Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Cupcake Wars
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Cupcake Wars 11/16/2010 - 1:46 PM

by Pete Bodo

So let's agree to call them the Cupcake Wars—you know, that pre-tournament ritual of claiming that your favorite player has been frowned upon by the gods of chance, while his rival had bestowed upon him not merely a smile but an enormous, toothy grin. When you're a combatant in the Cupcake Wars, you're apt to see a player through one of two dramatically different lenses, depending on how he might fluster or advance the designs of your favorite, or his theoretical arch-enemy.

Roger Let's say Sam Querrey looms as a potential third-round opponent for Federer at Wimbledon. A Federer fan is apt to scream, "That big serve makes Querrey so deadly, this is a terrible draw!" But if you're a Nadal fan, you look at that match-up, roll your eyes, and say, "Querrey is so 'soft' at majors; what a piece of cake for Federer!"

You know how it works.

So without futher ado, let's take a look at the groupings for the upcoming ATP World Tour Finals, which begin on Sunday in London. It's an eight-man singles field, with two groups of four playing round-robin matches, with the two best performers in both groups advancing to the knockout semifinals. Instead of breaking down the groups myself, I'll try to see them through the eyes of a Federer or a Nadal fan, in a manner befitting the Cupcake Wars.

Here are the group lineups:

Group A: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych, Andy Roddick.

Group B: Roger Federer, Robin Soderling, Andy Murray, David Ferrer.

Federer fan: You've got to be kidding. Roger might as well change his name to Leonidas, because he's got the toughest draw since those 300 Spartans had to fight a gazillion Persians at Thermopylae. Roger is 5-8 against Andy Murray, who's probably—make that definitely!—the toughest guy in the draw. Last year, the guy missed the semis by one measly game—and he beat Federer at the 2008 year-end championships. You want to tell me this guy isn't a monster on an indoor hard court?

And, they're playing in London. Okay, Mr. ATP bigshot Sharko or whatever your name is, if you hate Roger so much, why don't you just go whole hog and make them play the match in Glasgow? If you're going to give a guy home field advantage, why not go all the way? See if I care. But you know what? It will still never erase the memory of that Australian Open final, where Roger made Andy look like the Dunblane Duffer. We'll always have that.

And didn't Robin Soderling just win his first Masters 1000 at Paris Bercy? The dog is off the chain! Go back through the clips you'll see that Soderling's first love was fast indoor courts, even if his best results have been those back-to-back French Open finals. You know what? Uncle Toni got to someone here—just like he told Rafa where to serve against Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final. Cheat once, maybe you'll cheat twice. I'm calling for tennis' Integrity Commission to convene, immediately!

And while I'm not saying that David Ferrer can be described as trouble for Roger, I wouldn't rule out that the Nadal camp found a way to get Ferrer on their side. We all know how hard you have to work to beat Ferrer. So they send him in to soften up The Mighty Fed, and then Soderling and/or Murray steps in to do the dirty work and finish Roger off, while he's still heavy-legged and arm weary.

Meanwhile, look at the draw Nadal got—where did it come from, the local patisserie? Andy Roddick. Yeah, right. He's in the midst of a year almost as good as that of his President, Barack Obama! He should change his name to Andy G. Roddick, the "G" being for "Gimme." Then there's Tomas Berdych. Woooo-o-o-o-o-o-o, we're really scared. Granted, Berdych had a pretty good summer, but it wasn't enough to keep those voices out of his head, the ones saying, lose. . .choke. . . give it up. . . embrace your inner journeyman! Berdych is back to his old self, which means he's a sure W for any of the big dogs.

Djokovic might give Rafa a little trouble, but the guy is fixated on the upcoming Davis Cup final and the chance it affords him to become a national hero. What does he need the WTF title for? You all saw what Rafa did to Novak in the U.S. Open final, tell me again why you think it ought to be any different? Sheesh.


Rafa Nadal fan: Hey, did anyone see that great picture of Rafa in the this month's issue of Men's Underwear? Never mind. I guess we're here to handicap the tennis, and all I can say is, if Roger had any more icing on those three cupcakes he drew, his daughters might be destined for hospital time with severe sugar rush.

Murray gets that deer-in-the-headlights look whenever it really counts (his epiteth will read, He Sure Looked Great. . .in Shanghai), the last time I checked, Federer is 14-1 against Soderling, and when did David Ferrer beat anybody when it was even remotely important? What, was Fernando Verdasco unavailable this week?

The biggest danger to Federer is that he might die of boredom before the end of the round-robin stage.

Unfortunately, the draw was as cruel to Rafa as it was generous to Federer. We all know that many people don't like that Rafa is so strong. So they put against him someone like Tomas Berdych, who is bigger and hits the ball like a wild man. Some say Berdych is crazy, but the truth is that he's unpredictable, which makes him especially dangerous. Nobody likes to play Berdych, and Rafa was lucky to escape with a victory over him at Wimbledon. So now Berdych will want revenge. This is a terrible problem for Rafa.

And then they also gave him Andy Roddick, who has a big serve and defeated Rafa the last time they played, in the Miami semifinals, on a hard court. The big serve is the only thing you can use to beat Rafa, because nobody can beat him once the ball is in play. And Roddick can serve like crazy, so maybe he goes to the tiebreaker and then if Rafa double faults—what then? Truly, this could be a very difficult match.

Many people say Rafa should have no problem with Novak Djokovic. But we saw in the U.S. Open that Djokovic is very dangerous, especially on a hard court. And everybody knows that with the Davis Cup final coming up in Belgrade, Djokovic will be fired up to prepare for that battle with a win in London. So why does Rafa have to replay two Grand Slam finals in just the round-robin part of the tour championships? Why does he have to help Djokovic prepare for Davis Cup? Can you imagine anything tougher than those things?

