Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - The Extraordinary Age
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The Extraordinary Age 07/12/2010 - 2:52 PM

Rn There are many perverse elements to the tennis season. We know them well: It’s too long, it starts too early, and in the end, rather than rising to a crescendo, it fizzles into obscurity. But what seems strangest to me at the moment is how, despite that meandering length, the core of the year remains so compressed. The tournaments that will largely define 2010 in the future, Wimbledon and the French Open, came and went, as they always do, in six short weeks. Right now it feels as if the year’s results were decided at one long Paris-to-London, clay-to-grass super-event. 

So let’s take a moment and look at what happened on the men’s side during that time. Unlike in the women’s game, a definitive change took place at the top of the ATP. Roger Federer went to Paris as the No. 1 player in the world and defending champion at both the French Open and Wimbledon. He left London ranked No. 3, and lost in the quarters at both tournaments. Rafael Nadal went in ranked No. 2, with virtually nothing to defend. He came out with both titles and the No. 1 spot likely secured for the rest of the season.

This flip-flop at the top has a couple of noteworthy aspects to it. First, the Channel Slam—the French-Wimbledon double—has suddenly been rendered routine. Before 2008, it had been considered one of the Holy Grails of the men’s game, a feat only the immortals of old were capable of pulling off. The last player to do it had been Bjorn Borg, who won the French and Wimbledon back to back from 1978 to ’80. As the years went by and no one managed to match Borg even one time, his triple-double grew to mythic proportions—“How did he possibly do that?” was all we could ask after a while. Now it’s been done three straight times again: Nadal in 2008, Federer in ’09, and Nadal in 2010.

On the one hand, the improved grass at Wimbledon has played a role in making this possible. The jump from slow clay to slick, unpredictable turf is not as extreme as it was in Borg’s day. Players no longer have to develop their games in one direction or the other, the way Pete Sampras did; you can succeed on both surfaces with the same power-baseline style. Still, the fact that two guys have done it in such rapid succession, after such a long dry spell, can’t merely be chalked up to a better brand of grass. To me, their Channel Slams are an example of the extraordinary moment we’re witnessing in tennis. 

We have a male player, Federer, who has won 16 majors and been touted as the best player, both from a statistical and an aesthetic standpoint, in history. Federer, for good measure, just went six years without losing before the semis at a Slam. We have another man, Nadal, who is likely the best clay-court player ever; he won a record 81-straight matches on the stuff, and has won five French Opens in six tries. Together Federer and Nadal have locked up the No. 1 and 2 spots for longer than any other pair of men, and, even more remarkably, they've won 20 of the last 22 majors. Beyond their rivalry, in the last year we’ve seen Ivo Karlovic hit a then-unthinkable 78 aces, only to have that record shattered a few months later, by two players, in a single match that lasted five hours longer than any in history. You might say all of this is just part of the evolution of the sport, and that records are made to be broken. But you would also have to say that any of the numbers above, taken separately, would be considered outliers. Put them together and it’s clear we’re seeing something special.

The other noteworthy element to this year’s Channel Slam is that Nadal won both of them in fairly similar fashion, while Federer lost at both of them in very similar fashion. Nadal has never been more versatile. He won tactically (the Wimbledon final). He won with raw consistency and speed (the French Open final). He won by taking it straight at his bigger-hitting opponent (against Soderling at Wimbledon). Overall, it appeared that he didn’t believe he could lose, and that’s a mindset that’s closer to Federer’s in his prime than it is to Nadal’s own normal way of looking at his game. It’s clear that Nadal has reached some kind of peak. It's not every day that you get to bite the World Cup.

Two questions emerge: Is Nadal the new Federer? And if so, can he catch his major-title count? I’ll start by acknowledging that neither of these is in any way answerable, or even semi-predictable. One thing we know about Nadal is that he has typically peaked around this time in a season, and that he gradually falls off from here. Up to this point, he has also lacked Federer’s ability to cruise into the semis at Slams. It’s harder work for Rafa all around, and he’s never gotten as many free points with his serve as Federer has. He’ll need to change some part of that equation if he wants to own the sport the way his rival has. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. In 2005, it would have been difficult to imagine Nadal ever winning a Wimbledon final, let alone winning one without being broken.

As for Federer, we know that he has recovered from a defeat at Wimbledon in 2008 and come back to win the next Slam, the U.S. Open. We’ll know more after this Open, and at the end of the year, about whether these patterns are ready to be broken, and new ones more favorable to Nadal put in place. I’d be surprised to see Rafa dip precipitously this time, and I'd also be surprised if Federer doesn’t revive himself and play better tennis in the second half of the year. Losing to guys he’s owned for years should provide some of the motivation that may have been missing after his record-breaking 2009.

Will it be enough for Federer to significantly add to his Slam total over the next few years, and put it out of reach of Nadal? Federer has said he’ll play at least until the 2012 London Olympics, and likely beyond. He’ll be 31 that summer, which means he could potentially play for three or four years after that. A lot will depend on his status in the game at that point. If he’s a perennial quarterfinalist, overpowered by the big men on a regular basis, I don’t see him sticking around for long; it would be tough for someone of his stature to swallow. But I also don’t see his game dropping off as quickly as Sampras’ did after 30, or Edberg’s did in his late 20s. The only player who has, as of this moment, surpassed him is Nadal. Murray and Djokovic have been treading water, del Potro seems to be fragile, and while Soderling and Berdych have beaten Federer, they’re not marching past him in the rankings anytime soon. There’s also no teenager on the horizon who appears ready to blow the whole thing up. I'd say Federer will win between one and five more majors. It's hard to be more specific than that, but for the sake of this article, I’ll guess that, barring serious injury, he'll retire with 19 Slams.

Can Nadal get to 19? It’s seems unlikely that, at 24, he has 11 more majors in him. OK, can he get to 16? Federer turned 24 one month after Wimbledon in 2005. Notice that that tournament represented a peak moment for him as well; Federer blitzed Andy Roddick in the most one-sided of his Wimbledon final wins (he would play Nadal in that round for the first time in '06). It’s hard to believe, but that was only Federer’s fifth major title. From that point until the beginning of 2008, from ages 24 to 26, he would go on a serious tear, one that no one had seen since Borg’s glory years of ’78 to ’80. Federer won seven of nine majors and vaulted into contention for Sampras’ Slam record.

Nadal, who is ahead of Federer’s pace by three at the moment, doesn’t need to match that run. Which is a good thing, because it’s borderline-unmatchable, even for a normal, clear-cut No. 1. Nadal is virtually assured of winning more French Opens—I’ll say three more; if that seems conservative for a guy who’s lost one match there in his career, it’s only because he’s made winning in Paris look easier than it is, and easier than it’s going to be even for him in the future. With the other Slams, it’s harder to say. Based on his past results, which have until now been more up-and-down than dominant, I’d give him two more each in Australia and at Wimbledon, and two at the U.S. Open. That brings Nadal to a total of 17. Somehow that number seems high when you put all the Slams together—can the guy really win nine more? It took him five years to win the eight that he has. But individually, 3, 2, 2, 2 sounds reasonable for his future at 24, doesn't it? And like I said, all bars have been raised in this era.

