Nadal always had this psychological advantage over Federer and Djokovic

Sathya

New User
Right from the beginning, people always under estimated Nadal's ability and potential. Almost everybody predicted that his career will be very short because of his physically taxing style of play. People always had very less expectations on him (many people predicted that Nadal would just be another Michael Chang or Jim Courier) and therefore Nadal had the privilege to play without any pressure or burden of expectations. In other words, Nadal basically had nothing to lose and everything to gain from the beginning of his career and he could play with a free mind without any fear of losing or failure since not many people really expected him to have a great career.

But for both Federer and Djokovic (especially Federer), it was totally the other way around. Right from the beginning, people and media were quick to tout Federer as greatest player of all time. People only saw his shot making talent and ignored his real weakness which is his fragile mind and thereby his difficulty in finishing of matches and in taking opportunities of available openings. Therefore Federer was overestimated from the beginning and was always considered as a huge favorite in every big tournament which put a huge pressure on him. The same is with Djokovic also. People always tend to over estimate his ability. Therefore both Federer and Djokovic have high burden of people's expectations of them and therefore they have to play with fear of losing.

Thus I feel that Nadal is very fortunate in this regard since he was always considered by most of the people as a less talented underdog compared to Federer and Djokovic and therefore basically Nadal had no much pressure on him and had nothing to lose from the beginning of his career.

Secondly, another big psychological advantage that Nadal always had and still has is that he was always the virtual lock to win French Open and other clay court titles starting from 2005. On clay, Nadal is like a horse in the midst of donkeys and mostly he just needed to ensure that he is in a reasonably good physical shape in order to win those titles. Therefore, one slam and at least a couple of masters is almost assured for him every year and therefore he can afford to play other grand slams and tournaments without any pressure or tension (with nothing to lose attitude) since one slam and a few more big titles are already in his pocket.

But Federer and Djokovic do not have that privilege. Federer may be a great grass court player but still he is not unbeatable on grass and was never a virtual lock to win Wimbledon at anytime. Even in Wimbledon, he has lost to many good players like Berdych, Raonic, Tsonga and especially Djokovic. Similarly, even though Djokovic is a great player in Australian Open, still he is not a virtual lock to win that and many players were able to beat him there (Tsonga, Chung, Wawrinka, Istomin etc.). But Nadal has lost only just twice in 14 attempts in French Open and he rarely loses on clay. Thus Nadal can play without any fear of losing on grass court and hard courts since clay titles are already in his pocket but Federer and Djokovic do not have that privilege.

Actually why is it that people and media always tend to under estimate Nadal's potential and always tend to over estimate Federer's and Djokovic's potential?
Also I really feel that it is always better to be under estimated rather than over estimated since it gives you the privilege to play without any pressure or fear and with nothing to lose and everything to gain mentality. Actually if given a choice, I would be very happy to be in Nadal's position rather than being in Federer's or Djokovic's position since I feel that it is always better to be under estimated and there by over exceed people's expectations rather than the other way around.

What do you think?
 

Sathya

New User
Nadal has been underestimated throughout his career, hence he didn't need to "meet expectations" which allowed him to win slemz.
What I want to say is that Nadal was not under any pressure in most of the slams since people always considered him as a less talented underdog (who only wins by hard work and practice rather than talent) and therefore people never had huge expectations on him. Thus Nadal had the privilege of playing without any pressure and fear of losing. Basically he did not have much to lose and everything to gain since people always under estimated his chances of winning.

Actually in the early years of Nadal's career (2005 - 2007), Federer was considered as the favorite over Nadal by many people even in French Open. Actually I remember very well that many people and tennis experts predicted Federer to win the 2005 French Open semi final (Federer was considered 75 - 25 favorite in that match by many people). Therefore I feel that Federer was always over estimated and Nadal was always under estimated right from the beginning which put a lot of pressure on Federer and allowed Nadal to play with a free mind.
 
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PerilousPear

Semi-Pro
What I want to say is that Nadal was not under any pressure in most of the slams since people always considered him as a less talented underdog (who only wins by hard work and practice rather than talent) and therefore people never had huge expectations on him. Thus Nadal had the privilege of playing without any pressure and fear of losing. Basically he did not have much to lose and everything to gain since people always under estimated his chances of winning.

