Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Ashe Sunday
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Ashe Sunday 08/31/2008 - 7:43 PM

Rf_2Jelena Jankovic’s argument is hopeless. “Now you see it!” she yells at the chair umpire, who has called a let in the middle of a point. A plastic bag has flown onto the court. Jankovic had seen the same bag the point before but had not been given a let. The umpire tries to explain that she can’t do anything about that. “I have to see it to call a let.” The Serb stares at her, unable to muster a reply but unwilling to let her irritation go. Someone yells from the crowd, “Come on, J.J.” She shakes her head one more time and finally leans down to serve.

It’s early in the third set of the match between Jankovic, the No. 2 seed, and Caroline Wozniacki, a promising 18-year-old from Denmark. Two months ago, at Wimbledon, Wozniacki had Jankovic on the ropes before losing in three sets. The same thing is happening today. Wozniacki wins the first set but her game suddenly unravels in the middle of the second when she sends a rapid series of routine ground strokes into the net. She stops the bleeding momentarily at the beginning of the third by hitting an ace to level the set at one game each.

The wind is shifting and swirling lightly through Ashe Stadium. The match feels equally unsettled. It’s been on Wozniacki’s racquet up to this point. She took the initiative in the first set, and gave it back in the second. But Jankovic is not a player who closes the door quickly, even when given the chance. Her mind is too scattered and variable for that. In the course of one game, she has more words with the umpire, falls to the ground in a split and stays there for a dramatic moment, and then laughs at the crowd reaction—a loud “Awww”—when she gets a line-call challenge wrong. Jankovic is a performer as much as a player. Simply winning a tennis match wouldn’t satisfy her the way it does most of her peers. Losing one doesn’t crush her, either.

Wozniacki is young, and she looks it. Her visor, though it's pulled low, isn't enough to cover that fact up. As the match has gotten away from her, she has appeared to be more confused—at a loss, literally—than frustrated. She has played well, hit her shots, and done everything she needed to do to put herself in a position for a big upset and early-career breakthrough. The trouble is, it’s still too early. Wozniacki knows how to do everything else, but she doesn’t know how to win against the second seed on Arthur Ashe Stadium yet. Each time she earns a small lead, the confusion returns. Serving at 1-2, up 30-0, she takes a short ball from Jankovic and, rather than belting her forehand the way she normally would, she taps an ill-advised drop shot high over the net. Jankovic pummels it and goes on to break. Wozniacki looks haunted by the choice. She doesn’t win another game.

Afterward, when asked to “explain” how the match turned against her, she said in slow and guarded English, “I started out well. I played my own game. The second set, I don’t know, I think I just got a bit more defensive.” It’s been a great year for Wozniacki, and we’ll see her again soon. But the final lesson—figuring out how to wrap up a big win—will have to wait for another day.

An hour or so later, it’s more humid and crowded in the big stadium. It isn’t quite as windy, and many spectators flip fans back and forth in front of them. Roger Federer, the man they’re here to see, looks the same as he always does. No. 1 or No. 2, he’ll always have the physical nonchalance of the born athlete. He bounces the ball through his legs before he serves. After he holds, he takes a ball out of his pocket and smacks it all the way across the court. It flies right into a ball boy’s hands on a fly.

At the same time, Federer is jumpy, a little agitated. Throughout his match with Radek Stepanek, he erupts periodically with guttural cries of either exhortation or celebration. These aren’t messages to his opponent or to himself; they come out seemingly at random and point to unseen emotions that Federer bottles up most of the time. He doesn’t orchestrate his desire to spur himself on the way Rafael Nadal does. Federer loves to compete, but he’s never been cagey about how he does it.

CwAlways suspicious of gimmicks and change for change’s sake, Federer stays loose and lets his talent, his ball-striking skills, his speed, his instincts, do the work. Rather than pump his fist as he walks to the sideline, he inspects his fingernail and starts to chew it. His system doesn’t fail him often, and it works against Stepanek. The Czech beat Federer in Rome, but he had to walk a very high wire to do it. He served exceptionally well and used his low-margin-for-error strokes—his technique looks almost primitive compared to Federer’s—to move the former No. 1 around before finishing points at net. Stepanek did all that and still only won in two tiebreakers.

One of the tour’s resident characters, Stepanek is decked out today in appropriately wacky (i.e. ugly), angular blue and white. But that’s as colorful as he gets. Federer keeps him on a short leash, allowing him no opportunities to indulge in his customary screeches and awkward fist pumps. The wire is too high this time. Stepanek’s flat forehands skid wide, his volleys find the tape, and his opponent shuts even the smallest windows of opportunity with his serve.

There’s a curious quiet in the stadium as Federer does his work. I’ve heard it before when he plays, and it may be because his method of victory is often not obvious. Nadal grinds his opponents down; Federer kills them with a thousand subtle and surprising cuts (or slices). In the second set, he comes back from 40-15 down to break Stepanek. On one point, he anticipates a serve, comes over his backhand return, and forces a volley error. Then, at break point, he comes under his backhand return and chips it low and crosscourt. Stepanek has to stretch. His volley hits the tape and he’s broken. Federer hasn’t done this with raw power or anything spectacular. He’s done it with intelligent—or perhaps instinctive—shot selection, something that’s not easy for an audience to get revved up about.

Either way, Federer never looks back, and when he relaxes, it looks like old times. Now we get the spectacular. We get the short-hop backhand pass. We get the topspin lob winner. We get the full-stretch backhand return into the corner. And we get a few down the line slice backhands, the shot that half the world has tried to get him to use against Nadal. It works. But even as he’s pummeling Stepanek into submission, Federer does it quietly. By which I mean that his strokes, even when they scream past their opponent, never sound like they’ve been hit hard, the way Marat Safin’s or Fernando Gonzalez’s—or even Richard Gasquet’s—do. As I said, he leaves the gimmicks for the other guys.

It feels like old times in Federer’s press conference as well. He’s confident but not overjoyed—he acts like he’s been there and expects to be there again. He says he made fewer errors because he played a littler safer due to the wind. He says he thought Stepanek “played really great in Rome.” Translation: He treed. He says he never got too down over the summer: “I always had sort of a good spirit. I was in practice and never really down, because this is when you feel it most, when you go out on the practice court and you wonder what you need to change. I never really felt I had that.” It sounds like an honest answer. And he thinks he can get back to where he was with one fell swoop. “If I were to win a big tournament, you know, right away I have the invincibility factor again.” It doesn’t sound like wishful thinking.

