Nadal Wins US Open, Completes Career Slam(but No Respite for Gilbert)

First of all I want to congratulate Rafa for completing the career slam by defeating Djokovic in the final 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. This is the one slam I thought he may never win, yet he proved me wrong once more. Even if you don’t like him, you must respect his relentless will and ability to keep evolving as a tennis player. He is mentally and physically the best I have ever seen. Maybe in the mental department Sampras and Borg could rival him, but physically he is unlike any other. He never gets tired and he gets to EVERYTHING. I was reminded of that yesterday in the final moments of the match when Djokovic simply couldn’t get the ball past him. Finally the only way he could hit the winner was by getting a lucky net cord as the ball just dropped over the net. Given that he NEVER chokes, this makes him an extremely difficult opponent on any surface.

It really boggles my mind the mental and physical feats this guy is capable of. It’s no secret that I didn’t really want him to win the US Open. Not because I’m a hater, but because I didn’t like the idea that someone with a basically defensive game style wins a grand slam on a fast surface. But that doesn’t matter because he did win it and that is all there is to it. And Rafa has also improved his game so much that he now has a big serve, a backhand which he can attack with, and he has pretty good volleys as well. So in the end he deserves it and I would never try to downplay his achievement. The one thing I will say however is that no one can ever put an asterisk next to Roger’s French Open win unless they do the same to Rafa at the US Open. No one put up any resistance until the final when Djokovic at least took one set.

But more importantly Del Potro was not around who crushed Rafa last year in the semis. As far as I’m concerned he is the only guy who could have stopped Rafa here, and I also think he would have. I watched the final yesterday and it became obvious to me why Del Potro would have beaten Rafa. The times that Djokovic went for his shots and changed up the pace of the game, he made life very difficult for Rafa. But he didn’t do it nearly enough. He did it only when he was a set down, and even then he handed the break back to Rafa. Then there came a rain break, and when they came back it seemed to me that he talked to his coach or something because he started playing a much more aggressive match. He took the second set and I think he broke Rafa to love to do so. It looked like it was match on, but then Djokovic seemed to crawl back into his shell.

He only really came up with attacking tennis when he was down in his service games. This points to something that I have always known, that Djokovic is not exactly a mental giant. Even though he had won the previous three matches on hard courts against Rafa in straight sets, he couldn’t defeat Rafa on the surface when it really mattered. He just lacks belief and mental stability. This is where Del Potro is so good. He is truly the only guy on tour who has no fear of Rafa whatsoever. Even though he trails Rafa 3-4 in head-to-head meetings, he has won the last three encounters, including the 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 drubbing at the US Open last year. Del Potro only really started coming into his own at last year’s French Open, and he has been 3-0 against Rafa since then. All these victories came on hard court, so no doubt Rafa was helped by the fact that Del Potro didn’t defend his title.

But that is the kind of good fortune you need to complete a career slam, just like Roger needed it to win the French Open. After this win there has been the usual overreactions from the ‘experts’, media and Rafa fans alike. Here is a short conversation I had with Brad Gilbert on Twittter after the match:

@bgtennisnation: There’s Your GOAT – the best year I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.

@Federer_Blog: @bgtennisnation hmmm how can u b GOAT if someone won 7 more slams than u?

@bgtennisnation: @Federer_Blog Because Rafa has absolutely owned you.

This conversation speaks for itself. Brad Gilbert thinks Rafa is the GOAT because he has absolutely owned me. OK! First of all I have no idea how Rafa owned me, since I was actually truly happy for him. Second, how does it make you the GOAT if you owned some guy who never even had an ATP ranking? I thought to be the GOAT you had to at least be close to winning the most slams, not to mention have an ATP ranking. Gilbert says these kind of things because he wants to make Roger’s achievements irrelevant. Why? After Gilbert displayed his infinite wisdom, someone tweeted that in the 2004 Wimbledon final Roger out-coached Gilbert when he was coaching Roddick. I never picked up on this incident, but it is true because several people have reminded me of this fact since Gilbert attacked me.

