came to finals and got beaten by the Guga's of tennis, would anyone have the rights to say, Pete didnt dominate.
On the contrary, its credit to rog, that he played against the greatest clay courter of all times and still made to finals each time, winning twice on clay

Posted by Pspace 07/14/2009 at 11:49 PM

Tim, What exactly are you trying to say?

"""
can you possibly say Rafa hasnt been elevated in stature because hes beaten Fed 5 Slam finals, as opposed to other players?
""

Indeed, he has been. As you said, it's to his credit that he's beaten up on Fed.

Regarding his position in the GOAT ladder: Toni Nadal put him on par with Wilander. I think that's fair don't you?

He has about 5 slams to go before he gets to the Laver-Borg-Sampras-Fed echelon.

I don't think any1 is saying that he's a GOAT yet.

Posted by GVGirl (US Open Tailgate 9/5) 07/14/2009 at 11:58 PM

I so enjoy reading Twibers reactions to the "GOAT" wars. Some of them are so funny and some smart. :) Could we all just settle on a "small" GOAT herd to include Laver, Sampras, Borg, Federer and whoever else.

I was in attendance for the the 2000 US Open final and Safin who was supposed to be Springsteen turned into a two hit wonder so I guess he became "The Knack" ('My Sharona' (No. 1, 1979)'Good Girls Don't' (No. 11, 1979)) You can tell I used to be an oldies DJ at one time. ;)

Posted by Jbradhunter 07/15/2009 at 12:18 AM

Is Roger not now the GOAT? Maybe Laver is the tricky variable...but Roger's dominance and even moreso his Grand Slam consistency is the Best ever. especially too since his achievements have come In this era of more competion and better training and more powerful racquets- some other player will have to beat 15... To knock Roger off...

Posted by Jbradhunter 07/15/2009 at 12:20 AM

Aww GVGirl. I'm going to miss the tailgate. I leave NY the 5th...

Posted by Jbradhunter 07/15/2009 at 12:26 AM

Tim. I Also do think Rafa's stature has been raised due to him beating Fed in 5 GSlam finals- Rafa had to beat the Best. Of course, I would say too that Rafa is a special player- the only Challenger on the ATP- who has proven He can snatch the golden ring before Federer in the Biggest matches. They are the sea anemone and the clownfish and have been instrumental in each others success

Posted by crazyone 07/15/2009 at 12:44 AM

Sampras vs. Safin, USO 2000, part 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DCtbSHWFRY&feature=related

Sampras vs. Safin, USO 2000, part 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fgsID-QaIc&feature=related

Posted by techfan 07/15/2009 at 12:51 AM

This is the first time, I have posted. Though I have been a lurker since late 2005 or so. I don't think anyone is saying Nadal is the Greatest of all Time. He has yet to prove himself. That said, time is on his side so that he can be included in the conversation. The only thing this is hampering is Federer's record. Let us say he is the Greatest of all Time, are we just supposed to gloss over the 5 losses he's had to Nadal in the finals of three different majors. Admittedly it is difficult to place this on his record in light of all of his achievements, but we can't deny that it is there.

Posted by TennisLover 07/15/2009 at 12:59 AM

Mr. Bodo, how do you start talking about Sampras and Safin and you then move to highlight how Federer can’t be consider the GOAT, forging Sampras words to fit your purpose? It looks to me that lately you are getting more and more obsessed with spreading such a message. You can’t take it, can you? I am not a Federer devoted fan, I enjoy watching him playing as I enjoy other players, Gulbis for instance. The fact that now Federer is recognized by the most as the GOAT sounds is killing you. Maybe is your bond with Sampras (most likely you were on his payroll for the book…) or maybe is the fact the Federer is a kind of a “girlish-fashion-crying” player that completely humiliate and kick the rear end of all these macho dudes out there (from the stories of your hunting vacations and such it sounds that you are a kind of an “Hemingway” hard core dude, obviously) or maybe is the fact that Federer is not American…who knows.
The GOAT issue is simply stupid, can’t be proven so what’s the point. By the numbers Federer is now #1, and that is a fact. Also, there are a few other proven facts that I would like to remember: a) Sampras and Federer played on grass. Sampras was not at the end of his career and Federer was not at the top. Federer kicked Sampras ass. b) Borg lost to Panatta several times. “How Borg can be consider the best of his era if he could not even beat Panatta?”. Do we name Panatta in the GOAT discussion? c) Take away clay on the H2H with Nadal and tell me what you see. Nadal never made it to all the HC finals, at least Federer made it to the clay ones. If Federer would have lost in the semi to somebody else his H2H with Nadal would be positive.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 07/15/2009 at 01:38 AM

