Why the GOAT does NOT exist

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Blocker, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. Blocker

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    For a long time now I have sat back and read all the various discussions about GOATs, of which there seems to be hundreds floating around. I have read all the arguments for and against and all the counter arguments, and I’m here to tell you that a tennis GOAT does not exist to this point.

    So what defines a GOAT? A summary of all the arguments which have been written on this site follows:

    Most slams won, ie beating the field most times.
    Dominating your era as well as all your main rivals during your time.
    Dominating a particular slam like no one else has done before you.
    Dominating Wimbledon like no-one else has done before you.
    Longest time spent at number 1.
    Most titles won.
    Dominating the player most perceive to be the GOAT.
    Winning the grand slam.
    Winning a career slam.

    The above are all examples I have seen used to explain why any one player should be the GOAT. Alot of these points have merit, but can’t be used in isolation to determine the GOAT.

    To me, there are 4 main things which come into consideration when choosing a GOAT.

    Most slams won
    Career slams
    Head to head
    A combination of everything else, eg time spent at number 1, eras, mental toughness, serve, return of serve, fitness, x factor, basically anything you can think of.

    These 4 points have to be taken together, as a combination, not taken in isolation from 1 through to 4.

    Before I continue, I want to quickly qualify point 3 because I know a lot of people will reject that as a factor. At the end of the day, tennis, in its purest form, is two players on the opposite sides of a court, separated by a net, trying to win a match of tennis. If you had to choose one human being who ever lived, be it a professional tennis player, an amateur tennis player or a hack, to play for YOUR LIFE, against any other human being in the history of the world, to win 2 of 3 BO5 set matches, one on grass, one on clay and one hard court, who would it be?

    Let me quickly explain these 3 surfaces.

    Grass: traditional fast surface, low skidding bounce which favours a serve volleyer. On this surface, a good serve volleyer will have the advantage over a good baseliner.

    Clay: slow, high bounce, favours the baseliner. On this surface, a good baseliner will have the advantage over a good serve volleyer.

    Hardcourt: medium true pace, not too fast, not too slow, with medium true bounce. Favours no style of play. All things being equal, a serve volleyer who is superior to a baseliner should win this match, and vice versa. This is the neutral surface.

    The above surfaces are the traditional grand slam surfaces and hence I have limited it to these 3. These surfaces ensure that ever player to have ever played the game is not disadvantaged by homeginastion, which in the scheme of things, has been around for 5 minutes.

    So ask yourself this question. Which human being would you choose to play for your life in 3 x 5 setters (grass/clay/hardcourt) against any other random human being in the history of the world? Remember, your player loses 2 of 3 matches, your life comes to an end. Take Federer vs Nadal for example. Who here is willing to put their life in the hands of Federer against Nadal? I know I wouldn’t. I value my life too much. I’ve seen Federer lose to Nadal on clay and hardcourt too many times for me to want to risk everything there is about me. I even saw Federer lose a grasscourt match to Nadal and saw Nadal nearly beat him in a grasscourt match the year before.

    So this is why head to head has to be a factor when assessing the GOAT. Remember, GOAT is the acronym for “greatest of all time”. The greatest of all time should be good enough to beat all comers, in 2 of the 3 traditional grand slam surfaces. To use a boxing term, the GOAT should be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. And as you will see, there is plenty of dispute, about every candidate.

    So let’s have a look at some of the GOAT candidates.

    Federer
    Has the most slams, has the career slam, but is owned by Nadal. Sorry Federer fans, I have taken on board everything you have said about this H2H issue and nothing I have seen convinces me otherwise.

    For years, we as tennis fans have salivated at the prospect of seeing a great from one era up against a great from another era. The first time I ever encountered such a match-up was in 1984. I was reading this Australian tennis magazine and it was about Laver vs McEnroe. At that stage, McEnroe was the top player in the world and seemed invincible at the time. This was before the FO of that year. The aurthor set the scene. The Laver/McEnroe match would have to be played on Wimbledon Centre Court, the day would have to be sunny, packed crowd, everything to play for, bla bla bla. Until Nadal started owning Federer, I always wondered about who would have won such a match. But not anymore, which I will explain why below.

