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View Full Version : Battle of the Russians: Who's the better player? Davydenko or Kafelnikov


TheChosenOne
11-30-2009, 05:17 PM
While Kafelnikov gets alot of guff over the years from being maybe the "weakest" 2 slam winner of all time. How does he compare with Davydenko who has never reached a slam final but has reached many semifinals.

JeMar
11-30-2009, 05:22 PM
Um, Kafelnikov, obviously. It's not even close. Davydenko's pretty awesome, but Kafelnikov was downright frightening when he was on.

LiveForever
11-30-2009, 05:25 PM
Kafelnikov. However you argue it, a slam is a slam. 2 slams is a wonderful achievement. Davydenko needs to win at least 1 slam IMO to be considered better than Kafelnikov.

TheChosenOne
11-30-2009, 05:25 PM
Um, Kafelnikov, obviously. It's not even close. Davydenko's pretty awesome, but Kafelnikov was downright frightening when he was on.

Thats surprising. When over the years, its Kafelnikov usually getting trashed verbally with many people saying hes the weakest 2 slam player of all time and couldnt even a masters event. Many think Davydenko was just unfortunate Federer was in his way or he would have a few as well. Thats a big reason why people say late 90's weaker since Kafelnikov reached Number 1 in the world along with Rios

boredone3456
11-30-2009, 05:30 PM
Kafelnikov is the male Capriati, but Davydenko is not even arguably the strongest of his generation not to win a major (I could see Haas and Nalbandian being over him), so its actually a pretty interesting comparison. I think in terms of best when on, its Kafelnikov by a hair, he was a better player at the net, and was just overall slightly stronger.

JeMar
11-30-2009, 05:33 PM
Thats surprising. When over the years, its Kafelnikov usually getting trashed verbally with many people saying hes the weakest 2 slam player of all time and couldnt even a masters event. Many think Davydenko was just unfortunate Federer was in his way or he would have a few as well. Thats a big reason why people say late 90's weaker since Kafelnikov reached Number 1 in the world along with Rios

I would argue that Sergi Brugera is the weakest two-time major champ. At least Kafelnikov played all four of them. Kafelnikov catches a lot of flak because he won a lot of little tournaments and (I think) no TMS events.

flying24
11-30-2009, 05:37 PM
Kafelnikov is easily the worst 2 slam winner in history, other than maybe Johan Kriek who won 2 Aussies when the Aussie was a non slam. He is worse than many 1 slam only winners, and some 0 slam winners. I was never particularly impressed by him at all. That he couldnt even win a Masters title and was owned by all the big guns in his era is telling of his abilities.

While Kafelnikov is the more accomplished unless Davydenko wins atleast 1 slam, the actual better tennis player is Davydenko IMO. His groundstrokes have more power, his forehand especialy is alot better than Kafelnikov's, his return of serve is better, his serve is atleast as good and probably better, he is definitely quicker. Kafelnikov volleys better but underutilized his volleys in singles. You would never see Davydenko owned by Thomas Johansson and a pre-prime Hewitt as badly as Kafelnikov was, and Kafelnikov vs Sampras was even more pathetic than Davydenko career wise vs Federer.

flying24
11-30-2009, 05:39 PM
Um, Kafelnikov, obviously. It's not even close. Davydenko's pretty awesome, but Kafelnikov was downright frightening when he was on.

We must have been watching two different players. I never saw Kafelnikov play tennis I would term as "scary" other than maybe a single match, the semis of Canada in 99 vs Agassi. Even the tennis he played to win his 2 slams was by no means scary, it was very good and solid but easily beatable by the big guns, but the draw gods were incredibly kind. Poor Chang and Ivanisevic at Wimbledon. If they got the kind of draws Kafelnikov got for his 2 slam wins each would have won 4 or 5 slams probably.

Grigor#1fan
11-30-2009, 05:41 PM
If Davydenko wins a slam, he will be a one slam wonder. He needs at least two before even arguing the issue.

grafselesfan
11-30-2009, 05:46 PM
I am not that high on either player to be honest. Kafelnikov never should have won 2 slams, and it is simply amazing to me that by he ever was somehow able to. He would have been lucky to even win 1 considering he wasnt one of the top few guys of his generation on any surface. As boredone said he was the male Capriati of the late 90s. He was also super lucky he peaked in the late 90s when the depth was not as strong as the 90-95/96 period. If he peaked at the time that someone like Chang or Courier did he probably would be slamless.

