King of Asia Djokovic Wins Record Third Shanghai Masters Title

The dominance is real. For some painfully so. And for us Djokovic fans delightfully so. With his 6-2, 6-4 dismissal of Tsonga today Djokovic sweeps the Asian swing for a third time with titles in Beijing and Shanghai(2012, 2013, 2015) and is now the undisputed king of Asia. It was also his fifth Masters title of the year and he is only the second man to achieve that feat since Nadal in 2013. He also pulls ahead of Federer’s 2006 season in this regard when Federer won four Masters.

And of course, there is still a Masters left in Paris where Djokovic will be the favorite again. The courts have been slowed down a lot there of late which suits him to a T. I can see him winning Paris and London in which case there will be no doubt that this is the greatest tennis season ever played. With this title, Djokovic also set an absolute ranking point record with 16785 ATP points and also a new record lead over the second-ranked player of 8035 points.

Pretty impressive stuff, don’t you think? Today against Tsonga he was at it again with his dominant return game. He allowed Tsonga only 4/25 on second serve points. The pressure he put Tsonga under on his second serve was the key to the match and is the key to his dominance. That and the fact that he wins a very high percentage of points on his own second serve. He is both number one on tour at winning second serve return points(56%) and second serve service points(60%).

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He has a great second serve and pins you back with precision groundstrokes so that he is very hard to break. And then he puts you under immense pressure on your own serve with the best return of serve in history. To me personally, that is a very enjoyable and fresh change up from Federer who was always dominating with his serve and first-strike tennis. The serve botting when he was under pressure became particularly boring.

Djokovic doesn’t just blast opponents off the court with lethal weapons. He dominates in a much more subtle and intelligent way. Lethal weapons don’t affect Djokovic like we saw today against Tsonga because he simply neutralizes them with immense returning, depth of shot, and defense. His volleying was also very impressive again today as he won 12/15 points in the forecourt. He never stands still. He is always tweaking and evolving his game.

So in the end Tsonga could not match the number of games he won against Djokovic in their last meeting in Shanghai as I expected might happen. Djokovic is so dominant that it’s about how many games players can win, not sets or matches. In the end, Tomic is the only player who came close to winning a set against Djokovic so credit to him, even though Djokovic didn’t play his best tennis during that set. With this title, Djokovic also surpasses Federer again in Masters titles won.

He goes to 25 Masters titles with Federer on 24 and Nadal still in the lead at 27. It is, however, just a question of time before Djokovic holds the record on his own.

  • In Conclusion

Well, it was another thoroughly entertaining Masters with a perfect conclusion. I’m sure that is not the case for the hardcore Fedfans and I find it fascinating how they are unable to move on and enjoy this dominance from Djokovic. If it was Federer who was doing what Djokovic was doing now, you’d see the comments come streaming in on my blog. It is like Fedfans became fans of a person or personality instead of a fan of tennis.

They can’t seem to evolve/move on. I don’t have any sympathy for these people because if that is the case then they were never tennis fans to begin with, but fans of a person. I have news for them: that is not what being a tennis fan is about! That’s called celebrity worship. I was a huge Fedfan and I am just loving how Djokovic is currently dominating Fedal. That is what is supposed to happen in a healthy sport. The new must surpass the old.

Djokovic came up in the Fedal era and to his massive credit he did not let it break him. He kept evolving and persisting until he single-handedly destroyed them both. He didn’t wait for Murray or someone else to do his dirty work. He knew the only way to achieve his dreams would be to face his main rivals head-on and in the process he became a monster who could eclipse them both in the GOAT debate. Now that is fun and excitement.

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Djokovic has combined the strengths from Fedal which rubbed off on him during countless bruising encounters and in the process evolved his own version of the perfect game. Surely eventually someone will come along who finds a solution to his game but for now it is impenetrable and indestructible. This is what tennis is about! Wake up! Move on! And if you just don’t like Djokovic(it’s hard to imagine why) then at least appreciate what is is doing.

This inspirational individual who fought his way through great adversity and terrible odds is on his way to make a greatest of all time claim for himself. That US Open title has unleashed him and I don’t think he gets beaten again until the end of the season. He is now on an 18-match winning streak and maybe he will get the longest winning streak this time. He looks unbeatable right now. He’s got two weeks off now and will come back 100% fresh in Paris.

Then he will have another week off before London. I am really looking forward to those two events. There is also Vienna this week where I will keep a close eye on Thiem and Basel next week where you will have Federer, Stan, Nishikori, and Nadal. I think Nadal is close to his best now and a Fedal meeting in Basel, although unlikely, would be very interesting. More Djokerer/Fedal/Djokodal meetings in Paris and London would be very enjoyable too.

London is particularly interesting because you could have Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal in the same group which I would personally love to happen. I hope Djokovic meets Federer and Nadal in Paris and London and crushes them.

  • Highlights

  • Match Stats

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The is in your court.

Posted in Masters 1000, Shanghai.