So it becomes obvious why Gilbert have been making these absurd statements since the beginning of the US Open. First of all he said that if Rafa beats Roger in the final here, then Rafa would be the GOAT. That is already absurd enough. But then when Roger did not make the final as he expected, he quickly changed his story and just called Rafa the GOAT anyway. I don’t hate Gilbert for attacking me because I don’t feel like that is in the spirit of Roger. In fact I feel sorry for him. It obviously deeply hurt that Roger out coached him in that Wimbledon final. I don’t remember the exact incident, but someone just told me it was when Roddick won the first set and then it started raining. At that point Roger did of course not have a coach. Then when they came back on court Roger changed his tactics and came back to win the next three sets.

This obviously deeply hurt Gilbert’s pride. There are of course other reasons for his resentment of Roger, like Roger’s 19-2 head-to-head record against Roddick, the fact that he stopped Roddick from winning at least 4 slams, and the fact that he passed Sampras as the GOAT. Over the last decade Roger has single-handedly broken American tennis, and obviously this has contributed to Gilbert’s resentment. Roger also beat Agassi, a former pupil of Gilbert and an American, in the 2004 US Open final. He also beat Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001, ending the American’s reign at Wimbledon. So Roger has cost American tennis at least 5 slams in this last century, but probably more. The fact that he passed Sampras as the GOAT in almost no time also had to weigh heavily on guys like Gilbert. I know for a fact it weighed heavily on Peter Bodo, who harbors the same kind of resentment towards Roger.

Bodo came out with a book in praise of Sampras around the time when Roger was stuck on 13 slams, which is why Bodo’s articles often have an undercurrent of deep resentment towards Roger. And of course Bodo is American as well. When Sampras won 14 slams America must have though that they would have the GOAT for a long time to come, yet Roger toppled Sampras in less than a decade while at the same time making American tennis almost irrelevant. So you can see why there is often this deep seated resentment and criticism from American ‘experts’ and media. For Gilbert to go to the lengths that he has and to make the statments that he does shows a deep pain and anguish which Roger has caused him over the years. And the ironic thing is that it was never Roger’s intention to do this to people.

He is simply not the type that enjoys causing people misery. Instead he plays purely for the love of the game. He never harbors revenge and ill feelings towards his opponents or anyone else. And in the spirit of Roger we should not resent these people in return. I don’t resent Gilbert. Instead I feel sorry for him, because he cannot see past his hate and resentment, which in turn makes him miserable. We Federer fans simply enjoy the beauty that Roger brings to the game. Winning is just a nice by product of this. When Roger’s nemesis achieves the career slams we don’t resent it. We are glad for him and we celebrate it. I do anyway, and if you don’t then I suggest that you do too. What Rafa is achieving doesn’t detract in the least from what Roger has achieved. If anything it makes it even more impressive because he played in an era of another GOAT.

No one can ever say now that he played in a weak era. Life is a perception, and how you you perceive life will either make you happy or miserable. It’s your choice. To come back to the whole GOAT discussion, everyone with a healthy brain knows that this win does not make Rafa the GOAT. You are not the GOAT when someone have won 7 more slam than you, let alone 1. This doesn’t mean Rafa can’t become the GOAT, but he has a very long way to go. Roger’s achievements have been nothing short of mind-blowing. With this win Rafa has now win 3 slams over the span of a year for the first time. He has to do that two more times to equal Roger. A telling stat is that Roger has made 23 consecutive slam semi’s, where Rafa’s longest streak is 5. Then Roger has won 5 or more slams at 2 different slams. Rafa needs at least 1 more French Open and 3 more Wimbledons to achieve that.

Rafa has only made half the amount of slam finals Roger has (11/22). Of those slams final Roger made 18/19 at one point. Roger also holds the record for most consecutive weeks at number 1, which Rafa almost certainly will never break. Even though Rafa has closed the gap in slam count to 7, he is clearly still an awfully long way off from rivaling Roger’s impressive records. Many of them he will never break. So rest assured, Roger records are mostly safe. Because Roger was so dominant in his prime and set up so many impressive records, Rafa needs to at least equal him in slam count for the head-to-head to become relevant. You don’t look at head-to-head with one player for who is the better player in terms of career. By that rationale Davydenko is better than Rafa. So you look at achievements.