If Davydenko wins even 1 slam title I rate him over Kafelnikov easily as his overall achievements are more complete. However right now I rate Kafelnikov higher now as 2 slams vs 0 slams, and it is not like the 2005-2007 field Davydenko failed to even reach a slam final was very deep or strong outside of Federer.

grafselesfan
11-30-2009, 05:47 PM
If Davydenko wins a slam, he will be a one slam wonder. He needs at least two before even arguing the issue.

A 1 slam wonder would be someone whose only slam title was seen as a fluke like Gaudio or Johansson. In no way would Davydenko deserve that title given that he has been in and around the top 5 for 5 years and contended regularly. Kafelnikov winning 2 slams was a much bigger accident and fluke than Davydenko winning 1 would be. If 2 slam wonder was ever an appropriate term it would be reserved for someone like Kafelnikov (or Capriati in her case).

grafselesfan
11-30-2009, 05:50 PM
Um, Kafelnikov, obviously. It's not even close. Davydenko's pretty awesome, but Kafelnikov was downright frightening when he was on.

ROTFL if you really feel Kafelnikov was that scary good you might as well give Sampras the undisputed GOAT title now, as Sampras could beat Kafelnikov 6-2, 6-2 type score on any surface besides clay 90% of the time without even breaking a sweat.

quest01
11-30-2009, 05:59 PM
Kafelnikov. However you argue it, a slam is a slam. 2 slams is a wonderful achievement. Davydenko needs to win at least 1 slam IMO to be considered better than Kafelnikov.

I agree if Davydenko just wins one slam he would be considered a better player then Kafelnikov even though he won 2. The reason being is due to the fact that Kafelnikov played in a relatively weak era during the 90s that included Sampras, Agassi, Rafter etc who are no where near as good as the current era which includes Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray who are all better quality players.

grafselesfan
11-30-2009, 06:06 PM
I agree if Davydenko just wins one slam he would be considered a better player then Kafelnikov even though he won 2. The reason being is due to the fact that Kafelnikov played in a relatively weak era during the 90s that included Sampras, Agassi, Rafter etc who are no where near as good as the current era which includes Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray who are all better quality players.

Kafelnikov peaked from 99-2001, the period the majority of his greatest success came in. Sampras was past his prime and nowhere near the player he was from 1993-1997 in 2000-2001, and in 1999 he was out of action or injured so often although untouchable when he played outside of clay. The ever up and down Agassi was very strong some of that time, and Kafelnikov couldnt touch him when he was (atleast not in a slam). Rafter was a better player than Kafelnikov during this time, and Kafelnikov did well when he avoided him in the draw also. Kuerten was great on clay and Kafelnikov never beat him when they played there, his consistent abilities and performance on other surfaces left something to be desired yet Kafelnikov the hard court specialist had trouble with him even on hard courts.

Still yes this overall time period pailed in comparision to 1990-1996 when you had Sampras, Becker, Edberg, Agassi, Courier, Chang, Stich, Muster and Bruguera on clay, Krajicek and Ivanisevic on grass and indoors, all battling it out at the top. A guy like Kafelnikov was a supporting player at best in this much deeper field during his early prime years in the mid 90s, his bigtime fluke French Open title notwithstanding.

boredone3456
11-30-2009, 06:07 PM
If Davydenko wins a slam he will definitely rank above Kafelnikov. Even though I think Kafelnikov is slightly more talented overall, he was insanely lucky to win 2 slams when he really should have only won 1 or none at all.

grafselesfan
11-30-2009, 06:11 PM
If Davydenko wins a slam he will definitely rank above Kafelnikov. Even though I think Kafelnikov is slightly more talented overall, he was insanely lucky to win 2 slams when he really should have only won 1 or none at all.