Recurring knee injuries could make this number much lower; we’ve always said Nadal's style was hard on him, and it’s already robbed him of potential major titles. But so far it hasn’t sidelined him for an extended period. He keeps getting back up, and I’d expect this pattern to continue. At the same time, Nadal could be entering a period of Federer-like, two-Slams-per-season period of dominance, which would make his career total higher. Whatever his final number, I think it will be lower than Federer’s final number. No matter how young he is, eight is going to be a tough number to erase.

Judging from the past, the one thing we can count on from Federer and Nadal is that the guy who is being counted out is the guy we need to watch out for. In July 2010, that guy is Federer. In the race for Grand Slam supremacy, it’s Nadal. If they’ve taught us anything, it’s to look forward to the extraordinary.


 
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Comments
 
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Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 09:50 AM

JohnP,
Yes, one can always hope, and I agree that the likelhood that we've seen the last of these two across the net is low. And as a Fed fan, I would also hope that if that happens, the end result is the opposite of the last few times those two met. :) Irrespective of the end result, there is always an extra "zing" when these two meet that you don't feel with other matches, and I'm not just talking about the quality of tennis - its the aura of the rivalry. That'll be sorely missed after they competed against each other for the last time.

Posted by Kwaku 07/14/2010 at 09:53 AM

Prashant Sharma,

I don't think I'm a fanatic, but pretty much Rafa owns Roger, or he has his number, or Roger is his son, whatever way you want to say it. 14-7 is very telling even if many came on clay, because Rafa also beat Fed in the latest and most important HC and grass occasions (Australia and Wimby finals) and the difference will only increase as Roger declines and Rafa peaks his golden years.

The fanatism comes not from wheather you can see the obvious, but from what you read into it. I don't think Rafa is better overall (at least yet) because there is a matchup issue and overall greatness is measured against the field more than against your nemesis. And of course that h2h makes Rafa no "de facto GOAT", that is laughable! (But he might become it.)

Posted by Kwaku 07/14/2010 at 10:17 AM

As for ''Nadal's knees will break down in less than 2 years because of his physical style'', honestly, I think it's very probably wrong.
Often it is wishful thinking by Fed fans that has unduely propagated as a truism of 'common knowledge'. The only thing missing is that it gets to appear in the Wikipedia!
I'm sure there are examples of apparently elegant, smooth moving players plagued with injuries, and apparently more violent / physical ones who can keep injuries under control. But only time will tell with Nadal. I hope and think he will outlast his knee-critics (unless they still predict his knees will collapse well into his thirties).

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 10:21 AM

Kwaku,
I'm as big a Fed fan as it gets, and I don't have an issue with taking the 14-7 H2H on face value. They've played 21 times so far and Nadal's won 14 times. Kudos to him. Period.

Part of the reason I think Fed fans sometimes get defensive I think is because of the language used to describe the H2H record. Phrases like "Rafa owns Roger" or "Rafa is Roger's daddy" or "Roger is Rafa's whipping boy" carry a tone that exaggerates their H2H record in a negative and almost disrespectful manner. The H2H is definiltely what it is, but for the most part, the matches between them have been very closely contested. It is similar to Rafa fans sometimes getting defensive when some describe his habit of tugging on his shorts as "butt picking" or his ability to outlast an opponent in long, pounding rallies as "grinding". Both those terms are exaggerations of habits/skills that carry a negative and disrespectful tone, and sometimes elicit a defensive/aggresive reaction.

I agree completely with you that ultimately it is the personality of the fan that drives the reaction. I'm a Fed fan, but I can see the H2H for what it is and ignore and shrug off posts where I see him characterized in a negative or disrespctful way. But that's just me. I'm just trying to explain here that the fanatism or reaction doesn't only come from what is read into the obvious as you've articulately stated, but also how it is presented.

cheers!

Posted by FED FRED 07/14/2010 at 10:40 AM

FED we all love you.

Even if you bomb out at the US Open.

You are the GOAT of all time.

Posted by lilscot 07/14/2010 at 10:41 AM

Ah, I love the smell of harmony in the morning! It's just so nice when Roger and Rafa's fans communicate together like this. :)

Posted by Well Left 07/14/2010 at 10:57 AM

As crazy as this period is, there's no need to be delusional.
9 more Slam titles for Nadal does not sound reasonable. Give him 2 US Opens? Let's see Nadal reach a final first, before we give him 2 titles in 5 years. Nadal's US Open number will come up short and be the difference between his GOAT status (debatable) and Fed's (clear and unassailable).
Rafa's US Open record will be the equivalent of Sampras' French. He might win a couple more Channel Slams, but August is not his month, pure and simple.

Posted by Juliana07 07/14/2010 at 11:11 AM

@Well Left 07/14/2010 at 10:57 AM
US Open is mostly played in September.

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 11:15 AM

TMFunk: You have such a way with words. That last comment was exactly how I feel. And I don't even care about the GOAT thing. Naturally, I want him to keep his records, but that's a separate issue. I'm happy that Roger is up there with the greats, period.

Posted by Kwaku 07/14/2010 at 11:30 AM

TheMightyFunk,

* I didn't intend to lump all fed fans when I said "often it is wishful thinking by Fed fans". I know for most of them like you that's not the case.

* I didn't intend to be disrespectful to Roger so I remove the 'Nadal owns him'. People are not properties. As for 'has his number', I believe it shouldn't be disrespectful, since many people use it here, including many fed fans. As for 'is his son', halfway? In any case, there is no dishonor in a bad matchup, whatever the expression used. I just meant that Rafa has and prolly will beat Fed more times and that is in no contradiction with the fact or possibility that he is overall the better player.

* My basic point is "Nadal knees will soon collapse" is some fedfan wishful thinking turned into urban legend / prolly wrong common knowledge.

P.S. I'm writing at a tiny PDA and being precise and nuanced is painful slow. In doubt, please assume I'm not being disrespectful.

Posted by Kwaku 07/14/2010 at 11:43 AM

Tari, now it's the greats the ones who are up there with Roger ;-)

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 11:44 AM

Kwaku: I don't buy the knees will collapse scenario either. I hope no Fed fans are writing that they wish for this. :)

This has been discussed ad nauseum, I'm sure, but I do think that Roger's consistency on all surface during the years when Rafa was still coming into his own hurt Roger as far as the H2H goes. If only Roger could have played Rafa at the U.S. Open in, say, 2005-2007? Or at the AO earlier in his career.

Anyway, it is what it is, and I don't think, with Roger being 5 years(!!) older than Nadal, that he has any hope of evening that out. If they were truly contemporaries as far as age goes, I think we'd be seeing a whole lot more Fedal finals.

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 11:46 AM

Oop. I meant the finals of those tourneys, obviously. (Proofread, Tari!)

Posted by Kwaku 07/14/2010 at 11:46 AM

(msf, no disrespect to the greats...)

Posted by mja 07/14/2010 at 11:51 AM

Nam 1. Perhaps you need to study the history and game of tennis to better understand my comments about how the game was meant to be played. It has a long history of rules and ethics that are to be admired compared to other sports.

Just because Nadal is not at the same level of acccomplishment or in the same league as a Federer is not calling him bad. He pretty much is a Spanish Hewitt, who by his own right was a good player and still is. Yes, Nadal is different and he has won a lot of tournaments but his lack of sportsmanship and his "team's" arrogance is not making him endearing to a lot of people.

