Federer Treads a Thin Line When Playing Against Nadal

Hi guys. I’m still hesitant to make a follow up post because I don’t want to hype up a possible US Open Fedal quarter final that may never happen. But like I said it doesn’t have to pertain to only such a possible meeting. It is also about the Fedal rivalry as a whole and it is an interesting subject. Even if such a match does not happen I still feel like it is something worth keeping ourselves busy over. Someone asked me after my last post whether I think Roger’s GOAT status is in jeopardy in this potential quarter final match up with Nadal. I think that is a question worth pondering. My short answer would be yes. I think we have reached a point in the Fedal rivalry where Nadal is threatening to put a serious dent in Roger’s GOAT claim. There is the bad match up and clay heavy head-to-head arguments, and they are valid arguments.

But there comes a time where those arguments don’t hold up anymore and they become mere excuses. And when does that time come? Who decides? It is more in nature of a feeling rather than a decision. I just have a feeling that if Nadal beats Roger at the US Open then it kinds of wraps up the head-to-head. Up to now Roger has had some key wins. He leads the head-to-head 4-0 indoors, he has beaten Nadal twice on clay, and he leads the head-to-head 2-1 at Wimbledon. After Nadal’s latest win over Roger in Cincy, Roger doesn’t lead the head-to-head off of clay anymore. Nadal is threatening to win the head-to-head off of clay even. As far as the other slams go Nadal leads 2-0 at the Australian Open and 5-0 at the French. The only slams they haven’t met at is the US Open and it becomes crucial that Roger should take the lead in this slam.

The Australian and French favors Nadal because they are slow surfaces. Roger should have the upper hand at Wimbledon and New York because it is faster and he is also a much better grass court and hard court player than Nadal. The 9 vs 2 hard court slams and 7 vs 2 grass court slams says enough, without having to mention the Masters Cup and many other factors. Roger is the best hard court player ever, and being down 3-0 in hard court slams to his mean rival will not look good. He needs to at least lead the head-to-head in one of the hard court slams. But it goes further than that. Nadal wants the GOAT title for himself and he is still in the running. He desperately needs to add balance to his resume however. Currently his slam resume is 1-8-2-1. I’d say he needs to add something like 2 more hard court slams, another Wimbledon, and then he can add 2 more French Opens.

That would put him on 17 slams, and unless Roger won another slam himself, that would probably be enough to make Nadal the GOAT given the head-to-head. Of course more weeks at #1 and at least one Masters Cup title won’t hurt Nadal either, but you would assume those things will come if he is going to win the slams I talked about. My point is that I think Nadal is a strong favorite to win the US Open this year and it is up to Roger himself to stop him. Or else Nadal will go ahead and take the GOAT title for himself. So to come back to my reader’s question, yes I think a potential Fedal quarter final could determine the GOAT. It first of all effectively eliminates Roger as the undisputed GOAT, if such a thing even exists. It’s just hard to make a claim to be undisputed GOAT when your main rival basically completely owns you.

Sharpening the tools with Haas

Secondly it puts Nadal on the road to an undisputed GOAT claim for himself. If he beats Roger he becomes the favorite for the US Open title and he could become #1 after the US Open already, if he wins the title and Djokovic loses in the semi-finals or earlier. You can see where I am going with this. Roger has to put an end to this himself or no one else will. He has to fight for the GOAT status like never before, because if there ever was a match that would have huge consequences for the GOAT argument, it would be the potential Fedal quarter final at the US Open this year. We say that almost every time they play in a slam, but this time I mean it. Or maybe one of them or both of them will lose before the quarter finals, like what happened at Wimbledon. But lets say they do meet, what would it take for Roger to beat Nadal?

Roger treads a thin line when playing against Nadal. The window of opportunity is extremely small and he has to play pretty much the perfect match. Every time he beat Nadal in the past everything kind of clicked and he was able to impose his game on Nadal. There is very little margin for error. Two posts ago Steve commented that Roger must win the first two sets to beat Nadal. I agree with this. If the match goes to 5 sets the probability of Nadal winning is just about 100%, and if Roger loses either one for the first 2 sets the probability of the match going to 5 sets is very good too. This is why he has to win the first 2 sets. Roger has beaten Nadal in 5 sets in a slam before, at Wimbledon 2007. I don’t see that happening again though. The 5-setter in the Miami final goes right out of the window because that was at the start of the rivalry, and at the 2007 Wimbledon pretty much the same thing.

Since then Nadal has given Roger the two toughest losses of his career at Wimbledon 2008 and the 2009 Australian Open. Those losses hurt Roger, and if they go to a 5th set in New York those losses will come back to haunt Roger. He needs to get it done in 4 sets. Of course 3 sets would be even better but that is just about impossible as well. If he is to win it must be something like the 2006 Wimbledon final where he won in 4 sets after dropping the 3rd set. Steve also said the surface doesn’t matter. There I strongly disagree. If it was the French or Australia I wouldn’t even bother giving Roger a chance. The surfaces are just too slow and too much in Nadal’s favor. If Roger is to beat Nadal again it would have to be at Wimbledon or the US Open. Lets face it. Beating Nadal is a massive challenge and Roger needs every little help he can get.