thanks brad great minds think alike... if Rafa didnt beat Fed in those French finals no one would have given a rip lets face it... geez, sorry but even Guga didnt have much of a profile beyond Paris, because none of his French finals were against the Big Boys of the sport... if Rafa beat Davydenko in those finals no one would have raised an eyebrow, he'd still have the trophy but his clout (and head to head lets face it) via Fed would both suffer...

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 01:52 AM

Hey all. :)

Nice to hear Sampras's thoughts on Safin. :)

LOL @ "head shaped like a can of dog food."

Tough guy to break is a bit of an understatement, no? LOL.

*going to brave the comments*

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 01:56 AM

"Federer kicked Sampras ass."

didn't that go to five sets and a tight fifth set? Could hardly describe that as kicking ass. I guess neither man was at their peak, either.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 02:24 AM

General LOL for all Grant's comments. :)

*sitting on hands to stop self from joining the battle*

Just say no, just say no, just say no!

But wasn't there a post just after the FO or Wimbledon where Pete said he thought Roger was the GOAT? or did I dream it? or make it up entirely? *ponders*

to me it looks as if - unless things change, and rivalries can and do - the H2H with Rafa is going to be the thing that adds a caveat to Roger's potential GOAThood - just as not winning the FO adds one to Sampras's. No-one is perfect. Although for me Federer's achievements surpass Sampras's - slightly higher number and on all surfaces. But adding a caveat doesn't mean, for me, that Roger can't be the GOAT. *shrug*

Personally I think Rafa and Roger both add to each other's success - Rafa can potentially beat Roger on all surfaces (yes, I am aware of the H2H breakdown, thank you) which adds to his reputation, and the existence of Rafa as a challenge to be met really adds to Federer, as well. It's not at all Federer's fault that he didn't have to face Rafa in the last two slams, but at least we have Madrid to tell us that Federer is definitely up for that challenge.

I still don't know why we can't appreciate them both, but there you go. :) The idea that dismissing Rafa's skills as "superior retrieving" somehow makes Federer look good is an odd one to me. And it's telling that Murray is often labelled as the same thing. *shrug*

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 02:25 AM

I need to work on that "Just say no!", don't I?

Posted by Syd 07/15/2009 at 02:28 AM

Yes, Jewell; never say "goat." :)

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 02:34 AM

it's the Just say no! to the Fedal wars that I need to work on. It's all so pointless and such a waste of time, yet somehow it's impossible not to be drawn in. Bad me. BAD.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/15/2009 at 02:35 AM

Sssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Never,never say they G word again

Amen to that.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 02:39 AM

"greatest mullet of all time"

Kevin Keegan?

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/15/2009 at 02:39 AM

Jewell yes you are a very bad and wicked woman indeed

I think its those black silk sheets you sleep on

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 02:46 AM

I do love my sheets though. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/15/2009 at 02:46 AM

jewell Of course you do lol!

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/15/2009 at 02:48 AM

gee I wish Marat would grow back his hair,he had such sexy wavvy hair Sigh!

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 02:48 AM

Picture of Kevin Keegan's mullet:

http://geotypografika.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/keegandm0609_468x766.jpg

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/15/2009 at 02:52 AM

Jewell great body,pity about the hair.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 02:55 AM

yeah. Hasn't changed much either, except a bit greyer now.

Posted by BlueDog 07/15/2009 at 03:16 AM

jewell-

I think the GMOAT is Agassi. To wit: http://tinyurl.com/38rcpr

and with that I'm off to sleep.

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/15/2009 at 03:19 AM

Bluedog LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

yes Agassi is the Goat of the Mullet indeed

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 03:19 AM

Ah, but Andre carried it off with style. :)

not something one could accuse Kevin Keegan of having, off the pitch.