As for tinkering with all aspects of his game, many experts are warning him that unless he makes drastic changes, his career is going to be short. I can't resist saying it, but it seems to me the only thing he has tinkered with are the alignment of his water bottles and getting his underwear out of his crack. He's #1 now, act like it. If he can afford to wear an extremely expensive watch on his wrist while he plays, he surely can afford underwear that fits. Also, start following the rules. Stop taking too long between points, stop getting coaching from your box, and start setting an example of a real champion.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 12:02 PM

Tari - Thanks!

Kwaku - My comments were not directed at you, personally, at all when I mentioned those phrases. Sorry, I should have made that clear in my post. I was only trying to add some perspective to the point in your post with regards to reading into the obvious, and illustrate it by prviding examples relevant to both Federer and Nadal. I feel your posts are quite balanced and don't perceive any disrespect to anyone in them.

Posted by CPM 07/14/2010 at 12:14 PM

mja,

"[B]asically a Spanish Hewitt"?

Bwahahhahahah.

Bwahahahah.

[catches breath]

Bwahahahahhahahahhahhahahhahahhhah.

That's all.

p.s. In case it's not clear, mja, I'm definitely laughing *at* you.

p.p.s. I believe there's hay to be made on this board for an enterprising psychologist--s/he'll have to deal with lots of sanctimonious nonsense, of course--interested in time-lagged perception. The phenomenon of seeing only 2006-era Nadal over and over again, year after year, is really, really strange.

Posted by nobozo 07/14/2010 at 12:44 PM

Good observations about these two men. I think the fact of their fabulous records is secondary to the joy which they play, the gentlemanly behavior they have always shown (with few exceptions) on court, and the outstanding representation of good sportsmanship which they bring to the sport of tennis. With their obvious physical beauty and athleticism, the enjoyment of tennis watching has been raised as much as the amazing records which have been set and broken. It is the viewers who benefit from the roles which Roger and Rafa have established and continue to play which makes the game of tennis worth stopping the daily routine to observe and be astounded.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/14/2010 at 12:56 PM

CPM:

May I join you in the laughter?

"[T]he Australian Hewitt" was certainly a gem.

Just a few differences:

8 Majors for Rafa, 2 for Hewitt.

14-7 winning H2H against Federer for Rafa, losing H2H against Federer for Hewitt.

6-2 winning H2H in majors against Federer for Rafa, worse H2H in majors against Federer for Hewitt.

Surpassing Federer in "Masters 1000" titles for Rafa, not the case for Hewitt.

mja, thanks for the chuckles.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 07/14/2010 at 01:00 PM

CPM:

The S.I. Jenkins article was brought to my attention by Tim. . . . on a P.Bodo thread.

For once, I'm indebted to Tim.

Posted by prashant sharma 07/14/2010 at 01:04 PM

@kwaku
sorry buddy, cant agree with you on this. Although your post was very knowledgable and well articulated, still I am of the strong opinion that the simple fact that Roger was GOOD ENOUGH to meet Rafa 12 times on clay is actually skewing this rivalry in Rafa's favour. However, I do agree the Federer's loss to Rafa at Australian Open in 09 was a big loss as far as history is concerned (Even more than wimbledon). But still Nadal is more or less absent during the 2nd half of the season from asphalt court tournaments and then indoor carpet tournaments. This is where Federer would have owned him. But sadly, that is a matter of conjecture now and historians and Rafa fanatics dont dissect the head to head the way it should be:)
Then coming to the second point, I do not wish for Rafa to be injured. That said, his style of play is BOUND to make that happen. It seems it started in wimbledon (or was it gamesmanship as everyone was saying then?) and I am sure we will see that more often as Rafa enters the mid-twenties.
16 is a lot of slams as Pete Sampras said in an interview a few days back. I dont think Rafa has it in him to win more than 11-12. However, I am not Paul the octopus and hopefully Federer and Nadal will treat us to a few good matches in future.
Lokking forward the start of big tournamnets. I think it starts in Montreal at Roger's Cup.

Posted by TeamNadal 07/14/2010 at 01:05 PM

oh mja....

http://memedepot.com/uploads/1500/1902_hatercat.jpg

Posted by Kwaku 07/14/2010 at 01:13 PM

mja,

I'll write as if you have some kind of solution.

* Using ancient rules of etiquette (not ethics -Rafa's ethics are just fine) to attack Nadal today is, literally, extremely far-fetched. Like this, you discard most tennis history (Connors, Lendl et al.) This extreme 'romanticism' is almost pathologic in its disconnect from reality.

* Writing "just because Nadal is not at the same level of acccomplishment or in the same league as a Federer" as if that were a fact, does not a fact make. Fact: the closest to a tennis league is ATP; they do play the same league; Rafa leads it and leads Federer, who is third, by 3860 points (=10745-6885). The difference is even more abysmal if you look at the race points. If you mean "same league" in a metaphorical way, it is even harder to convert opinion into fact. As for "level of accomplshment", comparing them forgetting age would be puerile; and taking age into account, Rafa is clearly more accomplished than Fed at his age. Future is unknown.

* Saying "his lack of sportsmanship" as if it were fact does not make it fact. As for "is not making him endearing to a lot of people", it is inevitable that some dislike him, but he also has thousands of fans all over the world.

* You said "I can't resist saying it, but it seems to me the only thing he has tinkered with are the alignment of his water bottles and getting his underwear out of his crack". Well, you should have resisted, because now everybody knows what your level of ignorance is.

* As for "many experts are warning him that unless he makes drastic changes, his career is going to be short": a) I think these "many" "experts" may be proved wrong -future is unknown; b) Important changes have already taken place; c) In any case it is none of your business, or even contradictory with your position, because you are not a fan, are you?

* The "wear an extremely expensive watch" is ridiculous. It's like attacking Roger because he promotes Rolex.

* Etc.

It's almost impossible, but I think you should try to enjoy Nadal's tennis a little and not be so bitter.

Posted by Rafalution 07/14/2010 at 01:35 PM

Kwaku...

I feel sorry that you needed to waste your time explaining to this utterly ignorant mya the meaning of Nadal..which is all wrong, in every dimension.
She must have been talking about this Spanish Hewitt imposter...

Posted by Kwaku 07/14/2010 at 01:45 PM

prashant sharma,
I know Fed's h2h with Rafa is prolly affected by his success on clay, but I think not so much, because the matchup fact remains. I'm quite sure Fed would never own Rafa, even at US Open. If Rafa reached the final there (only way to meet Fed), that would've been because his overall level (against the field) would've been good enough to beat Fed in the final (good matchup) exactly like AusOpen after exhausting Verdasco semi.

Posted by Nam1 07/14/2010 at 01:51 PM

Mja's post was in response to mine counter post yesterday but I will rest my case since the posters above , CPM, Kwaku and MSF have said it much more eloquently than I can.

Anyone who can compare Rafa to Hewitt and call him the Spanish Hewitt must have stopped watching tennis in 2005, early 2005!!!

Posted by Juliana 07 07/14/2010 at 02:00 PM

@Posted by mja 07/14/2010 at 11:51 AM
"Nadal...his lack of sportsmanship...is not making him endearing to a lot of people"
Your are free to admire, for example, Federer, who sware at the chair umpire in US Open final (2009).