69 Comments

  1. However good The Djoker is this year, it will be extremely difficult for him to repeat the same success next year with a lot of points to defend. I foresee a decline in him after the clay season just as he did in 2012 after a dominate run in 2011. No one can stay on top forever, his body and mind would gradually drained , he might peak again at the Asia tour.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Wanna bet your house on that? ;-) I don’t see the same thing happening as in 2011. Fedal isn’t the threat they were back then. Djokovic is now much more balanced in his life and complete as a tennis player. Things are already looking considerably different than this time of the season in 2011. I think Djokovic dominates for a solid three more years and surpasses Federer ;-)

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    I also agree with IWC in terms of a Djokovic decline, though not that significant. I believe that he slightly drops off from this year, perhaps winning 2 slams next year, but keeps a solid grip on the no.1 position and wins several more Masters 1000s. I don’t think it will be a drop-off like from 2011 to 2012 Djokovic, more like 2004 to 2005 Federer in terms of results, and if my favourite player were Djokovic I would sign that contract right now given that he is 29 next year, and I’m sure Djokovic himself would be perfectly happy with two slams next year :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Let’s wait and see. I don’t like hypotheticals. I’m just enjoying what’s going on :-)

    [Reply]

  2. Hey Ruan some people don’t comment just because you have become fanatic again only this time its about Djokovic and most fan over here are Fed fans. But some times it becomes too much, you did same when you were a Fed Fanatic (Even i am a Fed fan but your posts, before say 2011 or whenever Fed showed a bit of form, was irritating (i didn’t use to comment even then)).
    However having said that It is also true that Djokovic is having THE GREATEST TENNIS YEAR of all time and i am loving it. Because even though his not my favourite player but outside the court he is most entertaining and natural/realistic in behavior (Fed and Nadal hardly act as normal human being and i am saying that even i am a die hard fed fan because i see truth as it is.).
    I don’t comment too often so if i said something wrong here then my apologies.
    :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘Hey Ruan some people don’t comment just because you have become fanatic again only this time its about Djokovic’

    What do you mean by fanatic exactly? I define fanaticism as someone who can’t appreciate anyone else than their favorite player and who doesn’t evolve with the sport. I would agree that I was fanatic in my early Fedfan days, but those days are long gone so it’s a bit useless to bring them up here.

    It’s good that you can appreciate what Djokovic is doing anyway.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Ps. One thing you should realize is that a lot of what you probably perceive as fanaticism is just to annoy the Fedfanatics. Sorry if that affects you, but at least you appreciate Djokovic.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    I understand what you are saying Ru-an, but the fact that you constantly bring up Federer fans and Federer himself in posts which have relatively little to do with him, makes it sound like you are a Djokovic fanatic. I understand, as do many others here that you are not, but I can understand why Smit said what he did. May I suggest that you make a post about it as a tab on your blog (perhaps a modification to the commenting rules) called something like “A word about fanaticism” or something where you can post all this stuff, because there seem to be less trolls now and it is somewhat annoying. Also, if you need a put-down for a troll you could just refer them to said post, saving you the wasted time and energy which could be put into other more productive parts of your blog like writing great posts for us all to read and comment on :-)

    Just a suggestion of course, I will be interested to see what you think about this. It doesn’t bother me too much because I understand what you are getting at now, but I can see how some ordinary Federer fans could find it annoying given that it has been a few months since your change in style. Most people have understood the change at this point and either adapted or left, and those that remain and refuse to adapt probably never will. Interesting topic nonethelesss.

    P.S. Great play again from Djokovic, what can I say really as a Federer fan other than to congratulate Djokovic and his fans on a great year (and it isn’t over yet), and that I hope to see many more great matches between the top players in the years to come.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Likewise Charlie. I want to congratulate the balanced Fedfans on another great year for Federer. Easily his best since 2012 and better than 2011! And you are totally right. I bring up Federer and his fans too much. I will try to make a conscious effort to stop doing so. As you know I just hate this Federer celebrity worship BS and wish people can just move the hell on and enjoy the tennis.

    But hey, whatever blows their hair back and I will now try to leave it at that. The trolls are just about dispersed now like you noted so I don’t think a separate section for them is necessary. What you also have to understand is that I bring up Federer and his fans not because I’m a fanatic but because of their reaction to the fact that I have embraced Djokovic as Federer’s successor.

    Like I don’t have the right to write about whatever the hell I want on my blog. There is no need for them to become bitter and pass judgement on me for their own shortcomings. I can also understand why Smit said what he did, but even his comment is out of line. If it bothers anyone what I write about then why even comment on it? Why not just leave? That is what many people have done and it’s fine with me.

    I never asked anyone for a dime to read what I write so I don’t owe anyone a damn thing. I’ve actually thought about giving access to my posts only to people who pay me with a retweet or Facebook like. How long have I been doing this and how much time have I put into it? People don’t even give you a simple retweet or FB like. Some just come here to bitch and moan if my writing doesn’t suit their agenda.

    Well, fuck that. Rather than write a section for the trolls I think I will force people to give me a FB like or a RT to see my posts from now on. One click of the mouse is not much to ask for all the work I put into my blog, is it?

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    Agree entirely with the above. You deserve something for your hard work without a doubt.

    [Reply]

  3. Hi Ru-an,

    The challenge might not come From Federer but at some point there’ll be another player capable to compete at a high level, just like how he was dominated by Stan in the FO final. Djoker definitely has had a very remarkable year but to do this day in day out for another year will be extremely difficult. The odds are against him to win another 7-8 slams in the next 3 years when he has passed 30 yrs old. It might happen but we’ll never know. It took him 4 years to win 6 slams (11-14) at a prime. If this happens, we have to congratulate for his achievement.

    Records are there to be broken anyway, Fed’s record is beatable , even if it’s not Djoker, someone else will.

    [Reply]

  4. Hi Ruan,

    When a player win so much, he can’t keep up the same especially in his late 20s and about to push 30 years of age. When Federer was dominating in 05-06, he was only in his mid 20s then.

    Djoker is not a super human though he appear so, something’s got to give. He would certainly dominate another year to come, but he’ll lose some tournaments along the way hence a complete white wash of tournaments it’s not possible. His body and mind would decline at some point, he didn’t calk walk all the tournaments this year and has had some tough wins as well. The competition is there, but it could be from another player or players, like what Stan did to him in the FO final.

