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View Full Version : Phenomenal Feder Doesn't need our sympathy


dirkgnuf
06-09-2008, 09:21 AM
A refreshing take on the French Open Final, and in a way, which makes some very good points that I feel have been overlooked.

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/06/09/phenomenal_federer_doesnt_need.html

dirkgnuf
06-09-2008, 09:27 AM
After losing his Australian Open title to Novak Djokovic and his aura of invincibility to the likes of Mardy Fish and Radek Stepanek, Roger Federer must have thought that 2008 could hardly get worse. Yesterday - brutally, emphatically - it did. Federer's 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 French Open butchering by Rafael Nadal might more suitably have been played out in an abattoir than on the terre batue of Court Philippe Chatrier.

The humbling nature of Federer's defeat - so utterly comprehensive that his four-game haul was the worst for 31 years, so summary in its execution that the brilliant Nadal was detained for only ten minutes longer than women's champion Ana Ivanovic had been the previous day - evoked almost universal sympathy.

The Parisian crowd shuffled uncomfortably in their seats. On winning the final point, Nadal respectfully celebrated in muted fashion before offering his condolences to the vanquished Swiss. Most tellingly, perhaps, the match was variously described in today's press as "cruel", "excruciating" and one in which "your heart went out" to Federer.

Yet just how sorry should we feel for the world No1? Among the greats of the modern era, only Andre Agassi has achieved a career grand slam. Neither Pete Sampras nor John McEnroe could win at Roland Garros, the latter despite holding a two-set, 4-2 lead in the 1984 final. Bjorn Borg failed to prosper at the US Open despite contesting four finals. And Ivan Lendl, who once vowed to persevere at Wimbledon "until I win or die", twice fell at the final hurdle in SW19.

At no stage would anyone have described Lendl as the world's second-best grass court player. Nor would they have applied that description to Sampras and McEnroe on clay, or - more contentiously - Borg on cement. Yet Federer, who has contested three finals in a row at Roland Garros and also reached the last four in 2005, is second only to Nadal as the world's premier clay court exponent.

Granted, it's not an accolade that will mean much to the Swiss, particularly with the wounds from yesterday's mauling still fresh. But given the specialist nature of the surface and the ferociously competitive nature of the men's game - not to mention the fact that Federer's aggressive style is better suited to faster surfaces - the scale of the achievement should not be underestimated.

dirkgnuf
06-09-2008, 09:28 AM
Many Spanish and South American players maintain elevated rankings by plying their trade on the red stuff virtually all year round. Typical of the breed is Albert Monta˝Ús, the Spaniard who took a set off Federer in the second round at Roland Garros. On seeing that Federer was extended to four sets by a player ranked 69 places below him a casual observer might conclude that he is not what he once was. Yet Monta˝Ús knows his way around a clay court.

Following the Australian Open, when most of the world's elite were in the United States playing on hard courts, Monta˝Ús was slavishly patrolling the baseline at clay-court events in Costa Do Sauipe, Buenos Aires and Acapulco. He hardly excelled himself, but the experience stood him in good stead: Monta˝Ús went on to win Monza and reached the last eight in Barcelona and Hamburg.

That Federer has consistently navigated a route past opponents like Monta˝Ús, men almost permanently attuned to a surface that is so alien to his own attacking instincts, is a tribute to the completeness of his game. Sampras, whose record of 14 grand slam titles is the benchmark against which Federer's standing in the game will ultimately be measured, contested the final of 18 majors; not one was in Paris. Seen in context, Federer's achievement in reaching three successive finals is hardly less impressive than his haul of five consecutive Wimbledons.

Nadal's flawless performance yesterday was a work of art to rank alongside McEnroe's 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Jimmy Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon final, and it is an immense misfortune for Federer - and a huge boon for the sport - that he must try to make good the only gap on his grand slam CV against probably the greatest clay-courter in history.

Such is Nadal's pre-eminence at Roland Garros that Federer, 26, may well never join Fred Perry, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Don Budge and Andre Agassi as the only men to have completed a career grand slam. Should he fail, however, he will surely go down in history as the Parisian equivalent of Ken Rosewall, the Australian widely regarded as the best player never to win Wimbledon.

wangs78
06-09-2008, 09:28 AM
Good article. If Fed can win Wimby and at least make the USO finals this year then yes, I would say Fed's recent troubles are overplayed. But the issue is many fans think that he is on a permanent steady decline.

Nadal_Monfils
06-09-2008, 09:32 AM
When Borg played the US Open it wasn't on cement, it was played on green clay.

dirkgnuf
06-09-2008, 10:07 AM
When Borg played the US Open it wasn't on cement, it was played on green clay.

Borg made it to three US Open Finals in 1976, 1978, 1980, and 1981.
US Open switched to DecoTurf in 1978, which means he played three finals on hardcourt.