At their best, who would win?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Graphiteking, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. Feather

    Feather Hall of Fame

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    Put Nadal and Djokovic with current Federer on the old Wimbledon grass and the fast US open, the tournaments on whch your darlings played and find out for yourself who is stronger..

    On a fast Cincinnati surface, it's not as fast the US open of the 1990s, Federer bageled Djokovic. Unfortunately for Federer the courts are all slowed down and that helps his main opponents, Nadal and Djokovic a LOT, when they play them..
     
  2. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    For 1 match at their best, I wouldn't pick a 5'6" Rosewall playing in the modern time. That's include in any surface. The winner will not be a player at that size.
     
  3. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    TMF, The size stuff is one of the worst in discussions.

    You don't need to be a giant to play well, especially on clay...
     
  4. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    TMF has been writing that argument for ages. Rosewall was well known for being one of the greatest half volleyers of all time. He was also known for being able to take serves on the rise. He was also known for fabulous footwork for getting in position to hit the opponents groundstrokes.

    Funny thing is that smaller guys like Laver or Rosewall could handle kick serves very well. Laver because his large wrist allowed him to easily drive balls above his shoulder on his backhand that ordinary players who were MUCH taller could not do. Some taller players like a Newcombe couldn't handle kick serve to their backhand nearly as well. Newcombe was a very strong man but for tennis strength on the backhand, he wasn't on Laver's level.

    Rosewall was 5'7" by the way. At this rate some will have Laver and Rosewall at 3'0" tall or shorter.

    It's not how tall you are (although it doesn't hurt if the extra height doesn't hurt you in terms of things like agility which it often does) but how well you handle what your opponents send at you. Laver and Rosewall could handle huge kick serves like Newcombe's and Kramer's to their backhands.

    Some smaller players like Agassi can handle kick serves well because of their two handers which gives them the ability to handle the higher shots. Agassi also had the incredible timing to take the balls early. I would venture to say that Agassi's backhand is one of the great backhands of modern times and he's not as tall as Nadal, Djokovic, Isner, Federer and a number of others. Would anyone here want to look at Isner's backhand or groundies in general? He's taller than most top players and his groundstrokes make me want to turn off the television when he's on.
     
  5. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    TMF precised that he speak of the modern playing conditions, which favor baseline game. In such condition, players need power, and size help greatly to generate power. By the way, Agassi was 1.80m. Ferrer is the actual shortest top player, at 1.75m. It is safe to say that he would have a relatively better carreer if he had a few cm more.

    Under past playing condition, size was certainly not as important. Maybe even a drawback.
     
  6. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    pc1, As always fine analysis. You seem to be, along with krosero, the man for well-thought analyses. I could not do the same...
     
  7. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Hoad and Graf.

    I just finished The Education of a Tennis Player. A great read, in spite of all the Aussieisms. Laver mentions Gonazales often, particularly how he plays better when angry.
     
  8. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    The incredible shrinking man.

    Rosewall was 5' 6", no 5' 5", no wait 5' 4". . . .
     
  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Flash,

    I know he meant that. Of course if you are taller and have the same agility it is better. Ferrer is wonderful and I love watching him as a player but Laver and Rosewall are just different levels.

    Remember Laver and Rosewall were considered smaller players in their time or any time. It's just that their great talent more than overcame that.

    I also like to compliment you on your willingness to listen.
     
  10. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Did he serve from below upwards to get the ball over the net? It looks so according to some posters...
     
  11. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Just wanted to add something that we've mentioned many times, but it's worth repeating. Small players can actually have an advantage on low-bouncing surfaces, such as fast wood, or Wimbledon's old grass. The grass at the USO bounced even lower.

    Federer I think would be fine because he's not so tall that it would be to his detriment. But a shorter player with a low center of gravity can be really well set up to pick up those shots and even drive them for passing shots on the run.
     
  12. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Great points.