    Breaking Federer’s of 17 GS is not impossible, records are meant to be broken. If he can achieve this, we have to congratulate him. However, this is not a sure thing yet. Once he reach 14, surpassing to 17 or more will be on the cards, but he has to get there first. He has to win the FO next year as well, which I believe he would.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No one said it’s a sure thing. In my humble opinion, that would be a very dumb thing to say.

    [Reply]

  5. Federer is obviously one of the Greatest Players Ever, but I never liked his personality. I particularly didn’t like his coldness and aggressiveness towards Djokovic. Here, there was a kid with atypical background (how many TOP 100 tennis players do we know that were bombed by NATO?), who just tried to fit in. Instead embracing and supporting him, or, at least, being neutral, Federer criticised him. I didn’t like that one bit.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right, George. That wasn’t very compassionate of Federer let’s face it. He should have embraced and supported Djokovic as his successor the way I am doing, but he chose otherwise and it only made Djokovic more determined to slay him. Djokovic is the kind of guy who forgives, but he doesn’t forget. I guarantee you when he plays Federer he didn’t forget the past. He uses it to motivate him.

    I also never understood why Federer was so respectful toward Nadal who showed no respect for Federer on the court. That’s weird how the minds of people work. In my humble opinion, he got the way he dealt with Djokovic and Nadal completely wrong.

    [Reply]

    IWC2015 Reply:

    Federer feared Nadal more than respect as he owns him from the start.

    fed obviously doesn’t want anyone else to dethrone him as he couldn’t figure out how to beat him. Along comes Djokovic who has the game and mental strength to challenge him, not necessary own him. Naturally he wants his legacy to be protected as he could not stop Nadal. Djokovic is now a threat to break his record hence it also serve as a motivation to still reinvent himself and keep playing. He couldn’t quite believe there’s another great player coming up in his era and well deserved to dethrone his records. fed is well embraced by his fans all over the world and the media, hence I see these are some of the reasons he didn’t particularly like Djoker from the start.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    So Federer didn’t like Djokovic because the fanatics didn’t fawn over Djokovic the way they did over him? Makes sense.

    [Reply]

  6. Haven’t watched any matches lately, only highlights, but Djokovic just looks unstoppable at the moment. This year I think he officially replaced Nadal as the bogeyman for Fedfans. X_X I wonder how long he can keep it up. I agree with another poster here that age is bound to slow him down a bit, and he’s just beginning to approach that age where decline normally sets in. Though Novak is no normal man, so who knows how long he can go on like this. It’s scary to think that even if he were to go through a slump, he would still be a level above everyone else at the moment.

    I can accept that Roger’s days at the big events may be over, but hopefully at least someone else can shake things up a bit, because it isn’t as much fun to watch Djokovic completely dominate unless you’re a fan. I guess now I understand better how some people got bored and were put off when Federer dominated the field. There’s no arguing that Nole deserves it though, and at least I would like to see him get the elusive FO next year.

    Regarding Nadal, I’ve only seen some highlights, but I’m not really convinced he’s close to his old form again. Maybe some flashes of brilliance, but I don’t think the consistency is there anymore, which makes it unlikely for him to be a contender at the big events. He remains a threat to Federer, but I agree that it would be interesting to see a match between them.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi BE, I wouldn’t make a big deal of Djokovic age. You have plenty of guys who peak in their 30’s like Stan, Anderson, Ferrer, Lopez, Federer, etc. 30 is the new 20 in tennis. Djokovic looks at the peak of his powers. I don’t see why he will all of a sudden fall off. This is not 2011 where he burned himself out and Fedal is pretty much history. Who is gonna stop him in the next few years? Murray who he owns 20-9? :))

    [Reply]

  7. Hi Ru-an, you discount many “lurkers” who love to read your blog but not comment. Nothing to do with fed fans, Nadull fans, fanatics. Back to your article… “Djokovic has combined the strengths from Fedal”, that’s a great way to put it. Nole is so bloody dominant now, he is putting himself in a special league of his own. Some observers think he can’t keep up this pace… Time will tell. I enjoy how things are unfolding. GS 14 entirely possible. 17, maybe. But crossing 27 masters 1000 will be extra sweet. By the time he is done, all the major players h2h will also be in his favor. Current undisputed king of tennis!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey BC, good to know. I think the fact that Djokovic combined the strengths of Fedal has set him apart and made him into a kind of tennis god who will be untouchable for some time to come. Who else is even close to having combined the strengths of probably the two most dominant champions in history(Nadal on clay mostly)? Who will stop him? He is just reaping the benefits of coming up in the strongest era in tennis and not caving in. Now that Fedal is not a threat to him anymore he can rule all by himself and take whatever he wants. No one will reach his level for a long time.

    [Reply]

  8. I have just read Vajda’s interview. He said that the plan is to further improve Djokovic’s game (as Djokovic feels that there is still a lot of room for improvement). They don’t think about results, they are focused on the game. If nothing extraordinary happens (major injury, major private problems etc.), coming years will be very interesting.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I also read that Vajda had a hard talk with Djokovic somewhere in 2013 and that he was going to leave if Djokovic didn’t change. That is the kind of people you want to surround yourself with. I don’t think there was anyone around Federer who would give it to him straight when Nadal started owning him. They were either too weak or Federer was too stubborn. Federer surrounded himself with a bunch of yes-men. Only maybe with Edberg did he go in the right direction but now it’s too late. He was too arrogant and complacent and it cost him big. Djokovic, on the other hand, stays humble and is always trying to improve. Even now when he is utterly dominant he still thinks there is a lot of room for improvement. I also like that they don’t think about results. Those will come by themselves if you stay focused on the process.

