Nadal Wins 8th Major at Wimbledon, Can He Catch Federer?

Zzzzzz. That’s about as interesting as the final was. Berdych never showed up and Nadal said “Spank you very much” with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 win. In the process he picked up his 8th slam title and is now half way to the mark that Federer set thus far. I guess it was the fact that it was Berdych’s first slam final, because he really could not have played much worse. He showed no self belief whatsoever, faltering every time at even the slightest glimpse of an opportunity. It was not like Nadal was setting the world on fire with his play either, making 8 unforced errors in one game, something he usually doesn’t do throughout a whole set. Berdych even had a better winner to unforced error ratio than Nadal. There isn’t much more to say about this match, other than the fact that it was the most boring and one-sided final in many years.

Where’s my manners? Congrats Nadal on your 2nd Wimbledon title and 8th slam title! What a comeback he has made since he hit the European clay courts. After losing early at Queens and being taken to five sets by Haase and Petzschner, it wasn’t sure that he would win Wimbledon again. But since Federer lost against Berdych he was always going to have a chance. And the guys that were supposed to put up the most resistance (Soderling, Murray, and Berdych), failed in that regard. Soderling came the closest of these guys when he played mind games with Nadal in the third set. It almost came off as he broke Nadal when Nadal served for the set at 5-4, but in the end Nadal was too determined. You must give Nadal a lot of respect for the way he fought back after he went through a low that lasted about 11 months.

He followed in Federer’s footsteps by doing this, and he surprised me to be honest. I thought he could win the French, but didn’t think he would do the French Open/Wimby double again. I have asked the question about Nadal before, about whether he would be able to get out of his slump the way Roger did, and he definitely did that so far. So I must remain true and give him a lot of credit here. The only problem for Nadal is that he slumped much earlier than Roger. Roger slumped when he was past his prime and when he was on 13 slams, while Nadal slumped in what was supposed to be his prime. When Federer was at 6 slams he was dominating like no one has ever done in the history of tennis. This is only one of many reason I think Nadal will never catch Federer in grand slam titles and all time greatness.

He is only half way now, and although he is only 24 years old, he has been around for a long time. He is an early developer who turned pro in 2001. With a taxing game style and knees that are almost allergic to hard courts, it’s hard to see him being dominant enough and around for long enough to come close to Federer’s record. You never want to say never, but it’s highly unlikely. At most Nadal will come close to Sampras’ records I think. Sampras and Nadal is more in a similar bracket for me, although Nadal has a lot to achieve to come close to Sampras of course. I just think they’re similar in terms of completeness. I actually think they have a lot in common. They are both amazingly clutch, and they both have slight flaws in their game. Sampras was the ultimate in attack, while Nadal is the ultimate in defense. Federer has both.

Federer Pictures, Images and Photos

I think a rivalry between Sampras and Nadal would actually have been a more interesting than the Fedal rivalry. Sampras would have played relentless attack while Nadal would have done the same in defense. The Fedal rivalry has been a bad match up, and they have met too many times on clay for it to be a balanced rivalry. Sampras wouldn’t have met Nadal that often on clay, because he wasn’t nearly as good as Federer on clay. Sampras had basically the same flaws on clay that Nadal had on fast courts. Sampras was not a good enough defensive player to do well on slow courts, while Nadal does not have a good enough attacking game to do well on fast courts. But they both were fortunate in that they played in eras which fitted their game styles. One wonders whether both Sampras and Nadal would have won the amount of slams they did if they played in reversed eras.

I don’t know if it’s necessary to get this technical, but it is interesting to ponder nonetheless. Would Sampras have won as many Wimbledon titles had he played in an era where the ball bounces much higher and conditions is so much slower? Same thing at the Australian Open. Things are much slower there nowadays as well. The French Open have sped up, but whether Sampras would have won a slam there is still questionable. Had Nadal played in the era when things were faster, you can ask similar questions. He would have had a harder time at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open probably. It’s even questionable whether he would have won any slams outside the French Open by now. I realize this argument is speculatory though, because players adapt to conditions as well. But I thought it’s an interesting argument nonetheless.

