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Around the World in 1000 Words 11/30/2010 - 12:40 PM

Debut by Pete Bodo

Hey, anybody know who won the final in that tournament in London over the weekend?

Seriously, though, Roger Federer's win over his nemesis Rafael Nadal this weekend brings with it a significant sense of "closure," at least to the tournament year in tennis. But, as I wrote in a post for ESPN, "closure" works better following an unexpected tragedy or bout in a court of law than in sports. So let's remember, there's still this little matter of the Davis Cup final coming over the weekend.

***

Bad News for Davis Cup Reformers

The run-up to this Davis Cup final vividly demonstrates the significance of the tournament to all but the most transcendent of international stars, and it ought to resonate with those who cling to the idea, promoted mostly in the American Davis Cup-averse media, that the premier annual international team sports competition is passé, or of no interest to anyone not wearing a seersucker suit and straw boater.

When Novak Djokovic said the impending Davis Cup final in Belgrade (where Serbia will host France) was a distraction that prevented him from perhaps having the kind of World Tour Finals he would ordinarily hope for, you know that this "nobody really cares about Davis Cup" meme is somewhat threadbare. And guess what? The increasing number of emerging, top-quality players from nations other than the U.S. is only going to boost the luster of the competition. 

Belgrade may not be a major tennis capital (yet) or media center, but if this final delivers what it promises, Djokovic may pull off a John McEnroe. When McEnroe arrived on the scene, Davis Cup was at low ebb in the U.S. He reinvigorated it, and it's safe to say he took the whole world with him. It was simply because he believed in the concept and credibility of Davis Cup. Also, McEnroe more or less shamed a number of his countrymen, including Vitas Gerulaitis and (briefly) Jimmy Connors into re-examining their indifference to the competition. So forget the problems of marketing Davis Cup, the so-called overloaded calendar, the trials of having to play a Davis Cup tie in the after glow of a major). The blunt truth is that top players—most top players—have the utmost respect for the competition and do their best to take part in it.

The Bureaucrat

While next weekend will belong to Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic and company, this last one was all Federer's, although he did recognize his own supporting cast of two, even though neither man lifted a racket. After winning, Federer acknowledged the impact Paul Annacone has had on his results since they began working in earnest in June. Here's the exact quote from The Mighty Fed:

"I had to regain some confidence. That only comes through winning matches. After having somewhat of a disappointing clay season, Halle, Wimbledon stretch, where I wasn't able to win any tournaments and didn't play my best tennis, played a bit passive, it was important that I was able to pick up my game. I started moving better, started feeling well physically and mentally. I'm sure Paul has helped in this regard. So has Severin (Luthi). That's why I'm very happy with my team at this stage of the season."

This is typical Federer commentary, and it confirms the feeling that the guy could have a heckuva second career after tennis as something like a high-ranking UN official. Notice the baroque, elusive touches. "I'm sure Paul has helped. . ." not simply, "Paul really helped. . ." What exactly did he mean by "happy with my team at this stage of the season?" I thought the season was over. Note the patient stating of the obvious: "It was important that I was able to pick up my game."  How about the nod to Severin Luthi (how many part-time coaches can one guy have)?

The instinct to spread around the credit and not give anyone too big—or small—a share, to not leave anyone out while also not admitting to over-reliance on anyone, is typical Federer and not all that different from the hard-working bureaucrat's mindset. And yes, I know that you could parse anyone's comments, delivered in a press conference, in a similar fashion. There's a lot of fat and grisle in most conversations. But TMF's is of a certain kind that I believe sheds a little light on his personality. I have to admit that this manner of speech and the thinking it implies leaves me a little cold, because, hail, it is cold.

I don't want to take credit away from Luthi; he's served Federer steadily if, to us, opaquely. That's fine. But from here it looks like the big change in Federer's attitude as well as certain aspects of Federer's game, owe to Annacone, the apostle of aggressive, "show your opponent that you're Roger Federer and he's not" tennis. Or, if you prefer something less blunt and more literal: "Play to your strengths." (As in,  don't just bunt back some kind of return with your shotmaking arsenal.)

The rounded edges of Federer's speech can be explained various ways, starting with his talent for and presumed desire to avoid making waves. Note that Federer divulged no state secrets in praising Annacone and Luthi and contrast that to what we know about the working relationship between, say, Andy Roddick and Larry Stefanki, or even the late-career technical analyses freely offered by Andre Agassi, or even the obsession with the role of character in tennis so often indulged by Boris Becker.

Ironically, Federer's approach brings to mind something Becker once told me about Annacone's other iconic protégé, Sampras. I paraphase: Pete has a great talent for setting up walls that keep the rest of the world out and help him stay focused on his mission. You could say the same of Federer.

Three Things You Can't Avoid. . .

It's funny, but the news in tennis tends to come in bunches having a greater relation to the Grand Slam and Masters calendars than any other factor. That's because outifts like the ATP and WTA like to drop their big news items during moments when the eyes of the world are focused on tennis. Hence, it was a pretty big week for all kinds of news, resounding as well as ephemeral. Did you see that Serena Williams pulled out of Hopman Cup as well as the Australian Open? She's still recuperating from surgery and issued a heartfelt promise that she'd be back and "better than ever."

Rere Maybe, when she's fully healed, Serena could have a heart-to-heart with 40-year old Kimiko Date Kumm, who recently averred that she may not be able to compete in the next Asian games (she lost in the semis this year) because by then she'll be 44 years old. I'm just hoping Serena and her sister Venus Williams can stick around long enough to hit, say, 32. On the other hand, starting in their late 20s, players are basically hostages to the unpredictable master, injury.

Kimiko said she's been feeling the strain of top-grade WTA tennis in her 40-year-old body, and I say we need to immediately launch a Don't go, Kimiko! campaign. I'm not a sentimentalist who thinks players ought to quit while they're on top or near it. Play as long as you want and can, knowing that there are three things in life you can't avoid: death, taxes and the WTA or ATP ranking/entry system. That's something Serena will have to deal with as well, if and when she returns. She'll probably be out of the Top 10 by then.

Spouting off the Starboard Bow. . .

How about that tempest in a teapot in Wales, where the chief executive of Welsh Rugby Union got his shorts all in a bunch because the BBC stayed with that thrilling Andy Murray vs. Rafael Nadal match at the World Tour Finals. Because of the length of that match, viewers were denied the first seven minutes of a match between the Welsh and the All-Blacks (New Zealand). It's usually tennis advocates complaining about the lack of respect they get in the big picture, so while I sympathize with the Welsh, all I can say is:  a food chain is not a pretty thing, try to live with it.

***

Well, I'm already over my promised 1000 words, and I haven't even touched on the Aussie old guard, who are back in the news. John Newcombe called out 18-year-old Bernard Tomic for being in poor physical shape (while admitting he doesn't actually know what Tomic is—or isn't—doing, fitness-wise), and Tony Roche is back for another stint as Lleyton Hewitt's coach.