So only when Rafa has caught up with Roger in achievements will the head-to-head come into the picture. It will be the tie break to decide the GOAT. But like I said, Rafa has an awful lot to do for that to happen. His best bet is probably to catch up with Roger in slam wins and possibly surpass him. This will be hard enough in itself. There are two reasons for this. One, because Roger isn’t quite done yet. If he lost to Rafa in the US Open final he might well have been done. When I watched the final yesterday I was eternally grateful that Roger was not in that final. If he had suffered a loss in the only slam left it would have deeply hurt him, and me for that matter. I think it would have been too much to handle and Roger may even have thought about retirement. It gets to a point when it becomes too painful and there is no more enjoyment left.

But the fact that he was spared another soul crushing loss to his nemesis, makes it possible for him to win more slams now. It won’t be easy, but I believe he still has the game to win a few. He looked very good from Toronto until the semi-finals of the US Open, where I already explained why he performed pretty poorly. If Rafa was not there waiting in the final I believe we may have seen him winning the US Open in the same fashion he has in the past. At the same time the battles from the past with Rafa has left a scar on him I think, and I am not sure if he will now ever be able to exorcise that demon. If he wins slams in the future I think he will need a bit of luck to avoid Rafa. Or who knows, he may even get the chance to exorcise that demon again. Anyway I’m just glad he avoided Rafa yesterday and I think he still has a chance to add to his slam telly and make it even harder for Raf to catch him.

The second reason why Rafa will find it hard to catch him is because of Rafa’s taxing game style. He has already burned out once during 2009. This is a concern for him because Roger never burned out while he was in his prime. I’m already a bit dumb founded at how Rafa is able to keep up his current form. Surely that game style will mentally and physically take its toll at some point. Rafa was also an early bloomer, which is something people who call him the next GOAT conveniently overlook. They make the point that Rafa achieved the career slam much earlier than Roger, as if they reached their peaks at the same time. Roger’s peak was pretty much over when he hit 26. Rafa is now 24, and I find it extremely hard to believe than his peak would last longer than Roger’s. In fact I thought he was burned out already last year when he hit that low.

I think Rafa hit his peak about 2 years before Roger, which means if it ends 2 years before Roger that would be round about now at age 24. Yet with his taxing game style and all he is still going full steam ahead. This boggles my mind somewhat. That said, its not impossible that he will have two more years at the very top of the game. That should get him pretty close to Roger in slam count, and I think that is exactly what he has on his mind. And we know when Rafa has something on his mind it is very hard to stop him. So by no means I’m counting him out to catch up with Roger. It should be interesting to see how things develop in the future anyway. Can Roger add a few more slams and put that slam tally out of reach of Rafa? Or will Rafa’s unwavering will and determination win the day? The future remains unwritten…

Roger Federer


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30 Comments

  1. Federer is the anti- american, and almost every american has been resentful of Federer. I totally agree w/ your take on Bodo’s undercut of Roger’s achievement in accomplishing more slams than Pete Sampras.

    But, honestly, I just think Americans can’t adapt the way the Europeans/ South Americans (More importantly in Euro, Federer). I mean, look at Roddick, who is a bludgeon 2-19 losing end against Federer. Roddick has become a worse player because he couldn’t adapt to attack Federer. His forehand back when he was in his early years was just as big as the current Del Potro, Soderling, Berdych, etc.

    Overall, Federer did accomplish more than what many people expected, given that his early junior years had many ups and downs. Nadal, to me, can accomplish what Federer did historically. But, technique wise, Federer will remain the most complete player with techniques that many people can learn from. Also, Rafa shouldn’t last that long because of his defensive, counterpunching, chasing game

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Agreed, it only my logical sense that Rafa cant last as long as Roger.

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    RafasKnees Reply:

    Well Rafa’s Knees are exhausted. I can’t wait till he stop playing so I can be on the beach!

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  2. Hi Ru-an,
    I was also curious about how Nadal managed to enjoy injuries this year. I know he skipped a few tournaments this year, but this is amazing. So, props to him for managing to pull this off.
    Agree also that it is hard to not admire Rafa’s attitude but difficult to get behind his bruising and physical kind of tennis. I am very interested in seeing how he can stay at number 1 next year, given all the points he has to defend.
    As for Federer, I actually think this run was fairly promising. I think many experts have been saying how the new coaching situation will take a few months to settle and for us to see the changes in Fed’s game. I do think Fed will change some things in his game—his attitude is clearly more mature now and he’s intent on winning more Slams. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would be content to enter Slams and be happy making the quarters or the semis!

