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TennisVeritas
02-23-2007, 03:06 AM
Hi all, a very interesting interview of John McEnroe about today's Tennis and FED new consecutive weeks new record (I took that from The Daily Telegraph...do not ask how)

FEDERER V CONNORS Rivals must take fight to Federer With the Swiss set to break Connors' 30-year-old record, John McEnroe tells Mark Hodgkinson that today's players need to be nastier to become a threat.

WHEN John McEnroe was in his fire-in-the-eyes, official-baiting prime, he probably could have started a fight on an empty Centre Court, never mind with a spluttering umpire and in front of a full house. The other Mr Competitive of the history books was Jimmy Connors, who once declared that "people don't seem to understand that it is damn war out there''. Related Topics
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But, according to the tennis player formerly known as 'Superbrat', the modern generation have been too respectful, too restrained and simply too nice when playing Roger Federer. On Monday morning, Federer will have held the world No1 ranking for 161 consecutive weeks, breaking Connors' 30-year-old record. McEnroe also suggested that, unless all those chasing Federer manage to work their way into Federer's head, then there may be little to stop the 25-year-old staying there for at least another 161.
What the others need, McEnroe suggested, was some Johnny Mac-style court rage or some Jimbo-inspired aggression. Perhaps - and McEnroe was only half joking when he said this - they should also try to find a way of "not liking Federer''.
"I think that the current players are too respectful of Federer,'' McEnroe said. "He is a class guy. Maybe that's the problem, that it's difficult to find anything wrong with him. I don't think there's a guy in the locker room who doesn't like Federer. I don't think you could have made that same statement about me or about Connors and some of the other world No1s in the past.
"Federer really likes to be out on the court, he enjoys being around tennis, he has time for people. He's got it all going for him. But Connors and myself, we would have somehow found a way not to like him. Federer is too nice a guy, but we would have come up with something.''

McEnroe believes he and Connors could have unsettled Federer, even if he thinks that Federer is quite possibly the greatest racket-swinger in history, and that Federer often looks as though he is just taking a quiet afternoon stroll through the Alps.
"Federer seems pretty unflappable, but I think we have the sort of personalities which could have got to him. Guys like me and Connors, we would have tried to get under his skin, and showed him that we wanted it. That was the way we played - we would have made him work for it. We would have given him a real run for his money,'' said McEnroe, who is in Belfast this week as the BlackRock Tour of Champions is in the city for the first time, with the circuit culminating at London's Albert Hall in December.
"The way Connors succeeded was that his mum, Gloria, told him it was him against the world. That was his attitude, and he was unbelievable at being able to pull that off. That 'him against the world' attitude fuelled him.
"Federer seems to have come from a much more settled upbringing. He has a settled family; he's got the attitude of the typical Swiss guy who just seems to take it how it comes. But Americans are not like that. You look at Connors, and that was someone who would win at all costs.''

Until Federer became a grand slam champion for the first time, at Wimbledon in 2003, McEnroe indicated that there had been doubts about whether the young man from Basle had the mental fortitude to go with his obvious ball-striking gifts. "So it's pretty incredible that Federer was able to become this good,'' McEnroe said. "But inside Federer there's something which I and others probably hadn't noticed that much: a desire to win. In that way, Federer is like Pete Sampras. When Sampras started out, it was thought that he was a bit soft, and then he won 14 grand slams.''
Being too soft was never a charge you could have laid at Connors and McEnroe. But it takes all sorts on a tennis court. "When Federer started out, he wasn't doing what people expected, and wasn't winning, and then all of a sudden he made that breakthrough at Wimbledon in 2003 and he opened that door,'' McEnroe said. "Suddenly he really believed in himself and now he walks around as if he's the man. He's earned that. He says, 'Yeah, I'm pretty amazing', and the way he says it is sort of funny.''
McEnroe believes that if the other players cannot bring themselves to turn nasty and try to rough up Federer, the least they should do is scrap to the end and show him their will to win.

"True, there's not a whole lot that you can't like about the guy,'' he said. "But there wasn't a whole lot that I didn't like about Bjorn Borg. When I played Borg he had this incredible aura about him, he just had a look and a feeling. But I think in that case because we were so different we actually brought out the best in each other. So it didn't have to get to that point where you hated the person, or disliked him. I never had a problem with Borg, but we used to go out there and play some really great matches.

"It doesn't have to be that way that you hate the player. But you have to try to get to the other person - first and foremost that's the way that you play. But you have to also show your will. The effort you give, other players pick up on that. If no matter what, even if you lose, you're going to keep coming at the guy, you're still out there doing it, that's when you get respect from people.''

Should Federer win a French Open title, then McEnroe believes there will be no argument that the Swiss is the finest tennis player of all time, greater than Rod Laver (both McEnroe's and Federer's idol) and Sampras.

"It's basically between those three guys - Laver, Sampras and Federer - and maybe you could put them in any order you want. Federer is sort of there already, but if he wins the French I would have to put him there as the best. I think it's more important for him to win the French than to beat the Sampras record of 14 grand slams. But we're talking about a pretty smart group of people. :-D

"Federer is in a pretty good position already with the Sampras record. He's already got 10, and he's got every chance if he stays healthy of breaking the record. The way he's going, if he doesn't get any injuries, he could win another six or eight.
"There are some young guys coming up, guys like Andy Murray, who could come into the mix in the next few months. They are hopefully going to have something to say about it. At the moment, apart from when it's on clay and Rafael Nadal is playing, it seems that Federer is going to win everything.''