Let's leave the implications of those two items for the start of next year, when we'll be homing in on Melbourne and the Australian Open. For those of you who care, this is a spinoff of the News of the Day, which was a hard format to float because it appeared at random, and often dwelt on items (as does this piece) that are not exactly hot off the presses.

But this, or something like it, probably will become a regular feature at TennisWorld except during weeks when I'm traveling and providing on-site coverage. I'll try to keep to the word count, too. . .


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Posted by Jonathan 11/30/2010 at 04:41 PM

Federer's win yesterday over Nadal was huge for the game of tennis. Huge. This is a rivalry that needs to continue to propel into the future to ensure that tennis remains popular. Currently, many people only know the name Federer and Nadal in regards to professional tennis players. With Nadal's great success this year, it felt as though Federer was starting to fad out and Nadal was being to take dominance in the sport, a sport that is in need of us this rivalry. I’m glad that Roger won and sent the tour a message that he is still here and hes not going anywhere.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/30/2010 at 04:42 PM

His "showbiz side" gets put to use back home, bringing massive attention to the sport. Who knows if he'll play on into his 30s - but this guy didn't imagine him playing past the age of 25! I just laughed that off - plus, I was completely freaked out to meet a lurker at a birthday brunch for an old pal.

Posted by Ruth 11/30/2010 at 04:44 PM

Yes, I've read acknowledgements of teams that were more enthusiastic and endearing than Roger's, but I've also read and heard more that were more off-putting to me. I'll mention only those players who behave as if the mere mention of the NAMES of their team members or support groups would cause them (the players) to choke on their tongues or burst into flames. It's only "my team," "my team" -- never thanks to Tom or Dick or Mary specifically. So, forget about hearing any details about what the unnamed team members do.

Posted by Grant uncovers more anti-Fed accusations from Pete, hidden in the post! Get your pitchforks! 11/30/2010 at 04:49 PM

"Roger Federer's ... nemesis ... is that ... over-reliance on ... setting up walls that keep ... Asian ... hostages to the ... death."

How dare you call yourself a journalist, etc

Posted by CWATC 11/30/2010 at 04:54 PM

MSF,
Galahad just wrote that without Fed Rafa would have zero MORE hardcourt slams, not 0 slams.
Thought he just meant that since Fed never beat Rafa in a hardcourt slam, if Fed didn't exist Rafa would likely have still won the same # of slams he did.

Posted by Legoboy 11/30/2010 at 04:55 PM

gives a *thumbs up*

I likey!

Posted by mary.s. 11/30/2010 at 04:56 PM

Maybe Pete became the new ¨S. Reed¨. He writes silly articles and wants to receive 100000000000 answers. ;) (and 1 more with mine)
Man up!


Posted by Grant 11/30/2010 at 04:57 PM

psst msf: i think he's asserting that, since fed has not defeated rafa in a hardcourt slam, rafa's hardcourt slam numbers would be the same (or at least no less) had fed not been around.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/30/2010 at 05:02 PM

CWATC, Grant:

Thanks for the assistance in reading comprehension.

Let me reread the pertinent post for one or more other gems.

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 11/30/2010 at 05:02 PM

I think Pete needs a longer off-season; and, at least this year, he deserves one.

Posted by Tic 11/30/2010 at 05:02 PM

"How are those knees, Brutus, all right ?"

Seems decent enough. Rafa was apparently able to hobble somehow to his favourite Spanish restaurant in London the night after the final. A pic with the staff there:
http://tinyurl.com/3xg4k53

Monday/Tuesday he reportedly dragged himself to San Sebastian (Basque Country), for some business & pleasure:
http://s3.postimage.org/6crxqf7it/155960_468578566025_64822581025_5797567_4887916.jpg
http://s3.postimage.org/6dkxaj74l/nadal3_647x338.jpg

Tuesday evening he was surely wheelchaired to Madrid, and was seen arriving to a gala sports awards televised thing:
http://s2.postimage.org/55mfybe7p/image.jpg

Granted, all this moving about does not make him match ready. But, he said he'll resume training after one week of such frantic moving about which he considers as his vacation days.

Posted by Alexis 11/30/2010 at 05:03 PM

First time I've been here in a while, but wanted to comment on the World Tour Finals. It was a great event and a good showing for both Fed and Nadal. Obviously Nadal making the final after not winning a set last year was great for him. And Federer winning this important title for the 5th time (tying Sampras and Lendl) is wonderful for him.

I'm over-the-moon for Roger beating all his closest rivals. He's had a fantastic run since Wimbledon and it bodes well for 2011.

As for Fed and Nadal - great respect shown by both them and their families all week: Mirka and Roger's mother stayed behind after Fed's match to clap for Rafa when he was presented his #1 trophy and SE award. When Roger left the court and saw Rafa in the tunnel waiting to go out in the arena to receive his two awards, Roger hugged Rafa and congratulated him. After the final as Roger made his way to his room, Rafa's mother and sister hugged Roger and congratulated him in the hallway.

Despite the animosity between many Roger and Rafa fans, it is clear that there is no such animosity between the two of them or their camps.

I salute both Roger and Rafa. Good job, guys.

Posted by Corrie 11/30/2010 at 05:05 PM

mary.s., you're dead right there. That's the trouble with blog writers, the more provocative their comments are the more attention they get, so the more it pays to write silly things that will rile people.

I don't think Novak will retire early. He's showing a lot of determination this year. He plays a lot. He looks a thoroughly committed player to me. If anyone might get fed up with the pressure and endless scrutiny it's Murray.

Posted by GC20 11/30/2010 at 05:06 PM

Well I saw Federer practice with Monfils for two hours at the Open this year and here's what I observed from the coaches. Annacone would pick up balls and toss them to Luthi who would then hit the balls back to either Federer or Roger Rasheed (Monfils coach). At the changeovers Federer would sit and chat with Thierry Henri. I'm sure Annacone has helped Federer but I'm also sure Fed would be doing just fine without him.

Posted by temes 11/30/2010 at 05:13 PM

I did not find a cold, baroque bureaucrat in Feds words and in fact I never even look for such things when reading players pressers. Gee I feel like such a simple minded individual now. Feel free to patronize me.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/30/2010 at 05:13 PM

Okay:

Galahad Whatever writes the following:

"So it is Fed's very skill on all surfaces - including far exceeding Rafa on hard court - that skews the H2H". . . and

"While clay is interesting and welcome, it is sort of like major league softball vs. major league hardball."

The ASSertion that Federer's skill on hardcourts far exceeds Rafa's is total nonsense.

At 24, Rafa has won an AO, a U.S. Open, reached two U.S. Open semis and reached one AO semi.

How much better had Federer done in hardcourt majors by the age of 24? Not much at all.

Trying to denigrate clay court tennis vis a vis hard court tennis is ridiculous.

