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TheTruth
06-11-2008, 11:03 AM
No shame losing to Nadal, but Federer didn't show much fire
Nadal's dominating win could make Wimbledon very interesting


Once Roger Federer dropped the first two sets to Rafael Nadal, he seemed to pack it in.

Let's start with the fallout from the men's final in Paris. There were a lot of questions about the Nadal-Federer match and its consequences. In the interest of economy, I'll condense to five thoughts.

1. All this talk of Roger Federer's "failed strategy" seems a bit silly to me. Rafael Nadal is so superior to everyone on clay -- particularly when he's playing this well -- that tactics had very little to do with anything.

Federer plays patiently? He loses the majority of the rallies with impenetrable Nadal. Federer attacks? He watches passing shots scream by. He drives his backhand down the line to Nadal's backhand? Nadal runs around it, whips the forehand to the open court. He drops shots? Nadal chases them down and whaps winners. He slices and chips? Nadal feasts on the slow pace. Bottom line: Nadal is virtually unbeatable on clay, an inconvenient truth that no game plan can offset.

2. Federer's attitude, on the other hand, was puzzling. He seemed to sense defeat early and betrayed no body language that indicated he thought he could win. For as much as we mock fist-pumps, "C'mon," "Allez," "Vamos" and "Eh-Dah" (or whatever it is Ivanovic says), at least they send a message: "I'm fired up and I'm coming for you, pal." After a set and a half, Federer sent this message instead: It's not my day.

One of Federer's admirable qualities is his measured self-awareness. It's what enables him to come across as one of us, and not some deity. But it can work against him, too. Down two sets to Nadal, he's almost too rational. He can't delude himself into thinking he has a chance, so he more or less packs it in.

3. Federer is mentally weary. Tennis stars invariably reached a point when the grind of the circuit wears them down. In his new book (plug alert), Pete Sampras mentions that the Slams were always fine, but the Cincinnatis and Hamburgs induce the burnout. I suspect if Federer could, he'd only play majors (and maybe Basel and Dubai) from here on out.

4. No, I don't think this brutal loss cuts against Federer's GOAT status. He's playing on his least favorite surface. He reaches the final for the third straight time. He has the misfortune of playing perhaps the greatest claycourter ever on a day when the guy can't miss. One of you said belligerently, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I never saw Sampras lose like that in a final!" No, he just lost to some Galo Blanco in the second round.

5. Yes, Wimbledon suddenly becomes very interesting. Nadal displayed unbelievable defense in Paris. I wrote in SI this week that all you need to do is notice the tracks and slashes in the clay. He chases down everything. But once he was in the point, he hardly played classic claycourt tennis. Right up on the baseline, he played like a hardcourter who happened to be on dirt. Even without the big serve, if he can continue this style and quality of play on grass, he could do one match better than last year. I think Federer is still the slight favorite at Wimbledon. But would anyone be at all surprised if Nadal pulls off the double?

oberyn
06-11-2008, 11:11 AM
2. Federer's attitude, on the other hand, was puzzling. He seemed to sense defeat early and betrayed no body language that indicated he thought he could win. For as much as we mock fist-pumps, "C'mon," "Allez," "Vamos" and "Eh-Dah" (or whatever it is Ivanovic says), at least they send a message: "I'm fired up and I'm coming for you, pal." After a set and a half, Federer sent this message instead: It's not my day.

One of Federer's admirable qualities is his measured self-awareness. It's what enables him to come across as one of us, and not some deity. But it can work against him, too. Down two sets to Nadal, he's almost too rational. He can't delude himself into thinking he has a chance, so he more or less packs it in.

I think that's as close as Wertheim's ever come to criticizing Federer. It's an interesting analysis.

4. No, I don't think this brutal loss cuts against Federer's GOAT status. He's playing on his least favorite surface. He reaches the final for the third straight time. He has the misfortune of playing perhaps the greatest claycourter ever on a day when the guy can't miss. One of you said belligerently, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I never saw Sampras lose like that in a final!" No, he just lost to some Galo Blanco in the second round.

This one cracked me up. Yeah, it's tough for me to slam Federer too much for suffering a beating in a match at a stage of the French Open that Sampras never reached.

Dedans Penthouse
06-11-2008, 11:34 AM
Nice summary, except for the Wortheim's exaggerated generalization of Pete Sampras' carrer at Roland Garros. Wortheim's use of the word "belligerently" sort of hinted at his(mistaken) impression of Sampras as being (for the most part) a "2nd-rounder" on clay.

