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Final Thoughts 11/28/2010 - 5:59 PM


by Hannah Wilks, TW Contributing Writer

On the protracted journey to North Greenwich this morning (London transport is laboring under major engineering works and facing a tube strike), almost every conversation I overhear is a discussion of Federer and Nadal. It makes me so pleased that on a weekend when the first Ashes test is underway, England have taken on South Africa at Twickenham, and the usual round of high-profile Premiership football clashes are on—Spurs v Liverpool being today's hot ticket—tennis can still fill the O2 arena.

It also makes me feel slightly ashamed of myself for not being more excited. As far as I'm concerned, the greatest rivalry in sport—as I understand we're now obligated to call it—reached its zenith at Wimbledon 2008 when Rafa carved out the heart of Roger's empire and more or less devoured it, and since then it's basically been one-way traffic. Rafa is the best player in the world right now, Roger has had one of the greatest careers; these things seem obvious to me. They don't even play each other that much—twice in 2009, and this their second meeting in 2010—meaning that their rivalry is mainly played out in records and statistics, and on their behalf in forums and blogs across the internet by their fans.

If I'm not excited though, I'm clearly the only one. The crowd applauds politely during the doubles final, a straight-sets victory for Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic; the trophy ceremony resembles a game of musical chairs as all four players acknowledge the end of old partnerships and the forming of new ones. It's good fun, but it's not what everyone's come for today.

Never has the O2 arena been so full of flags, Swiss and Spanish, and signs, some painstakingly-sewn and impressive, others scribbled in felt tip on what looks like scrap paper. The reach of the Federer signs is impressively global: 'Lugano Greets King Roger!', and more bafflingly, 'Namibia Loves Roger.' The Nadal supporters' signs read 'VAMOS RAFA' or simply 'RAFA!!!!', as if the man needs no introduction, just punctuation. It's a breathtakingly international crowd, too; in the past few days I've met people—not journalists, just fans—who have come from all over the world to be here. For every estuary voice which howls 'come on, Rog!', there's an 'allez Rafa!' or an authentic 'vamos!'

I've heard enough serious discussion of the crushing psychological blow that one opponent can inflict on the other by making him wait at the beginning of the match to note down how events turn out. This time, Federer manages to stay seated, visibly twiddling his thumbs, until after Nadal has got up to join him at net for the coin toss. It's either a minor miracle or a bold statement of dominance, but Nadal strikes back immediately by being substantially late in rising for play. In the chair, Mohammed Layani is already holding his head in both hands, like the mother of two squabbling siblings on a long car journey.

By the time the first three games have been played, it's obvious that we're not going to see any huge tactical surprises; nobody's come up with a masterstroke since the last time they played. Federer is going all-out aggressive, ending points quickly wherever possible; Nadal is trying to break down Federer's backhand. Not earth-shattering.

Stationary, Nadal looks squat and chunky across the net from the lithe Federer. That impression all but disappears once they both start to move. Nadal's feet scuttle across the baseline like a beetle; it's better to watch the unbelievable speed with which his racquet whips around his head as he delivers each forehand like a grenade. Despite that, it seems to have been all Federer so far, bounding on to every short ball like an eager puppy to smack a forehand winner. More impressively, his backhand doesn't seem to be leaking errors; indeed, more often that not he finishes a protracted exchange by finding an acute and unexpected angle off that side. The same shot gets him the first break, his fifth forehand winner the first set, 6-3. He hasn't lost a point on his first serve yet.

Federer is playing great. Nadal isn't, quite. Whether it's the remarkable speed with which Federer seizes his opportunities or not, the Spaniard looks a step slow, and his shots don't have the same penetration they did against Murray. Time and again his balls have been landing short and Federer isn't giving him a second chance at any of them. At the changeover, he sits miserably with his hands in his lap, looking between coach and umpire as if unsure who to expect a telling-off from first. His is the only long face in here; Maradona, Princess Eugenie, Thierry Henry all get big cheers from a happy crowd. Boris Johnson gets the biggest, proving once again that the fact that people in this city have the good sense to fill arenas for tennis doesn't mean they display the best judgement in all areas of their lives.

Nadal, inevitably, regroups. A return winner at 1-2 lets him fist-pump and strut, predatory for the first time, and he breaks on Federer's first significant forehand error. When Federer slips and falls in the next game trying to reach a bounce off the net cord, the Swiss is starting to look a little frantic and Nadal firmly in control. One weak service game and the set is gone.

The crowd at least are pleased about it; everyone would have felt short-changed if this one finished in straights. It feels almost like the match proper is starting now, and the rallies are growing ever more spectacular; the tennis that these two men can produce on pure instinct, playing on their veins, is breathtaking. Nadal is hitting much deeper than he was at the beginning of the match, but Federer's serve—after a brief vacation in the second set—is clicking beautifully, time and time again leaving Nadal stranded by the wide serve to the deuce court. He's still finding those angles off the backhand, giving him a toehold on Rafa's serve at 1-2 down. When that toehold becomes break point, the roar from the crowd is earsplitting. Lars Graff would have barked 'Please!' down the microphone as if having to restrain himself from adding 'stop embarrassing yourselves!'; Layani, on the other hand, milks the moment, drawing out the words 'aadvaantaaage Federer!' Federer manages to box Nadal into a corner until his attempted passer flies wide and consolidates the break despite alternating service winners and groundstroke errors, and is suddenly looking rather impregnable at 4-1. When he breaks again, the Federer fans are ecstatic and the Nadal fans are putting on their jackets. It's a cold day outside.

There's a slight oddness to the end of the match, as Federer's winning forehand looks out to seventy-five percent of the stadium. The fans sitting behind that line are the first to cheer, then as Nadal shakes his head and starts walking to the net, Federer is next. He's actually won, even if it's taken everyone a moment to realize it.

During his speech, Nadal's voice creaks with fatigue. In a possible Freudian slip, he thanks the crowd for their support 'in Wimbledon.' Federer quickly reiterates the mention of Wimbledon in his own victory speech. Deliberate or not, both of them know that the real battleground is elsewhere. This has been an extended trailer for Roger and Rafa, 2011; coming soon to a Slam near you.

