Which player (in the last 25 or so years) played the highest level ever in a particular match?

Which player played the highest level ever in a particular match?

  • Federer

    Votes: 32 36.0%
  • Nadal

    Votes: 21 23.6%
  • Djokovic

    Votes: 23 25.8%
  • Davydenko

    Votes: 2 2.2%
  • Wawrinka

    Votes: 3 3.4%
  • Agassi

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Sampras

    Votes: 2 2.2%
  • Del Potro

    Votes: 2 2.2%
  • Safin

    Votes: 4 4.5%
  • Tsonga

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    89

mahatma

New User
Djokovic 2019 Aussie Open finals against Nadal. Don't think any one beats this level of HC gameplay in last 25 years.
 

Autodidactic player

Professional
A bit over 25 years old, and over three matches, but how about Boris Becker beating world #3, #1 and #2 in a row to claim the Stockholm crown in 1994.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
For starters, Sampras probably wasn't running on fumes by the 2000 final as opposed to 2001.
I think Pete wins both of those finals if he hadn’t had to deal with the super Saturday format - which placed the semi and final on back to back days.

The back-to-back format was a huge disadvantage to an older player like Sampras, playing against a 20yo opponent.

Further, the back-to-back zapped Pete of his explosiveness on serves, which he was heavily reliant on at that point in his career.

It was like asking a starting MLB pitcher to throw nine innings on back-to-back days.

Safin and Hewitt looked much better than they were, because Pete wasn’t PETE.
 

InsideOut900

Hall of Fame
For me it’s Feddy boy in USO ‘04 tied with Rafito ‘08 clay vs. Almagro (the Fed match was good yes but Almagro was something else)

this one , lol
Almagro was probably worse than Fed here lol.

The most incredible stretch in this match were the last 3 games of the match. That was stuff I have never seen before on a clay court before.

Got the full match here, you can watch from 29:40 mark till the end:

If memory serves, Nadal also had a really good stretch late in the 1st and early in the 2nd or late in 2nd, early in the 3rd, can't remember which was.
Nadal was somewhat playable for stretches, but Almagro was straight up spraying.

I personally rate the semi the highest because Djoko played way better than the other two and is also a tougher match-up.

Up two sets and two break. The first set in particular was brutal. 6-4, but Nadal's level was off the charts.
2nd was also really good, played brilliant to get one of the breaks, but had less work to do because of Novak's poor showing.
Had a bit of an intensity dip in the 3rd after the double break, but Djoko just started swinging on every ball care-free. Nadal only made a couple UE in the 3rd set, yet nearly lost it, Djoko had like 21 Winners.

Against Fed, aggressive Nadal only really got started at 4-3 in the 2nd. Up until then he was mostly grinding and letting Fed self destruct actually. From that point on he went full berserk and won 8 games in a row.
 

sliceroni

Hall of Fame
Sampras 1999 Wimbledon final is the highest I’ve seen. Other ones that come to mind-Fed/Roddick Wimbledon semi 2003, Fed USO final 2004, Rafa RG final 2008, Nadal RG final 2020, and man Daniil ending Nole’s streak at the USO, the only reason he didn’t close out the match sooner was because the fkg crowd was screaming during his serves.
 

Kralingen

Legend
Almagro was probably worse than Fed here lol.

The most incredible stretch in this match were the last 3 games of the match. That was stuff I have never seen before on a clay court before.

Got the full match here, you can watch from 29:40 mark till the end:

If memory serves, Nadal also had a really good stretch late in the 1st and early in the 2nd or late in 2nd, early in the 3rd, can't remember which was.
Nadal was somewhat playable for stretches, but Almagro was straight up spraying.

I personally rate the semi the highest because Djoko played way better than the other two and is also a tougher match-up.

Up two sets and two break. The first set in particular was brutal. 6-4, but Nadal's level was off the charts.
2nd was also really good, played brilliant to get one of the breaks, but had less work to do because of Novak's poor showing.
Had a bit of an intensity dip in the 3rd after the double break, but Djoko just started swinging on every ball care-free. Nadal only made a couple UE in the 3rd set, yet nearly lost it, Djoko had like 21 Winners.

Against Fed, aggressive Nadal only really got started at 4-3 in the 2nd. Up until then he was mostly grinding and letting Fed self destruct actually. From that point on he went full berserk and won 8 games in a row.
I picked Almagro especially bc he genuinely made a top 15 player and actually quite a good clay player in Almagro literally look like he was chosen off the street in a competition. It’s a wonder he won even one game in every set. When I say domination that is probably the pinnacle of it. Like yes, Fed and Pete have destroyed opponents with bagels and completely taken the racket out of their hands. Djokovic has made opponents lose confidence in every single shot they have. Agassi has had matches where if the ball bounced anywhere more shallow than 3 feet before the baseline youre doomed.

but no one in the history of tennis has made a guy say “he’s going to win the tournament for the next 40 years” and act the way Almagro did.

also, I completely agree on the Djokovic match being the best challenge to Rafa. honestly, Novak could have had a set with a little more clutchness, he was outhitting Nadal in rallies and actually dictating for stretches. Obviously he went down with the scoreline he did, but it was an actual tennis match with competitiveness. ‘08 Nadal didn’t play competitive matches at RG.

by the same token Fed deserves a ton of credit for the Hamburg performance and I still have no clue how Ferrero beat Rafa in Rome even with the injury.
 
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Madinolf

Rookie
How can Federer have the highest level if he has a score of 9-21 in Slam finals and semis against Djokovic and Nadal?

Those are the highest level matches against the highest level opponents.
 

Madinolf

Rookie
Federer vs Djokovic in the highest level matches:

Slam finals 1-4
Slam semis 4-7
YEC finals 0-2
Masters finals 3-5
 
sampras vs safin at their respective peaks on indoor carpet would be the ultimate match imo. even better than becker vs sampras indoors, because safin at his peak was a better player than becker. could move better. could return better. had better groundstrokes than becker. becker had advantage in serve and net play.
That reminds me of one of my favorite matches ever and 2 of my favorite players:

Paris Final 2000. Philippoussis vs Safin. Safin won 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (8).

I miss those Bo5 Masters Finals :(
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
when, how
Off the top of my head try 2008 US Open semi-final or 2010 Toronto (semi and final) or 2010 Shanghai final or 2011 Tokyo final or 2012 Olympic final or 2016 Rome final or 2016 RG semi-final or 2016 Wimbledon final.

Not saying he should necessarily win the poll but not even being included in your list just shows the usual disrespect and/or wilful amnesia regarding his game that is so woefully prevalent around here.
 
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Patogen

Rookie
So, Nadal, the DC09 final against Berdych, the second set.

Of course Nadal loved to batter Berdych ever after the infamous Madrid 06 match and led the H2H 5-3, of course it was clay, but DC has a funny way of turning odds upside down. Plus, that was the year Nadal lost at the FO, the year he finished on his famous cold streak, winning exactly zero sets at the WTF. So you never knew, or so you thought.

Berdych started out playing well and looking competitive in the first set and carried on like that for about 6 or 7 games.

Then, Nadal suddenly shifted gears. It wasn't the rabbit run, no-matter-what-you-throw-at-me, I'll-just-about-scratch-it-out madman Nadal. It was the possessed, upright animal that's always there for a FH and topspins everything with an animal scream. He was just laying down the law and turned the BL into a wall. He completely obliterated the helpless Czech. You saw Berdych knew what this meant back in the day. It meant your ship was turning into a wreck and sinking. Slowly, inevitably, in a thick mud. And that's where he went.

DC Nadal on clay needs more attention, although I understand the occasion is always slightly provincial.
 