***

So there you have it, two different ways to view the same set of facts. But in case you're not a partisan, here are the basic H2H details for Federer and Nadal in their respective groups:

Federer has an aggregate record of 29-9 against his three round-robin opponents, with a whopping eight of those losses logged against Murray. He's a combined 24-1 against Ferrer and Soderling (and a perfect 10-0 against Ferrer).

Nadal is 28-13, combined. He's lost at least three matches against every one of his group rivals, and the most (7) against Djokovic.

Draw your own conclusions. Will that be vanilla or chocolate icing on that cupcake?


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Posted by mick1303 11/17/2010 at 07:58 AM

Regarding the importance of Olympic Gold medal to tennis career:

It sounds better than it actually means. It costs less ranking points than regular Masters Tournament. Nicolas Massu has it. Massu…

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion) 11/17/2010 at 08:01 AM

gauly - glad to see you around. Are you going to WTF, if so will you be able to catch up with Annie and Jewell.

Annie - travel safe whenever you go and I am sorry for your loss.

Posted by jackson 11/17/2010 at 08:01 AM

Great Tennis, of course you're right, but it's pointless to get involved in the GOAT argument, especially on this board. Best to just use your scrolling finger and go right on by those arguments.

I'm looking forward to finally seeing Rafa play tennis again. I'm glad he's had a good rest but it's been far too long for his fans. I'd be more excited if this WTF was taking place on clay (or even grass) but it's on Rafa's least favourite and least effective surface so my expectations aren't that high although I'll be cheering wildly for him as usual.

That said, he's such an amazing tennis player and he's a very smart guy, plus we know he'll always 'try his best', so I expect him to be right in the mix this year. He can't do any worse than last year, poor fellow. I felt so badly for him that he had to meet the press and be grilled about why he was losing but he kept his dignity and maintained he wasn't playing that badly but he needed more confidence. But as Rafa so wisely said, you have to lose sometimes to value your wins and I think as fans we have valued his immense achievements this year even more after suffering with him through last year. It's been a huge treat to be his fan this year.

Posted by jackson 11/17/2010 at 08:09 AM

mick1303 at 07:58 AM "Regarding the importance of Olympic Gold medal to tennis career:
It sounds better than it actually means. It costs less ranking points than regular Masters Tournament. Nicolas Massu has it. Massu… "


You'd never get a single soul who has won one of those Olympic gold medals to ever give it back because it doesn't mean very much. Did Roger's gold medal in doubles that he went absolutely bananas over when he won not mean much either? Is that why he's said he's sticking around until at least London 2012 to he can try to win one in singles? The Olympic gold medal is tremendously important.

Posted by gauloises 11/17/2010 at 08:10 AM

Hello Angel. Yes - I'll be at the WTFs for some of the time. Definitely hoping to meet up with Annie and jewell! How are you? I was swooning over Pico in Paris. First time I'd seen him with my own eyes and he was just unbelievably beautiful.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion) 11/17/2010 at 08:16 AM

gauloises I am soooo jealous of you seeing pico in the flesh. See all that time of me swooning over him has paid off.

Glad you will be able to catch up with some of the twibe.

I am pretty good, work has died down so I will be able to post during WTF and I might even take a day off so I can stay up and watch the night before.

Looking forward to the first match on Sunday being Rockin' Robin and Murray.

Posted by Mike 11/17/2010 at 08:24 AM

GT, players mature at different times ... Rafa had his best year, win and winning % wise, 5 years ago ... and hit #2 around the same time. It's not like he just burst on the scene. If he can keep the current level of play up till he's Fed's age, than he deserves to be the GOAT.

Posted by jackson 11/17/2010 at 08:24 AM

The head of the ATP, Adam Helfant, hopes the players will decide to shorten the season by up to three weeks. Fingers crossed that they'll get it done this year.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-16/atp-chief-helfant-is-optimistic-board-will-favor-shorter-tennis-season.html

"Adam Helfant, executive chairman and president of the men’s tennis tour, is “optimistic” the ATP board will vote in favor of plans to shorten the season.

Heeding pleas from players for a longer offseason so they can get more rest, the ATP World Tour board will meet in London over three days starting Nov. 20 to vote on plans to trim its tennis calendar starting in 2012 by as much as three weeks.

“I do believe the board will take action on this,” Helfant said in an interview at the draw ceremony for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals that start in London on Nov. 21.

Cutting the week in between the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris - which this year ended on Nov. 14 - and the start of the ATP Finals is “one of the options” being looked at, said Helfant, a former Nike Inc. vice president who joined the tour at the beginning of 2009.

Should the season be shortened by two weeks or more, then the Davis Cup finals may “move up,” Helfant said. The finals of the elite men’s team competition, which is run by the International Tennis Federation, will be held Dec. 3 through 5, when Serbia plays France in Belgrade.

Players including top-ranked Rafael Nadal of Spain have been calling for a shorter season for years to give their bodies time to recuperate and prevent injuries. The men’s tennis tour consists of 62 events in 32 countries and runs from January until the end of November.

Some tournaments “have to be a little bit flexible,” Roger Federer told a news conference in Paris last week when asked about the plans. Federer is a member of the ATP’s Players’ Council alongside Nadal.

“I just think it’s time that we shifted back a bit and we get a proper offseason,” Federer, the winner of a men’s record 16 majors, said. “Because four weeks is just not an offseason, really. Six weeks is much better. Already at least you can take two weeks off, practice for four weeks, which is a lot for us in our world. That’s why we’re talking about it. I hope tournaments understand it’s in their best interest as well.”