    I would like to add that some smaller players like Rosewall actually covered the net better than many taller players because of Rosewall's super reaction time. I think Rosewall is harder to pass than for example Andy Roddick or let's say Safin and less likely to make a volley error. Here's an example of Rosewall's great volleying skill. Incidentally check out the backhand on this video link below. It may not go nearly as fast as what they joke about on this website but it certainly is fast enough. I love to watch this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJubuKDN7Fk
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Hoad,Laver,Budge and Gonzales
    Court,Navratilova,Lenglen and Connolly
     
  14. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    At 29 to 31 Sampras took only 1 major too. And that was not taken as a sign that he was encountering good opposition after dominating a weak era. He just went into clear decline.

    It's debatable but I think Pete's decline is a good indicator of when a player like that can expect to start declining. With Sampras the first signs of decline were actually apparent in 1998, a year he turned 27.
     
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    My boy¡ how many talented names¡¡¡.Borg was as much talented in his own way and so were Sampras and possibly Gonzales and Tilden.
     
  16. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    Agreed. Petes decline began in 1998 (A pretty subpar year for his standards) though he recaptured that high level in 1999 and the tournaments he did play he was ultra dominant (Wimbledon, YEC).. But injuries screwed up that year
     
  17. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    A great post.And let me add the 50´s pros produced the highest standart of quality at the very top and the 70´s produced the greatest all court variety.Just the opposite to today.
     
  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Rosewall was considered the best ROS for many years, probably the second best after Connors even when he was already close to his 40´s...
     
  19. Bowtiesarecool

    Bowtiesarecool Rookie

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  20. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think eventually some posters will think Rosewall served from below ground level. I'm surprised Rosewall could volley at all since he apparently was below net level in height.:-?

    At least it seems that way according to some posters.
     
  21. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Rosewall was certainly up there with anyone in the return of serve area, even after 40. And Rosewall is always in the running when it comes to all time greatest return of serve.
     
  22. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Djokovic's level in 2011 was crazy high but I doubt very much that it was higher than what Federer was playing at his best. Federer was almost 30 at RG when he beat Djokovic. Fed did play an awesome match, but 30-year-old legs do not normally do well on clay. By that age a player's court coverage has noticeably begun to decline; and clay in particular demands young legs.

    Then at the USO, Federer had Djokovic beaten. Novak said he thought the match was over, and really Fed should have won. But he out-played Djokovic up to the match points in the fifth set -- and he did that even though he looked and played like an exhausted man in the third and fourth sets. So you can easily imagine peak Federer putting in a better performance, and beating peak Novak.

    Djokovic put in a very fine performance in that match; his winner/error differential (+13) was much higher than in any of this previous USO meetings with Federer. That's how Novak played in 2011 in general; but he still had major trouble with a declining Federer.
     
  23. Graphiteking

    Graphiteking Rookie

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    I can clearly see what era you guys are from. You guys are not giving credit where credit is due. @kiki, Serena will bagel those females you listed, except for Martina.
     
  24. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

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    So we can agree Fed started to decline in 2008 then? Good to know, something to make a mental note of.

    I'd also say Pete was ultra dominant in 1999 and YEC finals not the whole tourneys, in 1999 Wimbledon he had trouble with Scud in QF (lost the 1st set) before he (Scud) got injured and in 1999 YEC he lost his RR match to Agassi 6-2 6-2.

    He did also play great in LA and Cincy that year though and I agree he would have been a favourite for USO if he didn't get injured.
     
  25. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    Very good points. However H2H is not enough to assess player's level. Federer somehow match-up well with Djokovic, who in turn match-up better against Nadal. I do believe that peak Djokovic would be beaten by peak Fed, but it remains that Nole did win 7 tournaments in a row before losing to Fed in RG's SF, something Fed couldn't do (and I don't say he should have: Nadal may have been in better shape in 2006, along with the match-up issue).
     