Breaking the Connors record is yet another indication that the Federer Express will take some stopping. "If there were still any questions about whether he was one of the all-time greats, when he hits marks like the Connors record you realise again just how great he is,'' McEnroe said. "It shows his dedication and his commitment to fitness - he is a fitter guy than you realise, mentally and physically. So there are a lot of things that he has had to maintain for a long time, and that's impressive. He's obviously heads and tails above everyone else.''

So how would a youthful McEnroe, with all his attacking brio and clever-clever tennis, have fared against Federer? "I think I had the type of game which you need if you are to have success against him. I think you need to attack him and put pressure on him, and that's my game. And I would have tried to get under his skin,'' McEnroe said. "But, sadly, I wouldn't have done real well against Federer. He is just an unbelievable player.''
So maybe animosity and trash-talking only go some of the way.

As John McEnroe is in Belfast this week, it is the first time that the American, who has Irish ancestry, has played competitive tennis in Ireland since the American Davis Cup team played there 24 years ago, winning 4-1. The BlackRock Tour of Champions culminates at London's Albert Hall in December (theblackrockmasters.com).

(c) 2007 Telegraph Group Limited, London

Nick Irons
02-23-2007, 04:55 AM
What a great article; thanks !

I completely agree and have been saying this for awhile. There are zero players that seem ****ed off at him for being champion. Too many guys write off a victory as 'Well, he is the better player'. They seem just happy to get to the final and concede victory.

Like Connors of old lore saying he'd never admit to the other guy being better after being spanked.

I think the only player at this time willing to get ****ed off is Andy Roddick and that is really a matter of Federer's 13 and 1 ownage of him. But I don't think Roddick has the game to beat him.

Meanwhile, a player like Blake is 'just happy to be playing'.

sureshs
02-23-2007, 05:54 AM
"Federer seems to have come from a much more settled upbringing. He has a settled family; he's got the attitude of the typical Swiss guy who just seems to take it how it comes. But Americans are not like that. You look at Connors, and that was someone who would win at all costs.''


He is taking himself (a very very bad spoilt arrogant sportsman) and Connors as examples, and generalizing. Pete was not like that. Neither was Agassi. And both were probably better than McEnroe and Connors. Budge or Tilden were not like that. Roddick and Blake are not like that today.

Plus, you cannot get away with that kind of behavior these days.

catspaw
02-23-2007, 06:07 AM
I was a fan of both Connors and McEnroe in those good old bad old days, and I suppose it was their refusal to lay down and die that was part of the attraction. However, they got beaten plenty of times, despite their attitude, so it's not the be all and end all of how to win (as Mac himself admits). And, flipping it on its head, I daresay Federer likes most people off court (one or two exceptions, possibly :)), but it doesn't stop him being completely ruthless with them when he gets them on the other side of the net. I'm sure it's not because they think he's a real sweetie pie that makes them consistently lose.......:)

Nick Irons
02-23-2007, 06:13 AM
He is taking himself (a very very bad spoilt arrogant sportsman) and Connors as examples, and generalizing. Pete was not like that. Neither was Agassi. And both were probably better than McEnroe and Connors. Budge or Tilden were not like that. Roddick and Blake are not like that today.

Plus, you cannot get away with that kind of behavior these days.

Roddick is a bit like this; bad tempered and whiny.

Agassi was in his younger days but matured. Pete was stoic.

But face it, Ill take Mac generalizing anyday over speculation from other sources; he's there, been there, done it, doing it. It's not like he's making **** up

I think his point is, someone has got to get mad about it. Someone has to get hungry and ****ed off. All of this boring, wimpy graceful tennis isn't working. Tennis needs the personality and rivals back.

And as nice and classy as Federer is; he still makes those comments:

It's just unreal, I'm shocked myself. I've played good matches here, but never really almost destroyed somebody.

It's a match for him to forget and for me to remember.

This is probably my most dominant grand slam victory and it's already my 10th in such a short period of time. I amazed myself.

You can't expect yourself to be already peaking like crazy in an exhibition tournament.

No, I'm not (disappointed). There's no reason to be because I'm on an incredible run. You always expect a loss once in a while. So when it happens, why be disappointed if I win over 90% of my matches.


I think Roger hides behind that stupid smile and a sort of faux graciousness; inside he's thinking 'Feck all them biatches. I am the greatest.' You gotta appreciate Nadal's lack of fear and total aggro approach to Roger; meanwhile players like James Blake are practically sucking him off.

bluegrasser
02-23-2007, 06:41 AM
You have to be strong mentally,( ala Connors) get on the court with Fed and have the attitude that I'm going to beat you. The only current players that have this aura are- Murray & Nadal IMO.

ACE of Hearts
02-23-2007, 06:46 AM
Everyone is getting crazy with that one Murray match.I hope Fed meets Murray again, so he can spank him.I think Nadal's ready to be taken to the woodshed ala Hewitt.Fed just has all the goods for the players off today.I think the players are respectful but it doesnt mean crap when u are on the court with the guy and he is bashing the ball left and right.