My original point stands, which is that Sampras and Nadal both have limitations to their games. They are not nearly as complete a tennis player as Federer, and therefor does not deserve to be put in the same bracket as the GOAT. Federer has it all. He can play both attack and defense, and he can adapt to any surface. He is The One, just as Neo was The One in The Matrix. Nothing will ever change my mind about this fact. Who knows how good Laver really was, but Federer is definitely in another league than Sampras and Nadal for me. I wouldn’t put it beyond Nadal to equal Sampras’ record. That would be something that he could possibly do. I prefer that Nadal does not win the US Open, because I like to think that people who wins the career slam is complete. But I guess if Agassi won the career slam Nadal could do it as well.

One thing that you have to give Nadal is that he keeps improving and keeps surprising people. That’s why I won’t be surprised anymore if he beats Sampras’ record. I realize this stands in contradiction of what I said before about Nadal burning out and not winning many more slams. I do admit that Nadal have surprised me, but we don’t know the future and what I said could still become true. It will be interesting to see how Nadal’s knees holds up now for the rest of 2010 which is all on hard court. He has already withdrawn from the Davis Cup because of pain he had during Wimbledon. If his knees are that vulnerable on grass I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t last very long on hard courts. This is another limitation of Nadal’s game. He just runs too much and it has already caught up with him.


To equal Federer’s current record he must win two slams a year for the next 4 years. I seriously doubt that is happening and Federer will add at least one more slam to his record, if not several more. I’m positive about that. If Nadal keeps playing on hard courts I’m not even sure he will last until 28. Things change very fast in tennis and in life. Today people may think of Nadal as a possible GOAT contender, but in a few months he may be written off due to injury. This is how the press and people operate. They tend to live very much in the moment. In lieu with this fact they have now written Federer off, which in my opinion is a big mistake. I’ve said before that I doubt Roger was truthful when he said he enjoyed tennis more than ever these days. I realized since that I was wrong. Even though Roger is losing a lot of late, I am enjoying my blogging more than ever.

I really am. I’m not just saying that. I just enjoy writing more and the people who keeps commentating on my blog as well. Therefor it is very believable for me that Roger is enjoying his tennis more than ever these days. You know, for me it is not so much about Roger winning these days as it is about enjoying my writing. I think it is the same for Roger. I know he isn’t enjoying the losing much, but I do believe him when he says that he is enjoying his tennis more than ever. I think it is because a lot of pressure came off him since he won the calender slam and the most slams in history. Therefor he can relax more and enjoy his tennis. This also means that he is not going to quit just because he is losing. I think he is going to keep playing still for a long time and he will try to solve the problem of these big power hitters.

Besides, it’s not like he’s going to run into them at every slam, as was evidenced at the Australian Open this year. He will still have his chances to win slams. He will bounce back, I’m sure of it. He has done so before and he will do so again. He is not too old either. The body does get older and the aches and pains increase, but Roger has taken good care of himself and he will keep doing so. I would really like him to keep adding to his grand slam tally. If he could reach 18 slams that would be great, but 20 would be even better. I would like to see him winning at least 18 slams, which is very possible. I don’t think most people understands what drives Federer. They think because his results have been poor for his standards that he will give up and call it a day. But he plays for the love of tennis and I don’t think he is anywhere close to giving up.

Therefor I can definitely see him win 18-20 slams. That in itself would take Nadal totally out of the equation, although he is most probably not going to catch 16 slams anyway. So to answer my own question: No, I don’t think Nadal can catch Federer. One thing we have learned about Nadal is that you can never say never with him. But in this case I think the ask is too tough.

Roger Federer

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , .

16 Comments

  1. anticlimax finals…as i expected, anyway its no fault of nadal. he was too good.murray nadal should have been the finals though.I am picking rafa to win the US open if his knees hold up, would also like to see fed step it up,wishing for a fed/nadal finals

    [Reply]

  2. Hello Ruan,
    First of all, let me introduce myself as a fed fanatic. I like Roger because of his manners, playing style and the records he has set.He has this famous rivalry with Nadal. If not for Nadal he would have racked up twenty one GS at least, in my opinion, but because there is Nadal so the achievement of Federer has shined, so in a way it is okay.By the way the rivalry of Federer and Nadal reminds me of the rivalry between two famous chess world champions Karpov and Kasparov back in mid eighties. In 1985 the FIDE rules stipulated that the world champion would be the one who would win the first six games. Karpov was about 35 years of age while Kasparov was about 15 years younger.Karpov had been reigning champion for the last ten years since in 1975 the genius Bobby Fisher did not turn up for the defense of title and the-then challenger Karpov was announced champion. When Karpov and Kasparov played the first 9 games in 1985, Karpov won four games and it looked as if by game 15 the championship would be over. But 17 more games were played before Karpov could win another game. After that 25th game Karpov could not win another game but they played till I think 47th game when by that time Kasparov had notched three wins. The match was suspended at that and the rules were changed because the rules seemed extremely inappropriate for the opponents of such calibre. Afterward the rules were changed . 24 games would be played and whoever would gain more by then would win except that a tie would give edge to the reigning champion. Kasparov was such a genius, he secured victory as per new rules.Karpov was entitled to rematch since he was reigning champion. Kasparov again secured victory strengthening him as the greatest champion. There is a rating system in Chess called Elo rating which can give idea who is the GOAT in chess and as far as my knowledge goes it is Kasparov whose maximum rating is about 2850. The nearest one might be somewhere near 2815 and Karpov might have achieved the highest of about 2810, I am not sure.Why I am talking of all these things is because I liked Karpov to win with Kasparov but that did not go well with me. Back to tennis. I like Federer to rack up as many records as possible but because of this guy called Nadal he has not been able to do what I would have liked him to do.Sometimes methinks that what if Nadal goes on winning and racks up GS titles in par with that of Federer what would happen to the debate of GOAT since Nadal has such a hugh predominance over Federer in head to head ? I hope it goes as you opine.What if something like ELO rating in chess could be devised for tennis to measure the greatness? At least we would not have so much debate on the question of GOAT.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi mridul. That seems like an interesting rivalry between Kasparov and Karpov. As for the h2h between Federer and Nadal, i guess it could become relevant when Nadal gets close to Federer in slams won, but to me the most important factor when determining the GOAT is major titles one. The second most important thing is the career slam. Those two things on their own is much more important than something like h2h. After that comes things like time spent at nr 1, MS titles, number of years ended nr 1, consistency at slams, etc. Nadal hasnt achieved nearly enough to be even close to being a GOAT contender. Aside from the fact that he isnt anywhere close to the most slams won yet and no calender slam, he has only ended the year ranked nr 1 once, he isnt anywhere near close to the most amount of weeks spent at nr 1, hes consistency at slams will never be that of Federer who has 23 consecutive semi-finals. Federer also won five straight slams at two different slams, while Nadals best is 4 consecutive slams at one slam. I also know that Federer puts most of his emphasis on the slams, so that is obviously the most important measurement of greatness for him as well. I dont think Nadal is coming anywhere near Federers records.
    As for the rating they have in chess, that would never work for tennis because of the different eras and conditions. Chess has always been pretty much the same. Its played on one surface, and its always been played the same way. It has much less variables than tennis, and therefor much easier to determine a GOAT. In tennis it is basically impossible to determine a GOAT, although for me Federer comes the closest to that.

    [Reply]

  3. That’s a good blog Ru-An,

    Like you I’ve been a Fed watcher for a long time and I have been spoiled by the artistry that is Federer at work and always amazed at how easy and effortlessly he can be in dispatching his opponents. Of late however, since his illness in 2008 and slump then his lung infections this year he seems to me to have lost about half a step to his play. He seems slow to react whereas before he was already there before the ball gets there. Now he does these squash shots because he barely got there. I believe he’s been injured but don’t really make a fuss about so he looses. If you get a chance to watch the match in 2001 between him and Sampras that was a cracker of a match and showed me that over the years Fed has lost his volleying touch. His volleys are now only just get by. I would be one of the first one to admit that Fed is spent but I can see him winning many more tournaments much less slams. I wish him all the best and that he can recover from injuries if they are and give us at least 2-3 more years of beautiful tennis.
    Cheers,
    Tedsuma

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Tedsuma. The loss of volley touch is due to the fact that the game has changed so much since 2001 and the players are simply volleying much less.