Actually in the early years of Nadal's career (2005 - 2007), Federer was considered as the favorite over Nadal even in French Open. Actually I remember very well that many people and tennis experts predicted Federer to win the 2005 French Open semi final (Federer was considered 75 - 25 favorite in that match by many people). Therefore I feel that Federer was always over estimated and Nadal was always under estimated right from the beginning.
Nadal achieved what he did throughout determination and hard work. What others thought of him then (and now) should have little on his performance.

And Nadal was beginning to break out, while Federer was a multi-time slam champion. Nobody cared/underestimated Federer in '99-'00 when he began to break out too.
 

Sathya

New User
Actually even now, what I observe is that most of the people assume that Djokovic is a sure bet to beat Nadal in a potential Australian Open final (just based on 2019 final score) even though Nadal himself is a great hard court player and has won a lot of big hard court titles (beating Djokovic in two US Open finals and taking him to the very brink in an Australian Open final when the latter was at his peak). Why is that people think this way and always underestimate Nadal's ability? I frankly feel that Nadal is very well capable of beating Djokovic even in Australian Open especially considering how much Djokovic struggled and almost managed to lose to Dominic Thiem in this year's final. I feel that 2019 Australian open is just a one off match where everything went right for Djokovic and everything went wrong for Nadal and so that single match should not be used as a basis to under estimate Nadal's chances against Djokovic even on hard courts. I had already posted a separate thread about this previously before this year's Australian Open.
 
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Jonesy

Hall of Fame
You mean the lack or pressure is what made a teenage spaniard own a goat in his peak? Preposterous! The reason he always owned peak Fed was because of top spin forehand to the backhand.

Fed can compete nowadays against Nadal simply because his backhand is a lot better than in the past, he probably improved it only to beat Nadal.
 

PerilousPear

Semi-Pro
Actually even now, what I observe is that most of the people assume that Djokovic is a sure bet to beat Nadal in a potential Australian Open final (just based on 2019 final score) even though Nadal himself is a great hard court player and has won a lot of big hard court titles. Why is that people think this way and always underestimate Nadal's ability? I frankly feel that Nadal is very well capable of beating Djokovic even in Australian Open especially considering how much Djokovic struggled and almost managed to lose to Dominic Thiem in this year's final. I feel that 2019 Australian open is just a one off match where everything went right for Djokovic and everything went wrong for Nadal and so that single match should not be used as a basis to under estimate Nadal's chances against Djokovic even on hard courts. I had already posted a separate thread about this previously before this year's Australian Open.
I don't think anybody's a safe bet against anyone. But if Djokovic plays Nadal in a hard court final, barring injury, I'll lean toward Djokovic. That doesn't mean I "underestimate" Nadal. It's just what intuition is telling me.
 

Sathya

New User
Nadal achieved what he did throughout determination and hard work. What others thought of him then (and now) should have little on his performance.

And Nadal was beginning to break out, while Federer was a multi-time slam champion. Nobody cared/underestimated Federer in '99-'00 when he began to break out too.
Suppose if most people considered Nadal as the favorite in 2005 French Open Semifinal and had heavy expectations on him, would that match still have taken the same course with exactly the same result? Does the psychological factor or pressure of expectations not have any impact on the outcome of any match?

For example, in Australian Open 2017 final, Federer was the clear underdog and almost every one expected Nadal to win easily. Therefore in that match, all the pressure was on Nadal and Federer had the privilege of playing with a free mind with nothing to lose mindset and look what happened. Federer surpassed all expectations by winning that match. Same was the case in Madrid masters 2009 final. So I feel that people's expectations and predictions play at least some psychological part in deciding the course of any match.

I have observed ever since Nadal's emergence that people always had only negative predictions about him (like Nadal will not last more than two years with his style of play, Nadal can win only on clay etc..) and therefore he did not have the burden of expectations which Federer and Djokovic often had, which may have helped Nadal to play with a free mind without any pressure or fear of losing since Nadal knew that he has already achieved more than what people expected out of him.
 