Majors have been contested on clay since the mid-1920s. They've been contested on hard courts only since the late 1970s.

This historical factor and many other factors totally undermine the idiotic notion that clay court tennis takes a backseat to any other surface.

Without Rafa, Fed would likely have three to four more French Open titles.
Without Fed, Rafa would have zero more hardcourt slam titles.
That about says it all.
Let's see if Rafa can get to few more hardcourt finals of any sort and see what happens to him.

Posted by Ruth 11/30/2010 at 05:15 PM

Wasn't (or isn't) Luthi captain of the Swiss DC team? I'd assume that he must have some tennis and management cred to hold that position.

Pete: I'm glad you pointed out that almost all of the top players -- from Nadal to Roddick to Djokovic et al -- support and play for their countries' DC teams. Instead of focussing on that fact -- the almost full-to-the-brim cup -- people often waste a lot of energy and bandwith talking about which top players don't play and why and why not. Hope that we've moved past that stuff this DC mini-season.

Posted by Tic 11/30/2010 at 05:19 PM

Repeat of Rafa at Cambio de Tercio:
http://twitpic.com/3bfyu9/full

BTW, the restaurant did the same photo-op for David Ferrer (as well as for any Spanish celeb that would dine there):
http://twitpic.com/3bg3yy/full

Posted by Michele 11/30/2010 at 05:21 PM

No sympathy for the Wales Rugby game. Why didn't they just delay the start of the game the way they do every year at the US Open so some early season football game can end?! Pffft!

Posted by Caroline 11/30/2010 at 05:24 PM

At WTF from where I was sitting I had a good view of Roger's box during the match with Murray. Annacone and Luthi talked often and animatedly, with lots of laughter. Looked like a pretty positive and relaxed relationship to me. But maybe I caught them on a good day:)

Posted by Eva 11/30/2010 at 05:25 PM

Ajde Novak! Ajde Serbia! How exciting.

Posted by Christopher 11/30/2010 at 05:28 PM

Wilson75-- Thanks for the link to that NYT article. I like Paul A's comment about the depth of Federer's "took kit." I've loved seeing him develop new shots, like the FH drop shot, and draw on that huge talent.

Rafa is clearly another player who is very open (perhaps even more so) to changing his game and developing new shots. Very fun to watch from both players.

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 11/30/2010 at 05:28 PM

and rafa and roger's camps get along fine because neither is blaming losses on exhaustion, unlike half the worldwide media and a klan of mama lions!

oops there goes that voice in my head again! gah!

Posted by temes 11/30/2010 at 05:28 PM

I don't know whoever coach ASSerted to Federer that he needs to be more aggressive deserves a medal because I've been thinking all year that being too passive is his problem. Something hasn't been clicking in the sublime so a change of tactic was in order. Surely he can't pull off the level in WTF all the time but I'm sure it's the key to some more glorious moments next year instead of being bullied around the court.

Posted by Caroline 11/30/2010 at 05:29 PM

At WTF from where I was sitting I had a good view of Roger's box during the match with Murray. Annacone and Luthi talked often and animatedly, with lots of laughter. Looked like a pretty positive and relaxed relationship to me. But maybe I caught them on a good day:)

Posted by temes 11/30/2010 at 05:31 PM

Oh by the way Pete great choice of picture of Serena!

Posted by temes 11/30/2010 at 05:33 PM

Severin Luthi sounds like some villain in Harry Potter lol.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 05:37 PM

Michele: Because sporting events are run by the actual sporting organisation not TV as is the case in the US.

Posted by Amit 11/30/2010 at 05:40 PM

Excerpts from Bruce Jenkins' column on Sports Illustrated -

1)"All you need to know about the season running too long: For the first time all year -- perhaps his entire career -- Nadal looked flat and disheartened at the finish. He's the stampeding warrior who fights for every point,yet as Federer's climactic forehand sailed long (most of the fans seemed to feel that way), Nadal just surrendered. He's far too classy to make excuses in defeat, but tennis.com's Pete Bodo said Nadal's voice "creaked with fatigue" in the post-match interview."

A professional tennis writer, writing for a premier magazine, thinks this is the first time in his entire career that Nadal has been flat in the autumn/winter? Precisely how much tennis has he watched Nadal play?

Given the "stampeding warrior fighting for every point" theme that the media insists on, the fatigue and/or injury narrative writes itself. Why else would a stampeding warrior lose? A very easy out for lazy journalism, in my opinion.

2)"Tennis fans are used to classic outdoor settings when things really get important. The London arena came across as a weird sort of blue-on-blue affair, perhaps lifted from the Disney catalogue. It was wonderful television if you like aquariums."

Cheap shot much? What exactly is the problem with the venue and the tennis that happened last week? We saw some fabulous tennis (Roddick/Rafa, Murray/Rafa and bits of Fed/Rafa) and none of the players have complained about the venue, as far as I can tell. Why are journalists who weren't there all knotted up about the irrelevance of the event and the ambience of O2 ?

3)"Nadal owns nine major titles as the tennis year ends. When the tour starts preparing for Wimbledon next summer, he'll have 11. He'll be intensely motivated to turn the Australian Open into a "Rafa Slam" -- the distinction of holding all four major titles at once -- and nobody's beating him in Paris"

Very well, let's just reconvene in Wimbledon then. Just make sure the rest of the tour knows this.

For anyone interested: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/bruce_jenkins/11/29/atp.finals.roger.federer.rafael.nadal/index.html

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 05:42 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et4fVSUY93c

Annacone interview after the WTF final

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3zJZuE1REI

Roger being congratulated by Rafa's parents and sister.

Posted by Caroline 11/30/2010 at 05:50 PM

Amit, I resisted the temptation to email Bruce Jenkins. Where does one begin with such nonsense - though you've made a pretty good start!! I'd be interested to know how Mr Jenkins conducted his vox pop of 'most fans' however I believe it is the decision of the officials as to whether a ball is good or not. Perhaps Mr Jenkins should consult Mohammed Layhani or the linesman. As far as I could see the only person of significance who thought the ball might be out was the winner of the match:))

Posted by beth 11/30/2010 at 05:56 PM

Have not been here in a while
somethings just never change
whatever
congrats to Roger on his great win - congrats to Nadal for ending this remarkable year in his career as Number one
and on to next year

Amit - interesting quote from SI - but , wasn't it Gauloises who wrote about Nadal's voice creaking with fatigue ? Some great crack journalism there from a magazine writer who apparently cannot read other writers' bylines :)

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 05:57 PM

Amit: Let's hope that next year instead of sending Jon Wertheim to WTF that SI will send Mr. Jenkins. I hope he will realise that the centre of the tennis universe is not the US. As for his prediction on Rafa's GS tally, it seems like he hasn't learned from the mistakes he and his colleagues from the past.