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2010 at 08:27 AM

Annie,
Sorry about your loss. Drive safely.

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2010 at 08:27 AM

Annie,
Sorry about your loss. Drive safely.

Posted by jackson 11/17/2010 at 08:28 AM

gauloises at 08:10 AM "Hello Angel. Yes - I'll be at the WTFs for some of the time. Definitely hoping to meet up with Annie and jewell! How are you? I was swooning over Pico in Paris. First time I'd seen him with my own eyes and he was just unbelievably beautiful."

Lucky you to see Pico. In what way did you find him so beautiful? From a purely physical point of view, there are men out there who are better looking but there just seems to be something about Pico that is so lovely. He seems so charming and funny and sweet and I find him completely adorable too. :)

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2010 at 08:29 AM

Annie,
Sorry about your loss. Drive safely.

Posted by wilson75 11/17/2010 at 08:36 AM

Re. shortening the calendar. A new issue has arisen the TD of 250s are demanding that if the calendar is shortened that players must be made to play a 250 event after the USO.

Posted by jackson 11/17/2010 at 08:44 AM

Wilson, there are a lot of 250 events after the USO and I think a lot of the lower ranked players are happy to play them looking for points and prize money. Are the TD's demanding the top ranked players play at least one?

I think Rafa's idea is not necessarily that all tournaments should be halted for 6-7 weeks. I think he wants the mandatory attendance of the top ranked players reduced as they are the ones that are playing far and away the most matches due to going so deep into most of the tournaments they play. Most of the other guys are lucky to get one or two games a week. Although lord knows the journeymen could certainly use a break too from all the travelling and chasing down tourneys to play to try and get lucky with some points which will make their situation better in future.

Posted by mick1303 11/17/2010 at 08:45 AM

Posted by jackson 11/17/2010 at 08:09 AM
You'd never get a single soul who has won one of those Olympic gold medals to ever give it back because it doesn't mean very much. Did Roger's gold medal in doubles that he went absolutely bananas over when he won not mean much either? Is that why he's said he's sticking around until at least London 2012 to he can try to win one in singles? The Olympic gold medal is tremendously important.
===============================
You’re ignoring the context. Did I say Olympic Gold is chopped liver? Did anyone say Olympic Gold is chopped liver? It is a cheap trick in the discussion to extrapolate opponent’s pow to the extreme. Did any tennis player ever decline the trophy in any tournament? I don’t think so.

Olympic Gold in tennis is prestigious for the reason that Olympic Gold is prestigious period. In any sport. But in tennis it is on the periphery of career goals. Grand Slam is incomparably more important. YEC is more important. Davis Cup is arguably more important. Even regular MS1000 event awards more ranking points.

Posted by Umpire 11/17/2010 at 08:48 AM

The draw is to Rog's advantage. Ferrer is a joke. Rob has no chance against Rog and Andy M. is jaded already!! And who says I'm biased!?

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2010 at 08:48 AM

Wilson75 and Jackson,
Interesting read about the ATP 250s. Thought they want a player to make a 250 required for top players after Wimbledon.

Posted by gauloises 11/17/2010 at 08:54 AM

In what way? Well, to be honest, I just thought he was – to coin a phrase – small but perfectly formed :) Not sure I’ve ever seen a man with such a naturally attractive face and body. And his shaggy ungroomed hair adds to the charm, because he’s not at all metrosexual – and he’s very expressive on court. He just seems very straightforward, that’s all. No artificial flavours or preservatives.

Posted by wilson75 11/17/2010 at 09:04 AM

MA and jackson: They want it to become mandatory for top players to play a 250 after USO. At present they are only required to play 3 250s anytime during the year.

Posted by jackson 11/17/2010 at 09:19 AM

Well, someone's going to have to give in wilson. They already have two 1000's after the USO and they're mandated to play a 500 after the USO, and if the 250'ers want to start mandating tournaments now, the season isn't going to be much shorter, is it? I have a feeling though that the 250 TD's don't have a lot of clout in this argument. They've paid very big money to Rafa and Roger and some of the other top guys which was pretty convincing but it's my feeling they'd have trouble mandating that these guys had to play.

It'll be interesting to see what the players council comes up with but I think they're going to stand strong among themselves this time. It's taken them a few years to get to this point and I think they've finally got a concencus to get something done.

Posted by wilson75 11/17/2010 at 09:23 AM

jackson: We'll just have wait and see. A decision will be made one way or the other after WTF.

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2010 at 09:24 AM

Wilson75,
Just re-read tennis.com story on 250s and they want one to count after Wimbledon.

Posted by sokol 11/17/2010 at 09:32 AM

"But in tennis it is on the periphery of career goals. Grand Slam is incomparably more important. YEC is more important. Davis Cup is arguably more important. Even regular MS1000 event awards more ranking points."