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  3. Nadal might be one of the best players right now but I find it hard to admire his playing style as compared to Federer – its just brute force, on-court intimidation and defensive play. I am still not giving up on hopes that maybe 2011 season, Federer will move to next level ie face his nemesis heads on.

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  4. Ruan,

    In the semis again Djokovic, Roger’s serving in not-so-windy conditions (read first serve percentage) was sub-par today for him:

    53% for the match
    46% – Set 1
    40% – Set 2
    50% – Set 3
    68% – Set 4
    57% – Set 5

    Sounds like back problem or issues similar to what Fed has had before. Similar serving stats in the AO 2009 final and the 2009 US Open final.

    There is no other reasonable explanation for such a drop in first serve percentage.

    My guess is that Roger’s camp knew about this and that perhaps explains the sad but proud look from Mirka as she watched Fed leave the courts.

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  5. Good article man! They all getting so carried away. No Delpo was huge. He is Rafa’s Daddy. Then he gets MELZER in French Semis? Jajajaja. Bird Itch in Wimby final? Yes please! And how about Lopez, Chokedasco and Mick Hail Used Knee to make US Open final. LOL! Thank you tennis Gods!

    Rafa is way behind the GOAT race (and he is like 26 in tennis years anyway)

    First he has to win 8 French opens to say he was more dominant at his Slam than anyone else was.

    Also?
    3 more Wimbledons. VERY Hard.

    5-6 year end #1 finishes. Only has 2.

    3-4 World Tour finals titles. Has nada!

    Even Rafa’s Knees are realists.

    P.S. I don’t want Gilbert to be Rafa’s Tard anymore.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Lmfao thanks for the comment mate :-)

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    RafasKnees Reply:

    You’re welcome. I like this blog. Very respectful to every player! Vamos!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks. I havnet given Rafa enough credit in the past to be quite honest, but he clearly deserves it. Im glad for him and you :D

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    RafasKnees Reply:

    Thanks! It should say RAFAEL NADAL AND HIS KNEES on every trophy no?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Definitely :-)

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    RafasKnees Reply:

    P.S. Agassi has Career Slam too but he is nowhere near the top. I have him behind players WITHOUT career Slams

    Sampras (pwned)
    Borg
    Lendl
    McEnroe
    Connors

    ALL RANK HIGHER THAN AGASSI. I put him around the Becker/Edberg/Wilander tier. Maybe at the top of that tier. But no higher than that!

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  6. Very fair post for Rafa. You have to give it to him for what has happened this year for him. Roger has the skill, and Rafa has the determination. Great blueprints for the future tennis players of the world to follow. I still like Roger’s style and the way he plays tennis, just give Rafa’s heart and work ethic and the final days of his career can end with a bang. I hope it is not a wimper.

    Here is the states, radio is hyping up Djokovic as the “heir apparent” due to him being a personality and not dull. Find it interesting that the media is always looking for tabloid fodder.

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  7. Nadal GOAT? OK.Let´s suicide everybody! The best joke ever.It´s all very suspicious. Do the world think that the spanish people is from another planet? I don´t think someone is superhuman so neither Nadal is.You can easily see all the players and the only one “The Super Batman, the super Heroe:”Nadal”. Please we are no idiots.Delpo is a normal player with this Nadal, no chance.You have a player that hadn´t won a HC tournament
    in 18 months, played mediocre tennis in Cinci butsomehow
    become superhuman at the USO.How?
    The minute they started promoting Nadal like crazy, despite being the 3°or 4° favorite before the tournament
    I knew something weird was going on.I will never buy that aurea Nadal built around himself.Wild ambition.Win
    at all costs.Sports are not so clean as we think.The ATP. needs Nadal to replace Roger near the end of his career.Sad about this, it´s killing me.
    The legacy of each player it´s going to be seen at the end of their careers, not now.
    At least “wherever Nadal is coming Roger has already came from there”.