Night, BlueDog! Thanks for making me laugh. :)

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 03:28 AM

Maybe I did dream it. Or maybe it was one of Steve's instead? Oh well...not that important.

off to work, bye, everyone. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/15/2009 at 03:40 AM

Bye Jewell

Posted by VC 07/15/2009 at 04:01 AM

"Picture of Kevin Keegan's mullet:

http://geotypografika.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/keegandm0609_468x766.jpg
"

I would love it if this one won the GMOAT, love it. ;-)

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/15/2009 at 04:03 AM

VC Sorry mate Agassi wins hands down

Check out Bluedogs photo of him LOL!

Posted by SUNNYROSE 07/15/2009 at 05:22 AM

Another sarcastic Anti-Roger post from Pete as always !!
I don't think the greatness of the player is determined by whether he has a winning record over his rival. It depends on whether this player has been consistant, winning all big tournaments, has a great style of playing and still proves himself better than the youngsters. I think Roger has done all that. Wish RF and RN were born in the same year to compare them. Today RN is 24 and Roger is 28. Don't think the head to head stats can change in Rogers favour post this. But he is the greatest surely in this era. Nadal is not even close.

Posted by Sliceman 07/15/2009 at 05:59 AM

There is a lot of speculation and what ifs on this thread. I feel I know one thing for sure: Sampras would never have beaten Nadal on clay. Sampras only made one clay final at MS or GS level (he beat fellow grass grazer Becker at Rome in 1994).

To add to the speculation by parachuting Sampras into Federer's career but restricting the clay court to one meeting, I think Sampras would have lost to Nadal in that one clay final, edged HC 4:2 and would have defeated Nadal two out of three on grass (Incredible grass player that Sampras was I have to pick Nadal for Wimbledon 2008 - the sheer momentum and force he built up around that time was awesome).

This would give Pete an overall head to head of 6:4. Although the Nadal-Fed h2h looks worse in fact Fed should be credited with having made so many clay finals only to fall to Rafa (The King of Clay). Let's not kid ourselves - anyone in tennis history who played Nadal 11 times out of a total 20 on clay would be on the losing end of the h2h. When you look at Rafa's h2h against his other contemporaries on clay you realise Fed is doing something good to beat him twice in clay finals.

Federer is miles ahead of Sampras in the Goat stakes and for my money surpassed him some time ago. If Nadal can match, exceed or come close to Fed's records then the h2h could tip it his way in my view. That is a long way off... as many have pointed out in the past couple of weeks Federer's consistency over the past 5 years is simply without precedent and we can't assume Rafa, amazing player that he is, will simply roll out three more years that match the success of his 2008 campaign.

I simply hope Rafa comes back to play at his best level and plays Fed many more times before one retires.

Posted by JohnC 07/15/2009 at 06:05 AM

a few scattered observations:

1. There is something slightly peculiar about the notion that Sampras would be superior to Roger on grass when he lost the only slam match on that surface they ever played. It is less than clear what the result would be with both playing at their peak on grass.

2. Roger's record is not in doubt. This has been the Federer Era of tennis.

3. Rafa is to my mind the most exciting and charismatic player since Agassi (Sampras doesn't rate on either scale), and the sport has been greatly enhanced through his rivalry with Federer.

4. Nadal's knees are still a big concern, despite announcing his intention to contest Montreal, and it would be surprising if that did not affect his mental state. "Recovering slowly" does not sound good to me, and hard court is the most challenging surface for him. Federer on the other hand is clearly on a high, although the imminent birth creates an interesting unknown.

Great times ahead!

Posted by T. O. 07/15/2009 at 06:38 AM

Federer as GOAT? A pygmy at max. His GS finals against Nadal:
AO 0-1
RG 0-3
W 1-1
USO 0-0

LOL

Posted by JohnC 07/15/2009 at 07:01 AM

T.O.
While I normally avoid feeding trolls, you could at least get your facts straight. Wimbeldon is in fact 2-1, but perhaps you weren't old enough to remember 2006.

Posted by Carol 07/15/2009 at 07:18 AM

I've read the Spanish newspapers about Nadal and his return to play an they don't say anything about "recovering slowly" as I've read here. They say he is doing great and the doctor is giving to him "green light" to train

Posted by Carol 07/15/2009 at 07:22 AM

Hope you are able to understand. This is one

http://www.as.com/tenis/articulo/tenis-nadal-regresa-lunes-entrenamientos/dasten/20090715dasdaiten_1/Tes

Posted by Carol 07/15/2009 at 07:29 AM

And this is from two days ego

http://www.as.com/tenis/articulo/tenis-nadal-paso-ayer-nuevos/dasten/20090714dasdaiten_3/Tes

Posted by JohnC 07/15/2009 at 07:31 AM

Carol, "recovering slowly" is a direct quote from this site's home page, which in turn appears to be partly based on this from his publicist:
Perez-Barbadillo says Nadal is “slowly recovering from his injury.”