    Put Federer in the 90s (assume Sampras did not exist and also assume Federer and Nadal never crossed paths). Federer with his 17 Slams from the 90s versus Nadal in today’s era with his slams to date. Could you imagine the GOAT discussions then? They would be epic. Seriously, their would not be enough bandwith in the world to support all the discussions written about a Federer versus Nadal matchup. The arguments about why Federer would whip Nadal and vice versa would be endless. But the reality is, Nadal has had the better of Federer in their matchups. And for this reason, the fantasy of seeing two tennis greats from different eras has been ruined for me. Because the player with 17 slams, the most in history, continues to be pawned by Nadal when it matters the most. Why would I get excited about Federer versus Laver when I know Federer could not beat Nadal? If anything, put Nadal up against Laver. Even if we were to limit the Federer/Nadal H2H to one match on each of the 3 surfaces, Nadal still wins 2-1. (I’m aware that the AO surface is as slow as the FO clay, but unfortunately I can only go with what we’ve got, and their matches to date in the slams is what we’ve got.)

    Now I know what the response will be to this. Like I’ve said, I’ve read it all before. Inbalance due to too many clay matches, mental issues, mismatch issues, 5 years age difference, and the list goes on. But this ladies and gentlemen is the precise reason why Federer can not be the GOAT. Surely the GREATEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME should be able to figure out a way to beat any other player in 2 of 3 x 5 set matches. Isn’t that what the GOAT is all about, winning against the field, beating your direct rival and beating anyone else on a tennis court? Like I said before, in its purest form, tennis is about two players trying to figure out a way to beat their opponent. If you can’t beeat your greatest rival who is standing on the other side of the net, then quite simply, you can’t be the greatest of all time?

    Now if someone was to ask who has the most slams in history, then of course it is Federer. But this does equate to GOAT. Tennis was not always about winning slams. Believe it or not, DC was once considered as important. Really, the slam count only came to prominence from the 80s. So using slam count alone and applying it across different eras is comparing apples to oranges. Like I said, you need to take in all the 4 factors I mentioned above to pull one man out and place him above everyone else. Federer is not GOAT because he can’t get past Nadal.

    Sampras
    Has the second most slams.
    Pretty much won his H2H rivalries.
    No career slam (no FO). For this reason, Sampras is not the GOAT.

    Borg
    I’ll make an exception re the career slam for Borg given that he did not give two hoots about the AO.

    But even so. No USO, lost in the final there 4 times. Got owned by McEnroe in 3 of their 4 grand slam finals. So how can Borg be the GOAT? Quite simply, he can’t. He couldn’t get the better of McEnroe in 4 grand slam finals, how can he possibly be GOAT?

    Agassi
    If there is one player who ticks all the boxes as far as winning everything worth winning is concerned, it is Agassi. Won all the slams, won the YEC/WTF and won an Olympic singles gold medal. I stand corrected, but no other man has done this. He even helped win the DC for his country. As the WTF and the Olympics have not always been around, I will stick to the slams. Agassi is well behind Federer and Nadal as far as slam count is concerned. Plus, he also got owned by Sampras in their biggest matches. So Agassi can’t be the GOAT.

    Connors
    Never won the FO and was owned by Borg in their big matches. So Connors is not the GOAT.

    Lendl
    Never won Wimbledon and was owned by Becker in their biggest matches. Not the GOAT.

    McEnroe
    His slam count never made it to double digits and he never won the FO. He must still have nightmares about that 1984 final against Lendl.

    Nadal
    Nadal is an interesting one. Has won the career slam but still trails Federer in total slams won, even though he owns their H2H. Another thing which rules Nadal out is that so far he has been owned by Djok in their big matches. So again, knowing that Djok beat Nadal in 3 of 4 consecutive slam finals means that I would not have Nadal as GOAT because there is another player in the history of the world who has had the better of him.