We have alot of good discussions on here but I am surprised you think Kafelnikov would win with both at their best though. I agree Kafelnikov was better at the net. However Davydenko would outhit Kafelnikov from the baseline, outhustle him on defense in the rallies, their court smarts are similar IMO, the serving would probably be a wash, but Davydenko would outreturn him and return Kafelnikov's serve better than vice versa I think. Kafelnikov didnt use his volleys as much as he should in singles so that would only help him the bit he came in. Mentally both have their ups and downs. I really dont see how Kafelnikov would be favored to win with both at their best, and I am generally a backer of the Sampras era players over the current era as well. On grass Kafelnikov would be favored under the basis of being the less weak of the two. Anywhere else Davydenko would have even odds are better to win between the two though I think.

boredone3456
11-30-2009, 06:19 PM
We have alot of good discussions on here but I am surprised you think Kafelnikov would win with both at their best though. I agree Kafelnikov was better at the net. However Davydenko would outhit Kafelnikov from the baseline, outhustle him on defense in the rallies, their court smarts are similar IMO, the serving would probably be a wash, but Davydenko would outreturn him and return Kafelnikov's serve better than vice versa I think. Kafelnikov didnt use his volleys as much as he should in singles so that would only help him the bit he came in. Mentally both have their ups and downs. I really dont see how Kafelnikov would be favored to win with both at their best, and I am generally a backer of the Sampras era players over the current era as well. On grass Kafelnikov would be favored under the basis of being the less weak of the two. Anywhere else Davydenko would have even odds are better to win between the two though I think.

Its very close between the 2 at their respective bests. Even at their very bests both are prone to bouts of inconsistency and drop of the hat drops in form during matches that for both are extremely embarrassing. In all honesty its like a coin toss, neither are truly phenominal players, and to me between them it would be more a contest of who could keep it together the longest instead of who could actually outplay the other. Davy is strong, but even when he was playing his best in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and now he seems to be finding it again, I still don't know what to expect when he steps on the court. Kafelnikov, as incomplete as his game even at its best was, at least you knew there was a good chance of quality....even if it wasn't phenominal level quality. Just my opinion though. I really don't think either one would slaughter the other because both are just to up and down.

Rhino
11-30-2009, 06:19 PM
If Davydenko wins a slam, he will be a one slam wonder. He needs at least two before even arguing the issue.

Even Kafelnikov himself sites Pete Sampras's absence as the reason he won his Australian Open title. With the strength of todays field, if Davy wins a slam, I think he is the better player.

MuseFan
11-30-2009, 06:21 PM
If Davydenko wins a slam, he will be a one slam wonder. He needs at least two before even arguing the issue.

Nonsense. Davy's already won 3 Masters + YEC + ranked top 5 4 years in a row 2005-2008. 19 titles, only 5 losses in finals. He's FAR better then Kafelnikov. Unlucky to be playing in the era of the GOAT.

grafselesfan
11-30-2009, 06:22 PM
Its very close between the 2 at their respective bests. Even at their very bests both are prone to bouts of inconsistency and drop of the hat drops in form during matches that for both are extremely embarrassing. In all honesty its like a coin toss, neither are truly phenominal players, and to me between them it would be more a contest of who could keep it together the longest instead of who could actually outplay the other. Davy is strong, but even when he was playing his best in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and now he seems to be finding it again, I still don't know what to expect when he steps on the court. Kafelnikov, as incomplete as his game even at its best was, at least you knew there was a good chance of quality....even if it wasn't phenominal level quality. Just my opinion though. I really don't think either one would slaughter the other because both are just to up and down.

Fair enough. I see what you are saying. I agree it would be close. I give Kafelnikov the definite edge in volleys and transitioning forward, consistency, and the slight edge in mental toughness. I give Davydenko the edge on the forehand, baseline agression, returning serve, quickness, and overall defense.

I think if they played under 90s playing conditions and with the 90s type field Kafelnikov probably does better. Under todays playing conditions and todays field though I think Davydenko would definitely do better than if prime Kafelnikov were around today. Todays field and playing conditions having a dominant forehand, being able to return 2nd serves agressively vs guys staying back on serve, and being able to hustle really well to stay in rallies, is all more important, and I think Davydenko is better in all those areas than Kafelnikov.

boredone3456
11-30-2009, 06:30 PM
Fair enough. I see what you are saying. I agree it would be close. I give Kafelnikov the definite edge in volleys and transitioning forward, consistency, and the slight edge in mental toughness. I give Davydenko the edge on the forehand, baseline agression, returning serve, quickness, and overall defense.