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Sathya

New User
You mean the lack or pressure is what made a teenage spaniard own a goat in his peak? Preposterous! The reason he always owned peak Fed was because of top spin forehand to the backhand.

Fed can compete nowadays against Nadal simply because his backhand is a lot better than in the past, he probably improved it only to beat Nadal.
Suppose if most people considered Nadal as the favorite in 2005 French Open Semifinal and had heavy expectations on him, would that match still have taken the same course with exactly the same result? Does the psychological factor or pressure of expectations not have any impact on the outcome of any match?

For example, in Australian Open 2017 final, Federer was the clear underdog and almost every one expected Nadal to win easily. Therefore in that match, all the pressure was on Nadal and Federer had the privilege of playing with a free mind with nothing to lose mindset and look what happened. Federer surpassed all expectations by winning that match. Same was the case in Madrid masters 2009 final. So I feel that people's expectations and predictions play at least some psychological part in deciding the course of any match.

I have observed ever since Nadal's emergence that people always had only negative predictions about him (like Nadal will not last more than two years with his style of play, Nadal can win only on clay etc..) and therefore he did not have the burden of expectations which Federer and Djokovic often had, which may have helped Nadal to play with a free mind without any pressure or fear of losing since Nadal knew that he has already met more than people's expectations.
 
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PerilousPear

Semi-Pro
Suppose if most people considered Nadal as the favorite in 2005 French Open Semifinal and had heavy expectations on him, would that match still have taken the same course with exactly the same result? Does the psychological factor or pressure of expectations not have any impact on the outcome of any match?

For example, in Australian Open 2017 final, Federer was the clear underdog and almost every one expected Nadal to win easily. Therefore in that match, all the pressure was on Nadal and Federer had the privilege of playing with a free mind with nothing to lose mindset and look what happened. Federer surpassed all expectations by winning that match. Same was the case in Madrid masters 2009 final. So I feel that people's expectations and predictions play at least some psychological part in deciding the course of any match.

I have observed ever since Nadal's emergence that people always had only negative predictions about him (like Nadal will not last more than two years with his style of play, Nadal can win only on clay etc..) and therefore he did not have the burden of expectations which Federer and Djokovic often had, which may have helped Nadal to play with a free mind without any pressure or fear of losing since Nadal knows that he has already achieved more than what people expected out of him.
It goes both ways. There are instances where it's expected of players to win it, and they go on to win it (Fed at Wimby/USO domination, Nadal at French), when it's expected of them to win and they lose (Fed 09 USO, Nadal 09 RG), when it's not expected of them to win and they win (Ivanisevic 01). You can pretty much slice that pie anyway you like.

The pressure is there, but how they handle it, it varies on player and on occasion. Even and ATG like Fed can succumb to pressure and just beat himself (5th set of AO 2009 final, USO 2011 SF against Djokovic).
 

Sathya

New User
Nadal achieved what he did throughout determination and hard work. What others thought of him then (and now) should have little on his performance.

And Nadal was beginning to break out, while Federer was a multi-time slam champion. Nobody cared/underestimated Federer in '99-'00 when he began to break out too.
Also Nadal was not just beginning to break out at that time. He was already the best clay court player by 2005 French Open when that match happened. Nadal had won the Monte Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and Rome Masters in that year and was in great form entering that slam and was looking like a clear favorite to win his first grand slam title at least according to me. Nadal also came very close to beating Federer in straight sets in Miami Masters earlier that year and was only denied because of a bad line call. But in spite of all this, many people underestimated Nadal's chances against Federer in that match and considered Federer as the heavy favorite to win. Why is it so?

Like that, there are many instances where people unfairly dismissed Nadal's potential and winning ability and hyped up Federer's ability to sky level, even though Nadal is/was always a much superior competitor, athlete and mental giant than Federer or any body else and therefore actually deserves to be considered as the favorite most of the times at least according to me.
 
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PerilousPear

Semi-Pro
Also Nadal was not just beginning to break out at that time. He was already the best clay court player by 2005 French Open when that match happened. Nadal had won the Monte Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and Rome Masters in that year and was in great form entering that slam and was looking like a clear favorite to win his first grand slam title at least according to me. Nadal also came very close to beating Federer in straight sets in Miami Masters earlier that year but was only denied because of a bad line call. But in spite of all this, many people underestimated Nadal's chances against Federer in that match and considered Federer as the heavy favorite. Why is it so?
He no spoke bery good english, no?
 

Hitman

Legend
So what are we saying here, that Nadal thrived against his big rivals by playing the role of the underdog? We all know this, and know he doesn't like being called favorite. He struggles with being labelled the favorite.
 

alexio88

Hall of Fame
So what are we saying here, that Nadal thrived against his big rivals by playing the role of the underdog? We all know this, and know he doesn't like being called favorite. He struggles with being labelled the favorite.
we all also know these epic struggles being labelled the favorite ..in paris.. and do you also think djoko was labelled the favorite before their us 10 encounter for example?
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
I have observed ever since Nadal's emergence that people always had only negative predictions about him
Does it really matter to you what people thought about Rafa 15 years ago? Yes, they were wrong. Yes, Rafa proved all the doubters wrong. Yes, Rafa's won 19 slams and is arguably the second or third greatest player ever. Everyone makes bad predictions, it's part of life, just accept it and move on. Rejoice that your guy is still playing and winning.
 

NADALalot

Hall of Fame
And Rafa's forehand down-the-line at the US Open is an unstoppable weapon that nobody can compete with, and that is why Rafa leads Djokovic 2-1 at the US Open h2h, and has won FOUR US Opens and looking good to tie Connors-Sampras-Federer with FIVE.
The only time Djokovic beat Rafa at the US Open was when Rafa lost confidence in 2011 and refused to play the forehand-down-the-line on big points, instead going crosscourt far too much - resulting in extremely long rallies and fatigue.
No surprise Rafa has also won more Canada Masters (FIVE) than Djokovic.
That surface accentuate's Rafa's top spin.
 

clayqueen

Talk Tennis Guru
12 of 19 still on clay, right ?

Non clay slam wins against Berdych, Anderson and Medvedev.
Berdych beat both Federer and Djokovic on his way to the final where Rafa beat him easily. Berdych even beat Djokovic in straight sets in the SF and only lost one set to Fedr in the QF.

Berdych
 

Sathya

New User
So what are we saying here, that Nadal thrived against his big rivals by playing the role of the underdog? We all know this, and know he doesn't like being called favorite. He struggles with being labelled the favorite.
I am saying that being considered as an underdog gives a huge (unfair) psychological advantage to Nadal and putting his rivals at a big disadvantage since all the pressure is on his rivals while Nadal is free of any pressure and expectations. By giving Nadal the role of an underdog, people are clearly helping him to win more and hurting the chances of his rivals (Federer and Djokovic) by putting them under extra pressure. Why is it that people offer this unfair advantage to Nadal by always under estimating his chances even though he is the best athlete and the toughest competitor among all of them which should actually make him the favorite to win every time?
 
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octogon

Hall of Fame
So what are we saying here, that Nadal thrived against his big rivals by playing the role of the underdog? We all know this, and know he doesn't like being called favorite. He struggles with being labelled the favorite.
He doesn't really. He's always the favorite in Roland Garros, no matter what he says, and he usually wins. He'd crumble a lot more if he struggled with the favorite tag. It's just a bit of kidology his Uncle taught him. Also to do with the humility instilled in him by his Uncle. No matter how good he is, it's in his nature to underplay it.
 

Sathya

New User
So what are we saying here, that Nadal thrived against his big rivals by playing the role of the underdog? We all know this, and know he doesn't like being called favorite. He struggles with being labelled the favorite.
According to me, there is a clear reason why Nadal does not like to be considered as the favorite and why he always projects himself as an underdog and always over complements his rivals (Federer and Djokovic). It is because it takes away the pressure from him and shifts the pressure and burden of expectations on his rivals which in turn helps him to play with a free mind and win more titles. Most people consider this as humility on Nadal's part but I actually feel that Nadal does it tactically to gain psychological advantage over his rivals (even though I acknowledge that Nadal is quite humble as also Federer, Djokovic and rest of the players, I feel that all tennis players are generally nice and humble no matter what they achieve). Kindly pardon me if I have said anything wrong.
 