    Laver
    I’m not going to comment about Laver. I never saw him play. Everyone knows him as the man that has won the GRAND SLAM OF TENNIS twice. But his era is too much bygone to even be relevant to today’s tennis environment. And this just goes to show even moreso that you cannot have a GOAT because the 50s and 60s, and every era before that, is so different to today.
     
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  2. Blocker

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    Following on from my OP:

    Beating the GOAT field

    Put the above 9 players plus 7 other players of your choice, each at their peak, in a 16 field knockout tournament, where each round was best of 3 x 5 set matches on the surfaces mentioned above, and there you will have your GOAT field. Make them play to the death, who would be the last man standing? Who is going to beat the field? Whatever your answer is, that would be your GOAT. Of course it is all speculation about who would win and that is why tennis simply does not have a GOAT. I know one thing, it would not be Federer due to the Nadal factor. Federer would win on the fast grass, Nadal would win on the clay and Nadal would grind out a win on the neutral hardcourt. If I had to put my money on someone (note not my life, just my money) to beat this field, the last man standing would probably be Sampras. He would lose his clay matches, win his grass court matches (remember, traditional grass) and would probably be good enough to win the hardcourt matches with his big serve and net rush, as long as he was on the opposite side of the draw to Federer, where he could rely on Nadal taking him out. Nadal fans would probably have something to say about Sampras winning, but again, all these ifs and buts makes it clear…there is no GOAT…not at this stage anyway.
     
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  3. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    The standard of "GOAT" has changed so much over the years, there is just no level playing field as to what constitutes one. Was there even GOAT talk prior to Sampras breaking Emerson's record?


    If you go with slam count, thats a totally uneven playing field because if guys like Pancho and Laver had as many cracks at the slams as say Federer, they would have won 20 plus slams easily.

    Then you factor in homogenization where its much easier to dominate year round today, thats entirely new argument we can get into.
     
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  4. Prisoner of Birth

    Prisoner of Birth Banned

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    Wow, thanks for clearing that up for us, Sherlock. I see it now!
     
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  5. OddJack

    OddJack Legend

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    What you miss is that "Greatest" is relative, not absolute.
    Relative to everybody else's achievements, Federer is the greatest.
    Rod said so, Borg said so, and many of the rest of greats said so.

    Now, carry on.
     
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  6. Cup8489

    Cup8489 Legend

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    What makes you say that? Nostalgia?
     
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  7. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    The idea of the GOAT is a very simple concept that does not require these mammoth explanations. All it identifies is the player considered to be the best overall, given all the information, not just Majors or something else. Nor is it a mathematical equation that can be discovered by tallying up all the data. It doesn't mean you have to be invincible or completely flawless or that there must be complete unanimity amongst the world's population. As I said, all it means is you are considered to be the best to have played the game. At this stage, most expert and casual opinion think Federer is the best player the world has seen, so there you have it.

    Saying there is or isn't a GOAT does not make either true in any absolute sense. The level of support for the idea of a GOAT and the identification of a player that embodies that quality, by most people, is what determines the sustainability of the GOAT concept.

    Also, the OP is factually wrong when he says Federer cannot beat his biggest rival. He has beaten him 10 times and counting.
     
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  8. Prisoner of Birth

    Prisoner of Birth Banned

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    Totally this.
     
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  9. joeri888

    joeri888 G.O.A.T.

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    I agree there is no single greatest of all time. It's hard to compare different eras and there were a lot of different great players. I mean, you can probably say that Federer is better than Djokovic or Hewitt but that's pretty much it. Federer's probably up there resumewise, but whether he's better than Pancho or Laver FOR THEIR TIME, it's hard to tell.
     
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  10. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Arthur Ashe said that he would want McEnroe playing for him if his life depended on it.
    Interesting, since there was a lot of disagreement between them.
    I don't know that McEnroe is the best, but I know that if he were playing for someone else's life, he would treat it as if it were his own life on the line. Not sure that some of the other guys would do that.
     