I don't agree. I agree GS are more important in tennis, but not YEC or DC , or MS1000. They might give more points fro those, but honor wise as sn achievement Olympic medal worth more. Does Roger or Serena, Kim and some other older players plan to play till 2012 because they'll have a chance at another YEC, or DC or Fed Cup? No, they want to have a shot at Olympic Gold.
Plus, it depends on where the player from. For Russian it would mean more than all the other big titles, and almost as big as GS, believe it or not. For western players, where it's more about the individual glory, it maybe not as much of importance, but for someone from Russia or China, it is huge honor.

btw, I would love Svetlana to win Olympic gold medal in 2012 because it will make her heroine in Russia and very popular, seems like she's longing for more respect and recognition in Russia

Posted by mick1303 11/17/2010 at 09:53 AM

Posted by sokol 11/17/2010 at 09:32 AM
I don't agree. I agree GS are more important in tennis, but not YEC or DC , or MS1000. They might give more points fro those, but honor wise as sn achievement Olympic medal worth more. Does Roger or Serena, Kim and some other older players plan to play till 2012 because they'll have a chance at another YEC, or DC or Fed Cup? No, they want to have a shot at Olympic Gold.
Plus, it depends on where the player from. For Russian it would mean more than all the other big titles, and almost as big as GS, believe it or not. For western players, where it's more about the individual glory, it maybe not as much of importance, but for someone from Russia or China, it is huge honor.

btw, I would love Svetlana to win Olympic gold medal in 2012 because it will make her heroine in Russia and very popular, seems like she's longing for more respect and recognition in Russia
====================================
If an event has different level of importance for its participants, then overall importance of this event comes to question. The importance of Grand Slam or Davis Cup is unquestionable.

Two factors undermine the value of Olympic Gold in tennis:
1) The lineage was broken. For several dozens of years tennis was excluded from Olympics. All the while Grand Slams and Davis Cup accumulated tradition and therefore importance. We have only 6 modern time Olympics – not enough to form the tradition. Even YEC has longer history.
2) The draw in the Olympics is weaker, because it allows players to participate basing on nationality rather than pure ranking.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 11/17/2010 at 10:00 AM

They may have already made this change, but the best thing IMHO that they could do to help the 250/500 events is to still mandate top 30 players play 4/500's; but allow points from best 6 250 or 500 to count. If a player like Davydenko or Querrey wins 3/6 250's pts count if they have a weak 500 season. A Nadal or Murray may play an extra 250 or 2 if they can replace a poor run or 2 in a 500.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/17/2010 at 10:14 AM

Mike writes at 5:58 (I believe):

"Rafa can do it, but in my opinion ... he's not as close as JMac is touting quite yet."

FWIW, I agree with you. The two areas in which Rafa has quite a ways to go to catch Federer are number of majors and weeks as No. 1. I also believe that Federer doesn't seem to get as much credit in some circles for his success at the year end championships--one area in which Federer has had considerably more success than Rafa. Of course, Federer's success in these championships are reflected in ranking points; this success also reflects, again, Federer's general superiority over Rafa on indoor surfaces that are not clay.

Before I ramble a bit more on Federer and Rafa, I'll reiterate the point made by certain sagacious observers that many of these GOAT discussions don't adequately take into account the achievements of Tilden, Pancho G., and Laver. Those three, along with Federer, are the probably the top GOAT candidates, or GOTES (Greatest of their Eras, as someone else termed them). (Sampras, IMSHEO, is a sliver of a notch beneath these four due to Sampras' relative lack of success on clay; possibly, Pancho G. might be subject to the same knock--I don't know enuf of Pancho G's ability on clay to win top tournaments on that surface when he was in his prime.)

Rafa may reach Federer's levels or he may not. To get there, he'll have to stay healthy and motivated for a few more years. That is not a given.

Of course, Federer is not a static target. If he stays healthy and motivated, he's probably too good to not get at least another 2-4 singles majors--and maybe another run of many more weeks as No. 1.

Btw, Federer's 27-6 singles record in Davis Cup obviously is excellent. As many of his fans have pointed out, for many years, Federer devoted quite a bit of attention to DC.

The above are just some random thoughts. I don't pretend that they come close to comprehensively treating the subjects that they address.

Posted by sokol 11/17/2010 at 10:19 AM

"We have only 6 modern time Olympics – not enough to form the tradition. Even YEC has longer history."

we'll always have 4 times less Olympics than other tournaments as they're once in 4 years, if it would be usual tournament as DC or YES, there would be 25 or 26 of those already, which would make better tradition.

I see you point though, mick1303

For me personally, one of the greatest memory as a tennis fan is the picture of Russian girls sweeping the Olympic piedestal... priceless :-))

Posted by mick1303 11/17/2010 at 10:26 AM

And again Zhenya Kafelnikov is overlooked... He was the first to win a Slam, he was the first to win Olympic Gold in tennis. And look how rarely he mentioned.

Posted by Mike 11/17/2010 at 10:27 AM

manuelsantanafan @ 10:14 Agree, completely.

As a matter of fact, I'm not completely sure in my mind that Laver ... based on his level of play over the course of his career, isn't still the GOAT. Certainly arguable.

Posted by sokol 11/17/2010 at 10:33 AM

"He was the first to win a Slam, he was the first to win Olympic Gold in tennis. And look how rarely he mentioned."

true...
once I was watching a program on Russian TV and Kafelnikov was giving an interview. They introduced him as Olympic Champion, that made me smile as the announcer didn't mention that he's a GS Champion

Posted by mick1303 11/17/2010 at 10:38 AM

This illustrates the duality of Olympic champion in tennis – for “casual sports fans”, not familiar with tennis realities, Olympic champion means more than Grand Slam champion. But for those, who live and breathe tennis it is quite the opposite.

Posted by sokol 11/17/2010 at 10:45 AM

"This illustrates the duality of Olympic champion in tennis – for “casual sports fans”, not familiar with tennis realities, Olympic champion means more than Grand Slam champion. But for those, who live and breathe tennis it is quite the opposite."

this is probably it, the difference between "casual sports fans" and "tennis fanatics" :-))
I guess I'm more of a casual fan when it comes to comparing YEC, DC, Masters and Olympics. I would prefer my favorite to win Gold Olympic medal than YEC, DC, ot Masters, but no question GS of course is the highest achievement over all.


Posted by DOCTOR 11/17/2010 at 10:55 AM

This is a prime example of trash journalism. Full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing!