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  8. Ru-an,
    Haven’t written for a long time but I am faithfully following your blog. Generally agree with all your analysis about rog and other players. You have a very deep and objective analysis and insight into tennis and human psyche. I am feeling very sad as all Fed fans are but the important thing is to not ever let anyone, any comment take away from what Rog has achieved, what he has been, what he is, what a fantastic and unique player, father, person that he is. You are right not to hate Gilbert and the rest of media smart arses who are so jealous of Fed. We have more dignity than that. We must remain in the positive, in the SECURE place where Rog has done his best and given his all to his fans. Nothing haters can say can ever change the FACTS and what Rog was, is and will be to us. We love you Rog, and we stand by you even if you never fail to win another title. This doesn’t mean we don’t want to witness another title from you. We would like you to win for as long as your legs can take you and we hope you would be open to learn and keep on improving because you are too huge a talent to let it go so soon. But, again, no matter what happens, we will stand by you. We will be there through it all. All hail King Roger! Ru-an, love the animations of Roddick and Rog at the end and love all the pics you put up lately on Rog coming back, etc. Love you Ru-an, and promise you will keep up this blog no matter Rog wins or not, ok?!!!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Veronica, happy you still follow my blog :-) And of course i will keep blogging. I enjoy writing for you people ;-)

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  9. I don’t think Nadal is an early bloomer. He started winning early, because there were no contenders on clay courts and on grass the only contender was Federer. If he was a hard court player bur not a clay court specialist, the result would be different. It took both Roge and Rafa 8 attepmts to reach finals of their least favourite surface. Nadal won on 8th attempt, Federer didn’t. That’s because Roger faced maybe the best player on that surface in the final, but Nadal didn’t on US Open. One other reasons that i beleive he isn’t an early bloomer is his face looked like a little kids face when he was 17, unlike many players. So he kept developing physically afterwards. And finally we can see him still developing his game now, so i’m not sure if he is done with that.
    Del Potro beat Nadal 3 times in a row, but so did Djokovic last year. So i’m not sure if we had that Del Potro this year the result would be the same, Nadal is so much different now.
    As i said in one of my former comments i beleive players win as much as others let them. Nadal can reach to 20 slams if there won’t be someone playing better than him in the next 4 years, just take everyone who plays better than him out of the equation and this will be the result. But also this won’t say anything about how good is his game. I think this is also what Nadal thinks, and this is why when he said he was not obsessed with US Open but he cared how well he played, he was telling the truth. He didn’t look like he was obsessed with the trophy when he took it. He cares about how good he is playing more than the labels people put on him. And this is why he will keep saying that Federer is a better player than him even if he wins more slams than Roger, because he still thinks Federer plays the game better than him and winning some certain tournaments would not change that fact.

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  10. hi ruan. We need not worry. 2007 was federer’s year. 2008 was Nadal’s. 2009- Federer and 2010- Nadal. lets hope that 2011 is federer’s.For me he is capable of 2 more slams.But Nadals achievements as u said is also very good.

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  11. Ultimately the GOAT question will never be truly settled, because everyone is going to disagree on what makes a player truly the GOAT. If you look at the “big four” candidates at the moment – Roger, Sampras, Borg and Laver – they all have something the others don’t.

    Roger has the best case at the moment – the Slam record, the Career Slam and the consecutive semis. Laver has the two calendar Slams, plus the question of how many he would have won had he not been away from the game for four years. Sampras has the Wimbledon record, the weeks at number 1, and a formidable 14 slams. Borg has 11 slams, the way he revolutionised the game and changed its image, and again, the question of how many he could have won.

    Rafa will surely be in this equation in a few years time, but not yet. He could end up with the career slam, 14-16 slams, the Masters record, the Olympic Gold … that would be a very strong case. But even if he does, there will be people questioning it, because of the more attractive way people like Roger and Laver played the game. Heck, you could even make a case for McEnroe if you want to include doubles – the sheer amount of titles that guy won, and that amazing year he had in 1984, must be considered too.

    As an aside, I’d never use H2H to determine the GOAT, because Roger and Rafa aren’t REALLY in the same tennis generation – Rafa is 5 years younger, and their peaks didn’t overlap by much. Rafa is of the Murray-Djokovic generation, while Roger is really of the Roddick-Hewitt-Safin-Davydenko generation. It’s just that Roger’s dominance was so great that he continued to win multiple slams when the next generation came along and hit their peaks!

    Basically, there is no set equation for determining the GOAT. Until a guy comes along who wins 25 slams (winning all four at least five times each), gets a calendar slam, a career slam in doubles, olympic golds in singles and doubles, at least 5 WTFs, 400 weeks at number 1, while playing the most attractive tennis ever seen … the debate will always continue. It’s a fun debate, but a futile one.