Oceans II

Rookie
Most probably a version of Nadal at RG or possibly Djokovic at AO going by statistics and logic. With their dominance and against top competition, it extremely likely that one version over the years would have displayed the highest level. Makes sense too considering Nadal at RG20, 19, 17, 13, 12, 11, 08, etc and Djokovic at AO21, 19, 16, 15, 13, 12, 11, etc.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
depends on the surface. for me the best hardcourt performance I ever saw in the last 25 years was safin beating sampras at the 2000 US Open final. but in terms of clay court tennis the best performance I ever saw was nadal at 2008 french open. and the best grass court performance I ever saw last 25 years was sampras in 1999 wimbledon final
All three of these are excellent choices.
 

babar

Professional
Kvitova's Wimbledon title was some of the best offensive tennis I've ever seen along with Cilic's quarterfinal, semifinal, and final the year he won it.
 

Russeljones

G.O.A.T.
A whole match, or a winning part of one?

I have huge admiration for the tennis Davydenko played at the 2009 WTF final. Absolute peak, though, albeit partial, is probably the tennis Tsonga played to come back from 2-0 against Federer at Wimbledon 2011. Simply unreal. 1h BH passer included, if I remember correctly. :D
 
While it's impossible to compare surfaces between them, I think that's the answer.

The difference between Nadal's level at that French and everyone's level in any other run on clay in the last 25 years is huge.
Grass court and HC are tightly contested between Fed and Sampras or Fed and Djoko, clay is not, unless you trace back to peak Borg.
I suppose the only issue is whether or not Samperer's forms were, in any sense, actually as good as Nadal's. That the level could be shared just makes the level less anomalous. Depends how you look at things I guess. If it was shared between 30 people then that outlook would be difficult to maintain as the level would be more obviously baseline for an elite player.
 

InsideOut900

Hall of Fame
I suppose the only issue is whether or not Samperer's forms were, in any sense, actually as good as Nadal's. That the level could be shared just makes the level less anomalous. Depends how you look at things I guess. If it was shared between 30 people then that outlook would be difficult to maintain as the level would be more obviously baseline for an elite player.
It's all about relative dominance.

Historically, highest level produced on each individual surface is roughly the same because at some point there was someone who was a perfect match for those conditions.

To differentiate what is equal and what is not, you simply look at how close everyone got to the highest standard.

This is a positive outlook on the situation because I will not say "there weren't enough talented claycourters, therefore only 1 or 2 reached the highest standard", I will say "they took the game to a new level, therefore, measuring up to them is the harder than on other surfaces".

I think the eye test is unreliable when comparing across surfaces because everyone looks for different things and often misses the fundamentals of what makes a great player on a certain surface in the first place. This is in respect to "purely offensive players always have higher peaks" btw.

Relative dominance doesn't care how you playstylewise, but how much better you are compared to others, therefore is fairly objective.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
It's all about relative dominance.

Historically, highest level produced on each individual surface is roughly the same because at some point there was someone who was a perfect match for those conditions.

To differentiate what is equal and what is not, you simply look at how close everyone got to the highest standard.

This is a positive outlook on the situation because I will not say "there weren't enough talented claycourters, therefore only 1 or 2 reached the highest standard", I will say "they took the game to a new level, therefore, measuring up to them is the harder than on other surfaces".

I think the eye test is unreliable when comparing across surfaces because everyone looks for different things and often misses the fundamentals of what makes a great player on a certain surface in the first place. This is in respect to "purely offensive players always have higher peaks" btw.

Relative dominance doesn't care how you playstylewise, but how much better you are compared to others, therefore is fairly objective.
Most ATG's have prioritised grass and later HC compared to clay, we skipped a whole decade where there wasn't a dominating force on the clay. It's not a case of saying there weren't talented clay courters, it's a case of there was no Sampras clay equivalent in the 90's or since Borg besides Nadal. I don't think this metric is really the best TBH.

I think with Nadal it's easy to confuse the length of prime/peak with the height of it, surely Nadal's peak on clay is absurd but for single matches it's not clear if it was higher than other surface GOAT's on their best surfaces. Also clay tends to produce more dominant scorelines so it will look more impressive than relative equivalents on other surfaces.

