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unjugon
06-24-2006, 10:37 AM
In case it hasnīt been posted:

"In Defense of Sanity

Trying to Bring Some Perspective to the Rafa-Roger Debate

By David McPherson

In the week and a half since Roger Federer came up short in his bid to win a non-calendar Grand Slam and Rafael Nadal showed beyond a doubt who is the world's best clay-court player, there has been an unusually large amount of headline-grabbing remarks about the world's two best players - some of them more edifying than others.

Before the tennis world turns its attention to the next Grand Slam, I thought I'd look at a few of the more controversial statements and give my two cents worth.

1. Considering Nadal's domination of his head-to-head series with Federer, it's no longer clear that the Swiss is the best player of his era.

I said it before the French Open final and I'll say it again - the head-to-head record between these two is very misleading. Nadal has won six of their seven meetings, but four of Rafa's wins have been on the Spaniard's favorite surface and Federer's least favorite. While it's true that Nadal has also won two of three on hardcourt, I put this down to the fact that this is an uncomfortable matchup for Roger. Recall that he also struggled for a while with both David Nalbandian and Lleyton Hewitt, also known for their excellent counterpunching. Also, people always point out how close Nadal is to being 7-0 against Federer, but the Swiss was also very close to winning two of the matches he lost (Dubai and Rome 2006). The point is that head-to-head records are always misleading. If Nadal had played the majority of his matches against James Blake or Hewitt on clay, he almost surely wouldn't be trailing in his head-to-head with those players. Head-to-head records have also never been used as the main basis for comparing two all-time greats, so why start now? Federer has won seven Slams to Rafa's two and finished No. 1 in the world the past two years, and he is headed for a third straight No. 1 finish. Nadal, as great a player as he is, has never made it to the quarterfinals of any Slam outside the French.

2. Federer had "no balls" in the French Open final.

With all due respect to an all-time great like Mats Wilander, not even he is qualified to take a pot shot like that at Federer. There's a world of difference between being No. 3 or 4 in the world and a possible contender for a Grand Slam title and being "the man" at every single tournament the entire year. Wilander, as successful as he was, was simply not under that type of a microscope. As for Federer's performance in the final, I still haven't heard a reasonable explanation for what Roger was supposed to do. He was having a world of trouble with his topspin backhand and that is simply fatal on clay against someone as solid and heavy-hitting as Rafa. It wasn't an option for the Swiss to just start charging the net or hitting mostly slice backhands. Bottom line: he had to hit that topspin backhand like he did in Rome. His inability to do so made beating Nadal all but impossible on the day.

3. Federer still hasn't shown the guts to win when he can't roll over people with his elegant, effortless game

I thought we were past all this nonsense. There's no such thing as a 7-time Grand Slam champion who isn't also a phenomenal competitor with an incredible will to win. If anything, the French final was further proof of Federer's fighting spirit. On a day when he couldn't hit a backhand in the court, was probably battling nerves and was up against one of the greatest clay-court players of all time, he still found a way to come back in the fourth set and force a final-set tiebreaker. Again and again, tournament after tournament, Federer finds ways to win matches when he's not playing well or come from behind and nearly win when the situation looks hopeless (Note especially the Rome final against Nadal and the Master's Cup final against Nalbandian).

4. Federer has been anointed as a great all-time player too quickly

Yes, Pat Cash actually said this. I don't know what part of "7 Grand Slam titles" the Australian doesn't understand, but that's more than Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg and as many as John McEnroe and Wilander. And he's only 24. No, the guy is not overrated.

Finally, on a related note:

5. Nadal's the only player who doesn't just bow down to Federer.

Again, this was a Wilander quote. I really did like Mats as a player, but I'm glad I don't have to hear his commentary all the time. Players are not lying or bowing down to Federer!! Andy Roddick fights, Fernando Gonzalez fights, Nicolas Massu fights, Nicolas Kiefer fights. Come to think of it, in every match I've ever seen Federer play, the other player is giving his best effort to pull off the win of his career. Of course, they don't have the game that Nadal has, especially on clay. If they did, I guess they would look a lot more mentally tough than what people give them credit for. Now, don't get me wrong. Nadal is an amazing competitor and certainly a large part of his success is attributable to that, but I do find it ironic that some of the other players that have had some big wins against Roger - Marat Safin, David Nalbandian and Richard Gasquet come to mind - are all known much more for their uncommon talent than their phenomenal mental strength and competitive fire.

OK, enough ranting for one day!"

illkhiboy
06-24-2006, 11:17 AM
In case it hasnīt been posted:

"In Defense of Sanity

Trying to Bring Some Perspective to the Rafa-Roger Debate

By David McPherson

In the week and a half since Roger Federer came up short in his bid to win a non-calendar Grand Slam and Rafael Nadal showed beyond a doubt who is the world's best clay-court player, there has been an unusually large amount of headline-grabbing remarks about the world's two best players - some of them more edifying than others.