Federer is not out for blood, Jimmy Connors style, he’s not following anyone to the ends of the earth. That would be beneath him. He may have bottomed out, playing-wise, over the summer, but the Olympics seem to have made him feel like a winner again—that, after all, he’s still Roger Federer. He’s been in a jesting mood in New York and has enjoyed the crowd support. I suspect that deep down, while he acknowledges Nadal’s achievement in reaching No. 1, he’s never stopped thinking of himself as the best player in the world, and that that world will be set right someday. Maybe, with a little luck, someday soon.


 
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Comments
 
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Posted by Darren 08/31/2008 at 08:11 PM

first?

Posted by Andrea 08/31/2008 at 08:26 PM

federer will slay all his demons and naysayers at the open - and if they make it that far, it will include novak and rafa.

Posted by Andy C 08/31/2008 at 08:43 PM

Re: Jankovic v. Wozniacki. I saw that drop shot. Nothing worse than watching your drop shot backfire. You've probably hit the shot out of desperation. You want to win the point NOW. And then you lose. It's like double-faulting when you try to tap in your second serve.

I guess we've seen at least two matches so far where experience has been a deciding factor. Roddick was being outplayed by Gulbis, but had the experience to keep his head in the match until he could take the upper hand.

Andy

Posted by Zach 08/31/2008 at 08:48 PM

I hope Roger can make it back to the top of the game sometime soon. Whether its Roddick or Novak it will be a very interesting semi. Hopefully Roddick can make his way through to the finals :)

Posted by se7en 08/31/2008 at 08:48 PM

For a Federer fan, this entry is a satisfyingly good read.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 08/31/2008 at 09:02 PM

Great summary of both matches. It was really nice to read something positive about Roger. I hope he's holding up the trophy next Sunday. That would change the whole conversation about the men's tour and put Roger right back into the mix where he belongs.

Posted by why wilson? 08/31/2008 at 09:06 PM

federer's draw looks........ sparse
compared to nadals draw it looks "old"
coincidence?

Posted by Nadal_Djokovic 08/31/2008 at 09:45 PM

I'm so sick of all the "lets all feel sorry for Roger Federer articles" And if I hear one more thing about MONO then so help me god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by C Note 08/31/2008 at 10:26 PM

Really great write up, Steve. Spot on.

Posted by Flyer 08/31/2008 at 10:26 PM

Mono mono mono mono mono mono mono

And mono

Posted by Tim ($49 spent at US Open yesterday) 08/31/2008 at 10:29 PM

Nadal Djokovic, mono is serious just ask Mario Ancic, he's out again with a recurrence... its a fact deal with it...

Posted by Tim ($49 spent at US Open yesterday) 08/31/2008 at 10:31 PM

Ill just point to the Roddick quote from the other thread, it says it all... very astute take on TMF, I was seeing the same energy and a sense of urgency lacking most of the time this whole year... he was awake from the first point and never played with his food...

lets hope this is the beginning of a new beginning!

Posted by Lissa 08/31/2008 at 10:53 PM

At Nadal-Djokovic: was there any mention of mono in that article??? Or does it just bugger the hell out of you that someone is praising the form Roger is currently displaying at the US Open? Because logically, your comment isn't dealing with THIS particular article on Roger in which NO mention of mono has been made.

Posted by sh07 08/31/2008 at 10:55 PM

wow, let us all pray so Federer can get his #1 back right? Tignor, I really thought you were better.

Posted by 08/31/2008 at 11:04 PM

[At Nadal-Djokovic: was there any mention of mono in that article??? Or does it just bugger the hell out of you that someone is praising the form Roger is currently displaying at the US Open? Because logically, your comment isn't dealing with THIS particular article on Roger in which NO mention of mono has been made.]

1) The fact that Steve Tignor even came to praising Federer in an articles is already surprising. Normally Steve has those thousand subtle and surprising cuts (or slices) against Federer.

2) You are right -- some people may be getting edgy with how Federer is progressing.

Posted by steve 08/31/2008 at 11:49 PM

not praying for his return to no. 1; the last sentence is written from his point of view, not mine.

and yeah, mono never even came to mind when i was writing this

Posted by Maha (Allez TMF) 09/01/2008 at 01:02 AM

Yes!!! Go Roger! Hold up the winner's trophy next week!!!!
Good luck to JJ too :D

Posted by Fran 09/01/2008 at 01:07 AM

and I like the subtlety of your writing too Steve;it made me feel like I was on the court..and in the experience..thanks.

Posted by Tony 09/01/2008 at 01:21 AM

There is nevertheless one thing that has changed about Federer. He is much HUMBLER... Humility has become part of his character, due I am sure to the realization that he is, after all, human, all too human, on and off the court. He no longer talks as if it is always the world having to catch up with him. And that is a tremendous change... Nothing is more damaging than any lingering sense of HUBRIS...

Posted by indianFan 09/01/2008 at 01:37 AM

I hope Federer gaurds against another nasty early round loss and makes it to the semis. Then it will get real interesting with Djoko and Rafa. I think more than anything its the errors especially on big points that has killed him in recent months. We wont know if he has overcome that until the tough matches start. It would be redemption for him and all his die hard fans like me if he wins the US open. If he loses , we have to wait until the Australian open next year to see if he can get back to his old winning ways. And if he will add to his 12 Slams or stay on 12 forever. Cant bear to think of that

Posted by Long Le 09/01/2008 at 01:46 AM

I cannot wait to see Federer and Djokovic's showdown when both men are in top form. I was worried Fed is no match for the Djoker when I saw his 2nd round match but now he made me a believer. Very insightful article.
Long

Posted by Dragonfly 09/01/2008 at 01:53 AM

Thank you, Steve, for writing about Roger. You crystallized for me what I love about his game - he annihilates quietly, not any less lethal but gently. And always with a measure of respect to his opponents, so they end up not resenting him for the loss.

Tony, never at any time did Roger carry himself with a "lingering sense of hubris". It is your loss that you don't see him for what he is - just a good "soul" all around.

Posted by AM 09/01/2008 at 01:59 AM

I dont think Roger will win another grand slam.

Posted by Nick 09/01/2008 at 02:00 AM

Steve, when you posted that you don't pray for Federer's return to no.1, that it's his POV & not your own, did he tell you that, or is it just your conjecture that he thinks that? If the latter, surmising it yourself is one thing. But when you, a Tennis Magazine Executive Editor, write that publicly it's the essential equivalent of your own desire see exactly that, which you say you don't have. I mean, substantively speaking, what's the difference?