  26. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    You know what may be a good idea, to discuss matches that we've seen that players went into "the zone." I think matches like Edberg's US Open win in the final against Courier or Sampras' Wimbledon final crush against Agassi could qualify for the zone. Perhaps we should break it down into surfaces also.

    Djokovic may have been in the zone also when he beat Murray in the Australian Open final in 2011. Laver once beat Rosewall with the loss of only one game in three sets. I think Agassi and Becker had played some incredible matches.

    Nalbanian has played some incredible matches at times in beating Nadal and Federer. I think Nadal once said he didn't know how to play Nalbanian.

    I also think we had to consider how good the opponent is also. It has to be a quality opponent the player in the zone crushes. I'm not even sure who qualifies as quality. I've seen Roddick crushed and while technically he's a quality opponent I'm not exactly a big fan of his strokes.

    Kuerten is another who goes into the zone on red clay. In fact I've had discussions with a number of tennis veteran observers (tennis writers) and some think Kuerten high on red clay may be higher than Nadal's. Not sure about that but he is great when he's on playing on red clay.
     
  27. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Federer did win 7 straight tournies in 2006-07, from USO through Dubai. The streak was 41 matches (to Novak's 43). It included a win over Nadal in their only match (Masters Cup); Cañas broke the streak at Indian Wells.

    Federer's streak included two Slams and the Masters Cup, while Novak's had 1 Slam.

    For me the most impressive thing in Novak's streak was beating Nadal on clay. That may be the most difficult thing to do in this era -- though Djokovic does enjoy big matchup advantages against Nadal. His great service return does damage to Nadal's weakest stroke, the serve. Novak's big strength, the double-handed BH, stands up perfectly well to Rafa's FH and even pushes Rafa back on the defensive, which is really an amazing thing considering how violent a stroke Nadal's FH is.

    I have to agree with you that H2H is not enough, by itself, to determine playing level. But I think that the Federer/Djokovic matchup, in terms of how their styles match up, is not overwhelmingly in favor of Federer. It is much closer to a neutral matchup than you have in the case of Nadal/Federer (with that crosscourt FH going to the one-handed BH) or in the case of Djokovic/Nadal.

    Federer does a lot of things that bother Djokovic, but the reverse is true as well. Both men have straight-setted each other on big stages, which I think shows that neither one has trouble dominating the other, on a given day.

    And if the matchup is fairly close to neutral, in terms of how strokes match up, then I think it's fair to say that a declining Federer made serious trouble for peak Djokovic simply because Fed was good enough to do it, and not because he benefited from a dramatic advantage in how his strengths matched up against Djokovic's weaknesses.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  28. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Edberg's win over Courier is a great choice, because Courier was a 4-time Slam winner. And at the time of the match Courier was neither a green rookie nor a player in decline. He wasn't playing on one of his weakest surfaces (like Agassi was in the Wimbledon match); and he wasn't injured.

    Borg's win over Connors in the '78 Wimbledon final is very similar.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  29. Steve0904

    Steve0904 G.O.A.T.

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    Rosol.

    10Rosols :)
     
  30. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    Fed declined a bit in 2008.. But 2009 was certainly nothing to scoff at. He only reached the finals of every slam. I dont think a "real" decline began until 2010. While Pete's real decline began in 2000. Around the same age as Roger.
     
  31. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    pc1, Thanks for the link. Some of Rosewall's backhand drives are coming like a lightning. No slow slice at all.

    By ther way, I believe the 1070 US Open win was Rosewall's greatest win at all. Here I disagree with Muscles who rates the 1972 Dallas final as his biggest win. It's seldom that I disagree with Muscles....
     
  32. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    World's citizen, Why do you rank Budge ahead of Rosewall? Because of Don's GS? Rosewall has achieved much more than Budge.
     
  33. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    yeah, this ......the matchup isn't dramatically in favour of federer. He's just the better player peak to peak , therefore when playing well, even past his prime, he can trouble djoker ...
     
