H2H against top players more important than weeks at #1?

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Well, we'll have to disagree then. I've given as much 'proof' that I can that bad and good match up exists and are part of the sport. If you chose to not take that into account, fine by me.
Btw - I don't just brush it off. I have it as an extra explanation for the results, we've seen. But that doesn't seem that Federer cannot be criticized for not being able to handle the many defeats better mentally and coming up short at crucial moments (that drop shot a couple of mm out that threw him off in the FO 2011 final for example). And not edging out more of the close ones (Fed's win have - mainly - been quite clear, whereas Rafa has won the majority of the close ones they've fought).
I guess I agree mostly with you, just the mental thing. I don't think Fed has mental block with Rafa. I will give you my reasons.

Fed's game is firstly more aggressive, plays on the edge more. So, he makes a bit more mistakes in tight situations. But he makes more winners too. And people just remember negative stuff more and only vs Rafa. Our brain works this way. If we analyze, Fed does tons of crazy shots vs everyone in important moments. People just remember those vs Rafa more, since he is more famous and they watch their matches more. And people only remember losses more, people forget hundreds of times where Fed's shots did land in and worked.

After 2008, He was losing to all sorts of people, not just Rafa. And Fed had more problems vs certain players from the start, before they could "get into his head". Teen Rafa beat him the first time on HC. Mentality didn't matter, it's the matchup. Matchups do exist in any 1v1 sport and game. It can be proven easily: A beats B, B beats C, C beats A.

So, we have two options. Fed is mentally weak in general vs all people, or not mentally weak at all. Because those patterns he displays are not vs Rafa only. People just remember them more vs Rafa, for obvious reasons.

But, tennis is 50% mental. So, if Fed were mentally weak, no way he wold win so much. Because there are so many talented players who due to mentality don't achieve almost anything.

So, let us see the real explanation for the h2h. It is complex, there are many reasons. Some theory is that Rafa is simply better. But the evidence of Fed having 4-times better record on HC/grass at the same age, says, this is not the case.

So, what is it? Partly it's a bad matchup. Partly it's age, since Rafa got to Fed mostly when Fed declined. Partly it's they didn't play much on Fed's surfaces during his prime. Partly it's Rafa didn't make tons of finals during Fed's peak on Fed's surfaces. Partly it's Rafa being an amazing player in the first place to take advantage of that.

I guess this anomaly is explained now. This is my theory. I think most reasonable people accept this and don't use the h2h against Fed in the grand scheme of things.
 
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Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
I guess I agree mostly with you, just the mental thing. I don't think Fed has mental block with Rafa. I will give you my reasons.

Fed's game is firstly more aggressive, plays on the edge more. So, he makes a bit more mistakes in tight situations. But he makes more winners too. And people just remember negative stuff more and only vs Rafa. Our brain works this way. If we analyze, Fed does tons of crazy shots vs everyone in important moments. People just remember those vs Rafa more, since he is more famous and they watch their matches more. And people only remember losses more, people forget hundreds of times where Fed's shots did land in and worked.

After 2008, He was losing to all sorts of people, not just Rafa. And Fed had more problems vs certain players from the start, before they could "get into his head". Teen Rafa beat him the first time on HC. Mentality didn't matter, it's the matchup. Matchups do exist in any 1v1 sport and game. It can be proven easily: A beats B, B beats C, C beats A.

So, we have two options. Fed is mentally weak in general vs all people, or not mentally weak at all. Because those patterns he displays are not vs Rafa only. People just remember them more vs Rafa, for obvious reasons.

But, tennis is 50% mental. So, if Fed were mentally weak, no way he wold win so much. Because there are so many talented players who due to mentality don't achieve almost anything.

So, let us see the real explanation for the h2h. It is complex, there are many reasons. Some theory is that Rafa is simply better. But the evidence of Fed having 4-times better record on HC/grass at the same age, says, this is not the case.

So, what is it? Partly it's a bad matchup. Partly it's age, since Rafa got to Fed mostly when Fed declined. Partly it's they didn't play much on Fed's surfaces during his prime. Partly it's Rafa didn't make tons of finals during Fed's peak on Fed's surfaces. Partly it's Rafa being an amazing player in the first place to take advantage of that. And partly, it's mental caused by a) the many loses and b) knowing that the match-up is bad for him, as I've pointed out in post 495 more fully and reprinted below

I guess this anomaly is explained now. This is my theory. I think most reasonable people accept this and don't use the h2h against Fed in the grand scheme of things.
I agree with a lot of this, but I disagree that it's not also mental.
In FO 2007, Fed was one out of 17 on BP's. At Wimbledon 2008, he was 1 out of 13. Those stats don't happen against anyone else in big matches. You could argue the latter is after Rafa inflicting pain on him (FO 2008), but that's also arguing that there's a problem mentally.

Below, I've reprinted my post 495, which imo adds the other dimension to the bolded part above:

But first a personal anecdote. I saw Fed-Rafa live at the WTF this year. I saw them live in 2011 as well (the 6-3, 6-0 one). This year, Fed was possibly mentally and physically fatigued after fighting his way back against Delpo less than 24 hours before. But still, you see him playing his worst match of the week and when things start not going his way, you see this look on his face, that he so often get's against Rafa. Where he does not believe he can turn it around. Even at the WTF, where's he's beaten him 4 times, 2 times on that court (though some said, the court was slower and higher bouncing this year, there wasn't any official comment on that. The officials claimed the court was exactly the same).

"why does he lose?
I will say it's a combination of the following:
a) the many clay loses has taken their mental toll - especially a beating like the 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 just prior to the 08 Wimbledon - and added confidence to Nadal. Had they met on grass and fast hard court the majority of the first matches, Fed might have had more belief vs. Rafa. Or if he had managed to win a match like the Rome final (I met a journalist this year, who has covered tennis since Nastase and who thought that match was the key to their rivalry. Had Fed won it, he would also have won the FO 2006 (where he won the first set 6-1), he maintained.
b) I know, I know - match up. It's 1) simply harder to play a lefty, because you need to alter your normal game completely whereas the lefty almost always plays righties and 2) especially for the singlehanded onehander vs. the most topspin in history. See Rafa's 25-0 record vs. two very good players with world class ohb's like Wawrinka and Gasquet for proof.
c) b gives Nadal a safety zone mentally - he knows that if he sticks to gameplan: serve to the backhand, hit to the backhand and only hit to the forehand, when there's a big opening, he will eventually break Federer down - unless Federer has a really good day. Fed, on the other hand, knows he needs to press more and faster in order to avoid that pattern of play. So there's a lot more mental pressure for Federer as he knows the pattern of play does not favor him.
In relation to this, you mentioned Rafa vs. Nole in 2011. Nole stood up to Rafa's bread and butter CC forehand. And Rafa had no answers until they reached clay and Novak's level had dipped from the year before. But cudos to him for taking the opportunity and turning the rivalry again.

p.s. If it isn't clear, I completely agree that Fed has a mental problem against Nadal. I've just given reasons for why this is so."
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
I agree with a lot of this, but I disagree that it's not also mental.
In FO 2007, Fed was one out of 17 on BP's. At Wimbledon 2008, he was 1 out of 13. Those stats don't happen against anyone else in big matches. You could argue the latter is after Rafa inflicting pain on him (FO 2008), but that's also arguing that there's a problem mentally.

Below, I've reprinted my post 495, which imo adds the other dimension to the bolded part above:

But first a personal anecdote. I saw Fed-Rafa live at the WTF this year. I saw them live in 2011 as well (the 6-3, 6-0 one). This year, Fed was possibly mentally and physically fatigued after fighting his way back against Delpo less than 24 hours before. But still, you see him playing his worst match of the week and when things start not going his way, you see this look on his face, that he so often get's against Rafa. Where he does not believe he can turn it around. Even at the WTF, where's he's beaten him 4 times, 2 times on that court (though some said, the court was slower and higher bouncing this year, there wasn't any official comment on that. The officials claimed the court was exactly the same).

"why does he lose?
I will say it's a combination of the following:
a) the many clay loses has taken their mental toll - especially a beating like the 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 just prior to the 08 Wimbledon - and added confidence to Nadal. Had they met on grass and fast hard court the majority of the first matches, Fed might have had more belief vs. Rafa. Or if he had managed to win a match like the Rome final (I met a journalist this year, who has covered tennis since Nastase and who thought that match was the key to their rivalry. Had Fed won it, he would also have won the FO 2006 (where he won the first set 6-1), he maintained.
b) I know, I know - match up. It's 1) simply harder to play a lefty, because you need to alter your normal game completely whereas the lefty almost always plays righties and 2) especially for the singlehanded onehander vs. the most topspin in history. See Rafa's 25-0 record vs. two very good players with world class ohb's like Wawrinka and Gasquet for proof.
c) b gives Nadal a safety zone mentally - he knows that if he sticks to gameplan: serve to the backhand, hit to the backhand and only hit to the forehand, when there's a big opening, he will eventually break Federer down - unless Federer has a really good day. Fed, on the other hand, knows he needs to press more and faster in order to avoid that pattern of play. So there's a lot more mental pressure for Federer as he knows the pattern of play does not favor him.
In relation to this, you mentioned Rafa vs. Nole in 2011. Nole stood up to Rafa's bread and butter CC forehand. And Rafa had no answers until they reached clay and Novak's level had dipped from the year before. But cudos to him for taking the opportunity and turning the rivalry again.

p.s. If it isn't clear, I completely agree that Fed has a mental problem against Nadal. I've just given reasons for why this is so."
Fed has poor break point conversion in general, not just against Nadal. Fed's backhand return is a weakness. And on break points most players go there.
It is not mental.

I can see your point. Even if it started as a bad matchup, those loses took a mental toll vs Fed, because he know knows it's a matchup. Good theory.

But without the matchup, Rafa wouldn't have had the ladder to climb in his head in the first place. So I can't agree with you on this one. First years it wasn't mental at all.

The cause is still the matchup, bad mentality is an effect, not the cause. Also maybe fitness are issues too. Rafa usually had the edge on slower surfaces. On faster surfaces where fitness is not an issue, Fed seems to do good vs Rafa, he can maintain his level.

I mean Fed won 17 finals, lost 7. Sometimes you lose, end of story. The guy plays at an amazing level. All of those 7 finals Fed lost, they were quality opponents playing at a very high level. Delpo was god mode. He let Rafa only 6 games.

Mentality can only help you so much. I mean Rafa is top 3 in the open era and was at his best. So peak Rafa+matchup+Fed not at his best = Fed loses in 5. Nothing you can do about it.

I know Fed is talented, but not so talented that he won 17 majors without being mentally strong. No way. You forget how many close important matches Fed came out as a victor.
 
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Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Fed has poor break point conversion in general, not just against Nadal. Fed's backhand return is a weakness. And on break points most players go there.
It is not mental.

I can see your point. Even if it started as a bad matchup, those loses took a mental toll vs Fed, because he know knows it's a matchup. Good theory.

But without the matchup, Rafa wouldn't have had the ladder to climb in his head in the first place. So I can't agree with you on this one. First years it wasn't mental at all.

The cause is still the matchup, bad mentality is an effect, not the cause. Also maybe fitness are issues too. Rafa usually had the edge on slower surfaces. On faster surfaces where fitness is not an issue, Fed seems to do good vs Rafa, he can maintain his level.

I mean Fed won 17 finals, lost 7. Sometimes you lose, end of story. The guy plays at an amazing level. All of those 7 finals Fed lost, they were quality opponents playing at a very high level. Delpo was god mode. He let Rafa only 6 games.

Mentality can only help you so much. I mean Rafa is top 3 in the open era and was at his best. So peak Rafa+matchup+Fed not at his best = Fed loses in 5. Nothing you can do about it.

I know Fed is talented, but not so talented that he won 17 majors without being mentally strong. No way. You forget how many close important matches Fed came out as a victor.
As for the latter bold part, I never claimed Federer was not mentally strong. I claimed he was not mentally strong against Rafa (I don't buy your: 'Either you are mentally strong against everybody or you are not mentally strong at all').

As for the former bolded part, I can agree with that. Completely. At what point, it creeped in, I'm not sure. I think to some extent it was already there in 2006. Knowing that he needs to play a very good match to win puts extra pressure on him. Rafa won the first four in 2006, including the close Rome final and the RG final, where Fed raised to a 6-1 lead, but lost the next three. He had the stamina and the game to beat him - even on clay (not most of the times, but more than he did). But because Rafa's style, cc forehand (and lefty serve) put so much pressure on him, he doesn't perform as well as he would have in a final against most/any other player (he's lost 7 slam finals, 6 of them to Rafa - that's a pattern even though 4 are on clay).

As for the BP's, Fed is not great, but he sometimes is atrocious against Rafa. Find me one other match of that magnitude, where he's performed anything similar to 1/13 or 1/17 and I will reconsider whether it is not caused by his Rafa-complex.

But yes, in the end it is the match up that led to the being mentally weak. That I agree completely with (and vice versa, it gifted Rafa with even more mental toughness against Federer than against other's as he was always sure of his gameplan. Rafa almost always seems to find his best vs. Fed. Fed rarely seems to be able to play his best vs. Rafa. Part of that is the match up/Rafa's style of play, part of that is him being mentally weak against Rafa because of the many loses/the match up/style of play he's competing against).
 
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jg153040

G.O.A.T.
As for the latter bold part, I never claimed Federer was not mentally strong. I claimed he was not mentally strong against Rafa (I don't buy your: 'Either you are mentally strong against everybody or you are not mentally strong at all').

As for the former bolded part, I can agree with that. Completely. At what point, it creeped in, I'm not sure. I think to some extent it was already there in 2006. Knowing that he needs to play a very good match to win puts extra pressure on him. Rafa won the first four in 2006, including the close Rome final and the RG final, where Fed raised to a 6-1 lead, but lost the next three. He had the stamina and the game to beat him - even on clay (not most of the times, but more than he did). But because Rafa's style, cc forehand (and lefty serve) put so much pressure on him, he doesn't perform as well as he would have in a final against most/any other player (he's lost 7 slam finals, 6 of them to Rafa - that's a pattern even though 4 are on clay).

As for the BP's, Fed is not great, but he sometimes is atrocious against Rafa. Find me one other match of that magnitude, where he's performed anything similar to 1/13 or 1/17 and I will reconsider whether it is not caused by his Rafa-complex.

But yes, in the end it is the match up that led to the being mentally weak. That I agree completely with (and vice versa, it gifted Rafa with even more mental toughness against Federer than against other's as he was always sure of his gameplan. Rafa almost always seems to find his best vs. Fed. Fed rarely seems to be able to play his best vs. Rafa. Part of that is the match up/Rafa's style of play, part of that is him being mentally weak against Rafa because of the many loses/the match up/style of play he's competing against).
Regarding break points. That's my point. Lefties always have the edge on break points. This is a fact. But right handed players have the edge on getting to break points. But break points are more important, so that's why bad matchup is very important.

And Rafa in general is specialist converting BPs vs the field and Fed bad converting in general vs the field. So this is amplified even more with them.

Fed has the best tie-break record in history. One point can cost you there.
So, this proves he is great mentally vs all guys.

If it's all mental vs Rafa, why would Fed be weak vs only Rafa for no reason?

It became mental after a few years because of the matchup. I'm sure that if Rafa was right handed this would not happen. Fed would be used to the patterns. Also Rafa would not be able to abuse the backhand in rallies and when serving. So, Fed would lose a bit less vs Rafa.

I mean look even at this year at WTF. Fed won 2 sets vs Novak. But he lost vs Rafa. And Djokovic defeated Rafa. Perfect example of the matchup issue.

Fed is used to patterns vs Djokovic. And he knows Djokovic can't abuse his backhand, so Federer as an effect of this cause, seems to be mentally strong vs Djokovic.

Look. First Fed didn't know who Rafa was. So, Rafa still needed a ladder to climb in Fed's head. And that was the matchup. Without this, Fed would not have a mental issue also. So, Fed is mentally a bit tougher and no bad matchup. This means Fed would do very good vs Nadal too.

But things like bad matchups, primes, mental tougness are really impossible to measure. How can we measure things any of it?

A guys missing can be also not choking, but going for more, because he faces great defender or a great player.

You give Sampras as an example. If Sampras had Nadal on clay beating him, maybe he would be weaker vs Rafa at W also.

This era is anomaly. Probably nr.1 and nr.2 in the open era are playing here.
And one is a bad matchup and 5 years younger.

I doubt any of past greats wold win 17 majors and having Rafa and competition Fed had.

What you are seeing is goat and nr.2 going toe to toe here. Fed slightly better, but Rafa has the edge of youth and a matchup. Both mental giants.
So, of course Fed can look a bit worse relative to such tough competition.
There is also Djokovic.

I mean Fed has Rafa and Nole. 5 YEARS YOUNGER and one is a LEFTY. That is like Sampras would have to deal with Borg and Lendl, five years younger than him and Borg being a lefty. In addition to guys like old Agassi, Hewitt, Ferrero, Safin, Roddick...

You are seeing here the goat and nr.2 from next generation defeating him.
Nobody here is mentally weak.

Fed is the ultimate champions killer. Fed defeated more champions than Rafa. Roddick, Murray, Agassi, Sampras, Nadal, Safin, Delpo, Ferrero, Hewitt...
 
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jhhachamp

Hall of Fame
...because I do not remember what went on in the year that Roddick was number one. To me, he's never, ever been the best player on tour at any given time.
Roddick was the best player on the tour during the summer of 2003 and that is how he ended up barely edging out Federer for year end number 1.
 

shakes1975

Semi-Pro
As to the bold: Correct. The interesting question then is: why does he lose?
I will say it's a combination of the following:
a) the many clay loses has taken their mental toll - especially a beating like the 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 just prior to the 08 Wimbledon - and added confidence to Nadal. Had they met on grass and fast hard court the majority of the first matches, Fed might have had more belief vs. Rafa. Or if he had managed to win a match like the Rome final (I met a journalist this year, who has covered tennis since Nastase and who thought that match was the key to their rivalry. Had Fed won it, he would also have won the FO 2006 (where he won the first set 6-1), he maintained.
b) I know, I know - match up. It's 1) simply harder to play a lefty, because you need to alter your normal game completely whereas the lefty almost always plays righties and 2) especially for the singlehanded onehander vs. the most topspin in history. See Rafa's 25-0 record vs. two very good players with world class ohb's like Wawrinka and Gasquet for proof.
c) b gives Nadal a safety zone mentally - he knows that if he sticks to gameplan: serve to the backhand, hit to the backhand and only hit to the forehand, when there's a big opening, he will eventually break Federer down - unless Federer has a really good day. Fed, on the other hand, knows he needs to press more and faster in order to avoid that pattern of play. So there's a lot more mental pressure for Federer as he knows the pattern of play does not favor him.
In relation to this, you mentioned Rafa vs. Nole in 2011. Nole stood up to Rafa's bread and butter CC forehand. And Rafa had no answers until they reached clay and Novak's level had dipped from the year before. But cudos to him for taking the opportunity and turning the rivalry again.

p.s. If it isn't clear, I completely agree that Fed has a mental problem against Nadal. I've just given reasons for why this is so.
Finally, a thoughtful and accurate post. I agree with your sentiments here. And let me add that I still think Fed is greater than Nadal, but I'm not entirely convinced by the way he handled the challenge to deserve unanimous GOAThood. Hitherto, it rarely happened that a GOAT player was not the best of his era (Sampras/Borg) or was having issues against a key rival.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Finally, a thoughtful and accurate post. I agree with your sentiments here. And let me add that I still think Fed is greater than Nadal, but I'm not entirely convinced by the way he handled the challenge to deserve unanimous GOAThood. Hitherto, it rarely happened that a GOAT player was not the best of his era (Sampras/Borg) or was having issues against a key rival.
I also agree that Fed maybe shouldn't deserve undisputed goat crown.

But I don't agree that Fed is mentally weak champion.
Yes, it never happens that a top guys has such a bad h2h.

But it's the first time that arguably goat and nr.2 in the open era are playing.
Rafa and Djokovic are like Borg and Lendl. Neither of past greats had to contend with such competition. Not to mention plethora of other champions. Old Agassi, Roddick, Hewitt, Safin, Ferrero, Murray...

So, considering Fed has most records against the toughest competition in history, this is enough to give him the edge for goat. But it's not so clear and undisputed.

But the problem is if not Fed who? Nadal, Borg, Sampras have even less of a case.

I don't include pre-modern guys like Laver in the open era, for obvious reasons. Those guys are separate category.
 
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TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
Fed probably had more weeks at #1.
More WTF's and already showed long term dominance.
More YE #1's.

Fed had better years at that time, maybe already three or four better than Nadal's best.

It isn't very close really.
Fed had more weeks at #1 at the same age.

Nadal has a record of 160 consecutive weeks at #2. However Fed has a record of 237 consecutive weeks at #1.:)
 

shakes1975

Semi-Pro
The cause is still the matchup, bad mentality is an effect, not the cause.

You forget how many close important matches Fed came out as a victor.
Finally, I wonder why it took you so long to admit the first point. :) Yes, what started out as a difficult matchup DID result in a psychological side-effect by 2008.

No, Fed didn't emerge victorious in that many close (as in 5-setters) matches in his career. His 5-set record is one of the poorest among great players, and his deciding set record is ranked 29 all-time (Nadal is 3rd and Djok is 2nd).

His t/b record is great, but I believe Sampras' t/b record, given the number of big servers he faced and on much faster surfaces, is superior. It's relatively easier to win t/b's when you can get the point going (which Fed can on today's surfaces against most of today's servers) than against guys like Ivanisevic, Krajicek, Stich, Becker etc. on grass/carpet where you have a slim chance of even getting a rally to play out in most instances.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Regarding break points. That's my point. Lefties always have the edge on break points. This is a fact. But right handed players have the edge on getting to break points. But break points are more important, so that's why bad matchup is very important.

And Rafa in general is specialist converting BPs vs the field and Fed bad converting in general vs the field. So this is amplified even more with them.

Fed has the best tie-break record in history. One point can cost you there.
So, this proves he is great mentally vs all guys.

If it's all mental vs Rafa, why would Fed be weak vs only Rafa for no reason?

It became mental after a few years because of the matchup. I'm sure that if Rafa was right handed this would not happen. Fed would be used to the patterns. Also Rafa would not be able to abuse the backhand in rallies and when serving. So, Fed would lose a bit less vs Rafa.

I mean look even at this year at WTF. Fed won 2 sets vs Novak. But he lost vs Rafa. And Djokovic defeated Rafa. Perfect example of the matchup issue.

Fed is used to patterns vs Djokovic. And he knows Djokovic can't abuse his backhand, so Federer as an effect of this cause, seems to be mentally strong vs Djokovic.

Look. First Fed didn't know who Rafa was. So, Rafa still needed a ladder to climb in Fed's head. And that was the matchup. Without this, Fed would not have a mental issue also. So, Fed is mentally a bit tougher and no bad matchup. This means Fed would do very good vs Nadal too.

But things like bad matchups, primes, mental tougness are really impossible to measure. How can we measure things any of it?

A guys missing can be also not choking, but going for more, because he faces great defender or a great player.

You give Sampras as an example. If Sampras had Nadal on clay beating him, maybe he would be weaker vs Rafa at W also.

This era is anomaly. Probably nr.1 and nr.2 in the open era are playing here.
And one is a bad matchup and 5 years younger.

I doubt any of past greats wold win 17 majors and having Rafa and competition Fed had.

What you are seeing is goat and nr.2 going toe to toe here. Fed slightly better, but Rafa has the edge of youth and a matchup. Both mental giants.
So, of course Fed can look a bit worse relative to such tough competition.
There is also Djokovic.

I mean Fed has Rafa and Nole. 5 YEARS YOUNGER and one is a LEFTY. That is like Sampras would have to deal with Borg and Lendl, five years younger than him and Borg being a lefty. In addition to guys like old Agassi, Hewitt, Ferrero, Safin, Roddick...

You are seeing here the goat and nr.2 from next generation defeating him.
Nobody here is mentally weak.

Fed is the ultimate champions killer. Fed defeated more champions than Rafa. Roddick, Murray, Agassi, Sampras, Nadal, Safin, Delpo, Ferrero, Hewitt...
Lefty helps on BP, yes. But not enough to account for 1/17 and 1/13.
The mental weak part came later and grew over the years. Because of the match up. I agree. And agree before.

And Fed is not mentally weak in general, but against Rafa specifically. Because of the match up.
 

shakes1975

Semi-Pro
But it's the first time that arguably goat and nr.2 in the open era are playing.
I think you have it backwards. If Fed had won 2 or 3 of the 5-setters against Nadal, then Nadal wouldn't have been close to no.3 in the open era (if Fed had won the AO 2009 and Wim 2008, Nadal would've been at 11 slams and Fed at 19 slams). Likewise, if Sampras had lost some key Wim/USO matches to Agassi, Agassi would've been having a similar record to Nadal (about 11 slams, if not more).

So, considering Fed has most records against the toughest competition in history, this is enough to give him the edge for goat. But it's not so clear and undisputed.
Fed did NOT face the toughest competition in history. His competition was not a patch to the one that Lendl faced against guys like Borg/Mac/Connors/Wilander/Edberg/Becker through the 1980's.

Even Sampras, esp. until 1996, faced stiffer competition (thought not as much as Lendl) - not just in terms of the number of capable players (as in players with talent AND belief), but in terms of diversity of surfaces AND playing styles.

The bridge between clay-grass is much smaller today and that's why you see these guys consistently make all 4 slam Finals.

But the problem is if not Fed who? Nadal, Borg, Sampras have even less of a case.

I don't include pre-modern guys like Laver in the open era, for obvious reasons. Those guys are separate category.
Fed's record is definitely more concrete than Borg or Sampras, I agree, but it's very tenuous. That's why I'm hoping Nadal equals (or betters) Fed's slam record. If he does that, then his career slam (all 4 slams), and his record against his rivals/peers would make him a more clear cut case for GOAT.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Finally, I wonder why it took you so long to admit the first point. :) Yes, what started out as a difficult matchup DID result in a psychological side-effect by 2008.

No, Fed didn't emerge victorious in that many close (as in 5-setters) matches in his career. His 5-set record is one of the poorest among great players, and his deciding set record is ranked 29 all-time (Nadal is 3rd and Djok is 2nd).

His t/b record is great, but I believe Sampras' t/b record, given the number of big servers he faced and on much faster surfaces, is superior. It's relatively easier to win t/b's when you can get the point going (which Fed can on today's surfaces against most of today's servers) than against guys like Ivanisevic, Krajicek, Stich, Becker etc. on grass/carpet where you have a slim chance of even getting a rally to play out in most instances.
5-set record doesn't say much. Because Fed played most of his 5-setters deep in majors only vs top guys. This is skewed.

I mean Rafa loses to Soderling in 4 sets early. Fed loses in a final to Rafa.
See the difference?

I mean Sampras and Rafa have what 4 consecutive semis max? If you make quarter finals for 10 years all the time, or course you will only play 5-setters vs the best of the best. So, you get to lose a bit more too. Fed got himself into position to even play 5 setters. This means Fed either won or when he lost it was a close match. That means he was tough to beat.

Yes, mental block is due to matchup. That is not Rafa related. Everyone is mentally weaker vs a guy who gives them more trouble. It's normal.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Lefty helps on BP, yes. But not enough to account for 1/17 and 1/13.
The mental weak part came later and grew over the years. Because of the match up. I agree. And agree before.

And Fed is not mentally weak in general, but against Rafa specifically. Because of the match up.
But the cause is not Fed's head but the matchup. That was my point.

But still, I don't see how Fed gets weak vs Rafa. He won two 5-setters vs Rafa.
Rafa only won two 5-setters vs Fed.

Madrid 09, WTF 2010, WTF 2012, Indian Wells 10. Fed lost only a set in 4 matches. At one point Fed was leading the h2h on grass and HC in his prime.

I don't see a weakness. On clay Rafa is just better. Non clay they are pretty even. Due to matchup and Fed was old most of the time, otherwise Fed leads.

How about Rafa losing 7 straight finals to Nole? That is even crazier. And a lot of times from winning positions. That doesn't even come close to Fed and Rafa. Or Rafa after losing he takes time off and skipping majors. Fed on the other hand, even when not in form contends for majors and takes his losses like a man. Sampras had the game even for clay. It was mental for him. He didn't want to adapt and to try hard. Or improve his fitness. I mean he beat good people at RG, so he had the game. He was used to winning just with the serve and when things got tough he went away. Fed like a man at 31 didn't quit and took his losses for the chance to learn and to reclaim his crown vs his challengers. Borg quit in the middle of his prime. That is weak.
There is a lot more to mental tougness than you think. Fed is so tough that he knows he can afford to lose some important matches and will still come on top. So he relaxes.

I don't say this, but even if Fed is weak, so what. He still has the records. Who cares how you get them. His talent makes up for it anyway.

But I don't think Fed is as talented as people think. He is mentally tough and a hard worker.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
I think you have it backwards. If Fed had won 2 or 3 of the 5-setters against Nadal, then Nadal wouldn't have been close to no.3 in the open era (if Fed had won the AO 2009 and Wim 2008, Nadal would've been at 11 slams and Fed at 19 slams). Likewise, if Sampras had lost some key Wim/USO matches to Agassi, Agassi would've been having a similar record to Nadal (about 11 slams, if not more).



Fed did NOT face the toughest competition in history. His competition was not a patch to the one that Lendl faced against guys like Borg/Mac/Connors/Wilander/Edberg/Becker through the 1980's.

Even Sampras, esp. until 1996, faced stiffer competition (thought not as much as Lendl) - not just in terms of the number of capable players (as in players with talent AND belief), but in terms of diversity of surfaces AND playing styles.

The bridge between clay-grass is much smaller today and that's why you see these guys consistently make all 4 slam Finals.



Fed's record is definitely more concrete than Borg or Sampras, I agree, but it's very tenuous. That's why I'm hoping Nadal equals (or betters) Fed's slam record. If he does that, then his career slam (all 4 slams), and his record against his rivals/peers would make him a more clear cut case for GOAT.
I don't buy homogenization excuse. Fed made 23 semis, Rafa 3. In the same era. Pete also made only 3. So this proves that Fed is great. And only Djokovic is making deep in any major for last years. Fed and Rafa aren't that consistent. Neither is Murray.

Pete is amazing. He just sucks on clay, that's why he is out of goat discussions. I mean his record is similar to Fed on other surfaces. Fed a bit better. So, even with the grass-clay bridge excuses, we can only look their non-clay records. Fed comes on top even here.

I guess toughest competition is arguable. Nothing can be proven. All people competed in all eras. This is so subjective. I say it is all tough and all records have value.

I've never seen a guy with more talent and mental toughness than Fed in the open era. I exclude Laver of course, that is pre-modern.

We have 4 guys for goat. Pete, Rafa, Fed, Borg. Borg didn't win all majors, and also left in his peak. That is mentally weak and he doesn't have the game compared to Fed.

Sampras gave up on clay and skipped tons of majors. He relied on his serve. Without it he folded mentally. Also he was mentally tired retired a bit early.
Fed is fresh as a daisy the older he gets. He also avoided press, another weakness. Wasn't mentally ready to handle the tour and the press.

So, we have Nadal. He lives with his parents. He admits he is afraid of the dark and being alone in the house. He admits he sleeps with his light on.
When losing he skips majors and goes away. When not in form he avoids competition. He retires from matches. He also skips majors. That is not being mentally strong. What kind of mental giant lives with his mom and let's her do his laundry? He is also afraid of the lightning. Not to mention he is insecure so he uses gamesmanship and intimidation and time wasting. That is mental weakness.

There is a lot more to mentality. So, we have Fed. He wins in all categories. Mental, skills, records. Even when playing badly he is tough to beat. After a tough loss he comes back stronger. Never retires from a match. Never skips a major, so he play injured, tired, you name it. He is his own man, he decides. I mean he is so positive all the time. You need mental tougness to pull this off. On top of the mental toll, he gives interviews in different languages. He doesn't avoid competition when not in form. Takes his losses like a man. Still fighting. And he has the most pressure with the press hype. I mean every loss in his prime was like a scandal. He was hyped too much from the start and even with this pressure he delivered. I mean Rafa didn't fight for history and was always the underdog vs Fed. It's easy to win when you are the underdog without pressure. And in addition Fed puts pressure on himself saying he is the favorite. He is tough, so he can handle. Rafa on the other hand can't and he always puts pressure away, saying he is not the favorite. Yes, Rafa and Pete are great when on a roll. But when not in form they fold and lose to journeymen. Rafa needs to look at his box all the time sign of weakness, not trusting himself.

I'm not saying other goat contenders are weak. They are very strong. But Fed is a mental rock vs them. Never seen a guy with so much tougness. I mean how can he be so positive all the time.

So, for those reasons I give Fed the goat status. I mean Fed wins in records, skills and mental tougness.
 

shakes1975

Semi-Pro
5-set record doesn't say much. Because Fed played most of his 5-setters deep in majors only vs top guys. This is skewed.
No, I disagree. Five set matches indicate mental strength, heart. Boris Becker once famously said, "The fifth set is not about tennis. It's about nerves, brain, heart". So five set matches, esp. against rivals, does indicate how you deal with pressure.

I mean Rafa loses to Soderling in 4 sets early. Fed loses in a final to Rafa.
See the difference?
Yes, except Nadal's loss is not a slam F, while Fed's loss against Nadal is a Final. You are making the mistake of thinking all matches are equal. They are not. A slam F is of much larger importance. Nobody cares about losses to lesser players because they are not in contention for slam titles or for stakes of being GOAT. And this is also because, top players rarely lose to nobodies on their home grounds. OTOH, losses in slam F have much larger significance. Losing repeatedly to a rival in a slam F shows that you are not decidedly the best of your era. That means a lot to great players. Great players "get up" for matches against rivals.

I mean Sampras and Rafa have what 4 consecutive semis max? If you make quarter finals for 10 years all the time, or course you will only play 5-setters vs the best of the best. So, you get to lose a bit more too. Fed got himself into position to even play 5 setters. This means Fed either won or when he lost it was a close match. That means he was tough to beat.
Well, if Sampras was in an era where only style of play is prevalent, where there are 32 seeds in slams instead of 16, where the surface disparity is smaller than in the past, I'm pretty sure he would've made more consecutive semis. You seem to think Sampras was losing a lot of matches to nobodies. Yet, just try to think around this fact - Sampras has more F's at Wim + USO than Fed has - 15 vs. 14.

Further, Sampras has played more 5 setters than Fed did and won a much higher percentage, which means he was probably tougher to beat.

To give credit where it is due, because Fed plays a relatively more conservative game than Sampras, his margin for error is greater, and this means it's difficult to get him to 5 sets in the first place. Sampras, given his game, and the faster surfaces, had to play a more riskier style and this resulted in more errors.

Yes, mental block is due to matchup. That is not Rafa related. Everyone is mentally weaker vs a guy who gives them more trouble. It's normal.
Except if you look at Sampras' slam F's against his rivals, you cannot find a similar situation. You cannot say that Agassi was less of an all-time great than Nadal precisely because Sampras didn't allow Agassi to become one, while Fed did allow Nadal to get closer to him.
 

shakes1975

Semi-Pro
I don't buy homogenization excuse. Fed made 23 semis, Rafa 3. In the same era. Pete also made only 3.
Really ? Can you list me the number of really good and/or great S/V'ers that Fed played in slam SF/F or in other tournaments ? How many tournaments on carpet ? How about the changes to the grass at Wim ? How about the seeding system ?

Homogenization is not just related to surfaces. It's also related to playing styles that you have to deal with. Sampras faced, and overcame, a much greater diversity in playing styles. Not just the S/V'ers, even the flat hitting baseliners like Agassi, Korda, Enquivst, Larsson, Ferreira, the topspinners like Bruguera, Muster, Berasetagui, and many others from the Spanish Armada.

Fed played mostly all-baseliners, some with more topspin than the others. Forget about true all-courters or attacking players throwing you off. I mean, the only top player rival in Fed's peers who even attempted to come to the net was Roddick, and that's not a good thing.

If Sampras had the same luxuries that Fed, I can bet that not only would he have made more SF/F, he would've won the career slam too.

It's one thing to just look at the numbers, but you SHOULD look beneath the numbers when you are comparing different eras. During Sampras' era, you either had a game to win Wim/USO or a game to win FO (and AO). It was impossible to develop a game that did equally well on both. Agassi attempted that and could neither dominate FO/AO or dominate Wim/USO during Sampras' era. Sampras, for obvious reasons, choose to go the Wim way. And he paid the price at the FO. So did Becker, Edberg. Lendl, Wilander did the reverse.

So this proves that Fed is great. And only Djokovic is making deep in any major for last years. Fed and Rafa aren't that consistent. Neither is Murray.
Nobody denies that Fed is a great player. My opinion is that Fed is not the best in some aspects - mainly mentally.

Pete is amazing. He just sucks on clay, that's why he is out of goat discussions. I mean his record is similar to Fed on other surfaces. Fed a bit better. So, even with the grass-clay bridge excuses, we can only look their non-clay records. Fed comes on top even here.
No, Fed does not come on top there. Both have 7 Wims and 5 USOs. Fed has 1 more YEC, while Sampras has one more YE #1. It's not a cinch, by any means.

I guess toughest competition is arguable. Nothing can be proven. All people competed in all eras. This is so subjective. I say it is all tough and all records have value.
It's tougher to overcome different playing styles across different surfaces (or even different rounds in the same tournament). Fed doesn't have to worry about an entire line of play. Certain things that could potentially happen never happened for Fed. That's a fact. I was a 5.0 Div II player in the 90's. And I know how tough it's to adjust to different styles of play, even at the low level that I played. At the topmost level, it's much more challenging.

I've never seen a guy with more talent and mental toughness than Fed in the open era. I exclude Laver of course, that is pre-modern.
Sampras was just as talented (more, IMO) and more mentally tougher too. Fed's inability to ever master the S/V game is a give away, IMO, of his human limitations too (his few matches at Wim playing S/V early in his career, notwithstanding). Sampras was dangerous from any part of the court. He could beat guys like Agassi/Courier/Chang/Muster from the baseline (see his HC matches at AO/USO until 1997), or from S/V (see his matches between 1999-2002). The same cannot be said of Fed. Fed could not beat Nadal/Djok from the net even on grass during his peak.

We have 4 guys for goat. Pete, Rafa, Fed, Borg. Borg didn't win all majors, and also left in his peak. That is mentally weak and he doesn't have the game compared to Fed.

Sampras gave up on clay and skipped tons of majors. He relied on his serve. Without it he folded mentally. Also he was mentally tired retired a bit early.
Fed is fresh as a daisy the older he gets. He also avoided press, another weakness. Wasn't mentally ready to handle the tour and the press.
Sampras didn't "give up" on clay. His game was not suited to it. Sampras folded mentally ? Yeah, sure, LOL.

So, we have Nadal. He lives with his parents. He admits he is afraid of the dark and being alone in the house. He admits he sleeps with his light on.
When losing he skips majors and goes away. When not in form he avoids competition. He retires from matches. He also skips majors. That is not being mentally strong. What kind of mental giant lives with his mom and let's her do his laundry? He is also afraid of the lightning. Not to mention he is insecure so he uses gamesmanship and intimidation and time wasting. That is mental weakness.
Irrelevant stuff. If Nadal can intimidate Fed, more power to him. That didn't stop Djok from overcoming Nadal during 2011-2012. Fed couldn't do the same.

There is a lot more to mentality. So, we have Fed. He wins in all categories. Mental, skills, records. Even when playing badly he is tough to beat. After a tough loss he comes back stronger. Never retires from a match. Never skips a major, so he play injured, tired, you name it. He is his own man, he decides. I mean he is so positive all the time. You need mental tougness to pull this off. On top of the mental toll, he gives interviews in different languages. He doesn't avoid competition when not in form. Takes his losses like a man. Still fighting. And he has the most pressure with the press hype. I mean every loss in his prime was like a scandal. He was hyped too much from the start and even with this pressure he delivered. I mean Rafa didn't fight for history and was always the underdog vs Fed. It's easy to win when you are the underdog without pressure. And in addition Fed puts pressure on himself saying he is the favorite. He is tough, so he can handle. Rafa on the other hand can't and he always puts pressure away, saying he is not the favorite. Yes, Rafa and Pete are great when on a roll. But when not in form they fold and lose to journeymen. Rafa needs to look at his box all the time sign of weakness, not trusting himself.

I'm not saying other goat contenders are weak. They are very strong. But Fed is a mental rock vs them. Never seen a guy with so much tougness. I mean how can he be so positive all the time.

So, for those reasons I give Fed the goat status. I mean Fed wins in records, skills and mental tougness.
Disagree. Fed is not as tough as Sampras was, mentally. Sampras won slams in his teens, his 20's, and his 30's. Given Sampras' stamina issues, it's a wonder he did as well as he did.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Finally, a thoughtful and accurate post. I agree with your sentiments here. And let me add that I still think Fed is greater than Nadal, but I'm not entirely convinced by the way he handled the challenge to deserve unanimous GOAThood. Hitherto, it rarely happened that a GOAT player was not the best of his era (Sampras/Borg) or was having issues against a key rival.
Thanks, and I agree - not being able to handle Nadal is a huge blemish. I would say though (without being an expert on the Borg era) that Nadal being as bad a match up as he is for Federer made it that much harder to deal with his key rival for Federer than for Borg and Sampras respectively. Agassi, Connors and McEnroe are all good, but as far as I know, neither had something that troubled Borg/Sampras so much so that it was more often than not an uphill battle to win.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
No, I disagree. Five set matches indicate mental strength, heart. Boris Becker once famously said, "The fifth set is not about tennis. It's about nerves, brain, heart". So five set matches, esp. against rivals, does indicate how you deal with pressure.



Yes, except Nadal's loss is not a slam F, while Fed's loss against Nadal is a Final. You are making the mistake of thinking all matches are equal. They are not. A slam F is of much larger importance. Nobody cares about losses to lesser players because they are not in contention for slam titles or for stakes of being GOAT. And this is also because, top players rarely lose to nobodies on their home grounds. OTOH, losses in slam F have much larger significance. Losing repeatedly to a rival in a slam F shows that you are not decidedly the best of your era. That means a lot to great players. Great players "get up" for matches against rivals.



Well, if Sampras was in an era where only style of play is prevalent, where there are 32 seeds in slams instead of 16, where the surface disparity is smaller than in the past, I'm pretty sure he would've made more consecutive semis. You seem to think Sampras was losing a lot of matches to nobodies. Yet, just try to think around this fact - Sampras has more F's at Wim + USO than Fed has - 15 vs. 14.

Further, Sampras has played more 5 setters than Fed did and won a much higher percentage, which means he was probably tougher to beat.

To give credit where it is due, because Fed plays a relatively more conservative game than Sampras, his margin for error is greater, and this means it's difficult to get him to 5 sets in the first place. Sampras, given his game, and the faster surfaces, had to play a more riskier style and this resulted in more errors.



Except if you look at Sampras' slam F's against his rivals, you cannot find a similar situation. You cannot say that Agassi was less of an all-time great than Nadal precisely because Sampras didn't allow Agassi to become one, while Fed did allow Nadal to get closer to him.
I don't agree with the premise that h2h decides who is a better player. Tennis is tournament / rankings format, not h2h format.

Fed has the records. Nothing you can do about it. H2H doesn't erase them.

So, if you admit Fed is weak mentally, this means he has to be the best player in history by far. Since tennis is about 50% mental and he still has the most records. This means his skills are over the charts compared to Rafa / Sampras.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
But the cause is not Fed's head but the matchup. That was my point.

But still, I don't see how Fed gets weak vs Rafa. He won two 5-setters vs Rafa.
Rafa only won two 5-setters vs Fed.

Madrid 09, WTF 2010, WTF 2012, Indian Wells 10. Fed lost only a set in 4 matches. At one point Fed was leading the h2h on grass and HC in his prime.

I don't see a weakness. On clay Rafa is just better. Non clay they are pretty even. Due to matchup and Fed was old most of the time, otherwise Fed leads.

How about Rafa losing 7 straight finals to Nole? That is even crazier. And a lot of times from winning positions. That doesn't even come close to Fed and Rafa. Or Rafa after losing he takes time off and skipping majors. Fed on the other hand, even when not in form contends for majors and takes his losses like a man. Sampras had the game even for clay. It was mental for him. He didn't want to adapt and to try hard. Or improve his fitness. I mean he beat good people at RG, so he had the game. He was used to winning just with the serve and when things got tough he went away. Fed like a man at 31 didn't quit and took his losses for the chance to learn and to reclaim his crown vs his challengers. Borg quit in the middle of his prime. That is weak.
There is a lot more to mental tougness than you think. Fed is so tough that he knows he can afford to lose some important matches and will still come on top. So he relaxes.

I don't say this, but even if Fed is weak, so what. He still has the records. Who cares how you get them. His talent makes up for it anyway.

But I don't think Fed is as talented as people think. He is mentally tough and a hard worker.
I think we agree to a large extent. Fed is mentally tough. You don't win as much, stay on top for so long, keep your motivation high, get back to No. 1 at almost 31 and win 24 finals in a row without being mentally tough.
But as he has come down from the sky and the field has become more equal (i.e. him not being head and shoulders above everyone else), he has also had a tendency to lose a lot of close matches. Sure, he wins some. But he loses more of the close ones against the top guys than he should, imo. Especially against Nadal. And yes, part of that is his ability to put up a good fight even when he's not at his best. To make the finals, semis, quarters etc. even when he's back is hurting/he's dealing with mono etc. When he wins, it's often straight sets or four at the most (as highlighted by the examples, you just mentioned (Madrid, WTF etc.). When he loses, it's often in the deciding set.
But as opposed to say Djokovic and Nadal, you don't (or I don't) back Federer when it gets to the deciding set. I give him a 50-50 at best if the opponent isn't a journeyman. If it's against Nadal or Djokovic these years, I give him 20-80 in the decider.

As for "I don't see a weakness. On clay Rafa is just better. Non clay they are pretty even. Due to matchup and Fed was old most of the time, otherwise Fed leads."

Yes, Rafa is better on clay. But Federer is still, imo, better than their record on clay shows. He should have won one of those FO's where he imo played at least as good as Rafa in 2006, 2007 and 2011, but still lost in four sets because Rafa wins the important points and Federer throws away sets, he should be winning (first set of 2011 is a prime example). And had he managed to win that Rome final, I think he would have won either the 2006 or the 2007 final. But that's of course speculation.
As for hard, Fed is A LOT better than Rafa is vs. the field. Yet Rafa leads 7-2 outdoors. Yes, this is because of the match up and the many clay loses that has put a doubt into Roger's mind. But again, Fed should - despite of the match up - be able to do better than 2-7 on outdoor hard. If Rafa hadn't broken him down mentally, I bet he would have.
Age certainly plays a part. But Rafa was leading 2-1 on outdoor hard from 2004-2006 (the first one Fed was ill though, but still - Rafa was 17). That speaks about how big a match up advantage Rafa has. But as a fan of Fed, I'm still disappointed that Fed wasn't better at beating him, when I feel his game is clearly good enough for it.

As for Rafa-Novak - yes, those 7 matches put a serious dent in Rafa's mental rock image. But he did manage to turn it around again (albeit helped by clay and Novak dipping, but still), something Federer hasn't been able to (he's 4-14 against Rafa since the end of 2007).
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Really ? Can you list me the number of really good and/or great S/V'ers that Fed played in slam SF/F or in other tournaments ? How many tournaments on carpet ? How about the changes to the grass at Wim ? How about the seeding system ?

Homogenization is not just related to surfaces. It's also related to playing styles that you have to deal with. Sampras faced, and overcame, a much greater diversity in playing styles. Not just the S/V'ers, even the flat hitting baseliners like Agassi, Korda, Enquivst, Larsson, Ferreira, the topspinners like Bruguera, Muster, Berasetagui, and many others from the Spanish Armada.

Fed played mostly all-baseliners, some with more topspin than the others. Forget about true all-courters or attacking players throwing you off. I mean, the only top player rival in Fed's peers who even attempted to come to the net was Roddick, and that's not a good thing.

If Sampras had the same luxuries that Fed, I can bet that not only would he have made more SF/F, he would've won the career slam too.

It's one thing to just look at the numbers, but you SHOULD look beneath the numbers when you are comparing different eras. During Sampras' era, you either had a game to win Wim/USO or a game to win FO (and AO). It was impossible to develop a game that did equally well on both. Agassi attempted that and could neither dominate FO/AO or dominate Wim/USO during Sampras' era. Sampras, for obvious reasons, choose to go the Wim way. And he paid the price at the FO. So did Becker, Edberg. Lendl, Wilander did the reverse.



Nobody denies that Fed is a great player. My opinion is that Fed is not the best in some aspects - mainly mentally.



No, Fed does not come on top there. Both have 7 Wims and 5 USOs. Fed has 1 more YEC, while Sampras has one more YE #1. It's not a cinch, by any means.



It's tougher to overcome different playing styles across different surfaces (or even different rounds in the same tournament). Fed doesn't have to worry about an entire line of play. Certain things that could potentially happen never happened for Fed. That's a fact. I was a 5.0 Div II player in the 90's. And I know how tough it's to adjust to different styles of play, even at the low level that I played. At the topmost level, it's much more challenging.



Sampras was just as talented (more, IMO) and more mentally tougher too. Fed's inability to ever master the S/V game is a give away, IMO, of his human limitations too (his few matches at Wim playing S/V early in his career, notwithstanding). Sampras was dangerous from any part of the court. He could beat guys like Agassi/Courier/Chang/Muster from the baseline (see his HC matches at AO/USO until 1997), or from S/V (see his matches between 1999-2002). The same cannot be said of Fed. Fed could not beat Nadal/Djok from the net even on grass during his peak.



Sampras didn't "give up" on clay. His game was not suited to it. Sampras folded mentally ? Yeah, sure, LOL.



Irrelevant stuff. If Nadal can intimidate Fed, more power to him. That didn't stop Djok from overcoming Nadal during 2011-2012. Fed couldn't do the same.



Disagree. Fed is not as tough as Sampras was, mentally. Sampras won slams in his teens, his 20's, and his 30's. Given Sampras' stamina issues, it's a wonder he did as well as he did.
This is mostly just opinions. You can't even measure mental tougness. It's all relative anyway.

If Sampras had this, had that. If Fed had Agassi, Fed would also be sitting on 2 CYGS and 24 majors right now.

I mean you are just stating mostly opinions. You can't prove Sampras had tougher competition. You can't prove winning was harder in his time. How can you measure this? Or mental toughness?

Results are the sum of all things. Mental toughness, talent, skills... And they say Fed is the best. Mental toughness is already incorporated. Results are what matters.

We can't look beneath the numbers. Because any look beneath the numbers is subjective. Nobody has proven that it is tougher to dominate era with more dimensions. More dimensions mean, they are more shallow. One dimension means that this dimension will be deeper.

And conditions are the same for everyone. If it's easier for Fed to be consistent, so is for his competition and it evens out. Basketball is only one court. So, I guess dominating in basketball is easy. Jordan doesn't deserve any credit.

Results are what they are. You can't just use subjective opinions saying Fed's 17 aren't 17.

Your arguments can't be proven. Mental tougness can't be measured. Tougher/weaker eras can't be measured.

I mean I can say Roddick wins 20 majors in the 90s, he is mentally tougher than Pete.

You have no scientific basis to back up your claims as to why 14 is greater than 17.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
I think we agree to a large extent. Fed is mentally tough. You don't win as much, stay on top for so long, keep your motivation high, get back to No. 1 at almost 31 and win 24 finals in a row without being mentally tough.
But as he has come down from the sky and the field has become more equal (i.e. him not being head and shoulders above everyone else), he has also had a tendency to lose a lot of close matches. Sure, he wins some. But he loses more of the close ones against the top guys than he should, imo. Especially against Nadal. And yes, part of that is his ability to put up a good fight even when he's not at his best. To make the finals, semis, quarters etc. even when he's back is hurting/he's dealing with mono etc. When he wins, it's often straight sets or four at the most (as highlighted by the examples, you just mentioned (Madrid, WTF etc.). When he loses, it's often in the deciding set.
But as opposed to say Djokovic and Nadal, you don't (or I don't) back Federer when it gets to the deciding set. I give him a 50-50 at best if the opponent isn't a journeyman. If it's against Nadal or Djokovic these years, I give him 20-80 in the decider.

As for "I don't see a weakness. On clay Rafa is just better. Non clay they are pretty even. Due to matchup and Fed was old most of the time, otherwise Fed leads."

Yes, Rafa is better on clay. But Federer is still, imo, better than their record on clay shows. He should have won one of those FO's where he imo played at least as good as Rafa in 2006, 2007 and 2011, but still lost in four sets because Rafa wins the important points and Federer throws away sets, he should be winning (first set of 2011 is a prime example). And had he managed to win that Rome final, I think he would have won either the 2006 or the 2007 final. But that's of course speculation.
As for hard, Fed is A LOT better than Rafa is vs. the field. Yet Rafa leads 7-2 outdoors. Yes, this is because of the match up and the many clay loses that has put a doubt into Roger's mind. But again, Fed should - despite of the match up - be able to do better than 2-7 on outdoor hard. If Rafa hadn't broken him down mentally, I bet he would have.
Age certainly plays a part. But Rafa was leading 2-1 on outdoor hard from 2004-2006 (the first one Fed was ill though, but still - Rafa was 17). That speaks about how big a match up advantage Rafa has. But as a fan of Fed, I'm still disappointed that Fed wasn't better at beating him, when I feel his game is clearly good enough for it.

As for Rafa-Novak - yes, those 7 matches put a serious dent in Rafa's mental rock image. But he did manage to turn it around again (albeit helped by clay and Novak dipping, but still), something Federer hasn't been able to (he's 4-14 against Rafa since the end of 2007).
I guess age is a factor. Now you don't give Fed the edge in the deciding set vs them. But 2006 Fed vs 2013 Rafa and Nole, I give Fed the edge even in deciding sets. And Fed would have enough time to adapt and execute vs them and to reverse it. Like he reversed his problems vs guys who gave him problems. Experience doesn't help much, when you are too old to do anything about it.

But when you are 27-28, you don't get much time to reverse the h2h with younger rivals.

Murray leading Fed in h2h just proves that it's just younger greats gaining vs old Fed. I mean Djokovic will start to lead the h2h also.

Maybe Fed should have won some some of the FOs between 2004-2007. I guess this is his only blemish. Not winning CYGS. But he had crazy competition with Kuerten and Nadal. But it's tough to dominate all players on all surfaces. Especially when guys are younger. And youth is important on clay for fitness reasons.

Look at it this way, Fed is almost perfect. He dominated rivals of his generation, rivals of previous generation and rivals of the next generation, except for Rafa on clay. Fed dominated 3 generations on all surfaces, except Rafa on clay. This is pretty awesome and as close to perfection you can get in tennis because tennis is tough sport to dominate, because there are so many different surfaces and conditions.

I mean at 31 he took nr.1 away from Rafa and Nole, greats of next generation at their peaks. What more do you want? And I don't think it's over. I think he still has reserves. He is mentally fresh still. And he can do what Agassi did. Work on his fitness more and still compete.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
I think you have it backwards. If Fed had won 2 or 3 of the 5-setters against Nadal, then Nadal wouldn't have been close to no.3 in the open era (if Fed had won the AO 2009 and Wim 2008, Nadal would've been at 11 slams and Fed at 19 slams). Likewise, if Sampras had lost some key Wim/USO matches to Agassi, Agassi would've been having a similar record to Nadal (about 11 slams, if not more).
If Fed has won 2 of the three 5 setters, they would be on 18-12 right? And then Nadal would still be third after Sampras (though some may have rated Borg higher for reasons of their own).
Anyhow, to the point. As I see it, Nadal was and is a harder opponent for Federer than Agassi ever was for Sampras.
First of all, Agassi was not half as committed to tennis as Nadal is and was.
Second of all, Agassi didn't have a turf, where he would beat Sampras time and again and zap him of confidence on other surfaces.
Third, Agassi, as far as I see their match up, does not have a game that gives Pete an unreasonable amount of trouble. On faster surfaces, Pete's serve usually gave him the edge. On slower surfaces, Andre's return usually gave him the edge.

Today's surfaces, except for indoor or very fast courts, haven't given Fed enough of an advantage to break the match up advantage that Rafa enjoys.

However, as a Fed fan, I cannot help but wonder if it still couldn't have been different. Had he managed to beat Rafa in that five-setter in Rome, would that have given him the confidence to beat him at the FO as well? I tend to think so (I don't buy that Fed can't beat Rafa at the FO per se. He hasn't, he won't, but he could have. He has enough game, when he's playing well to bagel and breadstick Rafa on clay. If he could keep his game on a high and his mind and body focused and perhaps tried playing a bit more of Rafa's game in the sense of going for the weaker backhand and not least: believing he could win, I think he could have.).
Had his training sessions not been setback by mono (yes, I know people hate that excuse), would that have given him the extra 1-5 percent to not get completely destroyed at the French and win that pivotal Wimbledon final in 2008? Was he more adversely affected by the dark (his game has a smaller margin for error as he takes the ball earlier). If he had won, would Rafa had had enough confidence to beat him at the AO or would Fed have had enough confidence to hold him off? 22-10 looks very, very decisive. But had a few key matches and points gone the other way, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
Anyway, it went the way it went.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
I guess age is a factor. Now you don't give Fed the edge in the deciding set vs them. But 2006 Fed vs 2013 Rafa and Nole, I give Fed the edge even in deciding sets. And Fed would have enough time to adapt and execute vs them and to reverse it. Like he reversed his problems vs guys who gave him problems. Experience doesn't help much, when you are too old to do anything about it.

But when you are 27-28, you don't get much time to reverse the h2h with younger rivals.

Murray leading Fed in h2h just proves that it's just younger greats gaining vs old Fed. I mean Djokovic will start to lead the h2h also.

Maybe Fed should have won some some of the FOs between 2004-2007. I guess this is his only blemish. Not winning CYGS. But he had crazy competition with Kuerten and Nadal. But it's tough to dominate all players on all surfaces. Especially when guys are younger. And youth is important on clay for fitness reasons.

Look at it this way, Fed is almost perfect. He dominated rivals of his generation, rivals of previous generation and rivals of the next generation, except for Rafa on clay. Fed dominated 3 generations on all surfaces, except Rafa on clay. This is pretty awesome and as close to perfection you can get in tennis because tennis is tough sport to dominate, because there are so many different surfaces and conditions.

I mean at 31 he took nr.1 away from Rafa and Nole, greats of next generation at their peaks. What more do you want? And I don't think it's over. I think he still has reserves. He is mentally fresh still. And he can do what Agassi did. Work on his fitness more and still compete.
As for the bold, I know - I'm greedy.
And yes, I give the edge in the deciding sets now, but with Rafa, I have given it since 2008, when Fed was still only 26-27 and Rafa 21-22. It's hard to know, but had he not gotten mono, I think he could have held off the next generation, i.e. Rafa's, ascend a year or so more, so that Rafa would have gotten to no. 1 somewhere in 2009 or early 2010. But that's pure speculation.
2006 vs. Nole and Rafa is not a fair comparison, I believe, as Nole turned 19 and Rafa 20 that year. But it's true, he's been tough against the field except for Rafa (and perhaps Murray) through his career and now, Djoko has the upper hand as well as he's a pretty darn good player and in his prime.
Still, was it 2010 that he lost 3-4 matches after being up match point?

Can he pull an Agassi? I doubt it. Agassi pulled his Agassi in a transition period. Not a period of two-three all time greats at their peak or close to.
I do believe he can do better than this year going forward though - at least if he can stay injury free. But beating Nadal, Djokovic or Murray in a slam final now, is very much an uphill battle. Against Djoko at Wimbledon, yes. Against Murray and Djoko at the US, perhaps. Against Nadal at Wimbledon with the roof closed, yes (and against Murray with the roof closed). Those are his chances as I see it - provided he stays fit and hungry.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
If Fed has won 2 of the three 5 setters, they would be on 18-12 right? And then Nadal would still be third after Sampras (though some may have rated Borg higher for reasons of their own).
Anyhow, to the point. As I see it, Nadal was and is a harder opponent for Federer than Agassi ever was for Sampras.
First of all, Agassi was not half as committed to tennis as Nadal is and was.
Second of all, Agassi didn't have a turf, where he would beat Sampras time and again and zap him of confidence on other surfaces.
Third, Agassi, as far as I see their match up, does not have a game that gives Pete an unreasonable amount of trouble. On faster surfaces, Pete's serve usually gave him the edge. On slower surfaces, Andre's return usually gave him the edge.

Today's surfaces, except for indoor or very fast courts, haven't given Fed enough of an advantage to break the match up advantage that Rafa enjoys.

However, as a Fed fan, I cannot help but wonder if it still couldn't have been different. Had he managed to beat Rafa in that five-setter in Rome, would that have given him the confidence to beat him at the FO as well? I tend to think so (I don't buy that Fed can't beat Rafa at the FO per se. He hasn't, he won't, but he could have. He has enough game, when he's playing well to bagel and breadstick Rafa on clay. If he could keep his game on a high and his mind and body focused and perhaps tried playing a bit more of Rafa's game in the sense of going for the weaker backhand and not least: believing he could win, I think he could have.).
Had his training sessions not been setback by mono (yes, I know people hate that excuse), would that have given him the extra 1-5 percent to not get completely destroyed at the French and win that pivotal Wimbledon final in 2008? Was he more adversely affected by the dark (his game has a smaller margin for error as he takes the ball earlier). If he had won, would Rafa had had enough confidence to beat him at the AO or would Fed have had enough confidence to hold him off? 22-10 looks very, very decisive. But had a few key matches and points gone the other way, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
Anyway, it went the way it went.
Great post. I guess it wasn't meant to be. The universe has decided to humble Fed and his fans. Actually I think it was mono tipping the scales. Otherwise he would have maybe hold off guys in 2008. Since you like what if scenarios. He maybe wins AO 08. Maintains his form and executes at the FO. Maybe by some miracle even winning it or at least preventing Rafa getting the edge. So, maybe W 2008 goes to Fed. Rafa doesn't gain confidence beating Fed in his main home. Loses his 3rd consecutive W. Now he has the pressure at W next years. So, maybe AO 09 goes Fed's way. Rafa still gets injured. Fed wins FO 09. At uso he goes for CYGS. No way he would let Delpo win. I think for CYGS he would be able to leave his body there.

So, now Fed has decent h2h with Rafa, has CYGS, doesn't lose nr.1. Also prevents Rafa winning career slam. Reduces Rafa to a clay court guy. And has crazy confidence going in 2010.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
As for the bold, I know - I'm greedy.
And yes, I give the edge in the deciding sets now, but with Rafa, I have given it since 2008, when Fed was still only 26-27 and Rafa 21-22. It's hard to know, but had he not gotten mono, I think he could have held off the next generation, i.e. Rafa's, ascend a year or so more, so that Rafa would have gotten to no. 1 somewhere in 2009 or early 2010. But that's pure speculation.
2006 vs. Nole and Rafa is not a fair comparison, I believe, as Nole turned 19 and Rafa 20 that year. But it's true, he's been tough against the field except for Rafa (and perhaps Murray) through his career and now, Djoko has the upper hand as well as he's a pretty darn good player and in his prime.
Still, was it 2010 that he lost 3-4 matches after being up match point?

Can he pull an Agassi? I doubt it. Agassi pulled his Agassi in a transition period. Not a period of two-three all time greats at their peak or close to.
I do believe he can do better than this year going forward though - at least if he can stay injury free. But beating Nadal, Djokovic or Murray in a slam final now, is very much an uphill battle. Against Djoko at Wimbledon, yes. Against Murray and Djoko at the US, perhaps. Against Nadal at Wimbledon with the roof closed, yes (and against Murray with the roof closed). Those are his chances as I see it - provided he stays fit and hungry.
I mean 2006 version of Fed vs 2012 versions of Rafa/Nole. This is what I meant. It is fair to compare them peak vs peak.

Comparing teen Rafa/Nole is not fair of course. But comparing old Fed vs peak Rafa/Nole is not fair too.

Let us give 2006 Fed vs 2010/11 Nole. I think Fed has the edge in deciding sets here. This is what I meant.

Fed was pulling an Agassi in 2012. So I don't see why he can't now, if he dedicates himself.

Waldner in table tennis won Olympic Silver when he was almost 39. Didn't Jordan win at 36 or was it 38?

I mean the guy of Fed's caliber can do something crazy. I think he will. I think it's not over yet. I could be wrong, I just have a feeling. Fed doesn't look like he thinks to retire in next years. And 17 is such a strange number. Universe won't allow 17. Universe is on his side.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
I mean 2006 version of Fed vs 2012 versions of Rafa/Nole. This is what I meant. It is fair to compare them peak vs peak.

Comparing teen Rafa/Nole is not fair of course. But comparing old Fed vs peak Rafa/Nole is not fair too.

Let us give 2006 Fed vs 2010/11 Nole. I think Fed has the edge in deciding sets here. This is what I meant.

Fed was pulling an Agassi in 2012. So I don't see why he can't now, if he dedicates himself.

Waldner in table tennis won Olympic Silver when he was almost 39. Didn't Jordan win at 36 or was it 38?

I mean the guy of Fed's caliber can do something crazy. I think he will. I think it's not over yet. I could be wrong, I just have a feeling. Fed doesn't look like he thinks to retire in next years. And 17 is such a strange number. Universe won't allow 17. Universe is on his side.
Ah, yes, I agree with Fed 06 having the edge against Nole - even in deciding sets - perhaps save AO on plexi.
I play both tabletennis and tennis. And you really can't compare the physical effort needed to succeed imo. Waldner was my favorite too though.
As for basket, don't follow much basket, so don't know Jordans precise age at the time, but it's anyhow a team sport, so again - apples and oranges.
He did pull an Agassi in a way yes. But it's getting harder to pull an Agassi every year as he gets older. I think best case scenario, rankingwise, he get's back to 3rd. Best case scenario slam wise is to sneak out a Wim or a US Open.
We'll see.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Great post. I guess it wasn't meant to be. The universe has decided to humble Fed and his fans. Actually I think it was mono tipping the scales. Otherwise he would have maybe hold off guys in 2008. Since you like what if scenarios. He maybe wins AO 08. Maintains his form and executes at the FO. Maybe by some miracle even winning it or at least preventing Rafa getting the edge. So, maybe W 2008 goes to Fed. Rafa doesn't gain confidence beating Fed in his main home. Loses his 3rd consecutive W. Now he has the pressure at W next years. So, maybe AO 09 goes Fed's way. Rafa still gets injured. Fed wins FO 09. At uso he goes for CYGS. No way he would let Delpo win. I think for CYGS he would be able to leave his body there.

So, now Fed has decent h2h with Rafa, has CYGS, doesn't lose nr.1. Also prevents Rafa winning career slam. Reduces Rafa to a clay court guy. And has crazy confidence going in 2010.
Haha, sure, let's play. He maybe wins AO, true (but let's not forget that Novak was playing very well in that tournament and well enough in the US Open final a few months earlier to earn chances to win both of the first two sets). No way he wins the FO 2008, that was Rafa in his best clay form. But he could have made it a lot closer and thus have had more confidence going into Wimbledon, which he then wins. He stills beats Murray at the US. Has a pretty good chance of beating Rafa at the AO given Rafa hasn't yet managed to beat Fed off clay in a slam - so let's give him that for argument's sake.
Now it get's tricky. Presuming Rafa still loses to Söderling, get's injured/has family worries, FO is still very, very tricky to win. Especially given that he, in this scenario, is gunning for the Roger slam. Now, in real life, the moment Rafa went out, Federer almost lost to Haas. Probably, it got to there, because Fed was a little tight as he eyed the big opportunity. Had Rafa been out of the way, while Fed was gunning for the Roger slam, wouldn't he have been even more tight? I think it's likely. But anyway, he might still have pulled it out and won.
Whether he wins the CYGS or not (and six in a row) in this scenario, I don't know.
But Rafa fans would have lost the right to torment Fed fans with beating him on three different slam final surfaces :) and the atrocious h2h would be quite a bit more decent. Plus Fed would have 19-20-21 by now, so it wouldn't really matter.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Ah, yes, I agree with Fed 06 having the edge against Nole - even in deciding sets - perhaps save AO on plexi.
I play both tabletennis and tennis. And you really can't compare the physical effort needed to succeed imo. Waldner was my favorite too though.
As for basket, don't follow much basket, so don't know Jordans precise age at the time, but it's anyhow a team sport, so again - apples and oranges.
He did pull an Agassi in a way yes. But it's getting harder to pull an Agassi every year as he gets older. I think best case scenario, rankingwise, he get's back to 3rd. Best case scenario slam wise is to sneak out a Wim or a US Open.
We'll see.
Good you mentioning Waldner. This shows how h2h is not important. I mean I never knew the h2h with Waldner before. I never knew the h2h in tennis before, it started on this forum. Nobody cared about h2h before.

And Waldner trails 4-8 vs one guy and 0-3 vs one guy. I saw this a few weeks ago somewhere. Doesn't stop people calling him greatest.

I mean fans are great in table tennis forums. I don't know why only on tennis forums things are like that.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Haha, sure, let's play. He maybe wins AO, true (but let's not forget that Novak was playing very well in that tournament and well enough in the US Open final a few months earlier to earn chances to win both of the first two sets). No way he wins the FO 2008, that was Rafa in his best clay form. But he could have made it a lot closer and thus have had more confidence going into Wimbledon, which he then wins. He stills beats Murray at the US. Has a pretty good chance of beating Rafa at the AO given Rafa hasn't yet managed to beat Fed off clay in a slam - so let's give him that for argument's sake.
Now it get's tricky. Presuming Rafa still loses to Söderling, get's injured/has family worries, FO is still very, very tricky to win. Especially given that he, in this scenario, is gunning for the Roger slam. Now, in real life, the moment Rafa went out, Federer almost lost to Haas. Probably, it got to there, because Fed was a little tight as he eyed the big opportunity. Had Rafa been out of the way, while Fed was gunning for the Roger slam, wouldn't he have been even more tight? I think it's likely. But anyway, he might still have pulled it out and won.
Whether he wins the CYGS or not (and six in a row) in this scenario, I don't know.
But Rafa fans would have lost the right to torment Fed fans with beating him on three different slam final surfaces :) and the atrocious h2h would be quite a bit more decent. Plus Fed would have 19-20-21 by now, so it wouldn't really matter.
Nice thinking. In this case weak era guys would have even more ammunition.

You are good at this. Can you do this in case Fed wins 2006 FO?
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Nice thinking. In this case weak era guys would have even more ammunition.

You are good at this. Can you do this in case Fed wins 2006 FO?
Haha, they sure would!
Sure, FO 2006, he was gunning for the Roger slam. Wins the first set 6-1 and instead of losing the momentum, he continues and finishes Rafa of in four (no one wants a fifth with Rafa at RG).
Roger slam accomplished! He still wins Wimbledon, Rafa cannot yet trouble him there (and may actually lose earlier because of lack of confidence after FO - he came from from 0-2 in sets in the 2nd round against Kendrick in the actual tournament (6-7(4), 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-4)).
He still wins the US Open (Blake and Roddick gave him the most trouble and he ain't losing to them just because he's gunning for the CYGS - he already has 5 slams in a row, so the pressure is not as big as he's already bettered Laver in a way.
Still wins AO 2007 (perhaps his best tournament ever) and imo there's no way, he's blowing 16 out of 17 BP's against Nadal in the FO final after beating him the year before (Nadal was 4 out of 10). Whether he wins or not, I don't know. But 7 in a row, including a CYGS, is pretty great as well (6 out of 7, as it actually was, simply doesn't have the same ring to it).
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Good you mentioning Waldner. This shows how h2h is not important. I mean I never knew the h2h with Waldner before. I never knew the h2h in tennis before, it started on this forum. Nobody cared about h2h before.

And Waldner trails 4-8 vs one guy and 0-3 vs one guy. I saw this a few weeks ago somewhere. Doesn't stop people calling him greatest.

I mean fans are great in table tennis forums. I don't know why only on tennis forums things are like that.
Are those guys all time greats? Cause that's the reason why the h2h is problematic with Nadal - at least to many people.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Haha, they sure would!
Sure, FO 2006, he was gunning for the Roger slam. Wins the first set 6-1 and instead of losing the momentum, he continues and finishes Rafa of in four (no one wants a fifth with Rafa at RG).
Roger slam accomplished! He still wins Wimbledon, Rafa cannot yet trouble him there (and may actually lose earlier because of lack of confidence after FO - he came from from 0-2 in sets in the 2nd round against Kendrick in the actual tournament (6-7(4), 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-4)).
He still wins the US Open (Blake and Roddick gave him the most trouble and he ain't losing to them just because he's gunning for the CYGS - he already has 5 slams in a row, so the pressure is not as big as he's already bettered Laver in a way.
Still wins AO 2007 (perhaps his best tournament ever) and imo there's no way, he's blowing 16 out of 17 BP's against Nadal in the FO final after beating him the year before (Nadal was 4 out of 10). Whether he wins or not, I don't know. But 7 in a row, including a CYGS, is pretty great as well (6 out of 7, as it actually was, simply doesn't have the same ring to it).
Haha, I see why you get frustrated sometimes. Even when Fed already has so much. When we see that even at RG Fed had chances vs Rafa. It's frustrating :).

And that old past prime Fed was able to do that at 2012 vs his rivals at their peaks makes it even more frustrating.

Because if he can do that, we know he has the talent to beat even teen Rafa in his peak. So there is no reason why Fed should lose FOs 05-07. Or even W 08, AO 09.
I see know why people get frustrated. I mean this is just crazy to think about it.
 
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Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
So, if fed had a losing 23-10 vs a journeyman, would that make him undisputed goat in your eyes?
22-10 vs. some journeyman don't happen as they would never meet that often. 5-12 vs. a guy with 0-3 slams wouldn't matter much no. A small blemish, but more like a distraction to an otherwise perfect resume
 

Djokovic2011

Bionic Poster
All I can say is that there are some fantastic posters on this thread- Fed is one of my all time favourite players and so much of what I wanted to say has already been said here lol! Very enjoyable to read and if there were more posters like Chanwan and jg153040 this entire forum would be such a better place. Great work guys!
 

bullfan

Legend
Fed has a history of being mentally weak against Nadal. Sadly, the mono excuse is what newer Fed fans claim. Fed fans during 2008 didn't cry mono.
 

shakes1975

Semi-Pro
If Fed has won 2 of the three 5 setters, they would be on 18-12 right?
Hmm, no. Fed is currently at 17 slams. If he had won the AO 2009 and Wim 2008 F, he would be at 19 slams while Nadal would be at 11 slams (17 + 2, 13 - 2).

And then Nadal would still be third after Sampras (though some may have rated Borg higher for reasons of their own).
Anyhow, to the point. As I see it, Nadal was and is a harder opponent for Federer than Agassi ever was for Sampras.
Agassi was a harder opponent for Sampras on HC (AO+USO) than Nadal was for Fed, while Nadal was a harder opponent on grass and clay than Agassi was for Sampras.

First of all, Agassi was not half as committed to tennis as Nadal is and was.
Second of all, Agassi didn't have a turf, where he would beat Sampras time and again and zap him of confidence on other surfaces.
Third, Agassi, as far as I see their match up, does not have a game that gives Pete an unreasonable amount of trouble. On faster surfaces, Pete's serve usually gave him the edge. On slower surfaces, Andre's return usually gave him the edge.
Agassi was not committed to tennis for a total of 4 yrs - 1993, 1996-1998. In 1992, 1994-1995, 1999-2002 ( total of 7 yrs, he was totally dedicated to tennis). Agassi did have 2 turfs where he always beat Sampras - AO (1995, 2000) and FO (1992). Sampras didn't allow that to dent his confidence. Further, Agassi snatched away the #1 ranking from Sampras in 1995, something that must have been a blow to Sampras, given how Sampras was dominating the tennis scene until then.

You give Agassi very less credit (and Sampras too, by extension) when you say he didn't have a game to give Sampras any trouble. Agassi was an awesome player on HC (his performance at the USO in 2004-2005 at the age of 34-35 yrs with a bad back should give you some idea how good he must have been in 1995). That Sampras was able to win so convincingly (never went to 5 sets at the USO) is a credit to Sampras, seeing how even peak Fed didn't have the easiest time in putting Agassi away in 2004-2005 at the USO. Sampras rose to the occasion when playing Agassi. He served at a level that he didn't do against any other player.

Today's surfaces, except for indoor or very fast courts, haven't given Fed enough of an advantage to break the match up advantage that Rafa enjoys.
Fed reaped the benefits of the slower surfaces just as much as Nadal did. Fed played the same game against the big guys of his era - Safin/Roddick/Blake/Ljubicic etc. - as Nadal does against Fed: rely on defense long enough until an opening presented itself, and then turn to offense. Just like Fed found it difficult to punch through Nadal's defense, those guys found it difficult to punch through Fed's. Fed's problem with Nadal had less to do with surface than with the way he plays his game. I can go further into this technically/mentally if you care.

However, as a Fed fan, I cannot help but wonder if it still couldn't have been different. Had he managed to beat Rafa in that five-setter in Rome, would that have given him the confidence to beat him at the FO as well? I tend to think so (I don't buy that Fed can't beat Rafa at the FO per se. He hasn't, he won't, but he could have. He has enough game, when he's playing well to bagel and breadstick Rafa on clay. If he could keep his game on a high and his mind and body focused and perhaps tried playing a bit more of Rafa's game in the sense of going for the weaker backhand and not least: believing he could win, I think he could have.).
Had his training sessions not been setback by mono (yes, I know people hate that excuse), would that have given him the extra 1-5 percent to not get completely destroyed at the French and win that pivotal Wimbledon final in 2008? Was he more adversely affected by the dark (his game has a smaller margin for error as he takes the ball earlier). If he had won, would Rafa had had enough confidence to beat him at the AO or would Fed have had enough confidence to hold him off? 22-10 looks very, very decisive. But had a few key matches and points gone the other way, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
Anyway, it went the way it went.
Yes, I agree to some extent. The 2006 Rome match was a tide-turner in many respects. The FO 2008 F was a further damage.
 

jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Fed has a history of being mentally weak against Nadal. Sadly, the mono excuse is what newer Fed fans claim. Fed fans during 2008 didn't cry mono.
Fed at his best was strong vs Nadal. Considering the tough matchup, Fed managed to start reversing it winning 5 of their 7 matchups. After losing a FO finals he beat Nadal twice at W. He also beat him in a clay final.

I mean Fed at his best won two 5-setters vs Nadal.

Then the decline happened, Fed was losing almost three times more matches in 2008 than previous years. But Nadal is an all-time great, so he was the only one able to take advantage of this.

Sampras said, that when you decline the difference is that now you start losing close matches. Fed lost three close GS finals in 5 sets. Every major from W 08 till USO 09 he either lost in close sets or barely won in five.

So, if Fed is weak, that means he is weak vs entire field. Because he started melting down vs all guys not just Nadal. Fed has poor break point conversion vs entire field in general.

IN last years he lost a lot from MP and two sets up. Even from winning the first set.

The other problem is we are comparing prime Rafa/Nole/Murray vs declining Fed.

Let us make a time machine and put 2006 Fed vs 2010 Nadal and I like Fed's mental chances very much. Before 2008, Fed was a mental rock.

I guess maybe you are partly right. When your game declines your mentality declines too. Fed was dominating for so long. Every loss in his peak was a scandal. Sampras said that tennis destroyed him mentally. That he didn't have one night of peaceful sleep until he retired.

So, this proves Federer is mentally tougher, because in his decline he is doing much better than Sampras against tougher competition. Sampras had tough competition, but during his decline it wasn't so tough.

And Fed was able to do this with a wife and kids. Also he is hunted by the press, he gives 3-times more interviews than anyone that can be mentaly taxing.

Rafa is vunerable. His parent's divorce even destroyed his confidence.
And Nadal didn't have half the pressure like Fed did. Nadal was always coming from behind.

Considering this, Fed is very strong. Mental toughess is not just about a few matches in your decline vs one guy.

You don't think matchup and Rafa's amazing skills and Fed's decline had to do anything?

Why do some fans feel better saying it is mental vs Rafa? Like this makes things better when Rafa outplays Fed. I guess people think that Fed is so good that mentality is the only reason why he must lose. I don't buy it.

Even the great Fed has some matches that he gets blown of the court and outhit or outplayed.

Pete's mental toughness and domination of his rivals is a myth. Most fans here didn't watch Pete play. And internet didn't exist, so people didn't gloat for every point on youtube that Pete choked away.

How is Pete's record on clay? He can't beat anyone on clay. How is that dominating his rivals more than Fed? How can losing early to journeymen be better than reaching 5 RG finals and winning it?

Even off clay, Fed has 2 more majors and one more WTF. And more masters.

This mentality thing is just an excuse why other guys couldn't win as much as Fed. Tennis is 50% mental, so mentality is measured by Slam count.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Hmm, no. Fed is currently at 17 slams. If he had won the AO 2009 and Wim 2008 F, he would be at 19 slams while Nadal would be at 11 slams (17 + 2, 13 - 2).
Ah, thought you were taking about 2 of the 3 5-setters they played (Wim 2007-08, Aus 09). Hence the misunderstanding between us.

Agassi was a harder opponent for Sampras on HC (AO+USO) than Nadal was for Fed, while Nadal was a harder opponent on grass and clay than Agassi was for Sampras.
That I can agree with to some extent. Agassi, as is Fed as is Sampras, is a better HC player than Nadal. But Nadal, on the fairly slow and fairly high bouncing Aus Open surface is a pretty tough customer for Fed because of the match up. So I would say on equal terms to Agassi at the US and perhaps even harder because of the match up. Also, 8 out of Fedal's slam matches were on clay/grass - that's more than Pete-Andre played in slams


Agassi was not committed to tennis for a total of 4 yrs - 1993, 1996-1998. In 1992, 1994-1995, 1999-2002 ( total of 7 yrs, he was totally dedicated to tennis). Agassi did have 2 turfs where he always beat Sampras - AO (1995, 2000) and FO (1992). Sampras didn't allow that to dent his confidence (no, but look at the years, those loses happened - 92, 95, 2000 - and non on Pete's turf. They weren't regular loses like Federer, who often had three clay loses or more to Nadal come Wimbledon). Further, Agassi snatched away the #1 ranking from Sampras in 1995, something that must have been a blow to Sampras, given how Sampras was dominating the tennis scene until then. (yes, he responded very well indeed - Fed snatched his back as well though) - and that's still 3 of Sampras peak years, where he weren't committed. .

You give Agassi very less credit (and Sampras too, by extension) when you say he didn't have a game to give Sampras any trouble.
You misread me a bit here, I wrote: "does not have a game that gives Pete an unreasonable amount of trouble" - my intention was to say, it was an even match up that tended to get decided by surface, whereas I maintain the Fed-Nadal is uneven primarily because of the lefty topspin CC to the ohb. The faster it went, the more went to Pete (who did serve incredibly well in those matches), the slower, the more to Andre.

Agassi was an awesome player on HC (his performance at the USO in 2004-2005 at the age of 34-35 yrs with a bad back should give you some idea how good he must have been in 1995). That Sampras was able to win so convincingly (never went to 5 sets at the USO) is a credit to Sampras, seeing how even peak Fed didn't have the easiest time in putting Agassi away in 2004-2005 at the USO. Sampras rose to the occasion when playing Agassi. He served at a level that he didn't do against any other player.



Fed reaped the benefits of the slower surfaces just as much as Nadal did. Fed played the same game against the big guys of his era - Safin/Roddick/Blake/Ljubicic etc. - as Nadal does against Fed: rely on defense long enough until an opening presented itself, and then turn to offense. Just like Fed found it difficult to punch through Nadal's defense, those guys found it difficult to punch through Fed's. Fed's problem with Nadal had less to do with surface than with the way he plays his game. I can go further into this technically/mentally if you care.

I can see what you mean and I would like you to go deeper into it. I would say that Fed still plays quite a bit more offensive against those guys than Nadal does. But it's true that his defense is a very real - and often underrated - aspect of his game, especially against the big guys. My point here is though, that he didn't benefit from the slower surfaces against Nadal. To what extent he benefitted from it in general is up for debate. Probably a bit. But his early years, including the defeat of Sampras at Wimbledon, as well as his results on the faster surfaces left suggests he could have played well on 90's conditions.

Yes, I agree to some extent. The 2006 Rome match was a tide-turner in many respects. The FO 2008 F was a further damage.
Cool. It's great discussing with you. If it's not completely clear, I think my main point in this particular discussion is this. Pete-Andre is a pretty even match-up - as it is also indicated by their h2h. Pete tends to win on the faster surfaces, Andre on the slower. But both can in principle beat the other on the other's turf (perhaps save grass). However, none of them managed to upset the other on the big stage. Hence I conclude by that, that Andre cannot have been a bad match up for Pete, cause then I doubt Pete would have been able to hold him off at 2 US Opens and 2 Wimbledons. They were a pretty even match up - Fed-Nadal, imo as I have stated various places above, is not.
p.s. I found it easier to respond within your text. Hope it's readable.
 
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jg153040

G.O.A.T.
Hmm, no. Fed is currently at 17 slams. If he had won the AO 2009 and Wim 2008 F, he would be at 19 slams while Nadal would be at 11 slams (17 + 2, 13 - 2).



Agassi was a harder opponent for Sampras on HC (AO+USO) than Nadal was for Fed, while Nadal was a harder opponent on grass and clay than Agassi was for Sampras.



Agassi was not committed to tennis for a total of 4 yrs - 1993, 1996-1998. In 1992, 1994-1995, 1999-2002 ( total of 7 yrs, he was totally dedicated to tennis). Agassi did have 2 turfs where he always beat Sampras - AO (1995, 2000) and FO (1992). Sampras didn't allow that to dent his confidence. Further, Agassi snatched away the #1 ranking from Sampras in 1995, something that must have been a blow to Sampras, given how Sampras was dominating the tennis scene until then.

You give Agassi very less credit (and Sampras too, by extension) when you say he didn't have a game to give Sampras any trouble. Agassi was an awesome player on HC (his performance at the USO in 2004-2005 at the age of 34-35 yrs with a bad back should give you some idea how good he must have been in 1995). That Sampras was able to win so convincingly (never went to 5 sets at the USO) is a credit to Sampras, seeing how even peak Fed didn't have the easiest time in putting Agassi away in 2004-2005 at the USO. Sampras rose to the occasion when playing Agassi. He served at a level that he didn't do against any other player.



Fed reaped the benefits of the slower surfaces just as much as Nadal did. Fed played the same game against the big guys of his era - Safin/Roddick/Blake/Ljubicic etc. - as Nadal does against Fed: rely on defense long enough until an opening presented itself, and then turn to offense. Just like Fed found it difficult to punch through Nadal's defense, those guys found it difficult to punch through Fed's. Fed's problem with Nadal had less to do with surface than with the way he plays his game. I can go further into this technically/mentally if you care.



Yes, I agree to some extent. The 2006 Rome match was a tide-turner in many respects. The FO 2008 F was a further damage.
I really like you and respect you. You do know a lot and it's great listening to you. I just don't agree with you with this mentality and competition thing. It's all subjective and can't be really measured. Not saying you are wrong, just we can't know for sure.

But what we know for sure is that the sum of all subsets like skills, mental togness is already represented in results. We can't measure if Fed's results are 30% mental tougness and 70% skills or 10% mental. But results indicate that the sum of all parts is bigger for Fed than for Sampras.

Relative conditions are the same for everyone. And Fed managed to distance himself from the field more than Pete.

I can give you proof that even with homogenization Fed was more consistent. Let us compare their results on individual major, this means surfaces don't matter since it's one surface.

AO 4-2
USO 5-5
W 7-7
RG 1-0
WTF 6-5

So you can see that in each individual event they are either even or Fed leads. If we include finals and semis, Fed leads even more.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
You give Agassi very less credit (and Sampras too, by extension) when you say he didn't have a game to give Sampras any trouble. Agassi was an awesome player on HC (his performance at the USO in 2004-2005 at the age of 34-35 yrs with a bad back should give you some idea how good he must have been in 1995). That Sampras was able to win so convincingly (never went to 5 sets at the USO) is a credit to Sampras, seeing how even peak Fed didn't have the easiest time in putting Agassi away in 2004-2005 at the USO. Sampras rose to the occasion when playing Agassi. He served at a level that he didn't do against any other player.
agassi in 2004 USO was fine and didn't have any injury problems. He played better vs federer there than he did vs sampras in any of the USO matches ( except 2001 ) ..

1990 -- too nervous
1995 -- peaked too early
2002 -- exhausted to an extent due to SF vs hewitt

Fed reaped the benefits of the slower surfaces just as much as Nadal did. Fed played the same game against the big guys of his era - Safin/Roddick/Blake/Ljubicic etc. - as Nadal does against Fed: rely on defense long enough until an opening presented itself, and then turn to offense. Just like Fed found it difficult to punch through Nadal's defense, those guys found it difficult to punch through Fed's. Fed's problem with Nadal had less to do with surface than with the way he plays his game. I can go further into this technically/mentally if you care.
not even close. federer didn't rely on defense vs these guys. He more often went for the first strike tennis vs them in order to prevent them from attacking ...

its why he always had a lot more winners than his opponent in the matches vs these guys.

in stark contrast to nadal's matches where he usually ends up with lesser winners even while winning the matches.

you want me to give a long list of matches to prove this ? :)

of course fed's defense played a significant part too and tends to get under-rated or over-looked.
 

shakes1975

Semi-Pro
Cool. It's great discussing with you. If it's not completely clear, I think my main point in this particular discussion is this. Pete-Andre is a pretty even match-up - as it is also indicated by their h2h. Pete tends to win on the faster surfaces, Andre on the slower. But both can in principle beat the other on the other's turf (perhaps save grass). However, none of them managed to upset the other on the big stage. Hence I conclude by that, that Andre cannot have been a bad match up for Pete, cause then I doubt Pete would have been able to hold him off at 2 US Opens and 2 Wimbledons. They were a pretty even match up - Fed-Nadal, imo as I have stated various places above, is not.
p.s. I found it easier to respond within your text. Hope it's readable.
:) I am unable to respond to your quotes within my quotes.

On the AO, I agree that Nadal is as tough to Fed as Agassi was to Sampras. In both cases, the score was similar: 2-0 to Agassi and 2-0 to Nadal.

At the USO, Fed never played Nadal while Agassi played Sampras 4 times. So I think Agassi was clearly a tougher opponent here. Agree about clay/grass.

My main point was that even the Fed-Nadal rivalry should've been dictated by the surface, just like the Agassi-Sampras one. Fed is, technically, a better grass court and HC player, and clay is the only surface that Nadal is clearly superior on. Part of the reason why Nadal creates issues for Fed even off clay is because Fed plays him like he does on clay.

And this brings me to the "match-up" - Nadal's FH CC to Fed's BH. Theoretically, this is a difficult shot to handle for a 1HBH. But, outside of clay, I think this is something that Fed is significantly to blame for allowing Nadal to be able to set that particular template. It's curious how Nadal didn't "allow" for the reverse - Fed's FH CC to Nadal's BH. Nadal's BH is more consistent than Fed's BH, but, surely, Fed's FH is stronger than Nadal's BH, right ? Further, Agassi had that advantage over Sampras too. It's instructive to see how Sampras didn't allow Agassi (or any other baseliner from his era with a 2HBH) to totally use that strategy against him on the faster surfaces. It always takes two to tango, and so Nadal being able to set the template/pattern for Fed is partly with Fed's "cooperation".

Now, this also brings me to the "technical/mental" part of Fed's game and why it plays to Nadal's hands. Fed is a Tier 1 "jack-of-all-trades" player. IOW, Fed is excellent/great in many aspects of the game without being an all-time great in all of them. For example, Fed has an excellent serve, but he's not in the same bracket as Sampras/Ivanisevic/Krajicek/Scud/Stich in terms of the serve being consistently big, game-in and game-out. He's ok doing it here and there through a match, but he cannot do it game after game like those guys used to do. Fed has great power in his shots, but he doesn't pack as much power/punch as those guys because he puts more spin and puts a little bit more emphasis on consistency. Fed has great defensive skills, but he's not as good as Nadal/Djok in that regard.

So what are the implications of this ?

Basically, when two really talented, great players play, on most neutral surfaces, the player who has fewer shots/options in his repertoire, but is an all-time great in those few aspects, tends to have an advantage over the player who is excellent in all aspects but is not really an all-time great in enough of them. Obviously, this is relative to each other and not in an absolute sense, for all pros are really, really good in all the strokes in tennis in an absolute/stand-alone sense.

So, when Fed plays Nadal, he is in a quandary. He can serve Nadal off the court for a few games, but that is only sporadic. He cannot do it most, if not all, of the times; he can punch through Nadal for a few games with his groundies by hitting flatter and closer to the lines, but he cannot do it for prolonged periods; he can come to the net, play S/V etc. for a few games/points, but cannot play the entire match that way. So there is no go-to pattern for him. This also creates a problem on the big points when Nadal is that little bit extra-keen, because Fed is confused (and lacks confidence) about what shot to play: "Should I go for the ace ? Hmm, I'm not that confident that I can land it bang on the line at 125 mph. Should I play S/V ? Hmm, not that sure about that either as it's not my main game. What if my volley sits up for a pass ? Should I hit by BH/FH DTL ? Hmm, a risky shot and not totally an advantage unless I follow it to the net".

Also, this is why I disagree about the surfaces being disadvantageous to him vs. the field. Only Nadal (and later, Djok) were good enough to push him into this situation on these surfaces. If the surfaces were faster and lower bouncing (grass at Wim too) like in the 90's, guys like Blake, Roddick, Ljubicic, Berdych, Tsonga, Soda etc. would've been able to hit through him a little more easily because Fed wouldn't be able to set up as easily as on the more slower surfaces during his time. They would get a few more aces in their service games etc.

Also, I think a lot is being made of Fed's display against Sampras. For one thing, it was just one match and a close one. Think of this one: what if the only sample we had to analyze was the Berdych-Fed Wim match of 2010 or the Tsonga-Fed Wim match of 2011 ? What if we drew conclusions from that match ? One match is not enough of an indicator. Further, I'm not convinced about Fed's ability/propensity to play pure S/V. Keep in mind that both Borg/Lendl played far more S/V at Wim than Fed ever did. Watch Lendl beating Edberg in the 1987 Wim SF playing S/V, or Lendl demolishing Becker in the 1990 Queens Club playing full blown S/V. And yet, nobody ever thought that they could've been S/V'ers like Mac/Becker/Edberg/Sampras. More proof of this is that Fed NEVER played like that outside of grass (watch his USO match in that same yr, 2001, vs. Agassi).

Fed's mentality is not of a S/Ver either. S/V'ers are not scared of being passed by a baseliner. They expect it, accept it, as part of the bigger picture. They don't mind being passed 49/100 times as long as they can hit winning volleys the remaining 51 times. Fed doesn't seem like that. Once Nadal passes him a couple of times, Fed abandons the S/V tactic. It's clear that he doesn't like the feeling of being passed, the feeling of being at the mercy of his opponent sometimes.

Fed's volleying is technically flawed too on the FH side. He doesn't bend his knees quite as much as he should. He also tends to reach for the ball instead of getting to it with his feet. This results in his elbow being farther out from his body, and the racquet head dropping lower than the wrist. And this also results in him not getting enough "punch" in his FH volleys, and results in the volley spooning up. His "swing volley" is another give away of his limitations with the FH volley in that he cannot add power to the FH volley UNLESS he has some pace to work with. So, all in all, I'm not totally convinced of his being able to match guys like Sampras/Becker/Stich/Edberg at the S/V game. Fed is, at heart and technically, a baseliner though he's a little more well-rounded than most other baseliners we've seen. Actually, a much stronger case can be made for Sampras becoming a very good baseliner than can be made for Fed being a S/V'er.
 
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jg153040

G.O.A.T.
:) I am unable to respond to your quotes within my quotes.

On the AO, I agree that Nadal is as tough to Fed as Agassi was to Sampras. In both cases, the score was similar: 2-0 to Agassi and 2-0 to Nadal.

At the USO, Fed never played Nadal while Agassi played Sampras 4 times. So I think Agassi was clearly a tougher opponent here. Agree about clay/grass.

My main point was that even the Fed-Nadal rivalry should've been dictated by the surface, just like the Agassi-Sampras one. Fed is, technically, a better grass court and HC player, and clay is the only surface that Nadal is clearly superior on. Part of the reason why Nadal creates issues for Fed even off clay is because Fed plays him like he does on clay.