This steady stream of posts, articles and general rallying to prop up Federer by Tennis Magazine is getting tiresome. It's not just stuff like this piece, there's plenty of other examples to support the notion:

*Check "The Ticker", the news vignettes & blurbs compiled by Kamakshi Tandon. Scroll down to begin with the item announcing the playing order of The Olympics and scroll upward for each succeeding post during Beijing. Just count the number of items relating to Federer. And not just the number, but read how endlessly he's quoted - paragraph after paragraph. Federer's asked about what playing in the Olympics means to him; what his thoughts are on losing the #1 ranking; what his progress was through the Doubles (but it's curious why his first-ever loss to Blake in the Singles isn't mentioned - I guess she thought that wasn't newsworthy). It's as though she turned her Beijing posts into something like "Federer's Corner". Conversely, there were merely 2 mentions of Nadal during her Olympics blurbs, only one of which had to do with the Olympic Games: when he finally won the Gold medal. The other was when she decided it was news that despite Nadal's results at the US Open he'd still be #1 when it was over, and note her phasing by using the negative "cannot". You can just feel she really wanted to write "damn it" in parentheses at the end of that realization.

*Peter Bodo's endless blog posts this year advising Federer on hiring a coach, which coach to hire, that he should call Gil Reyes, what changes he needs to make tactically & strategically have been so repeated in various forms both here & at ESPN that I guess he'll keep posting them until he convinces Federer to read his drivel and do what he says. Thereby proving to Bodo that Federer "listened" to him.

*Anyone catch the new issue of Tennis Magazine's US Open Preview cartoon illustration? It depicts the US Open as a New York City Marathon's finish. Leading the pack are Serena, Federer, and Djokovic. They're pursued by Roddick & Sharapova, and then the Serbian Women in Motorcycle & Sidecar. Oh..and the current French Open & Wimbledon Champ Nadal? Yeah, he's in there - but not in the actual race. Rafa is depicted way in the background, suspended high in the air holding a ring attached to a wire, picking at his shorts. To Tennis Magazine, via the illustration, Nadal has zero chance at the Open, not even bothering to put him in the race. Nope - he gets a small drawing high in the air away from the rest, and making fun of one of his quirks to boot. I guess that's what winning 2 Majors and 6 other tournaments in a season will get you if your name isn't Federer (or Djokovic, who had been predicted after Australia by almost everyone at this magazine to have racked up the rewards Nadal's been racking up this year). If even anyone needed to know what this publication thinks of Nadal, that's about as clear a statement as you're gonna get. And curiously, Venus is nowhere to be found in that illustration. Hmm.

*Get a glimpse of Federer's picture on the Website Heading after he won today, with the column on how easy his match was? I did too. But I didn't see one of Nadal after he blew Troicki off the court yesterday, winning the last 11 games of the match.

In light of this, and two years of endless Advice To Federer columns on what he has to to to beat Nadal on clay, let's just drop the pretenses that Tennis Magaizine really believes that Nadal didn't earn, and doesn't deserve, the #1 Ranking. They truly believe Federer lost it. And they're sticking to that template that he's really the rightful owner of the #1 Spot. It's OK that they do that - it's their publication, after all. But to make any claim or pretenses to the contrary is just not credible.

Posted by Jim 09/01/2008 at 02:15 AM

Very well said Nick. I have to say several groups/individuals including ATP has problem with Nadal replacing Federer. I dont think it was a coincidence that Nadal was given a time warning at a crucial point in wimbledon.

Posted by ava 09/01/2008 at 02:26 AM

nick I agree with every word you said except for the fact that Mr.Tignor has never been biased towards Rafa. He has written a lot of good articles praising rafa actually. But like you said, everyone is simply focussed on Fed and never on Rafa (the exception being "passing of the torch" when rafa got a few nice articles and mentions) but otherwise it's all about Fed.

I know it's very frustrating that the tennis media is so ridiculously defensive/biased towards Fed. So are the fans incidentally. The truth is those people are never going to appreciate Rafa and we have to accept that. It is their loss. Rafael Nadal is the world number one. It does not matter whether Fed thinks he's the world's best player at present (yes, having one two minor titles) or not. I have nothing against Fed sometimes it's just frustrating that Rafa gets no credit.

Yes, and as for Rafa not getting any mention after the Troicki blowout, incidentally he did get in a corner but it was more about how he "struggled" initially.

MEDIA, WAKE UP!

Posted by ava 09/01/2008 at 02:28 AM

UUM, in my previous post, I meant "biased towards Federer"

Posted by Federbear 09/01/2008 at 03:32 AM

Media biased towards Federer? Ignoring Rafa? Since when? All I've seen in the past few weeks is everyone tooting Rafa as the new posterboy for tennis, and having a WTF-issue with Federer. It's just nice to see the attention shift to Federer's game again as opposed to the endless conversations about 'how he needs to change', and 'how his career is over', and how Rafa and Djoko are catching up, how he has a psychological issue, how he is frustrated and angry ..... and the list goes on.

Posted by Spacenoxx (El Stupido aka The Moron From Majorca) 09/01/2008 at 03:42 AM

Nick and guys, you are making it sound as if there is a 'vendetta' against Rafa at the ATP and also some of the Media.

I dont think its even possible to have such a thing on ATP as most everyone has his own interests at heart and then Tennis as a game (in that order) which ofcourse is quite natural. In either of the cases it really doesnt matter whether Roger or Rafa is No.1 for any of the ATP pros or even the ATP board itself.

Infact Rafa by beating Roger and becoming No.1 has injected fresh blood into the stale state of Tennis popularity. So it should probably be the other way (as in people actually wanting Rafa or someone else to be No.1)

Media includes all kinds of people, some who like Rafa and some who dont like and you see articles from both. Some make him a virtual god while the others make him a blasphemy.

To end it all, no matter how you slice it, I dont agree that there is a clear bias in the ATP against Rafa and the ALL (may be some or even major part but then you have all kinds of journos so its OK) media is against Rafa.

Posted by r u jealous? 09/01/2008 at 04:00 AM

look/.... i know that all of you tthink rf is going down, but who are you to say that he is sooo up himself

Posted by JC 09/01/2008 at 05:16 AM

Federer has squared the circle. He realizes he can be the best player ever without being the best player now.

Posted by roGER 09/01/2008 at 05:43 AM

Thanks for a great article, Steve.

The U.S Open seems to bring out the best of you and Peter - wonderfully written articles that bring out the beauty and fascination of tennis.