Posted by Christopher 11/30/2010 at 05:59 PM

I have to say that at the moment I think the only major tennis writer who is not typically full of it is Steve Tignor. His pieces are consistently excellent, accurate (!), and insightful. He doesn't seem to have the same need to create set lenses through which to view everything (e.g. Fed the cold aesthete, Rafa the brutish talent, etc.) that many writers have.

Tignor is also the least biased of the major writers. Pete tends to buy into his own narratives and can't say a negative thing about, for example, Roddick (in an article last year or so at the Mothership, he actually said that Roddick is the best player never to win Wimbledon. Really? Roddick is a better player than Lendl, Wilander, and (even) Chang? Come on.). I know that Tignor is more of a fan of Rafa than of Federer, but I only know this because he's spoken of it explicitly. I can never find any trace of this in his reporting or even his analytic pieces.

For that matter, Andrew is a much better tennis writer than 99% of the pros, in my humble opinion.

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 11/30/2010 at 06:00 PM

"...but tennis.com's Pete Bodo said Nadal's voice "creaked with fatigue" in the post-match interview."

Tough luck, Hannah. :)

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 11/30/2010 at 06:03 PM

wilson thanks for those clips, great stuff... the SKY team doing a little of their own PR to Team Fed, and Rafa's mom seems quite happy for Rog as well, love those fly on the wall moments...

Posted by Tigress 11/30/2010 at 06:04 PM

Oh the pathos! Poor little 24 year old Nadal, who had barely played since the U.S. Open, was "creaking with fatigue" after London. He must be about the most delicate and fragile physical Phenom I've ever seen.

Meanwhile, 29 year old Roger plays 4 tournaments in the 6 weeks before London, winning two of them and going deep into the SF and Finals of the other 2. But no one ever talks about his physical stress. Why? Because, unlike Rafa, he's both a tennis genius and has great stamina.

One thing is always predictable: whenever Nadal loses, the Rafa Excuse machine (R.E.M.) led by Bodo and his biased ilk goes intro hyperdrive.

Federer is a mensch! Rafa is a wimp! he-he.

And Fed beat Rafa like a drum: 57% to 43% in points. In the end, it was a massacre. Rev up your R.E.M. machine, Mama Lions. You'll need it a lot in 2011!

Posted by CWATC 11/30/2010 at 06:07 PM

LOL, Bruce Jenkins.
Last time Nadal played Roger at TMC he also lost the final set 6-1.
I didn't see it but kinda doubt he looked much like a "stampeding warrior" then either.

One thing I'll say for Pete's write-up above is that at least he focused on Fed, not Nadal.

As I've repeated a gazillion times, to me this WTF tourney was about Fed getting his mojo back.

Given that Nadal has only won one big HC tourney all year, it couldn't have been such a huge surprise he didn't win this one. He came within a set, so good for him. End of story.

Posted by Jimbo Jones 11/30/2010 at 06:16 PM

Good post Pete. I have one point of contention, however. When you write:

"When Novak Djokovic said the impending Davis Cup final in Belgrade (where Serbia will host France) was a distraction that prevented him from perhaps having the kind of World Tour Finals he would ordinarily hope for, you know that this "nobody really cares about Davis Cup" meme is somewhat threadbare."

I'd say that meme is still going strong, as long as you tack on "...relatively speaking" to the end of it. But the memes "Djokovic is always focused during matches", "Djokovic doesn't make excuses for losing", and "players don't have to hype up their hometown tournaments", are the memes that are exposed as threadbare by that statement.

Posted by Sherlock 11/30/2010 at 06:25 PM

"Rev up your R.E.M. machine, Mama Lions. You'll need it a lot in 2011!"

Do you ever get tired of missing the boat completely with your predictions, Tigress? :)

Posted by Bob 11/30/2010 at 06:30 PM

@Christopher, completely agree, always enjoy Steve Tignor's very insightful and well written pieces. He doesn't get as much comment love as Bodo, but he's also less controversial; there's less to get up in arms about with his stuff.

Bodo on the other hand... He has a major bone to pick with Federer and I think it basically stems from what Federer has done to American tennis:

- Directly prevented Bodo's boy Roddick from winning at least 3 slams? Maybe more if you count 1/4 and semifinal losses to Federer?
- Smashed Bodo's other boy Sampras's (who he wrote the autobio for) records
- Beat countless other Americans in slams and big tournaments

Posted by Tigress 11/30/2010 at 06:34 PM

Sherlock:

Well, I did predict that Fed would win the 2010 Masters Cup/YEC/WTF. Can't lose them all. As for not surpassing Pete's 286 weeks last Sp[ring, you'll have to admit that it took an almost unbelievable sequence of events to prevent that. But Fed will take back #1 in summer 2011 and get the record then. Even sweeter will it be then.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 06:37 PM

MSF,

If you bring up the age factor (i.e how many HC slams did Roger have at the age of 24, SF and F etc)...how about making a prediction how many HC slams will Rafa have till the age of 29?

1. Will he make 6 consecutive finals at the US open?

2. Will he win 5 consecutive slams at US open?

3. Will he win four AO opens in his career?

4. Can he win Wimbledon and US open back to back 4 more times?

And all this by age 29?

Are you bold enough to make a prediction?

Posted by Tigress 11/30/2010 at 06:39 PM

Bob:

Steve Tignor has more cogent and insightful tennis analysis in his little finger's hangnail than Pete Bodo has in his whole being. I think that Tignor's columns are the best thing about this site (along with our happy squabbling brood here).

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/30/2010 at 06:40 PM

amit - i was taken aback by bruce's assuming that rafa will sweep the oz and french titles. i mean, i do, think the french is a good bet, but assuming oz is a done deal is a bit of a stretch i think.

i just don't like when journos give away slams like that, even the french. They're awfully tough to win; and while rafa is amazing on clay, its still not easy for him; a lot of effort goes into taking that title.

So aside from counting chickens just being bad luck; i sort of think it denigrates both the effort it takes, as well as the rest of the players.

bad juju i thought.

course if rafa takes them both, he can point back and crow that he's brilliant! lol!

Posted by antoinette 11/30/2010 at 06:40 PM

A member of the press corps weighing in on the Nadal was tired meme

http://tinyurl.com/267dxtq

Tim if you are still around you will approve.

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 11/30/2010 at 06:40 PM

wilson thanks for those clips, great stuff... the SKY team doing a little of their own PR to Team Fed, and Rafa's mom seems quite happy for Rog as well, love those fly on the wall moments...

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 06:45 PM

Does Rafa sponsor any energy drink?

The most ironical ofcourse is wearing a 525,000$ watch and getting warned from umpires for slow play.

I think Rafa once did joke about it in the press.

Posted by Kombo 11/30/2010 at 06:45 PM

Thank gawd Fed won. A loss would've bummed me out, especially after such a Delpo-deprived year.

Posted by Sherlock 11/30/2010 at 06:54 PM

"but assuming oz is a done deal is a bit of a stretch i think."

