Peak Nadal vs peak Borg on clay

Who wins?


  • Total voters
    83

Sephiroth

Professional
Rafa is straight sets

LOL @ Fraud fans thinking Borg could win or they'd split even matches against a 12x RG champion, king of clay with ethereal clay stats that Borg wishes he could ever dream off in his HALF RG title count career compared to Rafa.

Those Fraud fans would never think Borg, Sampras and Djokovic would split matches and beat peak Federer at Wimbledon, but Borg is gonna do that against Nadal of all people
 
It comes to not understanding the history of the sport, or sometimes allowing fanboying to blind rational thinking. Comparing Federer and Djokovic to Borg as cannon fodder to Nadal is borderline hilarious. One guy was designed to dominate clay, the other two were designed to dominate grass and hard respectively.
I 75% agree. Djokovic was never designed to dominate grass. It is one of the biggest surprises of the last 30 years he has become a dominant player on grass; and also a reflection of the terrible grass field in this era, which is probably even worse than the terrible clay field. Nearly everyones best surface today is hard courts (since the tour is designed around hard courts and hard hitting baseline play), and that is where you have by far the best fields.

Early in his career, even after he had been a top 3 player for awhile, Djokovic looked clumsy and awkward on grass, and it looked like by far his worst surface and not clay. He improved greatly on it, but he also has done a lot better there since a much older Federer on grass is a lot easier opponent than a Nadal almost the same age on clay, and with Nadal falling off badly on grass after 2011, there really isn't any obstacles. That he was ever designed to dominate grass is revionist history IMO, early in his career you would have predicted more RG titles than Wimbledon (many predicted 0 Wimbledons).
 

Hitman

Legend
I 75% agree. Djokovic was never designed to dominate grass. It is one of the biggest surprises of the last 30 years he has become a dominant player on grass; and also a reflection of the terrible grass field in this era, which is probably even worse than the terrible clay field. Nearly everyones best surface today is hard courts (since the tour is designed around hard courts and hard hitting baseline play), and that is where you have by far the best fields. Early in his career, even after he had been a top 3 player for awhile, he looked clumsy and awkward on grass, and it looked like by far his worst surface and not clay. He improved greatly on it, but he also has done a lot better there since a much older Federer on grass is a lot easier opponent than a Nadal almost the same age on clay, and with Nadal falling off badly on grass after 2011, there really isn't any obstacles.
What helps Djokovic on grass is his improved serving, which is now ideal for grass and of course his incredible returning, he is able to get balls very deep into the court and very low, forcing players into defensive positions. He can then move forward and attack better, using the grass to allow the ball to skid through the court. Being with Becker really changed his approach to grass, he won 4 titles after his time with him.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
I mean, Fed lost his first 10 matches on clay and got straight-setted by Guga on his last legs at the FO at the time he was pulverizing the field on HC and grass. Novak had plenty of slip-ups at the French and lost in relatively routine fashion the first time he played a non-Nadal opponent in a FO final.

That people put them so often on the level Borg with the "if not for Nadal" argument is absurd, not to mention short-sighted as you could start doing the same for so many players throughout history. I can get saying that Fedovic are as good or better than Guga or Lendl (though I disagree) but Borg? Yeah, ridiculous.
Fedovic are not better than Lendl on clay, even if you take out Nadal.

Can anyone guarantee Fedovic would be beating McEnroe and Wilander at RG, both of them ATGs? Mac in particular was 82-3 in 1984.
 
What helps Djokovic on grass is his improved serving, which is now ideal for grass and of course his incredible returning, he is able to get balls very deep into the court and very low, forcing players into defensive positions. He can then move forward and attack better, using the grass to allow the ball to skid through the court. Being with Becker really changed his approach to grass, he won 4 titles after his time with him.
His biggest strength on grass is his server/return of serve combination, now with his improved serve. It is far more that than anything else. His athleticsm also helps on grass too, although his movement on grass was pretty clunky and not very good for a long while which negated his athleticsm, but he has mastered it a lot better.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
I 75% agree. Djokovic was never designed to dominate grass. It is one of the biggest surprises of the last 30 years he has become a dominant player on grass; and also a reflection of the terrible grass field in this era, which is probably even worse than the terrible clay field. Nearly everyones best surface today is hard courts (since the tour is designed around hard courts and hard hitting baseline play), and that is where you have by far the best fields.

Early in his career, even after he had been a top 3 player for awhile, Djokovic looked clumsy and awkward on grass, and it looked like by far his worst surface and not clay. He improved greatly on it, but he also has done a lot better there since a much older Federer on grass is a lot easier opponent than a Nadal almost the same age on clay, and with Nadal falling off badly on grass after 2011, there really isn't any obstacles. That he was ever designed to dominate grass is revionist history IMO, early in his career you would have predicted more RG titles than Wimbledon (many predicted 0 Wimbledons).
Djokovic played a heck of a Wimb final in 2015 though, old Fed or not. He never displayed such a level at RG.

Fed made it a bit closer that it should have been because he was still Fed on grass, even with diminished abilities on it compared to his prime. But Novak that day was unplayable. It would have taken a peak/prime ATG effort to usurp him. Never quite felt he reached those heights at RG, IMO.
 
Fedovic are not better than Lendl on clay, even if you take out Nadal.

Can anyone guarantee Fedovic would be beating McEnroe and Wilander at RG, both of them ATGs? Mac in particular was 82-3 in 1984.
I think Federer and Djokovic are easily better than McEnroe on clay. Remember clay was by a huge margin McEnroe's worst surface too. 84 was the only year ever he was a real contender for the title there. McEnroe of 84 would have a good shot against both, but that is probably the only time. Other years they would be more likely to go out in an upset to a hot specialists on an off day in a middle round than lose to McEnroe in a semi or final.

Lendl, Kuerten, Wilander are all definitely better than Djokovic and Federer on clay though. I would argue Federer and Djokovic are better than anyone Borg played on clay though. You can't count Lendl just based on Borg playing a baby Lendl one time at RG (and even that was a 5 setter). His best opponent by far is Vilas who at absolute best might be on par with Federer and Djokovic on clay. I do think Borg's era had more depth on clay than today, but both were weak fields relative to most in history.
 
Djokovic played a heck of a Wimb final in 2015 though, old Fed or not. He never displayed such a level at RG.

Fed made it a bit closer that it should have been because he was still Fed on grass, even with diminished abilities on it compared to his prime. But Novak that day was unplayable. It would have taken a peak/prime ATG effort to usurp him. Never quite felt he reached those heights at RG, IMO.
Agree there 100% The one thing is I am not sure if he came that close to this level any other time at Wimbledon though. I agree he probably never once reached that level at RG.
 

Hitman

Legend
His biggest strength on grass is his server/return of serve combination, now with his improved serve. It is far more that than anything else. His athleticsm also helps on grass too, although his movement on grass was pretty clunky and not very good for a long while which negated his athleticsm, but he has mastered it a lot better.
He has done well with what he has to succeed on grass, most importantly, he believes he can win on the surface.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
I think Federer and Djokovic are easily better than McEnroe on clay. Remember clay was by a huge margin McEnroe's worst surface too. 84 was the only year ever he was a real contender for the title there.

Lendl, Kuerten, Wilander are all definitely better than Djokovic and Federer on clay though. I would argue Federer and Djokovic are better than anyone Borg played on clay though. You can't count Lendl just based on Borg playing a baby Lendl one time at RG (and even that was a 5 setter). His best opponent by far is Vilas who at absolute best might be on par with Federer and Djokovic on clay. I do think Borg's era had more depth on clay than today, but both were weak fields relative to most in history.
McEnroe did play above his usual self on clay in 1984, which is why he was a set away from winning RG. Djokovic is easily better than Stan on clay and yet, he lost to him in the final of RG.

Perhaps in Borg's time, Fedovic wouldn't have reached so many RG finals due to the depth of the field.
 
McEnroe did play above his usual self on clay in 1984, which is why he was a set away from winning RG. Djokovic is easily better than Stan on clay and yet, he lost to him in the final of RG.

Perhaps in Borg's time, Fedovic wouldn't have reached so many RG finals due to the depth of the field.
Yes I don't see Fedovic reaching 6 RG finals in another era.

I do think McEnroe could definitely have beaten prime Djokovic or Federer at RG 84, I just think that is the only year he would have been likely to. Maybe 85 where he reached the semis and lost to Wilander he would be a threat to them too, but those are the only years.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Yes I don't see Fedovic reaching 6 RG finals in another era.

I do think McEnroe could definitely have beaten prime Djokovic or Federer at RG 84, I just think that is the only year he would have been likely to. Maybe 85 where he reached the semis and lost to Wilander he would be a threat to them too, but those are the only years.
True.

The point I was trying to make was that people say Lendl is not better than Fedovic on clay because he didn't have Nadal to deal with. That is factually correct, but did Fedovic have anyone on the level of peak Mac and peak Wilander when Nadal was not in their way? Nope. That's why it's silly to just gift Fedovic RG titles in other eras.
 
True.