Tendinitis is a form of repetitive strain injury that at a minimun requires several weeks of rest, and his highly likely to reoccur if the activity that caused it is resumed. Nadal has had the problem, with apparently increasing severity, for at least two years (according to the published record).

Posted by Master Ace 07/15/2009 at 08:30 AM

"Nadal never made it to all the HC finals"

Tennis Lover,
Nadal did win 2009 Australian Open over Federer in 5 sets. Nadal won Indian Wells in 2007 and 2009. Nadal did win Madrid in 2005. Nadal did win Canada in 2005(Montreal) and 2008(Toronto). A poster posted that Nadal is only one of 4 men to win at both Canadian locations(others - Lendl, Agassi, and J McEnroe). Nadal is the first person in ATP history to hold Slams on all 3 surfaces at the same time. Other HC tournaments won by Nadal is the Olympics last year, Beijing in 2005, and Dubai in 2006(he stopped Federer consecutive winning streak on hard courts)

Posted by JohnC 07/15/2009 at 08:42 AM

Master Ace, I think the issue is the USO, and whether Nadal can put together a tournament victory there. It was the slam that jinxed Borg, and I think we are all waiting in anticipation for this year's contest.

Posted by yello fuzzy 07/15/2009 at 08:50 AM

Hiya
Has anyone seen these Serena pics?

http://tinyurl.com/kn97qk

Posted by Babe 07/15/2009 at 09:06 AM

I can't help but sense some major sourgrapes in Pete Sampras. Fed's head2head against Nadal notwithstanding, he still has 15 majors. Excels on all surfaces & good enough to reach the final CONSISTENTLY on all surfaces, something Sampras was never able to do--except at Wimbledon.

For Nadal to touch Federer in the GOAT debate he needs to come close to him in Majors & he, at this point, is 9 behind. All this h2h talk is simply a tool to try to limit Federer's achievements. Which makes little sense, because in tennis you must win CONSISTENTLY against the field not just one player. That does not a GOAT make.

Sampras & Agassi were great on the same surfaces & are about the same age. Federer & Nadal couldn't differ more. So, where is the comaprison?

Nadal is coming back soon--let's see how many more majors he wins. For now, & until he or someone passes Federer, Federer is the GOAT.

If Nadal doesn't pass him, he will be the PWWRGAFBCBAE (player who was really good against Federer but couldn't beat anyone else).

Posted by Tennis Fan 07/15/2009 at 09:12 AM

"in tennis we have the Beatles vs. Rolling Stones reprised in the Federer vs. Rafael Nadal rivalry"

Oh please, give me a break! So is Mirka Yoko Ono, Linda McCartney, Layla or Barbara Back or a combination of all and Xisca is she Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithful, Angie or David Bowie?

Or maybe its like Led Zepplin (Federer) v Aerosmith (Nadal).

or Elvis (Federer) v Julio Iglesias (Nadal)

Or maybe its more like Justin Timberlake v Menudo

Posted by Tennis Fan 07/15/2009 at 09:12 AM

"in tennis we have the Beatles vs. Rolling Stones reprised in the Federer vs. Rafael Nadal rivalry"

Oh please, give me a break! So is Mirka Yoko Ono, Linda McCartney, Layla or Barbara Back or a combination of all and Xisca is she Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithful, Angie or David Bowie?

Or maybe its like Led Zepplin (Federer) v Aerosmith (Nadal).

or Elvis (Federer) v Julio Iglesias (Nadal)

Or maybe its more like Justin Timberlake v Menudo

Posted by Babe 07/15/2009 at 09:13 AM

Heck even Bruguera had a better head2head against Sampras...how come Sampras is considered the GOAT.

Posted by Babe 07/15/2009 at 09:20 AM

Nice pics--yello fuzzy--very nice!

Posted by AmandaO 07/15/2009 at 09:23 AM

Pete - this interesting post ended on such a downer note. Why talk about "tired" warriors when you could talk about "accomplished" warriors. It left an incredibly unpleasant, and unnecessary, taste in my mouth. Was there a point to that? Confused.