" it seems to me the only thing he has tinkered with are the alignment of his water bottles"
It's better than Federer's throwing empty water-bottles over his shoulder behind his back.

"If he can afford to wear an extremely expensive watch on his wrist while he plays"
Nadal wears/promotes it according a deal between him and Geneva watchmaker Richard Mille.

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 02:02 PM

Kwaku: I disagree with your U.S. Open confidence, at least a little. I'd loved for Roger to have had those chances. But then, Rafa didn't get there, so we will never know. Even if he were to meet him this year there, it would mean very little at this point. Roger isn't near his best anymore.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 02:02 PM

Kwaku,
You said exactly what I was going to. The primary contributing factor to that H2H is the unique matchup issues coming from the heavy lefty topspin to a one-handed backhand and Nadal's phenomenal footspeed and movement neutralizing what would be winners from the Fed's raquet against anyone else. I truly believe surface as a contributing factor to their H2H is over-estimated in conventional wisdom, as evidenced by how close Nadal played the Fed in Wimbledon 2006-2007 and finally winning in 2008. Surface has definitely had a much bigger impact on Nadal's OVERALL results, which is why in spite of his H2H against Federer, he was still #2 instead of #1 all those years. People often make incorrect inferences from Nadal's overall results on HC and apply those inferences to the H2H match up with federer.

This is why I don't subscribe to the "H2H is skewed because Nadal didn't make it to enough HC finals against Federer". I do subscribe to the "Fed has been more versatile than Nadal on all surfaces" because of their individual accomplishments against the field on all surfaces THUS FAR. Will that still be true in 2010 and beyond? We'll see.

Prashant: Sorry my friend - I'm a big Fed fan, but unfortunately also a very analytical and objective one!! :)

Posted by antoinette 07/14/2010 at 02:05 PM

Is it not possible to say you disagree with the content of a post without getting personal. Sheesh!! Saying people are "bitter", "know nothing about tennis", "ignorant", "puerile", "pathalogically disconnected from reality" etc is a bit excessive isn't it? People here are just expressing their opinions, so why the need to try and belittle people whose opinion is different from yours. Laugh at the contents of the posts if you think they are nonsensical but please lay off the personal digs. Peoples feelings can get hurt even in cyberspace.

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 02:06 PM

Actually, I disagree (slightly) with TMFunk, too! Wimbledon is not the fastest surface, and hasn't been for years. Roger fared pretty well fending off Nadal for a couple of finals there. I wish he'd have had a chance at the Open, again, around 2005-2007. He did play him in Shanghai (loved that match). Straight sets, Fed, I believe?

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 02:09 PM

Anyway, it's all conjecture. Alas.

Posted by lilscot 07/14/2010 at 02:19 PM

TeamNadal: 1:05 p.m.

rflmao! I was trying to think of something profound to say to mja, but after seeing another of your fantastic jpg's I figured that summed it all up perfectly. Meeoow!

Posted by lilscot 07/14/2010 at 02:23 PM

TheMightyFunk: 2:02 p.m.

This is a great analysis of these two great men. So true. And, even though Wimbledon is no longer thought of as the fastest surface now, it has only recently been slowed down, starting last year. These two guys have overlapping careers, not ones that started at the same time, so any conjecture about the h2h or future slams is just that, conjecture. Most likely had they started at the same time both their records would be less than they are now. But, if wishes were horses beggars would ride right?

Posted by lilscot 07/14/2010 at 02:26 PM

antoinette: 2:05 p.m.

Unfortunately there will always be those few that feel it's intelligent to belittle others with name-calling. I hate it too, from both sides. It's annoying, frustrating, and accomplishes nothing but create a tension where there should be none. To debate is great, to berate is hate. :)

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 02:32 PM

lilscot, the slowing down of the courts at Wimbledon has been over several years. It was slowed prior to Nadal making the finals there, I'm fairly sure of that. NBC (I think? maybe ESPN) did a side by side analysis a couple of years ago on how the slowing of the court affected the trajectory (not sure if that is the right term, but the ball stayed very low) of Roger's serve. There was pretty drastic difference between then and 2003.

Posted by prashant sharma 07/14/2010 at 02:47 PM

@kwaku
i guess we will never know about the US open. it didnt happen over there. and the very fact that nadal was NEVER good enough to play federer on such a fast surface speaks volumes about his prowess on that particular court. This discussion is unending I guess. In todays's world you are either a Federer fan or a Rafa Fan. I guess I am and shall remain a Federer fan. Sadly his days are numbered now and I dont think he has disapointed his fans in any way. 23 consecutive slam semis, 5 consecutive US open titles, 5 consecutive wimbledon's, it is all a just too much to believe. If he retires today he is still the GOAT. So all these quarter finals that he is reaching at age 29 are just a bonus. And who knows, he might squeeze a slam or two still!
It seems Rafa is headed the same way. But he still has to do what Federer has already done. And time will only tell whether Rafa has it in him to be a contender for the GOAT. I find comments already hailing him as GOAT hilarious. Tennis should reach beyond nationality, and these players are not playing for their countries in any case. Spanish fans should appreciate what Federer has done and accept Rafa is a long way from the coveted GOAT title. This is not to say he cannot reach there! But it will be a hell of a struggle. As I wrote earlier, it will boil down to how much Rafa can run with those knees rather than anything else. And the soderlings and del potros are going to test that 'running ability' to maximum.

Posted by TennisRone 1000 07/14/2010 at 02:50 PM

.....and the grand discussion continueeeessssssssssssss........

Ok. There is no reason not to believe that Rafa has a fighter's chance to equal and perhaps pass Rog in the GS titles department. As a Federer fan, this most certainly scares me as I covet the notion that my favorite player has a chance to hold a record that will be highly impermeable for years. The reality is, we have a good reason to be afraid that this achievement is in danger. Nadal is THAT good.

These next 3 years should tell us a lot about how this plays out. There is no player that currently exists which would appear to challenge the Nadal French Open throne. Rafa would just have to play a subpar match to not somehow be in the Final every year and probably win.

On the hardcourts....there are enough players in both the AO and USO that you could argue have a fighter's chance against Rafa....and he doesn't have to play subpar there to be beaten.

Wimby is odd to me. It feels like there are players that have the capacity to beat him, but his spins seem more dangerous than ever on this surface. Still, it seems like he is more vulerable here than in France.

Can Rog find a way to eek out a couple of more GS Titles? I don't think it's impossible....but we Fed fans have to wonder how that will come about. it feels like there has to be some minor adjustment to his play to somehow give himself another edge again when playing the Top 10. I seriously don't know what that is. Going for more on second serves....trying to use his quickness to volley more and shorten points. Not spraying FH's? I seriously don't know. That being said....his worst GS result is a QF. So perhaps I'm over-reacting....or just trying to manage down my expectations knowing he won't play forever.

Will either of these guys match McEnroe, Connors, and Agassi and play into their mid 30's? Doesn't seem improbable.

Remember....it just takes one match to be out of any tennis tournament....or a physical ailment to curtail your playing ability....which makes Rog and Rafa's accomplishments all that more titanic in this era of highly physical play.

