Is it a consensus among TV analysts that Federer is better now than in his prime?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Federer20042006, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. Federer20042006

    Federer20042006 Banned

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    I just keep hearing this over and over, and it's a real head scratcher. Do these people honestly believe that?

    The 31-year-old Federer is a better player now than he was in 2004-2006? That if prime Federer had begun his career in 2010 or so, he'd only win 2-3 majors or so at most?

    That's not a very strong indictment for Federer's greatness. I don't believe Federer is the greatest player of all-time, and I don't deny that Nadal/Djokovic/Murray is a tougher lineup at the top than Nadal and the others who went in and out of the Top 4 (Roddick, Nalbandian, Hewitt, Davydenko, etc.).

    But Federer's not playing members of the Big 4 every match, and the former human highlight reel is mostly an X's and O'x player now. How can they just ignore the obvious change in his play to the less spectacular?
     
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  2. RF20Lennon

    RF20Lennon Legend

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    The two things tha have improves are serve and backhand his movement even close!! In 2006 he was soo explosive!!!!
     
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  3. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    I dont think he is better now than in his prime. I agree his serve and backhand are stronger than ever though. He also volleys as well or better IMO. However his forehand has less power and is less consistent than in his prime, his returning is poorer, and his movement is much worse, and mentally he is less concentrated. So those things make him weaker than his prime.
     
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  4. Steve0904

    Steve0904 G.O.A.T.

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    I've heard that a few times as well, and like you said it's a bit of a head scratcher. I think it's just trying to pump up anything to do with the present. They're not going to say stuff like "Oh he would've made that shot in his prime, etc.." It's natural to forget whether conveniently or otherwise how great somebody like Federer was in their prime. It also would make todays competition look a lot worse.
     
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  5. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yeah his backhand is acceptable now
     
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  6. RF20Lennon

    RF20Lennon Legend

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    Lol acceptable?? You don't 17 majors with acceptable
     
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  7. zam88

    zam88 Professional

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    I'm sure he's smarter, and maybe tactically slightly superior.

    When you've played as many matches as Feds I doubt anything surprises you ever.

    Not to mention the intangibles like being able to handle weather, the crowd, situations, the travel, etc... and an improved backhand and a pretty filthy drop shot.


    But 2005-7 Feds had better hand eye coordination, and explosive shots.

    The only surface i would expect 2010-12 Federer to be better on than 2005-7 Federer would be clay.. it did seem like he got better on clay over time.

    On every other surface i'd expect a straight set or 4 set win... and even on clay i'd expect 2005-7 Federer to probably win
     
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  8. *Sparkle*

    *Sparkle* Professional

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    It's mainly tv pundit hyperbole. It's hard-wired into their psyche that everything happening now must be communicated as being the most dramatic, most epic thing ever.
     
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  9. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Clay and indoors I think the current Federer would split matches with the 2005-2007 one. However on grass and outdoor hard courts the Federer of 2005-2007 would win the vast majority over the current one.
     
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  10. AnotherTennisProdigy

    AnotherTennisProdigy Professional

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    IMO

    Prime Federer
    -More speed, explosive foot work
    -Marginally better, more powerful backhand
    -Less spin, more power/flat
    -Endurance

    *******
    -Better serve
    -Better backhand
    -Better slice (slices more frequently)
    -More spin

    Prime would still be the current Federer fairly easy.
     
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  11. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    Fed did EVERYTHING better in his prime. The TV analysts are talking out of their ass. And I'm still not a big fan of Fed's backhand, sorry.
     
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  12. BauerAlmeida

    BauerAlmeida Semi-Pro

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    You do if the rest of your game is perfect/almost perfect.

    Sampras bh was great? No. And he got to 14.
     
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  13. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    I don't think it's quite as simple as saying Federer is better or worse in all instances. He has moments when he plays as well as he ever did and he has other moments when he doesn't play as well as he can.

    In his best years I think he maintained a consistently higher level, but he still can reach those heights from time to time now.

    I think he is dealing with more challenges personally than he had to in the past, which can also affect performance. For instance he now has kids, he has more responsibilities, he's not as young and fresh as he used to be etc. Sometimes getting older can also make you doubt more, which again can affect performance. However, that does not mean he cannot at times play as well as he did in the past. So this is not a simple linear thing, there is constant fluctuation.