The point I was trying to make was that people say Lendl is not better than Fedovic on clay because he didn't have Nadal to deal with. That is factually correct, but did Fedovic have anyone on the level of peak Mac and peak Wilander when Nadal was not in their way? Nope. That's why it's silly to just gift Fedovic RG titles in other eras.
If you take out Nadal the clay field today is the worst in history. You can't even say Federer and Djokovic would face each other as they had exactly 2 years they were both good on clay- 2008 and 2011, that is it. 2009 Djokovic was great until the 09 Madrid semis which broke him physically (and maybe mentally) and Federer was strong in the Madrid finals and at RG, so you can't even say that year, and in 2010 both were terrible.

So yes people acting like Federer and Nadal are 5 time RG caliber players is a joke. Yes they probably are something like that without Nadal, but it would be the worst clay field ever by a huge margin now. It probably is the worst ever even with Nadal in it. If you take out Wilander and Lendl both probably have 5 RG titles, and they still face a much better field with many more lower ranked clay court dangers without each other than Federer or Djoker face without Nadal. Even guys like Svenson, Noah, Pernfors, Chesnokov, Gomez, and many others then were better than anything we have on clay after the Big 3 and Wawrinka today.
 

California

Semi-Pro
He has done well with what he has to succeed on grass, most importantly, he believes he can win on the surface.
I agree with you. He should believe he can win on grass or really any surface with the pathetic field right now. Who is really a threat on grass to him outside of Fed? The young under 30 group are all one dimensional baseliners with no variety or imagination on how to play on grass and take advantage of the surface.

The big 3 are great players, but their records are better than then should be based on the **** poor performance of the under 30 crowd. That group is so limited and bad it is really unprecedented.
 
Except Borg had offensive weapons (namely his serve and FH) as evidenced by his success on old-school slick grass and indoor carpet.

You still believe that a guy who wins five Wimbledons in a row is a grinder?
Borg was just head and shoulders better from the baseline in his day than the competition. But his playing style wouldn’t be enough.
Borg was under 6 feet. I don’t know mph but my hunch is that there would be upper limits at that height.
 

ADuck

Hall of Fame
Utterly pointless comparison as they are both products of their time.

Nadal would be useless on ‘70s courts with ‘70s equipment and be beaten by far lesser players than Borg.

Likewise for Borg in the current era.
How are you doing this hypothetical? I think both would succeed and be ATG's assuming they have the same motivation to do so. They need to be brought up playing with the switched equipment/courts though. Nadal's insane athleticism is going to help him in any era.
 
This question is like asking Peak Sampras vs Peak Borg on grass. Peak Sampras, due to evolution of game and rackets, just a much higher level. Not Borg’s fault. Kudos to him for being a truly great player in his day.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
Borg was just head and shoulders better from the baseline in his day than the competition. But his playing style wouldn’t be enough.
Borg was under 6 feet. I don’t know mph but my hunch is that there would be upper limits at that height.
I can't into US measuring system. Borg was 1.80m, given the gradual average height increase over the years he would have probably been a few centimeters higher today. Stan is 1,83m and he clubbered two of the best athletes of this era in a few slam finals so I'm still not convinced Borg's height would have been such a handicap.

Also, Andre was 1.80m and the guy was going toe-to-toe with peak Fed in his 30s and won 8 slams and big titles on every tennis surface out there.
 
I can't into US measuring system. Borg was 1.80m, given the gradual average height increase over the years he would have probably been a few centimeters higher today. Stan is 1,83m and he clubbered two of the best athletes of this era in a few slam finals so I'm still not convinced Borg's height would have been such a handicap.

Also, Andre was 1.80m and the guy was going toe-to-toe with peak Fed in his 30s and won 8 slams and big titles on every tennis surface out there.
You are right. In Borg’s day height wasn’t much of a handicap as rackets couldn’t boom serves and lots more BH slice/low balls.
The heavy topspin on tour today makes it hard for shorter guys. Schwartzman, like Agassi, has used that to his advantage by becoming hyper aggressive from baseline and taking ball early. However, what is weakest part of their games? Serve.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
How are you doing this hypothetical? I think both would succeed and be ATG's assuming they have the same motivation to do so. They need to be brought up playing with the switched equipment/courts though. Nadal's insane athleticism is going to help him in any era.
I'm comparing based on the players that they are, which I think is the only thing you can do. If they grew up in different eras, they would be unrecognisable.

Nadal's game style is incredibly tailored for a huge graphite frying-pan with copoly strings. It's really anyone's guess what he'd look like if someone made him learn with a Jack Kramer Special.
 
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