TennisVeritas
02-23-2007, 06:52 AM
Yes it is just a great interview: John was a great player but an horrible competitor (his behaviour was just Cr@p) but as a Tennis expert he is awesome IMO. Said that, well I found this article interesting for at least two reasons:

1. John is just too human: I mean clearly this guy is referring to his young age with some nostalgia and therefore he is thinking that his way of "fighting" during the match is still a valid strategy nowadays...

But John is making a mistake: Today's players cannot use his (Connors') ultimate battle strategy simply because the public would not allow to.
I do not believe for a sec that nowadays a player is free to follow a "nasty" approach during the match to de concentrate his opponent: the guy would be destroy not by his opponent but by the spectators. Today's Tennis players are under such a pressure from the media, from a very strict shedule that they do not fully control and so on and so forth. Moreover, they are obliged to constantly polish their image, mainly for sponsor reason: So really I do not see the "be nasty' strategy possible to be realized as it was at the time of John and Connors. ;)

2. What is the best strategy then to beat FED given that the nasty strategy is no more available?

Well Nadal was able to illustrate some interesting ideas on that domain: The main one is based on speed and physic.
If there is something I am quite sure about FED is really that he does not like (BUT REALLY at all) being pass after either a (quite) long rally or (in his views) perfect approach to the net B) ...

IMO to beat him it is not just a question of destroy his rhythm or better prevent entering in a rhythm...It is more a question of constantly surprise him by using (mainly) a fantastic court covarage in particular when you are accepting his rhythm (IMO perfect example the fifth set in Rome by Nadal and his behaviour in the two match points by FED).

PS Nick Irons : Concerning FED's sentences well simply FED is a champion a winner (a real one)..He has the ego just proportional to his achievement. I do not have any problems with that simply because he is able to back his sentences with facts, i.e. victories...I prefer 10000000 times this than "I am closing the gap" and then be destroyed in a semi of a GS without having a single chance to win.

Nick Irons
02-23-2007, 07:17 AM
PS Nick Irons : Concerning FED's sentences well simply FED is a champion a winner (a real one)..He has the ego just proportional to his achievement. I do not have any problems with that simply because he is able to back his sentences with facts, i.e. victories...I prefer 10000000 times this than "I am closing the gap" and then be destroyed in a semi of a GS without having a single chance to win.

I agree; and like Mac says 'He's earned the right'

Like Jordan holding up Three fingers or Ali saying 'I'm the greatest!' but you know it ****ed the other guys off.

Shaolin
02-23-2007, 08:11 AM
Hewitts "me against the world" attitude does him a LOT of good against Federer. Histrionics can only take you so far, no matter who you are.

BeckerFan
02-23-2007, 09:03 AM
Histrionics are one thing ... believing you can win, another altogether.

I don't think Hewitt believes. Roddick stopped believing early against Federer at the AO semifinal.

I remember after Roland Garros last year, Wilander named Connors as a guy who had "balls." He said he wasn't sure if Federer could beat Connors.

Not sure how I feel about this myself. It's not so hard to go INTO a match believing you can win (Roddick certainly did that last time) ... much harder to maintain that attitude throughout a match when your opponent is making you look like a lost and helpless child.

urban
02-23-2007, 09:13 AM
Jimbo was a tough customer. When he was really annihilated by Borg and McEnroe at Wimbledon in 78 and 84, he came back to put up a strong challenge at the USO in both years. Sometimes if a boxer takes a hard punch or is knocked out, he will be intimidated, and not be the same fighter as before. But Jimbo came back from big lows to new heights, even late in his career. Even after Lendl had beaten him 60,60, he came back for some more.

Budgerigar
02-23-2007, 09:44 AM
Guys like me and Connors, we would have tried to get under his skin, and showed him that we wanted it

Hewitt gets under people's skin, look what federer eventually did to him.

ipodtennispro
02-23-2007, 11:24 AM
[QUOTE=TennisVeritas;1271454]Hi all, a very interesting interview of John McEnroe about today's Tennis and FED new consecutive weeks new record (I took that from The Daily Telegraph...do not ask how)

FEDERER V CONNORS Rivals must take fight to Federer With the Swiss set to break Connors' 30-year-old record, John McEnroe tells Mark Hodgkinson that today's players need to be nastier to become a threat.


If McEnroe is suggesting using gamesmanship to beat him then he is the sad character that he is still today. Great, tell all Federer's opponents to have a fiery breakout right when Fed is on a roll. Why not turn your back on the Fed just about when he is going to serve and make him wait? Better yet, bend down and tie your shoe laces when they don't need to be tied in between the points.

I suggest we let the rackets to the talking.

ipodtennispro

sureshs
02-23-2007, 11:48 AM
Roddick is a bit like this; bad tempered and whiny.

Agassi was in his younger days but matured. Pete was stoic.

But face it, Ill take Mac generalizing anyday over speculation from other sources; he's there, been there, done it, doing it. It's not like he's making **** up


I didn't say he is making it up. He is right about himself and maybe about Connors. But he ignores others past and present. So, I don't see him as being right and other speculators as being wrong - he is just focusing on 2 people.