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  11. jokinla

    jokinla Hall of Fame

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    Yes, NOBODY will ever have it all, which is what your criteria seems to be, and since NOBODY will ever have it all, we must go to who is closest, and ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the GOAT........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ROGER FEDERER , millions applaud and cheer, some even weep, congrats Roger, and still the GOAT!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  12. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    if it were lendl's life on the line then mcenroe would tank the match.

    oops..sorry mr robot-head ivan, i think i lost...byeeeeeeee.:twisted:
     
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  13. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    I think we all (deep in our hearts) know that there is no such thing as a GOAT in tennis, because it is so difficult to compare different eras; BUT we still like to discuss it, just for the hell of it! :) Anyway, I think the OP has put his point across quite well, so kudos to you OP! :)
     
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  14. beast of mallorca

    beast of mallorca Legend

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    I guess this topic signifies that tennis season is over huh. Re-hash the GOAT topic some more for the nth time.
     
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  15. TennisLovaLova

    TennisLovaLova Hall of Fame

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    ^^^ this is the first time I hear about this GOAT concept
    it has never been discussed before on these boards
     
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  16. Prisoner of Birth

    Prisoner of Birth Banned

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    So let me get this straight. You're saying Roger Federer doesn't exist?
     
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  17. Sabratha

    Sabratha G.O.A.T.

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    "Greatest" is a suggestable word by itself, but it has several criteria it can fit into. I think if anything, there should be a GOAT for every era.
     
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  18. Blocker

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    No my op didn't miss a beat. My point is you have to make it absolute.

    Because as my op states, winning slams was not always the be all and end all.

    Just in case you forgot, AT in GOAT means ALL TIME. All time includes every player to have played the game.

    So if slam count had been the measure for all of time by which we determine GOATness, would Federer sit atop the slam perch today? Bill Tilden won 15 slams, some not recognised as proper slams because he only had to play the all comer winner in the final. Plus he never played the AO. Borg never played the AO, he could have won 7 or 8 AOs given his dominance at W.

    That's why you need to factor in everything else as well. Slams weren't always the measuring stick.
     
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  19. Rhino

    Rhino Legend

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    If only I had time to read all that....
     
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  20. Blocker

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    Don't get smart with me champ, just stating it for what it is. If you've got nothing constructive to say, just STFU.
     
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  21. Candide

    Candide Professional

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    Too many statistics, too much hair splitting and dick measuring. Just read the signature.
     
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  22. Blocker

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    This. McEnroe was big on DC and doubles. He played playing for his country and his team mate. He expended alot at the expense of his singles career.

    As I stated, DC was once considered as important as the slams.
     
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  23. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    Pretty true.

    Blocker about to get blocked?
     
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  24. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    Thank you very much.
     
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  25. Sabratha

    Sabratha G.O.A.T.

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    If there was a GOAT for every era people wouldn't have to speculate on how players today would do against the competition of fifty years ago.
     
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  26. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    The OP is missing the point, IMO. The definition of GOAT is the best at playing the game of tennis, not the accumulator of this or that trophy.

    If you agree, then players from old eras immediately fall out of the competition (the Borgs, Lavers, Emersons, Gonzalez' etc). Why? Because they played an inferior game with inferior training, conditioning and equipment. You could speculate (and many do) that "if only they had been lucky enough to play in the Modern era with Modern tech they would beat Fed" etc, and that is an interesting but ultimately meaningless exercise.

    This simplifies the consideration for GOAT immensely. If you believe that the Modern game with Modern tech is inherantly superior to the Classic game with Classic tech, then you will only consider Modern players for GOAT.

    In the final analysis, Fed is the GOAT. Djokovic may eventually become the GOAT, but he clearly is not right now, we'll see. Rafa is definitely not the GOAT (Fed is)... but he is better than Roger.
     
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  27. jokinla

    jokinla Hall of Fame

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    Okay, let's consider who has been #1 the most weeks, that should give us a different player right, whoops, still Roger Federer.
     
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  28. DropShotArtist

    DropShotArtist Banned

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    OP is another Fed hater.
     