    [Reply]

  9. This is comment I picked up just now on the net (ESPN; see below). It is probably a good point for discussion

    Brian Shin ·
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    People who think that Federer was a much better player in his “prime”, than the current version of Djokovic know nothing about tennis and probably never played at a competitive level in their lives. Although I was never even close to a professional level, I did play competitively in the juniors and played in super nationals from 12 and under to 18 and under with the highlight of my career losing 6-0 6-1 to the number 1 14 and under player in the United States who went by the name, Donald Young. My playing days took place at the same time that Federer was in his ” prime”. During Feds glory years, the rest of the top 10 in the ATP, included names such as Roddick, Hewwitt, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Kuertan, Safin, Moya, Henman, Blake etc. Federer had the good fortune of his prime years coinciding with a down period in tennis. Roger was still a young developing talent when the previous generation of greats, such as Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Kafelnikov and Pat Rafter, where already far past their prime. As soon as those players all retired, Federer came into his own and no one else from his generation of players was able to step up and become a true rival. Federer acrued the great majority of his slams, beating up on inferior talents in finals. The only player I can remember beating him at a GS at this time was Safin in the semis of the Aussie open. After 3-5 years of dominating the tour, Federer finally ran into a player who was in his league talent wise. Everyone knows which player that was and from that time on, Federer’s reign came to an abrupt halt. As a few more years went by, we where introduced to another elite player in Djokovic who had some growing up to do before he could consistently beat Fed and Nadal. My point is that Djokovic has won each of his slams in an era far more competitive at the very top, than fed did and even Nadal.All of djokers GS titles have come against either Fed, Nadal or Murray, with the exception of the 2008 Aussie open where he beat Tsonga to get his first GS title. If you took Djokovic now and put him against players from 2000-2005, I would expect him to win each and every slam he played in with relative ease. If you where to ask other tennis pros about the state of Federer’s game now I am almost certain that they would tell you that he is better now then he was back in his so called “prime”. Feds backhand was much weaker back then and you would very often see him slice on his backhand just to stay in rallies where as now days, he still goes to his slice at times but he is also capable of hitting over the ball for a offensive shot. Fed has even said himself that he has to thank players for picking on his backhand so much over the years because as a result of that, his backhand has improved significantly. His serve was also not as big of a weapon as it is today and he’s also become much more comfortable at attacking the net. I know that was a long winded post but I couldn’t help myself. It’s a topic I feel very strongly about. In conclusion, my point is that Federer’s game has not declined with age. In my opinion, he’s hitting the ball better then he ever has. It’s just that the level of talent in the top ten and certainly the top 5 has increased so much since the early 2000’s. It truly is the ” golden era” of tennis.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah, I’ve been saying this plenty on my blog and made a specific post for it so I will leave it at that.

    [Reply]

    Smit Reply:

    George, many people well tend to disagree that Fed of now is better than Fed of 2006(even i do), as what he gained in backhand lesser than what he lost in speed, athleticism and ability to recover(all due to age). But Djokovic of now is better than Fed of 2006, that’s for sure (As he always was much better returner than Federer but now he is almost as good as Federer on Serve too. Add to that the mental strength where he leads Federer by a mile).

    [Reply]

    George Reply:

    I am not sure that age is so crucial nowadays. I see that Wawrinka, Lopez and Karlovic play better than ever. Federer also said that his best is now. If you imagine that there is no Djokovic he would have 2 Majors this year. I also believe that Djokovic never played better. I predict that he will continue to improve. I always thought that you can’t really assess the player until you face him across the net; until you feel his balls on your racket you don’t know a thing. I believe that Djokovic is much more difficult to play against than it looks when you watch him.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Correct George. Federer is playing better than ever like he has admitted himself. It is just that the competition is that much better. If it wasn’t for Djokovic, Federer would have dominated this year.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    I still disagree strongly with this argument, if you can show me some statistics or something to argue that Federer’s era was weaker or that he has gotten better as he has aged then I will be happy to debate it, but it is difficult for me to debate when there are just opinions and ‘Federer said it’. What is he supposed to say? “I’m not playing as well as I used to and people should expect to beat me”? “(insert player name here) played well, but I could have beaten them in my prime?”

    Also, you could just as easily argue that we are in a weak era now given that one player is winning most of the slams, but I’m not going to do that because that’s just idiotic, Djokovic is playing very well and making others look ordinary by comparison. The easiest and most accurate, unbiased way to compare players is to compare their achievements as they appear on paper, leaving out the era they played in, the conditions they played in and the circumstances surrounding a particular win or loss.

    It is made even harder because there are different definitions of weak era. To one person, a weak era is an era where one player wins many slams and the others win relatively few, to others that is a very dominant player who makes the others look relatively bad. To someone else, a weak era is an era where there are several players playing at a similar level without a clear no.1 player. Based on that logic you can argue that 2003-2009 or 2015 was weak (first method) or that 1998/1999-2002 or 2008-2012/2013 was weak (second method).

    It’s completely subjective and anyone can twist it to suit whatever agenda they have. The only fair way of comparison is to take the things that most people consider major achievements over a long period of time and have been highly regarded for many years:
    Achievement Federer Djokovic
    Grand Slams 17/10
    Career Slam Yes/No
    Weeks at no.1 302/169
    Year end no.1 5/4
    WTF(or equiv.) 6/4
    Masters 1000s 24/25

    Those are what most people would regard as the important achievements (if I missed any important ones or any of my data is wrong I would be happy to add/fix the problem), and as you can see out of the five numerical categories Federer leads in four of them, and two of them by a large amount, whereas Djokovic’s lead is fairly small in Masters 1000 titles.