Posted by Andrew 07/15/2009 at 09:31 AM

Morning, all.

Andrew at 6:38pm last night: "Yes, I can see the 20%-odd of the Sampras conversation that looks at the Federer/Nadal matchup becoming 80% of the comment thread in Fedal "yes it is/no it isn't" mode."

Andrew at 9am this morning. *sighs*

Thanks to Grant and jewell (in particular) for funny and level headed comments (not necessarily in that order).

Funny how, at a time when we have two players who have put themselves at the very front rank of the Open Era, two more players who have a clear shot at establishing themselves in the Elite (Murray/Djokovic), and a wonderful supporting cast of veterans (Roddick, Hewitt, JCF) and up and coming players (Del Potro, Cilic), and we have so much respect shown by the great players of the recent past, these threads seem to bring out tetchiness rather than celebration.

Odd thing, the human condition.

Posted by Mike 07/15/2009 at 09:32 AM

I feel the H2H between Fed and Rafa is slightly overblown. It's certainly tilted in Nadal's favor but nevertheless, Federer has taken him out 7 times, the disparity disappears on fast surfaces, and a couple of the 7 have been on clay. I'm a Sampras fan, but truth is Pete lost to anybody and everybody on clay, and had a losing record against, among others, Richard Krajicek.

Posted by rafadoc 07/15/2009 at 09:35 AM

For what it is worth, I think Roger is the GOAT, but stuff like this is nonsense:

If Nadal doesn't pass him, he will be the PWWRGAFBCBAE (player who was really good against Federer but couldn't beat anyone else).

Just this year, in finals, he has beaten Andy Murray, David Ferrer, and Novak Djokovic, besides Roger.

Posted by mcakron 07/15/2009 at 09:54 AM

Sampras makes an interesting point about Roddick coming in behind a second serve. At first I misread the quote, but upon further review I think Pete was talking specifically of the second set breaker not the entire match. Hindsight's 20/20 and Roddick coming in behind a second serve is a whole lot different than Sampras coming in behind a second serve, but I can see his point.

Also found his thoughts on a hypothetical match-up with Fed on grass interesting. I was no Sampras fan but I think the guy has every right to say when he was at his best he felt himself unbeatable on grass. But then I think Fed would have same right to say the same regarding HCs, as Rafa would about clay.

In terms of the controversial Agassi/Nadal H2H stuff that brought out the worst in some folks ... well if you stop to think about it he was probably being a bit unfair to both Rafa and Fed. No offense to Agassi or his fans, but the guy simply was not in Nadal's league at a similar age. In fact, from 18-23 the only player whose results are comparable to Nadal's is Borg. (Though a guy like Wilander should be given a special nod here in that he won his first Slam at 17 and his last and seventh at 24.) In fact, Agassi's career is odd in that he's the exception that proves the rule: he was actually a better player later in his career. To Pete's credit he still got the better of Andre in the later stages, but Sampras never had to face a guy of Nadal's caliber who was five years younger than himself. Fed's peers, in terms of age, are guys like Roddick, Hewitt and Safin. There was no Nadal during the Sampras era.

Lastly, I think the Fedal rivalry is a credit to both players. Credit Fed for even reaching these FO SFs and Fs to challenge one of the best dirtballers we have ever seen. Conversely, credit Rafa for having beaten maybe the best all-around player we have seen on the three major surfaces. In fact, were I a Rafa KAD I would want Fed to have claim to certain mythical creature, however futile to prove its existence. If nothing else, would make my guy's accomplishments look all the better.

Okay, there endeth my attempt at diplomacy.

Posted by Mike 07/15/2009 at 10:00 AM

Babe @ 9:06 AM= Now That's What I'm talking about .. ;)

... except for the PWWRGAFBCBAE part. In Rafa's defense, he's beat everyone who is anyone in the smaller tourneys ... it's not his fault greedy Ol Fed is on the other side of the Net at all the big events. ;)

Posted by Mike 07/15/2009 at 10:03 AM

Also ... I think we have to remember that Rafa did the most damage to their H2H and beating Fed on other surfaces in the last 18 months, which have been Rafa's best ... and Fed's worst since Pre TMF. Let's see what happens with both of them healthy AND clear headed.