  34. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Agreed, kiki. I think that all those players were more talented than Federer who is still much talented.
     
  35. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    edberg's performance vs courier @ 91 USO final was a brilliant one ..

    so was his semi vs lendl @ wimbledon 90

    as far as djokovic goes, I think he played better in the semis than in the finals @ the AO in 2011. Just that federer was playing quite a bit better than murray and hence the match was closer ...

    as far as kuerten and red clay goes, his peak level on clay is impressive, but problem is for how much he'd able to keep it up ...... nadal and borg could keep up their peak levels for longer in comparision .....

    We've all seen federer playing at a high level vs nadal at clay, raking up 5-1, 5-2, 6-1 type of scores and then dramatic drop in level and nadal turning it around

    even djokovic for that matter ( except for 2011 ) - vs nadal on clay - there are phases when he dominates nadal off the ground, but his level drops and nadal claws back ....
     
  36. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    yeah and common sense dictates that anyone who thinks santana is even remotely near the same stratosphere as federer as far as talent is considered is off his rocker !

    you admitted you haven't seen RG 2011 SF, one of the best matches in recent times, where past his prime federer beat peak djokovic , yet you judge that novak at his peak is better than federer at his peak ? LOL !!!

    again simple question : how many matches have you seen of federer in 2004-07 ?

    how many of them can you describe ?

    see here for an example :

    borg-mcenroe wimbledon 80 final : mac starts off darn well , but borg seems like he's asleep . mac takes first set easily. then borg somehow manages to hold on in the 2nd set even though he isn't playing that well, mac is playing well , then towards the end , borg somehow out of nowhere breaks mac and takes the set ....... then a competitive 3rd set with mac's level dropping and borg is in control , same for the 4th, where it seems borg is in control and has 2 MPs while serving for it, but out of nowhere mac pulls off two stunning points and saves them. Then a legendary tie-break ensues with both players battling it out at their highest levels. mac takes the breaker 18-16 .....then in the 5th set a battle ensues as expected, but borg serves very well and is clutch, barely losing points on serve ....finally breaks mac and takes the match 8-6 in the 5th ...

    after the first set, borg is volleying darn well and even outsmarting mac at the net on a few occasions ...mac's serve is of course destructive and his drop volleys are brilliant ......

    or even a less descriptive one like this one :

    mac-connors USO 84 SF :

    mac and connors both playing well darn well ..... mac is serving and volleying very well, but connors is hitting precise bullet like returns and passes past him time and again....... even with mac serving at 65%, his success % at the net is only close to 50%, that's how well connors was returning and passing. Finally in the end , its connors serve that proves to be the difference ..... mac manages to break him in the final set and take the match ...
     
  37. Wuornos

    Wuornos Professional

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    My money would be on Federer and Navratilova
     
  38. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    abmk, I guess we never will become friends.

    But thanks for your detailed desciptions.

    I have seen some matches of Federer in his prime but I concede I can't describe them (or other matches) as you are able.

    Every fan has his strengths and weaknesses. My strength is to research records and results and to value them in a (hopefully) proper way.

    I can't understand why you refuse to accept that Santana and some other players of the past were extremely talented and don't have to shrink from a comparison with Federer.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  39. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I know less about Rosewall's career than you do, but I tend to think of the '70 USO as his best win, too. Great level of play (not just at age 35 but at any age), and three great opponents defeated (Smith, Newcombe, Roche) with the total loss of only 1 set.

    Definitely Budge is far behind Rosewall.
     
  40. qindarka

    qindarka Rookie

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    There is absolutely no comparison between Santana and Federer.
     
  41. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I think you can see it too if you look at winner/error stats.

    Federer and Djokovic met five straight years at the USO, 2007-11. So that makes a good set of matches to use as a measuring stick, since they all took place under essentially the same conditions.