At least at the US Open Roger has no bad memories of losing to Nadal. Even though he lost to Nadal in Cincy, it was still a very close match and I feel like Roger now has a kind of blueprint to beat Nadal. The US Open is not as slow as the French or Australia where he can’t get the ball past Nadal no matter what. His serve and forehand can still do enough damage, and his net play can be used to his advantage as well. The return was key in Cincy, and as long as Roger returns aggressively on the backhand side, it will give him break chances. The main thing is mental however. It will come down to a few key points, and on those points Roger must play with clarity of thought and calm. As always he must impose his attacking game on Nadal and not allow Nadal to get into his head when he makes impossible defensive plays.

Cute

The other thing about the Cincy match which I just thought of is that if it was a 5 set match, Roger would have lost it as well. If he is in the same position at the US Open he can’t afford to lose the second set like he did at Cincy. He can’t afford that lapse of concentration. He must win the first two sets. Period. He must play the match on his terms. Once it is a set all it means we are in a battle of wills and then Nadal becomes the favorite. If however Roger wins the first two sets it means he is playing the match on his terms and he puts a certain amount of doubt in Nadal’s mind. He starts thinking maybe this is the time that Roger gets once back over me. We know Nadal never gives up though, and even if he wins the 3rd set Roger will still feel he is in with a good shot. Then he needs to put his foot down and seal the deal for an epic win.

You can now see what I say Roger threads a thin line against Nadal. But I do believe it is possible. Everything just needs to click on the day and Roger must want it badly. Some people have drawn the parallel and said Roger would need a 2011 French Open semi-final-like performance. I think that is an apt example because on that day you felt like Roger was treading a very thin line as well. If he stepped even half a foot out of line he would have lost, but he didn’t. It was peRFection. We haven’t seen that Roger all year and if ever JesusFed or Goderer needed to show up again, it would be in a US Open quarter final with Nadal. Anyway I’ve gone and previewed the Fedal match before it is even a reality so at least if it happens I won’t have to do it again. Not even sure I would be able to post by then so at least I got that out of the way.

Roger will play tomorrow on Ashe in the second evening match against Zemlja and I am very excited because I will get to see him play still. Let the games begin!

OOPhttp://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/schedule/index.html?promo=subnav

Posted in Uncategorized.

46 Comments

  1. Hey, Ru-an!

    I read your post. It was excellent. I posted this on your previous post. Please read it when you get a chance and tell me what you think:

    Hi, guys! As much as we can talk and pump our guy Roger up, in the end it’s going to come down to who will get the 2:0 lead or the 2:1 lead. I have included Federer and Nadal GS meetings for you to see. And basically the trend is certainly there for all to see. Whomever got that crucial 2 set lead or the 2 sets to 1 lead, went on to win. It’s just that simple. I bet that it will happen again here.
    Just watch..
    2005 Roland Garros
    France Clay S Nadal, Rafael
    6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 Stats
    2006 Roland Garros
    France Clay F Nadal, Rafael
    1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4) Stats
    2006 Wimbledon
    England Grass F Federer, Roger
    6-0, 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3 Stats
    2007 Roland Garros
    France Clay F Nadal, Rafael
    6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 Stats
    2007 Wimbledon
    Great Britain Grass F Federer, Roger
    7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 Stats
    2008 Wimbledon
    Great Britain Grass F Nadal, Rafael
    6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 Stats
    2009 Australian Open
    Australia Hard F Nadal, Rafael
    7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2 Stats
    2011 Roland Garros
    France Clay F Nadal, Rafael
    7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-1 Stats
    2012 Australian Open
    Australia Hard S Nadal, Rafael
    6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-4 Stats
    As you can see, in the two matches that Roger won (at Wimbledon) he basically got the crucial two sets to love lead or the 2 sets to 1 lead. And Vice Versa, whenever Rafa got the same, he prevailed. At Wimbledon 2008, Roger made the improbable comeback from two sets down but in the end he still lost. Rafa likes to get the lead. I feel that if Roger wins the first set and then he loses the second, THE KEY WILL BE to NOT GET DISCOURAGED. We’ve seen it time and time again.
    If you really get to the nitty gritty you’ll also see that the third SET is ABSOLUTELY KEY…
    In 2006, Roger won the first two sets at Wimby and then he lost the third set tiebreak. Since he was leading 2:0 he could allows himself a breather. He closed it in 4.
    In 2007, it was even closer. Crucially, Roger and Rafa split the first two sets. Then Roger played an amazing tiebreak in the third. He took that commanding 2:1 set lead and then – ya it went to 5 but Roger closed it…
    Then, a similar trend continues at the 2009 Australian Open – Roger and Rafa split the first two sets again. However, the third set goes to a TIEBREAK again but this time Rafa prevails to take it and get the 2:1 lead. Roger fights to force a fifth but he loses it.
    And, finally their last meeting at the Australian Open 2012 semi – again Roger and Rafa split the first 2 sets. But again they force a third set Tiebreak. Basically whomever takes the third set and the 2:1 lead wins. And again, Rafa takes it and closes it in 4. I even think that if Roger forced a 5th he would have still lost.
    You see the picture here. It’s not that Roger should necessarily fear a 5th set. It’s how you get there. Are you in the lead 2:1 and the other guy comes back and then you close him out. Or are you the chaser?
    These statistics don’t lie. They almost paint a huge picture that basically shows that the first set is not that important in the grand scheme of things. If Roger loses the first but wins the next two is much better that taking the first and then losing the next 2. I mean if he takes the first 2 sets, then in most likelihood he’ll win in 4 sets. Nadal is not Djokovic and I don’t see him forcing a 5 set after being down 2 sets to love.
    More realistically however, Roger and Rafa will split the first 2 sets. But the way it has played out is really that Rafa almost lets Roger take the first set and then play Roger really close in the 2nd set. And then he makes his big move by taking a crucial break in the end of the 2nd and then stuns Roger by breaking him early in the third. To me this is shocking that Roger lets this happen to him.
    Other times, Roger and Rafa play tight but if ROger gets into a third set tiebreak HE MUST PLAY as if his life depends on it. If he wins the third set, you can pretty much book the victory. Either in 4 or 5 – it doesn’t matter. That 2:1 set lead will be key. He’ll relax while Nadal will have to play from behind.
    Anyway, I think I am onto something here. I hope you guys agree. Let me know what you think. As you can see we can talk all we want about this but at the end it does come to who will play tough especially in the third set tiebreak.