Generally-speaking, Sampras was not known as a clay-courter per se, but he did win a title at Rome, his overall clay court record was 90-54 and at Roland Garros his French Open victims included some impressive clay-court scalps:

-Sergi Bruguera (2-time French Open champion)

-Jim Courrier (from 2 sets down); Courrier a 2-time French Open champion and former #1 ranked player

Sampras also has beaten Thomas Muster at Roland Garros (from 0-2 sets down); Muster a former French Open champion and a former #1 ranked player.

Wortheim's description of Nadal was on target. His smart-assed generalization of Sampras in Paris was a bit of a stretch.

AAAA
06-11-2008, 11:35 AM
2. Federer's attitude, on the other hand, was puzzling. He seemed to sense defeat early and betrayed no body language that indicated he thought he could win. For as much as we mock fist-pumps, "C'mon," "Allez," "Vamos" and "Eh-Dah" (or whatever it is Ivanovic says), at least they send a message: "I'm fired up and I'm coming for you, pal." After a set and a half, Federer sent this message instead: It's not my day.


A losing 1-8 clay-court head-to-head before the match with 3 defeats in the last 3 FOs isn't exactly confidence building.

ksbh
06-11-2008, 11:51 AM
Brilliant summary by Jon Wertheim but this one is the best of all.


5. Yes, Wimbledon suddenly becomes very interesting. Nadal displayed unbelievable defense in Paris. I wrote in SI this week that all you need to do is notice the tracks and slashes in the clay. He chases down everything. But once he was in the point, he hardly played classic claycourt tennis. Right up on the baseline, he played like a hardcourter who happened to be on dirt. Even without the big serve, if he can continue this style and quality of play on grass, he could do one match better than last year. I think Federer is still the slight favorite at Wimbledon. But would anyone be at all surprised if Nadal pulls off the double?

TheTruth
06-11-2008, 11:57 AM
I think that's as close as Wertheim's ever come to criticizing Federer. It's an interesting analysis.



This one cracked me up. Yeah, it's tough for me to slam Federer too much for suffering a beating in a match at a stage of the French Open that Sampras never reached.

I was cracking up at that line too, especially when he mentioned Galo Blanco. I remember watching that match in amazement. Poor athletes, the things they have to go through that are written in the Tennis Annals of Shame!

snapple
06-11-2008, 12:22 PM
One of you said belligerently, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I never saw Sampras lose like that in a final!" No, he just lost to some Galo Blanco in the second round.


Actually, think the point is well taken, Pete never could string together the consistency needed to win 6 matches to make the finals. Also, I seem to recall Pete getting thoroughly dismantled in two straight U.S. Open finals in much the same manner as did Fed against Nadal.

That being said, I still cringed watching the Fedster offer such meek resistance, and appear so utterly hapless. I realize Rafa on clay when he's on his A game is close to invincible but I never thought I'd see Fed eat a bagel in a slam final. Ouch!

TennisandMusic
06-11-2008, 01:13 PM
Actually, think the point is well taken, Pete never could string together the consistency needed to win 6 matches to make the finals. Also, I seem to recall Pete getting thoroughly dismantled in two straight U.S. Open finals in much the same manner as did Fed against Nadal.

That being said, I still cringed watching the Fedster offer such meek resistance, and appear so utterly hapless. I realize Rafa on clay when he's on his A game is close to invincible but I never thought I'd see Fed eat a bagel in a slam final. Ouch!

Yeah Pete lost at the US Open to guys who were extremely young and on fire when he was in his 30's. It's not exactly the same.

Also, when Federer gets retirements while losing to Nalbandian (without injury I say Nalbandian wins), Davydenko, and Monfils in the semi's he better be making it. Losing to Kafelnikov, the eventual champ in the semis is nothing to be ashamed of. Federer doesn't have a fraction of the clay court competition Pete faced, aside from Nadal who is unfortunately for him better than just about anyone.

You just can't make a direct comparison. Don't forget Pete did all of this with his blood disorder...

AAAA
06-11-2008, 01:37 PM
1988 Wimbledon Edberg Becker 4 - 6 , 7 - 6 , 6 - 4 , 6 - 2
1989 Wimbledon Becker Edberg 6 - 0 , 7 - 6 , 6 - 4
1990 Wimbledon Edberg Becker 6 - 2 , 6 - 2 , 3 - 6 , 3 - 6 , 6 - 4

Edberg was bagelled 6-0 by Becker in 1989 on fast grass, suits his game, so it's no shame for Federer on clay.

zagor
06-11-2008, 01:53 PM
Yeah Pete lost at the US Open to guys who were extremely young and on fire when he was in his 30's. It's not exactly the same.