Posted by Chito 09/01/2008 at 05:46 AM

"But even as he’s pummeling Stepanek into submission, Federer does it quietly. By which I mean that his strokes, even when they scream past their opponent, never sound like they’ve been hit hard..."

This passage reminds me of 'Slow Hand" Eric Clapton - his virtuosity (like Fed's) does not require pyrotechnics to produce amazing results!

Posted by Vincent (Nadal = Bolt = Phelps) 09/01/2008 at 06:17 AM

It's simple, really. Federer brings to the game something Nadal don't. Technical and aesthetical skills. No amount of fanboyisme will make Nadal's game less ugly than it is. I've seen his "blowout" against Troicki. More like endlessly pummeling the ball and counting on his opponent's errors, which did come at the right moment, as always. I understand that some people may have a strong physical attirance to Rafael Nadal, but tennis-wise he is a freak, and tennis students shouldn't try to imitate his technique.

Moreover, it could be that the immaculate physical form of Nadal is making some journos uneasy. Month after month, they predicted that Nadal couldn't do the amount of work he's done. Every time, he invalidated their predictions. Just recently, it was considered nearly a surhuman feat to win the Olympics and go far at the US Open. Well, Nadal is doing this right now. Maybe that's a bit too good to be true.

Posted by JJJ 09/01/2008 at 06:32 AM

federer is back to his old form.. BEWARE and WATCH OUT

Posted by Papo 09/01/2008 at 08:34 AM

Nick, LOL. Enjoyed your post.

As long as Rafa stays healthy and keeps on biting those trophies, I don't care what the media writes ; )

Vamos Rafa!!! Three Grand Slam titles on three surfaces!!!

Posted by Fusionaut 09/01/2008 at 09:04 AM

Nick, my man, you have hit the proverbial nail right on the head. The tennis media's performance during the whole transition from Roger's dominance to Rafa's has been downright laughable. Bodo, Wertheim and almost all the rest. Rafa wins evrything in sight, defeating Federer several times in the process, and all they can do is write "boo hoo" hand-wringing columns about Fed, giving Rafa a grumpy backhanded complement here or there at best. Usually they just ignore him instead and cry about Roger some more. Most of the online fandom is just as bad, to say the least.

This is nothing new, though. Those ridiculous "Roger is an efortless honey-dipped wood-nymph of aerial splendour and Rafa is a dirty butt-picking pit fighter" colimns have been going on for a while now. It's just hilarious at times. I think part of it is some sort of silly quasi-elitism that these guys like to indulge in, fantisizing themselves as sophisticated aesthetes who can understand a "proper" (ie. artistic) champion, unlike all those unwashed brutes who actually like seeing big sweaty muscle-men competing in an athletic event Oh, it's enough to send them into a proper tizzy, I tell you!
They might even need to sit down and fan themselves, perhaps with a copy of "The New Yorker". Keep up the good work, guys, because it's pure (unintentional) comedy gold!

Posted by princepro110 09/01/2008 at 09:16 AM

Talk about media bias the McEnroe clan that continues to whitewash Andy Roddicks behavior is as bad as MSNBC in its campaign to give the nomination to Obama over Clinton this year.

Roddick destroyed two rackets against Gulbis Friday night not one as I think most people not in attendance saw according to todays NY Times...................did you ever hear a code violation for them???? Did you ever hear John McEnroe say anything about it or code violation? Did you ever hear McEnroe say anything about the "chin/head shot" Roddick took at Gulbis? Did you hear or see a replay of the Roddick verbal abuse of Gulbis on the changes?

John McEnroe is usually fair in his treatment of a match except when his brother has a connection...........could it be his brother in the Roddick players box??????/

"Fair & Balanced"........................forgot.....thats Fox News!

Posted by sashazaliz 09/01/2008 at 10:07 AM

Nick, maybe you just have to get used the to fact that Fed is just more interesting than Rafa both on and off the court hence the media focus...just accept it and move on.

Posted by fedfan 09/01/2008 at 10:17 AM

Great post. You and Pete are outdoing yourselves on your home turf with great writing.

Posted by Vincent (Nadal = Bolt = Phelps) 09/01/2008 at 10:24 AM

Rafa fans must be the most insecure people in the world. Their guy ist winning everything in sight, and still they find a way to whine about this article by Steve, who is, lest we forget, only writing a blog and is thus entitled to his opinions (even if he is, for me, one of the most unbiased writers around. Check his many elogious articles on Rafa).

They're behaving exactly like a parvenu who buys a bunch of Monet and exposes them in his French castle imitation, and then wonders why he's not admitted into the high society.. Money, or in this case, muscle, can't buy everything. Yes, Nadal has the resume, but his style of play cannot be characterized as classical and shouldn't be copied.. Some Nadal fans admit it, others delude themselves and try to convince themselves he's as gifted as a McEnroe or a Federer. A sure sign, once again, of insecurity and/or very young age.

Posted by Tinh 09/01/2008 at 10:32 AM

"Nadal grinds his opponents down; Federer kills them with a thousand subtle and surprising cuts (or slices)."

"Maybe, with a little luck, someday soon"

LOL Tignor, you Federer fanboy!

However, still using the same old "grinder vs elegance" cliché? Come on, man.

What's your definition of a grinder then?

Posted by Tinh 09/01/2008 at 10:40 AM

Personally, I don't think that Rafa lacks positive attention. Tignor may prefer Federer but he's written good articles about Nadal.

Yes, in certain anglo-american circles, the "Spanish player = claycourter = grinder" cliché still exists but Nadal is gradually helping them realise that their cliché is old.

Posted by Griff 09/01/2008 at 10:52 AM

Saying that Fed managed to get to SF or better on 3 GS's while Ancic had to miss almost entire season because of the same illness has no logic.No logic at all.Am i the only one who sees no difference in Federer's display in last years US open final and this years AO semi?Both were very tight matches that could go either way.

Posted by Lima ahmed 09/01/2008 at 11:05 AM

i m sure that federer is gonna win this US open and after winning it he will again come back to his playing style.

Posted by humayra 09/01/2008 at 11:12 AM

federer is back to his form.so rafa's fans shoul be scared.fed express is going to reach his goal very soon with a high speed in US open.

Posted by steve 09/01/2008 at 11:44 AM

i was interpreting federer's mood, which seemed optimistic that he's not far from reclaiming his old status. i'm not publicly hoping for it. i like the changing of the guard because it's something new to talk about.

if you think i'm biased against nadal, you don't don't read my stuff very closely, including my wrap-up of the wimbledon final in tennis magazine.