    [Reply]

  2. “Roger’s GOAT claim”… Roger never claimed anything. These claims come from obsessed fans that would do better, and spare themselves a lot of suffering, to just let it go and enjoy the man and his tennis while he’s around… If Rafa ends up with more titles than Roger then maybe he deserved it. However for me Roger will always be the guy who played this silly game as close to perfection as I can remember…

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    “Roger never claimed anything”

    Nor did I say he did. These claims come from delusional fans who read whatever they want to in an article without considering the true meaning of the writer’s words.

    [Reply]

    Solomon Deschamps Reply:

    Big Fed fan here. No need to be defensive Ruan. Vasco has a point. This GOAT thing is getting old now, and there is nothing delusional about what Vasco said. You’ve mentioned the word “GOAT” 11 times in this post. Since Roger himself hasn’t claimed anything, this imaginary GOAT title issue is probably getting the better of some of the Fed fans.

    Just my two cents.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well he put words in my mouth then. Anyway it’s just a way of speaking. Eras can’t be compared but Federer is the best of the current era and since the current era is very strong his GOAT claim is very strong. When I talk about GOAT I am always talking about the Fedal era, which has been an extremely strong era. There is no GOAT but I use the term because it’s fun. I don’t care if people don’t like it.

    [Reply]

  3. I agree with Vasco. Let’s just enjoy Roger and his tennis while he’s still around.
    Ruan, when I was talking about ego. We have to realize it’s our egos that get in the way of enjoying Roger play.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Part of the enjoyment comes from the competition. Maybe you would still be watching if he was playing to look pretty. I wouldn’t.