    [Reply]

  4. I have been away from the net last 4 days so I managed to lose a lot of interesting posts and comments. While reading I managed to see that Ru-an is enjoying his writing and also the comments are enjoyed by their writers. So I can say that I am enjoying something else! I enjoy that all of us mange to deal with the pain that was so much present lately when Roger lost and that now almost everybody is more positive than we were before Wimbledon…
    Interesting thing isn’t it?
    About this idea that Nadal is or isn’t able to catch Roger’s GS record… Well to be honest I would like that the score is now 16 : 13 for Roger. Not later, now.
    Why? Because in this case Roger will be more motivated to continue to the best level ever and would have done all the efforts (mentally and physically) to win more GS that he has now.
    I wouldn’t count that much on the injuries on Nadal because with the progress of medicine these days we can even see a knee transplant from an elephant or so. The only way to beat Nadal is to beat him mentally. He is a player of percentages so the one that wants to beat him has to destroy his percentages. As long as he keeps doing the same thing and wins is mostly unbeatable mentally and also has the mental power to choose the right improvements for his game on the run or between tournaments.
    I think that Nadal was “engineered” from the very beginning in order to beat the style of play that was usual in the period that he started (2001). In my own opinion Nadal is not really playing tennis but chess (thank you Mridul1 for the parallel between chess champs and tennis champs).
    He is wanting to mentally destroy the opponent and all his actions in court are consequences of this goal. Playing against a player that makes very few unforced errors and runs after ALL THE BALLS and RETURNS MOST OF THEM is going sooner or latter to put in doubt the mind of the opponent. My own opinion is that doubt is the shortcut to failure.
    Higher bounce of the ball and the slower courts only helped him and his team to match their goal.
    I am sure that despite my jokes about “wicked uncle Toni”, Toni managed to hire the best coach (not tennis coach but mental coach) that money can buy.
    I am also sure that also improvement of the game is part of this domination plan. On the other hand it might prove that Nadal is not injured at all and he is using this idea of injury just for pressuring the opponents mind. As long as he is able to beat anyone while he is injured than without injuries there is no doubt that he beats anyone.
    Let’s think a little bit… Roger was so dominant between 2004 – 2007 that all the opponents when they saw on the draw of a tournament the slightest possibility to meet him they were praying not to happen this big problem.
    Now is the same thing against Nadal. The only difference is that Roger got in this position due to it’s immense talent and Nadal’s team had an entire plan for obtaining this.
    It is my own opinion you can agree or not with this idea. I am not trying to cut the merits of Nadal for being what he is all that I am saying is that is not a natural talent as Roger but a very, very hard working athlete that has also a very good mental coach.
    After all in order to follow a plan you have to have all the means you need and always the human factor is the most important in planning as also in execution…

    [Reply]

  5. “… and he can adapt to any surface.”

    I’ll tell you what he cannot adapt with (at least not yet): HIS EGO. Listen to his explanations for the losses, look at how he never really had a coach, just a “technical consultant”, the same game plans that failed against the same players.

    Sampras & Nadal each has their weaknesses, but theirs is not EGO. And this weakness that is not theirs, is Roger’s.