Posted by Babe 07/15/2009 at 10:07 AM

That was just a joke, Mike. I know he's beaten everybody else; but if he's h2h against Fed is going to be a big deal then should the fact that he has lost to lesser players which has prevented him from facing Fed or someone else in the finals. That was really my point. Using h2h's to argue in a field of many is, to me, rather silly & just a way for detractors to attempt to limit Federer's greatness.

Posted by mcakron 07/15/2009 at 10:09 AM

Andrew -- well said in your last graph. It would be a bit ironical, even humorous if the USO treats us to, say, a Mole final. Would force the Fedal KADs on both sides to be in an awkward place of mutual commiseration. Somehow, though, I think it would still result in a food fight.

Posted by OnlyHuman 07/15/2009 at 10:11 AM

Hrbaty is the GOAT, he has winning record against both Federer and Nadal. - End of GOAT discussion.

Posted by just a note 07/15/2009 at 10:21 AM

Andrew, Pspace, MA, and all other mathematical posters -

When speaking of the Fedal H2H stats, why aren't they weighted?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weight_function

Thanks.

jan

Posted by ladyjulia 07/15/2009 at 10:24 AM

mcakron,

"Lastly, I think the Fedal rivalry is a credit to both players. Credit Fed for even reaching these FO SFs and Fs to challenge one of the best dirtballers we have ever seen. Conversely, credit Rafa for having beaten maybe the best all-around player we have seen on the three major surfaces."

I am glad that tennis is at least making news because of these two...last years Wimby final got so much of coverage(as was this year) that the Fedal rivarly is now being claimed the best of ALL sports.

Only human...LOL!!!

Posted by Game Lover 07/15/2009 at 10:25 AM

Hi,

I agree with all the people who's names start with an "A" (Alexis, Ade, AM) and then with Mike, Grant, Roseangel, Lynne...

But I'm not much for a goat debate and I'll let Rafa's ....knees speak for themselves! (In other words I hope that my favourite will continue to play and make me happy. I also like Roger).

Cheers,

Posted by Mike 07/15/2009 at 10:27 AM

"but if he's h2h against Fed is going to be a big deal then should the fact that he has lost to lesser players which has prevented him from facing Fed or someone else in the finals."

True, Babe ... I've actually said the same thing in different forms for some time. If Rafa was as consistent as Fed since 2005, he would have met Fed in every Final ... which he was unable to do. That has to be taken into consideration.

Posted by Andrew 07/15/2009 at 10:27 AM

mcakron: I'm just bitter because not everyone agrees with my own perfectly reasoned and well defended position. :-)

But still, I remember ATP tennis in 2002 as being something of a wasteland. No disrespect to fans of the two players, but Hewitt-Nalbandian Wimbledon F 2002 didn't get the blood running swift through the veins.

But now, we're spoilt for choice with intense, high quality matches. In 2009 alone, we've had

Nadal-Verdasco AO SF
Nadal-Federer AO F
Nadal-Nalbandian IW R16
Nadal-Djokovic MC F
Nadal-Djokovic Madrid SF
Federer-Del Potro RG SF
Murray-Wawrinka Wimbledon R16
Roddick-Hewitt Wimbledon QF
Federer-Roddick Wimbledon F

Others can add their favorite matches.

If we have to have a food fight (and I don't think we do), it's pretty good grub.

Posted by ladyjulia 07/15/2009 at 10:32 AM

Well, for the sake of the TWibe, I hope Rafa and Roger play in teh final of the US Open...Rafa will be rested, Roger on a high...high stakes game with a career slam and 6th open consecutive title and 16th slam on the line...

The ATP should have a separate tournament just for these two ...considering that tennis conversation revolves around Fedal. I am sure they won't have any problems selling tickets, all four surfaces (and indoors) with equal rest and normal atltitude....the H2H can be resolved that way easily, the ATP makes a lot of money...and the GOAT debate resolved...

Posted by ladyjulia 07/15/2009 at 10:33 AM

Andrew,

you forgot Haas-Federer RG 2009.

Posted by mcakron 07/15/2009 at 10:40 AM

Andrew -- agree about the earliest years of the 2000s. In fact before the emergence of Fed, and later Nadal, I thought the WTA was producing more interesting Slams than the ATP.

