Peak, Old, Baby, NAME - it doesn't matter, only form matters

NatF

Bionic Poster
* emphasis on name was intentional

I'll begin by saying that I do believe those factors mentioned in the thread title matter, but only in terms of being factors that affect form - they do not by themselves dictate the form of a player in a year, tournament or especially match. This was partly inspired by something @-NN- said which is that Federer has peaked 19 times, Nadal 16 and Djokovic 12.

I think our definition of a players peak should be expanded, peak shouldn't be a locked period of time e.g. a period of years, we should think of it in terms of tournaments and matches. The generally acknowledged time periods that we speak of in terms of peak such as Djokovic 2011-2016, Federer 2004-2007 and so on are simply when there was a pattern of peak matches and tournaments from the player in question. Anything we say about the relative level of play should still be informed;

1) By watching the tennis matches
2) A little stat looking to supplement what we've viewed

Assumptions based on age and name are simply that assumptions. Players raise their level and drop it from match to match.

There's also an emphasis on here about the completeness of a players game - usually this is accompanied by saying such and such player was a baby. IMO having a complete game matters less than executing on a given day and playing the big points well. If you win your points with just the serve and forehand rather than off both wings it doesn't matter, what matters is the net gain in terms of winning points. Likewise if a player is older but the serve is clicking and they're cleaning the lines off the ground it doesn't matter if their movement is below par because they're controlling the baseline.

Matches and tournaments should be evaluated case by case independent of any assumptions about the players involved. This is especially true of name and career accomplishments, more accomplished players are of course more likely to go on court and play at a high level - but they still need to go on and do it. An ATG is mainly an ATG because of their ability to bring a high level on a consistent basis, the margins in tennis are small and lesser players can play at the same high levels in a more hit and miss way.

Basically people on here are too rigid and superficial in the way they judge players and matches. I had a lot I wanted to say so may have forgotten some of it...
 

-NN-

G.O.A.T.
This is basically an extension of something you've said for a long time which most of us (including me) don't pay enough attention to: form on the day.

We do make way too many assumptions and disregard too many things based on name and reputation and eventually distorted myths (both for and against players). For example, the way some people talk about Federer you'd think his play was perfection during his largely agreed upon peak/prime years (that 2004-2007 period) but he had many iffy tournaments. After 2017 IW some people suggested that it was some of Federer's best tournament play but this got a lot of push-back with various theories of why it would be impossible for that to be the case but despite the old adage of lies, damned lies and statistics, I find it hard to argue against the numbers that Federer has put up in some tournaments in his much later career in combination with what I was seeing with my eyes.

Players can produce peak form over a much longer period of time than their supposed peak/prime periods. It might happen less often but it still happens. Just because one's most prolific period of winning ends doesn't mean they are incapable of producing peak performances after, or that they didn't produce some beforehand.

Also things happen at different times on different surfaces for different players. There will be a sort of combined peak of the best combination of proficiency and success across surfaces but using more typical ideas of prime and peak make it rather difficult to explain fully the exploits of players like Nadal and Federer. Disassociating (within reason) from name, age, and expectations and looking at what's actually happening sounds like a pretty good plan.

Lesser players are often maligned and flat-out disrespected for various reasons, but especially for not being ATGs. This does not mean those lesser players did not put in top level performances that rival the best play of the legends. We've seen the sort of monstrous tennis Wawrinka can produce and how excellent Roddick was on grass.

There's also more to a tennis tournament than the Final. There's the field, and the full path, draw and route.

Things like tiers and peak and prime are often way too rigid and also have no clear definitions, albeit there are some widely held views that fit into the sort of internet forum meta of TTW and others.

Top thread.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
This is basically an extension of something you've said for a long time which most of us (including me) don't pay enough attention to: form on the day.

We do make way too many assumptions and disregard too many things based on name and reputation and eventually distorted myths (both for and against players). For example, the way some people talk about Federer you'd think his play was perfection during his largely agreed upon peak/prime years (that 2004-2007 period) but he had many iffy tournaments. After 2017 IW some people suggested that it was some of Federer's best tournament play but this got a lot of push-back with various theories of why it would be impossible for that to be the case but despite the old adage of lies, damned lies and statistics, I find it hard to argue against the numbers that Federer has put up in some tournaments in his much later career in combination with what I was seeing with my eyes.

Players can produce peak form over a much longer period of time than their supposed peak/prime periods. It might happen less often but it still happens. Just because one's most prolific period of winning ends doesn't mean they are incapable of producing peak performances after, or that they didn't produce some beforehand.

Also things happen at different times on different surfaces for different players. There will be a sort of combined peak of the best combination of proficiency and success across surfaces but using more typical ideas of prime and peak make it rather difficult to explain fully the exploits of players like Nadal and Federer. Disassociating (within reason) from name, age, and expectations and looking at what's actually happening sounds like a pretty good plan.

Lesser players are often maligned and flat-out disrespected for various reasons, but especially for not being ATGs. This does not mean those lesser players did not put in top level performances that rival the best play of the legends. We've seen the sort of monstrous tennis Wawrinka can produce and how excellent Roddick was on grass.

There's also more to a tennis tournament than the Final. There's the field, and the full path, draw and route.

Things like tiers and peak and prime are often way too rigid and also have no clear definitions, albeit there are some widely held views that fit into the sort of internet forum meta of TTW and others.

Top thread.
Yeah, agree. I do think a lot of tournaments wins from Federer in his later career have been very high level - I do also think this mostly in BO3 though. There's probably something to be said for match-ups as well, I think Federer's HC play in 2015 matched up very well with the field in 2015 but in big matches I think Federers more patient, athletic and explosive style of play from back in the day would stand up better against 2015 Djokovic.

Basically my point is watch the tennis with an open mind
 

Otacon

Hall of Fame
I think that the physical development of each player is different, but it is undeniable that at some point, one begins to lose explosiveness, speed and endurance. That being said, I'm convinced that Federer is a better tennis player in terms of skills now than 10 years ago. But success also depends on other factors.
 

killerboi2

Hall of Fame
Form doesn't matter much either in my opinion. Recently I have seen too many posters using form as an excuse if their favourite player has lost. If the player is having a trash year in general, for example - Federer 2013, Pete 2001, Nadal 2016 then maybe excuses can be made to some extent. These are players at the very top of the game - they don't suddenly forget to play tennis. Also, players being "gassed" is more often than not complete nonsense, especially players who are known to have high stamina levels.
 
One of the best threads of the year. Concur with every word of it. Actual execution of shots matters much more than any other considerations.

I say it's closely tied with whether you choose a negative or positive mindset. Those who choose the former look for the worst and are drawn to disparaging and rejecting rather than appreciating all kinds of tennis. If you like tennis more than any player and approach matches with positive expectations, looking forward to enjoying good shots, you will find them. I've been watching some old tennis regularly during the current off-season, guess I'm drifting from player fan to tennis fan (good to do it in time before fedr retires, too).
 

SpinToWin

Talk Tennis Guru
One of the best threads of the year. Concur with every word of it. Actual execution of shots matters much more than any other considerations.

I say it's closely tied with whether you choose a negative or positive mindset. Those who choose the former look for the worst and are drawn to disparaging and rejecting rather than appreciating all kinds of tennis. If you like tennis more than any player and approach matches with positive expectations, looking forward to enjoying good shots, you will find them. I've been watching some old tennis regularly during the current off-season, guess I'm drifting from player fan to tennis fan (good to do it in time before fedr retires, too).
Calculated move by @NatF to get votes for “thread of the year” thanks to recency bias

;)
 

TheMaestro1990

Hall of Fame
Great thread. However, when it comes to the physical peak, it is much more attached to certain years and as we all know, the physical peak usually coincides with the real peak as well (not always though). Thus it's easy to label Federer's 2004-2006 as his peak, which it really was. Then again, Cincy 12 is another example of what could be considered peak Fed. But in 2012 Federer wasn't at his physical peak. Federer vs Nadal at IW this year is another example at this, where he was even further from his physical peak, but yet dismantled Nadal completely.

So, this brings me to the question. It is widely agreed that Federer's peak was around 2004-2006/7. But if he then gives peak performances 10 years later, does that mean that Federer's tennis has improved vastly to compensate for lost speed, agility etc? How do we compare peak vs peak? Which peak level is Federer 2006 and what was he at certain moments in 2012 and 2017? Maybe we should discuss level of peaks as well.
 

SpinToWin

Talk Tennis Guru
To add my own thoughts to the thread:

Problems unfortunately do arise due to the fact that we have two players who present variables on the court. It’s often tricky to see whether one player is playing better, the other is playing worse, or perhaps even if it is due to some matchup issue on the day.

The general sentiment absolutely is true though. I hate it when people discount a player in a match due to name, ranking, or whatnot. On the one hand it reeks of hindsight bias, on the other hand it shows a shocking lack of awareness for the existence of form in sports. Sometimes you just hit a stride where you can’t do no wrong. Wawrinka has had such matches, and even Nadal (at least that’s how I recall the latter part of his USO 2010 run).
 

every7

Hall of Fame
* emphasis on name was intentional

I'll begin by saying that I do believe those factors mentioned in the thread title matter, but only in terms of being factors that affect form - they do not by themselves dictate the form of a player in a year, tournament or especially match. This was partly inspired by something @-NN- said which is that Federer has peaked 19 times, Nadal 16 and Djokovic 12.

I think our definition of a players peak should be expanded, peak shouldn't be a locked period of time e.g. a period of years, we should think of it in terms of tournaments and matches. The generally acknowledged time periods that we speak of in terms of peak such as Djokovic 2011-2016, Federer 2004-2007 and so on are simply when there was a pattern of peak matches and tournaments from the player in question. Anything we say about the relative level of play should still be informed;

1) By watching the tennis matches
2) A little stat looking to supplement what we've viewed

Assumptions based on age and name are simply that assumptions. Players raise their level and drop it from match to match.

There's also an emphasis on here about the completeness of a players game - usually this is accompanied by saying such and such player was a baby. IMO having a complete game matters less than executing on a given day and playing the big points well. If you win your points with just the serve and forehand rather than off both wings it doesn't matter, what matters is the net gain in terms of winning points. Likewise if a player is older but the serve is clicking and they're cleaning the lines off the ground it doesn't matter if their movement is below par because they're controlling the baseline.

Matches and tournaments should be evaluated case by case independent of any assumptions about the players involved. This is especially true of name and career accomplishments, more accomplished players are of course more likely to go on court and play at a high level - but they still need to go on and do it. An ATG is mainly an ATG because of their ability to bring a high level on a consistent basis, the margins in tennis are small and lesser players can play at the same high levels in a more hit and miss way.

Basically people on here are too rigid and superficial in the way they judge players and matches. I had a lot I wanted to say so may have forgotten some of it...
Excellent remarks. Too often I think a lot of people make comments on here who just don't actually watch matches, even in highlight form, and don't really delve into assessing players beyond era tags that they have seen written elsewhere. Maybe they are unable to assess play using the eye test and their own aptitude. In some cases this place is dominated by people who know very little about the game on a serious level and speak about the game in very silly, broad terms, with no personal insight, preferring to rely on statistics garnered from Wikipedia or tennisabstract.

Hopefully this thread encourages a renewed attention to detail from everyone in the new year. Well said NatF.
 
T

Tiki-Taka

Guest
Interesting subject, one I thought about bringing up myself a few times.

Personally I think the name matters too. Not to the extent that playing against a more accomplished player automatically means having tougher competition, that's completely false, but they are also useful because there are differences between each player's peak/prime/average level. For example a classic ATG's peak level is like some GOAT contender's prime level. Although it's the consistency that usually separates the latter from the rest, I also think it’s the level of play. In that sense it's useful to also mention who the opponent generally is since the standards between players will always vary, though the recent form and play on the day definitely mean more.

But the most difficult part of all is not agreeing on what matters and what doesn’t. The most difficult one is actually judging players' levels of play. It's next to impossible to analyze every detail of their game and try to be unbiased, agenda-free about it at the same time. The stats don't tell even half the story because not every winner/error is the same, both in terms of difficulty to execute (and a part of that is determined by your opponent) and importance (whether they were executed on an important point or not) while the opponent will also have some sort of an impact on the player's numbers with his own level and playing style. This is where match ups (and with that names), recent forms and history of past duels also become significant, making the whole analysis even harder.

This is why I think all the hypothetical stories that are constantly brought up here are complete garbage, because we are already having a hard time judging reality, which is very demanding on its own, even without our biases that get involved sooner or later. And for that reason I suggest we all try to focus on appreciating good tennis rather than constantly comparing whose guy from what year at what event is better and predicting who would win a match that can only happen in our dreams. We have been blessed to witness three legendary players and a few other very good ones alongside them for the last 15 years or so. Focusing on that makes tennis more enjoyable.
 
Tldr, but the only thing that matters is

Love.



Fedalunited war is over.

We're going to win this not by fighting what we hate but by saving what we love
 

Rod Laver

Professional
Great thread. However, when it comes to the physical peak, it is much more attached to certain years and as we all know, the physical peak usually coincides with the real peak as well (not always though). Thus it's easy to label Federer's 2004-2006 as his peak, which it really was. Then again, Cincy 12 is another example of what could be considered peak Fed. But in 2012 Federer wasn't at his physical peak. Federer vs Nadal at IW this year is another example at this, where he was even further from his physical peak, but yet dismantled Nadal completely.

So, this brings me to the question. It is widely agreed that Federer's peak was around 2004-2006/7. But if he then gives peak performances 10 years later, does that mean that Federer's tennis has improved vastly to compensate for lost speed, agility etc? How do we compare peak vs peak? Which peak level is Federer 2006 and what was he at certain moments in 2012 and 2017? Maybe we should discuss level of peaks as well.
Good thought. I may add that we have already noted, especially with the case of federer and you have also hinted, that physical peak isn't necessarily over and above other things. For example, while Federers speed may have suffered he has seemingly become a smarter tactician around the court.
 
D

Deleted member 307496

Guest
I think @Hitman's discussion with me definitely highlighted the peak tournament theory.

For example look at Fernando Gonzalez or Andy Roddick. For a tournament they could reach peak levels even years after they were last relevant on the main stage.

Less emphasis has to be put on ranking too.

For example look at Andy Murray in 2014 or even 2018 if he comes back. Could you really say he was past it?

And I think the "bad year" argument is almost complete nonsense at this point. Look at Sampras in his supposed "bad year". He played some very high level matches that US0 replicating his prime form.
 

vex

Hall of Fame
TLDR: Thats why they play the matches.

Any of these elite guys can beat the other and this truth has been proven out time and time again. And they can be upset by lesser players. Did anyone bet on Stan beating Djoker at RG'15? When you predict what WILL happen all you can go on is their recent form and history. But even then is just a best guess. Fed/Rafa/Djoker could walk on court and just not have it that day. Or that set. Form drops/surges set to set. Its a fickle thing sometimes.

The best guys have the most CONSISTENT form - the big 3 exemplify this. I've said this many times before - what separates Federer from Djoker and Rafa isn't that he can play at some higher level. He can't. They're all on about the same level in terms of what they can bring at their best. (for example: when relative bests collide - either guy could have won that AO'12 final, or that AO'17 final). No what separates Fed and why he's on 19 and they aren't isn't quality of play. Its that he throughout a very long career has been the most consistent in terms of keeping his level as close to his top as he can. He didn't lose matches like Djoker/Rafa did to Nishikori and Stan and Soderling. When Fed had his best opportunities he delivered. Rafa and Djoker have had some upsets against lessor players. Fed, slightly more than the other two guys, won the matches he was SUPPOSED to win. Thats why he's on top right now.

But yah, anything can happen match to match. Matches aren't played on paper. But with guys this good, the separation comes down to who is best at not getting upset, at keeping their level high match after match - when they're tired or nick'd up, at winning the matches they SHOULD win and then giving it their best in the toss up matches with their rivals.
 

True Fanerer

G.O.A.T.
Just says he's too tall for tennis and carries too much extra weight in his legs.

Didn't mention his hip.
It didn't matter as much when he was younger. Now that he's older it probably does.

As far as the hip is concerned, what I read earlier wasn't good at all. He's not on track to be ready.
 

Rod Laver

Professional
I think @Hitman's discussion with me definitely highlighted the peak tournament theory.

For example look at Fernando Gonzalez or Andy Roddick. For a tournament they could reach peak levels even years after they were last relevant on the main stage.

Less emphasis has to be put on ranking too.

For example look at Andy Murray in 2014 or even 2018 if he comes back. Could you really say he was past it?

And I think the "bad year" argument is almost complete nonsense at this point. Look at Sampras in his supposed "bad year". He played some very high level matches that US0 replicating his prime form.
I agree with your point but the Murray example is weak. He was coming back after a serious injury if I remember correctly. Aside from Nadal (and fed this year) I don't know many players that have come back to full force so quickly.
 
D

Deleted member 307496

Guest
I agree with your point but the Murray example is weak. He was coming back after a serious injury if I remember correctly. Aside from Nadal (and fed this year) I don't know many players that have come back to full force so quickly.
How is it weak? He made it to No.1 after 2014.
 

Spencer Gore

Hall of Fame
The word "peak" is used as shorthand for "peak form". so any suggestion that "form" is more important than someone's "peak" is a tautology.

Of course a player's form can vary from tournament to tournament (or from match to match) but their "peak form" can only be measured over a period of time, at least a season.

And getting "old" hampers your game. 140 years of tennis stats prove it. I once saw McEnroe play Borg in an exhibition -they played some brilliant shots, but they were both past their peak -and were old (in tennis terms), but their relative form was good compared to other exhibitions I had seen them play. But their age and the fact they were no longer at their peak would be significant factors if they had tried to enter Wimbledon that year.
 

killerboi2

Hall of Fame
And I think the "bad year" argument is almost complete nonsense at this point. Look at Sampras in his supposed "bad year". He played some very high level matches that US0 replicating his prime form.
Pete won zero titles that year. Ain't nothing about "supposed", it was a very bad year for him. Murray was also pretty bad in 2014. Look at his results in any m1000 tournaments and higher and you'll noticed it's considerably worse than normal. We don't even know what his form is going to be like in 2018 but I see you have already made your mind up anyway lmao. A player playing above his usual form when past it a couple of times sounds more likely than a player constantly getting to finals and then suddenly forgetting how to play in the final.
 

Sysyphus

Talk Tennis Guru
Agreed, it's far too common to see people argue about the strength of draws based on the names and overall resumes of the players involved, as if that determines the form of said player in every single particular match. I've long argued something in that vein:

These ratings of 'toughness of opponent' going by the name of the opponent are very flawed though. It assumes that big names like Fed and Novak are better in all their finals-runs than lesser players on a hot streak. But that doesn't follow. Who's to say that Fed's level in the 2008 USO final was better than Delpo 2009 or Cilic 2014? His 2010 AO level better than no-name Gonzo in 07? His 2015 Wimbledon level better than Roddick in 04? Novak's AO 2013 level compared to Safin 05? And so on. The actual truth is that there is absolutely no way to really know or quantify those things. Most people will give some biased answer based on what their eyes tell them or something, but it's usually just what suits them.

TL;DR: these lists and comparisons of the names faced in finals tells us far less than we like to believe.
 
D

Deleted member 307496

Guest
My point is that he came back after 2014 but the reason he was playing poorly was because of the injury. Roddick is a better example imo.
Well yeah he dropped to 12 in 2006 and made it back as high as 3 and stayed between 3-9 for years afterward but Murray had better success afterward.

Just saying a lot of people back in the day would have written Murray off in 2014.
 
D

Deleted member 307496

Guest
Pete won zero titles that year. Ain't nothing about "supposed", it was a very bad year for him. Murray was also pretty bad in 2014. Look at his results in any m1000 tournaments and higher and you'll noticed it's considerably worse than normal. We don't even know what his form is going to be like in 2018 but I see you have already made your mind up anyway lmao. A player playing above his usual form when past it a couple of times sounds more likely than a player constantly getting to finals and then suddenly forgetting how to play in the final.
Pete played amazing tennis in dispatching Rafter, Agassi and Safin. I agree he kinda sucked in the final but his form before the final was pretty freaking good. Probably rivaled some of his prime stuff tbh.

The difference between that and his prime is he couldn't maintain the form for the finals anymore. Consistently waned and it hurt him. But doesn't change the fact he could still tap into prime level tennis.

Look at him dispatching Agassi at his last tournament; US Open 2002. That was another good performance from him although probably below what he showed on the way to the final in '01.
 
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D

Deleted member 307496

Guest
And made my mind up? I'm giving him a chance dude. I don't think he will just drop off like nothing.
 

Red Rick

Bionic Poster
Agreed, it's far too common to see people argue about the strength of draws based on the names and overall resumes of the players involved, as if that determines the form of said player in every single particular match. I've long argued something in that vein:
Bu bu bu bub ubub ub buut aren't we internet warriors and isn't this what we do:O
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
Form doesn't matter much either in my opinion. Recently I have seen too many posters using form as an excuse if their favourite player has lost. If the player is having a trash year in general, for example - Federer 2013, Pete 2001, Nadal 2016 then maybe excuses can be made to some extent. These are players at the very top of the game - they don't suddenly forget to play tennis. Also, players being "gassed" is more often than not complete nonsense, especially players who are known to have high stamina levels.
Form in a particular match should be the only thing that matters. As I said we can assume that the Big 3 or Big 4 or "X" ATG will play better on any given day than a one slam winner or a journeyman but there are no guarantee's in sports - the victor is not scripted. These players as great as they are, are not machines - the margins in tennis are very small so even a minor drop in form can have an impact.

When evaluating level of play we should try to observe tennis matches in a vacuum and leave assumptions behind. For some this means actually observing tennis matches full stop - a lot of people on here make generalisations about players but probably haven't really watched them in earnest. This is true for Federer fans as well, as great as Federer consistently was in 04-07 he was not infallible and there were definitely tournaments and matches where he won ugly. There's too much wikipedia and superficial analysis on the board. We may disagree but most don't even try to qualify their opinions on certain matches.

Case in point I disagree with @NoleFam often about past matches, but I at least respect that the guy has seen the matches he's talking about :D

One of the best threads of the year. Concur with every word of it. Actual execution of shots matters much more than any other considerations.

I say it's closely tied with whether you choose a negative or positive mindset. Those who choose the former look for the worst and are drawn to disparaging and rejecting rather than appreciating all kinds of tennis. If you like tennis more than any player and approach matches with positive expectations, looking forward to enjoying good shots, you will find them. I've been watching some old tennis regularly during the current off-season, guess I'm drifting from player fan to tennis fan (good to do it in time before fedr retires, too).
Iit's easy to focus on the UE at the end of the point and miss the three huge forehands before it :p

To add my own thoughts to the thread:

Problems unfortunately do arise due to the fact that we have two players who present variables on the court. It’s often tricky to see whether one player is playing better, the other is playing worse, or perhaps even if it is due to some matchup issue on the day.

The general sentiment absolutely is true though. I hate it when people discount a player in a match due to name, ranking, or whatnot. On the one hand it reeks of hindsight bias, on the other hand it shows a shocking lack of awareness for the existence of form in sports. Sometimes you just hit a stride where you can’t do no wrong. Wawrinka has had such matches, and even Nadal (at least that’s how I recall the latter part of his USO 2010 run).
Sure, an UE is not always and unforced error there are plenty of examples of a player coming into a match looking very strong but being overpowered or presented by a brick wall match-up that makes their game look worse. The reverse is true as well I think in the past Goffin has made Federer look to be in much more deadly form than the reality. This is why watching the matches is important though - is a player spraying errors early in the rally and missing by miles? Or are they being forced to go for the lines and rushed by the superior play of the opposition? That's why the stats part is #2.

Great thread. However, when it comes to the physical peak, it is much more attached to certain years and as we all know, the physical peak usually coincides with the real peak as well (not always though). Thus it's easy to label Federer's 2004-2006 as his peak, which it really was. Then again, Cincy 12 is another example of what could be considered peak Fed. But in 2012 Federer wasn't at his physical peak. Federer vs Nadal at IW this year is another example at this, where he was even further from his physical peak, but yet dismantled Nadal completely.

So, this brings me to the question. It is widely agreed that Federer's peak was around 2004-2006/7. But if he then gives peak performances 10 years later, does that mean that Federer's tennis has improved vastly to compensate for lost speed, agility etc? How do we compare peak vs peak? Which peak level is Federer 2006 and what was he at certain moments in 2012 and 2017? Maybe we should discuss level of peaks as well.
Sure there's of course an athletic peak that we can't escape from but my point is that if a player is executing their shots immaculately and playing the big points well they can still be playing peak tennis in a different way. There's no denying that 2004-2007 was a sustained period of many peak performances from Federer, I'm just saying he's played peak tennis in later years as well just in a different way.

Interesting subject, one I thought about bringing up myself a few times.

Personally I think the name matters too. Not to the extent that playing against a more accomplished player automatically means having tougher competition, that's completely false, but they are also useful because there are differences between each player's peak/prime/average level. For example a classic ATG's peak level is like some GOAT contender's prime level. Although it's the consistency that usually separates the latter from the rest, I also think it’s the level of play. In that sense it's useful to also mention who the opponent generally is since the standards between players will always vary, though the recent form and play on the day definitely mean more.

But the most difficult part of all is not agreeing on what matters and what doesn’t. The most difficult one is actually judging players' levels of play. It's next to impossible to analyze every detail of their game and try to be unbiased, agenda-free about it at the same time. The stats don't tell even half the story because not every winner/error is the same, both in terms of difficulty to execute (and a part of that is determined by your opponent) and importance (whether they were executed on an important point or not) while the opponent will also have some sort of an impact on the player's numbers with his own level and playing style. This is where match ups (and with that names), recent forms and history of past duels also become significant, making the whole analysis even harder.

This is why I think all the hypothetical stories that are constantly brought up here are complete garbage, because we are already having a hard time judging reality, which is very demanding on its own, even without our biases that get involved sooner or later. And for that reason I suggest we all try to focus on appreciating good tennis rather than constantly comparing whose guy from what year at what event is better and predicting who would win a match that can only happen in our dreams. We have been blessed to witness three legendary players and a few other very good ones alongside them for the last 15 years or so. Focusing on that makes tennis more enjoyable.
Bias is inescapable for everyone, but the point I'm making is that we should be trying to have an honest and informed discussion. I don't expect everyone on the forum to see what I see when I watch a tennis match, I just hope that everyone is watching the match and trying to keep an open mind. If we come to different conclusions then we can debate it but at least watch the tennis matches you're disparaging and come armed to back up your opinions.

I'm just tired of the merry go round arguments on here where a great many posters make generalised comments and never quantify their opinions. It contributes to a toxic environment.
 

True Fanerer

G.O.A.T.
Form in a particular match should be the only thing that matters. As I said we can assume that the Big 3 or Big 4 or "X" ATG will play better on any given day than a one slam winner or a journeyman but there are no guarantee's in sports - the victor is not scripted. These players as great as they are, are not machines - the margins in tennis are very small so even a minor drop in form can have an impact.

When evaluating level of play we should try to observe tennis matches in a vacuum and leave assumptions behind. For some this means actually observing tennis matches full stop - a lot of people on here make generalisations about players but probably haven't really watched them in earnest. This is true for Federer fans as well, as great as Federer consistently was in 04-07 he was not infallible and there were definitely tournaments and matches where he won ugly. There's too much wikipedia and superficial analysis on the board. We may disagree but most don't even try to qualify their opinions on certain matches.

Case in point I disagree with @NoleFam often about past matches, but I at least respect that the guy has seen the matches he's talking about :D



Iit's easy to focus on the UE at the end of the point and miss the three huge forehands before it :p



Sure, an UE is not always and unforced error there are plenty of examples of a player coming into a match looking very strong but being overpowered or presented by a brick wall match-up that makes their game look worse. The reverse is true as well I think in the past Goffin has made Federer look to be in much more deadly form than the reality. This is why watching the matches is important though - is a player spraying errors early in the rally and missing by miles? Or are they being forced to go for the lines and rushed by the superior play of the opposition? That's why the stats part is #2.



Sure there's of course an athletic peak that we can't escape from but my point is that if a player is executing their shots immaculately and playing the big points well they can still be playing peak tennis in a different way. There's no denying that 2004-2007 was a sustained period of many peak performances from Federer, I'm just saying he's played peak tennis in later years as well just in a different way.



Bias is inescapable for everyone, but the point I'm making is that we should be trying to have an honest and informed discussion. I don't expect everyone on the forum to see what I see when I watch a tennis match, I just hope that everyone is watching the match and trying to keep an open mind. If we come to different conclusions then we can debate it but at least watch the tennis matches you're disparaging and come armed to back up your opinions.

I'm just tired of the merry go round arguments on here where a great many posters make generalised comments and never quantify their opinions. It contributes to a toxic environment.
I believe 2017 IW is a very good example of how an older player like Federer can show glimpses of peak play. He hugged the baseline taking the ball early af, and the ball was returned over the net before his opposition had a chance to react. He has made up for losing a step by adapting and evolving his game. Its not to say that he is a better player now than 2004-2007. Back then he was more explosive in every way from serve speed, to ground stroke pace, to foot speed. But, now he is a more skilled strategist. It doesn't seem fair to me that some of his late career matches or whole tournaments be snubbed and labeled less than his best. Imagine 2017 Federer's mind in the body of 2004-07. Im sure he wishes he knew then what he knows now. But, that is life. Federer isn't the only example of this either. Pete Sampras is another player that's shown this. Goran Ivanisevic is another. Its not something new. It can't just be black & white, Federer never been better than 04-07 ever! That's BS.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
I believe 2017 IW is a very good example of how an older player like Federer can show glimpses of peak play. He hugged the baseline taking the ball early af, and the ball was returned over the net before his opposition had a chance to react. He has made up for losing a step by adapting and evolving his game. Its not to say that he is a better player now than 2004-2007. Back then he was more explosive in every way from serve speed, to ground stroke pace, to foot speed. But, now he is a more skilled strategist. It doesn't seem fair to me that some of his late career matches or whole tournaments be snubbed and labeled less than his best. Imagine 2017 Federer's mind in the body of 2004-07. Im sure he wishes he knew then what he knows now. But, that is life. Federer isn't the only example of this either. Pete Sampras is another player that's shown this. Goran Ivanisevic is another. Its not something new. It can't just be black & white, Federer never been better than 04-07 ever! That's BS.
His top level will never be as good as 2004-2007. That is a fact.

Sure he can play peak level tennis sometimes, but his top level of 2017 is not as high as his top level of 2006.
 

True Fanerer

G.O.A.T.
His top level will never be as good as 2004-2007. That is a fact.

Sure he can play peak level tennis sometimes, but his top level of 2017 is not as high as his top level of 2006.
Im speaking more on the whole 04-07 period. I'm saying there are periods of 04-07 where he didn't play as well as 2017. It seems as if a lot of people won't acknowledge that.
 
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