    In some respects players have to improve to remain competitive, so going up in ranking can sometimes indicate improvement, but not necessarily. At the same time if Federer were 5 years younger, he would be better than he is now and there would be even more scope for improvement.

    If I had to point to anything I would say Federer is not quite as explosive, agile or consistent as he used to be. His reactions and speed might just be a tad slower, but he has the experience to bridge some of that gap and still is very quick despite everything.
     
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  14. Hood_Man

    Hood_Man Legend

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    He's smarter and more experienced, and has more knowledge of the sport and of what to expect, so in that sense he probably is a better player.

    But it's TV commentator hyperbole for the most part.

    I sympathise however. It's amazing the daft things we human beings can say when we're put under pressure to say exactly what we think at any given moment. If given time to think I imagine their thoughts won't be too different to our own, but it's a luxury we can take for granted.
     
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  15. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    Sampras' backhand was not great, but it was decent enough. I think Federer has a great backhand, especially during his best years.
     
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  16. Steve0904

    Steve0904 G.O.A.T.

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    It's always been better than just acceptable, but it's gotten even better than acceptable over the years because people keep going to it. The only reason it was regarded as a "weakness" in his prime IMO was because the rest of his game was so good. His BH wasn't neccesarily bad or just acceptable.
     
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  17. Cup8489

    Cup8489 Legend

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    Federer's backhand is better. His serve is not as good as it was a few years ago.. i'd say its around 2006 level again.

    Movement isn't even close.. and because his body doesn't recover as fast, he's not as consistent at playing at high levels anymore.

    I do think current Fed would beat prime Fed on clay, though. Just because he's so good at point construction. And by current Fed I actually mean last year.
     
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  18. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It was bad. Too many slices. It wasn't a weapon, but just a setup for his forehand.

    It is a good thing that Nadal showed up and made Federer improve.
     
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  19. Federer20042006

    Federer20042006 Banned

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    Nobody was talking about Federer's backhand being a weakness in 2003-2007. He was "the perfect player." The most anyone would ever say about it is, "it's not as good as his forehand, so players might wanna try going there instead."

    It was when he started losing in 2008 that all the "Federer's backhand is his weakness" stuff started popping up everywhere.

    Not sure what the recent trend is on this board to gloss over 2004 Federer is all about (people starting at 2005). Have people forgotten how terrifying a player Federer was in 2004? That he won 3 slams and the YEC that year, losing only 6 matches? That he demolished Hewitt in the US Open final in one of the most overpowering matches you'll ever witness?

    Sure, present Federer can hit serves and forehands and backhands and win a ton of points and a ton of matches, but that's not the way you used to describe him. Federer in his prime was a highlight reel - he found angles and came up with shots that left you stunned, and he did this every single match. I'm not talking about some inside-out FH winner or some backhand down the line winner or some strong volley. I'm talking about hitting a winner out of nowhere, when nobody was expecting it...just making up his own shot in an unpredictable way.
     
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  20. tennis_pro

    tennis_pro G.O.A.T.

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    One sentence:

    Prime Federer did every single thing better, even served better (remember Federer's serving performances in 2007? Especially Wimbledon, the US Open, the Tennis Masters Cup) BUT Federer nowadays is smarter.
     
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  21. Netspirit

    Netspirit Hall of Fame

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    His dropshot is better (mostly because the prime Fed would refuse to hit any).

    His volleys are better than his prime, but worse than his young age (S&V days circa 2001).

    His serve is better placed and has more variety. He has lost a couple of MPHs on the serve (the prime Fed would hit a few down the T at 130mph, these days it happens very, very rarely).

    His court speed has declined the most.

    His forehand has become much spinnier (because of all those years of training on clay to win RG? or because of not trying to hit as many winners?).

    His return of serve is mostly the same. It always kind of sucked, despite a few miraculous pick-ups on youtube.

    Tactically, he seems to have improved.

    Stamina-wise he is much weaker these days and cannot keep his level in a tough 4-setter (see his AO and RG matches).

    Mentally, he has many more lapses than during his prime, when he was just a killing machine.
     