Indeed, jb. That makes no sense whatsoever. I'd have trouble deciding who to put my money on for this AO. I could see any of the top four winning.

Fair enough, Tigress. I was thinking more of the general nosedive that Rafa was supposed to take this year, but that's ok. :)

Posted by Andrew 11/30/2010 at 07:03 PM

Seems a bit odd to have a party going on and have lots of guests dissing the host within his earshot.

Pete, Steve, Tom Perotta, Greg Garber, Neil Harman, Christopher Clarey, Kamakshi Tandon and other writers I follow all bring different aspects of the game into focus. Pete is, I think, more interested in the psychological aspects of the battle between two players, and how their states of mind and character affect their choices. Steve tends to look more at the shot choices and technical strengths and weaknesses, plus the way players develop over time. We probably each have our favorite examples of their writing - I loved Steve's pieces from Rome in 2007, and Pete's "Sprezzeratura" after RG 2009.

One big difference between Pete's and Steve's approaches to blogging is the way that Pete has explicitly gone out of his way to foster and promote an online community, and to give writers and photographers a platform under Tennis.com's auspices. Ed McGrogan, Asad Raza, Andrew Friedman, Hannah (gauloises), Rosangel, I and many others have all been happy to post in Pete's domain - I thought it a bit funny that Bruce Jenkins loved the "creaking with fatigue" line but didn't realize a very skillful guest poster had come up with it.

The fact that we have a Tribe at all is due to Pete's generosity, and the time put in by the now-departed steggy and some other volunteers. You don't have to agree with or feel you have to praise Pete's opinions, but respect is due.

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/30/2010 at 07:08 PM

sherlock - not even just the top four. i think we've all seen that on the day, anyone of the guys in the top 20 can be dangerous as hail. one could go on a tear and take the dang title. just takes a few things to fall right for them.

dunno, I can't wrap my head around oz yet - I'm still getting all sorts of psyched for davis cup.

Along with the rest of the tennis lurving world, lol!

Which does not include the american press, and really, who the feck cares if they're on board? who needs them? whenever davis cup is played in the US, tickets sell out immediately, and people stream it, watch it, and respect the players for performing well. or at least trying. pfft.

i don't need US journos affirming that i'm watching something special, i already KNOW that! :)

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/30/2010 at 07:14 PM

Miss Serena so much, love Caro, but without the Williamses the WTA isn't has exciting. Get well soon Serena. What is that saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder, or something like that. Maybe there will be a great appreciation for Serena in the states when she gets back. Probably wishful thinking. Kom sa, Caro! Kom igen Robin!

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/30/2010 at 07:20 PM

*stands up and bangs table*

here here andrew! Its like people coming in, putting their muddy boots up on the table, drinking your best scotch then throwing up behind the sofa; not particularly pleasant.

But that's so often the case with the internet; the anonymity spawns braveness. And rational discussion does take more effort than just slinging insults.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/30/2010 at 07:20 PM

ladyjulia, 6:37

My predictions on the matters you raise could probably be surpassed by those of an octopus.

If I thought I knew what Rafa will or will or not be accomplishing on the tennis courts over the next five years, I'd be putting down bets--which I haven't been doing.

Posted by Carol 11/30/2010 at 07:23 PM

Hi everybody

Meanwhile we still can read posts about Rafa and Roger, "because Rafa this and that" "because Roger that and this", I've read in this Spanish newspaper that Rafa flew right after the final London-Bilbao (my city) and later he went to San Sebastian, beatiful city too, you can see the picture
He went to a famous restaurant (I was there in my last trip) and he ate asparagus and a huge beef chop

http://www.diariovasco.com/v/20101130/deportes/mas-deportes/nadal-donostia-barca-madrid-20101130.html

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 11/30/2010 at 07:24 PM

tha guy rocks, thanks antoinette!

the sad part is this even needs to be written and even the top media writers make excuses for the No.1 in the world!

its just ..wahts the word, unprecedented? Id love to see ANY tennis writer ever making excuses for McEnroe, Lendl, Borg, Connors, Sampras, or Agassi when they lose..if they are tired, they get raked over the coals, not lauded like a 'warrior' ...

these guys need to answer or these observations and explain them, as they truly do not make any sense in sports writing... can u imagine football writers lauding Brett Farve for being tired? they would tell him to retire and get out of the game!

Posted by Carol 11/30/2010 at 07:32 PM

And from San Sebastian Rafa was watching Barcelona(Barca)-R. Madrid (his favorite soccer team) game

Posted by Kristy 11/30/2010 at 07:32 PM

Word, Andrew, for your 7:03.

And Pete, for what it's worth, I agree with you about Federer's phrasing. He's a funny combination of warmth, affable goofiness (Steve Tignor's word) and cageyness.

Posted by Syd 11/30/2010 at 07:36 PM

Antoinette,

Thanks for that. At least someone (Doug Perry) has the courage to speak the truth.

Posted by Syd 11/30/2010 at 07:38 PM

Atoinette,

Thanks for that. At least someone has the courage to speak the truth.

Posted by Amit 11/30/2010 at 07:38 PM

Andrew,

Not to justify the dissing, but Pete Bodo has been serially dismissive of the year-ending championships while the top-8 players have been playing rather good tennis overall, in a venue that attracted 17,500 spectators on a daily basis. Perhaps the TW audience is not the biased party here?


Posted by Carol 11/30/2010 at 07:40 PM

And from San Sebastian he watched Barcelona (Barca)- R.Madrid (his favorite soccer team) game

Posted by CWATC 11/30/2010 at 07:42 PM

Here's that crazy match point from a different perspective; the ball does look in :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQoVWx5mfUo&feature=related

Posted by Carol 11/30/2010 at 07:47 PM

Opps! never mind........
Where are Tuulia, Annie (still in London?) Lynne, AM, Rafadoc,Jackson, GB, TeamNadal and etc, etc, etc??????????

Posted by Fernando 11/30/2010 at 07:47 PM

one thing I have noticed about fed. he tells the truth when he speaks, whether he feels he is injured and not playing his best or if perhaps a coach does not deserve heaps of praise at a particular time. I love Rafa too, but with him there is a real wall built with humble cliches You never know what he is REAllY thinking. Fed is more real.

Posted by Ruth 11/30/2010 at 07:49 PM

Thank you very muych for posting your 7:03 comment, Andrew. The behavior of some of the guests at Pete's genrous, wide open party is beyond disgusting. As always, it says more negative things about the character and upbringing of these people than they could ever say about Pete or anyone else.

And this comes from me, a poster whose first comment on TW 5 years ago was a strong but, I hope, civil statement of disagreement with Pete about something he'd written about the WTA and Serena. I have enjoyed Pete's writing, and I have continued to agree and disagree with Pete with equanimity for these past 5 years.