I would throw Roddick-Murray Wimby SF in the mix. Only four sets but they were highly contested and you had two competing storylines that are the stuff of a fine essay/short-story. Also, the Brit tennis fans showed themselves to be some of the best in the world -- brokenhearted but very respectful. To me a very memorable match.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 10:43 AM

"In fact, were I a Rafa KAD I would want Fed to have claim to certain mythical creature, however futile to prove its existence. If nothing else, would make my guy's accomplishments look all the better."

Oh, mcakron, SO true. :)

Posted by mcakron 07/15/2009 at 10:52 AM

Thanks, Jewell. Enjoyed reading your post from much earlier as well. Was refreshingly fair and appreciative to each.

Posted by KillerC 07/15/2009 at 10:56 AM

If rog plays to his mid 30s (like he probably will), continues winning (like he has) and maybe even gets a calendar gs. I will offically get on my knees and call him the greatest lol. until then laver is.

great post. Pete is right, A tru good serve volleyer would have cut up fed at wimby. But you cant blame fed hes from an era of baseline sitters.

Posted by NP 07/15/2009 at 11:05 AM

Fed KADs declaring Fed-dP RG SF superior to the other SF between Sod and Gonzo? I'm shocked!

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 11:08 AM

Didn't Federer used to serve and volley more at one point?

I'm tempted to cut out and keep your 10.40, mcakron. :) Agree about the crowd at the match, I thought they were very fair, applauding great shots whoever played them, etc. In hindsight it all seems completely inevitable that Murray lost, although it wasn't at all that way through the match...he certainly had chances. Think Roddick's quite popular here too, and there just doesn't seem to me to be the level of Murraymania that Tim suffered through/enjoyed.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 11:09 AM

I was going to add Gonzo-Soderling to that list, too, NP. Also Safin-Ouanna, and maybe Murray-Verdasco and Federer-Berdych at the AO.

Posted by KillerC 07/15/2009 at 11:10 AM

A better idea.. haha PPV event FEDERER-NADAL "BATTLE ON AMERICAN HARDCOURT"! :P

haha id buy it.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 11:12 AM

Also maybe Rafa-Del Potro at...Miami? Anyway, the one Del Potro won from being 0-3 or similar down in the third.

Posted by NP 07/15/2009 at 11:13 AM

jewell, Fed-Berd doesn't make the list. Berd choked big time in the 3rd set and didn't provide much competition afterward. Don't think the level of Safin-Ouanna was consistently high. Verd-Muzz may be a candidate, but I wouldn't call it a classic.

Posted by Babe 07/15/2009 at 11:15 AM

Gasquet - Roddick Wimby 07
Gasquet - Murray Wimby 08
Federer - Tipsarvic AO 08

Posted by VC 07/15/2009 at 11:17 AM

Federer-Mathieu at the French was a high-quality four-setter. I think Federer-Del Potro deserves to be there, but I didn't watch the other semi.

Posted by Babe 07/15/2009 at 11:17 AM

I beg to differ--Safin/Ouanna had high quality tennis throughout--but the shotmaking in the final set was outstanding.

Posted by Arun 07/15/2009 at 11:18 AM

Gonzo-Gasquet is the best match of the year (so far), in terms of sustained quality_of_play/shot_making throughout the match.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 11:19 AM

Well, if Nalbandian-Rafa IW is on the list...

I thought we were just nominating favourites or intense and fascinating contests, not necessarily classics. :)

Posted by mcakron 07/15/2009 at 11:20 AM

Well Jewell, you have every right to be proud of how your fellow citizens conducted themselves during and after that match. Believe me, I remember how some of mine used to treat Lendl at the USO in his earlier years. Wasn't exactly sporting.

Yes, I wanna say Fed was pure S&V his first two Wimby titles.

Posted by NP 07/15/2009 at 11:21 AM

Arun, good call.

jewell, Andrew specifically said "high quality." "Favorite" can mean different things.

Posted by Beckham (Le Sigh Gulbis!) 07/15/2009 at 11:23 AM

Just realized that Liverpool is sponsored by adidas ergo the Fed can NEVER wear the jersey seeing as he's a Nike man...wohoooooo!!!!

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/15/2009 at 11:25 AM

I forgot Gonzo-Gasquet at the AO! Probably because I was being a lunatic frazzler over Rafa against Haas. That should *definitely* be up there.

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