    [Reply]

    Dragos Reply:

    It is quite normal for someone that had during the years a lot of great results to have a big ego. OK maybe for someone that was interested in personal development techniques, mysticism or whatever spiritual way maybe it is not normal as every spiritual way is presenting the ego as the biggest enemy in spiritual development.
    I am not sure that Roger have had time for being so profound in knowing himself or if he had or has now among his close friends or team someone who it is in contact with such activities.
    I assume that the author, readers and commentators of this blog are above the average level of spirituality of Roger’s fans.
    That is why “ego” is used as a bad factor here despite the fact that according with the point of view of society’s “normal” value scale is almost equal with strong personality or some other virtue.
    In order to cure or to try to solve a problem one have to admit that he has a problem. As I said I don’t really think that Roger had the time to acknowledge that he has an “ego” problem. By the contrary I think that his “advisers” told him that “ego” is good.
    Again I have to tell you that this is my own opinion and of course you can agree or not.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Dragos i think you are right. It is normal for Roger to have gotten the big ego that he did after all that he achieved in tennis. Tennis is after all a lot to do with ego, and not necessarily a spiritual discipline(although it could be used for that purpose, read The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothey Gallwey). Federer is not a spiritual guru, he is a tennis guru. He is enlightened in terms of tennis, not spirituality. So he could easily have fallen into the trap of the ego, which is what I think has happened. This is in a way natural, and it will take time for him to get over his ego. But first he must suffer several disappointments.

    [Reply]

    Dragos Reply:

    If tennis can be used as a spiritual discipline then we have to admit that like in Star Wars there is a “dark side” in it :-) . Still I cannot imagine Roger as Yoda but as the young Luke Skywalker that can be attracted by the dark side of tennis… :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol, but Roger isnt trying to become enlightened through tennis, so i would have to agree with that ;-)

    [Reply]

    Tedsuma Reply:

    Agree with you Dragos on the word “ego” when used in a negative connotation. On the positive side of ego it is called “confidence” or “determination”. Ru-an yawned during the 2010 wimby final. And you may ask why. Berdych just did not believe he can win. He has the physical game to beat Nadal but not the mental game. Nadal had already won the match in his head even before he stepped on court and this is what you has referred to as ego. It is this ego together with the physical that Fed and Nadal can win match after match. They must first believe in their head that they will win before they can win the physical match. It is what sets these guys apart from the rest of the field. I am starting to like these discussions.

    [Reply]

    Dragos Reply:

    @tedsuma
    English is not my native language so is very hard for me to be very explicit, maybe also because I like to use long sentences :-) .
    From my point of view ego is ego and there is no good connotation in this word or in what is representing. What I wanted to say is that the scale of values changed in modern human society and things that are not natural for humans became now natural. That is why ego can pass very easy as a virtue instead of a real problem as it is for real.
    “Confidence” is confidence and “determination” is determination and I don’t really think that someone that has minimal knowledge of human nature can fall in this misunderstanding between ego and confidence.
    Ego is blocking the relation with other human beings and with God himself because the person that posses a big ego thinks about himself that he is some sort of god or even The God and doesn’t need to live in relation with others. For this person he is enough for himself and he doesn’t need to improve because is already perfect in his mind.
    This is how I see the “ego”. I am not sure that Ru-an is seeing this word as I do but definitely Tedsuma you have another opinion.
    On the other hand what I said is basically that Nadal and his team planed this mental domination in the smallest detail in court and outside the court (let’s say that as a result of applying this plan everyone in the circuit is too scared to be able to play at their best against Nadal and in this light I agree that Berdich was mentally defeated before the final match started). Probably every player is very concentrated not to lose very badly against Nadal instead thinking how Nadal can be beaten. And if during the game they have real chance to win they do not take the chance because their real goal is “not to lose badly” or at least to lose with dignity.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I would have to agree with that Jason. At least to a certain extent. Thats why i dont expect much until the end of 2010. He needs to work this ego thing out first, and that may need more disappointment first.

    [Reply]

  6. Very well said. Tennis definitely changes very fast. No doubt nadal has been in teremendous form of late(he shoud be since he is 24), but 2 years down the line , i really dont see the domination in him. Well thats just my opinion. Federer , yes, i beleive he will be back :-)

    [Reply]

  7. The major advantage that Rafa has over Roger is that he fights for every ball, while Roger has some laziness about him. As for sheer talent, Roger is way up there, Nadal though, not a bad player himself, he runs-runs-and-runs all day without letting up. If only Roger were to up his workrate then he would beat Nadal everytime. My opinion though.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *