Originally Posted by NadalAgassi
While Kafelnikov was often a reasonably solid performer at the French outside of his FO title there were many guys in his own era considered better clay courters. Muster, Bruguera, Courier, Rios, and Kuerten all by a huge margin. Then also Moya, Corretja, Costa, Agassi. Even guys like Mantilla, Medvedev, and Chang you could argue. Yet even guys like Rios and Corretja never won the French. Add to that the year he won the French he wasnt one of the favorites and ALL the favorites this year crashed out before the quarters, and that he spanked badly later that year in his clay court meeting with then clay court king Muster. Can anyone say he would have had even a tiny hope of winning that French if Stich didnt pull the upset of his career by beating Muster on clay. Add all that together and it is easy to see why many have surmised he was lucky to win a French.
"Were considered" based on what?? Your subjective impressions ?? Let's take them all into discussion one by one, and in more detail than "your general impressions".
Ah, let me just start with the fact that "reasonably solid performer at the French" with regards to Kafelnikov's performances is the understatement of the decade.
Yes, Muster was one and he beat a young K once at the French quite convincingly (semi-final) and went on to win, and Kuerten is the "clay all time great" I was talking about so they are obvious. Kuerten, like Muster also beat him on his way to winning in advanced stages (quarters??) and twice in 5 and once in 4 tight sets.
But they also won their respective French Championships, and their victories over Kafelnikov are actually taken into account in the final results/numbers. Muster's 95 semi final, and Kuerten's 3 victories in his 3 runs to the title. So ... those 2 are "accounted for".
One could actually argue that AT LEAST in 97 Kafelnikov was defending champion and actually heavy favourite to win the whole thing (from the guys left in the quarters), and if not for Guga coming out of nowhere with his huge groundstrokes and being inspired by some divine interventions and surviving tough 5 setters against Muster, Medvedev, Kafelnikov and then proceeding to blow Dewulf and Bruguera off the court, K had a more than reasonable chance that year.
Bruguera and Courier were probably more dominant in their respective primes (although Bruguera was more of an "up and down" kind of guy than Courier was), but they were "done" by the time Kafelnikov was a consistent threat at the French.
AA - was a great player but he had nothing on Kafelnikov on clay. He was comfortably dismissed in straight sets by that exact player (K) while being the world number one and current AO champion in 95, while at the top of his game (in what I consider one of the best if not his best year). It took an unbeatable (on clay) Muster to get rid of Kafelnikov that year at the French in the freakin' semis. Also, AA's overall results at the French don't justify your "opinion" that he was a better player than K on clay. His "Medvedev win" was Medvedev choking not AA blowing him off the court or performing some "dazzling recovery" like the American media probably made it look (yes, I saw the match). Albeit a consistently good performer at the French one might argue that HIS FO win was much more of a "fluke" than Kafelnikov's.
Rios, albeit an extremely talented ball striker and tennis player, and a great clay courter, is again, not a better player than Kafelnikov (no, not even on clay). He had great results in best of 3 sets tournaments on clay, but he was never better than Kafelnikov at the french or in any Slam (best of 5 format). His problems in 5 sets matches were both physical and mental. He was one of the guys I absolutely LOVED watching when in form but, a bit like Korda (another supremely talented player) was extremely frustrating to watch when things didn't go his way.
Where's that huge margin he has over Kafelnikov when he never even made a FO final ?? He was a consistent 4th round/quarters kind of guy and nothing more.
I won't even address Mantilla because bringing him into this discussion is an absolute JOKE. He had reasonably good performances on clay, and was a consistent performer on clay while also winning lots of b rated titles/matches on the red stuff. His best performance at the French was a semi, and it wasn't like he was doing that every year. He was always a "guest starring" in this movie, not even a "supporting actor" let alone a "leading one". You are seriously reaching by mentioning him.
You added Moya, Alex C, and Costa to the list only because they are part of the "Spanish armada" so they must have been better players on clay.
I'll challenge you to bring their comparative results on clay up and we can discuss them.
I'm talking about results in important tournaments, please don't come up with "titles in Marbella, Umag and Buenos Aires" as arguments as I'll just dismiss them as irrelevant.
Kafelnikov being the much more complete/all surface player than all 3 guys, never avoided hard court/grass/whatever surface tournaments to go and play small clay tournaments in order to win points and money like ALL the Spanish players did in that period.
Moya was a great player and he won his French. He was never a more consistently brilliant player than Kafelnikov, but he WAS the guy with the highest "peak/talent" from the 3 you mentioned. Not higher than Kafelnikov though ...
Costa and Corretja were two extremely consistent and sometimes great players on clay. Albeit I liked them both, and I used to absolutely drool over Costa's 1 hander, their peak was not high enough to beat "anyone on ANY surface" even on their best day. Nope, not even on clay.
Guys like Bruguera, Kafelnikov and even Moya, could compete and maybe even beat in-form "Kuertens" (he's just an example, don't come up with head to heads...I'm just making a point here) and on their day they could reach the clouds and be unplayable for anybody.
Guys like Costa or Corretja...never could achieve such heights, they simply didn't have the game for it, didn't have enough weapons. They were grinders, and that was it.
Not the "grinder with weapons" kind that Nadal is, they were not even close to his attacking powers.
Corretja actually deserved better, he (IMO) actually deserved a freaking French title more than Costa (although I preferred watching Costa play) and certainly more than a guy like Gaudio. Unfortunately his "undoing" was that lack of "peak play" when it really mattered. The truth was that when maxing out ones potential, there were just too many players who were better than him "on the day". He could never blow people off the court like Kuerten did, and grinding them off the court for 7 straight best of 5 set matches @ Roland Garros was unfortunately beyond his will and power.
Medvedev albeit a hugely talented player, didn't show the consistent results. He SHOULD HAVE beaten AA to be a French Open champion, but he chocked. Such is life, I'm already bored of providing serious arguments so I'll just stop.
In other words, other than Kuerten (doh) and Muster the only other player that is comparable is Chang. You could argue Chang was right there with K in terms of results at the French.
Corretja would be better if he would have got a title. He didn't...so he isn't.
Anyway, this post is way too long, and I'm bored of taking it seriously. Peace.