Obviously Nadal has a very strong case for the highest level in a particular match but it's not open and shut.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
Most ATG's have prioritised grass and later HC compared to clay, we skipped a whole decade where there wasn't a dominating force on the clay. It's not a case of saying there weren't talented clay courters, it's a case of there was no Sampras clay equivalent in the 90's or since Borg besides Nadal. I don't think this metric is really the best TBH.

I think with Nadal it's easy to confuse the length of prime/peak with the height of it, surely Nadal's peak on clay is absurd but for single matches it's not clear if it was higher than other surface GOAT's on their best surfaces. Also clay tends to produce more dominant scorelines so it will look more impressive than relative equivalents on other surfaces.

Obviously Nadal has a very strong case for the highest level in a particular match but it's not open and shut.
Yep yep, clay never matters lol
 

InsideOut900

Hall of Fame
I think with Nadal it's easy to confuse the length of prime/peak with the height of it
Not really. He had one run that was distinctively better in 2008.

Plus he played a variety of players in his non-peak runs and was only taken to 5 sets twice before 2015.
You can pin that on the clay field being weak, but I dunno about that.

Peak is both pure zoning level and sustainability. Nadal has insane sustainability to his level.

Peak Nadal can arguably be matched pound for pound for shorter stretches, but not for more than 1 set per match from the samples we have. And even that is arguable.

If you watch some of Fed's performances, there was almost always 1 set where he was less than peak. Other versions of Nadal except 2008 would sometimes drop the set, 2008 Nadal could play like that almost start to finish and the match in straights with a higher probablity than others.

Obviously Nadal has a very strong case for the highest level in a particular match but it's not open and shut.
That's literally overcomplicating it for no reason.
Very strong case is good enough unless you hardcore want to prove a point.
 
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NatF

Bionic Poster
Not really. He had one run that was distinctively better in 2008.

Plus he played a variety of players in his non-peak runs and was only taken to 5 sets twice before 2015.
You can pin that on the clay field being weak, but I dunno about that.

Peak is both pure zoning level and sustainability. Nadal has insane sustainability to his level.

Peak Nadal can arguably be matched pound for pound for shorter stretches, but not for more than 1 set per match from the samples we have. And even that is arguable.

If you watch some of Fed's performances, there was almost always 1 set where he was less than peak. Other versions of Nadal except 2008 would sometimes drop the set, 2008 Nadal could play like that almost start to finish and the match in straights with a higher probablity than others.
Title is in a particular match though. I've not said anything about the clay field being weak...

You said earlier in Nadal's most impressive 2008 match he had a dip right? The opponents ability to hang with you and the help they get from the surface also help. Clay nullifies first strikes to an extent which allowed 2008'dal's brutal groundgame to completely take over. Flip side on grass against a good server, to an extent, the game is not totally in your hands even if you're playing GOAT'ing tennis.

I would put Fed's 2003 Wimbledon SF on similar footing to individual matches from Nadal's 2008 FO, not the entire tournament though.
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
That's not what I was saying. Maybe try reading before you post (y)
Oh it's definitely what you were saying lol. Why have to admit how ridiculous what Nadal did is for once? :cool:

Title is in a particular match though. I've not said anything about the clay field being weak...



You said earlier in Nadal's most impressive 2008 match he had a dip right? The opponents ability to hang with you and the help they get from the surface also help. Clay nullifies first strikes to an extent which allowed 2008'dal's brutal groundgame to completely take over. Flip side on grass against a good server, to an extent, the game is not totally in your hands even if you're playing GOAT'ing tennis.



I would put Fed's 2003 Wimbledon SF on similar footing to individual matches from Nadal's 2008 FO, not the entire tournament though.
:giggle::-D
 

MichaelNadal

Bionic Poster
Glad your ban didn't make you any less of a tit. Maybe stick to posting WWE gifs, talking about the subtleties of tennis history and the impact surfaces have scorelines is a little beyond you.
Lets stick to talking about 1, 3 and 0 shall we? :D you better be pressed :p
 
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