I think if they played under 90s playing conditions and with the 90s type field Kafelnikov probably does better. Under todays playing conditions and todays field though I think Davydenko would definitely do better than if prime Kafelnikov were around today. Todays field and playing conditions having a dominant forehand, being able to return 2nd serves agressively vs guys staying back on serve, and being able to hustle really well to stay in rallies, is all more important, and I think Davydenko is better in all those areas than Kafelnikov.

If it turned into any kid of running game Davydenko most likely wins 9 times out of 10. He moves way better and is an overall solid defender. If it was more of a grind it out match, Kafelnikov gets a slight edge (however not saying much). If Davydenko was brought up under playing conditions of the 90's I think he would never make a slam final or would be lucky to make a slam semi in those days, his game just doesn't match up well with those kind of players, your right. Kafelnikov would likewise do much worse today, today he would probably never win a slam, although he might still be able to squeak out an olympic medal. Thats why comparing these 2 is so interesting, the parity is just crazy.

kishnabe
11-30-2009, 06:37 PM
Kafelnikov is okay on Clay if you know that he did push Kuerten two times to five sets. So he is somewhat of a player. Nikolay playing is much better than Kalfenkikov. In terms of ablity it is Nikolay and in terms of sucess is Kafenikov.

bertrevert
11-30-2009, 07:51 PM
Davydenko beat Nadal on hard court.

Kafelnikov's best surface was (indoor) hard court.

If this was the surface they played on then it would be an interesting battle indeed.

However, K's maudlin serving would get whacked by D.

And D's scurrying, hurrying, worrying of the ball at one end would drive K nuts. He, being a bit of a pusher, and certainly prone to caving in when it got tough, would just not put up with the work ethic of little D.

Game set match to Davydenko with Kafelnikov looking enigmatic but bitter at the ceremony.

:)

GoaLaSSo
11-30-2009, 08:02 PM
I would say Davydenko. He has such great movement and can hit back powerful shots on the run and quickly change direction. It's hard to win points off him on defense and he can attack from the baseline. When most players would buy time with a defensive shot, davydenko is able to hit with power back and regain position in the rally.

He can also serve 130+ even though he's short :twisted:

Ultra2HolyGrail
11-30-2009, 08:10 PM
Davydenko is the poor mans kafelnikov. Let me know when davydenko has the career of kafelnikov. One win vs fed and everbody rides his jock. Not suprising.

el sergento
11-30-2009, 08:26 PM
You would never see Davydenko owned by Thomas Johansson and a pre-prime Hewitt as badly as Kafelnikov was, and Kafelnikov vs Sampras was even more pathetic than Davydenko career wise vs Federer.

YK vs PS - 2-11
ND vs RF - 1-12

I don't know if more pathetic is the proper term, both are abysmal records.

Realistically, had Roger served up to snuff at the WTF semi's he would have beaten Davy and this discussion wouln't even be going on. Let's face it the WTF's aren't that important; Coretja won it and so did Nalbandian.

Say what you will about Kafelnikov, he won 7 titles more than Davy and over 10 million more in prize money. Oh, and 2 slams vs. 0.

Kafelnikov's principle problem was burn out. He played more than anyone on tour and so would often flake out emotionally.

A slam is a slam, Kafelnikov gets my vote.

el sergento
11-30-2009, 08:28 PM
I would say Davydenko. He has such great movement and can hit back powerful shots on the run and quickly change direction. It's hard to win points off him on defense and he can attack from the baseline. When most players would buy time with a defensive shot, davydenko is able to hit with power back and regain position in the rally.

He can also serve 130+ even though he's short :twisted:

Yeah so what, he's still not as good at doing all those things as say an Agassi or even a prime Hewitt.

Davy, as much as I admire him, needed the stars to align just right to win the WTF's.

flying24
11-30-2009, 08:43 PM
YK vs PS - 2-11
ND vs RF - 1-12

Kafelnikov's 2 wins over Sampras were on clay. Federer doesnt have a surface he is anywhere near as weak (relatively speaking) as Sampras is on clay. Sampras could lose to any Joe Schmoe on clay. Davydenko has actually beat Federer on a hard court now, which IMO is way better than beating Sampras twice on clay. In general Kafelnikov looks like he gets smacked around (excluding clay where Pete is much weaker than Roger on any surface) even worse by Pete than Davydenko does when he plays Roger. Anyway it is moot, we both agree both are hopeless vs the top legend of their generation, my main point is Kafelnikov is just as pitiful in that regard in case someone brought up Davydenko's head to head vs Roger. I also think Kafelnikov would also have an embarassing head to head with prime Roger, and Davydenko would also have an embarassing head to head with prime Sampras. So if you switched their birthdates I doubt anything would have changed either in that regard for either, so they are basically no different there.

