Above you will find an article by Steve Tignor from tennis.com about the significance of Nadal’s Masters Series wins on clay, as well as the importance of the grand slams compared to the best of three set events. Those are the two ideas I want to discuss anyway. The first idea is something that I haven’t really thought about myself. I find this an interesting topic to discuss while Roger is still not back in action. Tignor first talks about the significance of Rafa’s clay court Masters Series wins, and the fact that there are no Masters Series events on grass. As far as he is concerned, it does not matter that 11 of Rafa’s Masters Series titles came on clay, while 6 came on hard. It still makes it just as good as Federer’s 11 on hard, and 6 on clay. In a general sense I happen to agree with him, because it is what it is.
They have both won 17 Masters Series titles, and that is what the record books say, just like the records books say Federer has won 16 majors and Nadal has won 6. But at the same time, quite a lot is being made of Nadal’s recent 6 titles in a row at Monte Carlo which is an all time record. But the fact remains that majors are much more important than Masters Series events. That is also why I said in my previous post that Rafa’s 4 consecutive French Open titles is more impressive than his 6 consecutive Monte Carlo titles. The French Open is mentally and physically the toughest slam to win, and for Rafa to have done it 4 times in a row is really an amazing accomplishment. To me that is in the same league as winning Wimbledon or the US Open 5 times in a row, just because it is such a demanding slam to win.
So as I said, the records books show that both Roger and Rafa have won 17 Masters Series crowns each. But since we are on the topic, what would have happened if there were Masters Series events on grass? At the moment there are 6 Masters Series events on hard court, and 3 on clay. Lets say it was an even spread, and there were 3 MS events of each surface. This would without a doubt have been better for Federer. Roger has hardly lost any grass court matches throughout his career. He holds the longest winning streak in grass court history and only lost one match in the last 7 years at Wimbledon. If there was an equal amount of grass court MS events as there were on clay, there is hardly any doubt that Federer would by now have the record for the most MS titles, and by a long way at that.
Federer practicing on the center court in Rome.
If he could win 5 consecutive Wimbledon crowns, I think there is little doubt that he could have won 6 consecutive grass court MS titles, like Rafa did at Monte Carlo on clay. This is all hypothetical of course, because there will probably never be 3 MS events on grass, let alone one. Still, it would have been nice of there was at least one. I’m a little surprised by Tignor’s second point. He seems to suggest that the majors are equally significant as the three set format. This is of course false. Majors is the true test of a players physical, mental and natural abilities. A grand slam is played over a two week period where a player has to win seven best of five set matches to become part of history. This is where careers are made or broken, way much more so than at MS or regular tour level. I’m kind of surprised that a writer of Tignor’s stature would try to make majors equally significant as the best of three set format.
More than anything, what Federer has done in the majors is what makes him the GOAT, or at least a contender for the GOAT. Not the amount of MS or other events he has won. Even if he didn’t win one single best of three set format event, he would still be a GOAT contender. That is how important the slams are compared to the rest of the tour, and that is why 16>6 is a more significant than 13>7 in every possible way.