Watching the confetti and camera flashes, I think about the significance of this victory. I'm starting to share some of Pete's skepticism about the format and implications of this event. Nadal may have been defeated, but no-one can deny it's been his year, and a rocky one for Federer by his lofty standards. I doubt that this defeat will impact Nadal for long; and I don''t know what Federer's victory can give him in terms of motivation and confidence for next year that the champion doesn't already possess. The Fedal numbers may have shifted a little, giving the hardcore fans fresh ammunition in their ongoing battles, but I'm not sure it means much more than that.

But it has been a week of great entertainment, of tennis that's encompassed the entire range from execrable to exceptional. It's given the ATP a chance to showcase their product, and London an opportunity to demonstrate another facet of its nature as a tennis city. On a personal level, it's been a week of staying up until 3 a.m., trying to find the right words for the best players in the world; a week when taking longhand notes during Nadal matches left my fingers blistered, and Djokovic's smile distracted me enough that I left my mobile phone in his press conference. (He didn't call.)

It may not quite be the 'fifth Slam' just yet—but it's been a bloody good week all the same.

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Posted by CL 11/29/2010 at 11:53 AM

From the AP,via the NY Times:

"The top ranked Nadal, who won the...yada, yada, yada.... was able to break Federer once in the second set but he appeared to tire as the match wore on. On Saturday, Nadal spent more than three hours and three sets beating Andy Murray to reach the final of the tournament for the first time."

Does Fed ever 'get tired' when he loses? The only time I can ever remember is in 2008 when he was coming back from mono and lost to Mardy 'still pudgy back then' Fish and in his presser Bud Collins asked him why he was so slow, why he couldn't run after things and Fed replied, IIRC, something along the lines of 'Mardy served so well there was nothing to run after.'

Posted by TMFunk 11/29/2010 at 11:54 AM

wilson75 - Oh ye of little faith!! :) Does feel good, doesn't it?

CL - Are you referring to his Racquet Reaction? If so, I honestly thought it was fine. He started with a praise of Fed's game (backhand, first serve) that was key in the victory, and mentioned Nadal's sluggishness only in the third paragraph. He later on talks bout becoming Fed's punching bag in the third again, do to perceived tiredness. he finished with a praise of Fed's game now being a good lead-in to 2011. Overall, to me it really came across as sluggishness/tiredness was a factor in the loss, particularly in the lopsided third set, not as "heck Nadal would have won this if only he wasn't tired from his marathon the day before". But that's just me and how I "read" his piece. And not saying there aren't folks out there who are saying "heck Nadal would have won this if only he wasn't tired from his marathon the day before"!!

I do get your point that in the media, tiredness is not mentioned as consistently in Fed's case as it is with Nadal, and that's the media sticking with the narrative it wants to where Fed is concerned. I'm with you on that front.

Posted by zenggi 11/29/2010 at 12:00 PM


Will you, please, save your breath here for a moment or two (except for praising Hannah's articles, of course) and answer Tari's and my emails asap?

Thanks so much!

Posted by jem 11/29/2010 at 12:00 PM

To Aussiemarg,MadamePresident,Rafa Is Still My No 1!!! @03:00 AM

Saddened by your comment you wish you could draw. I have good news! You can draw.

There is no right or wrong way to draw. Draw what you see the way you see it. Children do it so well, before someone tells them they can't draw, paint etc.

Don't compare yourself to a Master. I like your spirit and fair-mindedness. Let that shine through and I would like to see the resulting work of art.

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 12:03 PM

Can't believe I almost missed out on the sheer guilty pleasures that were on full display last night. So we've got online retards contending with each other to come up with the inanest whines about a minor passage because it doesn't jibe with their kindergarten conception of their pol, or because they've not seen enough fangirl paeans to their pin-up boy. This is like watching schoolkids dissing Picasso's Guernica for daring to portray the Franco regime in an unflattering light, or Cezanne's Mont Sainte-Victoire for not depicting the more deserving features of the mountain.

TW is so abundant with examples of life imitating 5th-rate comedy it's hard to resist. Do keep it up.

Posted by jem 11/29/2010 at 12:06 PM

To Jackson @ 3:10

I like the idea of changing tournament basics to make thing fair to everyone. How about we play the French Open on indoor hard court and the YEC on outdoor red clay? Would that be fair?

Posted by Red⁺ = Legacy Solidified 11/29/2010 at 12:06 PM

Good morning everyone.
In all fairness, Rafa did look a touch slower in both of his last 2 matches. His creation and his problem though.
Well here's hoping Rafa continues to grind out these 'epic' semi final matches thus wearing out himself and his opponent so that when they meet Federer in the finals he always able to collect the spoils.
Allez Roger!!

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 12:07 PM

"Also, great writing is about content and prose. Prose may be there, content not so much. Finding a way to eloquently say that you did not give a fig about a particular match is not "great writing"."

Ahhhhhhhhh.... This is... such a profound truth.... Oooooooooooh.... My head is about to explode....

Posted by Sherlock 11/29/2010 at 12:08 PM

"The Divine GOAT reigns again on HC and should be the clear favourite to repeat as Champion in Melbourne for #17!"

Tigress, can I lock you in a room with Tim so I can watch you guys argue about Fed's favorite/underdog status? :)

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 12:11 PM

"How does that "sum up" anything when the so-called (by you) nemesis just got beaten? Color me baffled! :)"

Ruth, as i said, the nemesis will lose once or twice. But, by definition he will win more than he loses to Roger. That's why he's a nemesis, otherwise he would just be another opponent.

"the way that the players were performing immediately leading up to the contest."

The bookies picked Muzz up as a favorite at AO 2009, based on his run-up. Roger scoffed at it and he was asked who he would pick (barring himself). He replied Nadal. Why? "Have you forgotten what he did in 2008?"

We all know what happened there.

A dominant #1 can usually take care of the streaky, hot players too. That is why they are dominant in the first place. In this case, it didn't happen for whatever reason. It should have happened. And Rafa won the second set. He almost did.