    I await some statistical evidence to show support for the weak era/Federer’s improvement as he ages, and yes I did do a search first and I could not find any evidence of such, but if it is buried somewhere on the internet I will be happy to read it.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    So your argument is that because he said it, it’s not true? I hope not because that wouldn’t be a very good argument.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    No that isn’t my argument at all. The point is that it is a subjective definition. What you used is a logical fallacy there called ‘argument from authority’. Basically, you say that Federer said that it is true, and that he is an authority on the subject (his own tennis game). That’s fine. However, that doesn’t mean that what he is saying is right. I was just giving the counter-argument as an example. If he was playing worse (not saying that he is, as that can only be proved by some sort of analysis in terms of statistics) it would not be in his best interest for his reputation to say so, as it would be seen as not giving credit to his opponents. What I am saying is that there has to be some proof that he is playing better in terms of statistics or something. If he were playing noticeably better surely there would be statistics or some sort of analysis to prove it. Same goes for the weak era subject. Hope that makes more sense.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I already did the post on the stats. Djokovic is just better than Federer was in his prime, that is why he is beating him. Federer would have dominated without Djokovic, even with the competition that is now stronger than in Federer’s prime. And I am not here to decipher what player meant. Federer has always been honest and very accurate with what he says so I believe him. He could easily have said I am not as good as I used to be. That wouldn’t have given the opponent an advantage. Nadal did it all the time when he was winning. It may even have given him an advantage.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    “as it would be seen as not giving credit to his opponents” – what does that have to do with giving the competition an advantage? That’s just sportsmanship. As far as the stats go, I will go over some of the examples from your post on the 24th September (the statistics part). You made a comparison between 2007 and 2015 Federer. However, your argument about the scorelines between Federer and Isner/Djokovic falls completely flat. Firstly, you chose USO 2007, one of Federer’s worst USO finals statistically, and you are right that Djokovic could have won that match with a little more experience. So you are effectively comparing almost the best 2015 Federer against a below-par prime Federer. Also, why must it just be Djokovic playing better and it can’t be Federer playing worse? You were happy to mention the fact that Djokovic was young at the time of that final (which is an argument I accept) but at the same time you are saying that being older doesn’t make a difference? At the very least the cause has to be a combination of the two. But then again that would still be subjective as to which way you want to interpret the difference in form. Which brings me to my final point. Those stats don’t show anything objective. When I said statistics, I meant things like ‘Federer hits his backhand on average 5 mph faster now than he did in 2007 and they go in with the same consistency’ or something like that. That is completely non-subjective and is not affected by how others play against him, that is based on his ability to hit the ball. Or a video of say two shots Federer runs for from a similar position on the court which are of a similar quality, and 2007 Federer doesn’t get to the shot and 2015 Federer does. That sort of thing is non-subjective. I appreciate that that sort of data is pretty hard to collect, so my point was not to deny that there is such a thing as a weak era, but that until and unless someone does a proper statistical analysis using examples like the ones I stated above, there is no way to know, and therefore it is best to simply ignore the concept of different strength eras and such and compare players based on their achievements. If Djokovic surpasses Federer’s achievements in more than 50% of the important areas listed in my previous post I would be the first to congratulate him as the best candidate we have for GOAT (obviously the only way to ever know conclusively would be to re-animate every winner of every grand slam open era and pre-open era, and play a series of tournaments on every surface in each era involving every player, which is of course impossible). But for now, Federer is the best GOAT candidate we have, as he holds most of the important records, and that is what counts in tennis. Think about what the commentators said after Djokovic won Wimbledon and the USO this year. Did any of them say that he had leveled the H2H with Federer as their immediate reaction after match point? Of course not. The fact that he had won and added another grand slam to his tally was far more important. The commentary for the BBC after the match point at Wimbledon was something like “A third championship at Wimbledon and a successful title defense against the great Roger Federer”. Notice that the opponent is mentioned second. It is not “Another victory for Djokovic against Roger Federer as he levels their head-to-head series and a successful Wimbledon title defense”. That shows what the commentators think is important. “Djokovic is just better than Federer was in his prime, that is why he is beating him.”, that was your comment above, but you cannot provide any valid proof of such as I have explained above. Until and unless either we find a way to simulate a match between prime Federer and Djokovic over a number of surfaces, conditions and time periods (unlikely) or Djokovic surpasses Federer’s achievements, can we conclude that he is greater. Djokovic likely has a few more years left in his career anyway, so why not wait and see whether or not he surpasses Federer’s achievements? IIRC in 2006 or so people were saying that Federer had the potential to surpass Sampras and become the better player, but very few people said that he already could be designated as such, and people waited until 2009 Wimbledon to finally conclude that Federer was greater. Most pundits are right in their view, IMO, that Djokovic still has some way to go to surpass Federer. Let’s see what happens, without having to resort to subjective interpretations which can be twisted to suit your agenda. As I have already said I can pick apart particular matches to make a comparison that says the opposite. For example I could compare 2006 where Federer lost only one tournament out of 19 before the QF, to 2015 where he has lost 4 out of 15 so far. And so on. The number of comparisons you could make is endless and you can twist it however you want to suit your agenda. That is why the ‘weak era’ and ‘Federer has improved’ arguments are useless in their current form.

    Charlie

    P.S. Sorry for the wall of text lol.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘what does that have to do with giving the competition an advantage?’