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  29. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    #29
  30. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Sampras fans want to redefine the meaning of GOAT because Sampras was surpassed by Federer in 2009. No player is perfect, that's include all the goats in other sports. However, the player who's closer to perfect deserve the title. And basing on experts/players/fans all have voted for candidates like Federer, Laver, Sampras, Borg, etc., most of them have picked Federer. So majority rules. Gretzky, Graf, Jerry Rice deserve the goat title because of the general agreement.
     
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  31. lendlmac

    lendlmac Rookie

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    You CAN say they are the BEST of their ERA:

    FEDERER Era: 2002-2012
    He is the BEST player of HIS era


    SAMPRAS ERA 1990-2000
    He was the BEST player of HIS ERA


    IVAN LENDL 1980-1990
    He was the BEST Player of HIS ERA


    BJORN BORG: 1972-1980
    He was the BEST Player of HIS ERA


    ROD LAVER: 1960's
    HE was the BEST Player of HIS ERA


    You can't take one player from one era into another player's era, and say "Go Play".... in fantasyland, it woudl be epic....

    Federer could NOT play with his Luxillon strings and his current space-age racquet technology in the 80's......he'd be forced to play with natural gut, his Wilson PS 85 and his forehand with Luxillon strings would be removed from the story...Agassi and Lendl and Becker had the best forehands in the game, but you add Luxillon strings or RMP Blast strings, you get Nadal and Federer forehands....without Luxillon or RPM Blast strings you get the forehands of the 80's....look it up

    You can't take a player from the PAST into the Present, because those players played with Natural Gut strigs and wooden racquets, etc....

    You CAN say Roger Federer has the MOST GS of ANY MALE Tennis player, and is THE BEST player of HIS era....only. That's it. Accept it.

    If you're a "die-hard" fan and believe he is the GOAT, that is your right to your opinion and living in fantasy land... To Say Roger is better than Laver? when Nadal OWNS Federer? Is laughable.... LOL

    My favorite player is Ivan Lendl, naturally... but Roger and Sampras and Nadal had better careers than Lendl.. I agree. But they're not better than Lendl.... DIFFERENT PLAYERS AND DIFFERNT ERA. I loved watching him play and dominating the game. Lendl lost some good GS matches but he was dominant inthe 80s.... Is Sampras better than Lendl? Pete had a better career than Lendl did in the 90's...yes. Just like Roger had a better career than Sampras in the 2000's era...

    To others, Nadal is their favorite player, who also dominates his field, but Roger has more titles and GS of THEIR era...

    So, I wish the GOAT talk get put into perspective.... Each Decade has their BEST Player(s) of that time.... Roger has dominated the game the last 10 years...


    2010 to 2020?

    Could be Djokovic or Murray....Raoinc? The next 8 years will tell who is the GOAT of THIS current era....

    The MOST GS does not equal the GOAT..only in your minds.... LOL :) :shock:
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
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  32. THUNDERVOLLEY

    THUNDERVOLLEY G.O.A.T.

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    Unless you can provide a list with the names and quotes proving a majority (which is not the first time you have referred to this), you are on shaky ground at best, but the bottom line is that Federer was never talented or dominant enough to win the Grand Slam. He never controlled the field to that degree in a concentrated period of a season.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
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  33. tennisaddict

    tennisaddict G.O.A.T.

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    OP, so you know better than the legends of the game who have declared Fed as the GOAT ?

    What makes GOAT as an absolute thing and not relative - H2H, Slam count, Career Slam ? Is that all ? If it is absolute , why cannot it be that the GOAT should never lose any match ?

    All that comes out from your post is you are not able to accept Fed as a GOAT and you are trying out contrived theories to press the point.
     
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  34. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Well lets be fair here. Nadal is the greatest single-surface player of all time, and he's the one who prevented him from the CYGS in two seperate years. There is nobody, in the history of tennis on the mens side, that has dominated a surface as much as Nadal has dominated clay. Put Laver, Rosewall, Gonzales, Budge in this era, and it's hard to see them winning the Grand Slam with Nadals reign at the French. They'd have maybe a one or two year period where there is an infinitesimally small window of opportunity. But it's unlikely they'd win it in this era (IMO).