Agreed Agassi had his tantrums and Roddick too. Now with electronic line calling, the motivation for this has reduced, something that JMac never mentioned. Also I think it is one thing to occasionally fight with the umpire and smash a racquet, and another to do it all the time at calculated moments to disrupt your opponent. If that is Mac's idea of tennis, then all I can say is: good riddance. Hopefully he will be out of the senior tour too next year (where he has been equally obnoxious). There is only so much credit you can give him for his patriotic Davis Cup play (which he reminds everyone all the time), before the goodwill expires.

35ft6
02-23-2007, 03:13 PM
I don't think his mental warfare approach would work. It didn't work against Lendl or Borg, in terms of winning matches by getting under their skin, so why would it work against Fed? I think deep down inside Fed is a bit of a "*******," and I mean that in a good way. Unlike Lendl, who might just peg Mac with a forehand, or Borg, who genuinely didn't seem to care or notice, I think Fed would be having the time of his life watching a player completely lose it on court.

NamRanger
02-23-2007, 03:27 PM
I don't think his mental warfare approach would work. It didn't work against Lendl or Borg, in terms of winning matches by getting under their skin, so why would it work against Fed? I think deep down inside Fed is a bit of a "*******," and I mean that in a good way. Unlike Lendl, who might just peg Mac with a forehand, or Borg, who genuinely didn't seem to care or notice, I think Fed would be having the time of his life watching a player completely lose it on court.



Oh boy, are you kidding me? Did you watch Chang vs Lendl? Lendl completely melted because Chang refused to give up despite cramping legs that would cripple most of us. The guy stood at the center of the T when Lendl was serving for crying out loud. It worked too.

35ft6
02-23-2007, 03:35 PM
Oh boy, are you kidding me? Did you watch Chang vs Lendl? Lendl completely melted because Chang refused to give up despite cramping legs that would cripple most of us. The guy stood at the center of the T when Lendl was serving for crying out loud. It worked too. No, I'm not kidding. Did Mac have some sort of edge over Lendl based on him mentally intimidating him? I agree Lendl got spooked by Chang, but that's one incident involving an injury, not calculated gamesmanship.

Yes or no, Mac was able to get wins off Borg and Lendl by mentally messing with them.

tricky
02-23-2007, 03:42 PM
See, this draws a contradictory response from the TW members. On one hand, people are talking about bringing attitude/mental aggression to the game. On the other, people complain about players using gamesmanship as a unsportmantslike thing to do. And especially with female players who often play mind games with each their opponents as well as combat/intimidate refs and air out their emotions.

In any case, McEnroe is speaking to the role of gamesmanship within a match. And it seems to be more missing in the men's game today than anytime else in the last 30 years.

35ft6
02-23-2007, 03:49 PM
^ I would like to see more antics in ATP tennis. I would like to see guys showing personality, physically expressing what they're feeling inside.

Just don't think gamesmanship would work on Federer. I think it would work against Blake, Roddick, Hewitt, and Safin, and most other players to some extent or another, but not Federer. And others, it might affect, but it would just make them better, i.e. Nadal.

tricky
02-23-2007, 03:59 PM
^ I would like to see more antics in ATP tennis. I would like to see guys showing personality, physically expressing what they're feeling inside.

Yeah, it's something I actually enjoy about the women's game. And often they truly use this random displays of emo as a way to intimidate their opponent across the court. It's one thing for Safin to throw his racket; it's another for McEnroe to effectively suck out his opponent's momentum by taking the game hostage.

And it could be subtle things. How, like Sharapova forces her opponent to serve according to when she's ready. Or how Nadal takes "absent minded" long breaks and bounces the ball a 1000 times before serving. Okay, well, that latter thing is really irritating.

In any case, I love when Hewitt and Nadal charge themselves. I know people find it annoying (and I'd be really ****ed off if somebody did that on a neighborhood court), but to me it works against a public audience.

Just don't think gamesmanship would work on Federer.

I actually don't think Federer's exceptional in the mental strength category. In my opinion, a player is mentally very strong if he can hold his serve fairly well even when unable to break his opponent. Fed seems to switch to that higher gear mostly when he's already out in front.

NamRanger
02-23-2007, 04:01 PM
Although I don't agree with the whole "get angry" during a match, it would be nice for a change for Federer's opponents to keep on fighting rather then fold over into the fetal position for a change.

35ft6
02-23-2007, 04:10 PM
Yeah, it's something I actually enjoy about the women's game. Totally. It's like life in general -- girls at the top become really catty and competitive, whereas guys just like to get along. I like how the girls talk poop about each other in press conferences. I would love to hear a player before a finals say "I'm going to destroy him... I've never wanted to win a match so badly in my life." A reason why I can see guys NOT saying this is because tennis is such a mentally torturous sport, maybe they just don't want to add any mental pressure to themselves.