    I wasn’t referring to what you said. I was making my own point. If you say you are playing better than ever, it doesn’t mean you couldn’t have said the contrary, which is the argument of you and many others. He said what he wanted to say. He didn’t HAVE to say I am playing my best tennis like it was going to give his opponents an advantage if he didn’t.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    I am saying that he did have to say that, but not for that reason. If he said he was not playing his best it would seem that he is taking credit away from his opponents when they beat him. Regardless, that still doesn’t address the rest of my post.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah, but I think that is nonsense. No offense. No one is expecting him to play his best at 34 so saying he is not, doesn’t take anything away from his opponents. I don’t think that had anything to do at all with what he said. He had no problem making digs at Murray and other players in the past, did he? Isn’t that taking credit away from his opponents? I think he meant what he said.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    Regardless of whether he meant it or not the stats tell a different story.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I don’t think so, Charlie. Look at the stats that David posted.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    I already looked at those statistics, of course Federer’s rivals had less slams and other titles as Federer and Nadal stopped them almost everywhere except 500s and below. David’s stats actually REINFORCE my point because Roddick and Hewitt had very similiar numbers of titles to Murray. By that logic if Federer and Nadal had played worse and allowed some of the other players of the time to win a couple of slams and a few Masters 1000s (say each of them have one less slam and two less Masters 1000s, not significantly impacting their own achievements). Let’s say that perhaps Federer loses a HC Masters final or two to Roddick or Hewitt, and Nadal loses a couple of clay finals to Guillermo Coria etc. Let’s also say that perhaps Nadal is too inexperienced to win the FO in 2005 and Federer is injured or whatever, so Coria or Gaudio win it. And let’s say Federer loses the 2004 WB Final to Roddick. That’s only switching around two slams and a few Masters 1000s over a few years, and still leaves Federer and Nadal with very strong GOAT claims. However, they would clearly not be quite as good since they lost those finals. Federer would not have his 5 straight Wimbledon titles, Nadal would have ‘only’ 8 FO’s and so on. Yet, according to your logic, they would be greater. I have never seen this properly addressed on any forum or discussion board, and it has been raised many times on sites such as Talk Tennis, MTF and tennis news sites etc. If you can provide a valid reason as to why losing matches somehow makes you a better candidate for GOAT, I will happily concede this argument. I await your response.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘If you can provide a valid reason as to why losing matches somehow makes you a better candidate for GOAT, I will happily concede this argument. I await your response.’

    I don’t think losing matches makes you a better GOAT candidate, which is why I don’t think Federer can be GOAT given all his losses to his main rival. And yes, Nadal was his main rival.

    [Reply]

    Smit Reply:

    George by age i don’t simply mean the number 33 or 34 but what i mean is a 34 years old player who played 1300 singles matches unlike Karlovic or Wawrinka and others..
    Ruan consider the time to recover and frequency of having bad days when you have a toll of 1300 matches on the body. I am not saying that federer of 2006 would have definitely defeated this Djokovic, he still might have lost them all but saying this version of Federer is better than 2006’s version of himself is little irrational..

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Federer always had a game that is very economical. He had the best serve and fh in the game and his movement was smooth. It’s no wonder he is still playing some of his best tennis.

    [Reply]

  10. Fanaticism: fanatic outlook or behavior especially as exhibited by excessive enthusiasm, unreasoning zeal, or wild and extravagant notions on some subject

    [Reply]

  11. I know when I played my best; no doubts about it. Djokovic said that now is his best and for me that is it. Who am I to clam that I can assess Federer’s game better than Federer himself. I don’t think that there is more competent person to talk about Federer than Federer. What is higher, what is lower is a good question. Is 17>10 or is it 10>17. Is it bigger achievement to beat 3 Federers, 3 Nadals, 3 Murrays and 1 Tsonga or to beat 4 Roddicks, 3 Murrays, 2 Nadals, Philippoussis, Safin, Hewitt, Agassi, Baghdatis, Gonzales, Djokovic and Soderling. How many Roddicks are 1 Nadal? Is Philippoussis, Safin, Hewitt, Agassi, Baghdatis, Gonzales, Soderling better than 1 Federer.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Correct, George. It is just that the competition is so much better these days. It is more impressive what Djokovic did against Federer, Nadal, and Murray than what Federer did to the guys you mentioned. That said, Federer is still doing very well himself, but Djokovic is too strong and so has Nadal been.

    [Reply]

  12. I agree with Federer being in a weaker Era. I respect what Charlie says. I did some statistical research. Just a small sample size. I looked at Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt’s career statistics and compared them to Andy Murray’s.
    Hewitt-615 wins. 30 titles. 2 Majors. 2 Master’s 1000’s. 2 Masters Cups.
    head to head vs Murray 0 and 1.
    Roddick-612 wins. 32 titles. 1 major. 5 Master’s 1000’s.
    head to head vs Murray 3 wins and 8 losses.
    head to head vs Del Potro 1 win and 4 losses
    head to head vs Wawrinka 1 win and 3 losses.
    head to head vs Cilic 1 win and 2 losses.
    Hewitt was pretty much even against these players head to head.
    Murray-545 wins. 35 titles. 2 majors. 11 Master’s 1000’s. Olympic Gold.
    Murray has a lot more tennis left to play and is definitely in his prime and already has better statistics than 2 of Federer’s main rivals. He is a more complete player than players from Federer’s era. Wawrinka could end up with more majors than anyone from Federer’s era. Del Potro has played some amazing tennis when healthy and has pushed the top players many times in the last 5 years as well. I am not big on Murray, but I have to admit that he is better than any player from Federer’s Era, It’s not even close. If Safin could of held it together mentally, he could have really pushed Federer and probably won a lot more majors. He was so talented. But it never happened. I agree that Djokovic will need to beat Federer in more statistical catagories to be considered better in the end. One thing that I have been reading in comments from Federer fans lately is that there is no way that Djokovic can stay healthy and be able to hold up physically until he is 34. Why? because only Federer can do it? Federer is just a man like anyone else. Djokovic takes care of himself very well. He actually knows how to be in the moment on a much more consistent basis than Federer. That’s the biggest factor that sets them apart. That helps so much with reducing stress in life to be able to live in the moment. He stretches more than anyone. He has a very healthy diet. He is a faster runner than Federer ever was hands down. Federer fans say it’s impossible for Djokovic to be good when he is 34 and will never achieve what he has at his age like it’s a fact. I could see Djokovic achieving more than Federer in his 30’s by a large margin. If he can stay motivated for that long. But if it comes down to being a physical thing, I don’t see why Djokovic can’t battle through to 34 years old and play good tennis. It will be interesting to see what happens. This is my first time ever posting a comment on any tennis blog.