But until the Fed defeats Rafa on HC atleast twice in a row, I have no reason to see how this defeat of his nemesis isn't just part of the statistics (which means that he will win once or twice).

Now, if Fed was 25 yrs old...not already carrying the baggage of 14 defeats, losing 5 GS finals to his nemesis (is that a record of some sort, btw?)...then sure, he has better chances.

Players performing leading to the event can only affect the outcome so much.

Seriously, this cannot be analyzed until we have more data. Let Fed and Rafa meet on HC again...and then let's see what happens. I am willing to bet money Rafa defeats Fed.

I might have been wrong once (i.e. this time)...but if we play this game 10 times, I will be right about 7 times and be wrong only 3 times mostly. The bookies are not always right in putting the odds up.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 12:18 PM


Let's talk when there is more data. One match does not a trend make.

I won't use the word "fluke". But I am just saying the matchup, age, peakness (if there is a word), game, mental makeup dosen't put the odds in favor of Fed against his nemesis.

The trend is that Rafa will defeat Fed more than the Fed defeats Rafa. Regardless of surface. I won't use the word fluke.

Posted by Nam1 11/29/2010 at 12:19 PM

I see some special Fedfans who have been in hiding lately are creeping out slowly!!

I am not sure why some posters continue to post here that they are sick of tennis journos excusing Rafa's loss as tiredness. I have not seen any Rafa fans here say he was tired and therefore he lost.

In fact, most of us have congratulated Roger on a very good week and are quite happy at the way Rafa wound up his year.

If said Fedfans have an issue with the journos then take it up with them on Twitter etc. The rest of us ARE "tired" of hearing about it.

Posted by Mike 11/29/2010 at 12:19 PM

Ahh ... the FEDAL Wars continue. Should I cherry pick a bunch of stats that favor MY fave to battle the broken record blanket statements we've heard over ... and over ... and over ... and jump into the mix, yet again?

Naah ... ;)

It was Rafa's year, deservedly ... but Ol Fed still closed it out in style and salvaged a decent year. That tells me that when 100% Fed meets 100% Rafa ... anything can happen, with a big swing towards Rafa on clay ... slight nod to Fed on HC, about even on grass. Still ... the better man on the day wins.

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 12:20 PM

And look at these pages of dumb nonsense about Rafa's fatigue not being an "excuse" with regard to yesterday's final. Hey, kids, I'll dumb this down and explain so even you can understand. Pay attention.

When we grown-ups with a functional brain and pair of eyes infer that Rafa was tired yesterday because he seemed a step or two slower or didn't bother to chase down balls that he normally would've tried to, we're not making an "excuse," but rather an observation. We're not saying that Rafa would have beaten Fed if not for the fatigue. Also, fitness is an important element of a player's success in any event, and for some reason Rafa looked fatigued yesterday while Fed was able to keep in shape even after a long and demanding indoor season. And for that Fed was rewarded, and rightly so.

All these truisms should not be so hard to understand. Think, or, better yet, grow a brain.

Posted by Russ 11/29/2010 at 12:24 PM

Can someone please outline for me how Rafael Nadal can be

a) widely acclaimed as the "fittest player on tour" and

b) given an out for 90+% of his losses by media/fans because he was "fatigued"/"tired"/"exhausted" ?

Posted by TMFunk 11/29/2010 at 12:24 PM

lj - Agree with you that when overall H2H is 14-8, it would be wise to bet on Nadal anytime they play. Disagree with you on "regardless of surface" point. Fact is, Fed has a 6-4 edge on non-clay. So if I were betting, I'd bet on Nadal all the time on clay. Stupid not to. On other surfaces I'd look at whole suite of factors including momentum, form, surface characteristics etc to make a call on the day of the match because they are quite close on HC and grass - like I did with the finals.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 12:25 PM


That line was from Fed's presser in 2007 or of the post-AO spring hardcourt season. I don't remember which round or which tourney though. I can fish it out though if i can remember which tourney it was.

Posted by CL 11/29/2010 at 12:25 PM

Well maybe not, but it sure is fun writing...if I want Great Writing I will read a Great Book. What I want and have gotten wonderful doses of from Hannah, is the look, the mood, the whacky zoo-iness of a bunch of multi-millionaires running around chasing a tennis ball and all the attendant kabuki with fizz folderol - pressers, officials, mood lighting, music, tantrums, cow bells, miens, etc, - that go with such endeavors.

Rock on Hannah.

zenggi - done.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/29/2010 at 12:26 PM

NP, the point is, i cant remember another player in history--can you imagine Mats Wilander geting the AP to excuse him to being 'tired'?? or Lendl? Or any of the great champions?

nadal seems to be tired and exhausted at least 3-4 times a year, and lose matches as a result, the media tell us so!

is this a badge of honor, or a black mark on his reputation? too many reporters kind of pin a medal on Nadal for getting tired, which I find baffling...

grow a brain is right, media! LOL

Posted by TMFunk 11/29/2010 at 12:27 PM

hmmm...NP - lets see if your way has more success than mine... :)

Posted by Ron 11/29/2010 at 12:29 PM

"Seriously, this cannot be analyzed until we have more data. Let Fed and Rafa meet on HC again...and then let's see what happens. I am willing to bet money Rafa defeats Fed."

One more egg Luke, thump thump, just one more ....... ahhhhhhhhh he's gonna puke, whaa whaa, come on Luke, just one more .... double down cool~~

From the AP,via the NY Times:
"The top ranked Nadal, who won the...yada, yada, yada.... was able to break Federer once in the second set but he appeared to tire as the match wore on..."

This must have been a later AP post. The first one (via SI) had 30 words ending in " ... by the third set Federer easily beat the tired Nadal."
I don't remember broadcasters like Shenkel/Gonzolas use the 'tired' word once when casting a Borg/Laver match (long time ago).

Posted by CL 11/29/2010 at 12:30 PM

TMFunk -we can agree to disagree about the Tebbutt piece. For me he hangs his hat, and his bias, on this:

"By the end, a weary-looking Nadal was reduced to being a punching bag as he made a rash of unforced errors and was obviously tired or—hopefully not—injured. In this reporter’s notes was the following: “To see a physical monster like Nadal so out of character is sad, especially at the end of a big match.”