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2010 at 11:02 AM

I've always loved the YEC - definitely my favorite after the majors. And of course, it's second only to the majors in importance. No offense to Shanghai, but that was the worst thing the ATP could have done to the YEC. The time change was just a nightmare for broadcast rights.

I wish the final would go back to being a Best-of-5 match. That would be awesome.

Posted by CL/AtheGOAT* 11/17/2010 at 11:24 AM

Alexis - well it was a nightmare for tennis fans in non Asian time zones...but that isn't all tennis fans. IIRC, it was part of a plan to boost tennis interest in Asia. Which is actually a pretty good idea. Though, given the sparse attendance at Shanghai this year, one that may have not fully blossomed yet... Hmm...but was Bercy much better attended except at night? And anyway, by that logic, the AO is a nightmare too.


....Never mind I am rambling now. ;-)

I like best of 5 too...but I think it might be too 'wrenching' at this stage of the season to tag one on.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/17/2010 at 11:28 AM

Sidestepping yet another discussion of "those two", and jumping in after only scanning the first comment page, I have the following to say about the Royal Wedding:

Even though yes, Alexander McQueen is dead and the label has continued quite seemlessly, Miss Middleton should really wear something grand from McQueen's final and brilliant Spring 2010 collection.

Posted by SimonSays 11/17/2010 at 11:51 AM

this is the smartest article ever loved it

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/17/2010 at 11:52 AM

The "GOAT" title gets thrown around quite a bit by people who have very little knowledge of tennis history.
-----------------

dear msf, the throwing around of the term started after the publication of The GOAT book about "the Greatest" Ali. Many people who are into following sports, and sportswriting, were captivated by this book in 2003-4. To be honest, I didn't read TW until early 2006, and the naming of Fed as our sport's GOAT didn't begin until long after. And from the start I objected; why not Navratilova?

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2010 at 12:04 PM

Pete has posted today's thread telling us what has happened just in case, some TWibers have been doing real life activities so far this week.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/17/2010 at 12:31 PM

tina:

re: my statement, "The "GOAT" title gets thrown around quite a bit by people who have very little knowledge of tennis history. . . ."

I certainly don't know enuf tennis history and I haven't seen enuf video footage of Pancho G. and Tilden to state with any confidence who THE GOAT is.

I doubt that many people exist who are qualified to make such pronouncements.

Again, I forget who coined the GOTE term, but I believe that it is far preferable.

I haven't read the Ali book you referenced, but I do know that many boxing experts don't consider him the best boxer pound-for-pound, or the best heavyweight of all time.

A great heavyweight, surely, and a man who accomplished a tremendous amount outside of the ring with his stand against certain elements of the U.S. federal government. (Not all, of course, as the Supreme Court upheld Ali's position.


Posted by @work 11/17/2010 at 12:41 PM

One thing about the YEC, TMC or WTF is that hardly ever we hear it mentioned when speaking of players achievements.
It's mostly about slams, masters or overall titles but not much said of the year ending championship. At least that's my experience watching tennis over the years.
I have never been a fan of the finals because of the format. If they found a better way than the current round robin, playing matches concurrently which affect the outcome of the semifinalist spots then I may be more inclined to appreciate it more.
For now, I don't think it represents the way tennis played year round.

Posted by coolh 11/17/2010 at 12:50 PM

Poor Rog.When he wins,its because of the lucky let cords,linesmen mistakes(those balls were out,why did he call them good?),or errors by the other guy.IF only the other player could get an ace here,or up his serve from 65% to 67%.Federer would not win.
tHIS FELLOW rOG cant even fetch a tennis bag,what is he doing playing on centre court on championship sunday?Its a mystery...like why is Paris Hilton famous,,,or which idiot decided that The English Patient should be a movie?
Nadal doesnt know how to play too.When he wins,its because he just wears out the other guy.IF only an Ethiopoian runner were playinging against hin,why Nadal would lose.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/17/2010 at 01:11 PM

I think Rafa gets through to SFs, though I think the one with Djokovic will be three sets. Berdych is completely unpredictable..the surface suits him but he seems to be down in form right now...he can make it a match, but i doubt if he will win...i don't think he even took a set off Rafa in Wimby final (don't remember) and at that time he was in form. This is indoor, but mentally Rafa has the edge.

Roddick has more chances against Djokovic than Rafa i think. They haven't played much so its difficult to tell, but again Roddick is not in sterling form either. I think he takes the match against Berydch and loses the other two.

So, I think Nole and Rafa make it through SFs in that group.

In the other group, I think Fed has no problems with Ferrer. I don't think this will be the type of match where a player with 0-5, 0-10,0-11 against the Fed suddenly scores a win...nope..not going to happen. That leaves Muzz and Soderling. In a three set match, have to go with Muzz based on stats...but i think Fed wins against Soderling.

I think the # of sets won etc might come into play in this group. Its a little difficult to predict since at least three out of the four players are riding good form. Its hard to pick between Fed/Muzz vs Fed/Robin vs Muzz/Robin. Still, I expect the Fed to get through to SFs.

Ferrer can cause an upset ofcourse...but i doubt if he defeat all the other three who are in good form.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/17/2010 at 01:20 PM

@work: The Masters *seemed* more important back in the Madison Square Garden era, but it seemed to lose cachet during the nomadic years. If it's now permanently in London, maybe it will regain some lost prestige with time.

@msf: I'm no boxing expert, but I, too, have heard that even Ali was not called the GOAT for simply his boxing. I do not know who the GOAT in boxing is. I was just trying to remember a time before this term was part of the general lexicon, let alone the source of endless discussion on this site.