    Federer is my favourite. I think he has the best current case for being the GOAT. But if Rafa wins more, I don’t care. I like Rafa. He seems a good guy, I love his attitude, and he deserves all he gets. But it won’t stop Federer from being my favourite.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    There is a GOAT we just dont know who it is. Thats why its fun to speculate.

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  12. I think roger is done with the slams already. he has some chances for next Australia and Us open because of the faster surface. He will never get even a final on R.Garos or Wimby. Nadal must be injured on all turnaments so he could make a slam – it`s not like Roger couldn`t anymore do it…he has a mental problem that could be cured on court only against Rafa. Let`s not forget Del Potro`s back in the game and Roger has no chance against him – he proved that shortly after the last US when he smashed Roger on the final master for the year where if he didn`t need to win with 2:1 difference Roger was out of the next phase of the tournament.So Roger can still win on any surface against Rafa if it`s not clay but will loose at any surface against Del Potro. Looks like they both must be injured at any tournament so our Roger could win… :-( Maybe we can pray Berdych ans Soderling to be injured as well for Wimby and Australia ;-) I never could understant how many years Roger will need to learn how to play against lefty players with heavy topspin? If i were you i wouls spend the last years of my career to beat Rafa just one single timee when it matters especially on clay so i can retire satisfied that i proved the world that it was my mentality not skills that prevented me from having better head-to-head agains him. I`ll beat him that one time and then if roger wants it he can keep on avoidig him like he did after winning last time in madrid in 2009.Look how devoted sampras was few years ago for the xhibition matches agains Roger in Shanhai – he had spent probably months just to play him 3 times within several days and he even got 1 win with a game that roger said is sufficient to beat any of the top 10 players today.sampras was 36 maybe at that moment and was playing like a teenager most of the time. So Roger f..k those slams a and win at least once against rafa before you retire – the sooner the better!

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  13. Nice post, although I find it hard to believe that a player as great as Roger wouldn’t have wanted to be in that U.S. Open final very badly. What an opportunity that would’ve been for him! Imagine, if he wins that match, he erases six years of pain at the hands of Rafa. With two wins out of 3 at Wimbledon and 1 win at the U.S. Open, it would be almost like Sampras-Agassi all over again with the more aggressive player dominating at Wimby-USO and the more consistent player winning at AO and FO. That still may happen if Roger comes back strong next year.

    Totally agree about Roger’s impact on U.S. tennis. Has there ever been a player more affected career-wise by a rival than Roddick has been by Federer? I think he might have been one of the great American players and one of the greatest players of all time period (with 6 or 7 majors) if Roger had never picked up a racquet.

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  14. Roger Federer has not yet begun to fight. You heard it here first.

    We still haven’t seen the true all-court style that only Federer can give us. Great things take time and Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    He is trying to make significant changes to his game, and to adjust his mindset to be more aggressive. But I believe he will surpass his limitations and show us new vistas of tennis.

    You have to give Nadal credit, though, for putting himself in a winning position time after time. He takes advantage of every opportunity he is given and he never ceases to work on improving his game.

    You can’t outpsych him, you have to outplay him, perhaps mentally the toughest player ever to play the game.

    Still there is more to tennis than mental imperviousness. In the lovely words of Keats:

    “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty,
    That is all ye know, and all ye need to know.”

    A cold winning machine like Nadal can never give me that. I follow Federer because there is a pure white flame that burns within him.

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  15. I felt a little for Djokovic because I like him and this was a great opportunity for him, but he fell short. He was nervous, blew his chances, and basically played into Nadal’s hands by being too cautious.

    In the last set he looked to the heavens for aid. And I thought “That’s your problem, Novak–you pray for God to make a miracle happen for you instead of trying to make it happen for yourself.” Federer believes in God, but he certainly doesn’t wait for God to step in and help him–he goes out and makes it happen.

    Djokovic has the exact opposite problem that Murray does: he’s beaten Federer in majors but never beaten Nadal. While Murray has beaten Nadal in majors (on hard courts) but never beaten Federer.

    Those guys have the tennis to be at the top, but not the mental chops.