Even though my blood boils sometimes at the stuff that goes on here, as long as Pete and his guest writers continue to write and as long as many intelligent and interesting members of the TWibe continue to come and post here, I'll be damned if I'll allow those uncivil folk to drive me away from this place. Too many have allowed that to happen, sadly.

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 11/30/2010 at 07:50 PM

"The blunt truth is that top players—most top players—have the utmost respect for the [DC] competition and do their best to take part in it."

And for the WTFs and the fall season, Pete.

Posted by Andrew 11/30/2010 at 07:50 PM

Amit: disagree with Pete by all means. I have many times in the past, and happily expect to do so in the future.

As far as the YEC/WTF themselves are concerned, I took Pete's posts to ask (and partly answer) a really interesting question - why hasn't the ATP been able to establish this tournament as being on, or very near, a par with the Majors? Again, you can agree or disagree with some of his reasoning - I myself didn't take it as being serially dismissive, more a case of "why isn't this event a bigger deal?"

But (to my main point), this is a place where strong opinions are welcome, but also one where folks are respectful of one another - and of the host.

Posted by Sherlock 11/30/2010 at 07:53 PM

"Which does not include the american press, and really, who the feck cares if they're on board?"

What jb said. :)

Posted by Christopher 11/30/2010 at 07:57 PM

You're right, Andrew. Pete deserves great respect for the community he's fostered here. It's a community that has dramatically increased my enjoyment as a tennis fan these last 5 years or so.

At the same time, I don't see a problem with calling Pete (or any other writer) out on their writing from time to time. This is not just a dinner party at which it's impolite to insult the host. It's a discussion forum where the host is explicitly putting his opinions in the public domain for comment.

In just the last month or so, Pete has basically responded to Rochus's claims about PED use by making light of his height and comparing him to a little dog. Sorry, but I can't call that respectable journalism, even for a blog. Maybe Rochus is full of it. Grade school insults don't really say much about the matter either way. Pete also recently ridiculed Martina N. for climbing 55 flights of stairs in prep for her Kilimanjaro climb. Personally, I think insulting a recent cancer survivor for her work to overcome the disease personally and on a larger scale (all of this is to raise money for charity) is morally offensive. From reading some of Pete's other writings, "Courts of Babylon" in particular, it's clear that he dislikes Martina for her political views and her sexuality (his problems with lesbians in the WTA are very explicitly stated in that book). Fine. But to ridicule her in this more recent context is inexcusable.

As I've said, I've gotten a lot of enjoyment from this place and the upsides of what Pete has done for tennis in the past and present vastly outweigh what I personally see as the negatives. To put it mildly, his accomplishments in his own field far surpass my own in mine. At the same time, if one is going to post strong opinions in a forum like this then one should expect people to react to them. Frankly I think it shows the writer more respect to behave as if what he writes matters than to simply ignore it.

So Pete, feel free to be pissed off at me. I wouldn't blame you. The fact that I still read pretty much everything you write here should show that the respect I do have for you is very real, just not blind.

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 11/30/2010 at 07:58 PM

well Andrew, i think given the 'effort' put into promoting and hosting the ATP YES in London, theyve done eveyrthing and more to ensure its considered a major... and the main issue here that discounts Pete's argument is the phenomenal attendance ... hard to argue with the largest crowds of the year selling out every single session, when lets face it, many a Davis Cup tie cant get even half that amount no matter what the round....

but i totallly agree about anyone being so brutal with the host, this site has been great fun for years and Pete's efforts are essential of course... agree or not (and I disagree a LOT!), respect the outlet and the hard work of those involved...

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 07:59 PM

CWATC: Thanks for the clip. Maybe you should it to Steve, Ed and Bruce Jenkins who believe that the ball was out never-mind, the linesman, umpire and Rafa believed it was in.

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/30/2010 at 08:07 PM

*high fives 'lock*

i think the key thing is to realize that there is a huge market for tennis news, tourney info etc and it has the potential (in fact it IS) a very solid niche sport. its never going to be football, or baseball in the states. most likely won't ever be football in europe either, for that matter!

but there is tremendous interest, and looking at the stats on the atp site about hours streamed, visitors etc; the WTF's was a huge success, both in person and on the 'net.

its a change, its definately a shift to how people get their news etc.

i just know i'm grateful that the tennis channel has graduated to 'real' ads, instead of just eharmony, viagra and that man who wanted us to hang upside down.... :) who knows, if they win their suit against comcast, maybe it will be even more mainstream!

Posted by mellow yellow 11/30/2010 at 08:25 PM

Pete getting in another dig at Roger over a complete non story. Big YAWN.

Posted by Deuce 11/30/2010 at 08:32 PM

Nods to Andrew for his 7:03 and Tim for his 7:58. Can't argue with the attendance figures at the YEC last week. Also re writers and their opinions we wouldn't have a forum (and pages of debate) if we didn't have varying opinions on a variety of matters related to tennis. I for one am grateful for Pete's and everyone's efforts to bring this TWibe community to fruition. I actually have a place to share my tennis fandom and made a few new friends to boot. I too disagree with Pete's writing from time to time but repect is indeed due.

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 11/30/2010 at 08:36 PM

" I took Pete's posts to ask (and partly answer) a really interesting question - why hasn't the ATP been able to establish this tournament as being on, or very near, a par with the Majors?"

Perhaps because it's the beginning of the college and pro basketball seasons, nearing the conclusion of the college football season, and the heart of the pro football season. It's no mystery to me, even though tennis is my #1. (I am a bit mystified by Andrew's and Ruth's comments--I've seen nothing out of the ordinary today.)

Posted by denise 11/30/2010 at 08:38 PM

Tigress - I'm a fed fan, but that's a bit too much even for me.

it's a bit like, "and if he had taken that match point vs. Safin at AO 05, he would have had 4 consecutive years of 3 slams."
yeah, of course he would have defeated Hewitt in that final, but that's irrelevant. He lost to safin, he lost to Djokovic, he's failed to make the Final on both occasions. And actually, he hasn't made a final except AO, so to be honest, it's very different from Rafa's year. 2 QF, 1 SF, 1 Title, that sounds like Rafa before 2008, not Roger since..forever :)

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 08:46 PM

MSF,

Fine..but you do know that Roger evolved enough to win a major at 21 [as compared to Rafa who was ready to win a major at 18], right?

Do you agree that is a factor when comparing their ages? Or it should be ignored in the Rafa did this and this better than Roger at the same age?

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 08:49 PM

denise,

agree with you...Roger dosen't get extra brownie points for holding matchpoints and losing.

Posted by Amit 11/30/2010 at 09:00 PM

Ruth,

Character and upbringing, eh? Evidently civility is optional while addressing "these uncivil folk"...

Andrew,

Agree with your sentiment regarding mutual respect, but I haven't noticed any off-scale rudeness directed at Pete - today at least. I think his critique of WTF/YEC was not well taken by many, given the attendance/ambience/level of play we witnessed. Minor jabs at Federer's
speaking habits elicit minor jabs at Pete's writing style - par for the course if you ask me.

My view, of course.

Posted by AB 11/30/2010 at 09:02 PM

I think "Coach" is a misnomer for the elite players. "Caddy" probably comes closer to the relationship - and not because Luthi has been spotted carrying Roger's.

A caddy knows how his player is hitting balls throughout the tournament, understands a player's strengths and limitations, understands the course, factors in the weather conditions, advises on the right club, right type of shot based on all of the afore-mentioned....

Whenever I read or hear anything about elite tennis coaches' roles, it sounds less like a job description of a coach in other sports and more like one for a caddy.

Which is why I think that Rafa and Tio Toni will part ways soon unless Toni can make the transition to more of a caddy role and less of a Mr. Miyagi. Rafa is no longer the Karate Kid.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 09:09 PM

AB,

LOL on last line....

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 11/30/2010 at 09:12 PM

geez Fred fans forget ALL the SLam matches he WON, when he was down, or off form, or snuck out of tough spots, etc. cmon!

I personally think Uncle Toni is toast in 2011

Posted by Ruth 11/30/2010 at 09:20 PM

Deuce: I'm afraid we can argue with attendance figures, unfortunately. I would expect the November WTF to sell out in a country like England in which there are approximately four weeks of professional tennis in the summer each year. It is similar to the way that tickets to the last DC ties in Winston-Salem NC and Portland OR and even the Fed cup tie held in Mass when both Venus and Serena played sold out in minutes! Nothing surprising there.

But we have to deal with the reality of what makes something a big event in most countries, and one major criterion is whether the major networks go all out to buy the rights to it because they can sell ad time because millions of people will be watching. I love seeing the full houses at the WTF and at other event, like DC, that I enjoy and that I consider important. But I have no illusions about whether they are considered major by those who determine whether an event is really major.

When the major networks or even the ESPN channels start asking to show more than the final on ESPN2, we shall have arrived. :) I wonder if TWers in other countries can share with us what the TV coverage of WTF was like in their countries.

Ross: Put on those reading glasses, old friend, and read a little more closely and carefully, and you'll se what Andrew and I (and others) were talking about. And we were not just talking about today.

I agree with you that it would be ridiculous to expect the networks to come running to tennis on the weekends when college and pro football hold sway, but what about giving time to the best 8 players playing in non-prime time on other days of the week?

Meanwhile, I'm happy and gratefulg that I have TC and that they gave full coverae to the event.

Posted by imjimmy 11/30/2010 at 09:35 PM

"" but you do know that Roger evolved enough to win a major at 21 [as compared to Rafa who was ready to win a major at 18], right? ""

Ladyjulia: I think you are misinterpreting MSF's remarks on Nadal and Fed's titles at the same age.
The thing with Nadal is that his rate of development was abnormally fast on clay and natural on other surfaces. I get the feeling by comments here, that Nadal's proficiency on clay at a young age is actually held AGAINST him. He gets grief for not being good enough to meet Fed in the non-clay slam finals between '05-'08.

How can we expect multiple USOpen's and AO's from Nadal when even Federer didn't get them at a comparable age? Federer, Sampras and most other greats, took their time to mature into all surface players. Pete won the UsOPen at 19 yrs and then took a few years, before he became Pistol Pete. Ditto for Fed who went on a rampage after 2003 (when he was 22), but took his time to develop his game, and won his first UsOpen when he was 23.

As early as the Wimb 2007, I always maintained that Nadal would adapt his game to all surfaces and become a "great player". Nadal has changed the entire culture of his game in the past three years. He's truncated his forehand - hitting it flatter; he drives his backhand more aggressively and occasionally slices it; he stands on the baseline as opposed to playing three metres behind it. This is all natural development for a person his age. No-one comes pre-packed and perfect. Yet even still, Nadal's will was great and he could win things young ON CLAY, where he developed more quickly, and so his RG slam titles.

Still Nadal is improving as a player. We only saw in the second half of this year, that he's adapted his game , now, to faster hardcourts. In fact his successes on non-clay surfaces: first grass, then slow hardcourts and eventually the faster-courts - is eerily similar. The detractors have always doubted Nadal. Yet, the goalposts move every time he improves. The only thing left, now, is indoors, and I am sure he will eventually win there too.

Anyway, It's only in late 2008 and 2010 (after almost missing a year worth of slams) that Rafa's entered his prime. So, perhaps, we should give him some latitude and see how his career pans out in the next 3-4 years.

Again, am I saying that he will equal Federer's records? NO. Not least because a run like Federer's is almost impossible to repeat and the field is much deeper these days. Still, I would refrain from making judgments/comparisons until at least the next couple of years...

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 09:40 PM

"How can we expect multiple USOpen's and AO's from Nadal when even Federer didn't get them at a comparable age?"

imjimmy,

For the simple reason that Nadal was ranked #2. He was seeded #2 at all those tournaments from 05-08.

If we can't expect the #1 and #2 to win them, who is going to win them?

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 11/30/2010 at 09:40 PM

Ruth--
I did old friend, before I wrote that. Still mystified, as are others. :)

P.S. College football (some really big and exciting games) were on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, even though I would have preferred tennis.

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 11/30/2010 at 09:42 PM

i dunno, kudos to rafa for an amazing year of rsults, but really, on hard court, other than the frankly easy draw at the US Open, he lost to Murray, Baggie, Melzer and Garcia Lopez...not to mention Ljubie and Roddick..

is this really progress? he had a great US Open, but other than that this is a pretty typial year for him on hardcourt, no? frankly he was better on hard in 2008, wasnt he?

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 09:43 PM

"Not least because a run like Federer's is almost impossible to repeat and the field is much deeper these days. "

Yep. You know what they say about the needle inside a banana, no? :)

Posted by Tim ('Hearing voices' and seeing Moonpies!) 11/30/2010 at 09:47 PM

and a loss to Fed, too, indoor must be considered a hard court at least by default ... can someone say where this massive improvement showed up, other than the Open (a big one I know)? Id say its more of stars aligning in perfect timing than any massive improvement in his game ... he still barely snuck past Roddick and Murray last week, he certainly isnt pulling off Federer domination week by week, facts be told

Posted by Karly 11/30/2010 at 09:48 PM


I dont think it matters much who did more at a ceratin age, what matters is who did more by the time they both retire, and neither Roger nor Rafa has retired yet.. so I don't even know why people love to talk about Rafa doing this or that at some younger age, it doesn't matter... some have won their first slam at age 17, but those players do not hold the records once their careers are finished. Nadal could be done at age 26, we don't know, so to compare their careers at certain ages as if it's that so meaningful just seems like Nadal fans grasping at straws.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 09:54 PM

"He gets grief for not being good enough to meet Fed in the non-clay slam finals between '05-'08."