I can do without girls' bathroom breaks, though. I cut them some slack because it may be a feminine issue, but undoubtedly a lot of those breaks is simply to disrupt momentum or mess with an opponent's head in some way. In any case, I love when Hewitt and Nadal charge themselves. I know people find it annoying (and I'd be really ****ed off if somebody did that on a neighborhood court), but to me it works against a public audience. I like that, too. I can see why a player would get annoyed when Hewitt yells on a double fault, but as a fan, that just adds drama. Great sport is improvised dramatic theater. Same reason why people got more into the tour de france after Lance had cancer. Two guys playing tennis, could be boring, but if somebody tells you that the loser has to wrestle a bear naked, all of the sudden it becomes more interesting even if they're 3.0 players.I actually don't think Federer's exceptional in the mental strength category. In my opinion, a player is mentally very strong if he can hold his serve fairly well even when unable to break his opponent. Fed seems to switch to that higher gear mostly when he's already out in front.A telling sign is how Federer always says he's most dying to play the person who beat him last, or Nadal in the finals of clay or something. He's incredibly sure of his talents and, at the same time, I think he's just as curious and intrigued by his abilities as we are and wants to see what he's capable of in the more extreme situations. Against a total nut case, I think he would love to prove that their antics have absolutely no affect on him, and I even think he would find subtle ways to encourage it and after the match, in the interview, he would probably say he loves the guy and that he's a great character and good for tennis. That's what I think.

tricky
02-23-2007, 04:14 PM
fold over into the fetal position for a change.

True, but I think it's a unfair characterization too. Take out Federer, and the #2-20 players do battle it out.

For example, let's say Federer was actually able to return Sampras's serve as well as Hewitt did at times. If that were the case, and he was able to break Sampras every set, what would that have done to Pete's mindset?

This kinda goes back to the different mindset between Fed and Sampras. Sampras was all about imposing his will on you, to play such a well-honed expression of his style that you would be awestruck by his power and elegance. And, so, in a sense, Sampras's reign as champion exemplifies the greatness of his pure game over his opponent.

Federer is about breaking the will of his opponent. About taking apart your game, and maybe making you either abandon your Plan A, or make you almost catatonically rigid about your Plan A. Like against Gonzo, he actually took on Gonzo's mighty FH and defended it consistently. And in doing so, brought him out of his original plan, which let Fed start opening fire in later sets. Fed's domination reveals again and again the flaws of the modern game.

You can even see some of both dynamics in their sole H2H. When Sampras was on, you saw the brilliant service, some of that handdog determination, most of all, you saw a person who was clearly not at his peak resources still play big. When Fed was on, you often picked up how slow Sampras was to get/react to the net, or how he simply had no answers for some of the extreme angles Fed was putting on his FH. Or as commentators said, Sampras saw something like a mirror image of his younger self in that match, which is to say that Fed was showing how far Sampras was from his true peak performance of earlier years.

Very different interpretations of classical, all-court tennis. Sampras learned the weapons to demonstrate a completeness, even an aesthetic continuity, in his victories. He'll beat you with his big game; that is, he will beat on you.

Fed's learned strategies, developing his weapons within strategic context, in order to "not lose." It's just that he's taking "not losing" to such a granular level, that it would involve not losing individual points, let alone sets. Blocks everything, defends like crazy, uses a mixture of point construction and unpredictable spin-pace patterns to move the guy out of position, plays more conservative in the beginning to see what his opponent is giving him. Most of all, he reacts very acutely to his own unforced error count. It's almost claylike but with brilliant insights into defense-offense transitioning.

Polaris
02-23-2007, 05:29 PM
And as nice and classy as Federer is; he still makes those comments:
It's a match for him to forget and for me to remember.

For the umpteenth time, don't let your preconceived notions cause you to draw idiotic conclusions. If you only listened to the whole interview (http://www.eurosport.com/tennis/australian-open/2007/mc_vid32968.shtml), you would have found that Federer was in fact playing down the significance of the Roddick massacre. He mentioned, essentially, that it was "just one of those magical days" and that Roddick can forget the match and not read too much into it. That statement is almost the very definition of a "nice and classy" response.

Context is everything. Try being a little attentive next time. I'm not implying that Federer is a p-aragon of virtue. He has his requisite egoistic moments. But it is stupid to twist somebody's words so that they fit your warped conclusion.

Someone has to get hungry and ****ed off. All of this boring, wimpy graceful tennis isn't working. Oh. Just watch Kobayashi eat a hot dog, if that helps. Or perhaps, a bunch of macho specimens wearing dark glasses and playing poker on a table. Zero wimpiness. All red-blooded aggression :).


[Funny that TW censors the word p-a-r-a-g-o-n :)]

callitout
02-24-2007, 04:23 AM
It's so easy for retired guys to say that players of their era were mentally stronger. Hewitt has lots of attitude, and to his credit at least took a set off FEd at USO after getting 2 bagels the year before, but c'mons dont win matches.
Everyone knows Fed is a level above virtually anyone in history (leaving aside for the moment Sampras, Laver, and a select few), so naturally he intimidates guys who cant hold a candle to him. Where's the mystery?

federerfanatic
02-24-2007, 05:17 AM
It's so easy for retired guys to say that players of their era were mentally stronger. Hewitt has lots of attitude, and to his credit at least took a set off FEd at USO after getting 2 bagels the year before, but c'mons dont win matches.
Everyone knows Fed is a level above virtually anyone in history (leaving aside for the moment Sampras, Laver, and a select few), so naturally he intimidates guys who cant hold a candle to him. Where's the mystery?