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  4. Hi Ruan,
    I’ve been reading your last posts with great interest and reflecting on it a bit I’d say.
    Does Federer still have what it takes to beat Nadal?
    Why not I’d say !?
    If my 29 year old fellow country man Steve Darcis with his one handed BH can beat Nadal in the first round of Wimbledon, why not the great Roger Federer in a possible QF at the US Open ? Roger has got all the strokes that Steve Darcis has got, and has got a lot more to throw at his opponent. So where lays the problem ?
    Well, part of Roger’s problem is that Roger’s game style has been analyzed in depth by everybody where Steve Darcis’s game hasn’t. So the entrenched patterns of play on which Roger’s game is build, have been figured out by his opponents. Nadal, and his main rivals for that matter, read his game easily, anticipate his aggressive shots very well, and are sufficiently consistent to return them to extend the rally. So if Roger’s serve or FH are a bit off or decline a little bit, he becomes pretty vulnerable as he can’t sustain these endless rallies relying on the opponent to miss.
    I can see Roger winning against Rafael Nadal, sure, but only if his game transpires the touch of brilliance which it has at times. Only a clean masterclass of the goat will do it against the goad.
    One last remark.
    It seems to me like our loyalty to Roger Federer is now put to the ultimate test by what you’re writing in your posts. You already deleted ‘goat blog’ in the headline of your blog, and changed it to ‘tennis blog’, as if you already anticipate a loss and feel like you can’t any longer consider Roger the goat in case he loses.
    So what’s coming up next if this turns out to be the case?
    I prefer to stay loyal to Roger and don’t feel like reading an eulogy of someone whom I consider as a unfair competitor.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Wilfried. The fact that I changed ‘GOAT Blog’ to ‘A Tennis Blog’ actually have nothing to do with the Roger’s possible QF match with Nadal. It has to do with fanaticism and people who think Federer is somehow bigger than the sport. As for the possible Fedal QF I can see why people would have a problem with my posts, because they don’t want to accept the idea that Nadal could become greater then Federer. That is understandable. I guess I am too honest and have too much integrity sometimes, if that is even possible. I just call it as I see it. I feel a bigger need to be honest and unbiased than to please people. I am not being insensitive. I just feel like I have an obligation to be truthful no matter the cost, and if Nadal beats Federer that won’t look good, no matter how you look at it. And again I can understand why Fedfans don’t like me saying that. I have compassion for it because I don’t wana see Federer’s legacy tarnished anymore than they do. But I don’t look at it that way. I see this as an opportunity for Roger to turn the tables on Nadal. I am not fearful like the other fans are. I think Roger can win this.
    But the biggest joke of it all is that there is no guarantee that they are going to face each other. My posts were merely written for enjoyment and because it was something for me to write about. I never claimed they were going to meet for sure, and the posts weren’t just about a possible USO QF. We will see how things play out. Anyway since you believe Nadal is a doper none of this should bother you too much. If I was 100% sure Nadal was a doper and Roger was not I wouldn’t even be making these posts, because it would be useless. But since I can’t be 100% sure I still have to treat the situation as if neither player is doping. That is unfortunately the position the authorities have put me in. I am trying to make the best of a difficult situation, and if everyone wants to hate me for it then so be it. My writing have never been about pleasing people. It has first of all been about trying to be truthful and having integrity as a writer, even if I come across as unsympathetic sometimes. People have often not liked what Roger said either, but that never stopped him from speaking his mind.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I just read you last sentence again and I’m not sure I understood it correctly. You don’t want to read an eulogy about Nadal because he is a doper? Please explain.

    [Reply]

    Wilfried Reply:

    I appreciate your honesty and your straightforwardness, Ruan, and I understand there are limits to what you may write or not. I have my own ‘balises’ in my job as well, so nothing new to me in that respect.
    However my sensibility for honesty and authenticity is also one of the reasons for not feeling comfortable with the tendentious articles of some writers and bloggers who don’t make any caveats at all when praising Nadal and his feats.
    Rafael Nadal has some amazing qualities among which the ability to improve the weaknesses in his game, as well as the ability to turn a losing situation into a winning one, and he deserves some credit for it. I don’t have a problem with that.
    But we may not forget to put these things in full perspective as well, I think.
    I for one shall never forget for that matter the shameful – or should I say painful? – 8-minutes- MTO Nadal took right before Roger had to serve for the (first) set at the FO 2011, apparently only to change the bandage around his poor foot. That’s not mind games, nor mental tactics, but imo simply shameful tactics.
    Did Roger ever lower himself to this type of Machiavellian behavior to turn a losing situation in a winning one ? Not that I remember.
    So yes, I prefer to stay loyal to Roger, even if Nadal would manage to brake some of his important records in the future., because the way in which you obtain these results matters to me.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I couldn’t agree more Wilfried. I have always stayed loyal to Roger for the same reason and always will. But you are right, our loyalty does get tested.

    [Reply]

  5. I know that this discussion can potentially divide some of Roger’s fans. I mean Roger has been amazing throughout his career and one match shouldn’t be able to decide who is the Greatest of All Time.

    With that being said, if Roger didn’t feel like he’ll never have a chance if beating Nadal or any other top 3 player, why stay in the game?!

    Ru-an touched upon this in his previous post. Roger stays in the game not just to enjoy his time out there. He is here because he believes that he can still beat his rivals and because he still believes that he can win Grand Slams.

    If that isn’t the case anymore and the fire is not there, then obviously it would be time to hang the racquet.

    As much as there is on the line for him, I admire that he didn’t quit. He could have retired on top last year. But he probably felt that there were some unanswered questions about him. Maybe he still believes he can still beat Nadal in that epic GS match. That’s what fuels him.

    And that’s why I know that he’ll play and give everything he has. What else can we ask for? To win, obviously! LoL!

    You know that Roger needs these victories as much we need him. A player sometime needs this breakthrough win once in a while to keep going. I think that this year that time has come…

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly Vily. There is risk involved. If there wasn’t there would be no point. We could all just watch Roger play beautiful exho tennis with nothing on the line whatsoever. Lol. If people are too scared of the possible outcome then maybe tennis is not for them and they should find another sport. And if they believe Nadal is a doper then they can take refuge in that thought in case Roger loses.

    [Reply]

  6. To say that Nadal is not one of the greatest ever seems very naive to me, and probably to most of us here.

    But I think these two have more meetings in their future, whether they meet at the US Open this year or not, and I’m not sure that the outcome of this (possible) match will change my opinion too much about either player – especially because of the condition of Roger’s back.