    [Reply]

    George Reply:

    Difficult to predict the future, but it will be fun seeing people forced to accept that Djokovic is GOAT by sheer power of facts. He can potentially end up with >20 majors and bunch of other records (of course, it may never happen, but if it does it would be great fun). Imagine that tennis GOAT is someone who never wore Nike. It would be interesting to see numbers regarding sales of Uniqlo tennis wear after they signed Djokovic. What Djokovic has done is incredibly as he battled against 2 best players ever plus (almost) nobody wanted him to succeed. And he done it (on his own way). My favourite part is when Djokovic spoils everything for the enthusiastic crowd. Reaction of the crowd after “the shot” in 2011 USOSF was priceless and can be compared to situation when Schiaffino scored a goal in 1950 final for Uruguay against Brazil in World Cup Final played on Maracana in front of 220K Brazilians (they say that you could have heard a pin drop).

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘My favourite part is when Djokovic spoils everything for the enthusiastic crowd.’

    Likewise, George. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing the brainwashed, oppressive Federer mob owned by a strong individual like Djokovic :))

    [Reply]

    George Reply:

    If you watch ESPN every Djokovic-Federer final was orchestrated “whether RF will win his 18th GS” with total disregard for aspirations of Djokovic. It genuine resembles to mass brainwashing (something from “1984”). It is no wonder that after all this spin when RF loses people (those that superficially follow up tennis) feel robbed and hard done. They are so primed that they feel like Dart Wader killed Luke and established tyranny.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    It’s a kind of entitlement attitude. Like the rich 1% in the US who expect absolutely everything to go their way or else, they throw a hissy fit. I always fucking love it when the established order is upset.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    And you made the best possible comment on the best possible tennis blog! Welcome to my blog ;-) I am not surprised by the stats and thanks for doing the research. Murray is definitely better than Hewitt. Hewitt has weeks at #1 and 2 WTF title but because of a weak era. No way he would have done that in the Fedalovic era.

    And Fedfans are wishful thinkers when it comes to Djokovic’s decline. If you read my blog before you would have seen me dealing with this issue countless times. There is no reason he can’t dominate into his mid-thirties. And you make a great point about staying in the moment and avoiding unnecessary stress that way which causes decline.

    His mental strength alone will help him stay in the game for longer than Federer. Federer couldn’t stay in the moment and, as a result, has a lot of mental baggage.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    Thank you Ru-an. Your story is so similar to mine. I don’t look at players so much for their personality but for the way they play tennis. Nadal seems to be a very humble person but has always been by far my least favorite player because of his one dimensional style. Federer was my favorite player for a long time, but because of seeing him totally crumble mentally against Nadal so many times when he was clearly the better all around player was very disapointing and I ended up liking Djokovic a lot more in the end because of his mental toughness I watched Federer time and time again seem like a lost little boy that had no idea what to do against Nadal and would seem completely lost inside. The media pumped Federer up and he was blown way out of preportion with how good he actually is and I bought into the hype for a long time. I will admit that if Murray and Federer were mentally strong like Djokovic, they would have won a lot more. They both seem egoically driven though and that’s the biggest thing that makes them overthink during matched against their main rivals and not just let the game come to them in the moment and allow whatever happens to happen. Djokovic plays to improve his game and enjoy the process the journey of playing tennis. If all it was about was winning, Djokovic wouldn’t be able to break all the records. There has to be more to it than personal glory. I think that it has helped Djokovic to always have the crowd against him and has actually hurt Federer and this has been a key to making Djokovic mentally stronger. Ru-an, I really appreciate how you say it how it is. You do see things realistically and not just what you want to see. This is the first sight where I have seen a lot more realistic comments about the players from each person.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, David. You will fit right in here. I can’t say this always was a very unbiased blog, though. I fell for the Federer hype like you and once I got over it, it took me a long time to rid my blog of the fanatics. Some of them have really lost the plot since then. I hear some fanatic I once helped to get exposure to his blog even started a blog dedicated to insulting me =))

    It’s been great to break free of the conditioning that says Federer is god and Nadal is the devil. They both have their flaws and strenghts. Djokovic is the new breed who owns them both, actually has a personality, and doesn’t have that entitlement attitude. Things never came easy for him. He had to fight for every inch and he appreciates the process and everything. He doesn’t become complacent and he loves all of it.

    He just does his own thing and to hell with the rest. If they don’t like him it’s their problem. But he is mentally too strong for any amount of brainwashed idiots to stop him from winning. They just make him want to win ever more.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    I did some research on the Olympics next year. Fast indoor hard courts. Seems like it will be Federer or Djokovic who will be the favorites. If Federer falls to number 3 in the world by that time, he has a better chance to win it all if he is drawn on the same side as Djokovic as well. All of the matches are best out of 3 until the finals. He won’t have a good chance of beating Djokovic in a best out of 5 set match compared to a best out of 3 set match. I also wanted to comment on one reason that It’s harder for the younger players to break in compared to before. When it was serve and volley tennis, you got really good at volleying. Than it switched to baseline tennis so you got really good at playing baseline tennis. Now it seems that you need to develop every shot in the game to be as good as Djokovic or Federer. They are getting better and better at the net as well as hitting lob shots and drop shots. The game is becoming an all around game with so many different shots that are needed in order to beat the best players. How can you expect a 19 to 23 year old to develop all of these shots and perfect them at suchh a young age? You can’t.It would be unrealistic. So it takes more time for younger ones to hit their overall peak. They may very well end up being some of the greatest players we have ever seen. We just don’t know at this point because things have changed in tennis so much compared to before when players were winning majors at 17,18,19,20. I think it will be much harder with the way tennis is evolving to be able to win a major at that age anymore. It would take something absolutely spectacular to do. Example: Del Potro in 2009 and I think he was 21 and that was epic.