    Federer took the first three matches (2007-09), losing a total of only 1 set. Djokovic took the next two matches (2010, 2011), both times saving match points.

    So these are the stats, per official numbers.

    Djokovic’s winner/error differentials vs Federer at USO:
    -8 (2007)
    -4 (2008 )
    -2 (2009)
    -2 (2010)
    +13 (2011)

    Federer’s winner/error differentials vs Djokovic at USO:
    +8 (2007)
    +23 (2008 )
    +16 (2009)
    -16 (2010)
    -10 (2011)

    So Novak always made slightly more errors than winners, except in 2011, his best year. His level of play took a big leap then.

    Federer had the highest differentials of all -- especially in the '08 match. That may have been his best performance ever against Novak, not just at the USO -- and it took place when Novak had already become a GS champion.

    Jose Higueras was coaching Federer back then; he said that in 2008 there were only two matches in which Federer played just as aggressively as he should, all the time: the USO semifinal and final.

    Another interesting thing about these stats is the transition from 2009 to 2010. Novak doesn't really show any improvement: he's got a slightly negative differential, -2, each year. He may have improved to some degree; but at least as far as the stats are concerned, he's holding steady.

    Meanwhile Federer's numbers change dramatically from '09 to '10: from positive 16 to negative 16. That was the real difference in the 2010 match: Federer's level of play clearly dropped from the year before.
     
  42. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    krosero, Thanks for your agreement.

    In the 1970 US Open Rosewall won seven rounds at 35. This as answer to some posters who claim that the old pros like Laver and Rosewall amassed so many majors because there were only three or four rounds to play.

    Of course Laver went through all rounds when he won his open GS.

    I have no doubt that Laver and Rosewall would have won many open era majors in the mid-1960s.
     
  43. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    To avoid a misunderstanding: I never claimed that Santana was on the same level with Federer regarding playing strength! I only referred to talent (touch shots and so on).
     
  44. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    BobbyOne you mentioned that as highly as you rate Rosewall on clay you would favor Borg and Nadal over him in a peak on peak match on clay. Just curious how you would see a Borg vs Nadal peak on peak match on clay. Obviously in achievements and greatness Nadal has hands down surpassed Borg as the clay GOAT, but in terms of just a peak on peak match who would you favor. I am also curious what chances you would give Kuerten in a peak on peak match vs Nadal on clay. Kuerten is the only guy in the last 30 years that I think would have given Nadal significant problems on clay in a peak to peak battle, but was curious if you felt the same way considering your extreme knowledge on the sport and all its past players.

    How would you see a Nadal vs Borg peak to peak match go on surfaces other than clay as well. Those are the two players most often compared it seems.
     
  45. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    I am asking you to describe any of those matches as you saw it .... doesn't necessarily have to be very good or a brilliant description ....just say how you saw it ...

    you keep saying you've seen matches of federer at his prime or peak ? which ones ? how difficult is to describe whatever you remember from those matches ?


    well, IMO, you fail badly at that too , considering you "think" newk, roche, nadal , djoker have a higher peak level of play than federer ....

    because santana wasn't remotely close to federer's talent ...

    now laver was ridiculously talented overall , both power and touch
    mac's feel and touch , along with "sense of the court geometry" are unprecedented
    borg's ability to switch b/w slow, grinding rallies @ RG to aggressive play @ wimbledon within a month, now that's massive talent .....
    sampras' all court ability, with ability to overpower almost anyone , now that's massive talent ...
    agassi's and connors' hand-eye coordination, amazing returning and clean striking, now that's talent ...

    etc etc ...

    santana ? umm, no .......
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  46. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    agreed, although the W/UE stats are not a full measure, in this case they do indicate quite a few things clearly.

    However I do think novak played better in their 2009 SF match than in their 2010 SF ..... its just that federer was very good in their 2009 SF meeting and mediocre in their 2010 SF meeting
     
  47. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I enjoy reading your comments BobbyOne. I think you appreciate the beauty of the game, and mostly present interesting arguments for your positions.