Realistically, had Roger served up to snuff at the WTF semi's he would have beaten Davy and this discussion wouln't even be going on.

Realistically had Stich not played out of his mind and eliminated Muster (who Kafelnikov didnt have a prayer in hell of beating) at the 96 French, and Sampras simply showed up at the Australian Open in 99, Kafelnikov would be a slamless nobody who doesnt even have a Masters title, and this discussion wouldnt even be going on. See how easy that was.

Let's face it the WTF's aren't that important; Coretja won it and so did Nalbandian.

You make it sound like those guys are chumps. Corretja was a finalist twice at the French Open, has won multiple Masters on hard courts and clay, has taken both Sampras and Agassi to 5 sets at the U.S Open. Nalbandian has been to the semis or better of all 4 slams in his career.

The WTF is more important when comparing someone to Kafelnikov since Davydenko has managed to win that plus 3 other Masters titles, and Kafelnikov didnt even win a single Masters. Yes he won 2 slams but it a pretty majority consenus he lucked out to have two of the biggest joke draws ever.

he won 7 titles more than Davy

That is easy to catch up.

flying24
11-30-2009, 08:44 PM
Davy, as much as I admire him, needed the stars to align just right to win the WTF's.

LOL and Kafelnikov didnt need the stars to aling perfectly to win the 2 slams he by some miracle won?! At the French he needed a draw that somehow had him avoiding Muster, Bruguera, Costa, Corretja, Agassi, Chang, Courier, and probably a few others. To win a hard court slam when he did he needed a draw where he avoided facing any of Sampras, Agassi, Rafter, Johansson (had to throw him in since Kafelnikov was his lapdog), young Hewitt (read Johansson), and that is before even considering the already badly depleted field he was lucky to peak around the crossing point of the decades. By some miracle the draws provided him that twice, how many players in history could get that kind of good fortune.

So funny to see you say something like that about Davydenko in a thread comparing him to Kafelnikov, a guy who needed every circumstance to fall perfectly to ever win anything.

Davydenko actually went through a very tough draw to win the WTF. You know that Federer guy in the semis, ever heard of him? You ever hear of that Del Potro kid he beat up in the final, you know the reigning U.S Open Champion? Kind of tougher than beating Pete Sampras or Michael Stich on clay to win the French, or Haas in his first slam semi and Enqvist in his first slam final to win the Australian Open. Not to mention Davydenko went all the way to the final of last years WTF and could have won had he not choked serving for his RR match vs Djokovic which would have eliminated Djokovic from the event early.

abmk
11-30-2009, 09:43 PM
if davy wins a slam, I'll put him above kafelnikov. As of now, kafelnikov

nethawkwenatchee
11-30-2009, 10:18 PM
These guys are both super solid, tough, grinders, champions. We discuss how hard it is for anyone to win consistantly at the highest levels (ask Federer, Agassi, Sampras, Rios, anyone) Both Kafelnikov and Davydenko are proven winners. You can make comparisons of them to each other and other players all you want but both of these guys have skills that none of us will ever understand personally, let alone attain.

I recall watching Kafelnikov trade punches with Agassi (a legend, champion, hero, ETC.) at the 2000 Australian Open Final, beat the dog out of a young Federer, take down Sampras... all of them, he beat. Always capible of beating whoever he played. He managed to capture two slams in his career and deserved them as much as any tournament winner deserves a check and a trophy.

The same things can be said for Davydenko. Just this past month he raised his arms at a masters, world tour finals, beat all the best... he's got the skills to do it to any of them and he has proven this his entire career.

Tennis is a conflict of skill (the best rise to the top, the good make a living, the rest of us watch in admiration) and a battery of constant variables (conditioning, injuries, sleep, hangover, argument with wife... whatever)Davydenko has made multiple slam SF appearances and has thus far not gotten the win but not because he isn't good enough or because he is a choker. The tide came in for Kafelnikov because he was great and he put himself in position to make runs at it. Davydenko is in great form and has every aspiration to catch his slam this comming year. I hope it happens for him!