Posted by Tari 09/01/2008 at 11:45 AM

Wow. The worm turns, huh, Steve? :)

Anyway, nice post. I didn't in any way think you meant you were pulling for Roger personally. :)

Posted by crazyone 09/01/2008 at 12:02 PM

Tari: Thankfully, *the* Worm didn't turn yesterday. Hehehe ;)

Posted by Tari 09/01/2008 at 12:11 PM

Hee, c1. Thankfully, indeed. ;-)

Posted by 09/01/2008 at 12:12 PM

Steve,

Nice piece. You do a good job of conveying Federer's optimism at his chances in this tournament and at regaining the top spot at some point.

I am a bit puzzled though, at the fact that none of the journos or commentators are pointing out the fact that there is a real possibility that Fed will drop to #3 after this tournament. If Djoko beats him in the semis and goes on to win, not a farfetched scenario, he will be the new #2.

Posted by fc_tennis 09/01/2008 at 12:13 PM

Sorry Tinh, how would you describe rafa's game? All-court elegance?

Though I have to say, hard to beat Nick's piercing cartoon analysis...

Posted by rudy3 09/01/2008 at 12:19 PM

I'm not insecure, or young of age. Nor am I delusional to think that Rafa is every bit as gifted as McEnroe and Federer. And Agassi, Edberg, Sampras, Lendl, or Becker for that matter. Granted Rafa does not have the classical technical attributes of Federer, but, like McEnroe, he has his style that works for him. And I agree that a student should not be taught to imulate his technique. And what that says to me is that Rafa is all the more exceptional, he is a one off. Perfect technique bores me. I was bored with tennis, until Rafa came along.

As for the Federfawning of the tennis media...they have no choice. I first found this site during Rafa's break out year of 05. If Rafa's career path had followed what was written about him (and great quanities of it written on this site) he would be ground to a pulp, or barely able to run, or lift his racket, or suspended for doping, or flashed in the pan, or at least a step slower, or traveling the world playing every clay tournament from Acapulco to Umag, by now.
While TMF was destined for GOATdom. TMF with his perfect technique, and gentlemanly manner.

I make no bones about the fact that Fed leaves me cold. But I do acknowledge his tennis is supreme. And his run through 12 majors, and # 1 ranking record, will likely not be matched. I respect his accomplishments immensely.

I think the tennis media greatly underestimated Rafa. They labeled him quaint, and fragile, and unorthodox...him and his Uncle Toni. Turns out Team Rafa have had it right all the long. Following the 06 Wimbledon final, Uncle Toni said it was too soon for Rafa to win Wimbledon, that he was not a complete player yet...and he predicted (expected) that 08 would be the year that Rafa became the # 1. Rafa is on the track that Team Nadal saw for him all the long.

If, and I admit its a huge if, Rafa were to be a winner next Sunday, who has a greater chance of finishing a career slam...Rafa or Fed? The media, and fans, already had TMF the GOAT. Rafa has proven that all that kind of talk before the end of a career is premature.

Heck, if you listen to Brad Gilbert he thinks Rafa will be the GOAT. That is until Gulbis pulls it all together and begins to whip out win after win.


Posted by rudy3 09/01/2008 at 12:30 PM

I think that Rafa gets fair respect on this website, and in Tennis Magazine. However, I do wish that the writers around here would spend a little time researching the articles and interviews from Rafa (and Toni) that have been published in Spain.

They are far more insightful, they have less of the PR stamp, and they give a much better measure of the man, and his beliefs.

Posted by Beckham 09/01/2008 at 12:35 PM

I was pretty sure I'd read it all until I come here and read that Steve is a Federer fan boy...I have to LOL at that...ooh Steve, I feel for you...

And to say the press don't want Rafa to be #1 and are all Fed fan boys, is laughable at best and delusional at worst...has anyone been reading the press since the Oz open, last I checked Roger has been finished since the Oz open and wasn't even the real #1 when he was still #1, he was the fake #1 and now people are complaining that Rafa gets no love??? just unfreakingbelievable...

Steve wrote that the Fed is optimistic and believes he can get back to #1, this somehow translates to Steve wants the Fed to be #1...ROFLMAO...

Posted by Tari 09/01/2008 at 01:09 PM

rudy3: You're delusional. ;-)

Posted by N3xt 09/01/2008 at 01:37 PM

Personally, roger deserves all that media attention. I mean he was no.1 for 4 1/2 years. Once Nadal does that, then we can talk. More so that he's gunning for Sampras'record, more attention and people see that Federer has higher stakes. Regaining is no.1 spot, beating Sampras' record, etc. Rafa is no.1 ok...

Posted by Markic 09/01/2008 at 01:46 PM

Hey Steve - I think your penultimate sentence says it all. Great article. I think Wozniacki might end up the best of the 18/19 year-olds now making their moves up: she has variety, no obvious weaknesses, moves well and can be aggressive.

Posted by Tinh 09/01/2008 at 02:08 PM

fc_tennis,
I would classify his game as exciting and fun to watch.


About Tignor, I do think that he tries to be fair to all the players. Whenever he writes something positive about Federer, the fans of Nadal and other players complain. When he writes something positive about Nadal, fans of Federer and others complain. It's funny to read. The man can't win.

However, I do think that he favors Federer.
Which is no criticism because we all have favorites and this is a blog so it's bound to be a bit more personal.

But I do think that, like somebody else said, the articles are often not really thoroughly researched when talking about Nadal for instance. His preference for Federer shines through.
But, no problem. Like I said, he tries to be fair on all players.

Posted by Tinh 09/01/2008 at 02:11 PM

Every top player deserves to be talked about, N3xt.
Nadal has done enough to merit to be written about.

Then again, for me, it's also nice to read about the other players as well, not just the top players.

Posted by Tinh 09/01/2008 at 02:13 PM

Beckham, I've seen you complain in here about bias and too much written about other players so...come on, man. Be reasonable.

Posted by Nadal_1 09/01/2008 at 02:56 PM

I think its a lie that Federer had mono. Maybe he was tested for it but never really had it. Sportsmen are done atleast for a year when they have mono. You are also bed-ridden for a while.
http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/infectious-mononucleosis-topic-overview
He always had trouble giving credit to his opponents. Now he has made this excuse.
I dont think you can disagree with confidence unless you have seen the medical report yourself.

Posted by bluesunflower 09/01/2008 at 03:15 PM

I agree with the above posters who feel that Rafael doesnt get much credit as he could/should. It always baffled me when everyone was hailing Djokovic as Federer's likeliest succesor.