And this brings me to the "match-up" - Nadal's FH CC to Fed's BH. Theoretically, this is a difficult shot to handle for a 1HBH. But, outside of clay, I think this is something that Fed is significantly to blame for allowing Nadal to be able to set that particular template. It's curious how Nadal didn't "allow" for the reverse - Fed's FH CC to Nadal's BH. Nadal's BH is more consistent than Fed's BH, but, surely, Fed's FH is stronger than Nadal's BH, right ? Further, Agassi had that advantage over Sampras too. It's instructive to see how Sampras didn't allow Agassi (or any other baseliner from his era with a 2HBH) to totally use that strategy against him on the faster surfaces. It always takes two to tango, and so Nadal being able to set the template/pattern for Fed is partly with Fed's "cooperation".

Now, this also brings me to the "technical/mental" part of Fed's game and why it plays to Nadal's hands. Fed is a Tier 1 "jack-of-all-trades" player. IOW, Fed is excellent/great in many aspects of the game without being an all-time great in all of them. For example, Fed has an excellent serve, but he's not in the same bracket as Sampras/Ivanisevic/Krajicek/Scud/Stich in terms of the serve being consistently big, game-in and game-out. He's ok doing it here and there through a match, but he cannot do it game after game like those guys used to do. Fed has great power in his shots, but he doesn't pack as much power/punch as those guys because he puts more spin and puts a little bit more emphasis on consistency. Fed has great defensive skills, but he's not as good as Nadal/Djok in that regard.

So what are the implications of this ?

Basically, when two really talented, great players play, on most neutral surfaces, the player who has fewer shots/options in his repertoire (obviously, this is relative to each other and not in an absolute sense, for all pros are really, really good in all the strokes in tennis in an absolute/stand-alone sense), but is an all-time great in those few aspects, tends to have an advantage over the player who is excellent in all aspects but is not really an all-time great in enough of them.

So, when Fed plays Nadal, he is in a quandary. He can serve Nadal off the court for a few games, but that is only sporadic. He cannot do it most, if not all, of the times; he can punch through Nadal for a few games with his groundies by hitting flatter and closer to the lines, but he cannot do it for prolonged periods; he can come to the net, play S/V etc. for a few games/points, but cannot play the entire match that way. So there is no go-to pattern for him. This also creates a problem on the big points when Nadal is that little bit extra-keen, because Fed is confused (and lacks confidence) about what shot to play: "Should I go for the ace ? Hmm, I'm not that confident that I can land it bang on the line at 125 mph. Should I play S/V ? Hmm, not that sure about that either as it's not my main game. What if my volley sits up for a pass ? Should I hit by BH/FH DTL ? Hmm, a risky shot and not totally an advantage unless I follow it to the net".

Also, this is why I disagree about the surfaces being disadvantageous to him vs. the field. Only Nadal (and later, Djok) were good enough to push him into this situation on these surfaces. If the surfaces were faster and lower bouncing (grass at Wim too) like in the 90's, guys like Blake, Roddick, Ljubicic, Berdych, Tsonga, Soda etc. would've been able to hit through him a little more easily because Fed wouldn't be able to set up as easily as on the more slower surfaces during his time. They would get a few more aces in their service games etc.

Also, I think a lot is being made of Fed's display against Sampras. For one thing, it was just one match and a close one. Think of this one: what if the only sample we had to analyze was the Berdych-Fed Wim match of 2010 or the Tsonga-Fed Wim match of 2011 ? What if we drew conclusions from that match ? One match is not enough of an indicator. Further, I'm not convinced about Fed's ability/propensity to play pure S/V. Keep in mind that both Borg/Lendl played far more S/V at Wim than Fed ever did. Watch Lendl beating Edberg in the 1987 Wim SF playing S/V, or Lendl demolishing Becker in the 1990 Queens Club playing full blown S/V. And yet, nobody ever thought that they could've been S/V'ers like Mac/Becker/Edberg/Sampras. More proof of this is that Fed NEVER played like that outside of grass (watch his USO match in that same yr, 2001, vs. Agassi).

Fed's mentality is not of a S/Ver either. S/V'ers are not scared of being passed by a baseliner. They expect it, accept it, as part of the bigger picture. They don't mind being passed 49/100 times as long as they can hit winning volleys the remaining 51 times. Fed doesn't seem like that. Once Nadal passes him a couple of times, Fed abandons the S/V tactic. It's clear that he doesn't like the feeling of being passed, the feeling of being at the mercy of his opponent sometimes.

Fed's volleying is technically flawed too on the FH side. He doesn't bend his knees quite as much as he should. He also tends to reach for the ball instead of getting to it with his feet. This results in his elbow being farther out from his body, and the racquet head dropping lower than the wrist. And this also results in him not getting enough "punch" in his FH volleys, and results in the volley spooning up. His "swing volley" is another give away of his limitations with the FH volley in that he cannot add power to the FH volley UNLESS he has some pace to work with. So, all in all, I'm not totally convinced of his being able to match guys like Sampras/Becker/Stich/Edberg at the S/V game. Fed is, at heart and technically, a baseliner though he's a little more well-rounded than most other baseliners we've seen. Actually, a much stronger case can be made for Sampras becoming a very good baseliner than can be made for Fed being a S/V'er.
WOW! This is such a brilliant post. Not even a post, this is an article. Nothing to add, I enjoyed it.
 

Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
:) I am unable to respond to your quotes within my quotes.

On the AO, I agree that Nadal is as tough to Fed as Agassi was to Sampras. In both cases, the score was similar: 2-0 to Agassi and 2-0 to Nadal.

At the USO, Fed never played Nadal while Agassi played Sampras 4 times. So I think Agassi was clearly a tougher opponent here. Agree about clay/grass.

My main point was that even the Fed-Nadal rivalry should've been dictated by the surface, just like the Agassi-Sampras one. Fed is, technically, a better grass court and HC player, and clay is the only surface that Nadal is clearly superior on. Part of the reason why Nadal creates issues for Fed even off clay is because Fed plays him like he does on clay.

And this brings me to the "match-up" - Nadal's FH CC to Fed's BH. Theoretically, this is a difficult shot to handle for a 1HBH. But, outside of clay, I think this is something that Fed is significantly to blame for allowing Nadal to be able to set that particular template. It's curious how Nadal didn't "allow" for the reverse - Fed's FH CC to Nadal's BH. Nadal's BH is more consistent than Fed's BH, but, surely, Fed's FH is stronger than Nadal's BH, right ? Further, Agassi had that advantage over Sampras too. It's instructive to see how Sampras didn't allow Agassi (or any other baseliner from his era with a 2HBH) to totally use that strategy against him on the faster surfaces. It always takes two to tango, and so Nadal being able to set the template/pattern for Fed is partly with Fed's "cooperation".

Now, this also brings me to the "technical/mental" part of Fed's game and why it plays to Nadal's hands. Fed is a Tier 1 "jack-of-all-trades" player. IOW, Fed is excellent/great in many aspects of the game without being an all-time great in all of them. For example, Fed has an excellent serve, but he's not in the same bracket as Sampras/Ivanisevic/Krajicek/Scud/Stich in terms of the serve being consistently big, game-in and game-out. He's ok doing it here and there through a match, but he cannot do it game after game like those guys used to do. Fed has great power in his shots, but he doesn't pack as much power/punch as those guys because he puts more spin and puts a little bit more emphasis on consistency. Fed has great defensive skills, but he's not as good as Nadal/Djok in that regard.

So what are the implications of this ?

Basically, when two really talented, great players play, on most neutral surfaces, the player who has fewer shots/options in his repertoire, but is an all-time great in those few aspects, tends to have an advantage over the player who is excellent in all aspects but is not really an all-time great in enough of them. Obviously, this is relative to each other and not in an absolute sense, for all pros are really, really good in all the strokes in tennis in an absolute/stand-alone sense.

So, when Fed plays Nadal, he is in a quandary. He can serve Nadal off the court for a few games, but that is only sporadic. He cannot do it most, if not all, of the times; he can punch through Nadal for a few games with his groundies by hitting flatter and closer to the lines, but he cannot do it for prolonged periods; he can come to the net, play S/V etc. for a few games/points, but cannot play the entire match that way. So there is no go-to pattern for him. This also creates a problem on the big points when Nadal is that little bit extra-keen, because Fed is confused (and lacks confidence) about what shot to play: "Should I go for the ace ? Hmm, I'm not that confident that I can land it bang on the line at 125 mph. Should I play S/V ? Hmm, not that sure about that either as it's not my main game. What if my volley sits up for a pass ? Should I hit by BH/FH DTL ? Hmm, a risky shot and not totally an advantage unless I follow it to the net".

Also, this is why I disagree about the surfaces being disadvantageous to him vs. the field. Only Nadal (and later, Djok) were good enough to push him into this situation on these surfaces. If the surfaces were faster and lower bouncing (grass at Wim too) like in the 90's, guys like Blake, Roddick, Ljubicic, Berdych, Tsonga, Soda etc. would've been able to hit through him a little more easily because Fed wouldn't be able to set up as easily as on the more slower surfaces during his time. They would get a few more aces in their service games etc.



Fed's mentality is not of a S/Ver either. S/V'ers are not scared of being passed by a baseliner. They expect it, accept it, as part of the bigger picture. They don't mind being passed 49/100 times as long as they can hit winning volleys the remaining 51 times. Fed doesn't seem like that. Once Nadal passes him a couple of times, Fed abandons the S/V tactic. It's clear that he doesn't like the feeling of being passed, the feeling of being at the mercy of his opponent sometimes.

Fed's volleying is technically flawed too on the FH side. He doesn't bend his knees quite as much as he should. He also tends to reach for the ball instead of getting to it with his feet. This results in his elbow being farther out from his body, and the racquet head dropping lower than the wrist. And this also results in him not getting enough "punch" in his FH volleys, and results in the volley spooning up. His "swing volley" is another give away of his limitations with the FH volley in that he cannot add power to the FH volley UNLESS he has some pace to work with. So, all in all, I'm not totally convinced of his being able to match guys like Sampras/Becker/Stich/Edberg at the S/V game. Fed is, at heart and technically, a baseliner though he's a little more well-rounded than most other baseliners we've seen. Actually, a much stronger case can be made for Sampras becoming a very good baseliner than can be made for Fed being a S/V'er.
Yes, excellent post.
A few comments to the bolded parts - it's an interesting theory (one being good at all, but not an all time great in any), that I've never heard uttered before, but a) does it hold water over a significant sample size? and b) isn't Fed's forehand an all time great shot?? (But I suppose in this theory, Nadal both have one of the best forehands and the best ever defense).

As to Sampras and the backhand bullying - I don't think Nadal's CC forehand with the most topspin and bounce in the history of the game is comparable to Agassi's two-handed backhand. Novak has a great backhand, certainly as great as Agassi's I would say. And he tries to bully Fed with it. Yet, I wouldn't say, Fed had a match-up problem vs. Nole.
Also, Agassi has said that with Sampras (and his era of players), there was always a place to go. With Federer, there was nowhere (until Nadal that is). So Agassi couldn't bully Fed the same way Nadal could. I'm pretty sure, Pete would have big difficulty handling Rafa's forehand as well. Even at the net. (two of the best ohb's on tour is a combined 0-25 against Nadal, Gasquet and Wawrinka with the latter being 0-26 in sets. Gasquet has at least won 3 sets or so).

As to: "It's curious how Nadal didn't "allow" for the reverse - Fed's FH CC to Nadal's BH"
I think Fed is partly to blame for this. And Nadal's speed around the court. Nadal is so fast, that unless the ball is hit hard, he can run around any backhand and turn it into a forehand. And with his forehand, he can go inside-in or inside-out depending where the best option is. Moreover, Fed has, at least in this era, a world class slice that he uses to great effect against Nole, Delpo etc. Against Nadal, it's useless, because of Nadal's topspin.

But yes, if Fed could convince himself that he needed to shed some of his variety and play consistently to Nadal's backhand, I think he would have had a better chance of winning a bit more. I think he's been too stubborn in that regard and too much of a 'I play the way I want and that's good enough against everyone, if I execute well'-kind of player. Nadal recognized that his chance was to break the backhand down and sticks to that tactic - even when Fed's backhand is on like in the Indian Wells match last year.
But yes, I agree with you that Fed is in doubt about the tactics - and that he lacks a go-to pattern against Nadal, whereas Nadal has a template that works unless Fed is really on or the surface is fast or indoor. Partly because he doesn't 'like' sticking to 'play to the backhand, play to the backhand, play to the backhand, play to the backhand, play to the backhand', but also because what would be an option - coming to the net - is simply harder now than it was in the 90's, because of the strings. A guy like Rafter has said so much at least. And Nadal's shots - with the amount of power and spin that the strings and his shots allow for - is very difficult to handle at the net.

As for the S&V, yes, probably Fed is not completely natural at it. Could he have been? Maybe. I don't think it's a disqualifier that he doesn't have the S&V's mentality after not having played S&V for almost his entire career. He's better suited to it than most contemporary players, but whether he would have had a more of a Sampras style in the 90's is hard to say definitively.
As for the field, it's certainly possible that he would not have been able to have his streaks with faster conditions. But he would likewise have been more able to hit through Rafa and Novak 2.0.

Overall, I still feel that Nadal presented a more formidable challenge than Agassi did. And that Fed is therefore at least partly excused for failing. But only partly. He could and should still have done more, tried going 100 % for the Nadal backhand, been mentally tougher etc. etc. etc.
 
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shakes1975

Semi-Pro
I don't agree with the premise that h2h decides who is a better player. Tennis is tournament / rankings format, not h2h format.
Sure, but this is not just another H2H. This is a H2H vs. an opponent who is fast closing the slam count. IOW, this H2H directly influences slam count of both guys.

Look at this way: shouldn't the better guy win a higher percentage of the matches overall ? That's how it usually is.

Fed has the records. Nothing you can do about it. H2H doesn't erase them.
Sure, it doesn't, but it does make you think.

So, if you admit Fed is weak mentally, this means he has to be the best player in history by far. Since tennis is about 50% mental and he still has the most records. This means his skills are over the charts compared to Rafa / Sampras.
FWIW, I don't think he's weak. I never said that either. IMO, he's a little more fragile compared to those guys.
 
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