Peak Safin vs. Peak Djokovic: who prevails?

Safin or Djokovic


  • Total voters
    94

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Does Safin really have a better serve? Wawrinka frequently hits in the mid 130s with very good placement when serving well.

I agree Safin probably has a better forehand at his best than Stan, but Stan's forehand is much more deadly than people realize. It seems he suffers from Henin syndrome, people don't recognize his great forehand because of his backhand. I don't like his technique with the stiff elbow, but it is effective, although it can lead to a ton of errors when his timing is off (but this is true of Safin's forehand too despite the much more proper technique).
safin had a massive serve when it was on. 33 aces and no doubles past Agassi in 04 AO (acing Agassi wasn't hard but still impressive considering he wasn't 100% physically that match). 05 AO his serving was quite good too
QF-14 aces 2 doubles, averaged 127, topped at 138
SF-16 aces, 1 double, averaged 127, topped at 137.
F-18 aces 1 double, averaged 125, topped at 134

Given that the SF and F were against two of the best first serve returners ever that is crazy impressive. So I'd say at his best his serve was better than Wawrinka's. Wawrinka's top end speed was similar but Safin could bring more consistent heat and his placement was very good as well.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I was just messing around with that post for the most part. But being serious for a moment.

Wawrinka hits a big serve, but I think at his best Safin hit it a little bit harder. The edge is small though you're right. I certainly wasn't trying to say that Wawrinka couldn't be dangerous off the forehand side. It's a huge weapon for him when it's on. But I do think Safin's was better. Something else worth noting is that Safin is a clearly better returner.
I don't think there is much of a gap in their forehands at their best. But I can't think of anything Wawrinka does better than Safin.
 

RF-18

Talk Tennis Guru
Djokovic is obviously a much better player overall than inconsistent underachieving Safin. However this is just a peak question, and peak Safin was a pretty scary proposition. Furthermore the small sample size that exists suggests Safin is a very bad match up for Djokovic.

Still Djokovic for sure on clay. He is just too superior there, even if in form Safin could play some really good tennis and could have even won a French had it come together the right year at RG. Grass I would have to say Djokovic based on his level of play demonstrated at Wimbledons 2011, 2014, 2015, even 2013 minus the final.
Still Safin much further out of his prime than Djokovic beat Djokovic at Wimbledon 08.

Hard courts and indoors both playing at a peak level would be a real war. Australia I would guess on Rebound Ace Safin in 5, on Plexicushion Djokovic in 4. U.S Open the Safin of the 2000 final would have a very good shot against any Djokovic thus far. Safin at his best would have a very good chance at an event like Cincinnati too, much less so at venues like Indian Wells or Miami. Indoors, it would depend a lot if we are talking the fast indoor courts, sometimes even including carpet courts, still around in the early 2000s, or the much slower indoor conditions of today.
This isn't even up for debate. Can't believe this is even being taken serious. OP isn't even serious
 

SpinToWin

Talk Tennis Guru
I agree on all that, but while I do think Safin is a clearly better returner (and that is the biggest difference of all) it is worth noting he like Stan also struggles quite a big with really big serves. His head to head with Roddick and their matches are an example of that. He absolutely hated returning Roddick's serve and generally didnt do a good job of it. He also struggled quite badly with Fed's serve, which is one reason for the very lopsided head to head (particularly when unlike playing Roddick he ever cant afford to be giving up a significant gap in unreturned serves vs Fed). I guess the one contradiction to that is he performed very well overall vs Sampras it seemed, but other than the 2000 U.S Open I don't distinctly remember if there was a meeting of really good serving by Sampras returned outstandingly by Safin or not, regardless of wins or losses.
Returning Fed's serve at his best was a nightmare because of the disguise. Tipsarevic actually mentioned that in a coaching video. Safin was good at reading serves and then taking them on, but with Roger there wasn't much to read, so he couldn't make as much out of his returns.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I agree on all that, but while I do think Safin is a clearly better returner (and that is the biggest difference of all) it is worth noting he like Stan also struggles quite a big with really big serves. His head to head with Roddick and their matches are an example of that. He absolutely hated returning Roddick's serve and generally didnt do a good job of it. He also struggled quite badly with Fed's serve, which is one reason for the very lopsided head to head (particularly when unlike playing Roddick he ever cant afford to be giving up a significant gap in unreturned serves vs Fed). I guess the one contradiction to that is he performed very well overall vs Sampras it seemed, but other than the 2000 U.S Open I don't distinctly remember if there was a meeting of really good serving by Sampras returned outstandingly by Safin or not, regardless of wins or losses.
I think Roddick was more the exception than the rule. He had some pretty solid returning performances against the Sampras(00 USO and 02 AO). Fed's serve he returned quite well at 05 AO although he did struggle with it at other times. He also did an ok job of returning Roddick's serve at the 04 AO who was serving really well. Oftentimes there is little rhyme or reason to Marat...if he feels it he can do just about anything. If he doesn't, it's ugly.
 
M

maxxy777

Guest
When Djokovic was 16 Safin invited him to sparring with him.
His father declined and said "Novak is no ones sparring partner not even Marats".
Marat was then 2,3 in the world i think.
 

Elessar

Rookie
When it comes to peak level of play . the aggressor is almost ALWAYS going to beat the defender.

An aggressor's peak level of play is always 10 times more dangerous than a defender's peak level of play
By that logic, Federer's peak level of play is higher than Nadal's. I agree with that logic. ;)
Federer has almost always been the aggressor in his matches against Nadal. That is why, back in the day, Federer vs Nadal match up was always on Federer's racket, according to Fed himself. As we can see by their H2H, a great defender can force a great attacker to hit one extra ball, which often results in an error. Not to mention the mental effect a great defender like Nadal can have on attacking players. Doubt creeps in after a while, and that is when defenders pounce. Hence the success of players like Nadal and even Djokovic (who is more offensive).
 

Elessar

Rookie
What is Safin's peak? Two tournaments, USO 2000 and AO 2005? In those two tournaments, Safin played out of his mind, and beat some great players. His match against peak Fed (personally, 2005 Fed's tennis level was his best, even better than his 2006 form) was a tennis classic. Therefore, Safin would be more than capable of beating Djokovic. 2005 AO Safin vs 2011 AO Djokovic would be a spectacle. I am not sure who would be the winner in that hypothetical match, but it would definitely be a 5 setter.
 

90's Clay

Banned
By that logic, Federer's peak level of play is higher than Nadal's. I agree with that logic. ;)
Federer has almost always been the aggressor in his matches against Nadal. That is why, back in the day, Federer vs Nadal match up was always on Federer's racket, according to Fed himself. As we can see by their H2H, a great defender can force a great attacker to hit one extra ball, which often results in an error. Not to mention the mental effect a great defender like Nadal can have on attacking players. Doubt creeps in after a while, and that is when defenders pounce. Hence the success of players like Nadal and even Djokovic (who is more offensive).
Well #1 Fed isn't as aggressive as Peak Safin was. Safin's shots were far more potent when he was on his game. Fed's game incorporate alot more topspin without the pace of Safin's

Actually more of what hurt's Fed's game vs. Nadal was NOT attacking enough and attacking smart. He sat back at the baseline for most of the decade while Nadal moonballed his BH apart

Actually Nadal has been the aggressor over Federer in the matchup as he is the one who attacks the Fed BH and Fed has no other game plan of attack. Its why the h2h was so lopsided in the Fedal h2h
 

Elessar

Rookie
Well #1 Fed isn't as aggressive as Peak Safin was. Safin's shots were far more potent when he was on his game. Fed's game incorporate alot more topspin without the pace of Safin's
But his shots are way more reliable. And compared to Rafa's style of play, Federer's game looks like Sampras', in terms of aggressiveness.
 

90's Clay

Banned
But his shots are way more reliable. And compared to Rafa's style of play, Federer's game looks like Sampras', in terms of aggressiveness.
You mean Federer sitting back while his BH gets picked apart for a decade and doing NOTHING about it?

Sampras wouldn't have been dumb enough to employ that tactic. He would have attacked the living s*** out of the net and serve 2nd serve BOMBS with Nadal standing 3 miles behind the baseline


Federer's problem was he wasn't' aggressive vs. nadal. He was passive
 

Elessar

Rookie
You mean Federer sitting back while his BH gets picked apart for a decade and doing NOTHING about it?

Sampras wouldn't have been dumb enough to employ that tactic. He would have attacked the living s*** out of the net and serve 2nd serve BOMBS with Nadal standing 3 miles behind the baseline


Federer's problem was he wasn't' aggressive vs. nadal. He was passive
Well, he tried being aggressive in 2008 RG, and we all know how that worked out.
It is very hard to employ such aggressive strategy against Nadal. Slow surfaces worked in Nadal's favor. Add to that Nadal's world class athleticism and passing shots, and you get the logic behind Federer's reluctance to rush the net. The only surface where Federer could have employed more aggressive tactics is grass. But he only lost once to Rafa on grass. Everywhere else, such an aggressive strategy would have resulted in humiliating losses for Fed (just like 2008 RG final).
 

PinShot

Rookie
Who prevails, is the wrong Question. OP made a Mistake there.

If we are talking Peak Djokovic vs Peak Safin .. the correct Question is ..


Djokovic vs Safin (in a Bo3/Bo5) Match - How often does Marat get bageled?
 

RF-18

Talk Tennis Guru
Safin could hit some nasty ones too...his BH at peak to me is the best ever
Yes, Safin FH is equal to Djokovics, has the best BH ever and all sorts of stuff. Best peak of all time etc. Yet he has a career like Wawrinka (not that it is bad in anyway)
 

tacou

G.O.A.T.
Djokovic, at worst, is one of the 10 greatest players ever.
For my money, that means if he's playing at his highest possible level, only 5-10 players in the history of the sport have a chance against him.
Safin is not one of those players.
 

SoBad

G.O.A.T.
Down out injured near-retired legislative Safin breezed through near-peak Djokovic at Wimbledon, grass Safin worst surface. Peak Djokovic would have a stab at peak Safin on clay, but would get bulldozed on hardcourts.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Djokovic, at worst, is one of the 10 greatest players ever.
For my money, that means if he's playing at his highest possible level, only 5-10 players in the history of the sport have a chance against him.
Safin is not one of those players.
no that's not what it means
 

user

Professional
Rubbish thread based on 1 single match played by "peak" Safin at AO against Federer, who is overrated on slow HC anyways.
 

swordtennis

G.O.A.T.
If Safin held it together long enough mentally then it might be a nice rivalry.
What sets these 8-10+ major winners apart is their ability to solve and sustain.
They solve opponents out and work out to get better to the point where it might be described as a mania.
Many rivalries look good on paper with one of them winning the majority of their first encounters then the other one matures solves them and or gets better and begins to dominate.
 
Returning Fed's serve at his best was a nightmare because of the disguise. Tipsarevic actually mentioned that in a coaching video. Safin was good at reading serves and then taking them on, but with Roger there wasn't much to read, so he couldn't make as much out of his returns.
I agree on Roger's serve but Roddick's serve while ultra powerful, wasn't the hardest to read at all, and he did a poor job even in that. Along with having huge problem handling the sheer velocity. I still stand by my opinion Safin is not great at handling huge 1st serves, even if he is overall a better returner than Wawrinka.
 
I think Roddick was more the exception than the rule. He had some pretty solid returning performances against the Sampras(00 USO and 02 AO). Fed's serve he returned quite well at 05 AO although he did struggle with it at other times. He also did an ok job of returning Roddick's serve at the 04 AO who was serving really well. Oftentimes there is little rhyme or reason to Marat...if he feels it he can do just about anything. If he doesn't, it's ugly.
I take late career matches with Sampras with a grain of salt (apart from the 2000 U.S Open since that was close to prime Sampras) as every aspect of his game was less potent by a good margin then, even his serve.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
I take late career matches with Sampras with a grain of salt (apart from the 2000 U.S Open since that was close to prime Sampras) as every aspect of his game was less potent by a good margin then, even his serve.
he could still bring it with the serve...01 USO QF against Agassi..the whole 02 USO
 
N

nowhereman

Guest
Who prevails, is the wrong Question. OP made a Mistake there.

If we are talking Peak Djokovic vs Peak Safin .. the correct Question is ..


Djokovic vs Safin (in a Bo3/Bo5) Match - How often does Marat get bageled?
He won't get bageled at all. Peak Safin was scary good, he would give Djokovic fits of all sorts. It would be like playing peak Wawrinka for him.
 

DerekNoleFam1

Hall of Fame
AO safin will have edge, but then how many matched AO safin showed ? He was just like Wawa a little more consistent.
I agree with @Navdeep Srivastava peak Safin has too much game for Djokovic at his best. It would be like playing Wawrinka at the AO, except with a better forehand and serve. I do think Novak would take at least a set though, his defensive baseline game is very good so he could probably frustrate Marat until he adjusted.
Seeing how Stan at his best troubles Nole as much as he does, I would expect Safin(same type of player as Stan, but more aggressive(as in taking the ball earlier) and with a bigger serve and imo better groundgame) to do much of the same.

Overall though, it's crazy not to give the edge to Djoker. On every surface. But only about 60-40. Peak Safin was a BEAST.
I don't quite see the similarities between Safin and Wawrinka.
Stan has a very good serve, and powerful off both wings, and is streaky like Safin, but that's about it.
To me, Safin would not be that different to other very tall, big servers and hard hitters, like Delpo and Cilic.
Djoker would absorb their big blows, but ultimately should prevail more times than not with superior movement and return game.
 
Djokovic would win most times because his defence would frustrate the hell out of Safin, even if Safin may have the edge early on. As for comparing Stan vs Safin they aren't really that similar, apart from being mentally volatile and unpredictable. Safin hit strong flat ground strokes to over power his opponent closer in the manner to way Berdych plays but at his best moved that bit better and had a better backhand and some more variety thrown in as well. Stan uses more top spin and angles off both wings and can drag his opponent side to side. I'd say in match up stakes to have a better chance to beat Djokovic Stan's game is a better match up to Novak's because of the use of angles. Trying to hit "through" Djokovic with flatter shots doesn't typically do as well in the way Berdych and Cilic have tried (or even DelPo) for that matter.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
If they play 5/5 matches peak to peak Djokovic wins 5/5.

If Safin catches Djokovic on a bad day he could win, but that would be impossible as this thread required both of them to be playing peak level of tennis.
the delusion is strong with this one ...as usual ..if wawrinka can take 2/5 vs djokovic(AO 13,USO 13, AO 14, AO 15, RG 15 ), so can safin ( who is actually a better version of wawrinka )

oh and not mention, safin thrashed prime djokovic in wim 08 ( though that wasn't peak level tennis from djoko )
 

RF-18

Talk Tennis Guru
the delusion is strong with this one ...as usual ..if wawrinka can take 2/5 vs djokovic(AO 13,USO 13, AO 14, AO 15, RG 15 ), so can safin ( who is actually a better version of wawrinka )

oh and not mention, safin thrashed prime djokovic in wim 08 ( though that wasn't peak level tennis from djoko )
Read the thread. This is a hypothetical scenario where both players are playing peak level of tennis. Wich rarely even happens in any match where two players are playing at their absolute peak throughout the match.

As I said, Safin could take him if Djokovic has a bad day, but that wasn't the question from the OP.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Read the thread. This is a hypothetical scenario where both players are playing peak level of tennis. Wich rarely even happens in any match where two players are playing at their absolute peak throughout the match.

As I said, Safin could take him if Djokovic has a bad day, but that wasn't the question from the OP.
delusional.

if they're playing at their absolute peak , safin wins close to half on HC ( actually more than that IMO) ........not 0/5 .

But then safin plays at his absolute peak far less than djokovic, so in a series , djokovic would have the edge ...
 

West Coast Ace

G.O.A.T.
I agree with @Navdeep Srivastava peak Safin has too much game for Djokovic at his best. It would be like playing Wawrinka at the AO, except with a better forehand and serve. I do think Novak would take at least a set though, his defensive baseline game is very good so he could probably frustrate Marat until he adjusted.
Exactly. Too many people are missing the word 'peak'. They either didn't see or aren't remembering his USO F v Sampras or AO SF v Fed.

Safin would absorb Djokovic's deep shots with ease; win more points with his serving; his return (again, when he was 'peak' and really engaged in tennis and not partying) was excellent - and thus he's break Djokovic.

My above points only apply to AO and USO and hard courts. Safin would lose on clay or grass.
 
N

Navdeep Srivastava

Guest
Exactly. Too many people are missing the word 'peak'. They either didn't see or aren't remembering his USO F v Sampras or AO SF v Fed.

Safin would absorb Djokovic's deep shots with ease; win more points with his serving; his return (again, when he was 'peak' and really engaged in tennis and not partying) was excellent - and thus he's break Djokovic.

My above points only apply to AO and USO and hard courts. Safin would lose on clay or grass.
Problem is not your point , I also said peak Safin will have little edge on HC but problem is op , he is somewhat in love with Novak and making too many threads on him.
 

RF-18

Talk Tennis Guru
delusional.

if they're playing at their absolute peak , safin wins close to half on HC ( actually more than that IMO) ........not 0/5 .

But then safin plays at his absolute peak far less than djokovic, so in a series , djokovic would have the edge ...
and you are calling me delusional... ffs gtfo out of here
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
and you are calling me delusional... ffs gtfo out of here
umm, OK, ND-12.

Its pretty obvious you didn't even watch peak federer and the tennis at around at that time (which includes other competitors like safin, hewitt, roddick, agassi ,nadal etc.).....you only prop up current federer to prop up djokovic ....
 

Tony48

Legend
Djokovic's incredible defense would lead to Safin losing his mind and getting bageled at some point during the match.

Either way, Djokovic probably wins.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Djokovic's incredible defense would lead to Safin losing his mind and getting bageled at some point during the match.

Either way, Djokovic probably wins.
that is the concern but Safin dealt pretty well with Federer making him extra balls over 5 sets in the AO semi. Only time he lost it was at the end of the third set but he kept it together beautifully besides that.
 

Gazelle

G.O.A.T.
I doubt Safin has any significant lead in H2H against players of similar caliber. He would certainly not own Djokovic.
 
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