Posted by TennisRone 1000 07/14/2010 at 02:51 PM

....>Fed's worst RECENT GS result is a QF effort....taking the current into account...not 2000 Fed....

just to confirm.....

Posted by prashant sharma 07/14/2010 at 03:01 PM

@tennisrone1000
You are right, somehing has to change now. He is getting overpowered by the big guys namely del potro, soderling and berdych. Berdych came very close to beating him the last 3-4 times they played. I remember it was very close in Australian open & sometime at wimbledon,maybe 2007. But still sOderling wouldnt have beaten him on clay this French open if it hadnt rained. Anyways these are just excuses and Federer rightly said that a great player has to make his own luck.
I guess he would be stung a little bit by these losses and might be that he surprises all his fans by taking the US open title this year? Improbable, but wouldNT we all love it, one more time?
I guess the warm up events at rogers cup and cincinnati will tell us what is going to happen. If Rafa wins at Cincinnati, he would be the top contender for US Open without a doubt.

Posted by lilscot 07/14/2010 at 03:07 PM

Tari: 2:32 p.m.

Lol! It's funny because shortly after I posted that I realized it's been happening for quite some time now but was in my car away from the computer. I just got home and was about to post that I was incorrect in what I said about the slowing of the grass. :)

Posted by lilscot 07/14/2010 at 03:10 PM

Tari: 2:32 p.m.

Darn it, my posts keeping disappearing. It's so funny because shortly after I made that post I was in my car and realized I was incorrect about what I said. I just got home and was sitting down to post that when I saw your entry. :)

Posted by Juliana 07 07/14/2010 at 03:26 PM

@ prashant sharma 07/14/2010 at 03:01 PM

Berdych defeated Federer already six years ago - at the Olympics 2004. It happened in the second round, the score was 4–6, 7–5, 7–5. Berdych was then 18 years old.

Posted by TennisRone 1000 07/14/2010 at 03:29 PM

I think anyone out there has to agree that Rafa is the favorite to win the USO title this year. Granted, he has no history of achievement....but lets be honest....who out there is playing consistently well enough that can be expected to beat him? Although, as I mentioned, he has seemed most vulnerable at that tournament.

I guess Rog is next in line. I almost think his performance is a non-story in this tournament compared to how Rafa fares (story one), and how the 'upstarts' of 2010 fare (Sod, Berdych, Muzz to a lesser extent, Querrey, Isner possibly). Can anyone step up and stop the run of either Rafa or Rog? It becomes a HUGE story if Rog and Rafa face off. Or if he *gulp* goes out early.

Is there a way Fed enters the USO at #3? I know here are resident rankings experts here that follow this stuff closer than I.....although Muzzz and Nole would be the likely persons to take the #2 spot, which seems highly unlikely....even with a vulnerable Fed out there....

It will be interesting to watch....I guess Cincy and Toronto will give us a quick look into the USO hourglass....but I don't put a ton of credence behind that.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/14/2010 at 03:35 PM

Well I see this discussion is still going on

In regards to Rafa and the USO this year

A lot will depend on Toronto more importanly the faster surface at Cinnvy in ways where Rafa has in the past done so so.He usually arrives at the USO physically and mentally exhausted.

The Olympics in 2008 backs up my statement though it did effect other players as well not just Rafa who won the Gold Medal there.He did make the s/finals.

2009 please as a Rafa fan I would like to forget most of the year lol!.He limped into the USO played the s/final with a ruptured ab muscle and that was that for the rest of the year.

Rafa needs to serve well again for starters giving him fee easy points.Playing time before the USO will be in some ways vital.

There are a lot of other players in the mix that have great games on the faster h/courts.

We Gonna See No?

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 03:42 PM

No worries, lilscot. :) Enjoyed the debate here!

Posted by TennisRone 1000 07/14/2010 at 03:46 PM

....another interesting story at this year's USO could be Koyla....i don't know if he's back to playing....but if he can play back at his top form, he closed 2009 by beating up on almost everyone....including a battle worn Fed and Rafa. He won't have the comparable mileage on his body that pretty much everyone at the 2010 USO will have and may be able to take advantage of it if he can play to that form.

But I'd assess the odds of such an upheaval (which it would absolutely be for Koyla to go far into the USO...say SF's....perhaps finals) at around 5%.....but he was playing some impressive tennis before he went down to injury.

We certainly shall see how it develops....Rafa's preparation seems to have been at its most economical this season by comparison to any recent season I can think of.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 03:48 PM

Tari - Haven't read all the posts but what's a little disagreement among friends? :)

I guess my reluctance to get into hypothetical HC meetings between Federer and Nadal as a means of portraying a potentially better H2H record is based on not being convinced that Federer would do as well on HC against Nadal as Nadal has against Federer on clay. This is becasue IMO the advantages of the faster, harder surface for Federer are largely neutralized by the match-up issues. Whereas on clay, and recently with the slowing-down of the grass at Wimbledon, the surface amplifies the match up issues.

In short, can and has Federer beaten Nadal on HC and grass? Of course. If we want to hypothesize, would Federer have a 10-2-like record against Nadal if they'd met in the US Open and on other HC finals on a consistent basis? That's where my analytical side says no,even if my heart wants to say yes. :) If you forced me to pick a percentage, I'd probably say 55%-45% in Federer's favour, maybe 60%-40% tops. Someone can probably mine the data to see what that assumption does to a hypithetical H2H, but given Nadal's domination on clay, I doubt if it would swing the overall H2H by much in Fed's favour.

The larger point to me, and the reason I don't lose a lot of sleep on this H2H thing is this: So what? For better or worse, tennis rankings and accomplishments don't depend on H2H records between 2 individuals. They depend on how you do night-in, night-out against whoever is your opponent across the net. And Federer, for the most part, has been the best at that, and did it in a way that was and continues to be very pleasing to my eye. I just love the way he plays the game. And That's all I care about. That's why I'm a Fed fan.

**shrugs**

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/14/2010 at 03:50 PM

Tennis Rone 1000

I agree with you there.It seems Rafa in 2010 is in a better place

Hey its about time lol!

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 03:52 PM

I agree, TR, Rafa has to be the favorite going into the Open. There will be huge excitement of there is a Fedal final, but I would dread it. Now is not exactly both at their peak, and I can just hear the H2H chatter if he lost...ugh. No. I'd rather he go out early.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/14/2010 at 03:55 PM

TMF To me the only time the H2h comes into any substance is when ever Rafa and Roger meet in a final.Its a stat that can be brought up and say in ways does have a meaning.

When you compare the 2 players at present.Roger in terms of what he has achieved is hands and heels over Rafa.In fact every other player as well lol!

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 03:57 PM

antoinette @ 2:05 pm - +10000000000000000!

lilscot @ 2:23 pm - Thanks and absolutely right!

Reg Nadal's USO prospects - I don't know...The surface does make a difference for him there, but he's also made some changes to his game. I'll be looking to Cinci to act as a marker for his prospects at the USO.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/14/2010 at 04:02 PM

Had to laugh out loud reading some back posts here

Rafa is a Spainish version of Lleyton Hewitt LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by TennisRone 1000 07/14/2010 at 04:06 PM

I hear you re: the dreading of future Fedal arguments should they happen to face-off in the USO final Tari.....or even before then at Cincy or Toronto. But.....I'll still take that matchup in a heartbeat as a Fed fan. I like the challenge for Fed. Even though he's closer to the dusk of his career compared to Nadal whom may be at his apex. Let's see how the chips fall......I'll still be rooting with a passion for Rog.