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Enceladus

Hall of Fame
OP, overestimating Nadal, is back :X3::rolleyes:

OP is wrong in saying that Djoker' potential was overrated. At the turn of the decades 2000s and 2010s, many people thought that Murray or del Potro would have a more successful career than Djoker. By 2010, Novak had fitness problems, many matches Nole ended with retirement. There is a thread from 2009 on Talk Tennis where OP asks if Nole is a one grandslam wonder. Nole's potential was thus underestimated.
 

mahesh69a

Semi-Pro
According to me, there is a clear reason why Nadal does not like to be considered as the favorite and why he always projects himself as an underdog and always over complements his rivals (Federer and Djokovic). It is because it takes away the pressure from him and shifts the pressure and burden of expectations on his rivals which in turn helps him to play with a free mind and win more titles. Most people consider this as humility on Nadal's part but I actually feel that Nadal does it tactically to gain psychological advantage over his rivals (even though I acknowledge that Nadal is quite humble as also Federer, Djokovic and rest of the players, I feel that all tennis players are generally nice and humble). Kindly pardon me if I have said anything wrong.
We all know what happens at FO, so lets park that.

That leaves us AO, W and USO - among the Big 3, he has the least match wins at all 3 events. So, statistically, he is the underdog when facing Roger or Novak.

So, good for him that when he made a deep run, he made it count.

Edit: I know the match wins stats are hindsight, but they are indicative of levels.
 
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Sathya

New User
OP, overestimating Nadal, is back :X3::rolleyes:

OP is wrong in saying that Djoker' potential was overrated. At the turn of the decades 2000s and 2010s, many people thought that Murray or del Potro would have a more successful career than Djoker. By 2010, Novak had fitness problems, many matches Nole ended with retirement. There is a thread from 2009 on Talk Tennis where OP asks if Nole is a one grandslam wonder. Nole's potential was thus underestimated.
But after 2011, I feel that Novak is overrated. For example, even now many people consider him as the clear favorite in almost every hard court tournament even though he has clearly struggled to maintain his consistency over the last few years even on his best surface. Also many people consider Djokovic as virtual lock to beat Nadal outside of clay which I also think is not true. According to me, Djokovic's most of the wins against Nadal on hard courts came during 2015 and early 2016 at a time when Nadal was going through the worst patch of his career and hence those results do not have any impact on (and should not be used as a basis to judge) their future match ups even on hard court.
 
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California

Semi-Pro
The biggest advantage that Nadal has had is that since he has joined the tour the surfaces have gotten slower and slower, and the balls slightly bigger and softer. This gave him the advantage of knowing that he could could play his baseline, defensive game and not be hit off the court. He could position himself 20 feet behind the baseline and not be hurt. This allowed him to relax and not stress about changing his game and having to adapt to other surface speeds.

The indoor season is short and not really significant enough that he could just ignore it, and consider it a throw away, and not focus on results. He would accumulate enough points during the rest of the season that he could still be ranked very high and sometimes even number 1 without having to to focus on the indoor season.

Still he is a great athlete and slow court player, and arguably the best fighter and competitor on tour. But if people don't want to to accept and acknowledge that he has been the biggest beneficiary of homogenized courts and the general slowing of the tour of the Big Three, I can't help you.
 

Enceladus

Hall of Fame
But after 2011, I feel that Novak is overrated. For example, even now many people consider him as the clear favorite in almost every hard court tournament even though he has clearly struggled to maintain his consistency over the last few years even on his best surface. Also many people consider Djokovic as virtual lock to beat Nadal outside of clay which I also think is not true. According to me, Djokovic's most of the wins against Nadal on hard courts came during 2015 and early 2016 at a time when Nadal was going through the worst patch of his career and hence those results do not have any impact on (and should not be used as a basis to judge) their future match ups even on hard court.
You see a problem there, where is not. Djoker is the best HC player of the today, he won 8 titles at AO, only Nadal on RG created a stronger dominance. It's naturally, Djoker is considered to be the biggest favorite of all HC tournaments in which he participates.

Nadal's last win over Djoker outside clay is from 2013 season. His bad series of off-clay matches against Djoker thus began before his gaming decline (2015-16) and only a minor part of these matches are in the seasons of the Nadal crisis. This is not to say that Bull cannot beat Nole again outside the clay. However, due to matchup, it will always be harder for Nadal to beat Djoker than the opposite.
 

Mike Sams

G.O.A.T.
If not for Djokovic and Federer, Nadal very likely would've quit tennis back in 2012 and gotten married and enjoyed the rest of his life on the yachts and beaches in Spain.
He's only competing now because of those 2 guys in a bid to win the Slam race. That's what's keeping him in the game.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
If not for Djokovic and Federer, Nadal very likely would've quit tennis back in 2012 and gotten married and enjoyed the rest of his life on the yachts and beaches in Spain.
He's only competing now because of those 2 guys in a bid to win the Slam race. That's what's keeping him in the game.
I think you seem to be describing Federer, not Nadal. Federer is ancient in tennis years. He's only playing because Djokovic and Nadal were a threat to his records.

Nadal was still a young competitor in 2012. Why would he want to retire? He's faced injuries since the start of his career, so that has never been a reason for him to throw in the towel.
 

Mike Sams

G.O.A.T.
I think you seem to be describing Federer, not Nadal. Federer is ancient in tennis years. He's only playing because Djokovic and Nadal were a threat to his records.

Nadal was still a young competitor in 2012. Why would he want to retire? He's faced injuries since the start of his career, so that has never been a reason for him to throw in the towel.
Nadal was within the vicinity of reaching Federer if not for Djokovic's sudden superhuman emergence. Nadal could've caught Federer by 2012 or 2013 at the earliest. But who knows? Maybe Nadal would've stayed on or he might've dropped off and gotten bored or fed up with the grind of the tour. We know for certain that all 3 are motivating each other to keep on going due to what's on the line. Even if Nadal hits 21, he's got Djokovic right on his tail so none of them can afford to let up. But then again we may not get any tennis until 2022 for all we know.
 

The Guru

Hall of Fame
Yeah, such a damn shame Federer has had Djokovic in his 30's instead of Thiem.
I'm shocked Fed fans don't bring this up more often. He was incredibly unlucky that when he was still playing slam quality tennis in his late 20s and early 30s there were two ATGs at their best in his way, but I guess that would make them admit Fed was actually good in the 10s which most on here don't seem to want to do.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I am saying that being considered as an underdog gives a huge (unfair) psychological advantage to Nadal and putting his rivals at a big disadvantage since all the pressure is on his rivals while Nadal is free of any pressure and expectations. By giving Nadal the role of an underdog, people are clearly helping him to win more and hurting the chances of his rivals (Federer and Djokovic) by putting them under extra pressure. Why is it that people offer this unfair advantage to Nadal by always under estimating his chances even though he is the best athlete and the toughest competitor among all of them which should actually make him the favorite to win every time?
If being an underdog gives an unfair advantage, then underdogs would be favorites. :unsure:
 

The Guru

Hall of Fame
I'm pretty sure we do. Like all the time lol.
I don't see it that much. I see the trashing of Thiem and Nadal/Djokovic current competition plenty for sure but I don't often see Fed fans say Fed was actually really good in almost every year since 07 and he played at a level worthy of a slam winner many times but was stopped by Nadal/Djokovic. Just the other day I had people saying there was a cataclysm of difference between 27 year old Fed and 29 year old Fed. Most Fed fans try to downgrade how good he was past 07 or 09 (depending on the fan) to make Nadal/Djokovic competition seem weaker. I don't see many Fed fans take the opposite approach. Maybe you do but it seems the majority don't.
 

MeatTornado

G.O.A.T.
I don't see it that much. I see the trashing of Thiem and Nadal/Djokovic current competition plenty for sure but I don't often see Fed fans say Fed was actually really good in almost every year since 07 and he played at a level worthy of a slam winner many times but was stopped by Nadal/Djokovic. Just the other day I had people saying there was a cataclysm of difference between 27 year old Fed and 29 year old Fed. Most Fed fans try to downgrade how good he was past 07 or 09 (depending on the fan) to make Nadal/Djokovic competition seem weaker. I don't see many Fed fans take the opposite approach. Maybe you do but it seems the majority don't.
I think people are making the same point, just framed differently.
 
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