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  22. Federer20042006

    Federer20042006 Banned

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    Federer's serve isn't even half as good as Sampras's was. They're two completely different styles of players, despite the comparisons made early in their careers.

    Sampras wasn't nearly as dominant as Federer, and he had a better serve, an all-time great forehand himself, and better volleys. He was also a great athlete.
     
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  23. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    Not true. Fed's backhand was exposed at the beginning of 2005 when Nadal started raping it on a regular basis. That's when everyone started commenting on his backhand making Fed vulnerable and Fed was still at his best then and would be for quite a while.
     
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  24. Carsomyr

    Carsomyr Hall of Fame

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    Federer plays smarter now (i.e. uses more variety, like drop shots, fake drop shots, etc.), he's improved his serve a bit over the years, which have allowed him to stay competitive with the younger, hungrier members of the top 4.

    But he's certainly lost a step and half over the last few years, which means he doesn't defend as well, can't transition from defense to offense as well, etc. He's lost some stamina, which also hurts the defense. And, his groundstrokes, particularly his forehand, have lost some of their venom. As someone mentioned, he's also lost the absolute laser-like focus now that he's achieved a plethora of records and has a family.

    Federer of 2004-2007 was clearly better than he is currently.
     
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  25. Federer20042006

    Federer20042006 Banned

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    On a regular basis? They only played twice in 2005, and it was 1-1.

    Nobody thought Federer was vulnerable then. What the hell are you smoking?
     
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  26. Steve0904

    Steve0904 G.O.A.T.

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    Yes this may be true, but Nadal has always been the only player who could consistently get to Fed's BH because of his incredible topspin. Nobody else could really do it consistently. Safin hit with a lot of pace to his BH in the 05 AO SF, and Agassi exposed it a bit with his flat ballstriking in the 05 USO final, but neither really was consistent.
     
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  27. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    Precisely. Federer's backhand was excellent throughout his prime.
     
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  28. ctoth666

    ctoth666 Professional

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    Right. Supposedly, the supposed greatest player who ever lived has won 1 of the last 13 majors playing the best tennis of his career. Can't argue with that...
     
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  29. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Federer had 50 aces at Wimbledon 2009 in the final. That is the most his career by far that I know.
     
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  30. tennis_pro

    tennis_pro G.O.A.T.

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    How many aces did he hit en average per service game?

    Federer in mid 2009 was serving as well as ever, though, comparable to his 2007 level.
     
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  31. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Well I am pretty sure it would still be alot more than the 2007 final, as 2007 was also a long match. Then again Nadal is a much better returner than Roddick.
     
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  32. tennis_pro

    tennis_pro G.O.A.T.

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    I'm not talking about the finals only.

    2007 US Open quarters against Roddick, 2007 US Open final against Djokovic, 2007 Wimbledon final, 2007 Tennis Masters Cup all the matches virtually, he served over 80 % against Nadal in the semi-finals.
     
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  33. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    This.

    Wait and in 10 years you will see them saying that Nadal, Djokovic and Federer were good but NOTHING compared to the current top players because the game is always much better in the present than any time in the past.

    It is nauseating to say the least.
     
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  34. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    I agree. Fed's absolute peak of destroying tennis was mid 2006 to early 2007. Untouchable in all phases.
     
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  35. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    One of those "twice" in 2005 was pretty major since it happened in a slam. In Miami, Rafa had already beaten Fed in 2004 and was quite close to beating Fed in straights in 2005 before Fed started his come back (the 5th set was due to Rafa completely running out of gas). In 2006, they played more often including in Dubai where Rafa won. By then, if people hadn't noticed Rafa could attack Fed's backhand, they hadn't been paying attention...
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
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  36. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    I honestly don't think his BH is better now than 2004-2006. I'd say his 2012 BH is better than his 2008-2010 though.
     
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  37. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Well if we're going to make excuses, Federer had the flu in 2004 when they played Miami, was hella sick and had no business even playing, and his movement (if you watched the match) was QUITE sluggish.
     
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  38. BauerAlmeida

    BauerAlmeida Semi-Pro

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    2005 was his best season IMO.

    He only lost 4 matches. One was against Nadal on clay, against Safin and Gasquet he had match points and against Nalbandian he was 2 points away with his serve.