    Del Potro is a cut above both of them because he has the balls to beat both Federer and Nadal back-to-back on the biggest stages in tennis. When it comes to the majors, Djokovic and Murray are like scavengers, feeding off the leavings of Federer and Nadal. They won’t win majors while Federer and Nadal are still playing, while Del Potro will.

    Cilic disappointed this year, but I have hopes for him too. He fears no one and he is a cerebral player with a beautiful all-court game. If he can ever figure out how to manage his energy and learn how to apply himself on the important points, instead of having to play these marathon five-setters all the time, he will be very tough.

    This year was almost like a long dry spell; none of the younger generation, like Del Potro and Cilic, stepped it up this year. Federer, Djokovic, and Murray were all in a bit of a slump. Only Nadal was at the top of his game.

    There is an ebb and there is a flow. Day is followed by night, but night is again followed by day. The winter is cold and dark, but spring inevitably comes after.

    Last year was Federer’s year, this year was Nadal’s, and hopefully next year will be Federer’s again. And hopefully we will be seeing some more of these young hotshots like Del Potro and Cilic, who play amazing tennis and who do not fear the older generation.

    Like I said, Roger Federer has not yet begun to fight. His game is ageless, and he knows no limitations. There’s much to be done, and much new territory to be explored.

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  16. Nice blog, Ru-an. I used to visit here once in a while but have started to enjoy it more of late.
    I am no Nadal fan but I like how respectful you are towards him, I know how hard it is for a Federer fan to not actively detest him for more reasons than one !
    But I still think it would help if more of Federer fans focused on cheering for their favorite player than actively hating Nadal. I have been guilty of it myself at times, I cannot like Nadal but I try my best to be neutral about him.
    I sometimes wonder if the extreme Nadal hatred shown by some of the Federer fans is coming back to hit them ? I have seen many Federer fans being as much or more obsessed with Nadal losing as with Federer winning. All that negative energy must be manifesting itself in making Rafa stronger and more successful ?

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    steve Reply:

    I don’t like Nadal, I’ll be frank, but I don’t root for him to lose. When he played Soderling and Berdych I was neutral because I’m not a particular fan of either of them. When he played Djokovic I rooted for Djokovic because I like Djokovic.

    You can’t hate Nadal for winning; Federer lost to Djokovic and therefore didn’t have the opportunity to play for this title, and that’s the end of it. Maybe in the larger scheme of things it was for the best, I don’t know.

    In 2008-early 2009 Nadal had a knack for meeting Federer in major finals when he was slightly less than 100%. That’s stopped happening since then because they’ve never simultaneously been playing well enough to reach a Grand Slam final at the same time.

    Federer’s game is still in transition, he’s still making adjustments. It’s too soon for him to be playing Nadal in such a huge match. To beat Nadal he has to have absolute confidence in his game, and that’s not the case right now.

    I just wish Federer would be able to get over his mental block against Nadal. When he plays Nadal he gets into this horrid morass that’s awful to watch. It’s like all his energy and creativity and will to win are completely sapped and he starts making bone-headed shots at the most important times. Nadal doesn’t so much outplay him as devitalize him. It’s ghoulish to watch.

    I think the only way he can break the block is to beat Nadal in the final of the French Open. There is no other way really. If he does that he gets a huge boost in confidence and plants a tiny seed of doubt in Nadal’s mind. Since Nadal’s game relies so heavily on 100% consistency, even that small bit of hesitation will make a big difference when they meet in the future.

    So here’s to the hope that Federer can do it next year.

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    Kelly Reply:

    what an awesome observation!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Interesting question MS. That depends on how Rafa motivates himself. If anger, hate, revenge and these things motivate him then yes that may make him more successful if people want him to lose. Or maybe he just enjoys proving people wrong. I dont think he is full of hate and those things. I just think he likes to prove people wrong who says who can never win on faster surfaces, and that includes me. As one of those people, it did come back to bite me. I didnt enjoy it when he beat Djokovic in the final, although i was glad for him in the end. I guess i have learned my lesson, because i think he can catch up with Roger now. Winning the USO was the ultimate proof to me that he cant be underestimated and that he can do just about anything he sets his mind to. I will never underestimate him again.

    A lot of people are saying now that he can become the GOAT, so i dont think he will be using his underdog status so much anymore to motivate him. It will be interesting to see how he deals now with always being the favorite. So far he has done very well.

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