At this time.....Fed has the GS singles title record....Rafa does not. He can have all the FO titles he wants....cross the total title threshold....then us Fed fans will have no choice but to doff our caps.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 04:08 PM

AM - To me, the H2H, purely from the standpoint of comparing Federer and Nadal only has meaning AFTER both of them have hung up their racquets for good. At that point, if Nadal's accomplishments (titles, majors, weeks as #1 etc) are equal to or close to Federer's, then the H2H becomes a tie-breaker in that comparison. If Federer's accomplishments are still above and beyond Nadal's as they are today, then the H2H has no more meaning than being an interesting footnote in their respective careers.

To quote you - We gonna see, no? :)

Posted by Tuulia 07/14/2010 at 04:08 PM

TheMightyFunk... *applause* A pleasure to met you.

And Kwaku, great stuff, too, thank you.

CPM :)

prashant sharma - you really like this idea of R'n'R h2h2 being "skewed", don't you? I don't quite understand the logic of this, despite others having repeated it in the past. I think it's a refusal on your part to accept an unpleasant fact, and so you - and others who bring up the "skewed h2h" claim - try to explain it away. Since Rafa is 5 years younger than Roger they have not been at the same stage in tennis development at the same time. RG final was the last major final Roger got to and that was 2006, wasn't it? Rafa started his major finals there the year before. So they have developed into major final form in different order on different surfaces. When Rafa was playing his first Wimbledon final it was, if I remember correctly, only his 16th ATP match on grass, so he had played only 9 adult grass matches in his career before 2006 Wimbledon. So he did pretty well to reach the final and take a set there from the player who had already won it the last 3 years. As a Roger fan you should probably be very happy that Rafa wasn't getting to multiple HC major finals when Roger was winning them - the only one where they met, well... you know how that went... the same way that their first ever meeting, which was also on hc. If you look at the h2h off clay, it's not like Roger has been beating Rafa pretty much all the time, is it? So why the assumption that if Rafa had become a better player overall - and so better also on hc - at a younger age, Roger would have beaten him anyway, and the h2h would look very different?

Tari - correct me if I'm wrong, but as I interpret your posts you wish Roger had had more chances to beat Rafa when Roger was already fully developed as a player, and was at his peak, and Rafa was still in early stages of his development, lacking in experience and and skill that he has since gathered? In other words you wish Roger had beaten a lesser Rafa? That's pretty much what I think you said in your 07/14 11:44AM post. Why would that be good? Just so the h2h would be prettier?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/14/2010 at 04:12 PM

TMF The H2h will always be discussed when say Rafa and Roger meet in a final

That is inevtable I am afraid.Though I agree with you in essence that when both these players retire.Then the comparisons can be made and that H2h stat could well play in some aignificance.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 04:14 PM

Tuulia - Pleasure to met you too! I am a relatively new poster here, just a couple weeks old, but love tennis, Federer's game, and so far, this board as a platform for sharing my views with other smart, funny, insightful posters who also love tennis but sometimes incomprehensibly have different allegiances than mine. :) Are you a regular here? Don't think I've come across your posts the last couple weeks? Cheers!

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 04:15 PM

Yes, Tuulia, what I said is quite similar to that. They were on different arcs, as you aptly explained. Roger got the worst of that, so of course I would have liked him to have had some advantage early. But to be honest, the only reason I care at all about the H2H is because it is touted (by many, actually) as diminishing Roger's "greatness", if you will. I don't even want to discuss the dreaded GOAT. :) Otherwise, I couldn't care less, really.

I'm going to try to meditate now and adopt TMFunk's "colm" over this...lol.

Posted by Tuulia 07/14/2010 at 04:17 PM

Why is h2h more important when they meet in a final? Now that Roger is ranked #3 they could meet in semis...

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/14/2010 at 04:18 PM

Tuulia LOL!! well said

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/14/2010 at 04:21 PM

Miss Tari I am passing you some chooclate ok

You seem to be miserable.I feel Roger who has a impressive record at the USO will come back and make a statement this year

May I remind you when he was in say a "mini slump" a couple of years ago and most people had written him off he can back in fine style and won the USO.Made a lot of people eat Humble Pie.

Never underestimate a true champion.

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 04:26 PM

Actually, Tuulia, you can hypothesize all you want, but those early matchups other than clay were very rare, indeed. I would have taken my chances for Roger. I'll stand by that.
There were some close clay matches as well.

I'll just add that I deeply for Roger getting there, over and over, on clay. Had to be heartbreaking to add to the losing H2H, but he got there. I'm immensely proud of that. It has bothered me quite a bit over the years that it has been turned into a stick somehow to ridicule the guy (not suggesting that is you, Tuulia). He got there. Well done to him.

I hope the Fedal finals are done. I think Roger's past his prime, and I don't want any more substance added to the "stick" so to speak.

Back to meditating...and on to another topic for me. ;-)

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 04:27 PM

Tari - he he, as an ardent "meditator", I can certaily attest that it helps. :)

ok folks, time to pack up and head home. Its been a pleasure! Have an excellent remainder of the day/afternoon/evening/night whereever you are. I may meet some of you again later at in the evening. :)

adios!

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 04:28 PM

Thanks, AM! I DO need some chocolate! Yum. :)

Posted by Tuulia 07/14/2010 at 04:28 PM

TheMightyFunk - I'm more a lurker than a poster here. I try to peek in when I get a chance and occasionally post. At the moment just trying to survive the heat wave, fingers sweating onto the laptop and making it sticky, too... hopefully not doing further damage there, lol

Tari - I still don't get it. Roger was at his peak already, Rafa was not... and you think Roger didn't have advantage then? Umm... Maybe it's just my melting brain, it's been a while since I last had my head under the tap...

Posted by antoinette 07/14/2010 at 04:34 PM

@Tuulia

In your opinion what does the h2h prove? Does it prove that Nadal is greater than Federer? Does it prove that Federer's claim to be considered the GOAT is illegitimate because he has a loosing h2h with Nadal? Does it prove that Nadal owns Federer and that Federer was "lucky" to win all of his slams before Nadal developed and improved his game? Does it prove that Nadal belongs in the Goat discussion simply because he has a positive h2h with Federer. Does the lopsided h2h with Nadal put an astersisk against Federer's achievements and somehow diminishes what he has achieved?

These are the kind of statements that some Nadal make when they bring up the h2h. Do you share these views?

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 04:38 PM

Tuulia, you said you didn't see why Federer's fans would have liked for him to face Rafa more in finals other than clay early on. I explained why I would have liked that. I'm not trying to be snarky at all. I wish Roger had faced Rafa more during his peak on surfaces other than clay. No one will ever know, but I believe he would have fared well.

Posted by antoinette 07/14/2010 at 04:40 PM

^^^
"...that some Nadal fans" that should be.

Posted by lilscot 07/14/2010 at 04:47 PM

Tari: 2:32 p.m.

Yeah, I think I remember seeing that. Watching the guys with the pole and dropping the ball. On one side the ball hardly bounced up to the guy's ankle, and on the other side it bounced up to his hip. Quite a difference.

Posted by Tuulia 07/14/2010 at 05:02 PM

Tari - oh absolutely, well done to him. Anyone with a brain surely understands that it's better to reach a final even if one loses there, than to lose earlier. I would never ridicule his accomplishments in any way, and that certainly wasn't my intention here, either.

I still think that if Rafa had reached hc finals more then, that would have meant he was a better player then, and so... *shrug* I certainly don't expect his record on hc against Roger would have been similar to what it is on clay, but I also don't see no reason to assume Roger would have been winning most of the time on hc against a better Rafa than he then was.

I understand why h2h discussions can be a pain to Roger fans as you mentioned, but they are also painful to Rafa fans, because it's always the surface discussion and how clay gets treated as inferior somehow etc. I've never seen any h2h discussed in similar manner or anywhere to same extent. Does Roger have positive h2h against players where he has won on one surface far more than other surfaces, and if so, does the h2h still count? Or if Roger had won most of his clay matches against Rafa would the h2h count?Bodo counted all Roger's wins (incl. clay) and only non-clay Rafa wins, and voilá, he got a h2h that he seemed to think was more, um, fair. *rolls eyes*

Roger's greatness or achievements shouldn't be diminished by his h2h with Rafa, but I also don't think the h2h should be diminished, and it is, all the time.

Posted by Tuulia 07/14/2010 at 05:07 PM

antoinette - why the inquisition tone? I didn't write any of those things, no need to jump on me. Anyway, since you asked, I don't share those views.

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 05:07 PM

Ahh. I do see your point, Tuulia. I don't think I've read anyone explain how Rafa's fans feel quite like that. Yeah. I'm not trying to diminish the accomplishment of the H2H for Rafa. In fact, I can't! :)

Thanks for the discussion.

Posted by Tuulia 07/14/2010 at 05:07 PM

Thanks Tari. :)

Posted by lilscot 07/14/2010 at 05:10 PM

Absolutely loved loved loved those pics of the big guns enjoying some well-deserved r&r. Seeing Rog on the beach and with his kids, he just looked so cool and calm and happy.

I don't think I've ever seen a grin so wide on Rafa's face before, and that includes any of his GS ceremonies. Seeing him in the middle of all his football buddies was so tellling.

And seeing Serena with her girls on the dance floor was uber-cool. When you think of the effort these three have put into the last several years it is just so great to see them sincerely having fun.

They sure deserve it...

Posted by Anwar Obeidat 07/14/2010 at 05:42 PM


I strongly believe that Roger is the greatest player ever, no one has 16 and I believe he will have, at least, 2 more. Nadal is great on Clay but not on all surfaces. Roger had won ALL MAJORS and has been the reason for the game to go up. He had raised the standard of the game. The greatest players in the recent history are:

1- Rojer Federer
2- Pete Sampras
3- Bjorn Borg
4- Andre Agasi
5- John MacEnro
6- Ivan lendle
7-

Posted by Tuulia 07/14/2010 at 05:43 PM

pics? hmm... sounds interesting, need to scroll backwards I guess...

Posted by Anwar Obeidat 07/14/2010 at 05:45 PM

7- Rafa Nadal

Posted by Nam1 07/14/2010 at 05:52 PM

oh please, not the old Nadal is great on Clay but not on other surfaces; how come Peter Sampras is so great without winning the French but Rafa is only great on Clay even tho' he has won Wimby TWICE and AO once??

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 07/14/2010 at 05:56 PM

Nam 1 He was the only player to hold those titles coming into 09 when he won the AO

Bit of stat history for everyone lol!

Posted by Kwaku 07/14/2010 at 06:07 PM

mja, (antoinette, lilscot...),
Sorry and you're actually right.
I could've made the exact same points without the personal attacks.
And I'm sure next time I'll do.
My bad.

Posted by antoinette 07/14/2010 at 06:10 PM

@Tuulia

My apologies if you thought my tone was inqusitorial, no offence was meant. Just trying to highlight why to some Federer fans the h2h argument can be so exasperating.

Posted by lilscot 07/14/2010 at 06:23 PM

Tuulia:

Go to the Daily Spin and the pics are there...

Posted by Tuulia 07/14/2010 at 06:26 PM

Ok, antoinette. And like I said, the h2h argument is not much fun for Rafa fans, either.

Posted by Tuulia 07/14/2010 at 06:27 PM

Thanks lilscot, thought it was somewhere in the previous 15 pages here... :)

Posted by espnalanaldo 07/14/2010 at 06:53 PM

It is so funny about all this brouhaha about the H2H.

Here it is: The only reason that FED KADs and psuedo fed fans minimizes the importance of 14-7 HEAD-to-HEAD is because it shows how dominant Rafa is, in beating Roger. And worse like 12-5 (I think) in FINALS!!!

Had the stat been reversed, you bet 'ya, rogerlings and federlings will harp on it like forever! Unfortunately, the reality is that Roger by the H2H, is nothing but Rafa's whipping boy in much the same way as Roddick is Roger's whipping boy. Easy enough?

Now, of all the stats, the purest and the most significant in comparing TWO players is the H2H! Why, because all the variables are the same. We are comparing only two players, toe to toe, mano a mano, eye to eye in the same surface, in the same court, in the same time, in the same weather, in the same audience be it fickle-minded French, or respectful English or Roger-leaning Aussies. Ergo, Rafa is better than Roger. (grammar dictates no use for the word - best)


H2H is the best judge of the quality of matches. Is is a trashing or pasting like 08 French, or battle weary OZ 09 or a classic combat in Wimby 08? And please, for Pete's sake no crying! Some puk**g probably allowed (he, he). Sorry, Pete.

H2H is the best statistical data that you use to compare two players. It is that simple.
Numerical majority of Slams is easily explainable as there is virtually no competition when Roger arrived on the scene.

It is like a big fish in a small pond. But, boy when that supposedly "big" fish was thrown into a big lake with Rafa in it, that fish becomes pitifully small and gets gobbled 2 times out of 3. Or, put simply, 14-7 H2H.


See! So easy!

or Easy does it. Take your pick, rogerlings!

Posted by espnalanaldo 07/14/2010 at 07:02 PM

Give it a rest about this "figment" of a GOAT idea. Majority of sports writers and retired Grand Slam champions question that such appellation will look increasingly absurd, stupid even, when Rafa will pile up on the Slam numbers and at the same time, even improve on the H2H to say, 18-7.

At that point, it will be virtually untenable to even invoke the 16 Slams, as the H2H will further highlight how ordinary Roger is compared to Rafa. Just inescapable.

That all you have to do is feel sorry for Roger. And cry.

Now, I will wash my car. I need the exercise.

Posted by real tennis fan 07/14/2010 at 07:15 PM

As a Federling aka Rogerling I can only say that I am so glad Roger was lucky enough to sneak in all those GS and Masters Titles before the real GOAT showed up to show him how its done. Phew!!

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 07:15 PM

Tari,
Here's your opportunity to practice some of that meditative calm and scrolling skills... :)

Posted by espnalanaldo 07/14/2010 at 07:29 PM

Ooops, got some time left.

Lucky indeed.