    Yes, Nadal wins two times out of three against Roger, and his game, which was originally designed as an anti-Roger style of play, has continued to evolve over the years. And I like that about Nadal.

    But Roger’s back is still a big question mark in my mind, so it’s difficult for me to assign too much importance to a match they might play this year. If Roger’s back holds up I like his chances, but I’d be just as pleased if he beats Nadal next year with a healthy back and a bigger racquet. Or if he can put another slam trophy in his case at any time.

    Best Regards,
    Pryzm

    [Reply]

  7. Hey Ru-an, Wow, I just haven’t been online since last Wednesday and you have in the mean time posted 2 or 3 articles with so many comments !!! Wow, I have to catch up on all this reading !!!

    I am still at work, it is almost 7 o’clock, but I wanted to make a prediction before the matches start.
    Would be nice to know if they come out and if you guys kind of agree.
    Here they are:
    1) I think Roger or Rafa will win USO.
    Roger, because it is his time and because the Cincy match was kind of his USO 2011 SF where it all changed. I think he now knows if he sharpened himself that he can beat Rafa. I especially loved the fight in him the third set where he just would not go away without a fight.
    If Roger will not win USO, than Rafa will. Why? Because he STILL is Rafa 2013. On the good side, if he wins USO 2013, he will be completely deflated and will not win a single match this year. If he does, we should all be asking questions AGAIN.
    2) Novak and Andy will come far, but not winning it. I don’t think either will make it to the final. Novak no way, because of the way he is playing and losing. Everytime I think, now Novak is hurt that he lost and he will be coming back roaring, he loses again. Maybe he has to get use to the fact that without his “egg”-machine he is not invincible anymore.
    Andy might make it to the final, but will not defend his title. He just had his life long goal, Wimby, so needs to adjust. And I do think he is beeing overhyped WAY too much this year. And I don’t think he deserves it. He delibaretly skipped RG to win Wimby and for some reason won it too. So I think we will see the aftermath of the Wimby-win.
    3) Ferrer will not make it to the semis. In my opinion he has the toughest draw.
    4) I think Jerzy will come far, semis anyway.
    5) Delpo will make semis where he will be tired or has wristpain.
    6) Dimitrov and Berdych will not make it far either.
    7) Rafa can either lose early or win it all. If he is to be stopped it will be before the QF or in the QF against Roger.
    8) Roger will not lose to Rafa. He might lose after that (doubt it), but not at the hands of Rafa.
    And of course if Roger will beat Rafa, he will let no one stop him.
    9) Just hope he has enough energy to go 5 sets.
    10) My dark horse this USO (and all the other GS) is Jerzy. Watch out for him people !!!
    11) the Goat discussion I will talk about some other time.

    I don’t know guys, we will have to take it one point and one match at the time, but I have a good feeling about this. If Cincy is Roger’s wake up moment (a la USO SF 2011), than I don’t see him losing again this year.
    But Ru-an, You are right. No pressure on Roger !!! QF would be nice, anything more will be already a bonus.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    I tend to agree with you. Jerzy can be very difficult. Roger had a hard time beating him in Rome. I hope he looses early.

    Good news today. Nishikori is out and Tomic is on his way out as well. Things can potentially open up – I just think that Roger really needs to get some easy wins under his belt just to kinda relax a bit. I mean since his 2nd round loss at Wimby he hasn’t had an easy win. If he gets couple of early straight set wins, he is REALLY gonna get into the groove. He needs to be as fresh as possible in both the physical and mental department. Rafa on the other hand has several potentially tough opponents – Davydenko, Monfils, Verdasco and Isner. All of them are capable of taking at least a set from Rafa..

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Vily, do you think Davydenko has the power to beat not Rafa but Rafa 2013?

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    I don’t think so. Plus, I think he is losing in the 1st round by the looks of it. Tomic survived the 5-setter by the way.

    [Reply]

  8. The H2H means nothing to me. Since 2009, it’s become obvious that Nadal is better than Federer on arguably every surface. (Not saying Rafa is a better hardcourter and grasscourter, but he has had better more consistent results). After 2009, Roger has been in that phase of inconsistency – where he can still play like the peak Roger but he far more dips throughout a season. It may sound like bias, but it is pretty true that since 2008 Rafa has been at his prime and Roger has not.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Check this out folks. There is gene which allows you to dope with getting caught. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-2401478/How-world-class-athletes-drugs–away-it.html

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    Ruan, another interesting article. It offers a strong scientific basis for why we are seeing more and more superhuman performances from athletes who can’t be caught. Of course I believe that we have been seeing plenty of that in pro tennis in recent years. It stands to reason that some players will dope, knowing they can get away with it. And some of them will be the “best”. Doping completely skews the argument about who are, or were, truly the best players.