There were certainly a number of breathless tv people making pronouncements before Fed won his very first slam, at which point, the emphasis shifted to the Sampras Record. I dunno, was Roger Maris truly considered better than Babe Ruth?

Plus, since I was a child, I've thought of Secretariat as the most amazing "athlete" I've ever seen, and his only opponents ware the track and the clock.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/17/2010 at 01:32 PM

Also, I think the WTF is a good format...where else does one have to beat 5 out of the top 8 players to win a title. In one week that too. The title must feel very sweet to whoever wins it.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2010 at 01:43 PM

Tina wrote: "@work: The Masters *seemed* more important back in the Madison Square Garden era, but it seemed to lose cachet during the nomadic years. If it's now permanently in London, maybe it will regain some lost prestige with time."

Exactly. I used to absolutely love the championships when they were at MSG. My only complaint at the time, was I hated NY having both the YE and USO because I lived in CA and so wanted the YEC on the west coast! I 100% agree about the nomadic years hurting the YE. It needs to stay in one place to give it the same aura as the majors. It seemed to have that aura when it was at MSG.

The YEC championnship is the best-of-the-best fighting it out. That's why I love it. And it was a real shame when the final reverted to a Best-of-3 match. It should be returned to a Best-of-5 befitting its place as just below a major.

Posted by Marconi 11/17/2010 at 01:45 PM

The ATP needs to abandon their silly ways in their draws.

In an eight person field, 1 4 5 8 should form one group 2 3 6 7 the other. The higher your ranking, the more you deserve to get an easier draw.

This nonsense continues at the tournaments as well. In a 128 deep field, the quarters should always pit 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6, and 4 v 5 if the seedings hold, and in the semis, 1 v 4 and 2 v 3.

This assures that the seedings mean something. Having the draw that coughs up 1 v 5 in the quarters is a joke.

The ATP says that this makes for more variety in the matchups, which is bogus. 1 v 5 in the quarters makes it tougher for the 1 seed to advance than if he had the number 8 seed. That translates into more chances for his opponent to take advantage of the fatigue and cause an upset.

Why punish a higher ranking player?

If this were done correctly, Nadal, Murray, Soderling and Roddick would be in the same group, whereas Federer, Djokovic, Ferrer and Berdych in the other.

That would be the fair draw.

As it stands, Nadal got a better deal, and Federer was punished just a little.

But better that then Nadal being punished because he is the top seed.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2010 at 01:45 PM

Great point, LadyJulia. We've seen many tournaments where the winner did not even play a Top guy once!! With the YE, you are playing a Top guy every single match. It's a big deal to win this... And it should be!

Posted by @work 11/17/2010 at 01:50 PM

Tina,
When I said Masters I meant Masters 1000 Tournaments not the year end final in all its versions from its inception.
I have never seen any of the finals portrayed as a relevant stat. At least that's been my viewing/reading experience.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2010 at 01:52 PM

Marconi, I see both sides. When rankings stay fairly constant for a certain amount of time, then you would see the same match-ups every time. I can see where the ATP wants to avoid that. I mean, when it was Fed/Nadal/Djoker/Murray for the longest time... we would then always see Fed/Murray and Nadal/Djoker. Even I would want to see Fed/Djoker and Nadal/Murray sometimes. But I see what you are saying too. Doesn't seem fair for #1 to pull #5 in the quarters. Seems like it should be #8. Otherwise, #1 is not really being rewarded for being #1.

Posted by @work 11/17/2010 at 01:53 PM

Same comment addressed to Tina will apply to Alexis.

Granted that my tennis fan experience is not as substantial or long as others here, so it could well be that it was different before. All I was trying to say is that I don't usually hear/see/read where it's mentioned as an important stat how many TMCs, YECs, WTFs (or whatever other name this final championship may have had) player X has. That was my point.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 01:56 PM

Good Morning Everyone,

Master Ace or anyone has the sub for London been named yet?

Posted by @work 11/17/2010 at 02:00 PM

Then again, not perceiving the tour finals were that important could be due to the fact that none of my favorites ever did well in the finals in which case, scratch everything I said :)

Except for the part about not liking the round robin format and the 'scenarios' it can create.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2010 at 02:03 PM

@work - that hasn't been my experience. I've seen the YE displayed as a relevant stat many times. Especially when you are talking about the players who have won it multiple times - like Sampras, Lendl, Federer, etc.

Stats are funny things, though. Before Sampras, the # of majors was not this overwhelming stat that it has become. No one much cared about Emerson's 12 majors until Sampras got 13. Same thing with the TMS. Agassi held the record of 17 TMS and no one gave a damn until Nadal got 18. Suddenly it became a worthy stat. Poor Agassi... all that time he had a worthy stat yet no one cared when he held it.

Posted by Sherlock 11/17/2010 at 02:04 PM

@work, from what I've seen here before, I think the YEC/WTF is pretty split. I'm in the camp that kinda wishes tennis would shut down after the USO. :)

I'll watch when I can, but I have a hard time getting too geared up. I can't even tell you who when them all when I was a kid. I'm assuming some combination of Borg/Mac/Connors. :)

Posted by mick1303 11/17/2010 at 02:06 PM

The G.O.A.T in boxing is Sugar Ray Robinson. Ali himself admitted this.

Posted by Sherlock 11/17/2010 at 02:08 PM

When them all? Hmmm, that should be "won them all". I swear, I'm not drinking.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 02:10 PM

In regards to stats for example Agassi was the holder of the Masters titles for the most wins

It only ever becomes noticed when say Rafa or Roger in this case equaled it or passed it.

