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.
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.