I hope that Federer continues to play well, and that journalists continue to eulogise his play, and that he meets Nadal in the final. When Nadal beats him then all will have no choice but to acknowledge that he well and trully is no1. the fact that Federer did not make it to the olympic final and thus did not play Nadal and then won gold in the doubles has glossed over the fact that Nadal well and trully has his number. He has earned his no1 position by winning all their 4 meetings this season.

People always used to complain that the reason the head to head for Rafa and Fdederer was so skewed was because Rafa was not making finals on hard courts. well Rafa has been there at 2 of the last 3 finals and its Federer that hasn't made the appointments. So this final HAS to be a Rafa/Federer final. and the winner can have bragging rights

Posted by luxsword 09/01/2008 at 03:31 PM

Best way too forget the rafa/fed bias, imaginary or not, is to talk, write, read, comment and care about other players too.

Good read, btw. Thanks, Steve. :)

Posted by Heidi 09/01/2008 at 05:00 PM

Nice comparison here, Steve. You really can't get much more opposing #2s than these -- Jankovic being such a drama queen and so shaky, no slam finals ever, and Fed being Fed. I thought Wozniacki might have a good chance against her, but I guess she does have some learning to do.

Posted by Kitty Mac 09/01/2008 at 05:01 PM

As none of us have seen any medical reports none of us can be exactly sure re the mono situation, as you indeed say. But to state that mono always has an individual bedridden for long periods of time or out for at least a year is incorrect, whether they are a sports person or not.

The Epstein Barr virus impacts different individuals in different ways and the extent to which it impacts the individual also varies greatly, for everybody. I had mono over 20 years ago, was off school for over a year and even now have post-viral fatigue issues as a left-over. One of my closest friends however also had mono, was off work for two and a half weeks and was then back at work. She did have off days when the after effects that lingered still bothered her particularly occassional fatigue issues etc. But generally she was living a normal life after she returned to work. Viruses such as the EB virus are not even understood properly by immunologists, never mind us.

But if you so seriously doubt Federer's team, and him for that matter - why don't you make the accusation public and sort it all out in a court of defamation?

Posted by Heidi 09/01/2008 at 05:05 PM

Nice comparison here, Steve. You really can't get much more opposing #2s than these -- Jankovic being such a drama queen and so shaky, no slam finals ever, and Fed being Fed. I thought Wozniacki might have a good chance against her, but I guess she does have some learning to do.

Posted by Nadal_1 09/01/2008 at 07:05 PM

Kitty Mac this is my way of making my accusations public. Unfortunately I cannot sue him since he hasnt defamed me in any way. I am just putting forward a very logical doubt. Have a great day.

Posted by 09/01/2008 at 07:27 PM

good article and comments. Fusionaut, my man, you made me laugh out loud. rudy3, good perspective - team Nadal definitely has a long-term view and Nadal himself has said many times that his primary goal is improvement. He truly is a guy who takes it one match at a time.

Posted by 09/01/2008 at 08:25 PM

"mono is serious just ask Mario Ancic, he's out again with a recurrence"

Very interesting: Ancic had mono and he is out once and again, Fed had mono but he has played all the regular tournaments. I guess Roger had a very especial kind of mono...

Posted by ND 09/01/2008 at 08:37 PM

To all Nadal fans who are pissed off about him being called a grinder. How would you describe his game? I'm genuinely curious. I always try to learn something technical about the game from the current best player, but I don't understand anything about Nadal's game. Other than the usual cliches -- heavy topspin, great foot-speed, fewer unforced errors, and a slower but higher percentage first serve. All of which define a grinder/defensive player.

Frankly, I don't see why there's anything wrong or demeaning about being a grinder. I'm sure there are a lot of subtleties in playing defense, which I wish I knew more about. One quote from Rafa earlier this year (roughly) "Roger can attack from anywhere with his forehand. Defensive shot I have a little better". Would somebody please get him to expand on that!

Posted by .com 09/01/2008 at 09:24 PM

"Nothing is more damaging than any lingering sense of HUBRIS..."

Please, can someone send this message to Novak?
Thanks. ;)

Posted by kinsley 09/01/2008 at 10:26 PM

To all those doubting the effects of mono, I say try to have it. It left me weak and immobile for 10months straight, getting well only to have it back three months later. I'm not an athlete but I could barely walk that first four months. Imagine how it'll be for an athlete who relies on his energy and stamina?

Anyway, it was like having the Roger circa2006 back. Methinks the Olympic medal did him a world of good.

As for JJ... ugh. Drama queen. (As I read in another tennis blog, "Sorry, you ain't pretty enough.")

Posted by LaQuanda 09/01/2008 at 10:39 PM

jankovic is the best...federer sucks...period. :]

Posted by .com 09/01/2008 at 10:50 PM

Vincent (Nadal = Bolt = Phelps),

The amount of hatred and ill will contained in your posts are so incredible that I am sorry for you. I hope someday you will be not only intelligent but also fair and open-minded. In any case, I forgive you your offences and insults.

Posted by wimby moon 09/01/2008 at 11:14 PM

Nick, Fusionaut and others, agree with you all that Rafa does not get the credit he deserves. He doesn't need it though.

Sashazalis, Rafa is obviously much more interesting than Federer. That's what they're calling him a rock star. That's why many of us are perpelexed by the tennis media fawns on Fed ad nauseam. Rafa is exciting and awesome, Fed is closer to a sedate grandpa in his cardigans and monogrammed me-me-me clothes.

Rafa does not wait for errors from anyone. He causes errors and he hits breath-taking amazing shots. He's incredible shotmaker. All the bloviating about his game being ugly is just hot air, nothing more.

Who knows if Fed has mono or not. It seems irrelevant because he's played all the tournaments as always and shows no signs of illness apart from losing. Obviously some believe if he loses he was sick but clearly that's not true.

Anyone who can go five sets in the hot Australian sun and go on to the final is not really showing any signs of mono. If, as some are saying, one can have mono with very little effect then why mention it except to take away credit from all those who have earned their wins over him? It was poor sportsmanship of Fed to denigrate Djokovic' win over him, months after the loss when Fed was getting beaten by others as well. When Rafa was utterly exhausted and that allowed Federer to get his sole win against Rafa on clay, Rafa never went out telling anyone how exhausted he was. Fed should take his losses like a man, but that I guess is asking too much.

Posted by The Serb 09/01/2008 at 11:15 PM

This is a fairly good article that describes how Jelena plays, which is hard to put to words when you see how she always struggles and yet somehow manages to win. Her matches tend to be very entertaing like a rollercoaster with great lows and highs. I hope Jelena wins US Open, but she is got some comeptiotion for sure.

Posted by nesha 09/01/2008 at 11:27 PM

Yes!!! Go Novak ! Hold up the winner's trophy next week!!!!
Good luck to JJ too :D

Posted by koie 09/01/2008 at 11:33 PM

I think people "denigrate" Djokovic's "accomplishments" (and during the Olympics, nobody even mentioned him) because he's as cocky as hell.

Posted by k_ram 09/02/2008 at 01:06 AM

Screw mono ..

How did mono affect fed's loss in wimbledon final..

tat was pure class by Rafa..

and how come Mono doesnt affect Fed before he faces Rafa/Djokovic

All balony...

These 2 players have incresed there game whileFed hasnt..

Live with it !

Posted by k_ram 09/02/2008 at 01:10 AM

One more thing:

Rafa/Djokovic is goin to win US open this year

Forget Fed...no chance

Posted by Larry V. 09/02/2008 at 02:21 AM

Troicki is no Stepanek folks, that's why Rafa's rout was not that acknowledged by the media...Stepanek was ranked as high as #8 two years ago and he defeated Federer this year in the quarter-finals in Rome. On the other hand, Troicki is a former qualifier who just recently broke into the top 100 by making it to the final in Washington D.C to reach a highest ranking of #71. Nadal has been absolutely phenomenal this year so destroying a low ranked player is not news. On the other hand, Federer has not been himself this year, so destroying a former top 10 player who beat him in straight set a few months ago is news indeed. That's all, no bias here, just one trouncing was obviously way more significant than the other...

Posted by clark anthony 09/02/2008 at 02:30 AM

i would safely pick the FED to win this now. GOOOOO FED!

Posted by Tinh 09/02/2008 at 03:09 AM

ND,

Well, if you're interested in the technical side of tennis, the best way to learn is to use your own eyes with an open mind.

Look up what most specialists perceive as "grinding" in tennis and look at what Rafa does. Granted, he sometimes grinds his opponents but there's just more to him. To reduce him to "that grinder" is just a tool to use opposing clichés (like "the grinder" vs "the artist") that look good in an article but it doesn't quite cover it IMHO. "

By the way, some time ago, Bodo described Federer as basically a grinder. Look it up.

Posted by Matt 09/02/2008 at 06:11 AM

"But Jankovic is not a player who closes the door quickly, even when given the chance. Her mind is too scattered and variable for that."

Sorry, but this explanation of Jankovic's win is so unfair.

Steve, too bad you failed to notice this fact about Jankovic's slam performance:
"Her consistency of results at slams never seems to be effected, though. By reaching the QF and matching her '07 Open result, Jankovic has now once again polished up her impressive numbers in return trips to slams. In the seventeen times in her career in which she's returned to a slam, she's now either matched or exceeded her previous year's result sixteen times (only her '07 Open QF after a SF in '06 prevents her from having a perfect record)."

Posted by Matt 09/02/2008 at 09:12 AM

Steve, how about you also write a word or two about Jankovic's tennis?

Matthew Cronin:
"For the first time since Paris, Jankovic really looked like she belonged as a Slam contender. She ran circles around Wozniacki in the last two sets, and was leaping into her shots without hesitating on her bad knee. She was leaning forward with snarl. Her mediocre serve continues to plague her, but she reacts quickly to strong service returns and can turn around points on a dime. Her depth off both wings as well as her sharp angles are more than troublesome, they are the stuff that champions are made of. It’s all about whether she’ll give herself a real chance to win."

Posted by Joyce 09/02/2008 at 09:50 AM

i think this article is awesome and analyzed everything very well.
:) i love it.
Roger Federer has the potential to bounce back and his last match shows that he is returning to his top form.

Posted by tennisfreek204 09/02/2008 at 10:00 AM

Nick - the main problem with Rafa as far as the media goes is that he is not very fluent in English and less inclined to provide lengthy answers to questions. His style of play may not be quite as entertaining as Federer(much the same way Muster or Hewitt at their primes were not quite as entertaining as Sampras).

I do believe Rafa deserves more positive press and recognition for what he has accomplished, but you're asserting that the defending champion is not a good pick for a tournament win. Quick reminder, until now, Rafa hasn't won a HC major. That could change, but as of publication time it hadn't happened.

In any event, I'm just excited to see Fish make it to the quarters...I hope he plays great and puts on a great show.

Posted by tennisfreek204 09/02/2008 at 10:20 AM

wimby moon...get some perspective...you too k_ram

The article doesn't mention Mono, nor does it assert that there were issues in recent tournaments as a result of this. Fed has clearly not played as well this Summer as he has in the past. (oh and btw...rafa has his name on his shoes too...it's called marketing...take a business class sometime)

It's interesting...I'll bet you're quick to recall why Rafa lost to Juan Carlos earlier this year...blisters wasn't it...you mean a health-related issue? hmmm...

There are always numberous reasons for someone to lose...level of opponents' play...fatigue...form...lack of focus...they affect every player. The article is referring to form and focus with respect to Fed. He has clearly not had either lately.

Rafa, on the other hand, has had both. The question will be how does his game evolve to stay ahead and how long can he stay ahead of the pack. It should be quite entertaining to watch.

Also, someone mentioned Fed's quarter being weak...I fail to see how facing the fifth seed in the quarters is a weak draw...in fact I do believe the fifth seed won some other large HC tournament this year...also in the States. Whereas Nadal faces a player ranked in the 30's....selective perception perhaps?

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/02/2008 at 10:22 AM

Steve,

Nice insights into Federer's approach.

"Nadal grinds his opponents down; Federer kills them with a thousand subtle and surprising cuts (or slices)."

I often refer to this as "nick and cut" tennis -- each nick or cut is too small in and of itself for your opponent to really notice or get bothered by, but by the end of the match he has bled to death from a thousand tiny wounds.

My USTA League teammates have noted this method in my brand of tennis, also, and have given it a different and slightly comical name: "CWT" (Chinese Water Torture). No offense to any Chinese readers intended. Indeed, I took it as a compliment of the highest order!

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/02/2008 at 10:28 AM

One more thing:

You shared this post-match quote from Federer: "'If I were to win a big tournament, you know, right away I have the invincibility factor again.'"

This does smack of an admission that he had lost something that is very very difficult, if it is at all possible, to regain.

I am cautiously optimistic, but fear that Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Gulbis, Del Potro, Simon and a handful of big, fast, young athletes are soon going to close the door on Federer's opportunity to climb back up to the summit.

Posted by tanmay 09/02/2008 at 10:32 AM

@ nadal = bolt = phelps

Only bolt a real class ..

nadal no match to federer ... and Phelps no match to Alex popov ...

But for that one needs to know what is class ..

Posted by Tommy Balls 09/02/2008 at 11:33 AM

I'm a fan of both Fed and Nadal, and think that fans get a little too into it and tend to have a bias in how they see things. Ive definately felt that since wimby the attention has been on Rafa with consistent praising, which is well deserved no doubt. There has also been a lot of attention given to Feds apparent demize, which i honestly get sick of hearing about. I'm not sure if some of these posters are 14 years old but the my dad can beat up your dad mentality is getting a little old and played out. They are both great players, and there is little reason to belive that Fed will not at some poit regain an excellent form, whether that includes taking the number one spot or not. The guy had mono and suffered a few tough losses and subsequently loss some confidence. It takes some time to regain confidence and the will to win, the dude obviously still has the game, its primarily psychological at this point.

Fed will not likely dominate like he used to but the odds are still high that he will become a consistent threat again and likely rack up some more big touneys over the next 3 to 5 years. Some of these fans, particularly the biased ones, appear to have the foresight of a nat!

Posted by David 09/02/2008 at 12:03 PM

Athletes who compete, unaware they have mono, is not some rare thing. It happens quite a bit. Johnny Weir is one example.


Johnny Weir: I allegedly had mononucleosis during the Torino Olympics and I say 'allegedly' because I didn't know about it until shortly after starting the Champions On Ice tour last Spring. Nobody could figure out what was wrong with me so they finally did a blood test and it clearly indicated that I was in the end stages of recovery from mono. I didn't even know (laughs), because while competing at the Olympics, of course I expected to be tired, but I didn't expect to be that tired. Training for the Games you get run down, and I was so busy over in Italy that it seemed logical.

When I came home and the exhaustion continued, and then I had the World championships, it was just too much. I had to deal with the media, cameras in my face, and the pressure of trying my first quad in competition (which I did), and then go straight to rehearsals and start the tour. There simply was no vacation or rest. No time to decompress and go to an island and pamper myself.

I have been working straight through since August of 2005 and can't stop because there are so many commitments to fulfill. At the same time, I'm happy to do it as I don't like to be idle or bored. Once I was on the tour last Spring, I started to get better, however I also started gaining weight from all the restaurant food, the room service, the going out every night to dinner and enjoying a few glasses of wine. In no time I put on fifteen pounds.

http://www.goldenskate.com/articles/2006/122406.shtml

Posted by Kaygee 09/02/2008 at 12:05 PM

The only thing in the article that I like is that Federer is showing some humility - that was always my problem with him. I am a diehard Rafa fan because of the obvious effort he and his group have made to make him great. All this talk of Federer being an elegant, graceful, etc. tennis player - who wants to see that? This is a physical sport - nobody enjoys an athlete in a run and gun sport showing little effort being "graceful, elegant". We want to see effort, physicality, competitiveness, aggression - give the fans what they pay for. Rafa is a joy to watch - you feel gratified watching him play - he puts out the maximum effort and that is appealing. Federer is boring to watch - the old school snobbish tennis style that was never appealing to the masses. Thank God we have Rafa - tennis is exciting again - even with the immature Djokovic - at least there is some personality in tennis long after the McEnroe, etc. era. I now never miss a Rafa match but I can do without watching a Federer match. I don't dislike Fed - I just think it is not very entertaining.

However, as a human being, I feel for Fed during his recent struggles.

On the other hand, I think Rafa will not be fully accepted by the old school tennis snobbery because of his raw sensuality and excitement he causes in people, especially women (and a lot of men - this is 2008) - they are uncomfortable with that.

Posted by Bob 09/02/2008 at 12:17 PM

isnt it a coincidence that nadal always but ALWAYS gets a harder draw? if you dont believe me check it out an compare...

the only tournament nadal had it easy was at the AO.....

Posted by ND 09/02/2008 at 01:26 PM

Tinh,

"""
To reduce him to "that grinder" is just a tool to use opposing clichés (like "the grinder" vs "the artist") that look good in an article but it doesn't quite cover it IMHO. "
"""

Of course, it doesn't cover it. But what would? Imho, it's the best one word description of Nadal. For me, defensive player = grinder. And, Fed and Djokovic have on several occasions mentioned Nadal's defensive skills/margin for error. This does not mean that he can never attack. Otherwise, he wouldn't be the best. All top players have a combination of both. It's a question of balance.

Oh well, if you're not going to come up with something more specific than "use your eyes", it's of no help. I haven't said that I don't enjoy watching Nadal (I definitely do), but just that the things that make him special are not easily analyzable.

"""
By the way, some time ago, Bodo described Federer as basically a grinder. Look it up.
"""

That was a reference to his consistency in terms of schedule and results, and not his style of play. Look it up.

Posted by David 09/02/2008 at 01:37 PM

Kaygee

You'd be wrong. Federer's perfect form and elegance are the very crux of his appeal. It's the combination of elegance and power within one person. For me, Federer is the most enjoyable player to watch on tour. Different strokes for different folks. No doubt Federer likes himself and is proud of what he has achieved, but I also think he does exhibit a humble attitude. Might not be humble enough for some, but humble nevertheless. He's also very respectful to his opponents on and off court and has been given the best sportsmanship award by them for the past few years.

Bob

Nadal doesn't get harder draws. It's about 50/50 for the top two seeds, over time, with lower ranked players getting progressively worse draws. Nadal had a pretty easy draw at the Aussie Open this year. Also, Djokovic has been in Federer's half in 3 of the 4 Slams this year.

Posted by Sashazaliz 09/02/2008 at 02:57 PM

Wimby Moon...Fed and his grandpa cardigans have earned more than double the endorsement pay that Rafa gets. He's the highest paid tennis player by far...I guess the media and sports companies do find Fed's brand of tennis, image and his accomplishments more exciting and marketable than Rafa's. Once again...get used to it and accept it.

Posted by David 09/02/2008 at 04:10 PM

On the grinder question, I personally think Nadal and Djokovic are both grinders. This does'nt mean they cannot hit some great shots, most grinders can. Their games, however, are based on playing many extended rallies which comprise of chasing a lot of balls down. That's a grinder which ever way you look at it.

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