Exactly. Players are intimidated by the sexy and classy and overpowering Williams gals when they are in peak form. It does not mean they lack mentally and competitively. It is the same with the Fedster and the other guys. He is so much better then anyone who is not one of the real GOATs that of course they are going to feel super intimidated by him. It just means they have a brain, and they were not able to hire a hypnotist.

breakfast_of_champions
02-25-2007, 07:29 AM
i think jmac really speaks for himself, not connors. players today are to rich and few have a standard as being #1 though.

joe sch
02-25-2007, 03:38 PM
i think jmac really speaks for himself, not connors. players today are to rich and few have a standard as being #1 though.

I think connors will support Mac's statements. Hopefully he will comment ...
I would like to see more of todays players get pumped and really try to attack Fed with some more aggressive tennis and attitude. Atleast Roddick is trying to play allcourt against Fed without much success. It just not natural for him or most of todays players but they can not beat Roger from the baseline. Id like to see a player play a game like Dent with an attitude like Hewitt. That could really add some more excitement to todays tennis.

breakfast_of_champions
02-25-2007, 08:06 PM
I think connors will support Mac's statements. Hopefully he will comment ...
I would like to see more of todays players get pumped and really try to attack Fed with some more aggressive tennis and attitude. Atleast Roddick is trying to play allcourt against Fed without much success. It just not natural for him or most of todays players but they can not beat Roger from the baseline. Id like to see a player play a game like Dent with an attitude like Hewitt. That could really add some more excitement to todays tennis.

i think what struck me was mac saying he and connors found reasons to hate their opponents.

sarpmas
02-25-2007, 08:38 PM
Perhaps the players are concerned their fate may be worse if they ****ed Federer off! :)

On a serious note, gamesmanship may work if both players are evenly matched. The gap between Federer and the rest is just too big now. Without saying, not having a defeatist attitude against Federer is a must, and I believe improving their overall game, especially for those up and coming players, is still the way to go.

Elenkov
02-25-2007, 09:28 PM
Exactly. Players are intimidated by the sexy and classy and overpowering Williams gals hypnotist.

sexy? ummm..

anyways, i have this to say about the matter. it seems to me that in tennis, when it comes to mental attitudes, cooler beats cool. before you start throwing examples of goran or others breaking raquets while winning tournaments, i want to point out that these incidents are just ways to vent out frustration (which helps keep cool). during the point itself i believe that even goran keeps a clear focused mind.

even in my personal experience, i find myself performing better by just keeping my chin up, and staying calm. ofcourse i give 100% effort in the point, but i don't juggle "motivating" thoughts in my head when i'm trying to focus.

conclusion: to beat fed you need to match his game(i don't think he is THAT much better than everyone else) and beat his focus/cool. persistance! so who will be the one?

MaxT
02-26-2007, 09:39 AM
Hewitts "me against the world" attitude does him a LOT of good against Federer. Histrionics can only take you so far, no matter who you are.

Like two bagels at a GS final in front of 1 billion people?

fastdunn
02-26-2007, 10:02 AM
I actually don't think Federer's exceptional in the mental strength category. In my opinion, a player is mentally very strong if he can hold his serve fairly well even when unable to break his opponent. Fed seems to switch to that higher gear mostly when he's already out in front.

Interesting point. Since his reign 2003, his mental strength was never really
tested except by Safin and Nadal. From those 4, 5 setters with Nadal and
Safin, he actually showed that he might not be mentally strongest player
out there.

And the Federer's serve. In a closely contested set like 6-6, his serve often
gets broken and he relys on his return game to break back. It's somewhat
insecure thing, if you know what I mean. Federer relys on return game heavily...

Becker said something like "5th set is about the desire" but it helps
if you have huge shots like Becker's or Sampras' serve at the end of 5th
set. By the time you reach the end of 5th set, you have used and tried
all the varieties and there is no surprise. Your desire and bottom line
only. I'm not sure Federer's accuracy serve can hold it value at the end
of 5th set..

rwn
02-27-2007, 01:20 AM
Interesting point. Since his reign 2003, his mental strength was never really
tested except by Safin and Nadal. From those 4, 5 setters with Nadal and
Safin, he actually showed that he might not be mentally strongest player
out there.

And the Federer's serve. In a closely contested set like 6-6, his serve often
gets broken and he relys on his return game to break back. It's somewhat
insecure thing, if you know what I mean. Federer relys on return game heavily...

Becker said something like "5th set is about the desire" but it helps
if you have huge shots like Becker's or Sampras' serve at the end of 5th
set. By the time you reach the end of 5th set, you have used and tried
all the varieties and there is no surprise. Your desire and bottom line
only. I'm not sure Federer's accuracy serve can hold it value at the end
of 5th set..

Sampras lost many more sets than Federer at his peak, when he got broken he lost the set. And Federer has a better tiebreak record than Sampras, so you don't know what you're talking about.

rwn
02-27-2007, 01:25 AM
Yeah, it's something I actually enjoy about the women's game. And often they truly use this random displays of emo as a way to intimidate their opponent across the court. It's one thing for Safin to throw his racket; it's another for McEnroe to effectively suck out his opponent's momentum by taking the game hostage.

And it could be subtle things. How, like Sharapova forces her opponent to serve according to when she's ready. Or how Nadal takes "absent minded" long breaks and bounces the ball a 1000 times before serving. Okay, well, that latter thing is really irritating.

In any case, I love when Hewitt and Nadal charge themselves. I know people find it annoying (and I'd be really ****ed off if somebody did that on a neighborhood court), but to me it works against a public audience.



I actually don't think Federer's exceptional in the mental strength category. In my opinion, a player is mentally very strong if he can hold his serve fairly well even when unable to break his opponent. Fed seems to switch to that higher gear mostly when he's already out in front.

Maybe you should check Federer's tiebreak record in the last couple of years.
A clear sign of mental strength.

tricky
02-27-2007, 03:00 AM
And the Federer's serve. In a closely contested set like 6-6, his serve often gets broken and he relys on his return game to break back. It's somewhat insecure thing, if you know what I mean. Federer relys on return game heavily...

Yeah, I want to be careful with the wording here. When I say Federer is not exceptional in mental strength, I'm saying he's not a Sampras, Connors, or Borg in the way they impose their will on a game. A guy like Nadal seems at times emotionally impervious to the scoreboard; he's a counterpuncher in the most mental sense of the word. Most pros play much better up a break. Most players will wilt if they can't break their opponents. Sampras built his whole strategy on this very thing.

But it's also divergence in tennis philosophy. Federer's game is about taking away your game. If he can't do that to you -- and usually it's because he can't control his skillset -- you can keep playing with him. People always say that his competition is mentally weak, but he's actually trying to destroy your game. At Oz, he took on Gonzo's FH strategy and was able to successfully defend Gonzo's shots, which NOBODY else could do. He took on Roddick's inside-out to Fed's BH strategy, and traded DTL shot after DTL shot until Roddick went into a strange tunnel vision. Like he looked so confused out there that he mentally locked into Plan A when it was already failing.

It's just that if you play in this manner, you must have very fine control of your own abilities. That is, he doesn't take the stance of "I must outhit Federer" or "I must play my game to the 100%") (which is what 99% of all other opponents try against Federer. Instead, he thinks "If I know myself (i.e. have complete control of his game), I can know my opponent's game and expose it."

Maybe you should check Federer's tiebreak record in the last couple of years. A clear sign of mental strength.

Federer has arguably the best defensive game and inarguably the best transition game. In a tiebreak, those elements create significant leverage. I actually think Federer's mental strength is perhaps the weakest part of his game. With that said, that element is well above average for a top-50 player, especially given the cerebral intricacy of his game.

caulcano
02-27-2007, 03:28 AM
Interesting point. Since his reign 2003, his mental strength was never really
tested except by Safin and Nadal. From those 4, 5 setters with Nadal and
Safin, he actually showed that he might not be mentally strongest player
out there.


It just shows FED is human. He'll lose, but lose a close 5-set match.

And the Federer's serve. In a closely contested set like 6-6, his serve often
gets broken and he relys on his return game to break back. It's somewhat
insecure thing, if you know what I mean. Federer relys on return game heavily...

I don't know about relying on his return game heavily, but I do know he's got a very good ratio in tie-breaks.

Becker said something like "5th set is about the desire" but it helps
if you have huge shots like Becker's or Sampras' serve at the end of 5th
set. By the time you reach the end of 5th set, you have used and tried
all the varieties and there is no surprise. Your desire and bottom line
only. I'm not sure Federer's accuracy serve can hold it value at the end
of 5th set..

Unfortunately, FEDs winning in 3 or 4 sets, so he needs to be taken to more 5-setters to determine that.

Lambsscroll
02-27-2007, 04:23 AM
"and that Federer often looks as though he is just taking a quiet afternoon stroll through the Alps".

That was funny he he.

Moose Malloy
02-27-2007, 10:42 AM
I think a lot of you misunderstand what Mac means by gamesmanship, or you may not have seen him play much. His gamesmanship covered a lot of territory, some it of over-the-top(arguments, etc) & some of it subtle.

He played the game to his own pace better than any player in history. It wasn't like Nadal where he was in danger of getting time violations, it was very calculated & used not on every point, but at appropriate times to rattle opponents. This would get under the skin of his opponent, without Mac directly breaking any rules. It could consist of him holding up his hand, when a player was on a roll & ready to serve, him taking a walk to back the court, towelling off, tying shoelaces, etc. And he intimidated linesman as well, without arguing just by looking at them constantly, etc. Or taking an extra second to stare at a line when he's about to swing, thereby getting a late line call in his favor sometimes.

An as far as his tantrums, its well documented that he played better after most of them. They weren't a sign of him "losing it" but a way to throw his opponent off & for him to regroup mentally(like a timeout) Don't forget, he would often not just argue with the umpire, but demand that the supervisor come out(which would take a while) & then argue some more(knowing fully well he wasn't going to get any point overturned) It would often be a full 10 minute break in play, which would annoy even the most stoic guys. This was no different than injury timeouts in the womens game(sometimes men) today & we've seen examples of that working.

and don't forget these tantrums, arguments, could get the most genteel tennis crowd riled up to davis cup levels, that sort of crowd involvement doesn't exist today, players aren't mentally equiped to deal with tennis crowds acting like nfl crowds.

I think connors will support Mac's statements. Hopefully he will comment ...


this was from last summer(pre Roddick)

Tennis Week: Are you in accord with all the other tennis experts and legends of the game who believe Federer could be on his way to become the best ever?

Jimmy Connors: Well, what does that mean, 'best ever'? I mean, best ever of this time. And the best ever, is that a...how do you figure out what the "best ever" is when you haven't played against...I haven't played...I didn't play Laver in his prime. I didn't play Pete in his prime. He didn't play me in my prime. McEnroe didn't play Gonzales in his time. So how do you know what the "best ever" is? I think a lot depends on who you're brought up with, what kind of rivalries you've had, and who you played along the way, that's gotten in your way from winning. I mean, if I was Federer, I'd be very pleased with the position that he's in. Because his counterparts seem to be feeling that they're happy enough just to tag along on the number one's tail [smiles]. And so instead of stepping up and putting forth the right kind of effort, to try and overtake him and beat him and move him down, as opposed to just let him run away with it. I wish I would see more of that.

http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=showarticle&newsid=15282

This sounds a lot like most boxing analysts when comparing greats. I never hear people say Frazier or Ali couldn't compete with Klitchko & the other 'modern' fighters of today, like I do with tennis.

Azzurri
02-27-2007, 10:58 AM
What a great article; thanks !

I completely agree and have been saying this for awhile. There are zero players that seem ****ed off at him for being champion. Too many guys write off a victory as 'Well, he is the better player'. They seem just happy to get to the final and concede victory.

Like Connors of old lore saying he'd never admit to the other guy being better after being spanked.

I think the only player at this time willing to get ****ed off is Andy Roddick and that is really a matter of Federer's 13 and 1 ownage of him. But I don't think Roddick has the game to beat him.

Meanwhile, a player like Blake is 'just happy to be playing'.

Roddick is 1-13 against Fed...you stated "Roddick has the game to beat him"....thanks for the laugh. I have had a boring day.:)

Azzurri
02-27-2007, 11:00 AM
He is taking himself (a very very bad spoilt arrogant sportsman) and Connors as examples, and generalizing. Pete was not like that. Neither was Agassi. And both were probably better than McEnroe and Connors. Budge or Tilden were not like that. Roddick and Blake are not like that today.

Plus, you cannot get away with that kind of behavior these days.

Hate to break it to you, but Pete and Andre were not that close. Agassi and Sampras had a lot of respect, but Pete LOVED pounding on Andre. There was no love between them. I am not saying they weren't buddies or friendly, but neither treated each other on the court like today's pro treats Fed...like KING.

tricky
02-27-2007, 11:07 AM
Slappano -- maybe you're misreading Nick's comment on Roddick?


But I don't think Roddick has the game to beat him.

Azzurri
02-27-2007, 11:12 AM
Slappano -- maybe you're misreading Nick's comment on Roddick?

OOOPs! Missed the don't...thought it was do...sorry!!:-(

Morrissey
02-27-2007, 11:28 AM
Roddick is a bit like this; bad tempered and whiny.

Agassi was in his younger days but matured. Pete was stoic.

But face it, Ill take Mac generalizing anyday over speculation from other sources; he's there, been there, done it, doing it. It's not like he's making **** up

I think his point is, someone has got to get mad about it. Someone has to get hungry and ****ed off. All of this boring, wimpy graceful tennis isn't working. Tennis needs the personality and rivals back.

And as nice and classy as Federer is; he still makes those comments:

It's just unreal, I'm shocked myself. I've played good matches here, but never really almost destroyed somebody.

It's a match for him to forget and for me to remember.

This is probably my most dominant grand slam victory and it's already my 10th in such a short period of time. I amazed myself.

You can't expect yourself to be already peaking like crazy in an exhibition tournament.

No, I'm not (disappointed). There's no reason to be because I'm on an incredible run. You always expect a loss once in a while. So when it happens, why be disappointed if I win over 90% of my matches.


I think Roger hides behind that stupid smile and a sort of faux graciousness; inside he's thinking 'Feck all them biatches. I am the greatest.' You gotta appreciate Nadal's lack of fear and total aggro approach to Roger; meanwhile players like James Blake are practically sucking him off.

I like your post. That was hitting it on the button, albeit in a very ¨open¨ manner. But 90 to 95% of the people in here are in love with the guy so you´re gonna get a fair beating in here for that honest and correct statement. I thank Nadal for keeping tennis from being the Federer invitational except from clay. This monotonous winning is killing the sport and would kill any sport. But there something to that fake modesty you said, that little smirk on his face is something I´d like to see wiped out. I´ve seen Nadal do it 4 times last year and that look on his face after those losses are priceless. But funny when you mentioned how some people are fine with losing to him and are too nice on court against him with seemingly no will to win Blake´s face popped up immediately in my head. At least Roddick wants to beat him badly, but unfortunately his game is suited perfectly to Roger´s strengths.

verdascoynadal
02-27-2007, 12:35 PM
ok ya! why do soo many people think that federer is unbeatable! yes he is the greatest tennis player in the world! or he will be! but then there is this guy that has a winning record over federer! his name is RAFA nadal! he not only beat him on clay but also hard and took a set off of him on grass too! doesnt that kinda say that rafa is better then federer? maybe maybe not! but for sure no body knows they just assume just like me! say all you want this is just an opinion!