    However, apart from the doping issue, arguments about the best are resolved quite simply: who has the most slams in their careers? Roger is of course at the top. Sampras is next, so in my view he rates ahead of Nadal currently. The h2h doesn’t really matter, as competition in tennis isn’t ultimately decided that way. In the 70’s a young Borg was beating the veteran Laver towards the end of the Aussie great’s career. Did that make him better than the man who had twice won all four slams in a year? I don’t think so. Like the Laver/Borg matchup, the Roger of 2013 is no longer in his prime whereas Nadal clearly is. If the Nadal match-up matters then the debate is really more to do with who was the better player from 2004-7, which were Roger’s peak years. I don’t think there is any doubt that it was Roger. It would be a miracle if Roger beats the boosted Spaniard at this year’s USO – Roger isn’t the player he used to be in 2004-7. But then Nadal wasn’t even making the finals when Roger was in his prime. So the h2h is pretty academic in my view. Let’s see Nadal capture 17 slams, as Roger has, before he is proclaimed to be the best. Oh, yeah – I forgot, there is still the doping question.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Totally agree Rich. I guess my last 2 posts was a bit of a flop. It just sucks that Roger has lost so often to NAdal in big matches and I’d love for him to get one back.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Also I know Roger is past prime but I still believe on a good day he has the game to beat anyone. I mean his form was crap for a long time and then he almost beats Nadal in Cincy. Why can’t he beat Nadal on a good day at the USO? You are probably right that he can’t quite reach the heights he has in his prime, even when everything clicks.

    [Reply]

    Kyle Reply:

    Roger certainly can beat anyone on his day as we saw many times last year. However, those days where he’s at his penultimate best are becoming fewer and fewer.

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  9. Guess who’s the talk of town in NY right now? Nope, not the hottest player Nadal or the current #1 Djokovich, but Roger Federere, the one and only in tennis.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/magazine/roger-federer-can-still-get-his-game-face-on.html?pagewanted=1&ref=todayspaper

    In any event, I don’t see why it’s such an exceptional achievement for a 27 year old still in his prime and currently the hottest player to beat an old champ 5 years older and in questionable form. What’s the big deal? It doesn’t change anything in the big picture that counts. Even if nadal wins NY, Roger’s still the one with 17 slams PLUS numerous other records not a single current player comes anywhere close to matching, including Nadal. In fact, the king of foul play shot himself in the foot long time ago. Too bad. He was/is never truly GOAT material in this regard, as documented here: http://nymag.com/daily/sports/2011/06/rafael_nadal_and_the_dark_art.html

    So let’s give the true champ a break and celebrate the fact that unlike nadal the pseudo-champ, Roger never hides. But RF is an athlete from the per-steroids age. We cannot expect him, or any other player, banking on natural abilities to beat an artificially enhanced opponent playing like a robot who NEVER tires. Just note the contrast: when Nadal typically cycled down in the past during the second half of the year, he couldn’t win the WTF; he couldn’t even take a set off RF, LOL. It’s not so much the surface conditions but the drastic difference of a suspect’s form when he plays with and without PEDs.

    Ultimately, the sanctity of our name is what preserves our legacies. History doesn’t care about 2 player’s h-2-h. That’s why you won’t find that mentioned in the Tennis Hall of Fame. Nadal can beat Fed as much as he likes. But let us be sensible, no player can be considered GOAT AND a prime doping suspect at the same time, no matter how much the suspect wins, no?

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  10. Ru-an!

    Your last two posts were NOT a flop! Don’t quit now! It’s like you have a AK or KK in poker and you don’t want to go all in. Come on, now! Roger hasn’t even started playing and you guys keep saying how Roger is past his prime and he’s got no chance. The same Roger that almos made the Final in AO 2013. The same Roger who almost beat Novakat the WTF 2012. Come on now!

    I may look like a fool later but at least I’m gonna stay commited. I am going all in with everything on the line to make Roger beat Nadal and whomever else in this year’s US Open.

    The only caveat will be his back. He says it’s good and if this stays the same, Roger will win! Goran Ivanisevich and Sampras agree…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah I’m a bit torn right now Vily. I respect you for sticking to your guns anyway. I have some tough stuff going on in my personal life right now which makes it tough for me to think clearly anyway. I think I would rather deal with Fedal once it becomes a reality and draw my conclusions once the match is over.

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  11. Fed is finally playing his first match and I can’t watch it.

    What are folks’ impressions? What are the analysts saying about his game?

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    Vily Reply:

    Well, Roger won “comfortably” in straights. It wasn’t quite the exhibition that I expected but considering his current state, he did pretty good.

    I was impressed with his serving. Even though he did get broken in the 3rd, he was hitting his spots and not just going for the safe 1st serves. He also consciously was coming to the net more and he was pretty good at the net. I liked that.

    I definitely expect Roger to pick up his game and to play better with each round. He’ll need that in order to have any chance against Nadal. As of right now, I don’t think he is ready.

    Maybe it’s the nerves, maybe subconsciously he is worried and he doesn’t want to lose early. Who knows?

    The score was good. I expect a much more comfortable performance next round. I mean – Roger did what he had to do. He won – it just didn’t seem as comfortable as it was. I’d like to hear what other people think as well. At least Jerzy got taken out.