Before the tennis world turns its attention to the next Grand Slam, I thought I'd look at a few of the more controversial statements and give my two cents worth.

1. Considering Nadal's domination of his head-to-head series with Federer, it's no longer clear that the Swiss is the best player of his era.

I said it before the French Open final and I'll say it again - the head-to-head record between these two is very misleading. Nadal has won six of their seven meetings, but four of Rafa's wins have been on the Spaniard's favorite surface and Federer's least favorite. While it's true that Nadal has also won two of three on hardcourt, I put this down to the fact that this is an uncomfortable matchup for Roger. Recall that he also struggled for a while with both David Nalbandian and Lleyton Hewitt, also known for their excellent counterpunching. Also, people always point out how close Nadal is to being 7-0 against Federer, but the Swiss was also very close to winning two of the matches he lost (Dubai and Rome 2006). The point is that head-to-head records are always misleading. If Nadal had played the majority of his matches against James Blake or Hewitt on clay, he almost surely wouldn't be trailing in his head-to-head with those players. Head-to-head records have also never been used as the main basis for comparing two all-time greats, so why start now? Federer has won seven Slams to Rafa's two and finished No. 1 in the world the past two years, and he is headed for a third straight No. 1 finish. Nadal, as great a player as he is, has never made it to the quarterfinals of any Slam outside the French.

2. Federer had "no balls" in the French Open final.

With all due respect to an all-time great like Mats Wilander, not even he is qualified to take a pot shot like that at Federer. There's a world of difference between being No. 3 or 4 in the world and a possible contender for a Grand Slam title and being "the man" at every single tournament the entire year. Wilander, as successful as he was, was simply not under that type of a microscope. As for Federer's performance in the final, I still haven't heard a reasonable explanation for what Roger was supposed to do. He was having a world of trouble with his topspin backhand and that is simply fatal on clay against someone as solid and heavy-hitting as Rafa. It wasn't an option for the Swiss to just start charging the net or hitting mostly slice backhands. Bottom line: he had to hit that topspin backhand like he did in Rome. His inability to do so made beating Nadal all but impossible on the day.

3. Federer still hasn't shown the guts to win when he can't roll over people with his elegant, effortless game

I thought we were past all this nonsense. There's no such thing as a 7-time Grand Slam champion who isn't also a phenomenal competitor with an incredible will to win. If anything, the French final was further proof of Federer's fighting spirit. On a day when he couldn't hit a backhand in the court, was probably battling nerves and was up against one of the greatest clay-court players of all time, he still found a way to come back in the fourth set and force a final-set tiebreaker. Again and again, tournament after tournament, Federer finds ways to win matches when he's not playing well or come from behind and nearly win when the situation looks hopeless (Note especially the Rome final against Nadal and the Master's Cup final against Nalbandian).

4. Federer has been anointed as a great all-time player too quickly

Yes, Pat Cash actually said this. I don't know what part of "7 Grand Slam titles" the Australian doesn't understand, but that's more than Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg and as many as John McEnroe and Wilander. And he's only 24. No, the guy is not overrated.

Finally, on a related note:

5. Nadal's the only player who doesn't just bow down to Federer.

Again, this was a Wilander quote. I really did like Mats as a player, but I'm glad I don't have to hear his commentary all the time. Players are not lying or bowing down to Federer!! Andy Roddick fights, Fernando Gonzalez fights, Nicolas Massu fights, Nicolas Kiefer fights. Come to think of it, in every match I've ever seen Federer play, the other player is giving his best effort to pull off the win of his career. Of course, they don't have the game that Nadal has, especially on clay. If they did, I guess they would look a lot more mentally tough than what people give them credit for. Now, don't get me wrong. Nadal is an amazing competitor and certainly a large part of his success is attributable to that, but I do find it ironic that some of the other players that have had some big wins against Roger - Marat Safin, David Nalbandian and Richard Gasquet come to mind - are all known much more for their uncommon talent than their phenomenal mental strength and competitive fire.

OK, enough ranting for one day!"

Nice article!

arosen
06-24-2006, 03:20 PM
For Nadal to win 6 out of 7 against Roge is a phenomenal achievement, but it should not be in any way diminishing the unbelieveable level of play Fed has been demonstrating for the past several years. One lousy matchup for Fed should not be used to discredit his achievement. Matts is a spotlight junkie, he gets all giddy and overexcited when they ask for his opinion. He needs to STFU.

kooyah
06-24-2006, 05:12 PM
I said it before the French Open final and I'll say it again - the head-to-head record between these two is very misleading. Nadal has won six of their seven meetings, but four of Rafa's wins have been on the Spaniard's favorite surface and Federer's least favorite.

And I wonder what the head-to-head record between the two would be if four of the seven meetings had taken place on grass instead...

D-man
06-25-2006, 07:53 PM
i agree 100%, nice to hear someone say it