Same goes for other stats and players who still currently hold them

Being a lover of stats I dont usually post things until a player well Rafa for example surpasses a player etc.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 02:18 PM

Hmmm Sherlock having another one of his many "moments" I see

I have to agree with him in ways the tennis season is a long one not only for fans and players.

I cant wait to see what happens after London and what the ATP officials come up with.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 02:19 PM

Though Sherlock I think some play should still go on after the USO

Honestly

Posted by Carrie 11/17/2010 at 02:23 PM

I do think that you guys are right in a way that there are a number of records that no one noticed until they were getting ready to be broken.

But one thing I have noticed is that it seems in more sports in the past ten years or so there have been more talks about records and streaks. It used to be that baseball was the main sport that was so into stats and streaks and records. And that was before the Bill James stats era- and after that it exploded even more in baseball. But I see it more in American football (which may also be tied somewhat to fantasy football), basketball and other sports.

So I think that tennis may be more cognizant of records, numbers, streaks than it used to be. But I also think that is true in the general sprots world. (In my opinion of course).

Gauloises- your description of Pico made me fan myself at my desk. Lovely to have read your columns from last week. (Still miss your site.)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 02:25 PM

Carrie Hi,

Yes the description of Pico was a eye catcher from G.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/17/2010 at 02:29 PM

the only cupcakes in this draw are birdbrain and Ferru, and they each landed in one group, so i guess its chocolate icing for everyone!

this is a weaker draw than last year, del po and an in form davydenko would beat the tar out of Birdy and Ferru ...

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 02:34 PM

Welcome Tim

A bit late to the party may I add

Posted by Carrie 11/17/2010 at 02:40 PM

It is kind of interesting that the two players who are deemed by most (including moi) as the easier opponents - Berdy and Ferru - are complete opposites in terms of playing styles and mentality.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2010 at 02:41 PM

I think it is true that the "importance" of stats and streaks is more prevalent today - certainly the elevating of the more obscure stats to sudden prominence. Today with the 24x7 media saturation, we are seeing nitpicking over every little thing to either prop up someone, or take down someone depending on the agenda. Gets really tiresome, honestly.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 02:42 PM

Carrie After Bercy Tomas needs a brain transplant.pfft.

Posted by @work 11/17/2010 at 02:58 PM

Alexis,
I think you just confirmed my suspicion that my perception has more to do with my faves than anything else since I wasn't/am not a fan of the players you mention. I will certainly start paying more attention from now on.


Sherlock,
For me it's not about the time of the year (although that doesn't help) but more to do with the format and the fact that it has been always played (as far as I know and please correct me anyone if I'm wrong) on the same surface when, as far as I remember and if my maths don't fail me, clay accounts for 29% of the tournaments.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/17/2010 at 02:59 PM

mick1303 11/17/2010 at 02:06 PM

The G.O.A.T in boxing is Sugar Ray Robinson. Ali himself admitted this.
------------

Fair enough - I said I wouldn't know. I only noticed the term when the Taschen book came out on Ali, and shortly thereafter it was being thrown around by tennis people, who were perhaps trying to get themselves excited about a transitional post-Sampras period.

@@work: yes, I thought you were only referring to the Year-end tourney formerly known as The Masters. But normal tour Masters Shields are indeed being counted now as very worthy accomplishments to have on one's resumé.

Tim - I agree that this year's crop seems weaker than last year's, but only time will tell.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 03:02 PM

tina I like you would love to see Kate in a Alexander MacQueen dress.

The guy was briliant and his life was cut too short.

Posted by @work 11/17/2010 at 03:03 PM

Tina,
Yes, I figured that's what you thought I meant and I agree Masters Shields are given a high profile these days.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 03:07 PM

work In regards to the Masters I feel it is only a higher profile these days cause Rafa has surpassed Agassi's record.

Posted by L.Rubin 11/17/2010 at 03:11 PM

"When them all? Hmmm, that should be "won them all". I swear, I'm not drinking."

Right, Sherlock.

Mr. Bodo: This piece was incredibly funny, and I particularly enjoyed this: "He's in the midst of a year almost as good as that of his President, Barack Obama! He should change his name to Andy G. Roddick, the "G" being for "Gimme."


Now, does anyone actually think that the inhabitants of London Town give two hoots about the WTF? All you hear from Great Britain is incessant chatter about the balding Prince (Or's lover-boy and the real reason she's flying to London) and his fiancé. People--millions of people--are actually engaging in heated online discussions about her engagement ring. I'm in favor of mindless chit-chat, but the sort of person who spends her time writing b**chy blogs and posts about what a scoundrel the prince is for giving his fiancé his late mother's ring a public menace and liability.


Posted by Dime 11/17/2010 at 03:11 PM

Awsome article Pete! Enjoyed it! :)
Yeah tougher draw for Fed than for Rafa, but hey, that's how it is right.
Well, if he's really good, then let him prove it one more time (Fed that is). And same for Rafa, he still has to go out there and win. I give the edge to him if he is rested and sharp. It will be interesting to watch it all unfold. Did be great though to get a Roger/Rafa final.. would be SWEET!!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 03:16 PM

L.Rubin Good to see you here

Well I love a good wedding

They can cancel the tennis at London for all I care

My boy is the no 1 player and got his career slam to boot

I can go to tennis heaven a happy woman

Posted by L.Rubin 11/17/2010 at 03:24 PM

"My boy is the no 1 player and got his career slam to boot"

Hell yeah, AM!

As for loving a good wedding, I'm sure the Aussie press will supply you with an overabundance of juicy wedding gossip.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/17/2010 at 03:32 PM

L.Rubin Dont worry its already in our mags here and there are polls taken already LOL!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/17/2010 at 04:46 PM

Hey L.Rubin, how are you? Miss reading your posts. Could we please stop!! Olympic gold medal don't come close to a slam. Demmy just said this nonsense because she didn't have a slam with all due respect to her great career. Sharapova is Russian and she got it right when she talked about the importance of Wimbledon and the slams. In other sports, yes, an Olympic gold medal is the top, but these involve sports like swimming in which there are few other trophies or even a season. The slams are King. Kom sa, Caro. Kom igen Robin!!

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2010 at 05:14 PM

@work: More info about the Year End Championships - basically, it’s been around in one form or another since 1970. The longest location tenure was Madison Square Garden where it was housed for 13 years (1977 – 1989). The next longest was Frankfurt at 6 years, and then Shanghai and Hanover at 4 years each.

As for titles:

Sampras and Lendl have the most at 5 titles. Federer and Ilie Nastase have 4 titles. Boris Becker and J-Mac have 3. Borg and Lleyton Hewitt have 2. Those that have 1 title are: Agassi, Connors, Edberg, Stan Smith, Vilas, Orantes, Stich, Kuerten, Nalbandian, Djokovic, Davydenko, and Corretja.

The interesting thing about Lendl is that not only did he win the title 5 times, but he was runner-up 4 times!!! Another reason why Lendl is truly a great player who does not get the recognition he deserves as an all-time great. Becker is another one who did consistently well there – winning 3 times and being a runner-up 5 times!

Posted by Julian 11/17/2010 at 05:33 PM

L.Rubin our country is truly one of the most vacuous in the world. Not only do we have a pointless monarchy which wastes taxpayer money but the masses fawn over the tabloid drama like the royalist sheep that they are.

Whoa that was more cutting than I meant. Nah I do mean it :)

Er, bring on the WTO ! So looking forward to it this year.

Posted by pov 11/17/2010 at 05:39 PM

Federer has a 76% W in his group

Nadal has a 68% W in his group

Posted by L.Rubin 11/17/2010 at 05:50 PM

Samantha,

Typepad is easting up my posts, but I just wrote one in which I told you that you are one bad-ass Swede!

Julian,

Don't fret. Every country has its own special form of national psychosis.

Posted by JustZlatan.com 11/17/2010 at 06:58 PM

Federer is the king!

Posted by me 11/17/2010 at 08:23 PM

go fed! im sick of rafa winning everythng this year. i love rafa but federe should win this one

also federe should get a few more titles and some grad slams before he calls it quits

im not saying im just saying

Posted by Amit 11/17/2010 at 09:29 PM

Dime @3.11pm,

"Well, if he's really good, then let him prove it one more time (Fed that is)."

Yes, we understand that the jury's still out on this :)

Posted by susan 11/17/2010 at 10:40 PM

ah, the wedding. So many trees destroyed for such a non-event. bring on australia's grumpy pro-republic advocates, one of whom i saw interviewed on CNN. hilarious to contrast his grumpy reaction to all the giddiness on display!

i saw Pico live and up close about six weeks ago during an exhibition. i didn't find him indescribably beautiful at all, but there was something especially attractive about him.

extraordinary smile that just exuded sweetness and authenticity. so, gauloises, yes, on the point about being non-artificial i have to agree.

and he had this, uh, energy field around him (do not make fun, nothing new age-y here). you could sort of feel it and he was the most interesting player to watch of the four who were there (alas, two americans). that photo of him with his back arched, jumping in the air during the match in Asia (against Melzer?) shows some of that.

Posted by freddy 11/18/2010 at 12:13 AM

Hi all...GOAT wars raging again, I see...:)

msf - I believe I may have been the originator of the term GOTE (Greatest of their Era) in that 8 part series I posted linked to last year...Unfortunately, I've had to take those articles off my website, as they have nothing to do with my main line of work :(

Cheers

Posted by Denise 11/18/2010 at 08:38 AM

Hmmm-- I think the players who are least tired and worn out (and with the fewest injuries) will have the best chance of winning in London. I think you could give David Ferrer a little more credit. He didn't make it into the top 8 by chance -- it took a good deal of hard work and focus. He's a great player. No matter what the final outcome, I'm sure we can look forward to a week of great tennis. I'm taking some time off work to watch it on TV... we're lucky in the US that it's over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Posted by Game Lover 11/18/2010 at 09:57 AM

Peter your article is comical: I was cracking up!

Exactly how some fans behave here...

Posted by charlotte 11/18/2010 at 10:46 AM

I agree with Denise regarding David Ferrer and getting more credit. Few gave him a chance at WTF 2007, but he won every match in his group, Rafa, Roddick, Djoko, even an in-form Fed lost a match to Gonzo. In Ferrer's career, the only player in the top eight he hasn't beaten is Fed.

Posted by ebh 11/18/2010 at 11:03 AM

Bookies have Fed as favorite to win (5/2) with Nadal second (10/3).

Djoker (51/10)
Murray (23/4)
Sod (10/1)
ARod (22/1)
Birdie (34/1)
DF (59/1)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/18/2010 at 11:58 AM

freddy:

Sorry you took those webpages down.

I, and I'm sure others, found them very imformative.

And thanks for the "GOTE" term. I believe it and the underlying concept constitute the best approach.

Posted by knk 11/19/2010 at 05:11 PM

I think another way to think about this draw is, if Nadal fans think that Fed got an easier darw, then that means he has better chances of advancing into Finals because that's who he gets in Semis. If you think he may lose in the RR because of bad draw, then it doesn't make any sense for discussion because he has to be good at least to make it to the final four.
My point is, to tbe the best, you got to be able to beat all of them any day

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