    We’ll see.

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  12. Looking back at the stats, I must say that maybe my first reaction is a bit harsh. I think that Roger did pretty darn good today. Hitting his spots on serve, 19/21 net points, almost twice as much winners than unforced errors.

    He is doing well. I am sure that as each day passes he is gonna get more confident. When he makes the QFs he’ll be fully relaxed. I thi j that he is not really worried about the Nadal match. I think that he us just worried about actually getting there. If he gets there, he’s gonna play much more loose and then Rafa has to watch out.

    That’s at least how I see it. With each match, Roger is gonna get more and more confident. I think that his strategy is correct, though. Going for the corners and the paint lines on his serve and coming in. That’s the key!!!

    The return of serve needs improvement. That’s for sure. But that will come. I have to say that on his service games he was cruising and didn’t face any break points until the one time that he was broken. But that was just to get back in serve si no worries. He subsequently rebroje so it was fine.

    I am not gonna be negative here. Roger is gonna be just fine!!! :-) ))

    Allez!

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  13. Solid opener in windy conditions, which are always tricky.

    Zemjla is one of those guys who goes for it on every shot, so he gave up a lot of UEs to Federer. Still Federer did well to stay on top of him and not give him too many chances. He was looking to shorten the points most of the time, which is a good sign. There were maybe like five rallies that went over ten shots.

    His serve was excellent despite the wind, except for that little hiccup where he dropped serve in the third.

    His return game was pretty solid, he mixed it up and stepped up his aggression at the right moments to get the key breaks of serve. Also his net work and approach shots were nearly impeccable, he was 20/21 for net points. Then again, he had some help because I don’t think Zemjla has the faintest idea of how to hit passing shots.

    I’m not too worried about the lapse on serve, sometimes it happens in the early rounds and it’s not an indication of his later-round performance.

    I remember a couple times in the last few years he put on an exhibition in his first-round match at USO but always he ended up losing earlier than expected. This year, no exhibition, just a pretty clean win. So perhaps that is a good omen.

    Just want him to move on to the next round and save energy. One down, six to go. C’mon Roger!!!

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    Vily Reply:

    I like your thinking, Steve!!!! I like it!!! Good, objective positive analysis! Thank you! :-) )

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  14. I feel like our expectations vary after the early round performances of Roger and they really shouldn’t. A 60 60 60 win in the 1st round doesn’t mean anything for the second week just as winning 16 16 63 64 62. Every match is different, every day is different.

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  15. Hey guys,
    Roger did play well yesterday. However, he obviously will need to be tested just a little bit more going into a possible quarter final with Nadal.

    I say that because Zemlja mostly served to Fed’s forehand which is something most other tennis players don’t do. They all know to serve to the backhand. Nadal does this consistently. I did however like that Fed was aggressive on the return.

    I would also like to raise a point about whether or not Roger can do something with his strategy regarding the time he takes to serve. On the one hand Roger is a rhythmic player and once he gets into the rhythm of the serve he’s pretty much impossible to stop. But I cannot overestimate the extra dimension this adds to Nadal’s and djokovic’s and murray’s game, even berdych takes his time. I think it’s an effective strategy given that there is more thinking time involved for the returner, more frustration at the same time and more time to doubt himself or to guess where the serve is going to go. I find that while watching, the more I try to guess where the serve is gonna go, then the less chance I have of guessing correctly.

    Anyway that’s just my 2 cents.

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    Alex Reply:

    I forgot to mention that from the server’s perspective, there is more time to concentrate and get the serve spot on while at the same time take some extra time to rest. It may however be a double edged sword since, the more time taken may actually give roger more time to doubt himself. I am just saying that maybe there are times when he can slow things down considerably – ask for another ball, things like that.

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    Jiten Reply:

    The gentleman Roger is, perhaps he considers taking more (than his usual) time between serves as a form of some gamemanship. However, from my own personal experience (whatever little I have played), I have seen that taking some time before serving while facing a break point sometimes helps as your opponent is desperate to get the break as fast as possible. I think Dopal exemplifies that the best.

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  16. Here are some though provoking statements from Mats Wilander from 2006, soon after Fed lost to Nadal at RG. Everyone will try to bark at Wilander cause he only won “…” slams, talking about high topspin, doping, lefty, age, blah-la-la but his statements for many tennis fans hold truth as if nothing has changed since 2006 :-)

    Some quotes:
    “I think Roger Federer, today, unfortunately came out with no balls,” said Wilander, who claimed the Swiss suffered a “mental block in terms of tennis smartness” and lacked an aggressive mindset even while winning the first set 6-1.

    “He should have realised in the second set, surely, after two games, ‘Wow I’m not hitting the ball quite as well, let me try going back to the game plan’, which surely couldn’t have been staying at the baseline as much as he did …

    “So I think he choked from the first point to the last point because I don’t believe that he thinks he can beat Nadal from the baseline. I can’t imagine that. Because if he can’t beat him from the baseline on hardcourts, then he sure as hell can’t beat him from the baseline on clay. That’s crazy.”