    I think our opinions and tastes converge regarding an appreciation and certain affinity for old(er) style tennis.

    I love his anticipation and cunning. His movement and quickness. And of course (not counting his serve :) ), and maybe most of all, the way he strokes the ball. He played calmly and intelligently and tenaciously with great technical execution.

    Totally agree. The general style and pace of today's game is so different mostly because of the evolution of equipment. Players' skills have evolved to maximize the potential of the equipment changes.

    Given that they're playing in the same era with the same equipment, who, of the greats, would emerge as the dominant player? I really don't have anything approaching a firm opinion on this. But, today, for me, it's Federer. Tomorrow it might be Nadal or Djokovic. Or Sampras or Agassi. Or McEnroe or Connors or Borg (hmmm, no, probably not Borg). Or Gonzalez or Laver or Rosewall, etc. etc. etc. Just a tentative opinion based on very limited experience, and maybe faulty analysis. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  48. Feather

    Feather Hall of Fame

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    I don't know much about the equipments but lemme ask you something. Anyone else who read this can please answer..

    Everyone talks about Roger using a better equipement to olden guys. I think Roger uses a 90inch frame with a mix of natural and poly strings. Isn't that inferior to the raquets that both Nadal and Novak use? Isn't Roger Federer using raquets that are not as latest as what Rafa and NOle use? So isn't that more difficult for him to compete ?
     
  49. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Messages:
    7,773
    NadalAgassi, Thanks for your questions.

    If they had a ten matches series on clay, I would give Borg the edge (6:4).

    On grass I would give Borg a 7:3 edge.

    On hardcourt it could be also 7:3.

    This sounds as though Borg would be clearly stronger than Nadal but that's wrong. Since Nadal is awesome on clay and also very strong on other surfaces the scores could be different to my estimation and maybe even reverse. There is really a dilemma.

    It's easier for me to judge Kuerten. I would say that both Borg and Nadal would dominate the Brasilian, Borg perhaps even 8:2...

    And it's maybe easier to speculate about a Laver vs. Fderer series on grass: Here I would say that Laver would have the edge and of course on clay. I believe that Laver is underrated on clay!
     
  50. Feather

    Feather Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Messages:
    3,423
    Location:
    Bangalore, India
    The point is some old posters are here with a certain agenda. It's very easy to see through that.

    They refuse to acknowledge that game has changed. 39 year old Rosewall lost to Connors but today none can play till that age. Players having same age as Roger retires. Roger is number two and just won a slam. That's also held against him by saying he won ONLY one. Tennis has become way too physical. All the courts are slowed down. Six hour matches are more battle of attrition and in such cases obviously the younger player will have a huge advantage. Nadal at age 26 cannot play an year completely, with an extremely physical style of play Djokovic also is unlikely to win slams at age 30.

    If the courts at Wimbledon and US open were as fast as it was then Federer would have done well against both Djokovic and Nadal. When you talk about Roger losing to Nadal, Novak at these slams you have to consider these aspects. Getting old, surfaces getting slowed and playing against players 5,6 years younger than him all drawbacks

    He didn't have the luxury of Pete Sampras to serve his way to US Open finals at the later stage of his career. He literally has to fight for each points there. In both 2010 and 2011, Roger was at match points against NOvak. We all know what happened when they played in a fast court like Cincinnati, Roger bageled Novak 6-0.

    Last year in AO, he reached the SF and at the same age Pete lost in 4R. So if Roger also lost iin 4R then none would have bothered to talk about going 2-0 against Rafa at slow as molasses hard court in AO.

    Roger was lucky to win FO in 2009 but otherwise he had been very unlucky. He lost the edge in two slams against his close rivals due to slowing down of courts. However some old posters either ignore or pretend to ignore all these.
     

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