Else, Roger would not have been able to get a Channel Slam much less a Roland Garros had Rafa not been injured. Wins by default. Those are the luckiest of them all.

Luck indeed.

Now, where is that rag?

Posted by Corrie 07/14/2010 at 07:40 PM

"Numerical majority of Slams is easily explainable as there is virtually no competition when Roger arrived on the scene".

espnalanaldo, you're posts are always stimulating, but spare a thought for poor Roddick, Safin, Hewitt -of course, he's already been thoroughly dismissed - Haas, Nalbandian, Ferrero, Agassi etc etc. Must they all be reduced to blobs of meaningless nothingness? So much inferior to Murray, Djokovic, Soderling and Berdych??

Posted by CPM 07/14/2010 at 07:58 PM

Who's dismissing Hewitt? Laughing at the idiocy of calling Nadal "just a Spanish Hewitt" (or whatever dismissive phrasing got used) isn't dismissing Hewitt; it's recognizing that Nadal is already, at a minimum, at the top of the 2nd rank of men's tennis players in the Open era, along with if not ahead of Agassi, Lendl, Connors & McEnroe, while Hewitt is ... nowhere near that conversation. A lot of people aren't anywhere near that conversation. Very few people ever get within ten miles of that conversation. There's no shame in it.

By the bye, Kwaku, that was very big of you to apologize for being sharp to mja (or whatever the screen name was) earlier. I, contrariwise, apologize for nothing. Say something stupid, get thwacked for it -- thus has it ever been on the internets, and thus may it ever be.

Posted by RogfaNafederal 07/14/2010 at 08:06 PM

First ever post here:

I'm a major Nadal fan. And because of that I have not cared much for Fed. Nonetheless, I must give the man his due. He did win RG and SW19 in '09. Sport history will have NO Asterik. the idea that they "don't count" cause Nadal was injured is ludicrous. While we are at it can we take away Djokovic's AO and give that to Fed? Any arguer that employs that type of logic should be dismissed, their posts should be deleted and their USTA (or equaivalant)rating should automatically drop to 2.5.

Fed made 24 consecutive semi's, has won more GS's than anyone, went 92-5 one season, etc, etc, etc but some here seem to think he got "lucky" because the competition was weak. Perhaps he made the competition look weak. Without a Roger Federer how many titles might a Roddick own? Would we consider Roddick weak competition with 4 or more majors? If someone (in my case usually my brother) wants to call Fed the GOAT, I can only say, "Yes, for now, he certainly is."

Furthermore, as a Nadal fan, I PREFER to see Federer's accomplishments recognized, glorified and celebrated. Nadal does own a 14-7 H2H against the GOAT! 10-2 against him on Clay against the GOAT! 5-2 in major Finals against the GOAT! A Major final victory against the GOAT on all three surfaces! 8 (and counting) GS victories while the GOAT is playing! If Nadal was only great he'd be another of the vanquished (Roddick, Hewitt, etc), instead he has been incredibly successful during the most impressive run in open era tennis.

Will he catch Roger...who knows. As many have stated better than I could, he does have a real chance if the body holds out. Even if he only comes close he can muddy the argument again because of the aforementioned H2H and related tidbits.

So, as a Nadal fan, I gladly concede Roger is the GOAT - hands down, no debate. Nadal is a young 24 with the fight, will, talent, and game to possibly challenge FED even after Federer is retired. I hope he can but more importantly, it'll make most every GS and even every ATP 1000 event fun to watch for some time to come.

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 08:36 PM

*waves to TMFunk* *sings 'A Spoonful of Sugar' while twirling RogfaNafederal around on the dance floor*

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 08:48 PM

Tari - LOL!

RogfaNafederal (That's a mouthful but I fully appreciate the spirit behind that moniker!) - Welcome and on behalf of Fed fans everywhere, I thank thee for that nice post. :)

Posted by RogfaNafederal 07/14/2010 at 09:09 PM

Tari - My apologies for being so heavy footed on the dance floor...you Fed folk just seem to glide above it somehow. It was fun but my knees hurt.

TMFunk...Thanks for the welcome. It's nice to be here where there is some reasoned yet passionate fandom. As for the name, it was post specific but maybe it'll grow on me.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 07/14/2010 at 09:16 PM

LOL Rogfa - Good one!

Posted by Tari 07/14/2010 at 09:26 PM

Hehe. Welcome, RogfaNafederal. :)

Posted by Suzanne 07/15/2010 at 12:25 AM

I'm so sick of everyone measuring the "exceptional" in a career of a tennis pro by merely the number of slams he's won. Rafa has won more Masters 1000 titles than anyone. Andre Agassi took 15 years to reach 17 MS 1000 titles and that was phenomenal (and well above Pete's total, but Pete's number of slams "outshines" him...who put tennis on the map?). Rafa has won 18 Masters 1000's and has done it in SIX years! If you ask me, that record will likely stand for a heck of a long time; most players are lucky to win 5 or 6. Although Slams are considered harder to win, there are still several factors to consider; in slams, the players get a day off between matches (weather permitting) and in MS 1000's they have to play every day for the last 4-5 matches. The other thing is that there is a LOT less time between tournaments in Masters 1000's and thus it's more difficult to win one after another. Rafa has won one after another year after year in Europe on clay and this year became the first person EVER to win three straight Masters 1000 titles and then go on to take RG and Wimbly. Fed is an amazing player and thus far his record is the best ever, measuring slam results. His slam results against Rafa, however, are not all that great (RN 6 - RF 2) and the same goes for his Masters results. Look at all of the records Rafa has set and broken in ALL tournaments, no matter the level, and I think that the answer to the question of greatness is that if Rafa never again picked up a racquet, he's one of the greatest players of all time. If he keeps playing for another 5-6 years, Fed will be eating his dust, even if Rafa doesn't reach the almighty number of 17 majors. One last observation...Fed's last three slams were won in the absence of Rafa due to knee injury and I can't help but think that if Rafa hadn't had the knee injury and the personal grief of his parents' split, the greatness of Fed would still be under question and he wouldn't have won the French. The beauty of Rafa, however, is that he would never hide behind excuses or say that he should have won and his opponent was lucky...he has too much class for that. Did any of you notice that when Rafa won the Aussie Open in '09 and he and Fed met at the net, the first thing he said to Fed was, "I'm sorry", and then he asked, "Are you okay?" (This all happened way before the tears at the presentation.) I used to think it was amazing that he always wished his opponents good luck before matches began (a rarity in tennis as the players want the luck to be focused on themselves), but this action cemented Rafael Nadal in my book as the greatest, kindest, toughest, AND humblest athlete of all time. His fans not only love his game, but who he is as a person!!!

Posted by Prashant Sharma 07/15/2010 at 03:00 AM

@espanaldo
unfortunately Rafa is always 'injured' when he loses. Just look at how he 'injured' himself when he was behind petchzner at wimbledon this year. So it is befitting that he was again 'injured' when soderling blasted him off court at roland garros in 09. the truth, as everyone knows it, was that soderling was on fire that day and caught rafa bu surprise. rafa couldnt recover from that onslaught and lost. why is it so hard to digest? but i guess a fan is a fan and nothing matters at the end of the day. not even the cold and bitter truth. i do hope rafa would lose sometime when he isnt 'injured'.

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