    “Sports is about balls and about heart and you don’t find too many champions in any sport in the world without heart or balls. He might have them, but against Nadal they shrink to a very small size and it’s not once, it’s every time.”

    I know the expectations are high for Fed to not let Nadal have the edge on this GS as well but he will probably lose for the reason stated above. He could not beat Nadal at his all time low confidence at RG 2011, AO 2012. His mental issues, not age will probably prevent him from winning more than a set – that`s how he can last nowadays. Last time i saw him confident was Madrid 2009 but he then avoided Nadal for a whole year and then kept the loosing streak. The win at IW 2012 was lucky but deserved but there was nothing learned as has always been the case since they 1st met. He won at London`s final master twice but 1st meeting Nadal was out of juice while at the 2nd Fed played phenomenal tennis but got quite happy the last ball to be called out by Nadal cause an epic failure was awaiting if Nadal had challenged :-) I think is better for him to tank the match before meeting Nadal. Its long been no more room for humiliation. he was wise to tank Djoko 2 times at semi-finals :-)

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    Pryzm Reply:

    Wilander’s comments, as you said, were made in 2006, before anyone knew that Nadal would become the most successful clay court player of all time.

    Wilander has a right to his (‘thought-provoking’) opinion, and there’s some truth to his notion that Roger has been intimidated by Nadal on occasion.

    Who knows? Maybe Wilander was just trying to fire Roger up. But in any event, only Roger can say whether he wants to take it to Nadal or not.

    My opinion – based on a lot less knowledge of the players and the game than Wilander – is that Roger is ready to have a go at Nadal, for a number of reasons. This may not be his year (back issues, racquet issues) but I think it will be all the better for Roger next year, even if he loses this year, to bring everything he has to this (still potential) match with Nadal. If he sees how well he can do with this year’s bucket of issues, it will only motivate him and allow him to do even better next year.

    Mind you, I don’t rule out his chances against Nadal for this year! With a few adjustments, Roger can take him.

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    Raoul Reply:

    Toni is that you ?? Where have you been hiding lately ? I cant seem to spot you in the stands since you decided to go for broke and juice your nephew up to the max at every tourney this year..
    You should check for doping side effects because I tell you DO NOT BE SURPRISED if your little quirky, rules bending, no manners having, butt picking then fingers smelling, time wasting, ugly ball striking, no integrity having, face cringing, humility faking nephew shits in his pants every 2 mins or cannot have kids for the rest of his life to enjoy the undeserving money your family accumulated throughout these past smoke screen years you helped create..
    But I GUARANTEE YOU THIS Roger will beat the crap out of Dopal/Nadastrong if they meet in the US Open quarterfinals !! It is all written in the stars !!
    Roger, the most respected person in the whole world ( well after Mandela but the latter doesnt have many years left in him) as well as the closest to GOAT status in terms of records and ball striking, will put an end to Nadal unbeaten hardcourt run if of course Nadull makes it that far..
    Nobody is stopping Roger on his way to his 7th US OPEN final this year trust me !
    Now that I said my piece, I’m out !

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    Pryzm Reply:

    Is it true that using PEDs can cause a chronic itch in one’s anal cleft?

    :-)

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    Pryzm Reply:

    Hey Uncle Toni,

    I wanted to share Wilander’s change of heart about Roger with you:

    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/mats-wilander/wilander-m-believer-federer-again-090539439.html

    Best Regards,
    Pryzm

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  17. Nice read, maybe a two comments:

    @GOAT: We claim that Federer is the GOAT because of Jesus-like performances. The horrible stats against Nadal are a pain in the ass. I agree that GOAT is at stake at the US open, if Fed and Nadal meet.

    @AREAS: I strongly disagree that the current best players define a strong area. Undoubtly Nadal is the king of clay of all time. There is Federer, which posseses at least the best forehand of all time.

    Djokovic and Murray are at the top because Federer is aging, Nadal is frequently injured or out due to some other reasons and the other players are too weak or inconsistent. Murray and Djokovic are alike, fit, chase down every ball but they have no big weapsons. They are a result of slow courts on any surface. Consistency beats Talent.

    I don’t see any Boris Becker, any Michael Stich, any Jim Courier, any Agassi, any Brugera, any Richard Krajicek, any Stefan Edberg, Goran Ivanisevic, Patrick Rafter who were grand slam champions at the same time. These players got the game and the balls to beat anybody that their day. All of them were able to beat Sampras and maybe Agassi on big occasions.

    What about other player in the current area:

    Look at Berdych. He arguable has the game, but he got no balls. You can almost predict how he nets easy balls on big points against Nadal or Djokovic. Sorry, but he will never win a GS. How many more times will he choke at big points?

    Look at Delpo. He has the game and the balls and won 1 GS but his body doesn’t not hold up. Tsonga is pretty much the same without a backhand.

    Look at Ferrer. How on earth could he become Nr 3 in the world? This cannot be a strong area.

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