Just like Federer gets grief for losing 9 clay finals, including 3 FO finals.

"Again, am I saying that he will equal Federer's records? NO."

Federer seems to have more confidence in Nadal. He has said that he will probably sit courtside and watch Nadal break his all-time mark in majors (in an interview to Vogue).

I get your point about evolution of the player. I also get your point about Nadal entering his peak only now. But then, its a fact that he was ranked in the top 2 from the age of 18 till he entered his peak. You cannot discount that fact.

If he was ranked second, it follows that he should have been a contender for the other slams too. Otherwise, there is something wrong with the rankings if the second ranked player is not an all-court player...because tennis is a game played on multiple surfaces in a year. The rankings are year around reflection.

Nadal ended the year ranked as the second best player in the world in 2005, 2006, 2007. Surely, it is not too much to expect the second best player in the world to reach finals of the four slams in a year? Fine..one year is fine...but that is three years.

Now..the fact remains that Nadal didn't. It definitely should be held against him.

Posted by imjimmy 11/30/2010 at 09:57 PM

""For the simple reason that Nadal was ranked #2. He was seeded #2 at all those tournaments from 05-08. ""

Which brings me back to a discussion I had with you several months ago. Because Nadal was so good on clay, and he earned a bulk of points there. And the other contemporaries - notably Roddick, Safin, Hewitt - didn't step up and dislodge Nadal, even though he was a non factor outside clay. Usually, players take some to mature, develop their game and start winning. With Nadal, he was in the limelight right from the beginning; with the mantle to chase Federer, since there was no one else.

Arun: The field is deeper these days, but Fed still won SEVEN slams since 2007. And this week he beat #1 to #5 comprehensively, proving that when he's at his best, he's unstoppable. I think NP also pointed out that a thinner field cannot be held against Fed since he might have dominated a stronger field anyway, which he is doing now in all fairness.

Now if you want me to admit that the '03-'06 with - Roddick, Hewitt, Safin, Ferrero, Nalbandian, Davydenko, Haas, Ferrer, Gonzales, Blake, Bagdhatis Phillippoussis, Ljubicic etc - who couldn't get out of their own way, much less challenge consistently, is a STRONG field, then I will :)

Karly: Why do you think Nadal will retire when he's 26?

Posted by Karly 11/30/2010 at 10:02 PM

imjimmy,

I don't know when Nadal will retire. My point is, it's futile to assume that somebody who wins slams early is going to keep doing it at the same pace, or even be around to do it at some point.. we don't know what the future holds for a player.It's not WHEN you do something, it's that you do it before your career is over, and Roger's done more than Nadal so far, I don't know if anybody should assume that since things have been great for nadal early, they are going to keep being great non-stop for the next several years until he breaks all these records....

Posted by imjimmy 11/30/2010 at 10:14 PM

Karly: For the record, I've never said that Nadal will beat Federer's record ; he's not even in the Top Tier of the GOAT contenders at this time. However, just because he won young at the F.O doesn't mean he can't keep winning now. And by winning,. I don't mean like Fed i.e 3 slams a year for the next three years. That's crazy. ( I am not sure if that will ever be replicated). Yet, even if Nadal gets 4-6 slams more ( 3-4 in the next couple of years, and then one each year after that) he should be in pretty rare company.

Anyway, my point was that we should start looking at Nadal's career with allowance to when he matured/(entered his prime in 2008) as an all surface player. He's now developed his game, and Fed is no longer the goalpost. He also has the field to himself. Let's see what he can do in the next few years. It's not a coincidence that the last THREE of Nadal's slam victories, when he didn't have to face Federer, were among the easiest of his grandslam triumphs.

Posted by Queeny 11/30/2010 at 10:16 PM

"Hey, anybody know who won the final in that tournament in London over the weekend?"

Obviously not the person you were hoping for Mr Bodo. Shame on you for such an insulting article.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 10:17 PM

imjimmy,

I understand your point about Nadal being sooo good on clay. But its really illogical to me that the second best player in world year after year wasn't a contender for the HC slams.

Now, there are two things:

1. You can argue that Nadal was a contender, at least to reach the final and fulfill his seeding. In which case, you consider his age of 18- till now as him being slam worthy at those ages for all slams.

2. He was not a contender, and his position as the second best player in the world in 2005, 2006, 2007 was based on his exceptional qualities on clay. Which brings me to the point that its not fair. A player with exceptional qualities as an indoor player cannot win a slam, nor be recorded in the history books as holding the #2 rank for 157 consecutive weeks. Which means the rankings are not fair.

The minimum fairness is that the 2nd best player in the world should be an all-court player. A player can have one bad season...but sooner or later, the player should be able to justify their ranking.

But the way you put it..its like having your cake and eating it too.

Nadal gets no sympathies for not fulfilling his seeding when he got the opportunity so many times.

Just like Federer gets no sympathies for having a 8-14 H2H against his rival, regardless of where the matches were played.

Posted by thebigapple 11/30/2010 at 10:20 PM

Yeah, where is Lynne (Rafaelite)? She offered me sweet cream a few days ago. Yeah, that right. Makes her a favorite in my neck of the woods.

Interesting point on whether we are obliged to kiss Pete's behind. Anyone knows why this site is maintained and the economics of it? Is Pete using his vast personal resources to provide this electronic playground? I had perhaps wrongly assumed the site served some commercial purpose from which Pete made a salary or other income? I thought I was a customer not a guest. Not so? I still have not caught up with the internet economics.

Posted by Arun 11/30/2010 at 10:20 PM

"Now if you want me to admit that the '03-'06 with - Roddick, Hewitt, Safin, Ferrero, Nalbandian, Davydenko, Haas, Ferrer, Gonzales, Blake, Bagdhatis Phillippoussis, Ljubicic etc - who couldn't get out of their own way, much less challenge consistently, is a STRONG field, then I will"

Yeah. If you could. Not really. :) Sorry, if I seem to be picky on your strong/weak era comments too often. But the weak era theory that you bring up every now and then is getting somewhat predictable.

So, let me try to see. What is the bench mark for a strong(er) era? In other words, whom do you want the said players from the above list to compare with among the now strong(er) era? Murray and Djokovic? Ok - Murray is good and his pride/will to show that he is right up there with Fedal is commendable. But Djokovic? He is 13-29 against Fedal.. Djokovic is the only top 10 player to not reach a Masters Final this year, btw.

Who else? Tsonga cannot play for more than 2 months is a row. Cilic? Verdasco? Berdych? Youzhny? Monfils? imho Ferrer, Roddick (still top 10 players of course) and even Davydenko are still the more reliable players than these younger ones. Even JCF and Nalbandian are in top 30 despite missing more than half this season. If we have to talk about the consistency purely in terms of slams too, the likes Hewitt, Roddick and even Davydenko were performing better before they had to face Federer inevitably (more often than not).

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