Also, when Federer gets retirements while losing to Nalbandian (without injury I say Nalbandian wins), Davydenko, and Monfils in the semi's he better be making it. Losing to Kafelnikov, the eventual champ in the semis is nothing to be ashamed of. Federer doesn't have a fraction of the clay court competition Pete faced, aside from Nadal who is unfortunately for him better than just about anyone.

You just can't make a direct comparison. Don't forget Pete did all of this with his blood disorder...

LOL,spoken like a true Sampras fanboy.Just don't diss Fed fans too much next time for being fanatics,it would be like pot calling the kettle black.Sampras lost to some guys at the FO Fed wouln't lose a set and that's reality.Also Pete wasn't 30 yet(and yet you say 30s) when he lost to Safin at USO and to Fed(who would still need 2 years to reach his next slam quarter after that) at Wimbledon.I can make a comparison,3 FO and a FO semi compared to 1 FO semi so Fed has better achievements on clay.Will Fed be GOAT or better then Pete if he equals or breaks his slam record? I don't know,it's open to debate and people can form their opinions.I personally would like to see Fed break Pete's record before he retires cause I'm a Fed fan but as for whether he's better or not than Pete we'll never know for sure,we can only compare career achievements and offer our opinions.

daddy
06-11-2008, 01:58 PM
1988 Wimbledon Edberg Becker 4 - 6 , 7 - 6 , 6 - 4 , 6 - 2
1989 Wimbledon Becker Edberg 6 - 0 , 7 - 6 , 6 - 4
1990 Wimbledon Edberg Becker 6 - 2 , 6 - 2 , 3 - 6 , 3 - 6 , 6 - 4

Edberg was bagelled 6-0 by Becker in 1989 on fast grass, suits his game, so it's no shame for Federer on clay.

Yet he won the final the year before and the year after. Im sure if Federer has won the 2007 RG this would not be such a big deal.

oberyn
06-11-2008, 01:59 PM
Nice summary, except for the Wortheim's exaggerated generalization of Pete Sampras' carrer at Roland Garros. Wortheim's use of the word "belligerently" sort of hinted at his(mistaken) impression of Sampras as being (for the most part) a "2nd-rounder" on clay.

Wertheim was saying that one of his readers belligerently stated that one never saw Sampras losing the way Federer lost to Nadal in the 2008 French Open Final.

-Sergi Bruguera (2-time French Open champion)

-Jim Courrier (from 2 sets down); Courrier a 2-time French Open champion and former #1 ranked player

Sampras also has beaten Thomas Muster at Roland Garros (from 0-2 sets down); Muster a former French Open champion and a former #1 ranked player.

As another poster said, Pete never strung together 6 consecutive wins at Roland Garros, something Federer has now done for 3 straight years.

Thomas Muster once said of Pete's chances at the French Open that he (Sampras) "shouldn't even bother showing up."

Now that was a stretch on Muster's part, but I don't think that Wertheim was going over-the-top by saying that there's not much of a comparison between Sampras' and Federer's track records at the French Open.

AAAA
06-11-2008, 02:23 PM
Yet he won the final the year before and the year after. Im sure if Federer has won the 2007 RG this would not be such a big deal.

yeah, the point being if a player who can win a certain slam can still be bagelled then Federer's bagel should be less of a surprise.

daddy
06-11-2008, 02:27 PM
yeah, the point being if a player who can win a certain slam can still be bagelled then Federer's bagel should be less of a surprise.

In my eyes a bagle is not a biggie. but look at the other sets, a breadstick and a few good games throughout the match with no chance to win any of those sets at all. he gave up, the maneer of his defeat was astonishing because of the way he was winning in last 5 years. Although admitedly overblown but the media and fans.

AAAA
06-12-2008, 04:46 AM
In my eyes a bagle is not a biggie. but look at the other sets, a breadstick and a few good games throughout the match with no chance to win any of those sets at all. he gave up, the maneer of his defeat was astonishing because of the way he was winning in last 5 years. Although admitedly overblown but the media and fans.

If Edberg, who is well matched against Becker on grass, can lose a set 0-6 to Becker is it that surprising that Federer can lose 2 sets heavily to Nadal on clay when he is totally not well matched clay against Nadal. By comparison it's not that surprising imo.

snapple
06-12-2008, 05:24 AM
If Edberg, who is well matched against Becker on grass, can lose a set 0-6 to Becker is it that surprising that Federer can lose 2 sets heavily to Nadal on clay when he is totally not well matched clay against Nadal. By comparison it's not that surprising imo.

Difference is that Edberg just came out of the gates cold but then fought his way back to make a real match out of it, whereas Fed simply folded and went away.