    It doesn't seem that great against his other prime seasons (04, 06, 07) because in those he won 3 slams and the TMC and in 05' "only" 2 slams. He only lost 2 times outside clay, but those came in important matches (AO SF and TMC Final).
     
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  39. BauerAlmeida

    BauerAlmeida Semi-Pro

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    My point was that if you're great at everything else, you may have a weakness in your game.

    Not that Sampras and Federer have similar styles.
     
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  40. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    QFT. QFT. QFT.
     
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  41. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    Federer's serve is hardly a weakness. He's regularly at 90% service games won year after year and remember the legendary 2007/2009 Wimby final ace-fests? Or how he served this Wimbledon?

    Also Fed has served 4 consecutive aces on at least 3 occasions. Once against Nadal(2007 YEC semis).
     
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  42. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    Without his serve, Fed wouldn't be a top 4 player at this point.
     
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  43. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    The point is: people started paying attention to Fed's bh because of how much Nadal abused it. And they played 5 times in 2006, so people had plenty of time to observe it. But I would say it was apparent enough already at RG 2005.
     
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  44. BauerAlmeida

    BauerAlmeida Semi-Pro

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    I never said his serve was the weakness.:confused:

    It's his backhand. (Talking about prime Fed).
     
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  45. Federer20042006

    Federer20042006 Banned

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    I remember reading an article from 2005 where a bunch of tennis analysts were asked who would be the next to challenge Federer, and all but one were scratching their head and had no idea when his dominance would end.

    Only Darren Cahill mentioned Nadal, saying that Federer's weakness was the high backhand, and Nadal could get it there.

    The only time the backhand issue really caught national attention during Federer's prime was the 2006 French Open final. But he followed that up by going on a tear, blasting backhand winners left and right at Wimbledon.
     
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  46. Steve0904

    Steve0904 G.O.A.T.

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    That just tells me that Cahill knows what he's talking about, and the other analysts are idiots.
     
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  47. Federer20042006

    Federer20042006 Banned

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    And my point is if Federer's backhand was nearly as big a weakness as it was for Sampras, Federer would not have anywhere near 17 slams. Sampras could rely on his serve, which is huge in tennis. Look where dominant serving got John Isner, for example.

    Federer's serve is nowhere near the weapon Sampras's was. In fact, it's better now than in his prime in terms of winning cheap points...so how was Federer dominating tennis at a level Sampras never did with a weak backhand? Remember, he didn't (and even now still doesn't) possess nearly the serve Sampras did.
     
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  48. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    As someone mentioned, criticism of Federer's backhand only really started to happen after his mono in 2008 and after some dismal performances. I mean, the consistency he had went completely.

    Prior to that Federer was coming back in the h2h with Nadal, which was 6-8 at the end of 2007, and people were always really surprised anytime Nadal beat Federer outside of clay, which was only twice. Even on clay, there was a widespread expectation that Federer would eventually figure Nadal out. There certainly was not this idea that Federer's backhand was poor, but that becaome the cliché after he lost each of their 2008 encounters, particularly snowballing after Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2008.

    I think this boards has many new tennis fans, some of whom only started watching tennis in 2008 and only know Federer from this period. This probably also had something to do with the poor backhand cliché.
     
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  49. Federer20042006

    Federer20042006 Banned

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    I agree, though I think his current backhand may be better than his 2004 backhand (he was slicing a lot more in 2004 and running around it a lot more as well). His 2003 backhand was terrific, though.

    I think I'd rate Federer's backhand as follows by year:

    1. 2006 (have to block out the FO final, though)
    2. 2005
    3. 2003
    4. 2007
    5. 2012
    6. 2011
    7. 2004
    8. 2002
    9. 2001
    10. 2008
    11. 2009
    12. 2010

    Basically, Federer's backhand quality has gone up and down. It hasn't been this steady incline that many analysts and fans claim. He went through a period in 2009-2010 where he couldn't hit a backhand down the line to save his life, when before that shot used to be routine for him. Sometime around the French Open last year, he found his backhand again. I credit Annacone.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
    #49
  50. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    His forehand is a shadow of what it once was, and he's lost a step. That's a freaking fact
     
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