It basically discounts all that comes before and after. IMO.

Posted by Ruth 11/29/2010 at 12:31 PM

"Online retards"? Really, NP...and to think that I recently asked you to eschew "dumbass" because of its low felicitous quotient and because the repetitious use of it was getting on my nerves!

jem: Your sarcasm is noted. However, varying the surface of the YEC -- or any season ending event -- would be more akin to varying its location (good idea IMO) or changing the surfaces for Davis Cup ties than it would be to your rather odd comment about changing the surface of the one clay court Slam (or the one grass court Slam, for that matter) to a hard court.

AM (sleeping, I would guess): TC is showing your the Rezai-Serena match from your (Medibank) tourney, and I'm thinking of your many comments about Serena's "presence" on the court, something that I've missed.

I'm also thinking of how, in a TC piece, in which players were asked what they think when they lose the first set, she said confidently, "Well, I just think this is going to be a 3-set match and get ready for that." We're seeing that illustrated in this match which she won after losing the first set AND being down 1-4 to Rezai in the second. (It's at 5-5 n the second set now.)

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 12:33 PM

Tim, you're so smart you got the point perfectly. Congratulations.

TMFunk, the prospects are less than encouraging, it seems. In all seriousness, you said pretty much the same thing earlier, but in a more temperate and diplomatic manner.

Posted by CL 11/29/2010 at 12:34 PM

NP - how about this? We will all agree to "think" and/or "grow a brain," if you agree to grow some common courtesy.


Posted by Federax 11/29/2010 at 12:36 PM

Yeah Russ (12:24), I'd love to know the answer as well. This is mind-boggling double-speak.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/29/2010 at 12:39 PM


You telling us about Federer being the GOAT is like you repeatedly predicting that Federer would dominate the 2010 European clay court swing and would take Sampras' records for weeks as No. 1.

How about you get back to us with your Federer is the GOAT nonsense when Federer has won ONE Calendar Slam, like Laver did twice and Budge once, or Federer has dominated on ALL surfaces like Tilden did for over five years.

Posted by Ron 11/29/2010 at 12:40 PM

"When we grown-ups with a functional brain and pair of eyes infer that Rafa was tired yesterday because he seemed a step or two slower or didn't bother to chase down balls that he normally would've tried to, we're not making an "excuse," but rather an observation."

Some elders saw Nadal watch 100 mph fastballs go out of the strike zone, some didn't.

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 12:40 PM

Ruth, I'm always happy to oblige.

CL, a deal is not a deal unless it's a two-way transaction.

Posted by TMFunk 11/29/2010 at 12:41 PM

CL - Sure, we can agree to disagree on that. :)

One question though, just out of curiosity: Lets say we are in 2016, and a 35-year old Fed is gamely battling on, but after losing yet another match, and the final 6-1 to an overpowering young gun after slipping and sliding all over the place to try and get to balls because his movement is a shadow of its former effortless self, a reporter writes "To see the once-epitome of the grace and beauty that is tennis reduced to stumbling around desperately trying to send back one more ball over the net is sad, especially at the end of the greatest of all careers", would you feel it was a diss against the young gun who just beat him? :) Don't mean to argue the point - I just want to illustrate that I read it as a narrative on what defines Nadal as a tennis player, as opposed to an "excuse" for his loss.

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 12:42 PM

"Some elders saw Nadal watch 100 mph fastballs go out of the strike zone, some didn't."

Ron, that's why fitness is just one of the factors in a tennis match's outcome.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 12:45 PM


"Fact is, Fed has a 6-4 edge on non-clay."

Yes, but do you agree that Fed is going to have a decline? I mean its logical he will have a decline, right? In all probability, had Rafa reached USO finals, I would favor that HC H2H more lopsided in favor of Fed. But for whatever reason, it didn't happen. We have 6-4.

Now, which of the following statements is going to have the biggest impact factor?

1. Rafa reaches 24-25..statistically, the time when most players reach their peak.

2. Roger reaches 29...statistically, the time when most players are off their peak.

3. Both are all court players, one at peak age and one at not peak age.

4. One player is dominating the tour, opponent is not.

5. The player dominating the tour is at his peak.

6. The all-court player dominating the tour, and at his peak age happens to be the nemesis.

Now, 6-4..which means Fed will 60% of his matches on a HC with his nemesis. That is data over 6 years...when Fed was a peak, dominating #1 and Rafa was a clay courter. Logically at some point the Fed will have a decline, and will continue to face his nemesis who is only getting stronger.

Do you still think that if Fedal play 10 more matches on non-clay next year, the Fed will win 6 and Rafa will win only 4?

It dosen;t sound logical to me. The 6-4 is over 6 years.

I don't think its the correct indicator for the trend. From Wimby 2008 onwards, its what? 1-1? Too little data. We need a few more matches.

Surface is not an issue...6-4 is hardly showing a surface advantage for Fed. Its too close to call.

Posted by zenggi 11/29/2010 at 12:45 PM

One Spanish fact. The final attracted in Spain a TV-record audience of 5.697.000 people. Take that!

May I give to a special "grown-up" some colored contact lenses? For the other task I'm searching for Curt Morgan...


Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/29/2010 at 12:46 PM

On this blog, the posts bringing up the issue of Nadal fatigue are being overwhelmingly being generated by Rafa-haters.

Federer has a great tournaments and all these Fed-lovers' reaction is start whining about a non-issue--NOT enjoy Federer's success.

Must truly bother some Fedtards that, despite Federer winning the YEC and one major this year, Federer is still 3300 or so points behind Rafa in ATP ranking points and Rafa currently holds three of the titles for the majors.

Posted by Ron 11/29/2010 at 12:48 PM

"To see the once-epitome of the grace and beauty that is tennis reduced to stumbling around .."

Roger did take a very nasty fall yesterday, possibly injuring himself. But the narrative is the young bull couldn't take the aggressive old beachmaster and suffered a humiliating loss 6-1 in the third.

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 12:52 PM

"You telling us about Federer being the GOAT is like you repeatedly predicting that Federer would dominate the 2010 European clay court swing and would take Sampras' records for weeks as No. 1."

You disappoint me, MSF. I'm sure you know by now that the "record" for most weeks as No. 1 most likely belongs to Gonzales, not Pistol Pete.

And speaking of the two GOATs, it's interesting to note that either man's game AND resume is a virtual carbon copy of the other's (the most weeks as No. 1 are their one major common achievement). The two major differences are 1) that Gonzales won more clay-court titles, no doubt in part due to the fact that there were in general fewer rounds in his heyday, which facilitated the success of an attacking player like him (and would have Pete's, for that matter), and 2) that Gonzales had a longer career, again no doubt partly because of the financial constraints at the time.

Which is yet another illustration of how tricky it is to compare eras.

Posted by VE 11/29/2010 at 12:52 PM

Tim, ladyjulia, Mick1303 thanks for reading my post at

Mick, made the correction; thanks I did forget Safin.

Posted by zenggi 11/29/2010 at 12:53 PM


I'm relieved to read that you also noticed Roger's fall. I was asking here some 11 hours ago if I was the only fan scared by that nasty fall. I hope he is all-right.

Posted by TMFunk 11/29/2010 at 12:53 PM

lj - "6-4 is hardly showing a surface advantage for Fed. Its too close to call."

- That's exactly my point. Off clay, there is no great edge, so it comes down to form, momentum, confidence, specific surface characteristics (yes that is important - the London HC's low bounce made a difference). Off clay I wouldn't simply go with Nadal every time just because he has a 14-8 overall H2H. And I certainly wouldn't dismiss a Fed win off clay as a random event or an exception. Yes, age does matter, and that's covered under form, but hopefully if nothing else Fed has shown this week that we are not quite there yet where its a factor.

Posted by Ruth 11/29/2010 at 12:54 PM

Thank you, NP.

Oops, I meant to write "your Medibank tourny's Rezai-Serena match" in my comment directed to the absent AM.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 12:54 PM


No worries.

3300 points never lasts for ever. Roger had a bigger lead over Rafa when Roger was at his peak...and managed to hold that lead for 3 long years.

Let's see how long Rafa keeps that lead between him and #2 player.

Then its time to be worried for us Fedtards. But wait..I have three years to twiddle my thumbs while waiting for that.

Posted by Ron 11/29/2010 at 12:55 PM

"Must truly bother some Fedtards that, despite Federer winning the YEC and one major this year, Federer is still 3300 or so points behind Rafa in ATP ranking points and Rafa currently holds three of the titles for the majors."

11,000+ plus points to defend in 2011. Better lose it all in 2011, then get it all back in 2012.

Posted by TMFunk 11/29/2010 at 12:55 PM

Ron - Sorry, but you completely missed my point...

Posted by jem 11/29/2010 at 12:56 PM


The point is, sarcasm aside, the YEC has for the most part been an indoor - usually hard court- tournament. It seemed Jackson was suggesting to change the surface to favour one contestant; that was the point of my objection. I don't have a problem changing venues, per se.

Posted by marron 11/29/2010 at 12:58 PM

What... another Fedal war going on?

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah....

Congrats to Federer for an historical 5th WTF win.
Congrats to Nadal for such a great season.

Enjoy the holiday season, everyone at TW!

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/29/2010 at 12:58 PM

Russ, perhaps you should email about half the working tennis media that wise and astute question?

too many Federer wins have been tarnished by this idiotic, unsporting reference, Ive never heard of a pro athlete in the world getting sympathy for being 'tired' as much as Nads, it should embarrass him, not give him and his team a medal!

why arent they questioning his training? they ask Fed about his backhand being weak, what about Nads' fitness?

as Pat Mac said, to say he's physically spent after one 3 hour match is 'ridiculous' amen!

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/29/2010 at 01:02 PM

the Masters on clay!

what a great idea, it would put the whole world to sleep! talk about making tennis in the late fall irrelevant, ah the perspective of some Rafa kids, that deserves a big LOL!

Posted by Holds2Love 11/29/2010 at 01:04 PM

"sometimes nothing is a real cool hand."

Zenggi, sorry for my photo fail the other day. I hate when links don't. :) That wasn't the exact El Greco I had in mind, but very similar. The one you chose showed the sitter in a ruff. That reminds me of Hannah's call for the WTF players to wear traditional British garb, such as ruffs and breeches. What happened to that plan? And codpieces! ok, sorry, going for a little's been a bit tense here lately. what's that about? ;-) and also just wanting to join the chorus of praise for Hannah's 'bloody good' writing from Bercy and London. Really hoping for more in the future. Thanks, Hannah and thanks, Pete and TW.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 01:04 PM


But a decline????? That is the single most important factor for me.

I hope you know that the Fed isn't going to suddenly go and win 4 slams next year. Its frankly illogical. He isn't going to dominate the tour...and neither is he going to dominate his nemesis.

Its just way too improbable.

Its not like Rafa dosen't know how to be consistent. Guy has been in top 2 for almost 6 yrs. He can play the consistency game as well as Roger.

My prediction...if Fedal play each other in 2011...Rafa ends up with more wins than Fed. Simple. Regardless of surface.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/29/2010 at 01:04 PM

marron its not a Fedal war, its a legitimate beef with some of the media, for their ridiculous reporting, has very little to do with Nadal, he did pretty well to point out how well Rog played and how hard it is to stop him when he's in TMF mode ...

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:04 PM

NP: My, my,my! After 2 years, and I catch you again with that ole self eschewing fire! Ha-ha! But how are you buddy?

Congrats to Federer, and for a brilliant game.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 11/29/2010 at 01:08 PM

hello folks
there's nothing humiliating about Rafas loss yesterday, given the year the guys had. Humiliating is a certain thumping Roger took at the French Open.
Rafas accomplishments are only enhanced by the fact he is doing it against 'The Federer'. Roger has very few trophies that are not in his possession( two of the biggest in tennis come to mind) , the real question is, when or will he surpass Rogers slam tally, off the clay. I don't think Rafa is going to win 5 or more USO's or AO's, I'm not convinced he will get more than three each of those 2

Posted by Madhatter 11/29/2010 at 01:09 PM

This type of reporting from a fan perspective has its place in the blog especially if it is about the players the author is partial to. On the other hand, it can be quite underwhelming for a large base of fans of certain players she has no inclination to cover.

My suggestion for Pete is to have a pool/line-up of avid volunteer writers (who are capable of covering the tennis, of course) to write about matches featuring their favored players - you can even have 2 for each match, showing the proceedings from opposing angles.

Gauloises has a good eye in capturing the mood of the moment. Just too bad for me she is not Federer fan.

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:12 PM

And sorry for Nadal for getting "tired". Blame it on Murray for this one. That was a good match!

If Roger is rested, well...that's the secret of it all. Finish your opponents in the shortest possible time in preparation for the big event. I call it being wise.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 01:13 PM


PMac said it was "nonsense".

But I think Rafa handled it well in the presser...he gave a fair answer. The journos are journos anyway. They do not write history. The players do, and this round goes to the Fed.

Rafa could have been playing with one leg for all i care. He couldn't defeat the #2 player when he had the chance. The stats are stats.

Posted by Ruth 11/29/2010 at 01:13 PM

lj: I understand your position on this matter; that's why I am baffled by your choosing to quote to me a definition of "nemesis" that indicated that the nemesis "cannot be beaten" when Federer had just beaten the player you see as his nemesis. Not a major issue, just a bit confusing.

Posted by zenggi 11/29/2010 at 01:14 PM

I think Novak with a full beard would look like El Greco. :) Which painted had you chosen? "The Knight with a hand on his chest"? That's very Novak as well. :)

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 01:17 PM


That was in response to your post on the previous thread. On why I pick the nemesis and not my fave.

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 01:18 PM

"6-4 is hardly showing a surface advantage for Fed. Its too close to call."

Yes, and note the small sample size. Apparently not many people have taken or are well versed in Statistics 101.

The only surface advantage you can gather from the H2H is Rafa's on clay. But that doesn't mean 6-4 doesn't matter one iota. The # means, simply, that they've played 10 matches off clay, which tells us we have 10 matches to watch and study and then put forth how they match up against each other off clay. And my impression is that Rafa is simply a tough match-up for Fed on any non-clay surface except indoors. It's not that Fed doesn't play his best against Rafa, but rather that Rafa's lefty serve and heavy topspin make it very hard for Fed to play his best. Just recall what Rafa as a rookie was able to do against Fed in their 1st 3 meetings on HCs. And the whole cliche about Fed having some sort of a "mental block" against his main rival is bunk. For that you can check out their H2H from the '06 FO to the end of 2007, when Fed went on to win every one of their encounters except '07 Monte Carlo and RG. Yeah, what a "mental block" that was.

The H2H is what it is. No need to spin it away or dismiss it altogether.

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 01:18 PM

Howdy, Ren. Good to see ya. How you been? Still trekking the globe?

Posted by Sebastiaced 11/29/2010 at 01:19 PM

incredible display of play and tactics from mr federer through all the tourney not only with nadal, my predictions for the next year for the top 8 men are: nadal wont even win 1 slam, he would win 2 masters and no more.
roger: would win one slam (Usopen), 3 masters if he keep playing like he did at the atp finals. djokovic would win the aussie open, one master. murray wont win any slam, but would win 2 masters. soderling would win the french open and one masters. berdych would reach one slam semifinal and no more. and for ferrer as well roddick would be out of the top ten, winning each one only one tournament but no masters and wouldn´t reach even a slam quarterfinal (maybe roddick if hes playing at his best) but not pass this stage.

Posted by Andrew 11/29/2010 at 01:20 PM

Morning, all.

I find myself in the happy position of agreeing with NP in substance, even if I wouldn't express it as caustically as NP's preferred mode.

The drum I keep banging is talk about what you see, and leave the history writing and myth making to others. In Rome 2006, Federer played tough 3 set QF/SF matches back to back, then took on Nadal in a 5 set classic that went to 5 all in a 5th set TB. At no time, watching that match, did I think "Federer looks tired." Nadal deserved to win the match.

In Madrid 2009, Nadal played a tough 3 set match against Djokovic then took on Federer in an interesting match decided in two sets. At no time, watching that match, did I think "Nadal looks tired." Federer deserved to win the match.

In London 2010, Nadal played a tough 3 set match against Murray then took on Federer in an interesting match decided in three sets. Watching that match, from the first set onwards I thought to myself "Hmmm, that's unusual, Nadal looks tired." Federer deserved to win the match.

In just about all the independent reports on the match, and at both players' press conferences, journalists who'd seen the match noted that Nadal's energy level looked low, and (being bright sorts) made a connection to the scrap with Murray the day before. Neither player made an issue of it.

On this board, just about without exception the Nadal fans haven't made an issue of it, and have congratulated Federer (and his fans) for a good match, while praising Nadal for a wonderful 2010 season. I'm delighted (this time) to stand in their company.

Some (not all) Federer fans appear to be affronted that people have remarked on the evidence of their own eyes. It's a headscratcher to me.

BTW, Tigress - I don't call any three set match a clean kill unless it's decided in straight sets (a five set match can be a clean kill if it's decided 3-1 or 3-0). Yesterday was a three setter, so not a clean kill.

As of Monday, I couldn't be happier with the outcome of the tournament. Rafael Nadal is one of the great players of the Open Era, so seeing my favorite player defeat him in the final of a big tournament is a fine result.

I noted yesterday that Federer defeated the world nos 7, 5, 4, 3 and 1 (in that order) to win the tournament - the hardest possible set of opponents he could have faced. If it wasn't his finest hour, it ranks among them. Since Wimbledon, and since adding Annacone to his team, Federer has gained 5530 ATP Ranking Points - ahead of Nadal (4220), Djokovic (3390) and Murray (2985). He's physically fit, motivated, and playing well. Works for me.

I wrote yesterday that Federer and Nadal are playing very long games. With luck, we'll still be writing about them being at or near the top of the ATP three years from now, hopefully with some new greats - Del Potro, Dolgopolov, Dimitrov, Nishikori, who else - as well.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 01:20 PM


This will make you happy and end the favorite wars a bit. Jon W in todya's article:

"Rafael Nadal seemed a clear pick over Roger Federer in London but lost a thriller"

Ruth and xfan...looks like Jon W thinks like me :-)

Posted by Sebastiaced 11/29/2010 at 01:21 PM

pos: if roddick plays well, not like roddick but like rodjerk (like he did at the atp finals), if hes in rodjerk mode he would even reach the second round of any slam...........

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:21 PM

"Grow a brain." -NP

NP makes me laugh really. Don't be bothered by his antics. He knows that in argumentation, such is fallacious. Never bite his bait.

Posted by Sebastiaced 11/29/2010 at 01:23 PM

i forget to say that if in any match at the slams the thins aren´t going roddicks way, roddick enters automatically in rodjerk mode, jelling and blaming the chairump for losing the match

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:23 PM

NP, yes I still am...I will be ending my contract early next year, but am hoping to enter a new one. I want to go see Nepal or Mongolia.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/29/2010 at 01:24 PM


As far as Pancho's abilities on clay; I get the sense that Rosewall was a better clay court player over a longer period of time.

However, I haven't researched Pancho's clay court abilities versus that of his contemporaries much, so I don't have a sense of how good he was on clay when he was fully motivated and had done the necessary pre-match training.

As I've repeatedly said, almost anyone who says that ONE particular player is the GOAT is not qualified to make such an assessment because they do not have the requisite background and knowledge--and that includes Andrew Murray, Rafa, J.McEnroe, and many others

"AT" (ALL TIME) is part of "GOAT." If someone is yapping about a particular person being the GOAT without having seen hours and hours of players like Tilden and Pancho in competition, then that person is talking out of his or her ass.

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:25 PM

SHERLOCK, you around?

Posted by Carol 11/29/2010 at 01:27 PM

"Grow a brain" who are talking and talking about Rafa's fatigue? just Federer KADS, nobody else

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:27 PM

so still talkin about the GOAT, eh!

Let both men write history, and when they write 30, we discuss.

Posted by TMFunk 11/29/2010 at 01:28 PM

well, evidently only points made in a caustic and mocking manner here are recognized, not when the same point is made in a temperate and diplomatic manner (NP's words, not mine) **sulks off**

Posted by NP 11/29/2010 at 01:28 PM

Ren, if you enjoy it that much, go for it. You only live once.

So where are you making your quarters these days?

Posted by Holds2Love 11/29/2010 at 01:28 PM

zenggi, yes, that's the one.

Posted by Nam1 11/29/2010 at 01:28 PM

Andrew at 1.20 pm

Thank you for being so calm and collected and fair in the heat of comments flying here.

Posters like yourself keep this place from descending into complete mayhem at times.

hats off to you , sir!!

Posted by Sebastiaced 11/29/2010 at 01:29 PM

the terrible and undesirable truth for nadal fans is: Federer is greater and better player than nadal, and in yesterday´s final was the proof of that, prediction federer would win every match with nadal from now on, oh and nadal did win three slams because federer was not playing good tennis.... the next year nadal wont even one 1 slam...

Posted by CL 11/29/2010 at 01:30 PM

TMFunk - to answer you question...well, but then it would make a kind of sense, no? Because Fed would be the oldster. Fed IS the oldster. Yesterday he was spotting Rafa 5 years. No one has yet answered why Rafa should have been more tired that Fed. Muzz match? What about the 5 weeks off? What about the day off between RRs? What about the fact that Fed had played a hail of a lot more tennis coming in? Or that he, again, played the second semi. If the journos are going to report that, to their eyes, Rafa looked tired, might it not also be their responsibility to question why he SHOULD be tired, given his age and fitness levels? Tireder than the relatively old guy across the net.

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:30 PM

That jump of triumph from Federer is funny!

Posted by Nam1 11/29/2010 at 01:31 PM

"Jon W in todya's article:Rafael Nadal seemed a clear pick over Roger Federer in London but lost a thriller"

Jon must be listening to all the people twittering him about his tweet saying Nadal looked tired yesterday!!

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:32 PM

NP...still in the Caribbean...bound for Brazil yet again.

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:32 PM

NP...still in the Caribbean...bound for Brazil yet again.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/29/2010 at 01:32 PM

Carol do you read the media? is Reuters a Fed KAD? Or the Times? or ESPN? i mean at least be educated and informed when you post something please...thanks

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/29/2010 at 01:33 PM

Ren! *waves hello*

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:34 PM

Sorry for the double post. yay!

Posted by patricia 29 11/29/2010 at 01:35 PM


Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:35 PM

Hi Jewell...howdy... was just droppin by, and saw NP wreaking havoc in this thread!LOL!

Posted by Andrew 11/29/2010 at 01:36 PM

Eek. Two separate posts from NP where I'm nodding my head vigorously? Whodathunkit? :-)

Nadal's clay dominance is statistically significant. Assume (hypothesis) that Federer and Nadal are equally good clay court players, and each has a 50% chance of winning any given match. The chance that Federer would have a 2-10 record, or worse, on clay against Nadal given this hypothesis, is just under 2%. Statisticians generally reject results under 5%. So the H2H clearly supports the assertion that Nadal is a better player on clay than Federer.

On non clay, the record is now 6-4 Federer. Let's use the same hypothesis - that non-clay outcomes are an independent coin flip. Then there's a 38% chance that Nadal would have won 4 or fewer matches, so we cannot reject the hypothesis that Nadal is a poorer player on non clay (the sample size for indoor is way too small to say anything meaningful).

We can, if we wish, do the same calcs for all 22 matches (note that this would implicitly be on the basis that surfaces don't count, which many of us would disagree with). If any given match on any surface between these two players was a pure coin flip, the chances that Federer would end up winning 8 or fewer matches is about 14% - so statisticians would say the evidence doesn't allow us to reject the null hypothesis. In English, a 14-8 lead isn't statistically significant.

I prefer to say that Nadal is a clear favorite on clay, not so on other surfaces. YMMV.

