Originally Posted by pc1
As we all know, he also beat peak Federer at the French when he (Kuerten) was over the hill.
Originally Posted by NadalAgassi
Whether 2004 was Federer at his career best on clay or not one thing is for sure he was a hell of alot closer than Kuerten was. If barely beating a 30 year old Sampras in the midst of a 25 month tournament drought deep into a 5th set at Wimbledon is somehow inrefutable proof Federer is superior to Sampras on grass according to ****s, than a hip butchered Kuerten who was 30% of his old self massacring the #1 Federer in straight sets couldnt make it anymore obvious that Kuerten >>>> Federer on clay.
True, Kuerten has to be considered past his prime in 2004. The damage to his hip meant that he wasn't going to produce his former tennis from day to day and particularly in long matches in which he'd be forced to do a lot of running.
But I think it's dead wrong to imply that the level of tennis he produced against Federer in the '04 match, over three relatively brief sets, was nowhere close to his prime tennis.
Against Federer he had more winners than unforced errors: 29 to 25
That was not true in his French Open final victories in 2000 and 2001. In 2000, against Norman, he had 47 winners and 72 unforced errors. The next year against Corretja he had 55 winners and 55 UE.
The reason is that Kuerten, bad hip and all, was still capable of closing out matches in 3 sets if he could overwhelm his opponent with a ton of winners. That seems to have been his strategy against Federer. When Kuerten got off the court he said that finishing the match in three sets was his only chance -- an obvious allusion to how his hip -- or his poor stamina, at that time -- would not have held up in a long match.
The next round he pulled off the same strategy against Feliciano Lopez, beating him in straights with 29 winners and 26 UE.
That's not to say that these performance in '04 were as good as what he produced in his prime. For purposes of what we're debating here -- whether the tennis he produced against Federer was miles below his former best -- it's enough to show that those performances were comparable to his championship performances in his prime.
In fact John Barrett said that he hadn't seen Kuerten play so well since he won the French in '01.
That's possible, despite Kuerten's hip problems, because for three sets, particularly if he set out to do so, he could produce a ton of winners and get off the court quickly, with his opponent thrown off balance from the start and not allowed to get into the match.
I've seen the match, and that's essentially what happened. Federer was swept off the court. One article in the press said that Federer's only chance against what Kuerten produced would have been to test the hip; but they added that he served too poorly to do that. All true. In a longer match, if Federer had sunk his teeth into the match and started testing both Kuerten's hip and his stamina, you would probably have seen a very different story.
I want to be clear, though: peak to peak, Kuerten is superior to Federer. Even at his best Federer is going to lose more often to a Kuerten who's got a good hip and can play for as long as he needs to.
Originally Posted by NadalAgassi
Kuerten might well have done so real damage to Nadal. His backhand is deadly and can handle heavy topspin easily so that would be one place Nadal can go with great success vs Federer he wouldnt be able to do effectively vs Guga.
I think so too. Push comes to shove I'll take Nadal over Kuerten; but Kuerten would do more damage to Nadal than Federer has.