    Federer came within two sets of winning it, TWICE. Two sets (ok, technically not since RG is the second major of the year, but you get what I mean. Although since he won Wimby and USO the previous year both times, he DID come within two sets of winning 4 in a non-calendar year twice). That's nothing to scoff at.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
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  35. Crisstti

    Crisstti Legend

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    If Nadal had, say, decided to become a football player instead, Fed would have 20+ slams and 2 or 3 CYGS, and probably pretty much everyone would agree he'd be the goat... but he wouldn't be any better a player than he is.
     
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  36. Hood_Man

    Hood_Man Legend

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    The GOAT is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the TTW Forum.

    It is the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite diredesire's sincerest efforts he has been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision.

    While it remains a burden to sedulously avoid it, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control.

    Which has led us, inexorably, here.
     
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  37. Prisoner of Birth

    Prisoner of Birth Banned

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    I think you missed "Roger Federer" in there somewhere. Only then would your post have been a masterpiece. Right now it's a flawed but artistic piece of posting ;)
     
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  38. Hood_Man

    Hood_Man Legend

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    I'll leave that to PseudoFed :)
     
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  39. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    Neither could the other players. But actually he played the 85 brilliantly, and is using a racket that is as close to it as you can get, and as traditional as you can get today, with gut in the mains, so there is no point there, just trolling, imo.
    Good he has a host of other records then.
     
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  40. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ever heard of experts from the Tennis Channel? JMac, Borg, Sampras, Laver, etc. have said Roger is the greatest.

    Fed doesn't need the GS to be a goat. His resume is the most complete/polish, and holds so many tennis records is good enough for people like Steve Flink who rank him #1.
     
    #40
  41. Talker

    Talker Hall of Fame

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    Someone has to be the best.
    Just because no one has the perfect resume is no reason to not have a GOAT.

    Nothing has changed here, continue the arguments.... (which is always good for a laugh). lol
     
    #41
  42. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    The only argument left for them is to throw in all the "but", "would have", "should have", "if...then else"
     
    #42
  43. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    Nadal leads the slam H2H 6-3 and 19-14 overall. How da **** can you get away with this crap?
     
    #43
  44. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Doesn't count for much. Federer has said how he idolized Sampras and Laver, so it is no wonder they return a compliment. Both also had a 1 handed backhand, so they see a continuity. JMac likes the all-court game and has a 1 handed BH too. It is more like these guys are siding with Federer against Nadal, who is their common enemy because they know he can bulldoze his way through their fancy elegant strokes any time. These guys have just not been able to face up to the Rafa-Fed head to head count.
     
    #44
  45. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    The GOAT is Steffi Graf, with 33 Slams.

    ...The GOAT of eye candy is Kournikova.
     
    #45
  46. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    If you follow tennis and watch more often, it's clear that you hear most people say Federer is the greatest. Sampras and Laver said Federer is the greatest(I've posted their quote for the umpteen time). And I don't blame JMac and other ex-players, who believe 17 > 11.

    Nadal is not on Fed's league anyway. The closest player being close to him is Borg.
     
    #46
  47. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    A head to head mainly built on Nadal's best surface and Federer's worst. Plus it was relatively even up until Federer started his decline. Anyone sensible can see that the head to head is a rather flawed statistic. If the head to head meant Rafa was a better player he'd have won all those slams he entered with Roger and lost early in.
     
    #47
  48. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Deleted because of double post.

    Sorry...this site is sooooooooo slow.
     
    #48
  49. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    The meaning of head to head is very simple. No need to bring extraneous factors in. In tennis, the person with the better H2H is defined to be the better player. That is all.

    Lack of understanding of this is the basis of umpteen threads about "I am the better player but I lost to a pusher." No dude you are not the better player.
     
    #49
  50. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Oh and don't come back with the Rosol-Nadal H2H. Learn the meaning of statistically significant sample set before posting.
     
    #50

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