Originally Posted by abmk
in terms of achievements in the open era : nadal, borg, lendl, wilander, kuerten are clearly better than fed .... but IMO, out of those only those 3 are clearly better in terms of peak level of play on clay : nadal, borg and kuerten
it'd be very close as far as the likes of bruguera, courier, muster, vilas, ferrero etc go ....
I like to talk about peak level of play in rating the greatness of players throughout history on an absolute basis. But, the notion of peak level of play and clay court tennis are almost irreconcilable with each other. It's a difficult concept to use to rate clay court players, because clay is a game of attrition. Clay court tennis is such a neutralizer of the kind of greatness it takes to win on grass, hard and carpet. I would agree that at Federer's peak level of play on clay (which requires a different mindset than Federer's peak level on grass and would not win him a single Wimbledon title), he might have been better than all but Nadal, Borg & Kuerten. But, that mindset and style of play was not Federer's forte. And I have doubts that he would have a winning record on clay over the course of a career against Lendl, Wilander, Courier and Muster. They were grinders on every surface they played on, and clay rewards their approach to the game and punishes those whose approach deviates from that mindset.