    [Reply]

    George Reply:

    I think that there is something in what you say. Experience seems to matter more nowadays. I think that anticipation is crucial when you have several possible outcomes (is it going to be short or long, down the line or crosscourt, flat or spiny?) and more important than speed. I think that anticipation develops over time with experience.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    I totally agree George. I found an even more compelling statistic about Federer being in a weaker era with one of his main rivals being Hewitt. I looked at Hewitt’s ranking in the last 8 seasons and his highest ranking was number 18. He had very few weeks in the top 20 even. Some of those years were definitely his prime. So if people think that Federer never played in a weaker era than why couldn’t one of his main rivals barely crack the top 20 in his prime? This statistic makes the case for Federer playing in a weaker era even more convincing that the other statistics I posted earlier.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    Hewitt suffered from injuries starting in 2005, requiring numerous operations and time off the tour.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    Just some quotes taken from Wikipedia:

    “he missed the 2005 French Open because of injury”

    “A hip injury Hewitt acquired in March 2008 affected his preparation for the French Open”

    “Despite his ongoing hip problem, Hewitt was able to compete at the Queens Club Championship”

    “Hewitt elected to miss the Montreal and Cincinnati Masters in an effort to give his hip sufficient rest to enable him to play at the 2008 Beijing Olympics”

    “After returning from hip surgery, Hewitt played his first match in 2009 at the Hopman Cup”

    “due to the further damage Hewitt’s hip sustained at the Olympics, he was left with no option but to pull out of the US Open and skip the rest of the season to have hip surgery”

    “Hewitt announced at a press conference at Melbourne Park that he underwent another hip operation similar to his left hip operation this time on his right hip on 28 January 2010”

    “Hewitt’s next tournament was scheduled to be the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. However, he withdrew due to a recurring injury.”

    “After receiving a first-round bye at the Legg Mason Classic, Hewitt retired in the second round due to a leg injury.”

    “He withdrew from the Asian hard-court swing due to a wrist injury suffered during the Australian Davis Cup playoff loss to Belgium.”

    “Hewitt came into Wimbledon with doubts over his fitness and condition and was unseeded in the 2011 Wimbledon Championships draw.”

    “Hewitt had been scheduled to play in Los Angeles the following week, but opted not to take up the offer of a wildcard and withdrew from the event to recover from his foot injury. He then was offered a wild card to play at the 2011 US Open, but was unable to play due to the foot injury which ended his season.”

    There were probably others I missed, but you get the point.

    [Reply]

    George Reply:

    In Federer’s defence, you can beat only those that are in front of you. However, Federer’s career has obviously 2 halves: 1) prior to maturation of Nadal/Djokovic and 2) after that. Without Nadal/Djokovic, I believe that Federer would continue having 2-4 majors per year (similarly to 2004-7) and would end up with ~30 GS titles. Federer didn’t decline over time; on the contrary. As an example, Murray (who is a top top player) was tougher opponent for Federer in the past than now.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right, George. Federer declined very little if at all. The competition just got stronger(particularly Nadal and Djokovic). Not sure why people find this so hard to believe. The Murray argument is a very good illustration that Federer did not decline and maybe even improved.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    Thanks for The info. Charlie. I knew he had some injuries over his career, but I didn’t know it was that bad. That makes sense with such a big drop off.

    [Reply]

  13. Hi !

    I dont know if its only me but your blog is freezing up…and it happend since I made my first post here. I come to your blog and there are no new comments or posts…I try to refresh but nothing. Then one day…like today there is 30 plus “new” comments and they were not all written today…some are a couple of days old. Last time it refreshed you had written a couple of new posts and I got to read them a couple of days later. Its a bummer. Any thoughts?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi. That doesn’t seem to happen to the others because they keep commenting. I will see if there is a problem on my side.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Check what happens when you clear you cookies and get back to me.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Can you check now if you see a difference? I made some changes. Let me know.

    [Reply]

  14. Hi Ruan!

    Thanks! The new post emerged immediately. I opened this post and had to refresh to see your comment. So it does seems to work now, since refreshing didnt do any difference earlier.

    Thats great…always awaiting to read your new posts

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well, that’s great to hear. The comments are actually supposed to show without you having to refresh the page so I will look into that too. Always let me know if you are having problems reading my blog.

    [Reply]

  15. Regarding the weak era debate. Charlie makes some interesting points but ultimately doesnt see the forest because the trees are in the way. Its very difficult to compate eras, agreed. But one thing is very clear. Many people today claim fed is goat. They who dont claim nadal is goat (generalisation of course from me). Atleast everyone agrees nadal is clay goat. So federer dominated and won titles against possibly? great players (roddik hewitt etc) but no goats. Then came nadal and dethroned him pretty easily. Nole on the othet hand competed with the so called goat and the other goatcandidate/claygoat. (remember nole started making a big name for himself 2007, federer still in prime, nadal not even hitting his prime). So its pretty basic…federer maybe didnt play in weak era but nole plays in a much tougher one. You can not claim federer is goat and then not aknowledge the fact that nole play in the toughest era. Yes federer is now old…but the rivalry didnt start 2014 or 2015. Cmon ppl…the rafole and djokerer rivalry is in terms of matches the greatest ones in tennis history. And the argument prime-nole beats old-fed is laughable because prime fed played baby-nole. And soon nole will lead h2h. I really cant wait for them to meet again.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Agreed Bottle.

    [Reply]

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