Posted by Nam1 11/29/2010 at 01:36 PM

CL said:"No one has yet answered why Rafa should have been more tired that Fed. "

Maybe the reason no one has answered why Rafa should be more tired is because none of us here on this board (Rafa fans) think he should have been more tired than Roger.

It is the media that had put it out that he looked tired, no Rafa fan here said it as I recall. The only ones who keep bringing it up are those who quoted the media such as Tim, Federax, etc.

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:37 PM

With the way Murray is playing, he can surely give Nadal a run for his money next year.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 01:38 PM


Yes, he did listen to them. His reply to them was not to taint the match.

Posted by Carol 11/29/2010 at 01:38 PM

Tim, are you talking about education and informed with the that usually you do?

Posted by @work 11/29/2010 at 01:39 PM

I'm almost afraid to post today since I don't like confrontation (some may translate that to being a chicken) ;-)

Anyway, I've decided to conquer my fear because I wanted to express my gratitude to Gauloises/Hannah for her reports which allowed me to get a glimpse into this tournament from miles away.

Also, many congratulations to Roger Federer and his fans on a brilliant tournament and a fantastic win yesterday!

Not much to say about Rafa other than he was outplayed yesterday.
If not for a short dip in Fed's level in the second set we may have not seen a third set.

And finally, all this 'tired' talk is getting really 'tiring' (as someone said upthread)
If I were a Fed fan I wouldn't be focusing on what others say but celebrating this victory.
I guess as a Rafa fan I've had enough practice ignoring the outside noise since Rafa is constantly accused of everything under sun: cheating, drugs, ugly tennis, fake humility, poor taste...
Bring on 2011 and hopefully a Rafa slam :-)

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 01:39 PM

patricia need to shout, is there?


Posted by TMFunk 11/29/2010 at 01:40 PM

CL - Guess I didn't articulate well enough coz you missed my point as well. So let me try again: What endears Nadal to a lot of his fans is his on-court energy and ability and desire to go after every single ball with relentless intensity. So when that is missing in a match, it is sad for a lot of Nadal fans. I felt that sadness is all the author was expressing.

My analogy was that, Federer's grace and apparent effortlessness on court endears him to a lot of HIS fans, including me, so when and if that goes missing, it is sad for a lot of Federer fans. I know it will be for me. So basically its about the sadness stemming from your fav no longer displaying that quality or skill that **makes** him your fav. It isn't about whether one is older or younger, more tired, less tired than the other etc. Don't know if that made any more sense... :)

Posted by Nam1 11/29/2010 at 01:40 PM

"Yes, he did listen to them. His reply to them was not to taint the match."

Good for him, I am glad that at least some journos will take responsibility for what they write and respond to theur readers.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/29/2010 at 01:41 PM

Jon W's article:

"Expect the unexpected:

If one the requisite elements of a rivalry is unexpected outcomes, well, Nadal-Federer fills the bill here, too. Rafael Nadal came into their match Sunday in the final of the Barlcay's ATP World Tour Championship looking like a world-beater, ranked No. 1, defending champion of the past three majors and lording a 14-7 head-to-head record over his nemesis. Federer, though second in the rankings, had lost some of that aura in 2010. Yet Federer took out Nadal, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, with a blend of impeccable serving and opportunistic attacking. It was a vivid reminder of his gifts and his prospects for 2011. It was also eloquent reminder of why we love the oscillating nature of a rivalry."

Posted by CL 11/29/2010 at 01:42 PM

Andrew - in your back breaking effort to be fair, you are, imo, painting w/much too broad a brush. I won't pretend to speak for all Fed fans, but I have repeatedly said over the last few hours, 1.) that most Rafa fans are not making any claim of tiredness, 2.) even those who have, its all fine by me as sometimes being a fan requires a trip to rationalizationville, one I have often made myself, and 3.) MY problem is not with what has been written by either Fed fans or Rafa fans here, but rather, the meme that is playing out in the press. A narrative that they, the press, has latched onto like a dog with an especially tasty bone; ' Nadal is a gritty, monster athlete. Nadal never gives up. Nadal is the toughest player, mentally as well as physically, on the tour. Therefore, when Nadal loses it must be because Nadal is tired or injured.' Never just because he has been outplayed.

"Some (not all) Federer fans appear to be affronted that people have remarked on the evidence of their own eyes. It's a headscratcher to me."

Your post at 1:20 is, imo, a borderline cheap shot at some, (not all) Fed fans.

What remains a "head scratcher to me" is why the young guy can't, apparently, if all those oh so objective eyes are correct, keep up.

Posted by Ren 11/29/2010 at 01:42 PM

Like the statistical analyis Andrew. Must have grown that brain too much!

Posted by Sebastiaced 11/29/2010 at 01:43 PM

nadal a.k.a. Dickhead shows up with the same excuses when he lost a match, examples? 2010 australian open, 2009 french open. i repeat that nadal wont win even one slam, federer would win one if he keep playing like he did at finals, if he improves that performance therefore he will win all 4 slams, nadal a tennis legend? please....... a bad loser doesnt deserve to be remembered like a tennis great.. and less like the best player of all time

Posted by Madhatter 11/29/2010 at 01:44 PM

I usually agree with Andrew on his take on a lot of things about tennis. In fact, I look for it on these blogs. This time I couldn't disagree more. I did not see that Nadal lost on account of tiredness, or it even being a factor of his loss. If it was a straight set loss, there might have been a case for it. But when Nadal won the 2nd set? There was no Federer fan who thought Fed had this wrapped in a nice bow. Was Nadal dispirited that Roger was playing so well in the 3rd after the let down in the 2nd set? I thought so. For the first 2 sets - it was up and down. Had Nadal won - I doubt there would be any issue of fatigue at all.

This "whining" from Fed fans is not because of ungraciousness of the opposing fans. It is that we are tired of reading headlines such as "Federer Defeats Exhausted Nadal" - as if Roger's efforts have nothing to do with it and that was the first time Roger had won a match up against his nemesis. It seems to me the media has a packaged narrative for every Nadal loss. The only thing some fans can do is somehow try to dispel that notion by posting on these blogs.

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